Sir Galahad

Sir Galahad

Galahad wears white, shining armour that is a replica of his father's. Over this he wears a tabard that, also like his father, bears a fleurs-de-lis as its crest. He has, however, chosen his own colour beneath the crest - forest green. Like all knights, he also wears a space suit beneath his armour and has a space helmet with a visor for seeing [Pan 1] .


While Prince Mordred initially held a very negative opinion of Sir Galahad, considering him to be half as brave as Sir Lancelot yet just as stupid. Galahad often speaks of his father, even to the point of inferring his father whenever speaking of himself [Pan 1] . Mordred later warmed, slightly, to Galahad as they fought in battle together. Galahad proved that while he wasn't a match for his father's bravery, he made up for that with world smarts and common sense [Pan 2] . Galahad's best friend is Sir Gawain. He also believes that Isolde of the White Hand should not be a Knight of the Round Table and he believes his father is everything that such a knight ought to be. He is shy around women and found himself in love with Admiral Ltexi [Pan 3] . He doesn't trust Morganna le Fay at all, even though he respects her son Mordred [Pan 4] . He is an honest person that dislikes even withholding truths [Pan 5] .


Morley Publishing Group, Washington, DC, September 2004

So glorious, so mysterious, the Holy Grail symbolizes an elusive object of desire.

Although now usually identified as the chalice of the Last Supper sought by Arthurian heroes, the Grail has been pictured as a dish, a ciborium, and even a white stone. Indeed, for a long time, its name had a rather mundane meaning.

The word "grail" is derived through Old French from the Latin gradale (by degrees) and refers to a type of deep platter from which foods were served — course by course — at a medieval banquet. "Grail" is first recorded in English in 1330 with alternative spellings: greal, graal, and graile. Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur (1470) renders "Holy Grail" as both "Sankgreal" and "Holy Grayle." He sometimes gives "Sankgreal" a false etymology (from "sang real") as "the blessed bloode of our Lorde Jhesu Crist" instead of the vessel containing it (Sank greal).

This grail — not yet "holy" — appears seemingly out of no-where in the Conte del Graal (also known as Perceval), a French romance by Chretien de Troyes written in the late twelfth century. Chretien's grail is a large jeweled dish containing a single Mass wafer that a maiden carries during a banquet at an enchanted castle. The maimed king who presides over the gathering has been wounded in the genitals, and his country is a wasteland because of his infirmity. Neither he nor his land can be healed unless the poem's naive young hero, Perceval, asks: "Whom does one serve with the grail?"

Chretien's poem remained unfinished and the dish unexplained at the end of his career. Four undistinguished continuators tried to carry on. But about 1200, a Burgundian poet named Robert de Boron successfully expanded the story, although this survives only in a prose adaptation known as the Didot-Perceval. Robert turns the grail from a dish into the cup of the Last Supper (serving as a ciborium rather than a chalice) and has the Grail-king wounded by the holy lance of Longinus that had pierced the side of Jesus. Robert had previously written Joseph d'Arimathie in which the sacred cup, which had also caught Christ's blood at the deposition from the cross, feeds Joseph during 43 years of captivity. After adventures in the Near East, Joseph's son brings the Grail to England where his relatives become the hereditary Grail-keepers and ancestors of Perceval.

Robert's material was incorporated into the so-called Vulgate Cycle of Arthurian romances in prose (1215-35). The portion titled La Queste del Saint Graal shows Cistercian influence and may have been written by a monk. This is the most explicitly Christian version of the Grail legend, for it makes the quest a spiritual odyssey that only the most virtuous can complete. Here the Grail — originally the dish from which the Paschal lamb was served — stands for divine grace.

The Vulgate Cycle was a major source for Malory, whose Le Morte D'Arthur is the "canonical" telling of the story for English speakers. In both the Vulgate and Malory, Sir Perceval/Percivale is one of the three purest knights of the Round Table. Along with Sir Bors and the faultless Sir Galahad, he's privileged to take part in the Grail ritual and receive Holy Communion from the hands of Jesus Himself. Galahad heals the maimed Grail-king with Christ's blood dripping from the holy lance. Finally, the Grail company sees the vessel and lance taken back into heaven. Galahad dies soon after, Perceval dies a year after becoming a hermit, and Bors returns to Camelot to tell their tale. The Holy Grail is now permanently out of reach.

Between Chretien and Malory, Arthurian romances spread all over Europe from Italy to Iberia to Iceland and carried with them the story of the Holy Grail. German poet Wolfram von Eschenbach shaped the material in an original way for his Parzival (1210). Wolfram's Grail is a mysterious white stone that may be derived from a magical object in a romance about Alexander the Great. This Grail is called the lapsit exilis, possibly mangled Latin for "small stone." Brought to Earth by the neutral angels at the time of Lucifer's fall, it generates whatever food and drink diners in the Grail castle desire, revives the dead, cures the sick, and keeps those who behold it young. From time to time, the names of children called to serve the Grail appear written on the stone. The boys will become celibate Grail-knights known as Templeisen, but the girls will eventually leave to marry. Every Good Friday, a heavenly dove lays a Host on the stone to feed the wounded Grail-king. Only when his obtuse young nephew, Parzival, finally asks, "Dear Uncle, what ails you?" is the old king healed. The Grail chooses Parzival as the next king.

Wolfram's innovations never become standard. Even Richard Wagner's opera version, Parsifal (1882), changes the Grail back to a cup, which is what his audience expected to see. Wagner also made his hero a virgin rather than a married man, among other alterations, including the spelling of his name. Wagner's Lohengrin (1850), featuring Parsifal's son, is only marginally a Grail story.

Wagner was hardly alone in turning to the Grail for inspiration. Although the taste for Arthurian romances faded out after the Renaissance, the Romantic era rediscovered them, as it rediscovered the Middle Ages. Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem cycle The Idylls of the King (completed in 1885) created a revival almost single-handedly. It was a favorite subject for the Pre-Raphaelites and other Victorian artists. Victorians even concocted a popular legend that the Grail lay hidden in the chalice well at Glastonbury, staining the stones there red with the Holy Blood.

The literary impact of Grail legends continued into the 20th century. "The Wasteland" by T. S. Eliot (1925) uses that Grail as a metaphor for the modern world. Charles Williams depicts a contemporary conflict between Good and Evil involving the Grail in his novel War in Heaven (1930), while his poetry cycles Taliessin through Logres (1938) and The Region of the Summer Stars (1944) are metaphysical retellings of Arthurian romance. Nova by Samuel R. Delany (1968) combines the Grail with Melville's white whale and makes it a science-fiction power source. The wasteland is Hollywood in Lancelot by Walker Percy (1978), but Las Vegas plays that role in Last Call by Tim Powers (1992). Moles seek a Grail-like white stone in William Horwood's talking beast tale, Duncton Wood (1980).

Film has also drawn on the same source in diverse ways: farce in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), romantic fantasy in Excalibur (1981), pulp adventure in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and modern fable in The Fisher King (1991).

This small sample of works derived from Grail stories bears witness to the extraordinary richness of the symbol. Out of it have come universal myth motifs: ever-filled vessels, miraculous food, and the union of king and land plus specific elements from some Indo-European cultures, all molded by medieval Christianity.

The Roots of the Holy Grail

Academic consensus gives the Grail a Celtic origin. The foremost campaigner for this view is Arthurian scholar Roger Sherman Loomis, whose book, The Grail: From Celtic Symbol to Christian Myth (1963), traces it to Irish tales of cauldrons and drinking horns that never run empty as well as accounts of journeys to the Happy Otherworld. The maiden Grail-bearer is based on the personified Sovereignty of Ireland, a woman who gives her cup only to the worthy. These elements were transmitted to Wales, then to Brittany, with Breton storytellers spreading them around northern France where the medieval romances first appeared. Loomis assumes that the material had been much altered by misunderstandings and oral process: There was no one "original" Grail myth.

A newer and more controversial theory is proposed by C. Scott Littleton and Linda A. Malcor in From Scythia to Camelot (1994). They trace the Grail motifs back to ancient Scythian peoples of the Crimea whose symbolic Cup of Sovereignty fell from heaven and whose modern descendants in the former Soviet Union still tell stories about a supernatural cup/cauldron that judges the merit of heroes — including an Arthur-like figure.

These myths were supposedly brought into Europe by two waves of Scythian-derived barbarian invaders in Roman times: the Sarmatians who were sent to Britain in the second century and the Alans who settled in Brittany and Provence in the fifth century. Their old stories could have mingled with historical incidents such as the looting of precious church vessels, supposedly including plunder from the Jewish Temple, taken during the sack of Rome in 410. Littleton and Malcor see the latter event as the origin of the Grail procession.

But it was the connection with the Holy Eucharist that fixed the Grail in medieval minds. The old myths might never have gained such popularity without the Christianization that brought them in line with medieval iconography and devotional practice.

Medieval artists illustrated Grail romances with the costumes, props, and settings of their own day, just as they did with scenes from the Bible or classical antiquity. As a eucharistic vessel, the Grail was expected to resemble those actually used in the liturgy. Grail "accessories" such as the holy lance and the broken sword of David repaired by Galahad recall relics, votive offerings of weapons, and royal regalia preserved in churches.

In addition to its use at the Last Supper — the first Mass — the Grail was supposed to have been used to catch the blood of the crucified Savior. The "chalice at the cross" motif that had emerged at the end of the first millennium shows a chalice collecting blood alone, borne by angels, or in the hand of an allegorical woman representing Ecclesia (the Church) who holds a spear-like staff in her other hand. Surely this resonated with the female Grail-bearer.

Grail romances appeared just as eucharistic devotion was gaining favor, expressed in the elevation of the Host during Mass, Corpus Christi processions, preachers' parables, and miracle stories. Hosts that levitate, bleed, discriminate among recipients, serve as the sole food of saints, and reveal visions of Christ appear often in eucharistic miracles and in Grail adventures. Devout contemplation of the elevated or exposed Host was believed to convey not only grace but well-being and protection, as does an encounter with the Grail.

The medieval Church took no official position on Grail romances. But the cathedral of Valencia claims to possess the actual vessel, a red stone cup from the time of Christ mounted as a splendid chalice during the Middle Ages. Its legend — which owes nothing whatever to the romances — claims that it was sent to Spain by the Roman martyr St. Lawrence. Donated to the cathedral in 1437, it's kept in a special chapel and was once used for Mass by Pope John Paul II.

Regardless of mythological roots, literary embellishments, and popular fancies, the Holy Grail became firmly linked to the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence. It is Jesus and none other that the vessel contains, "Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity." Consider the climax of La Queste del Saint Graal (in P. M. Matarasso's translation). The worthy knights who have completed the quest hear Mass said by Bishop Josephus, son of Joseph of Arimathea who had survived for years on miraculous Hosts from the Grail. At the moment of consecration, "there descended from above a figure like unto a child, whose countenance glowed and blazed bright as fire and he entered the bread, which quite distinctly took on human form before the eyes of those assembled there." Later, Josephus vanishes and the company "saw the figure of a man appear from out of the Holy Vessel, unclothed, and bleeding from his hands and feet and side . . . " This is Jesus who gives each knight Communion in the usual way, but the wafer tastes wonderfully sweet. The scene resembles medieval eucharistic miracles in which Christ is unveiled beneath the appearances of bread. Pagan prototypes have been Christianized.

Nevertheless, heterodox alternatives still have their followings. For them, a landmark book was Jessie L. Weston's From Ritual to Romance (1920). Under the influence of Sir James Frazer's Golden Bough (1890), Weston imagined that the Grail was derived from fertility rites and vegetation folklore as well as esoteric teachings of Oriental mystery religions, Gnostics, and Cathars as well as heresies among the Knights Templar.

But Loomis dismisses the lot, denouncing "Miss Weston's fascinating theory of a lost mystery cult conveyed by Eastern merchants from the Mediterranean to Britain, and of secret initiation rites enacted in remote ages — a theory also discredited by the absence of any reference to such a cult in the mass of medieval testimony of heresy." Loomis discounts a Provencal (and presumably Cathar) source for Parzival as "preposterous" and rejects its Grail-knights, the Templeisen, as actual Templars. For Loomis, the Grail legends were "surely not the esoteric doctrines of heretical cults" nor intended as antipapal propaganda. Furthermore, the antimaterialist Gnostics and Cathars could never have envisioned Christ present in the Eucharist.

Weston also popularized the notion of the Four Grail Hallows (Cup, Lance, Sword, Stone/Dish) being perpetuated in the suits of Tarot cards (Cups, Wands, Swords, Pentangles) and then in the suits of ordinary playing cards. Weston's discredited notions are still popular among present-day occultists such as Margaret Starbird, who calls the tarot a Cathar catechism. This conveniently ignores real history, in which tarot cards were invented in early 15th-century Italy as a harmless game — not an occult tool — and postdate playing cards by at least 50 years. Neither has anything to do with Cathars or Templars.

The Grail as a symbol for secret knowledge also fascinated Adolf Hitler. The occult-infatuated Nazis set up twelve SS officers as Grail-knights in a rebuilt castle at Vevelsburg, Westphalia, where their sinister rites may have included human sacrifice.

Pagans and neo-Gnostics still grab for the Grail, but the leading esoteric interpretation today is the one promoted in Dan Brown's best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code (2003). Brown maintains that the Grail is the womb of Mary Magdalene who bore the merely human Christ's child, establishing a lineage of holy blood that still continues, and that Grail quests were covert searches for the lost "divine feminine." Brown's claims are heavily dependent on Holy Blood, Holy Grail, a groundless specimen of pseudo-history by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln (1982).

Contrary to Brown's assertions, there's ample evidence from both Scripture and Patristic sources that Christians have always believed Jesus to be divine — and no evidence for a sexual relationship between him and the Magdalen (see my "Dismantling The Da Vinci Code," September 2003, crisis). Although the Grail as a vessel is feminine in a Freudian sense, it has — from its first appearance in medieval literature — always contained the Holy Eucharist.

Therefore, the only person who can claim to be a living Grail is Mary the God-Bearer, not Mary Magdalene. In pregnancy and by nursing, the Blessed Mother gave her blood and milk to become the Body and Blood of Christ. As a result, she's honored with a litany of titles that sanctify woman-as-container: Ark of the Covenant, House of Gold, Vessel of Honor, Singular Vessel of Devotion. This Holy Grail was assumed into heaven, yet the chalice and ciborium at every Mass are genuine Grails. And so each of us is given the grace to be a Galahad, our earthly Grail quest ending at the altar.

The Grail According to Anne Catherine Emmerich

German mystic Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) is in the spotlight these days for her contributions to Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and her own impending beatification. Her visions of scriptural events published as The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ (1833) and The Life of Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations (1858-60) contain unique descriptions of the Holy Grail. The term "Grail," however, is never used, for she prefers to call it simply the Chalice of the Last Supper.

According to Emmerich, the Chalice was delivered to Noah by three angels while he was at work on the ark. In it was a grain of wheat and a vine branch destined to grow after the Deluge. Noah used the Chalice during worship. It passed to his eldest son, Shem, who carried it to Mesopotamia whence Melchizedek returned it to Abraham. At this point, the Chalice "had cups in the shape of little barrels. These vessels were neither of gold nor silver, but transparent as of brownish precious stones." At this point, the massive Chalice "looked as if it had been shaped by nature, not formed by art."

The patriarchs used the Chalice and cups in priestly rites prefiguring the Mass and to convey God's special blessing via a vaguely described "Holy Thing" to their heirs. Later, Moses placed the vessels and the mysterious Holy Thing that the Chalice contained in the Ark of the Covenant. They were removed before Jeremiah hid the ark prior to Nebuchadnezzar's destruction of Jerusalem. Essenes preserved the Chalice and returned it to the Second Temple.

An angel conveyed the Holy Thing to St. Joachim just before the conception of Mary, but the temple priesthood sold the now-surplus ancient Chalice to an antiquarian. St. Veronica bought it and provided it for Jesus to use at religious festivals.

By the time of the Last Supper, the Chalice was "pear-shaped, and of a brownish, highly polished metal overlaid with gold." It was now equipped with handles and a foot of "dark virgin gold, the edge encircled by a serpent," embellished with jewels and a grape design. The Chalice, which contained a small vase and was covered by a plate, sat on a flat tray that concealed a tablet and was equipped with a spoon, linen covers, and a leather case. "Jesus alone knew of what it was made."

The Chalice remained in the keeping of the early Church and is still preserved somewhere. Emmerich predicts that "it will come to light as it did once before." — S. M.

Sandra Miesel is the coauthor with Carl Olson of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius, 2004).

Sir Galahad

Many times had the Feast of Pentecost come round, and many were the knights that Arthur had made after he founded the Order of the Round Table yet no knight had appeared who dared claim the seat named by Merlin the Siege Perilous. At last, one vigil of the great feast, a lady came to Arthur's court at Camelot and asked Sir Launcelot to ride with her into the forest hard by, for a purpose not then to be revealed. Launcelot consenting, they rode together until they came to a nunnery hidden deep in the forest and there the lady bade Launcelot dismount, and led him into a great and stately room. Presently there entered twelve nuns and with them a youth, the fairest that Launcelot had ever seen. "Sir," said the nuns, "we have brought up this child in our midst, and now that he is grown to manhood, we pray you make him knight, for of none worthier could he receive the honour." "Is this thy own desire?" asked Launcelot of the young squire and when he said that so it was, Launcelot promised to make him knight after the great festival had been celebrated in the church next day.

So on the morrow, after they had worshipped, Launcelot knighted Galahad—for that was the youth's name—and asked him if he would ride at once with him to the King's court but the young knight excusing himself, Sir Launcelot rode back alone to Camelot, where all rejoiced that he was returned in time to keep the feast with the whole Order of the Round Table.

Now, according to his custom, King Arthur was waiting for some marvel to befall before he and his knights sat down to the banquet. Presently a squire entered the hall and said: "Sir King, a great wonder has appeared. There floats on the river a mighty stone, as it were a block of red marble, and it is thrust through by a sword, the hilt of which is set thick with precious stones." On hearing this, the King and all his knights went forth to view the stone and found it as the squire had said moreover, looking closer, they read these words: "None shall draw me hence, but only he by whose side I must hang and he shall be the best knight in all the world." Immediately, all bade Launcelot draw forth the sword, but he refused, saying that the sword was not for him. Then, at the King's command, Sir Gawain made the attempt and failed, as did Sir Percivale after him. So the knights knew the adventure was not for them, and returning to the hall, took their places about the Round Table.

No sooner were they seated than an aged man, clothed all in white, entered the hall, followed by a young knight in red armour, by whose side hung an empty scabbard. The old man approached King Arthur and bowing low before him, said: "Sir, I bring you a young knight of the house and lineage of Joseph of Arimathea, and through him shall great glory be won for all the land of Britain." Greatly did King Arthur rejoice to hear this, and welcomed the two right royally. Then when the young knight had saluted the King, the old man led him to the Siege Perilous and drew off its silken cover and all the knights were amazed, for they saw that where had been engraved the words, "The Siege Perilous," was written now in shining gold: "This is the Siege of the noble prince, Sir Galahad." Straightway the young man seated himself there where none other had ever sat without danger to his life and all who saw it said, one to another: "Surely this is he that shall achieve the Holy Grail." Now the Holy Grail was the blessed dish from which our Lord had eaten the Last Supper, and it had been brought to the land of Britain by Joseph of Arimathea but because of men's sinfulness, it had been withdrawn from human sight, only that, from time to to time, it appeared to the pure in heart.

When all had partaken of the royal banquet, King Arthur bade Sir Galahad come with him to the river's brink and showing him the floating stone with the sword thrust through it, told him how his knights had failed to draw forth the sword. "Sir," said Galahad, "it is no marvel that they failed, for the adventure was meant for me, as my empty scabbard shows." So saying, lightly he drew the sword from the heart of the stone, and lightly he slid it into the scabbard at his side. While all yet wondered at this adventure of the sword, there came riding to them a lady on a white palfrey who, saluting King Arthur, said: "Sir King, Nacien the hermit sends thee word that this day shall great honour be shown to thee and all thine house for the Holy Grail shall appear in thy hall, and thou and all thy fellowship shall be fed therefrom." And so to Launcelot she said: "Sir Knight, thou hast ever been the best knight of all the world but another has come to whom thou must yield precedence." Then Launcelot answered humbly: "I know well I was never the best." "Ay, of a truth thou wast and art still, of sinful men," said she, and rode away before any could question her further.

So, that evening, when all were gathered about the Round Table, each knight in his own siege, suddenly there was heard a crash of thunder, so mighty that the hall trembled, and there flashed into the hall a sunbeam, brighter far than any that had ever before been seen and then, draped all in white samite, there glided through the air what none might see, yet what all knew to be the Holy Grail. And all the air was filled with sweet odours, and on every one was shed a light in which he looked fairer and nobler than ever before. So they sat in an amazed silence, till presently King Arthur rose and gave thanks to God for the grace given to him and to his court. Then up sprang Sir Gawain and made his avow to follow for a year and a day the Quest of the Holy Grail, if perchance he might be granted the vision of it. Immediately other of the knights followed his example, binding themselves to the Quest of the Holy Grail until, in all, one hundred and fifty had vowed themselves to the adventure.

Then was King Arthur grieved, for he foresaw the ruin of his noble Order. And turning to Sir Gawain, he said: "Nephew, ye have done ill, for through you I am bereft of the noblest company of knights that ever brought honour to any realm in Christendom. Well I know that never again shall all of you gather in this hall, and it grieves me to lose men I have loved as my life and through whom I have won peace and righteousness for all my realm." So the King mourned and his knights with him, but their oaths they could not recall.

Great woe was there in Camelot next day when, after worship in the cathedral, the knights who had vowed themselves to the Quest of the Holy Grail got to horse and rode away. A goodly company it was that passed through the streets, the townfolk weeping to see them go Sir Launcelot du Lac and his kin, Sir Galahad of whom all expected great deeds, Sir Bors and Sir Percivale, and many another scarcely less famed than they. So they rode together that day to the Castle of Vagon, where they were entertained right hospitably, and the next day they separated, each to ride his own way and see what adventures should befall him.

So it came to pass that, after four days' ride, Sir Galahad reached an abbey. Now Sir Galahad was still clothed in red armour as when he came to the King's court, and by his side hung the wondrous sword but he was without a shield. They of the abbey received him right heartily, as also did the brave King Bagdemagus, Knight of the Round Table, who was resting there. When they greeted each other, Sir Galahad asked King Bagdemagus what adventure had brought him there. "Sir," said Bagdemagus, "I was told that in this abbey was preserved a wondrous shield which none but the best knight in the world might bear without grievous harm to himself. And though I know well that there are better knights than I, to-morrow I purpose to make the attempt. But, I pray you, bide at this monastery a while until you hear from me and if I fail, do ye take the adventure upon you." "So be it," said Sir Galahad.

The next day, at their request, Sir Galahad and King Bagdemagus were led into the church by a monk and shown where, behind the altar, hung the wondrous shield, whiter than snow save for the blood-red cross in its midst. Then the monk warned them of the danger to any who, being unworthy, should dare to bear the shield. But King Bagdemagus made answer: "I know well that I am not the best knight in the world, yet will I try if I may bear it." So he hung it about his neck, and, bidding farewell, rode away with his squire.

The two had not journeyed far before they saw a knight approach, armed all in white mail and mounted upon a white horse. Immediately he laid his spear in rest and, charging King Bagdemagus, pierced him through the shoulder and bore him from his horse and standing over the wounded knight, he said: "Knight, thou hast shown great folly, for none shall bear this shield save the peerless knight, Sir Galahad." Then, taking the shield, he gave it to the squire and said: "Bear this shield to the good Knight Galahad and greet him well from me." "What is your name?" asked the squire. "That is not for thee or any other to know." "One thing, I pray you," said the squire "why may this shield be borne by none but Sir Galahad without danger?" "Because it belongs to him only," answered the stranger knight, and vanished.

Then the squire took the shield and setting King Bagdemagus on his horse, bore him back to the abbey where he lay long, sick unto death. To Galahad the squire gave the shield and told him all that had befallen. So Galahad hung the shield about his neck and rode the way that Bagdemagus had gone the day before and presently he met the White Knight, whom he greeted courteously, begging that he would make known to him the marvels of the red-cross shield. "That will I gladly," answered the White Knight. "Ye must know, Sir Knight, that this shield was made and given by Joseph of Arimathea to the good King Evelake of Sarras, that, in the might of the holy symbol, he should overthrow the heathen who threatened his kingdom. But afterwards, King Evelake followed Joseph to this land of Britain where they taught the true faith unto the people who before were heathen. Then when Joseph lay dying, he bade King Evelake set the shield in the monastery where ye lay last night, and foretold that none should wear it without loss until that day when it should be taken by the knight, ninth and last in descent from him, who should come to that place the fifteenth day after receiving the degree of knighthood. Even so has it been with you, Sir Knight." So saying, the unknown knight disappeared and Sir Galahad rode on his way.

After Sir Launcelot had parted from his fellows at the Castle of Vagon, he rode many days through the forest without adventure, till he chanced upon a knight close by a little hermitage in the wood. Immediately, as was the wont of errant knights, they prepared to joust, and Launcelot, whom none before had overthrown, was borne down, man and horse, by the stranger knight. Thereupon a nun, who dwelt in the hermitage, cried: "God be with thee, best knight in all this world," for she knew the victor for Sir Galahad. But Galahad, not wishing to be known, rode swiftly away and presently Sir Launcelot got to horse again and rode slowly on his way, shamed and doubting sorely in his heart whether this quest were meant for him.

Afterward Sir Galahad rescued Sir Percivale from twenty knights who beset him, and rode on his way till night-fall, when he sought shelter at a little hermitage. Thither there came in the night a damsel who desired to speak with Sir Galahad so he arose and went to her. "Galahad," said she, "arm you and mount your horse and follow me, for I am come to guide you in your quest." So they rode together until they had come to the seashore and there the damsel showed Galahad a great ship into which he must enter. Then she bade him farewell, and he, going on to the ship, found there already the good knights Sir Bors and Sir Percivale, who made much joy of the meeting. They abode in that ship until they had come to the castle of King Pelles, who welcomed them right gladly. Then, as they all sat at supper that night, suddenly the hall was filled with a great light, and the holy vessel appeared in their midst, covered all in white samite. While they all rejoiced, there came a voice, saying: "My Knights whom I have chosen, ye have seen the holy vessel dimly. Continue your journey to the city of Sarras and there the perfect vision shall be yours."

Now in the city of Sarras had dwelt a long time Joseph of Arimathea, teaching its people the true faith, before ever he came into the land of Britain but when Sir Galahad and his fellows came there after long voyage, they found it ruled by a heathen King named Estorause, who cast them into a deep dungeon. There they were kept a year, but at the end of that time, the tyrant died. Then the great men of the land gathered together to consider who should be their King and, while they were in council, came a voice bidding them take as their King the youngest of the three knights whom Estorause had thrown into prison. So in fear and wonder they hastened to the prison, and, releasing the three knights, made Galahad King as the voice had bidden them.

Thus Sir Galahad became King of the famous city of Sarras, in far Babylon. He had reigned a year when, one morning early, he and the other two knights, his fellows, went into the chapel, and there they saw, kneeling in prayer, an aged man, robed as a bishop, and round him hovered many angels. The knights fell on their knees in awe and reverence, whereupon he that seemed a bishop turned to them and said: "I am Joseph of Arimathea, and I am come to show you the perfect vision of the Holy Grail." On the instant there appeared before them, without veil or cover, the holy vessel, in a radiance of light such as almost blinded them. Sir Bors and Sir Percivale, when at length they were recovered from the brightness of that glory, looked up to find that the holy Joseph and the wondrous vessel had passed from their sight. Then they went to Sir Galahad where he still knelt as in prayer, and behold, he was dead for it had been with him even as he had prayed in the moment when he had seen the vision, his soul had gone back to God.

So the two knights buried him in that far city, themselves mourning and all the people with them. And immediately after, Sir Percivale put off his arms and took the habit of a monk, living a devout and holy life until, a year and two months later, he also died and was buried near Sir Galahad. Then Sir Bors armed him, and bidding farewell to the city, sailed away until, after many weeks, he came again to the land of Britain. There he took horse, and stayed not till he had come to Camelot. Great was the rejoicing of Arthur and all his knights when Sir Bors was once more among them. When he had told all the adventures which had befallen him and the good knights, his companions, all who heard were filled with amaze. But the King he caused the wisest clerks in the land to write in great books of the Holy Grail, that the fame of it should endure unto all time.


In 1833, Tennyson's close friend Arthur Hallam died. The death greatly affected both Tennyson and his sister Emily, and he withdrew from society as he slowly dealt with the pain. By mid-summer 1834, they slowly began to participate together in social events once again. On one occasion, Tennyson, Emily, and his other sister Mary were invited to visit friends in Dorking, and then travel onwards to see the Hallam family. Tennyson, however, set out on his own, and spent time alone at Leith Hill, Dorking. It was during this time that he began working on a version of Sir Galahad, along with an early version of The Blackbird and a version of "The Sleeping Beauty". [1]

The poem was completed in September 1834. [2] It was published in the second volume of Tennyson's 1842 collection of poems, along with other poems discussing the Arthurian legend. These included "Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere" and "Morte d'Arthur". [3] The Galahad story was picked up again by Tennyson in the section "The Holy Grail" of Idylls of the King. The later work was first published in 1869. [4]

The poem begins with a description of Galahad that, in terms of rhythm and rhyme, is almost cheerful even though the language is not: [5]

My good blade carves the casques of men, My tough lance thrusteth sure, My strength is as the strength of ten Because my heart is pure. (lines 1–4)

As the poem continues, Galahad is able to experience a vision that is preceded by a sound: [2]

When down the stormy crescent goes, A light before me swims, Between dark stems the forest glows, I hear a noise of hymns: Then by some secret shrine I ride I hear a voice but none are there (lines 25–30)

This vision includes three angels with the Holy Grail: [6]

Three angels bear the holy Grail: With folded feet, in stoles of white, On sleeping wings they sail. Ah, blessed vision! blood of God! My spirit beats her mortal bars, As down dark tides the glory slides, And star-like mingles with the stars. (lines 42–48)

Galahad continues by comparing the vision to light clothed in drapery: [6]

A maiden knight-to me is given Such hope, I know not fear I yearn to breathe the airs of heaven That often meet me here. I muse on joy that will not cease, Pure spaces clothed in living beams, Pure lilies of eternal peace, Whose odours haunt my dreams (lines 61–68)

In In Memoriam, Tennyson suggests that the supernatural has to be partly known and partly unknown. In order to incorporate this idea into his poetry, Tennyson relies on a series of different characters who serve as filters to visions of truth. These characters appear in many of Tennyson's poems, with the figure of Galahad being the one who is most capable of understanding the visions. In Galahad's case, his vision is of the Holy Grail, which contains images similar to those in "The Holy Grail" in Idylls of the King. In "The Holy Grail", Bors and Lancelot as well as Galahad receive visions. Of the three, Galahad is the one who best understands his abilities and his sins, and his strength allows him to complete his quest. [7]

In terms of differences between "Sir Galahad" and "The Holy Grail", "Sir Galahad" depicts Galahad as prideful in regards to his abilities and to his purity, whereas "The Holy Grail" emphasizes that Galahad is both pious and grimly determined. Furthermore, the rhythm of "Sir Galahad" is almost cheerful, whereas "The Holy Grail" is melancholic. "The Holy Grail" incorporates a passage in which King Arthur begs his knights not to quest because he knows that most of them will not return. In the event, the quest does indeed mark the end of the Round Table. In the end, only Galahad is capable of completing the Grail Quest, while many of the knights are killed. [8]

As with "The Lady of Shalott", "Morte d'Arthur", and other poems, Tennyson incorporates technical aspects of "Sir Galahad" into Idylls of the King. The aspects that are drawn from "Sir Galahad" are the same as those taken from "Morte d'Arthur": the use of ritual. This addition allows Tennyson to create a long poem that relies on a variety of styles while containing artistic value. [9] However, Idylls of the King varies in terms of meter and tone from "Sir Galahad", as the former is blank verse and the latter is a mixture of iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter. [5]

Sir Galahad's conception came about when Lady Elaine disguised herself as Queen Guinevere, who was Sir Lancelot's true love, and tricked him into bed. Ashamed of what had happened, Sir Lancelot abandoned the child and his mother to go off on foreign adventures. Elaine subsequently died of a broken heart, and young Galahad was placed into the care of his great aunt, who was the abbess at a nunnery where he was reared.

Upon reaching adulthood, Galahad was reunited with his father who knighted him and then brought him along to King Arthur's court at Camelot where the feast of Pentecost was taking place. Without realising the danger he was putting himself in, Sir Galahad walked over to the Round Table and amidst the revelry took his seat at the Siege Perilous. This place had been kept vacant for the sole person who would accomplish the quest of the Holy Grail for anyone else sitting there it would prove to be immediately fatal. Needless to say, Sir Galahad survived the event which was witnessed by King Arthur and several knights. The king then asked the young knight to perform a test which involved pulling a sword from a stone. This he accomplished with ease and King Arthur swiftly proclaimed Sir Galahad to be the greatest knight in the world. He was promptly invited to join the Order of the Round Table, and it was then decided by the present company that they should embark upon the Quest for the Holy Grail.

Sir Galahad - King Arthur Knights Tale

Sir Galahad is a Hero (Character) in King Arthur: Knight's Tale. Heroes are the recruitable and playable characters in the game. In King Arthur: Knight's Tale, players can choose from more than 30 Heroes of 6 diverse classes to assemble an efficient team and to combine hundreds of skills and artifacts. Gather your own Knights of the Round Table and send them on knightly quests.

One of the famous Grail Knights of the Round Table, Sir Galahad was relentlessly pursuing the holy relic his entire life. As a devout believer with a mysterious past – legends claim that he was a heathen savage until he saw a vision that made him a Christian knight and set him after the Grail – Galahad is capable of doing great miracles.

His feverish quest, however, slowly transformed him into a merciless zealot who smites down his enemies without any second thoughts and who is blinded by the light that shines so brightly around him.

'Morte D'Arthur'

The best-known version of the quest for the Holy Grail was written by Sir Thomas Malory in 1485 as part of the Morte D'arthur. The Grail story is the 6th of eight books in Malory's work it is titled The Noble Tale of the Sangreal.

The story begins with Merlin, the sorcerer, creating an empty seat at the Round Table called the Seige Perilous. This seat is to be held for the person who would, one day, succeed in the quest for the Holy Grail. The seat remains empty until Lancelot discovers a young man, Galahad, who has been raised by nuns and is, supposedly, the descendant of Joseph of Arimathea. Galahad is also, in fact, the child of Lancelot and Elaine (Arthur's half-sister). Lancelot knights the young man on the spot and brings him back to Camelot.

Entering the castle, the knights and Arthur see that the sign above the Seige Perilous now reads "This is the Siege [seat] of the noble prince, Sir Galahad." After dinner, a servant brings word that a strange stone has appeared floating on the lake, covered with jewels a sword has been thrust through the stone. A sign reads "None shall draw me hence, but only he by whose side I must hang, and he shall be the best knight in all the world." All of the greatest knights of the round table attempt to draw the sword, but only Galahad can draw it. A beautiful woman rides up and tells the knights and King Arthur that the Grail will appear to them that night.

Indeed, that very night, the Holy Grail appears to the knights of the round table. Although it is hidden by a cloth, it fills the air with sweet smells and makes every man look stronger and younger than he is. The Grail then disappears. Gawain swears that he will go on a quest to find the true Grail and bring it back to Camelot he is joined by 150 of his colleagues.

The story goes on to follow the adventures of several of the knights.

Sir Percival, a good and courageous knight, is on the trail of the Grail, but nearly falls victim to the seductions of a young, beautiful, and evil woman. Avoiding her trap, he journeys onward to the sea. There, a ship appears and he climbs aboard.

Sir Bors, after abandoning his brother Sir Lionel to save a damsel in distress, is summoned by a glowing light and disembodied voice to climb aboard a boat draped in white. There he meets up with Sir Percival and they set sail.

Sir Lancelot is led by a disembodied voice to the castle where the Grail is kept—but he is told the Grail is not his to take. He ignores this and attempts to take the Grail, but is thrown back by a great light. Finally, he is sent back to Camelot, empty-handed.

Sir Galahad is granted the gift of a magical red-cross shield and defeats many enemies. He is then led by a fair damsel to the seashore where the boat bearing Sir Percival and Sir Bors appears. He climbs aboard, and the three of them set sail together. They journey to the castle of King Pelles who welcomes them while dining they have a vision of the Grail and are told to journey to the city of Sarras, where Joseph of Arimathea once lived.

After a long journey, the three knights arrive in Sarras but are cast into the dungeon for a year—after which time the tyrant of Sarras dies and they are released. Following the advice of a disembodied voice, the new rulers make Galahad king. Galahad rules for two years until a monk claiming to actually be Joseph of Arimathea shows all the three knights the Grail itself, uncovered. While Bors and Percival are blinded by the light surrounding the Grail, Galahad, seeing the vision of heaven, dies and returns to God. Percival gives up his knighthood and becomes a monk Bors alone returns to Camelot to tell his tale.

Legend [ edit | edit source ]

In Arthurian legend, Galahad was the best and purest of the Knights. He was the only member of the Round Table able to reach the Holy Grail: the fulfillment of Merlin’s prophecy to Uther Pendragon that a Knight would be fit to take a place at the table of Joseph.

The motto on Galahad's shield, Post Tenebras Veritas, means ‘After the darkness, truth‘. The earliest recorded use of two lions combatant is Richard the Lionheart's first arms. The lion has traditionally been used in the Royal Arms of England to symbolize bravery, valor and strength. Galahad's own arms, two lions combatant wearing crowns, are a sign of his senior rank within The Order - a visible sign of success.

"My good blade carves the casques of men,
My tough lance thrusteth sure,
My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure."

- Sir Galahad [ edit | edit source ]
Lord Alfred Tennyson, 1842 [ edit | edit source ]

In historical texts, Galahad is described as ‘the perfect Knight’, thanks to his piety, courage, gentleness, courtesy, and chivalry. Because he was so pure, Galahad was given a vision of the Grail that revealed its location, but at the same time making clear that Camelot was not worthy of housing it. The Grail was to be taken by Sir Galahad and a group of fellow knights to the holy city of Sarras.

According to legend, Galahad saw the final secrets of the Grail in a final vision. What he saw is lost to history, but it is recorded that the power of his vision led him to bidding a final farewell to Perceval and Bors before immediately dying.

History [ edit | edit source ]

Galahad was born and raised in Blackmarch, a city-state within Entsteig and on the border of the Sharval Wilds. In his youth he squired for local huntsmen. He moved away from home at age seventeen and joined military service in the Royal Army of Entsteig, learning how to ride and fight in the years following. During his service, Galahad served in a brigade that dealt with skirmishes against the Hill Tribes east of Entsteig the experience of fighting against barbaric heathens caused him to suffer from insomnia and constant nightmares in the following years.

Circa 1260, Galahad won a series of tournaments in the region of Blackmarch and received Knighthood. While a knight in Blackmarch, Galahad received critical acclaim for his diplomacy in dealing with belligerents from both Ivgorod and the Northern Steppes. He served a brief tour at Bastion's Keep to help defend against barbarian raiders. While stationed in the north Galahad spearheaded a campaign to attack surrounding encampments with his raid group Blackmarch Marauders. He returned to Entsteig after six months of adventuring in the Northern Steppes.

Circa 1265, General Aleksi of the Royal Army of Entsteig summoned Galahad and the Blackmarch Marauders to court to brief them on a mission in the east Galahad was assigned to raid villages of the Hill Tribes and purge any belligerents that lurked in the mountains. Lieutenant Stefan Huster provided logistics to Galahad and his men. Assault on Full Moon Encampment, lead by Galahad and a small infantry, devastated a coalition force of Hill Tribes commanded by Lord Eaddrak. Galahad and his forces were later ambushed after the battle by Chieftain Roklar, Eaddrak's ally, with Galahad narrowly escaping.

The Champion of Blackmarch.

Galahad settled down in Blackmarch, marrying and fathering two children. In the years following the battle against the Hill Tribes, Galahad and his peers offered terms of peace to prevent further loss of life. The Blackreach Marauders offered mercenary work to any surrounding cities, and even traveled south to Khanduras on a few missions. Sir Eric Van Der Loo, legendary Kingsguard, joined their mercenary group for a period when visiting Blackmarch in 1266 A.K. Eric later claimed their mercenary group to be "the best in the kingdom" for their honorable and safeguard tactics.

To Unseat a Conqueror [ edit | edit source ]

Galahad played the role as a pawn in the Quest of the Forgotten Kingdom of 1272, commonly known as To Unseat a Conqueror. While the quest revolved around the Gaunlet of Fate, an ancient artifact, Galahad held little concern over the events that had transpired proceeding his involvement. After years of competition, Galahad participated in the Wallington Tournament for a position as Kingsguard, hosted by King Charles, and ultimately won his place among the brotherhood. Shortly after his tournament victory, The Herald of the North, kin to Lord Eaddrak, faced off against Galahad in a climatic duel that ended in the Herald's demise. Unbeknownst to Galahad was the attendance of Alec Kylar and the meeting he held with King Charles afterward in regards to the Skycutter Conflict of 1271, with ended with the Gaunlet of Fate being pivotal in retrieving the angelic weapon.

Galahad leads his brigade against the Corrupted Rogues, circa 1272.

During the infant stages of To Unseat a Conqueror, Galahad was chosen by King Charles to lead a brigade alongside Sir Maximillian and his bannermen. Their mission to lend aid to Khanduras and central organizations proved to be pivotal in the tide of war against The Baroness. King Charles also appointed Galahad with a secret mission to retrieve the gauntlet whether the if the opportunity would arise through diplomacy or combat though content in completing his mission Galahad carried little desires over the politics and treasures of monarch's mission.

Watch the video: Sweet Sir Galahad (January 2022).