Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XIX, Chapters 1 and 2
Guenever wakes up one fine spring morning and decides to throw a party. Not just any party! A special May party, a fun-times trip out into the glorious beauty of pastoral England. Naturally, to ensure maximal enjoyment of the splendors of the natural world, Guenever comes up with some rules.
1) Everyone shall wear green silk or green linen.
2) The group shall consist of ten knights, ten ladies, ten squires and twenty yeoman. This does not include Guenever herself.
3) Everyone shall ride horses.
4) The group shall return to Camelot no later than ten o’clock that night.
So she passes around a sign-up sheet and gets ten knights to agree to make the trip with her. Malory lists off these knights, and for once, when he says there’s ten knights, he actually provides ten names! Not eight names, not eleven names, ten names! It’s pretty special.
LIST OF KNIGHTS GOING OUT WITH GUENEVER
1) Sir Kay, Arthur’s brother
2) Sir Agravaine, Arthur’s nephew
3) Sir Brandiles
4) Sir Sagramore the Lusty
5) Sir Dodinas the Thug
6) Sir “Big Heart” Ozanna
7) Sir Ladinas from the Thuggish Woods
8) The Indigo Knight, from Book VII
9) The other Red Knight, also from Book VII
10) Sir Pellas the Good, Nimue’s husband
So these knights and a bunch of ladies and hangers-on go out with Guenever into the woods, and that’s where Sir Meliagrance makes his move. Sir Meliagrance has lusted after Guenever for years, apparently. Maybe he thinks that his affair with Guenever is the secret of Launcelot’s success, that if Meliagrance can just sleep with Guenever, then he’ll be the best knight! Maybe he’s just a jerk.
In any case, they’re out in the woods and then suddenly Meliagrance attacks! He and his men outnumber Guenever’s knights sixteen to one!
“All right, all you knights! Hand over the queen and nobody gets decapitated!” cries Meliagrance.
Guenever is not cowed in the slightest! Instead she lets into Meliagrance with a lengthy burst of invective, calling him a traitor knight, and that he’s about to dishonour the noble king that made [him] knight, that he shamest knighthood, and that she would sooner cut [her] own throat in twain rather than permit Meliagrance to dishonour her.
“You don’t actually have the choice, here,” bellows Meliagrance, “unless these ten knights can hold off all one hundred and sixty of my men!”
Zoom in on Meliagrance glaring!
Zoom in on Guenever glaring!
Zoom in on Sir Pellas sighing, because it’s finally time for him to earn the appellation he’s enjoyed since Book IV, “Sir Pellas the Good.”
So there’s a battle! Long story short pretty soon it’s nine Knights of the Round Table lying bleeding on the ground alongside forty or fifty of Meliagrance’s men, and Sir Pellas there, indicating that he could keep this up all day.
Guenever surrenders, though, on the grounds that the other nine knights will bleed to death if they don’t get leeches, and she doesn’t want them to die. Pellas agrees to lay down his arms, if that’s what Guenever wants, and so Meliagrance and his hundred or so surviving knights take Guenever, Pellas, and all the rest of Guenever’s Fun-Time May Spring-Tacular back to Meliagrance’s castle.
Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XIX, Chapters 1 and 2 — No Comments
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