Gawain

British - A Knight of the Round Table. Son of Lot and Morgause. Son of King Arthur and Morgause, some say. Brother of Agravain, Gaheris, Gareth, Itonje and Soredamor. Nephew of King Arthur. Husband of Amurfine, Florie, Orgelleuse, Ragnell or Ysabele. Father of Florence, Gingalin, Lovel and Wigalois. In some accounts his mother is Anna and Welsh stories have Gwyar as his father or mother while others say that he was the son of Gorlois and Igraine. Some say he was cast adrift in a boat as a baby, rescued by a fisherman and baptised by another Gawain known as the Brown. In this version he was said to have travelled on the Continent where he was knighted by the Pope. In the more usual version he was knighted by King Arthur and, en route with his brothers to King Arthur's court to be made knights, they routed a band of robbers who had looted London during the king's absence at his wedding feast and killed the giants Chaos and Sanagran. When he was knighted by the king, Gawain was jealous of Pellimore, who was given an honoured place at the Round Table, and planned to kill him because Pellimore had killed Gawain's father, Lot, in battle. When he met Evadeam, who had been turned into a dwarf by a sorcerer, Evadeam regained his normal stature while Gawain became a dwarf but he also regained his normal size later. At Arthur's wedding feast, a white stag ran into the hall and Gawain was sent to find the stag which had been chased by a white bitch and a pack of black hounds. He rode off with Gaheris amd found two knights, Brian and Sorlus, fighting to decide which of them should chase the stag which had just run past. Gawain stopped them from fighting and made them ride to Arthur's court and submit themselves to the king. He and Gaheris caught up with the stag as it swam across a stream but Gawain was challenged by a knight, Alardine, and killed him in single combat before resuming the chase which led to a castle. Here he caught and killed the stag but was attacked by another knight, owner of the stag. Gawain defeated him and was about to strike off his head when a lady ran in and, flinging herself on the fallen loser, intercepted Gawain's sword stroke and was killed. He spared the beaten knight, Blamire, and sent him also to Arthur's court. Four knights then set on the two brothers and Gawain was wounded in the arm by an arrow. They were saved by four ladies who begged for their lives and were allowed to return to court with the head of the white stag. Gawain was forced to carry the headless body of the lady he had killed in front of him on his horse. To honour a pledge made by the king, he married the ugly old crone, Ragnell, who then reverted to her proper form of a beautiful young woman. They had a son, Gingalin, who came to Arthur's court unaware that the knight who taught him all the knightly arts was his father. As a result of Morgan's attempt on his life, the king felt unable to trust her son, Owain, and banished him from the court. Gawain opted to go with him and they rode off together to seek adventure. Their first encounter was with Morholt and they watched him unhorse two knights in quick succession. He then challenged the two newcomers and toppled and wounded Owain. Gawain put up much stronger resistance and they fought an honourable draw. All three then became friends and travelled on together. At a cross-roads, they met three women who offered to lead them to adventure and Gawain chose the youngest of the three. They came to a clearing where they saw Pelleas unhorse ten knights in succession but yielded without a struggle when the defeated men tied him under his horse and carried him off. Another knight and an ugly dwarf then appeared with a damsel who chose the dwarf and rode off. When another knight appeared and challenged Gawain, the first knight rode off with Gawain's young girl companion. The knight and Gawain fought a draw and the knight told Gawain the story of Pelleas and his hopeless love for Ettard. Gawain tried to help Pelleas by telling Ettard that he was dead, hoping she would realise how much he had meant to her but instead he seduced Ettard. He returned to the cross-roads where he met Owain and Marholt and they all three rode back to Camelot where they were made welcome by the king. He was one of the many knights captured and imprisoned by Tarquin, who hated all Arthur's knights, until rescued by Lancelot. In one story, he helped Gromer conquer the Isle of Man and made Gromer its king. He then beheaded Gromer to break the spell which had turned Gromer into a Turk. In another adventure, he helped Carl of Carlisle to regain his normal shape by beheading him, so breaking a spell which had turned him into a giant. In King Arthur's campaigns against Rome, he was sent to take a message to Lucius, the Roman commander. When Quintilian, a nephew of Lucius, made an insulting remark about Britain, Gawain decapitated him with his sword. A similar story is told about Gayus. He joined the other knights on the Grail Quest and, after many fruitless weeks, met Ector who was equally frustrated. They rode on together and were soon challenged by a knight who Gawain ran through with his spear. To his dismay, the knight turned out to be his friend Owain who died soon after they had taken him to a nearby monastery. Another version says that Gawain was involved in another fight in which he was severely wounded by Galahad and it was a month before he was well enough to return to Camelot having given up the quest. Yet another story says that Ector and Gawain arrived at a small chapel where they fell asleep in the pews and dreamed. Gawain dreamed about a great herd of bulls. A voice told them that they were not fit for the Grail quest so they went to Nascien the hermit, who interpreted their dreams and confirmed what the voice had said with the result that they gave up the quest and returned to Camelot. In some accounts, he fell in love with Orgelleuse and fought many battles on her behalf. She promised to marry him if he would fight her enemy, Gramoflanz. Gawain provoked the knight by taking a twig from a tree near to his castle and they agreed to meet eight days later outside Klingsor's castle, Schastel Marveil. At this castle, he slept on a bed that moved of its own accord and was assailed by a shower of arrows and spears which left him unharmed. He fought a fierce lion and killed it; this turned out to be Klingsor in the form of a lion and his death broke the spell he had placed on Gawain. A similar story is told of Bors at Castle Carbonek. When Gawain fought Gramoflanz he was defeated but his conqueror, who turned out to be Percival, spared his life when Gawain's sister, Honje, pleaded for him. It was said that he married Orgelleuse shortly afterwards. He refused to be a party to the plan by Agravain and Mordred to trap Lancelot and Guinevere together and was with King Arthur on a hunting trip when Mordred brought the king proof of Guinevere's secret affair with Lancelot. Gawain was ordered by the king to put the queen to death at the stake. He refused but his younger brothers, Gaheris and Gareth, felt bound to obey their king's command. Lancelot, riding to the queen's rescue as she was led to the stake, killed Gaheris, Gareth and many others. Bitter at this loss, Gawain became Lancelot's sworn enemy and was in the forefront of the battle when the king besieged Joyous Garde where Lancelot was installed with Guinevere and many of his friends from Brittany. This conflict ended on the orders of the Pope and the queen was returned to her husband. Although Arthur and Lancelot swore a truce, Gawain was unforgiving and, at his urging, the king took his army to the continent to further attack Lancelot who had returned to his home in Brittany. Once again Gawain was in the thick of the battle and when they reached Benwick, Lancelot's capital, challenged Lancelot to single combat. Gawain owned a magic belt which made him invulnerable and increased his strength until midday, after which his strength returned to normal. They fought each other on two successive days and Lancelot, waiting until Gawain's strength ebbed after midday, on each occasion dented his opponent's helmet with a tremendous sword blow that knocked Gawain senseless to the ground. Arthur was called back to England when Mordred usurped his throne and the wounded Gawain was brought back with the returning forces. He tried to take up the battle when he reached Dover but the effort proved too much and he died. He was buried at Dover Castle. On his deathbed he wrote a letter of forgiveness to Lancelot. In a French story, Gawain survived Arthur and became king of Britain. A German story tells how Joram came to Arthur's court and offered the queen a magic girdle. When, on Gawain's advice she rejected it, Joram defeated Gawain in a duel and Gawain is forced to return with Joram to his magic kingdom where he married Joram's niece, Florie, fathering Wigalois. When he returned to the court, he forgot to bring the girdle with him and was never able to return to Joram's realm. In an Irish story, Gawain (as Bhalbhaidh) helped the son of the king of India, who had been turned into a dog, to regain his human form. In the Welsh version he was Gwalchmai, son of Gwyar and Lot, and by some equated with Llew Llaw Gyffes. Sometimes identified as Gawain, Gauvaine, Gauvaine, Gavain, Gavain, Gawan, Gawan, Gawayne, Gawayne, Knight of the Goddess, Knight of the Goddess, Galvagin, Galvagin, Gauvain(e), Gauvain(e), Gwrfan, Gwrfan, Gwrvan, The Red Knight, The Red Knight, Ironside, Perimones, Dutch Walwain, Dutch Walwain, Walewein, Walewein, Walwanus, Walwanus, Walewein, Walewain, French Gauvain, French Gauvain, Gauwain, Gauwain, Gauvain, Gayain, Gayain, Irish Balb(u)aidh, Irish Balb(u)aidh, Bhalbhuaidh, Bhalbhuaidh, Balb(h)uaid(h), Latin Walga(i)nus, Latin Walga(i)nus, Scottish Uallabh, Scottish Uallabh, Welsh Gwalchgwyn, Welsh Gwalchgwyn, Gwalchmai, Gwalchmai, Gwalchgwyn, Gwalchmei, Gwalkmy, Hawk of May, Green Knight, Green Knight or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

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