Lugodoc’s summary of Book 19 – The Treason of Sir Meliagrance
One May, Queen Guenevere went a-Maying in the woods behind Westminster, with her usual retinue of ladies-in-waiting and page-boys, plus the Queen’s Knights (ten good knights chosen to accompany her, all bearing white shields). King Bagdemagus’ son and Round Table knight Sir Meliagrance, inspired by his lust for Guenevere, attacked with 160 men-at-arms and captured them all.
The queen and her injured knights were taken to Meliagrance’s castle, but on the way, Guenevere told a young boy from her retinue to escape and take her ring to Launcelot, who set off to rescue them all at once. He swam the Thames at Lambeth on his horse, but Meliagrance had left thirty archers behind and they shot his steed, so he killed Meliagrance’s woodsman and took his cart instead.
When Launcelot arrived at the castle, Meliagrance surrendered immediately, and the queen calmed Launcelot down to avoid further embarassment. Lavaine arrived soon after, following his master, and they all celebrated.
That night Launcelot climbed into Guenevere’s bedroom, taking care not to wake any of her numerous ladies-in-waiting or the ten injured knights she insisted stay in the room with her. He pulled the iron bars out of her window and replaced them in the morning, but unfortunately he cut his hand and left blood on her pillow, and in the morning Meliagrance saw it and claimed it was from one of the injured knights (or all of them), and that she had been dishonoured.
Launcelot swore “that this night there lay none of these ten wounded knights with my lady Queen Guenevere”, so Meliagrance suicidally challenged him to trial by combat, in eight days time at Westminster. Then he dropped his trustful opponent sixty feet down a hidden trap door and hid the horse Launcelot had borrowed off Lavaine, to make it look as if Launcelot was off adventuring, so Guenevere and her retinue all returned to Westminster.
On the eighth day, Launcelot escaped by kissing the (fortunately female) jailer, sped to Westminster on a borrowed steed, and arrived just in time to take over from Lavaine, who was going to fight Meliagrance to save Guenevere from being burned at the stake for treason yet again.
Meliagrance instantly surrendered, and would only fight further if Launcelot removed half his armour and tied one arm behind his back, which Launcelot did, and still managed to split Meliagrance’s head in two.
So Guenevere’s “honour” was restored and she wasn’t burned at the stake, for the second time. And because of the cart-ride, Launcelot became known as “Le Chevalier du Chariot” for a year, during which he had forty adventures.
A good knight of Hungary, called Sir Urre of the Mount, had once slain a Spanish earl’s son called Sir Alphegus at a tournement in Spain, but received seven great wounds which Alphegus’ magical mother cursed to fester for ever, or until the best knight of the world searched them.
Urre’s mother, his sister Felelolie, and a page then dragged Urre all round Europe for seven years under two palfreys, until one Pentecost they stumbled across Arthur’s court at Carlisle. There, Arthur graciously agreed to search Urre’s superating gashes, followed by all 110 of the 150 knights of the Round Table who were on call and not away having adventures.
[Editor’s note: 86 of them are named by Malory; all of the famous names so far, including Sir Percivale who had already died in Sarras, plus a few new ones such as Sir Bohart le Cure Hardy – yet another of King Arthur’s own sons, about whom nothing else is ever said – and Sir Marrok the werewolf.]
The plan failed, and Urre continued to bleed and leak puss horribly. But when Launcelot returned from his year of adventuring, and searched the wounds, Urre was finally cured. In celebration, Arthur held a joust next day. Urre and Lavaine won, and Arthur made them both Knights of the Round Table so that they could stay forever and worship their hero, Sir Launcelot.
Lavaine married Felelolie, and after that, things were quiet for a while, except that Agravaine persistently drew attention to Launcelot and Guenevere and their endless, treasonal, adultery.
At A Glance:
Book 19 Chapter Summary:
1. How Queen Guenever rode a-Maying with certain knights of the Round Table and clad all in green.
2. How Sir Meliagrance took the queen and her knights, which were sore hurt in fighting.
3. How Sir Launcelot had word how the queen was taken, and how Sir Meliagrance laid a bushment for Launcelot.
4. How Sir Launcelot’s horse was slain, and how Sir Launcelot rode in a cart for to rescue the queen.
5. How Sir Meliagrance required forgiveness of the queen, and how she appeased Sir Launcelot; and other matters.
6. How Sir Launcelot came in the night to the queen and lay with her, and how Sir Meliagrance appeached the queen of treason.
7. How Sir Launcelot answered for the queen, and waged battle against Sir Meliagrance; and how Sir Launcelot was taken in a trap.
8. How Sir Launcelot was delivered out of prison by a lady, and took a white courser and came for to keep his day.
9. How Sir Launcelot came the same time that Sir Meliagrance abode him in the field and dressed him to battle.
10. How Sir Urre came into Arthur’s court for to be healed of his wounds, and how King Arthur would begin to handle him.
11. How King Arthur handled Sir Urre, and after him many other knights of the Round Table.
12. How Sir Launcelot was commanded by Arthur to handle his wounds, and anon he was all whole, and how they thanked God.
13. How there was a party made of an hundred knights against an hundred knights, and of other matters.