As stated earlier in the Perceval’s Tradition, there are two main Grail heroes, Perceval and Galahad. Here, we now concentrated on the new hero, Galahad. Though Perceval still play an active role in this story.
After Robert de Boron, the next important phases of the Grail romance, was the Vulgate Cycle or prose Lancelot (sometimes called Lancelot-Graal cycle). The Vulgate Cycle comprised mainly of three books, written in Old French (between 1225-1237), possibly by three different, yet unknown authors. The middle of the three books was called Queste del Saint Graal (“The Quest of the Holy Grail”).
I have relied heavily on this work, published by Penguin Classics (translated by P. M. Matarasso), under the title of “The Quest of the Holy Grail”.
The only other author I know of, who used Galahad as the main Grail hero, was Sir Thomas Malory. Malory wrote the large Middle English prose, called Le Morte d’Arthur (c. 1470), published in the Caxton edition in 1485. This work began with the birth of Arthur, till his death in the last book.
The Grail story by Malory doesn’t begin until Book XIII. The story ended at Book XVII, with the death of Galahad and Perceval. Sir Bors returned to Camelot. Related stories on the Grail, like how the Fisher King (King Pellam) was maimed, can be found in Book II, chapter 11, 14-16 (see Balin or Knight with Two Swords in the Legend of Excalibur). How Elaine, daughter of King Pelles, seduced Lancelot and the birth of Galahad, in Book XI, chapter 1-10 (See Lancelot and Elaine in Lancelot du Lac).
Since the Vulgate Cycle and Malory’s Grail story are similar, I decided to just concentrate on Queste del Saint Graal (Vulgate Cycle), because I believe this is the best version.
Quest of the Holy Grail (Vulgate Cycle)
Genealogy: House of Lancelot (Vulgate / Post Vulgate version)
|Grail Legend (Background)|
|Origin of the Grail (Vulgate Version)|
The Quest of the Holy Grail was called “Queste del Saint Graal“. It was written in the Old French, and form part of the cycle known as the Vulgate Cycle or the Prose Lancelot (c. 1230). The other Vulgate manuscripts were Lancelot and La Mort le Roi Artu (“The Death of King Arthur”).
Of all the grail romances, Queste del Saint Graal, was the most ascetic in outlook. The story placed a lot of emphasis on virginity and chastity, on sins and repentance. Winning the grail involved more than just chivalry, jousting and fighting. It was to be sought on the spiritual plane.
|The story begins, on the eve of Pentecost, when a damsel turned up at Camelot, asking Lancelot to accompanied her into the forest. They went to the nunnery, where Lancelot met his cousins, Sir Bors and Sir Lionel. Here the nuns brought a young nameless man. The nuns asked that Lancelot should make the youth a knight. Lancelot agreed. After they knighted the lad, Bors remarked that the new knight so resembled Lancelot, he was quite sure he was Lancelot’s son by Elaine, daughter of Pellés.
In the morning, Lancelot and his cousins returned to Camelot for the feast at Pentecost. Lancelot discovered new inscription upon the Siege Perilous. The inscription says that 450 years after Jesus’ resurrection the true Grail knight would sit upon this seat upon this very day.
Arthur and his knights discovered another new marvel. A great slab of marble had floated down the river. In the centre of the stone was a sword, with an inscription, saying that only the greatest knight could draw out the sword. Arthur thought the sword was meant for Lancelot and asked him to take the sword. Lancelot refused, because he doesn’t believe the sword was destined to be wield by him. So Arthur ordered Gawain to take the sword. Reluctantly, Gawain tried to draw the sword out, but could not even budge it.
Lancelot told Gawain that he was foolish to try to draw the sword. Lancelot foretold that he would be wounded by whoever wield this sword. (See Father and Son, how Galahad wounded Gawain with this sword.)
Returning to King Arthur’s court, the king and his knights sat in their seats around the Round Table. An old man arrived and led a new knight, which Lancelot had knighted yesterday, to the Siege Perilous. The young knight sat without harm. The old man announced that the quest for the grail has begun, before he left.
When all was seated, the Grail arrived, carried by angels. All the knights were allowed vision of the Grail; all were allowed to eat the food from the Grail. After this the Grail vanished without a trace.
Arthur discovered that the new knight was named Galahad. His wife and queen, Guinevere, knew that Galahad was the son of Lancelot and Elaine, daughter of King Pelles. Galahad refused to admit any relationship with Lancelot.
Before the knights set out the quest on the following morning, Galahad was without a sword or shield. Arthur recalling yesterday incidence, took Galahad to the river, and showed the youth, the sword lodged into the stone slab. Galahad easily drew the sword out of the marble. Arthur told Galahad he had no need for a shield. Arthur was sure that God would provide Galahad with a shield during the quest.
|After five day of journey, Galahad met with King Baudemagus and Yvain the Bastard at the abbey. He discovered that a shield with a device of a red cross, could not be taken away from the abbey, without being challenged by a White Knight. King Baudemagus wanted to test if he could take the shield. No sooner than that Baudemagus took the shield out into the forest, then the king was attacked by the White Knight. Baudemagus was seriously wounded. The White Knight rebuked Baudemagus for taking the shield. The White Knight gave the shield to Baudemagus’ squire named Melias, and ordered him to give the shield to Galahad. When Baudemagus was brought back to the abbey, Melias gave the shield to Galahad.
The White Knight appeared and told the hero, why Baudemagus had sinned for taking the shield and the history of the shield. The shield had belonged to King Evalach of Sarras, which was used in the time of his war against the Egyptian king Tholomer. Evalach changed his name to Mordrain, when he accepted Christianity as his religion and was baptised with his brother-in-law, Nascien, who was formerly known as Seraphe. (See Death of Josephus and Nascien about the shield of Mordrain.)
When Josephus, son of Joseph of Arimathea, was on his deathbed, he had a nosebleed. Using his blood, he painted the cross on Evalach’s white shield, so that the king would always remembered him. On the death of his brother-in-law, Nascien, Evalach placed the shield where they buried Nascien. An abbey was built where Nascien was buried. No man can take the shield from the abbey without being harmed. It was prophesied that Galahad, descendant of Nascien would receive the shield, 420 years after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. It was even prophesied that Galahad would receive the shield five days after being dubbed a knight. (See Death of Josephus and Nascien in the Origin of the Grail.)
As Galahad left Baudemagus at the abbey to continue on his quest, Melias wanted to accompany him and be knighted by Galahad. Galahad agreed. As Galahad and Melias travelled together, they decided to separate when they reached a fork on the road. A sign at the road says that only the greatest knight in the world should take the left road. The right road would probably lead to certain death. Melias persuaded Galahad to let him take the left road. Even though he was newly knighted, Melias already had presumption of his own prowess.
As Melias travelled alone, he saw a beautiful gold crown on the thorn bush. Greed and covetedness led to his downfall. Melias took the crown and was immediately attacked by a knight. The knight impaled Melias in his flank. When Galahad went after Melias, he was distressed to find his companion seriously wounded. Melias asked Galahad to take him to an abbey where he could repent for his sins before dying. However, two knights appeared, the one who had wounded Melias, attacked Galahad. Galahad wounded the first knight in the shoulder with his lance. The second knight lost his hand when Galahad severed it with his sword.
Galahad took the wounded Melias to an abbey. After seeing to Melias’ wound, the monk saw that he would live. The monk berated Melias for his pride (trusting in his own prowess and not in Jesus).
The monk informed that in the quest for the Holy Grail, a knight should rely less on the temporal order (such as prowess in arms) and more on spiritual order. This was the only way to understand the secrets of the Grail. The only reason why Melias survived death was that he commended himself to God, (crossing or blessing himself) before he engaged the knight who wounded him.
(Note that the red cross on the white shield, has a historical equivalent, that of the Knights Templar, a Crusader order that began in 1128, after the First Crusade, and ended in controversy in 1314. This order proper name was the Knights of Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. The Templars wore robes and carried a white shields with the emblazon of the red cross.
There is some beliefs that this order were caretaker of several religious relics and artifacts, among them the Grail and the Mandylion, which is now known as the Shroud of Turin.)
|Galahad left Melias, and travelled until he reached the Castle of Maidens. Seven brothers practised an evil custom at the castle. They challenged any knight-errant to combat. Any maiden who comes to the castle, became a virtual prisoner.
Galahad defeated the seven brothers. When they found that they could not overcome Galahad by the sheer strength of number, they fled from the castle. Galahad freed the maidens from the evil seven brothers.
The custom came about ten years ago, when the seven brothers they tried to take the Duke Lynor’s daughter by force. They captured the castle through treachery. The Duke’s daughter foretold that a single knight would defeat the seven brothers over a maiden. This prediction angered the seven brothers, they were determined to capture any maiden they find, and kill any knight who came before the castle, which was why this stronghold was called Castle of Maidens.
Gawain tried to find Galahad, hoping to accompany Galahad in the quest. He encountered his brother Gaheris and Yvain the Bastard. They travelled together. The seven brothers who were defeated by Galahad attacked three Round Table knights. Gawain and his companions killed the seven brothers without problem. When they lodged for the night at hermitage, the hermit rebuked Gawain for his sins. To succeed in the quest, Gawain did not need to kill the seven brothers. But the hermit’s warning was ignored.
|For the first part of his journey, Lancelot travelled with Sir Perceval. They encountered his son, Galahad, but they were not able to recognised Galahad, because he carried a white shield with a red cross. They attacked Galahad, who proceeded to unhorsed Lancelot in a joust and knock Perceval off his horse with a sword blow to the head. Galahad who did not recognised his father and would have killed Lancelot and Perceval, but an angel warned Galahad to leave or he would commit a sin of murdering his own father. Galahad horrified at harming his father and Perceval, fled from them.
Lancelot and Perceval who never met a knight, wondered who could so easily defeat two great knights; Lancelot wanted to follow the knight they didn’t recognised (Galahad). But after a day of travel, Perceval began to tire, and wanted to rest. Lancelot refused to rest, so he left Perceval behind to pursue the knight.
When Lancelot did finally rest for the night, he slept outside of an abandoned church. Lancelot had taken all his armour off when he slept. That morning, Lancelot was woken by the arrival of a wounded knight in a litter and his squire. Then Lancelot witnessed a vision of the Grail come before the wounded knight and healed him. Even though Lancelot was awake, he lay there mute and unable to move. The knight and squire finding him not moving, the squire stole Lancelot’s armour, weapon and horse and gave them to his lord.
It was only when the two left, that Lancelot was able to move and speak. Lancelot lamented that his sins prevented him from moving or speaking when he saw the incidence with Grail and the wounded knight. His sin was his adultery with Queen Guinevere.
When Lancelot came upon a priest in a small chapel, the priest told him the reason why he could not achieved this quest. Despite been the greatest knight before the arrival of his son, Sir Galahad, it was his adultery with Queen Guinevere that he would never understand the secrets of the Grail. It was the power of God that struck Lancelot dumb when the Grail appeared before him.
The only way for Lancelot regain pre-eminence as a great knight and to have any success in his quest, he must repent for his sins, and promise to never commit them again.
|While Lancelot stayed with priest, repenting for his sins and praying to Jesus for forgiveness, Perceval met his aunt. His aunt warned him that for him to succeed in the quest, he must remain chaste and virgin. Not longer after leaving his aunt, Perceval nearly forgot her warning.
Perceval went to mass at one of the chapels, and witnessed an old man wearing a crown. Perceval discovered that the old man was King Mordrain (Evalach), he had lived for over four hundred years, blinded and with a wound that never healed. When he left the chapel, he encountered some bandits who attacked him. Perceval lost his horse in the fight. Perceval was saved by the arrival of Galahad, who helped defeated the bandits before riding away.
Perceval wanted to follow his rescuer, but he had no horse to pursue the unnamed knight (Galahad). Perceval was distressed that he would do almost anything for horse.
That night, Perceval met a damsel who was willing to give her horse to him, in return for a boon. Perceval agreed. The damsel had a great black warhorse, that when he looked the horse in the eyes, Perceval was suddenly fearful of the horse. His instinct should have warned him something was not right about the horse. Yet he mounted upon the horse, and tried to track down the knight with the white shield.
However, the hero lost control of the horse. The horse galloped through the woods with wild abandon, heading towards river. Perceval was saved only when he crossed himself. The horse was actually a demon that threw him off its back, before plunging into the water. Perceval realised that he was deceived by the demon in the form of horse. Perceval would have drown had he fallen into the water, while wearing full armour.
Perceval was thankful to God for protecting him, but he was distressed when he did not know which island the demon-horse had taken him to. Then Perceval thought he was saved when a ship to the island. Perceval came upon one of the most women he ever seen. Perceval enjoyed her hospitality. The woman tried to seduce Perceval into having sex with her. However when Perceval commended himself to God, by crossing himself, the woman, her servants and the ship she arrived in, had disappeared.
Another ship arrived in the morning. On board was a priest. When Perceval told the priest all that had happened to him, the priest explained why Satan had sent these demons to him. Satan hoped that Perceval would commit a mortal sin, so he would fail in the quest for Grail.
After all this, Perceval allowed aboard the ship, to continue his quest.
|Lancelot had stayed with priest for five days, repenting for his sins and listening to the hermit preaching and exhorting him. When it was time to leave, he received new armour, weapon and horse from the priest.
Lancelot met a hermit, who was watching over his dead friend (a holy man). The hermit learned from Satan that his companion’s soul was saved. The hermit asked Lancelot to put on his dead companion’s hairshirt as a mark of penance. Lancelot learnt from the hermit that he would failed to gain the secrets of the Grail. This hermit also told him why he could never witness the final outcome of the quest (because of his sin – adultery).
Lancelot then made a commitment, as a Christian and a knight of the Round Table, to remain chaste for the rest of his life. When he left the hermit, he had a vision of two knights and seven kings. Lancelot was descendant of Nascien, brother-in-law of King Mordrain. From Nascien’s son, there was royal line of seven kings, until King Ban. The elder knight was Lancelot, while the younger was his son Galahad. Galahad was turned into a lion, symbolising of what set him apart from all other knights.
When Lancelot left the hermit, he entered the tournament that was fought between black and white knights. Though the black knights had the advantage of numbers, they were losing. Lancelot thought he should help those who were losing. In the joust, he was unhorsed and captured as prisoner. When he agreed to do what his captor (white knight) wanted, he was allowed free.
The tournament had more significant meaning. When he met a woman, she explained to him, that the black knights symbolised knights who had sinned, while the white knights were true knights of God. Again, Lancelot had made bad judgement.
When Lancelot left the woman, he continued on his quest, until he arrived at a river. At this river he could find neither ford nor bridge. Lancelot for the first time since the quest began decided to remain on the bank of the river, and pray to God and Jesus for guidance.
|Gawain met with Hector, brother of Lancelot. They both complained that they did not have much adventure in this quest. They decided to travel together. That night they had a strange and disturbing dreams.
Few days later, they encountered a knight. Neither side knew one another. They challenged each other and jousted. Gawain unhorsed and mortally wounded the other knight. When the dying knight revealed that he was Sir Yvain the Bastard, Gawain and Hector were horrified that Gawain had killed their friend and fellow-knight of the Round Table.
After burying their friend, Gawain and Hector continued on their quest. When they encountered a hermit, they asked for his wisdom. They sought to interpret their strange and disturbing dreams; they found a hermit who explained the significance of the visions. The hermit warned Gawain the quest for the Grail should not be sought on the earthly planes and glories, but through spiritual enlightenment and sublimation. Through confessing and repenting for their sins, was the only chance they have of even having small success in this quest.
The hermit said the best thing for them, were to give up the quest and returned to Camelot, otherwise the consequences would be very high. Gawain ignored the hermit’s warnings, in his search for chivalric glories and adventure.
As Gawain continued on his path for adventure, he began to destroy his friends, one by one. By the end of the quest, Gawain would have unwittingly killed eighteen knights that had also took parts on the quest.
|Bors stayed with a hermit for a few days before he continued on his quest. As Bors travel he saw a bird flew to the nest with dead chicks. The parent bird used its beak to puncture its own chest. Bors clearly saw that the young chicks miraculously revived, when the blood touched them. However, the parent bird died from loss of blood.
Bors had defended the lady from being disinherited by her older sister. The older sister had taken most of her land by war. Bors challenged and defeated the older sister’s champion named Priadan the Black, in combat.
Bors again returned to the quest, but that nights he had two puzzling dreams.
The next day, he saw his brother Lionel, being led away by two captors. Apparently, he had been abused and badly whipped by his enemies. Before he could rescue his brother. A maiden called out for his help. Her cousin abducted her, and was set to rape her.
Bors suffered from agonising indecision. He must either help his brother from being killed or the rescue maiden from being raped. Bors decided that his knightly honour demanded that he should rescue the maiden. Bors easily defeated the would-be ravisher, and escort the girl to her family who was searching for her.
Then Bors sought to save his brother. At once he came upon another hermit. He discovered too late, that his brother had been killed. When he carrying his brother to a nearby castle, for burial, he thought that Lionel’s body strangely appeared almost weightless. When he came upon another hermit, he was given strange interpretations of his visions. This strange hermit told him he should have saved his own brother first; instead of rescuing the maiden.
At the castle, the lady came to Bors, asking him to be her lover. Bors was shocked by her words. Bors refused to return her love. The lady and her companions threatened that they will throw themselves over the castle wall if he don’t become her lover; still Bors refused her request. When they leaped toward their deaths, Bors crossed himself. Immediately the tower, the lady and her servants all disappeared. Bors realised that the demons were trying to lure him to commit mortal sins.
Even Lionel’s body had vanished with the other demons. Bors realised that his brother was still alive. Bors immediately left the place. Bors found a chapel nearby. There he sought consultation with the priest, about his recent experiences and visions. The monk gave all the correct interpretation of his experiences and dreams. He also assured him that his brother was still alive, and he behaved correctly in saving the maiden from been ravished. His visions were related to the two recent experiences. The demons at the tower were hoping that the death of his brother would make him to fall to despair, and allowed himself to commit a sin by becoming the lady’s lover.
The next day, Bors set out and met his brother. Lionel was furious that his brother would go save the maiden and not him. He challenged Bors to fight him, but Bors refused to fight. Lionel immediately attacked Bors, who would not defend himself. Lionel ignored all his brother’s pleas that he would make amend. Lionel would have killed his brother, had the monk, who had been Bors’ host, threw himself before the sword blow; and the monk was killed.
Calogrenant, another knight on the quest, arrived in time to save Bors. However, he was no match for Lionel. Calogrenant was also killed. As Bors drew his sword to defend himself, a voice prevented him from striking a blow to Lionel. A ball of fire struck Lionel’s shield. Lionel was unharmed but he lost conscious.
The voice then told him to leave his brother, and seek out Perceval, and he would also later meet Galahad. Bors immediately left his brother behind. Bors met Perceval by the shore of the sea.
|Galahad journeyed throughout the kingdom of Logres (Britain). He helped one of the sides in a tournament. Gawain and Hector recognised that Galahad fought on the other side. They refused to face Galahad. However, Galahad never recognised Gawain and Hector. Suddenly, Galahad charged before them. With a mighty blow from his red sword, Galahad unhorsed Gawain. Galahad had unwittingly given Gawain a serious wound to the head. Lancelot’s prediction that Gawain would receive a terrible wound from the sword that he tried to draw from the stone before the quest began. (See the New Knight, about how Gawain failed to draw the sword from the stone.)
When Galahad arrived at a hermitage, a maiden came to him, asking him to follow her. She brought Galahad to the shore where he met two knights. Perceval and Bors warmly greeted Galahad.
A mysterious ship arrived, without a single crew-member aboard. There was inscription written on the side of the ship, stating that no man without strong faith in God and Jesus would be able to board the ship.
The maiden told Perceval that she was her sister, the daughter of King Pellehen (Pellinore). Though, her name is not given in this story, she was generally known as Dindraine or Dindrane in some versions. His sister told him that she feared for his life, if Perceval’s faith in God was weak. But Perveval told her that his faith was strong and boarded the ship with his other companions.
Within the ship they found a large beautiful bed, that was surrounded by three wooden posts. (See The Ship and the Tree for the history of the ship the bed and the three wooden posts).
On the bed was a strange sword, with handbreadth of blade drawn from the scabbard. The sword had inscriptions on the scabbard, hilt and blade, which were written in the form of prophecies.
The maiden knew the history of the sword, and the prophecies that had been fulfilled concerning the sword. One of the histories is how the Dolorous Stroke that King Varlan had used the sword against King Lambor, grandfather of King Pelles. Valan had found this sword aboard the ship. When Varlan killed Lambor with this sword, he had caused the kingdom of the Grail King to become the Waste Land.
(According to the Suite du Merlin (Post-Vulgate) and Thomas Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, it was Balin who caused the Waste Land with Dolorous Stroke. But Balin had used the Bleeding Lance against Pellehan or Pellam, father of Pelles, instead of the sword. See Balin in the Legend of Excalibur.)
Some of the prophecies concerning the swords had already being fulfilled. Only a couple of prophecies were to be fulfilled that day.
The first prophecy was that only one knight could grip the sword properly. Of the three Grail knights, only Galahad was able to encircle the hilt with his hand.
The second prophecy says that a maiden of royal birth and a virgin, must replace the existing belt with a new belt, before Galahad can wear the sword at his side.
Perceval’s sister replaced the hemp sword-belt, with the belt that she made from the threads of fine gold, silk and her own golden hair, studded with precious stone. Galahad took the sword, unsheathed the blade and admired the fine craftsmanship, before returning the sword to the scabbard.
The Grail maiden told the heroes that the sword was called the Sword of the Strange Belt or Sword of the Strange Straps, while the scabbard was called the Memory of Blood.
See The Adventures of Nascien and Celidoine about the Nascien on the ship, and Death of Josephus and Nascien about the death of King Lambor. See also Sword! Sword! And More Swords! about the prophecy and history of the sword.
|Galahad and his companions left the ship, and travelled until they came upon a castle, where the knights from the castle attacked them. The people of the castle practised the custom extracting a dishful of virgin blood of captured maiden. It had being foretold that only the virgin blood of a maiden of royal family could heal the lady of the castle from leprosy.
Galahad and his companions easily defeated the knights by evening, defending Perceval’s sister. But when Perceval’s sister heard why the custom was practised, she willingly gave them the dishful of her virgin blood. However, doing so would bring about the maiden’s death.
Dying, Perceval’s sister asked her brother and her other companions not to bury her here. She instructed them to place her body in a boat, allowing the boat to set adrift. She knew that they would later find her body in Sarras. She asked them to bury her body in Sarras, because she knew that this was the city that Galahad and her brother will be buried beside her.
Perceval’s sister soon died. The lady of the castle was bathed in the virgin blood, and was miraculously healed. Galahad and his companions immediately set about doing her instruction. They placed her body in a boat and set it adrift.
This was the same custom practice, earlier in Balin’s adventure. Balin’s companion did not die, but her maiden blood failed to cure the lady of leprosy. See Dolorous Stroke in the Knight with Two Swords.
|After setting the boat adrift, Galahad and his companions set out in different directions for their next journey. They would meet again at the Grail Castle (Corbenic).
Lancelot, who had waited by the river for weeks, was told by a voice, to board the first boat that he encountered. When Lancelot the boat, he found the body of maiden. Lancelot found the note that Perceval had left his sister’s body. Lancelot learned of their adventure and how Perceval’s sister had died.
Lancelot spends most of his time in praying in the boat, until Galahad found the boat. Surprised to meet his father. They spend the time together, talking of their lives and their adventures. After half a year passed, a white knight arrived with a spare mount for Galahad. He informed them that it was time to separate.
Lancelot stayed in the boat, until it landed at Corbenic (Grail) Castle. There, Lancelot had a partial vision of the Grail. When Lancelot desired to see more, the Holy Spirit struck him down. He was left in a daze for twenty-four days, without being able to speak or move.
When Lancelot recovered his senses, King Pelles discovered who his patient was, invited Lancelot to his court. Lancelot spent five days as a guest with Pelles. Then Lancelot returned to the kingdom of Logres.
On his journey to Camelot, Lancelot happened to stay at the abbey, where he found his friend, King Baudemagus of Gorre was buried. The elegy says that Gawain had killed Baudemagus, because neither knight recognise the other.
Galahad travelled far and wide throughout Britain. Galahad performed many miracles on his journey. He banished demons, and healed the sicks.
Galahad then came upon an abbey that Perceval had once attended mass, earlier in his adventure (see Peregrinations of Perceval). There, Galahad met the ancient blind king. He comforted King Mordrain, healing his blindness, before the ancient king died in his arms.
Galahad also came to an abbey in Gorre, where he came upon the tombs of King Galahad of Hosselice (Wales), and Simeon. Through a miracle he quench the fire that surround the tomb of Simeon, simply by walking towards the tomb.
It had been five years since he was separated from his two companions, Perceval and Bors; they met again. They then headed towards Corbenic, the Grail Castle.
|Galahad and his companions were welcomed to Corbenic, by his grandfather King Pelles and his family and retinues. There they met Pelles’ son, Elyezer, his niece (unnamed), and his father the Maimed King, named Parlan (Pellam). Parlan was wounded for drawing the Sword with Strange Belt. (According to Malory, the knight Balin had wounded King Pellam (Parlan) with the spear known as Dolorous Stroke, while his son, King Pelles, also known as the Maimed King, wounded himself with Sword with Strange Belt).
Elyezer brought the Broken Sword, to the three companions, only Galahad was able to restore the sword, by joining the two pieces together. They gave the sword to Bors. (Gawain had previously failed to mend this sword when he met Elyezer. See Gawain at Corbenic in the Lancelot page.)
Nine other knights arrived from Gaul, Ireland and Denmark. They joined Galahad and his friends at the Grail table. Josephus, son of Joseph of Arimathea, magically appeared in the bishop outfits before the seated knights. Josephus brought the Grail and the Bleeding Lance with him. Josephus informed the knights they were rewarded for their piety and faith, before the saint vanished.
Jesus then arrived and came before them. He allowed the twelve knights to partake the food from the platter that was used in the Last Supper to serve the paschal lamb.
Jesus instructed Galahad that he was to return to the ship where he received the Sword with Strange Belt, and take the Grail out of Logres (Britain), to the spiritual palace in the city of Sarras. Sarras was the spiritual capital of King Mordrain (Evalach). It was formerly a Saracen city, but Joseph and his Josephus converted the king, his family and the whole city. It had reverted to paganism when the king didn’t return home from Britain. See Vulgate History of the Grail.
Jesus allowed Galahad to take Perceval and Bors on this journey. By withdrawing the Grail from Britain, he was removing the grace of God from the Britons who had not kept faith. (This action would lead to destruction of Logres and the death of Arthur, in the next section: The Death of King Arthur also called Mort le Roi Artu in the Vulgate Cycle.)
Before Jesus left, he further instructed Galahad to heal the Maimed King (Parlan). Taking some of the blood from the lance, Galahad anointed the Maimed King’s leg. Immediately, the old wound that the king had received was finally healed.
Jesus gave one final blessing to the company before vanishing.
|Galahad and companions said farewell to King Pelles and his family, and the nine knights. Galahad then set out for the sea. They found the miraculous ship waiting for them. Aboard the ship, they found the Grail on the table that was used in Corbenic.
Before the ship, Galahad spent a great deal of his time, praying. He was asking that his death would be soon. Jesus grated his wish. Perceval hearing Galahad’s prayer was a little upset, until Galahad explained to his friend of the wonder he had saw in the Grail.
Upon arriving Sarras, a voice told them to take the Grail to the spiritual palace, they saw that the boat that had bore the body of Perceval’s sister had arrived. They carried the table into the city. Galahad was finding the table very heavy to carry, so he asked a cripple to help him carry the table to the palace. The cripple miraculous got up at help Galahad. The crowds were amazed of the miracle and followed them to the palace.
After placing the Grail within the palace, the three companions immediately went back to the bark (boat), and brought the body of Perceval’s sister to the palace, burying the girl in the tomb.
King Escorant hearing of their arrival summoned the Grail knights before them, asking the nature of their visit. Though, they told them the truth, but the king didn’t believe them. As they disarmed, Escorant’s men immediately seized and imprisoned them.
They spent a year in prison, until Escorant fell seriously ill and realised his errors of arresting the three knights. Escorant had the knights freed and summoned before him. The king asked for their forgiveness, which they readily gave. Escorant then died.
The people of Sarras was without a king, so they appointed Galahad as their king, because they saw the miracle he performed by healing a cripple. Reluctantly, Galahad accepted kingship of Sarras. So Galahad inherited the kingdom that Mordrain had once ruled.
After a year of ruling, Galahad prayed daily for release of his mortal life. Josephus came before him, asked Galahad to look deeply into the Grail, and witnessed the final secret of the Grail. His prayers were answered. Galahad then said farewell to Perceval and Bors, asking the latter, to greet his father for him.
Moment later as he prostrated before the altar, Galahad fell dead. His friends could actually see that his soul was taken to heaven. They also saw two hands appearing before them, taking the Holy Grail and the Bleeding Spear to heaven; never to be seen again in this world.
After burying Galahad with Perceval’s sister, Perceval decided to become hermit, living just outside of the city, devoting the rest of his life to God. Bors stayed with him, still wearing his secular outfit.
A year after Galahad’s death, Perceval died. Bors buried Perceval with Perceval’s sister and Galahad. Seeing that the quest had finally come to an end, he returned to his secular life, and returned to the kingdom of Logres.
Bors returned to Camelot and told Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, of their adventure. Bors also greeted Lancelot for Galahad, and told his cousin of his son’s final days.
So ended the Queste del Saint Graal.
After this, the next Vulgate romance to read, is the Death of King Arthur.