Minor Arthurian Characters

Other Arthurian Characters

The following list of characters are those who had appeared in the Arthurian legends. Some are prominent figures, like Uther Pendragon, Ambrosius Aurelianus, Vortigern, Lot and Mordred. While others are minor characters, yet notable for their roles in the legend.

Please note that I have moved Merlin to new separate page. Merlin now has a page of his own. I have expanded and revised many articles on Merlin.

Merlin, see Merlin
Aurelius Ambrosius
Uther Pendragon
Gorlois or Hoel, Duke of Tintagel
King Lot of Orkney
King Urien
King Ban and King Bors
King Mark of Cornwall

King Galehaut
Pelles, see Fisher King in the Grail Legend
Parlan, Pellam or Pellehan,
see Fisher King in the Grail Legend
Joseph of Arimathea, see the Grail Legend
King Mordrain

Balin le Savage





Vortigern was the king of Britain. The 6th century monk Gildas, called him Gurthrigern.

After the death of Constantine II of Britain, the British nobles were deciding which of the king’s younger sons (Aurelius Ambrosius (or Ambrosius Aurelianus) and Uther) would succeed the king. One of the nobles (Vortigern) advised them the best choice was the eldest named Constans. However, Constans was to become a monk. Vortigern persuaded the naive youth to leave the monastery and take up kingship. Constans agreed and became king of Britain. Constans made Vortigern his cheif adviser. Constans bestowed upon Vortigern increasingly greater power.

Vortigern advised the young king to hire Pictish mercenaries. Through deception and treachery, Vortigern tricked Picts into killing the king. Vortigern then seized power. The people, who were looking after Constans’ younger brothers, fear for their safety, send the brothers to Brittany, where the two princes were brought up by King Budicius I.

After ruling some years, the Saxons under the leadership of Hengist and Horsa, arrived on the British shore. Vortigern enlisted them to his services. Vortigern fell in love with Rowena, the beautiful daughter of Hengist, whom the king married. Vortigern gave his father-in-law a great deal of powers. Hengist also managed to persuade the king to allow more Saxons to settle in Britain.

According to the Welsh historian, Nennius, Vortigern had three sons by Rowena: Vortimer, Categirn and Pascent. Vortigern also had a daughter, whom the tyrant slept with; his daughter gave birth to his fourth son, Faustus. St Germanus admonished Vortigern for committing incest with his daughter.

The British nobles were alarmed that Vortigern gave the foreigners many powers and lands that they demanded the king should send them away. Vortigern ignored them. Even his own son, Vortimier (his other sons were Paschent and Katiger) opposed him, who raised an army to drive the Saxons from Britain. Vortimier died from poisoning that his stepmother (Rowena) gave him.

Vortigern tried to make peace between the two warring sides. There was a truce between the Britons and Saxons. However, the Saxons had knives hidden in their clothes. In the night of long knives, the Saxons masscared the British nobles who had attended the meeting.

Vortigern was spared, but he lost much of Britain to his father-in-law. Vortigern fled to Wales. Vortigern tried to build a strong castle on top of the hill, but every night the walls would collapsed. His advisers Vortigern to find a boy with no father, and to kill the boy and use his blood mixed with mortar. They say that this blood sacrifice would make the walls strong.

By happenstance, Vortigern came upon a boy with no father. This boy was named Merlin. When Merlin heard the advisers’ counsel, he rebuked them for lying. Merlin told the king, the real reasons for the walls collapsing, was that there was a pool of water underneath his foundation and two dragons were fighting one another. All this was true. The two dragons escaped, one red, the other white. Merlin became Vortigern’s chief adviser, while the other advisers were hanged for lying.

Aurelius and Uther returned from Brittany, with a large army. Their intention was to depose Vortigern, and drive out the Saxons from Britain. Vortigern withdrew to his castle. However, the new arrivals had put the castle to torch; Vortigern died in the fire.

According to Nennius, however, Vortigern’s castle did burn down, killing the king and his wives, as well as his followers, but Nennius made no mention of Aurelius Ambrosius’ involvement. Nennius claimed the castle Cair Guothergirn was set ablaze by God, himself.

Aurelius Ambrosius became king. Vortigern’s son, Paschent, was involved in a rebellion and war against Aurelius.

Related Information
Related Articles
Aurelius Ambrosius, Uther Pendragon, Merlin.
Genealogy: King Arthur.



Aurelius Ambrosius

British king. Aurelius Ambrosius was the second son of Constantine and brother of Constans and Uther. Aurelius was given the surname Ambrosius. In Welsh, Ambrosius Aurelianus is translated to Emrys Wledig. Though, the name Emrys can be applied to Merlin, who was also known as Ambrosius.

When Vortigern had his elder brother murdered, Aurelius and Uther was spirited away to Brittany, where they were brought up. Years later, Aurelius and Uther returned to Britain with an army, to depose the usurper and avenge their brother’s death, and to drive out the Saxons from Britain. Vortigern was burned alive in his palace. Hengist and his brother, leaders of the Saxons, were defeated and killed.

Aurelius Ambrosius became king of the Britons. In Aurelius set about restoring the land and churches that the Saxons had destroyed in the war. Aurelius with the help of Merlin was responsible for bringing stones from Ireland, to erect the Giant Ring, now known as the Stonehenge.

However his reign was short. He still had to fight the remaining Saxons, under the leadership of Hengist’s son Octa, as well as Paschent, son of Vortigern.

One night, Aurelius was assassinated. Poison was used to kill him. Aurelius was buried at the Stonehenge.

According to the Celtic historian, Gildas, it was Aurelianus Ambrosius who defeated the Saxons in the battle of Mount Badon, not Arthur.

Related Information
Ambrosius Aurelianus (according to Gildas).
Emrys Wledig (Welsh).
Related Articles
Uther Pendragon, Arthur, Vortigern, Merlin.
Genealogy: House of King Arthur.



Uther Pendragon

British king. Uther Pendragon was the youngest son of Constantine, and brother of Constans and Aurelius. Uther was the father of Arthur.

After his father died, his eldest brother, Constans, became the British king. However Constans’ advisor, Vortigern, tricked some Pictish mercenaries into killing the young king. Vortigern seized the throne.

Fearing for Constantine’s younger sons’ lives, the foster-father send Aurelius and Uther to their relatives in Brittany, France.

Vortigern was a tyrant who allowed Saxons to live in Britain. Vortigern had married a daughter of Saxon chieftain named Hengest. Vortigern had the Saxons recruited into his army to repel the Picts from the north. The Britons did not like the Saxons, because more Saxons arrived every year from the Continent. Even Vortigern’s own son, Vortimer dislike his father’s bride and the pagan Saxons. War broke out between Saxons and Britons. Later, Vortigern’s father-in-law, Hengest, treacherously overthrew Vortigern.

When the two exiled brothers returned to Britain, they decided to take revenge upon Vortigern and to drive the Saxons out of Britain. Vortigern died in a burning castle. Hengest was captured and killed. They had his body cut to pieces. Aurelius became king of Britain.

Vortigern and Hengest’s sons either escaped or captured. They would attack the Britons again. Aurelius faced a new war against the Saxons and Vortigern’s son.

While Aurelius was ill, Uther led the army against the Saxons. One night, Uther and Merlin saw several comets that lit the sky, in the shape of a dragon. Merlin informed Uther that his brother had died from poisoning, and that was the new king. It was Merlin who attached the named Pendragon at the end of Uther’s name.

After crushing the Saxons in the last battle, Uther held a celebration in London, inviting his allies. Among the guest was Gorlois, the duke of Cornwall. Gorlois had been instrumental to Uther’s victory; it was Gorlois’ strategy that defeated the Saxons. Gorlois brought his young and extremely beautiful wife named Igraine. Uther fell instantly in love with Igraine, and it was so obvious, that Gorlois left the celebration with his wife. Uther didn’t want Gorlois to leave early, threatening the duke with war.

During the war against Gorlois, Uther was still infatuated with Igraine, that the king asked Merlin for advice. Merlin transformed Uther to look exactly like Igraine’s husband. While Gorlois was busy defending his castle, Uther seduced the duke’s wife. That night, Arthur was conceived. Gorlois also died that night. The men of Cornwall had no choice but to surrender to Uther. Uther married Igraine, and Arthur was born. Arthur’s sister, Anna, was born a year later.

Uther had to fight with Hengest’s son again, in another battle, which he defeated and killed. However, Uther was also poisoned. Arthur, who had just turned fifteen, became king of Britain.

In the Welsh legend, where it almost the same as that told by Geoffrey of Monmouth, he was called Uthr Bendragon. Uthr was infatuated with Eigyr or Eigr (Igraine), the daughter of King Amlawddydd Wledig and wife of Gwrlais (Duke of Cornwall). With the help of Merlin, he seduced Eigyr by assuming the form of Gwrlais. Eigyr became pregnant with Arthur.

Related Information
Uther, Utr.
Uther Pendragon.
Pendragon – “Dragon’s Head”.
Uthr Bendragon.
Related Articles
Aurelius Ambrosius, Igraine, Gorlois (Hoel), Arthur, Vortigern, Merlin.
House of King Arthur,
House of Arthur & Culhwch (Welsh).

Uther at Tintagel

Uther at Tintagel
Illustration by Ivan Lapier



Gorlois (or Hoel)

Gorlois, or Hoel as he sometimes known, was the Duke of Tintagel, in Cornwall. He sometimes have the title of Duke of Cornwall, instead of Tintagel. Tintagel was the Duke’s most strongest castle.

Some people called the husband of Igraine, as Gorlois, like Geoffrey of Monmouth and many other authors. While in a few works, the Duke’s name was Hoel, like in the Vulgate Merlin (c. 1240). Thomas Malory doesn’t mentioned his name at all in the Morte d’Arthur (1469); Malory had only called him by his title, the Duke of Tintagel.

Gorlois was usually seen as the first husband of Igraine. Depending on which texts you read, the number of children the Duke varied from none to as many children, usually all daughters. According to Vulgate Merlin, Hoel (Gorlois) had as little as two or three daughters to as many five daughters. So Arthur had a varying number of half-sisters. Though, the name was given to the eldest, she became the wife of Lot and mother of Gawain; she was usually known by her name as Morgawse (Morgause, Morcadet or Norcadet). The Sommer text mentioned one daughter married to Neutres of Garlot, and the third was Morgan.

According to the Suite du Merlin (Post-Vulgate romance, c. 1250), the Duke has three daughters.

According in Le Morte d’Arthur (1469), Sir Thomas Malory, wrote that the daughter of Duke and Igraine were Morgause, Elaine and Morgan.

In Historia regum Britanniae (1137), Geoffrey of Monmouth does not mentioned that Gorlois having any children of his own.

It was Geoffrey of Monmouth who introduced the famous episode of where Uther Pendragon, the king of Britain falls in love with Gorlois’s wife and how with help of Merlin’s sorcery Uther was able to seduce Igraine. Gorlois was one of Uther’s most powerful ally in the war against the Saxons. Gorlois was responsible for Uther’s victory over the Saxons; the Duke devised a strategy and tactic that defeated the Saxons.

When Uther couldn’t hide his lust for Igraine, Gorlois stormed out of Uther’s banquet, without taking the king’s leave. This brought them to open conflict. Gorlois secured his wife in the strongest castle, while he went to defend the other castle against Uther’s besieging army.

Uther, in desperation, asked Merlin for help to fulfil his lust for Gorlois’ wife. According to two tales called Merlin (one original verse that written by Robert de Boron around 1200, while the other was adaptation of the original by Boron and was written in prose, around 1240, which is part of Vulgate Cycle), the wizard agreed on one condition. That condition is that Uther had to agree, to give him (Merlin) any son that Igraine bore, for him (Merlin) to rear. Of course, Uther agreed to his wizard’s condition.

Merlin used his magic to transform Uther so that he would look like Igraine’s husband for one night. Merlin and Ulfin, Uther’s adviser, were also transformed to look like Britaelis and Jordan, Gorlois’s servant and castellan. So everyone in Tintagel thought that Duke had returned to the castle, including Igraine. While Uther, disguised as the Duke, ravished Igraine, Gorlois was killed in the fighting at the siege of the other castle.

When Uther and Igraine heard news of Gorlois’ death, the bogus Duke claimed that it was only rumour so to calm everyone’s fear, before Uther left Tintagel and returned to his own form when he reached his army. Uther claimed that he didn’t want Gorlois’ death, but no one believed the king’s sincerity. With Gorlois’ death, the castle surrendered to Uther, and he married the newly widow Duchess, which Igraine made her Queen of Logres (Britain).

Arthur was conceived and born at Tintagel. However, according to Boron, Uther had give up this infant to Merlin, because he had promised. Merlin gave the son to Sir Antor in fosterage. Antor was father of Kay, who would later served his foster brother, as Arthur’s seneschal.

Related Information
Gwrleis (Welsh).
Hoel (in Vulgate Merlin).
Related Articles
Igraine, Uther Pendragon, Merlin, Arthur, Kay.



King Lot

King of Orkney. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Lot was the brother of Urien, king of Moray, and Auguselus (Angel), king of Albany (Scotland). Lot was king of Lothian. Lot had married Anna, daughter of Uther and Igraine, and brother of Arthur. He had two sons, Gawain and Mordred. Lot was leader of the British forces against the Saxons under Octa and Eosa, when Uther fell ill.

Lot was restored to the throne of Lothian (southern Scotland). When Arthur conquered Norway. Arthur gave Norway to Lot as reward for his loyalty.


Later legends say that Lot was married to Morgawse or Norcadet, the half-sister of Arthur (therefore daughter of Gorlois and Igraine). Lot was the father of four or five sons instead of two: Gawain, Agravain, Gahreis (Gaheriet), and Gareth (Guerrehet), and sometimes of Mordred. However, Mordred was also said to be the son of Arthur by his half-sister Morgawse.

The later tradition also moved Lot’s kingdom further north: on the island of Orkney, instead of Lothian.

Lot was one of the eleven kings who had opposed the kingship of Arthur . Pellinor, father of Lamorak and Perceval, had killed Lot in the fighting .


In Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival (c. 1200), Lot was married to Sangive, and was the father of two sons, Gawain and Beacurs, and three daughters – Surdamur, Curdrie and Itonje.

Related Information
Lot, Loth.
Related Articles
Uther Pendragon, Arthur, Anna, Morgawse, Gawain, Mordred.
Genealogy: House of King Arthur.



King Urien

Urien was actually a historical figure. Urien was a Welsh king who ruled Rheged, in Scotland and defeated the invading Angles, according to the Welsh Book of Taliesin. Taliesin was a Welsh poet, supposedly contemporary of Urien. Taliesin praised Urien in the poem in the war against the Angles, in which Urien’s son, Owain (Yvain), was killed in battle (late 6th century).

Had Arthur been a real historical figure, then Urien had lived fifty or so years after that of Arthur. Urien and his son Owain had later appeared in the Mabinogion and the Arthurian legend as contemporaries of Arthur; Owain being Arthur’s nephew and Urien as his brother-in-law.

Urien appeared in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum Britanniae, as the brother of Lot (Loth), king of Lothian, and Auguselus (Angel), king of Albany (Scotland). The three brothers became important allies of Arthur, when the young king restored them to respective kingdoms.

Early tradition (Geoffrey) says that Urien was the king of Moray, northern kingdom of Scotland. Later writers, however, had moved Urien’s kingdom to the mythical Gorre. There are several speculations on the location of Gorre. Gorre was most likely a Celtic Otherworld, such as the Isle de Voirre (Isle of Glass). Others had placed it at Glastonbury, Somerset, or in Bath, Avon.

In the early Arthurian legend, Urien was the father of the Round Table knight named Yvain (English Ywain, Welsh Owain or Owein), by some unknown mother.

But according to the early Welsh myths, Urien Rheged was married the goddess Modron, the mother of Mabon. Modron was also the mother of the hero Owain and a daughter, named Morvudd.

Then according to early 13th century French writers and the English Thomas Malory, Arthur’s fairy half-sister, Morgan le Fay, was the wife of Urien and mother of Yvain (Owain). As it can be seen here, Modron and Morgan were one and the same person.

In the Vulgate Cycle (Prose Lancelot), Urien refused to surrender Gorre to Uther and refusing to accept Uther as his liege lord. In the war that followed between two kings, Urien was captured. Still Urien refused to pay homage to Uther. Baudemagus was a nephew of Urien. To save his uncle from hanging, Baudemagus surrendered Gorre to Uther. Uther rewarded Baudemagus by crowning Urien’s nephew as the new king of Gorre. Urien was forced to retire to a hermitage.

In Suite du Merlin and the le Morte d’Arthur, his wife Morgan took Accolon of Gaul as her lover . While Accolon died in a duel against Arthur, she tried to murder Urien while he was asleep. Yvain saved his father’s life but allowed his mother to go free . (See the article The Conspiracy of Morgan le Fay in the Legend of Excalibur.)

Related Information
Urien, Urian.
Urien Rhegd, Urien of Rhegd.
Related Articles
Yvain, King Lot, Morgan le Fay, Arthur, Baudemagus.
Modron, Mabon.
House of King Arthur,
House of Arthur & Culhwch (Welsh).



King Ban and King Bors

Ban and Bors were brothers. Ban was king of Banoic (Benwick), in Brittany, while Bors was king of Gaunes, or Gaul (France) according to Malory. They were the sons of King Lancelot and Queen Marche, who was the daughter of the King of Ireland. They were also descendants of Galahad of Hosselice, the son of Joseph of Arimathea.

The two brothers married two sisters. Ban had married Helen or Elaine, and became the father of Galahad, who was better known as Lancelot du Lac. Ban also had another son named Hector (Ector). Hector was his illegitimate son, when he slept with the niece of li Sires des Mares. Ban also had a god son named Banin.

King Bors had married Helen’s sister named Evaine and had two sons Lionel and Bors. King Bors should not be confused with his more famous son, Sir Bors de Ganis, a Round Table knight and one of the three Grail heroes.

Before I should go on Elaine and Evaine were of greater prestige than their husbands. Therefore on their mothers’ sides, the heroes Lancelot and Bors were descendants of the biblical King David.


Ban’s sword is called Coreiseuse and his standard was that of “…crowns of gold and indigo, with bands going across of green, like meadow….” (Merlin 7:120, Vulgate Cycle). His steward is named Alelme.

Bors has a indigo standard “…with red diagonal bands edged in gold….” (Merlin 7:119, Vulgate Cycle).

According to the Vulgate Cycle, there was a war between Aramont and Claudas. Claudas was the king of la terre deserte (Waste Land), who was vassal to the King of Gaul. Aramont was the king of Brittany and became vassal of Uther Pendragon of Britain.

Claudas had to surrender after Uther and Aramont devastated his land, which was why it was called the Waste Land. After the death of Uther and Aramont, Claudas retaliated against Ban and Bors, who were vassals of Aramont. Ban and Bors were friends and allies of King Arthur, helping the young king against rebellious vassals in the war in Britain. The brother kings were not only rulers, they were also great fighters. Ban wield the sword, called Coreuseuse.

Arthur was still busy in his war against the rebellious nobles, when Claudas invaded Banoic. Ban had died in grief when he lost his last castle in Trebes. Ban’s treacherous seneschal had opened the castle’s gate to Claudas’ army. Claudas had promised to give the kingdom of Ban to seneschal. The seneschal did not lived long enough to enjoy treason, when Banin, god son of King Ban, killed the seneschal in a duel.

Ban’s wife was grief-stricken with Ban’s death, neglecting her son Lancelot, who was only an infant. The Lady of the Lake took the infant and disappeared into the lake, which was her home and raised the child as her own. In her grief of having now lost her husband and son, Helen fled to an abbey nearby, in Royal Minister, and took the vow as a nun.

King Bors hearing the news about brother’s death, Bors died in grief. Evaine, wife of Bors, feared for her safety, fled with her two sons. Her two sons were captured and became prisoners of Claudas. Claudas now lord of Banoic and Gaunes, residing in Bors’ castle of Castle Montlair.

Evaine escaped and found her sister Helen in Royal Minister abbey. Evaine also took the vow and became a nun.

After some years later, the Black Friar named Adragain arrived at Royal Minister, told Helen and Evaine that their sons were still alive. The Friar went to Britain, and rebuked Arthur for not coming to the aids of Ban and Bors. Arthur confessed that he was having trouble at home and promised to avenge their death.

The Lady of Lake (Niniane) decided it was time to rescue Lionel and Bors. She sent one of her damsel to Claudas, who spirited the boys to Niniane’s home.

Helen regularly visited the lake, which her son had disappeared. Helen was still beautiful as ever, but her sister had not fare so well. Evaine had become pale and ill with worries over sons. She wished she knew her sons were alive and safe. That night, Evaine had a vision of her sons playing with her nephew Lancelot in Niniane’s garden. When she woke up in the morning, she found the names of Lionel, Bors and her nephew Lancelot written on her right hand. Evaine died happy, knowing that her sons and nephew were safe.

Helen was reunited with her son, when Arthur took his army and invaded Claudas’ kingdom and the King of Gaul. She spent a whole week with Lancelot before she died.

Related Information
Ban of Banoic, Ban of Benwick.
Bors, Bohors.
Bors of Gaunes.
Helen, Helaine, Elaine.
Queen of Great Sorrow.
Related Articles
Lancelot, Hector, Bors, Lionel, Arthur.
Genealogy: House of Lancelot.



King Mark

King of Cornwall and husband of Isolde the Fair. Mark was the son of Felix, and the brother of Blancheflor (Blanchefleur; Elyabel in the Prose Tristan, while Malory called her Elizabeth). In the Prose Tristan, Mark had a brother and three other sisters.

His sister had fallen in love with Rivalen, lord of Armenye, in Brittany. Blancheflor was pregnant when she left Cornwall with husband, when the Morgan, duke of Brittany, attacked Rivalen’s land. Rivalen was killed in battle. When she gave birth to a son, she had named him Tristan. Blancheflor died from broken heart.

When Tristan arrived in his court when he was fifteen years-old, Mark could not recognise him as his sister’s son, nor did he know of Tristan’s true identity. Mark was so impressed by Tristan’s skills in hunting, that the hero unknowingly served as Mark’s chief huntsman.

It was only when Tristan’s foster-father, Roald de Foytenant, found the youth in Cornwall, that the hero’s true idenitity was revealed as Tristan as Mark’s sister’s son. Roald proved the identity by showing Mark, his sister’s ring. Mark welcomed Tristan warmly. Mark made his nephew a knight and soon became his trusted advisor.

The jealousy of his barons over Tristan caused them to plot to remove Tristan’s influence over Mark. They wanted their king to find a wife and produced an heir, to rid of Tristan. Mark sent Tristan to woo the daughter of king of Ireland, named Isolde, known for her great beauty.

Tristan won Isolde for his uncle by killing a dragon. However, by misadventure, Tristan and Isolde had unwittingly drank love potion, that Isolde’s mother had prepared for King Mark and her daughter. Tristan and Isolde fell in love with one another so strongly, that this would have tragic consequences and hardship.

Mark married Isolde, but she had already lost her virginity to Tristan. To hide this, they tricked Mark into sleeping with Isolde’s faithful handmaiden, Brangwain. Brangwain helped the two young lovers in many trysts.

Cornish noblemen were still determined to rid of Tristan, realised that Isolde was committing adultery with the hero. They informed the unbelieving king. They tried several times to prove Tristan and Isolde was committing adultery and treason, by trying to trapped the pairs.

However, Tristan, Isolde and Brangwain managed to avoid their traps with cunning and ingenuity.

Depending on the authors, they sometimes depicted Mark as weak and a coward, sometimes as cruel and barbaric. Mark was prepared to torture or put to death his wife. Later versions, like the Prose Tristan and Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, say that Mark murdered his nephew, cowardly and cold-bloodedly, by stabbing him in the back.

Though, his nephew and wife had betrayed him by committing adultery and deliberately lying to their king, the authors and audience, were always sympathetic with the young lovers than with the king.

Related Information
Mark, March.
Related Articles
Tristan, Isolde, Brangwain.
Tristan and Isolde.
Genealogy: House of Cornwall.




Before Geoffrey of Monmouth, the earliest mention of his name (as Medraut), in the Annales Cambriae (10th century). A short passage says that Arthur and Medraut (Mordred) fell in the Battle of Camlann. The short statement was very ambigious. Did Mordred fight against or on Arthur’s side? Nor were there any indications of their relationship to one another. Geoffrey interpreted this passages, that Mordred fought on the opposite side.

According to the early tradition (Geoffrey), Mordred was the son of King Lot and Anna or Morgawse. Mordred was the brother of Gawain and the nephew of Arthur.

Other early Welsh texts had always shown that Mordred was Arthur’s nephew. The Dream of Rhonabwy say that Medrawd (Mordred) was the nephew of Arthur, as well as Arthur’s foster-son. As did the Didot Perceval had shown that Mordred was really Arthur’s nephew.

Chretien de Troyes (fl. late 12th century) had never mentioned Mordred in his five medieval romances, and in the Conte du Graal (Perceval), Chretien listed three brothers of Gawain, but Mordred was noticeably absence in that list. While in the Vulgate Merlin (Prose Merlin), at first mentioned that Mordred was the son of Lot and Morgawse (chapter 4), but later in the same tale (chapter 10), it showed that Arthur was Mordred’s real father. Arthur had not known that Morgawse was his sister, and when Lot was absence, Arthur had made love to her.

According to the later versions (like the Merlin Continuation (Post-Vulgate) and Malory’s Morte d’Arthur), Mordred was the son of Arthur and Morgawse, half-sister of Arthur. Which means Mordred was only half-brother of Gawain. Mordred was born on May Day, the first day of summer according to Celtic calendar, often known to the Celtic people as as the feast of Beltane.

Shortly after Mordred was born, Lot and Morgawse sent their son to Arthur by ship. However a storm killed everyone aboard, except Mordred in a cradle. Mordred was rescue from the sea, by a fisherman. The fisherman gave the child to Duke Nabur the Unruly and the father of Sagremor. Nabur only found a note that say the infant was named Mordred. Nabur became Mordred’s foster-father, while Sagremor was his foster-brother. (See Morgawse and the Questing Beast for the Vulgate and Post-Vulgate versions of Mordred being Arthur’s son.)

Mordred was one of the knights of the Round Table, but he betrayed the king and the fellowship. He tried to overthrow Arthur as king of Logres (Britain) and waged a war against Arthur and his knights. In the battle of Camlann, Mordred killed Galegantine the Welshman, Yvain, and Sagremor the Foolish (according to the Vulgate Cycle). In the end, Mordred mortally wounded Arthur, but his dying uncle/father had killed him.


Mordred had two sons, according to the Mort Artu (Vulgate Cycle). They seized power after the death of Mordred and Arthur. The eldest son named Melehan had killed King Lionel in battle of Winchester, but was himself slained by Lionel’s brother, Bors. The other son was unnamed and killed by Lancelot.

Related Information
Mordred, Modred.
Medrawd, Medraut (Welsh).
Mordret (French).
Related Articles
Arthur, Anna, Morgawse, King Lot, Gawain.
House of King Arthur,
House of Arthur & Culhwch (Welsh).


Julek Heller
Illustration, 1990



King Galehaut

Companion of Lancelot. Galeholt was the son of a giantess. In the Prose Tristan, Galehaut’s father was named Brunor.

Galehaut was the king of Sorelois (Surluse). Galehaut had several titles: Lord of the Distant Isles (Faraway Isles), Uncrowned King, Haut Prince. Galehaut was described as very tall knight, and well-loved king by his people for his chivalry, fairness and generosity.

In the Vulgate Lancelot, Galehaut had conquered Sorelois, where he had become king. Galehaut then proceeded to conquer thirty other kingdoms, including North Wales. Galehaut was called the Uncrowned King, because he refused to be crowned king, until he conquered Logres, the kingdom of King Arthur.

Lancelot had just conquered Dolorous Guard, when Galehaut had invaded Arthur’s kingdom. Lancelot had so distinguished encounters (battles) against Galehaut’s men that he wished to become friend to the unnamed Red or Black Knight (Lancelot).

Galehaut managed to befriend Lancelot during the third battle against Arthur. Lancelot agreed to become Galehaut’s friend only if the king surrendered to Arthur at the moment of victory in the battle. Galehaut not only surrendered to Arthur, bust stuck new friendship to Arthur, Guinevere and Gawain.

It was only through Guinevere that Galehaut learned of Lancelot’s name. Galehaut also discovered his young friend’s love to the queen. Galehaut then proceeded to arrange Guinevere to return Lancelot’s love, where the queen bestowed the first kiss to Lancelot.

Galehaut aided Arthur in the war against the Saxons where he, Lancelot and Hector would become the Knights of the Round Table. Galehaut return to his own kingdom with Lancelot, where all his castles collapsed. Galehaut learned that God was angry with him for making war upon Arthur and that his friendship with Lancelot would cause his own death. This made Lancelot upset.

They stayed in his kingdom, until he learned that had imposter had imprisoned Guinevere. Arthur fell madly in love with the False Guinevere that he would have executed his real wife, had Lancelot not challenged and defeated three knights from Camelides. Galehaut offered Guinevere refuge and sanctuary in his kingdom, until the queen was reconciled with Arthur.

Lancelot went to rescue Gawain, when the hero was captured by Morgan le Fay. She stole Lancelot’s ring, telling Arthur’s court that Lancelot was dying. Galehaut and other knights set out on a quest to find Lancelot.

After a long search, Galehaut believed that his friend had died. Griefstricken, Galehaut fell ill, after fasting, dying ten days later.

Lancelot would later reburied Galehaut in the tomb at Joyeuse Guard (formerly known as Dolorous Guard). At Lancelot’s death he would be beside him.

Galehodin, Galehaut’s nephew and godson, inherited the lands after Galehaut’s death.

Related Information
Galehaut, Galeholt, Galehot.
Uncrowned King,
the Haut Prince,
Lord of the Distant Isles.
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Lancelot, Guinevere, Arthur, Gawain, Galehaut, Morgan le Fay.


King Mordrain (Evalach)

In the Vulgate Cycle, King Mordrain was originally a pagan king of Sarras named Evalach. Mordrain was married to a beautiful lady, named Sarrasinte, sister of Nascien.

He became a Christian when he met Joseph of Arimathea and his son, Josephus. Mordrain was the brother-in-law of Nascien.

When Josephus was dying, Mordrain wanted something to remember his friend by. Josephus told the king to bring the white shield to him. Josephus, who had a nose-bleed, drew a cross with his blood, on Mordrain’s shield. Galahad, descendant of Nascien, would later receive this shield when he took part in the quest for the Grail.

When Nascien broke the Sword with the Strange Belt, it was Mordrain, who restored the sword, by joining the two sections of the blade together. Rather than keep the magic sword for himself, he left the sword on the bed of the magical ship.

According to the Vulgate Cycle, King Mordrain was still alive, but ancient and blinded, during the Grail quest. Mordrain lost his sight and the strength of his limbs, because he had dared to look at the Grail. It was Galahad who restored Mordrain’s sight. Galahad comforted the aged king, until Mordrain died in Galahad’s arms, fulfilling another prophecy about Galahad.

Related Information
Mordrain, Mordrains (baptismal name).
Evalach, Evelake (pagan name).
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Nascien, Joseph of Arimathea, Galahad.



Nascien (Seraphe)

Duke of Orberica. Nascien was originally named Seraphe. Nascien changed his name when he was baptised by Josephus, son of Joseph of Arimathea.

Nascien was the son of the Duchess of Orberica, and the brother of Sarrasinte. Sarrasinte had married King Mordrain, so Mordrain was his brother-in-law.

Nascien fulfilled the prophecy of the Sword of the Strange Belt. The inscription on the blade say that the sword will failed the man who prized the sword above everything else. When Nascien tried used the sword to kill a giant, it broke in two. King Mordrain restored the sword by putting the two sections of the blade together. Nascien was wounded in the shoulder by a flying magic sword, as punishment for drawing the Sword of the Strange Belt.

Another prophecy says that it would be the descendant of Nascien, who would win the Grail. His descendant was Galahad, through his mother Elaine and his grandfather King Pelles.

Nascien died on the same day as his sister and his wife, not long after Mordrain had lost his vision and the strength of his limbs. Mordrain survived until Galahad cured him.

Related Information
Nascien (baptismal name).
Seraph, Seraphe (pagan name).
Related Articles
King Mordrain, Joseph of Arimathea, Galahad, Elaine, King Pelles.



Balin le Savage

Balin was known as the Knight of the Two Swords. Balin le Savage was the brother of Balan. Balin and Balan lived in a time before the marriage of Arthur to Guinevere and the Fellowship of the Round Table. So, though Balin was depict one of the early great knight, Balin was not a knight of the Round Table.

There has been several version of how the Grail Keeper became the Maimed King and the origin of desolation of his kingdom. The Suite du Merlin (Merlin Continuation), which formed part of the Post-Vulgate cycle, introduced a new variation to the theme. Sir Thomas Malory would later used the entire episodes of Balin in Book II of his Le Morte d’Arthur.

Balin was one of Arthur’s early champions, before Merlin and Arthur had organised the fellowship of the Round Table. Balin was the only knight in Arthur’s court, able to draw the magical sword out of the scabbard, which was carried by Lady Lile. Balin liked the sword too much that he refused to return the sword to Lady Lile of Avelion, earning her enmity. Lile cursed Balin that he would regret ever taking the sword from her.

When the Lady of the Lake who had given Excalibur, came to King Arthur, she asked for Balin’s head and Lady Lile’s as a gift in return for the sword. Arthur refused. Balin beheaded the Lady of the Lake, because she had caused the death of Balin’s mother.

Balin and his brother helped Arthur in the renewed war against the twelve kings. They were best knights on Arthur’s side along with Sir Kay and Sir Pellinor, and helped Arthur win the war.


According to the Suite du Merlin and Malory’s Le Mort d’Arthur, it was Balin who fought against King Pellam (Parlan), and wounded the king with the Dolorous Stroke (the Bleeding Lance?). The Dolorous Stroke resulted in the destruction of the three kingdoms; the land became barren, which became known as the Waste Land. A great enchantment fell upon the kingdom of Logres.

Later, when Galahad healed Pellam’s thigh, the enchantment in Logres was broken and the Waste Land was restored and became fertile. The whole quest ended with Galahad’s death and the Grail and Bleeding Lance vanished from Britain.

The Vulgate Cycle gives a different version of how Parlan was wounded, and how the kingdom became a Waste Land. It makes no mention of Balin or of the Dolorous Stroke. See Sword! Sword! And More Swords! for the Vulgate version.


Balin and his brother Balan were tricked into fighting a duel with one another. They only discovered one another’s identity too late after they mortally wounded each other.

You can find the whole life story of Balin in the Legend of Excalibur, under the article titled the Knight with Two Swords.

Related Information
Balin, Balain, Balyn.
Balin le Savage.
Related Articles
Arthur, Lady of the Lake, Parlan, Galahad.
Knight with Two Swords, Sword! Sword! And More Swords!.




Meleagant was the son of Baudemagus (Bademagu), king of Gorre. Meleagant captured many of Arthur’s knights and staff, including Queen Guinevere and Sir Kay.

Meleagant was portrayed as a treacherously wicked knight, who would not stoop to abduct ladies and knights from Logres, either to make them work on the land in servitude or as prisoners. Meleagant had abducted Guinevere, but lost her when Lancelot came to Gorre and fought him.

Baudemagus opposed all the crime his son had performed but was powerless to prevent him. However, Baudemagus managed to prevent Meleagant from raping Arthur’s wife (Guinevere).

Lancelot and Meleagant was due to fight one another at Arthur’s court, one year from then, when he had abducted and imprisoned Lancelot from a door-less dungeon tower. Lancelot was rescued by Meleagant’s own sister who had previous aided the hero in the quest.

Lancelot was nursed back to help by Meleagant’s sister. The hero arrived in time to fight and kill Meleagant in the final duel.


See Knight of the Cart, from Lancelot du Lac, for the full story.

Related Information
Related Articles
Baudemagus, Lancelot, Guinevere, Gawain, Kay.

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