Lugodoc’s summary of Book 16 – Sir Bors’ Victory on the Quest
After leaving the company of Aglovale and Griflet, Gawaine soon got bored with the lack of violence and the endless, pointless wandering, until after Michaelmas, he met Launcelot’s brother, Sir Ector, who said everyone else had the same problem too, and no-one had seen Launcelot, Galahad, Percivale, or Bors.
Sleeping in an old, abandoned chapel eight days later, Gawaine dreamed of 147 hungry black bulls and went off seeking better pasture (them), and two white (Galahad and Percivale) and one white with a black spot (Bors). Ector, however, dreamed of his brother Launcelot riding an ass to find the source of a well that emptied when he himself tried to drink of it.
When they awoke they were both castigated by a floating hand, and went in search of a hermit, hoping for an explanation.
Picking a random joust, Gawaine soon stupidly killed his own cousin and best friend Uwaine, and after a tearful funeral, stumbled across a hermit called Nacien (not the same one as Launcelot’s great-great-great-great-grandfather, buried near Galahad’s shield in the White Abbey), who listened to Gawaine and Ector recount their dreams, and yet again explained that they were far too sinful to achieve the Sangreal – even Launcelot (because he had been adulterous with Guenevere for twenty-four years). Gawaine and Ector then rode on, for a long time failing to find any adventure.
After leaving Camelot (and, like the others, never thinking of looking for the Sangreal where it was last seen, in Castle Corbin), Sir Bors quickly found his own hermit, who gave him a red coat to wear as a sign of chastisement.
He soon also recovered the lands a maiden had received from King Aniause by overcoming an older woman’s champion, Sir Pridam le Noire. He moved on for stranger adventures (virtuously having refrained from temptation) and came across (and was forced to abandon) his brother Lionel – who was being thorn-lashed naked by a couple of perverts – in order to save the virginity of a nearby maiden from an evil knight. By the time he had saved her and set out to find his brother, all he found was a battered corpse, which he duly entombed in an old chapel by a high tower.
The attendant priest explained that he would soon face another choice, between a woman who would die if he didn’t take her and his uncle, Launcelot, who would die if he did. Fortunately, when the temptress made her appearance he let her and her twelve handmaidens jump off the high tower rather than loosen his breeches, and they all turned out to be fiends in disguise after all. The next Abbot explained everything, and Bors went his way.
He made for a joust between the Earl of Plains and “the lady’s nephew of Hervin”, where he discovered his brother Lionel was alive after all, but enraged, promising to kill Bors for having abandoned him. Lionel slew a priest (and Sir Colgrevence who got in the way), and was only saved from fratricide by a mysterious cloud that came down and told Bors to retreat towards the sea.
At the coast, he was picked up by Percivale in the priest’s ship – the ship that had rescued him from his own island of temptation – and they sailed away to search for Galahad.
At A Glance
Book 16 Chapter Summary:
1. How Sir Gawaine was nigh weary of the quest of the Sangreal, and of his marvellous dream.
2. Of the advision of Sir Ector, and how he jousted with Sir Uwaine les Avoutres, his sworn brother.
3. How Sir Gawaine and Sir Ector came to an hermitage to be confessed, and how they told to the hermit their advisions.
4. How the hermit expounded their advision.
5. Of the good counsel that the hermit gave to them.
6. How Sir Bors met with an hermit, and how he was confessed to him, and of his penance enjoined to him.
7. How Sir Bors was lodged with a lady, and how he took upon him for to fight against a champion for her land.
8. Of an advision which Sir Bors had that night, and how he fought and overcame his adversary.
9. How the lady was returned to her lands by the battle of Sir Bors, and of his departing, and how he met Sir Lionel taken and beaten with thorns, and also of a maid which should have been devoured.
10. How Sir Bors left to rescue his brother, and rescued the damosel; and how it was told him that Lionel was dead.
11. How Sir Bors told his dream to a priest, which he had dreamed, and of the counsel that the priest gave to him.
12. How the devil in a woman’s likeness would have had Sir Bors to have lain by her, and how by God’s grace he escaped.
13. Of the holy communication of an Abbot to Sir Bors, and how the Abbot counselled him.
14. How Sir Bors met with his brother Sir Lionel, and how Sir Lionel would have slain Sir Bors.
15. How Sir Colgrevance fought against Sir Lionel for to save Sir Bors, and how the hermit was slain.
16. How Sir Lionel slew Sir Colgrevance, and how after he would have slain Sir Bors.
17. How there came a voice which charged Sir Bors to touch him not, and of a cloud that came between them.