Mordred’s still working on getting Guenever out of her tower when a messenger brings him word: Arthur, Gawaine, and their troops are landing at Dover.  Mordred’s okay with this, though, because he has the common people on his side.  Apparently the decades of incessant war have soured the peasantry of England on King Arthur?

Malory’s position is that peasants are idiots and the common man isn’t fit to determine who should rule him.  He whines Lo ye all Englishmen, see ye not what a mischief here was! for he that was the most king and knight of the world, and most loved the fellowship of noble knights, and by him they were all upholden, now might not these Englishmen hold them content with him. Lo thus was the old custom and usage of this land; and also men say that we of this land have not yet lost nor forgotten that custom and usage. Alas, this is a great default of us Englishmen, for there may no thing please us no term.”  Also he calls the pro-Mordred peasants new-fangle.

At Dover, Arthur’s fleet tries to land, but Mordred’s army meets him on the beach.  While back in Benwick, King Arthur was content to lie back in his tent and cry during most of the fighting, this time he’s leading charges!  It’s a whole bloodbath, D-Day kind of thing, with great boats and small and dozens of barons getting killed and so on.  I don’t want to go into detail, and neither does Malory, for once.  Long story short, /Tthrough the sheer power of King Arthur’s courage and knightliness, the invading/returning army drives off the defending/usurping army.  Mordred flees into the countryside.

Afterwards, all of Arthur’s men get to work setting up the funerary arrangements for the casualties.  Arthur notices he hasn’t seen Gawaine for most of the battle, and pokes around.  He finds Gawaine lying dying in the bottom of a boat, lying more than half dead.

“Alas,” says Arthur.  He recognizes that Gawaine’s dying, and sits down to stay with him until he dies.  “I know we never really got along, but after literally every knight I liked more died or betrayed me, you were my favorite.  By default, you were my favorite!”

“Oh, Uncle Sire,” moans Gawaine.  “I’m pretty sure I’m dying.”

“Yes, I know.  I just said that.”

“I blame Launcelot.”  Gawaine coughs up a little blood.  “He wounded me pretty badly back in Benwick, so, you know, I wasn’t all healed up for this battle.”

“It’s okay.”

“Oh, Launcelot!” moans Gawaine.  Yes, it’s weird, but he’s dying, so cut him a little slack.  “I forgive you!  Uncle Sire, can I have a pen and paper to write Launcelot a good-bye note?”

Arthur happens, implausibly enough, to have some ink and such on hand.

“Dearest Launcelot,” writes Gawaine.  “Apologies for the weak handwriting; I’m dying from that time you smashed by skull in, and that other time you smashed my skull in.  I suppose I should just dictate this.  Too late now.  Launcelot, please come to England and rescue Arthur from Mordred, who is in rebellion, and also he tried to marry Guenever.  She’s holed up in the Tower of London, which is okay.  That’s not important.  What’s important is that my half-brother Mordred is a bad guy.  So come to England, and see my tomb, and also help Arthur defeat Mordred.  All my love, Gawaine.”

Arthur sends the letter to Benwick, but doesn’t wait for Launcelot’s reinforcements that might or might not come.  Instead he pulls a page from his old Book I playbook, and attacks Mordred’s camp super early.  Mordred and his men scatter!  Then they regroup, and then Arthur and Mordred fight a series of inconclusive battles.

They make a deal, Arthur and Mordred do, because neither of them are eager to keep fighting forever.  They’ll have a big final battle in a month, at a predetermined time, with both sides lined up and ready.  It’s a jousting tournament.  Basically they agree to hold a jousting tournament.

Interesting side note: Mordred’s supporters are a mix of the ones Arthur didn’t like enough to invade Benwick with, and the ones that supported Launcelot over Arthur, but not enough to actually rise up in rebellion.

Knights of the Round Table who have died: a list I surely won’t have to update as we go on from here!

Sir Balin, slain by Sir Balan in Book II.*

Sir Balan, slain by Sir Balin in Book II.*

Sir Accolon, slain by King Arthur as a result of Morgan’s plan failing in Book IV.*

King Pellinore, slain offscreen by Sir Gawaine sometime after the start of Book IV.

Sir Chestaline, Sir Gawaine’s youthful ward, slain by Roman soldiers during Book V.*

Sir Marhaus, slain by Sir Tristram early in Book VIII.

Sir Lamorak, slain offscreen by Sir Gawaine and his brothers around the time of Book X.

Sir Uwaine, slain by Sir Gawaine in Book XVI.

Sir Colgrevance, slain by Sir Lionel in Book XVI.

King Bagdemagus, slain by Sir Gawaine sometime prior to Book XVII.

Sir Galahad, ascended into heaven with the Grail in Book XVII.

Sir Percivale, died of grief after coming in second on the Grail-Quest, in Book XVII.

Sir Patrice, ate a poisoned apple intended for Sir Gawaine, in Book XVIII.

Sir Meliagrance, decapitated by Launcelot with one hand tied behind his back, in Book XIX.

Sir Tristram, murdered by King Mark sometime before Book XX.

Sir Colgrevance, again, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Agravaine, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Mador de la Porte, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Meliot de Logris, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Petipase of Winchelsea, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Galleron of Galway, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Melion of the Mountain, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Astamore, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Grummore Grummursun, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Curselaine, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Florence, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Lovel, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Gingalin, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Gaheris, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Gareth, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Belliance, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Segwarides, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Griftlet the Caterer, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Brandiles, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Aglovale, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Tor, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Gauter, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Gillimer, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Reynolds, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Damas, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Priamus, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir “the Other Kay” Kay, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Driant, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Lambegus, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Herminde, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

The Green Knight, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

The Red Knight, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Gawaine, dies of injuries after retaking Dover from Mordred, in Book XXI.

Starred entries are knights who were not, technically, members of the Round Table, but who were more or less solid Camelot-allies.


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Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XXI, Chapter 2 — No Comments

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