Three Welsh Romances

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The Three Welsh Romances (Welsh: Y Tair Rhamant) are three Middle Welsh tales associated with the Mabinogion . They are versions of Arthurian tales that also appear in the work of Chrétien de Troyes. Critics have debated whether the Welsh Romances are based on Chrétien's poems or if they derive from a shared original. The Romances survive in the White Book of Rhydderch and the Red Book of Hergest, both from the 14th century, though the material is at least as old as Chrétien.

Contents

The Three Welsh Romances are:

Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain

Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain is analogous to Chrétien de Troyes' Old French poem Yvain, the Knight of the Lion . It survives in the White Book of Rhydderch and the Red Book of Hergest, both from the 14th century. The tale's hero, Yvain, is based on the historical figure Owain mab Urien. The romance consists of a hero marrying his love, the Lady of the Fountain, but losing her when he neglects her for knightly exploits. With the aid of a lion he saves from a serpent, he finds a balance between his marital and social duties and rejoins his wife.

It was once thought that Owain and Yvain were derived from a common lost source, but it now seems more likely that Owain was directly or indirectly based on Chrétien's poem, with local literary touches added to appeal to a Welsh audience. It is still possible that Chrétien in turn had a Welsh source, evidence of which can be found in certain episodes in the Life of St. Mungo (also called St Kentigern), where the saint's father Owain tries to woo his mother, Lot of Lothian's daughter, and which exhibit parallels to the narrative of Yvain.

Geraint and Enid

"Enid and Geraint Reconciled", Louis Rhead and George Rhead's illustration for Idylls of the King (1898) Enid and Geraint Reconciled.png
"Enid and Geraint Reconciled", Louis Rhead and George Rhead's illustration for Idylls of the King (1898)

Geraint and Enid, also known by the title Geraint, son of Erbin, is analogous to Chrétien de Troyes' 12th-century poem Erec and Enide ; some scholars think the two derive from a common lost source, while others believe Geraint is based directly or indirectly on Erec (though Chrétien may have had a Celtic source). It survives in the White Book of Rhydderch and the Red Book of Hergest, both from the 14th century.

The romance concerns the love of Geraint, one of King Arthur's men, and the beautiful Enid. Geraint, son of King Erbin of Dumnonia, courts Enid. The couple marry and settle down together, but rumors spread that Geraint has gone soft. Upset about this, Enid cries to herself that she is not a true wife for keeping her husband from his chivalric duties, but Geraint misunderstands her comment to mean she has been unfaithful to him. He makes her join him on a long and dangerous trip and commands her not to speak to him. Enid disregards this command several times to warn her husband of danger. Several adventures follow that prove Enid's love and Geraint's fighting ability. The couple is happily reconciled in the end, and Geraint inherits his father's kingdom.

Enid does not appear in Welsh sources outside of this romance, but Geraint was already a popular figure. Some scholars hold that the Erec from Chrétien's poem is based on Geraint, but others think the Welsh author simply replaced an unfamiliar French name with one his audience would recognize and associate with heroism.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson based two of his Idylls of the King on Geraint and Enid. They were originally published as a single poem called "Enid" in 1859; he later split it into two poems, "The Marriage of Geraint" and "Geraint and Enid".

Peredur son of Efrawg

Peredur son of Efrawg is associated with Chrétien de Troyes' unfinished romance Perceval, the Story of the Grail , but it contains many striking differences from that work, most notably the absence of the French poem's central object, the grail. Versions of the text survive in four manuscripts from the 14th century.

The tale's protagonist Peredur travels to King Arthur's court to become a knight. The young Peredur embarks on a series of adventures, culminating in his battle against the nine sorceresses.

Further reading

Related Research Articles

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The Mabinogion are the earliest prose stories of the literature of Britain. The stories were compiled in Middle Welsh in the 12th–13th centuries from earlier oral traditions. There are two main source manuscripts, created c. 1350–1410, as well as a few earlier fragments. The title covers a collection of eleven prose stories of widely different types, offering drama, philosophy, romance, tragedy, fantasy and humour, and created by various narrators over time. There is a classic hero quest, "Culhwch and Olwen"; a historic legend in "Lludd and Llefelys," complete with glimpses of a far off age; and other tales portray a very different King Arthur from the later popular versions. The highly sophisticated complexity of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi defies categorisation. The stories are so diverse that it has been argued that they are not even a true collection.

Chrétien de Troyes 12th century French poet and trouvère

Chrétien de Troyes was a French poet and trouvère known for his writing on Arthurian subjects, and for possibly originating the character of Lancelot. Chrétien's works, including Erec and Enide, Lancelot, Perceval and Yvain, represent some of the best-regarded of medieval literature. His use of structure, particularly in Yvain, has been seen as a step towards the modern novel.

Owain mab Urien was the son of Urien, king of Rheged c. 590, and fought with his father against the Angles of Bernicia. The historical figure of Owain became incorporated into the Arthurian cycle of legends where he is also known as Ywain, Yvain, Ewain or Uwain. In his legendary guise he is the main character in Chrétien de Troyes's Yvain, the Knight of the Lion and the Welsh Romance Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain, which corresponds to Chrétien's poem.

Knights of the Round Table elite companions of King Arthur and order of chivalry in Arthurian romance

The Knights of the Round Table are the knights in the fellowship of King Arthur in the literary cycle of the Matter of Britain, first appearing in literature in the mid 12th century. In this French-derived branch of Arthurian legend, the Knights are an order in the service of King Arthur, tasked with ensuring the peace of the kingdom and later leading the quest for the legendary Holy Grail. The Round Table, the place at which these characters of legend meet is a symbol of equality, and all members of the round table are thus, equal.

Sir Kay knight of the Round Table

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Percival one of King Arthurs legendary Knights of the Round Table

Percival —or Peredur, Perceval, Parzival, Parsifal, etc.—is one of King Arthur's legendary Knights of the Round Table. First made famous by the French author Chretien de Troyes in the tale Perceval, the Story of the Grail, he is best known for being the original hero in the quest for the Grail, before being replaced in later English and French literature by Galahad.

King Lot King of Lothian in Arthurian legend

Lot, Loth or Lothus is the king of Lothian, the realm of the Picts in the Arthurian legend. Such a ruler first appeared late in the 1st millennium's hagiographical material concerning Saint Kentigern, which feature a Leudonus, king of Leudonia, a Latin name for Lothian. In the 12th century, Geoffrey of Monmouth adapted this to Lot, king of Lothian, in his influential chronicle Historia Regum Britanniae, portraying him as King Arthur's brother-in-law and ally. In the wake of Geoffrey's writings, Lot appeared regularly in later works of chivalric romance.

Welsh mythology Folk traditions developed in Wales and by the Celtic Britons elsewhere

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This is a bibliography of works about King Arthur, family, friends or enemies. This bibliography includes works that are notable or are by notable authors.

Geraint king of Dumnonia from Welsh folklore and Arthurian legend

Geraint is a character from Welsh folklore and Arthurian legend. He was a king of Dumnonia and a valiant warrior. He may have lived during or shortly prior to the reign of the historical Arthur, although some scholars doubt he existed. The name Geraint is a Welsh form of the Latin Gerontius, meaning "old man".

<i>Perceval, the Story of the Grail</i> romance of Chrétien de Troyes

Perceval, the Story of the Grail is the unfinished fifth verse romance by Chrétien de Troyes, written by him in Old French in the late 12th century. Later authors added 54,000 more lines in what are known collectively as the Four Continuations, as well as other related texts. Perceval is the earliest recorded account of what was to become the Quest for the Holy Grail but describes only a golden grail in the central scene, does not call it "holy" and treats a lance, appearing at the same time, as equally significant.

Ywain legendary character and Knight of the Round Table

Sir Ywain, also known as Yvain, Owain, Uwain(e), Ewaine, Iwain, Iwein, etc., is a knight of the Round Table in Arthurian legend, wherein he is often the son of King Urien of Gorre and the sorceress Morgan le Fay. The historical Owain mab Urien, on whom the literary character is based, was the king of Rheged in Great Britain during the late 6th century.

Erec and Enide is the first of Chrétien de Troyes' five romance poems, completed around 1170. It is one of three completed works by the author. Erec and Enide tells the story of the marriage of the titular characters, as well as the journey they go on to restore Erec's reputation as a knight after he remains inactive for too long. Consisting of about 7000 lines of Old French, the poem is one of the earliest known Arthurian romances in any language, predated only by the Welsh prose narrative Culhwch and Olwen.

Geraint son of Erbin is a medieval Welsh poem celebrating the hero Geraint and his deeds at the Battle of Llongborth. The poem consists of three-line englyn stanzas and exists in several versions all in Middle Welsh. The earliest surviving version is in the Black Book of Carmarthen, completed around 1250, though the poem may have been composed in the 10th or 11th century. The poem is significant for its early mention of King Arthur.

Enide character in Arthurian romance

Enide is a character in Arthurian romance. She is the wife of Erec in Chrétien de Troyes' Erec and Enide, and that of Geraint in the Welsh Romance of Geraint and Enid. Some scholars believe the French and Welsh tales derive from a lost common source, but it seems more likely Geraint derives directly or indirectly from Erec, though Chrétien may have had a Welsh or Breton source.

Libeaus Desconus is a 14th-century Middle English version of the popular "Fair Unknown" story. Its author is thought to be Thomas Chestre. The story matter displays strong parallels to that of Renaut de Beaujeu's Le Bel Inconnu; both versions describe the adventures of Gingalain, the son of King Arthur's knight Gawain and a fay who raises him ignorant of his parentage and his name. As a young man, he visits Arthur's court to be knighted, and receives his nickname; in this case Sir Libeaus Desconus, before setting forth on a series of adventures which consolidate his new position in society. He eventually discovers who is his father, and marries a powerful lady.

Laudine

Laudine is a character in Chrétien de Troyes's 12th-century romance Yvain, or, The Knight with the Lion and all of its adaptations, which include the Welsh tale of Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain and the German epic Iwein by Hartmann von Aue. Usually known as the Lady of the Fountain, she becomes the wife of the poem's protagonist, Yvain, one of the knights of King Arthur's Round Table, after he kills her husband, but later spurns the knight-errant when he neglects her for heroic adventure, only to take him back in the end.

<i>Peredur son of Efrawg</i> one of the three Welsh Romances associated with the Mabinogion

Peredur son of Efrawg is one of the Three Welsh Romances associated with the Mabinogion. It tells a story roughly analogous to Chrétien de Troyes' unfinished romance Perceval, the Story of the Grail, but it contains many striking differences from that work, most notably the absence of the French poem's central object, the grail.

Edern ap Nudd knight of the Round Table

Edern ap Nudd was a knight of the Round Table in Arthur's court in early Arthurian tradition. As the son of Nudd, he is the brother of Gwyn, Creiddylad, and Owain ap Nudd. In French romances, he is sometimes made the king of a separate realm. As St Edern, he has two churches dedicated to him in Wales.

BnF Français 794 and is a mid-13th century French manuscript, and one of only two manuscripts to contain the five romances of Chrétien de Troyes, the other being BnF Français 1450.