Arthurian Romances Summary & Study Guide

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Arthurian Romances Summary & Study Guide Description

Arthurian Romances Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Arthurian Romances by Chrétien de Troyes.

Arthurian Romances is a collection of five stories written by Chretien de Troyes during the twelfth or thirteenth century concerning the events surrounding the legendary King Arthur and several of his knights. The stories feature many well-known characters as well as many allusions to stories of King Arthur that are not included in this collection. Arthurian Romances compiles many examples of the manners and habits of the time period, along with examples of chivalry and honor.

In "Erec and Enide," during a hunt for the white stag, an unknown knight offends Queen Guinevere, and Erec pursues him, defeats him, and returns to court with Enide, his host's daughter. After their marriage, they return to Erec's home in Carnant where Erec retires from battle in order to spend more time with his beloved wife. Gossip about Erec's lifestyle change bothers Enide, and she offends her husband when she confides this information. They leave Carnant, and Erec forbids Enide to speak to him without his addressing her first. When three knights plot against Erec, Enide warns him, gaining only his anger. After he defeats the knights, they continue on their journey until five knights plot against Erec. Again, Enide warns him and gains his anger, and again, Erec defeats the knights. They meet a count who falls in love with Enide and plots against Erec. Enide warns her husband and they flee; Erec is finally convinced of Enide's love. Next, Erec battles and defeats King Guivret the Short who pledges his friendship and aid to Erec. Erec and Enide incidentally run into King Arthur's camp before Erec rescues Cadoc of Cabruel from several giants. After this battle, Erec faints from his wounds; Enide, thinking Erec dead, attempts to commit suicide but is prevented by Count Oringle who marries Enide against her will. Count Oringle beats Enide for refusing to eat because of her grief, causing Erec to waken and kill Count Oringle. Meanwhile, Guivret searches for Erec and meets him on the road from Count Oringle's home, but not knowing it is his friend, Guivret fights Erec. They are reconciled and approach Brandigan Castle where Guivret cannot dissuade Erec from attempting the Joy of the Court. After Erec completes that adventure, they go to King Arthur's court where they stay until Erec's father dies and King Arthur crowns Erec.

In "Cliges," a Greek youth related to King Arthur, Alexander, insists upon going to England to seek glory. King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, Alexander and Soredamours go to Brittany where Alexander and Soredamours hide their love, not revealing it even to one another. They receive news that Count Angres plans to challenge King Arthur for his lands, so they gather an army and return to England. At Winchester, the traitors attack at night, Count Angres retreats because they are losing, and Alexander and some of his troops don enemy apparel and pursue the enemy to the castle. There, they defeat the traitors and King Arthur offers Alexander a reward, but Alexander postpones naming his reward until he can ascertain Soredamours' feelings. In Queen Guinevere's tent, the queen addresses Alexander and Soredamours about their love and offers to arrange their marriage herself. Alexander and Soredamours are married and have a child, Cliges. Alexander's father dies, and due to a rumor of Alexander's death, his younger brother, Alis, assumes the throne. Alexander and Alis agree to a pact that Alis can keep the throne if he agrees never to marry so that Cliges will inherit it. After Alexander and Soredamours die, Alis decides to marry Fenice who is promised to the Duke of Saxony. The Greeks go to Germany, and Fenice and Cliges fall in love immediately. Fenice laments having to marry Alis, and Thessala gives Alis a potion to make him think he has possessed Fenice's body when he has not. On their return to Greece, the Saxons ambush the Greeks and Germans. During the battle, the Duke of Saxony sends twelve knights to kidnap Fenice, but Cliges rescues his love. After Cliges defeats the Duke of Saxony in single combat, he visits King Arthur in England where he receives much fame when he participates in a tournament. Cliges returns to Greece where he and Fenice confess their love for one another. They determine a plot to be together, and Thessala assists Fenice in faking her death. Cliges takes Fenice to a house with a secret room, but they are discovered in an outside room and Alis is informed. Cliges and Fenice return to King Arthur to gain help, but soon, messengers arrive to report that Alis is dead and Cliges is the new emperor.

In "The Knight of the Cart," Meleagant arrives at Camelot, boasting that he has captives from King Arthur's court and will only release them if a knight accepts his challenge, defending Queen Guinevere. Kay accepts the challenge, and Sir Gawain follows shortly, finding Kay's horse without a rider. Sir Gawain meets Lancelot, and they search for Queen Guinevere. In a town, Lancelot agrees to climb into a cart to learn about the queen, incurring shame and dishonor. At their lodgings, they see Queen Guinevere being escorted as a prisoner and try to follow but cannot catch up. They receive directions from a girl that consists of two ways to reach Meleagant's lands: the Underwater Bridge, which Sir Gawain opts for, and the Sword Bridge, which Lancelot pursues. As he thinks of his love for the queen, Lancelot is attacked and unhorsed, but he defeats the knight and acquires lodgings with a maiden whom he saves from a feigned rape. The maiden accompanies Lancelot on his journey where he protects her from a potential kidnapping by a knight who is in love with her. He goes to a church and lifts a heavy slab in the cemetery, the legend of which proclaims that Lancelot will free the foreign prisoners of the land. As Lancelot lodges at the home of a knight, a proud knight enters, condemns Lancelot for riding in a cart, and challenges him. Lancelot wins, and the knight begs for mercy, but a maiden arrives and asks for the knight's head. Lancelot fights the knight again and winning, awards the knight's head to the maiden. Lancelot crosses Sword Bridge, which angers Meleagant but pleases King Bademagu who is unable to persuade Meleagant to surrender Queen Guinevere. Lancelot and Meleagant battle, Lancelot is winning, and King Bademagu begs Queen Guinevere to save his son; the queen agrees and Lancelot stops fighting immediately, but Meleagant has to be persuaded by the promise of a rematch the next year at King Arthur's court where he can gain greater glory. Queen Guinevere refuses to speak to Lancelot, making him very sad. Lancelot searches for Sir Gawain but is kidnapped. The rumor of Lancelot's death upsets the queen, and she is thrilled when he returns to King Bademagu's castle, admitting the reason of her anger was his dishonor in riding in the cart. They make love, for which Kay is accused, and Lancelot fights Meleagant to avenge Kay and the queen's honor. Once again, King Bademagu begs for his son's life. Lancelot searches for Sir Gawain and is kidnapped again, this time by Meleagant's command, and imprisoned. Upon receiving news that Lancelot is at King Arthur's court, the other returns there also. When Lancelot hears of a tournament to take place at King Arthur's court, he persuades his jailor's wife to allow him to go, promising to return. He excels at the tournament, submitting to Queen Guinevere's commands to do his best or worst, before returning to his prison. Meleagant moves Lancelot to a tower on an inlet and goes to King Arthur's for his appointed battle with Lancelot. Sir Gawain promises to battle Meleagant if they cannot find Lancelot within a year, and Meleagant returns to his father, boasting of Lancelot's fear of him. King Bademagu's daughter overhears Meleagant, searches for, finds and frees Lancelot who recognizes her as the maiden on whom he bestowed the knight's head. Lancelot returns to King Arthur's court as Sir Gawain prepares to battle Meleagant. Lancelot reassumes his battle and defeats his enemy.

In "The Knight with the Lion," Calogrenant shares his story of shame at the storming spring, and Yvain sneaks off to avenge his cousin before King Arthur can do so. Yvain defeats the defender of the spring and follows the injured knight to town where Yvain is trapped within gates. Lunete finds Yvain and gives him a magic ring to protect him from his pursuers because the defender is dead. During the funeral procession, Yvain notices and falls in love with Laudine. Yvain refuses to sneak away and incur dishonor. Lunete convinces Laudine to marry Yvain before King Arthur and his court arrive. Kay asks for the battle at the storming spring, and Yvain defeats Kay and invites the company back to Laudine's home. Yvain gets Laudine's permission to join Sir Gawain at the tournaments under the condition that he returns in one year or less. Yvain breaks his promise, and a servant arrives to tell him that Laudine retracts her love. Yvain goes crazy and lives in the woods until he is found by some ladies who cure him because they need his help again Count Alier's invasion. Yvain regains his sanity and defeats Count Alier. As he continues his journey, he saves a lion from a dragon, and the lion follows and serves Yvain. Yvain learns that Lunete is a prisoner and promises to save her the next day on which she is scheduled to burn. At his lodgings, he learns of the threats of Harpin of the Mountain against his host's daughter. He undertakes the battle, in part because the host's wife is Sir Gawain's sister, and defeats the giant before returning to save Lunete by defeating three knights. At this point, he names himself the Knight with the Lion. Yvain refuses Laudine's offer to heal in her town until his lady relinquishes her anger towards him. Meanwhile, the daughters of the deceased Lord of Blackthorn dispute over their inheritance. The older obtains Sir Gawain as her champion; the younger searches for and obtains the Knight with the Lion as her champion. On the return to King Arthur's court, they enter the town of Dire Adventure where Yvain and his lion defeat two half-demon rulers. Yvain and Sir Gawain do not recognize each other, and they battle until they realize they are evenly matched, at which point they cease fighting and introduce themselves. They are overjoyed to see each other and declare one another the victor. King Arthur forces the elder sister to give her younger sister a rightful share of the inheritance. When Yvain's lion approaches, all recognize him as the Knight with the Lion about whom they have heard such fame. Yvain and his lion travel to the storming spring while Lunete convinces Laudine that the Knight with the Lion will serve her if she promises to do everything in her power to reconcile him and his lady. Lunete finds Yvain and takes him to Laudine who is upset at the trick but keeps her word and is reconciled to Yvain.

In "The Story of the Grail," Perceval, who has never seen knights, meets five knights and desires to become a knight. His mother tries in vain to dissuade him and faints as he leaves. Perceval goes to a tent where he kisses a maiden, steals her ring and departs before the return of her lover who vows to behead Perceval. Outside the gates of King Arthur's castle, Perceval beholds and covets the armor of the Red Knight. He asks King Arthur for the armor, and Kay mocks him. A maiden predicts that Perceval will be a great knight causing Kay to slap her in his anger. Perceval kills the Red Knight and promises to avenge the maiden. He meets Gornemant of Gohort who trains him. Perceval then lodges at Blancheflor's castle where he defeats Anguingueron and Clamadeu before leaving to check on his mother. He lodges at the Fisher King's castle but fails to ask about the grail or lance, a circumstance which, his cousin predicts, will cause him many misfortunes. He encounters the maiden from the tent and defeats her lover. King Arthur decides to search for Perceval, and Perceval unwittingly comes near King Arthur's tent. After Sagremor fails and Kay receives a broken arm in the attempt, Sir Gawain approaches Perceval and persuades him to return to camp with him. Their joy of several days is interrupted when a damsel arrives, condemning Perceval for not asking about the lance and grail at the Fisher King's manor. Guinganbresil arrives and accuses Sir Gawain of treason, and Sir Gawain plans to meet him within forty days to defend himself against the accusation. Sir Gawain refrains from entering the battle between Meliant de Liz and Tiebaut of Tintagel until the Maiden with the Small Sleeves asks him to lay claim for her at which he does very well in the battle. Sir Gawain's horse needs to be reshod, and he encounters a young knight who directs him to his sister for lodgings. A knight catches Sir Gawain and the girl kissing, recognizes Sir Gawain and there is much chaos as the peasants try to capture Sir Gawain. The young knight is the king of Escavalon, and after quieting his peasants, he sends Sir Gawain to search for the bleeding lance, delaying the battle for one year. Meanwhile, Perceval meets a group doing penance and is directed to a holy hermit who informs him that he is being punished for the sin of killing his mother with grief which is what caused him to be unable to ask about the lance and grail. Perceval begins his penance. Sir Gawain encounters an injured knight and agrees to come back and tend to his maiden if possible. Next, he meets the Haughty Maiden of Logres who joins him as he takes a healing herb back to the injured knight who recognizes Sir Gawain and steals his horse. The Haughty Maiden of Logres mocks Sir Gawain until a knight attacks Sir Gawain. Having defeated the knight and the maiden having disappeared, Sir Gawain releases him to a boatman who has arrived to demand it. The boatman takes Sir Gawain to a town, Champguin, where Sir Gawain rescues the three queens and many others who live in the castle. Sir Gawain returns across the river to the Haughty Maiden of Logres and defeats her knight. Upon her challenge, Sir Gawain crosses the Perilous Ford where he meets Guiromelant and learns that the queens are King Arthur's mother, Sir Gawain's mother and Sir Gawain's sister. Guiromelant mentions his hatred of Sir Gawain, and learning it is he who is before him, issues a challenge to battle in two days, giving Sir Arthur time to arrive as a witness. Sir Gawain again crosses the Perilous Ford where the Haughty Maiden of Logres apologizes. He takes her to Champguin and sends a squire to summon King Arthur to witness the pending battle with Guiromelant.

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