Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XXI, Chapter 13, the end
So the Archbishop and the hermit-knights break out their funeral wagon, last used to transport Guenever’s body. They load Launcelot onto it, and take the Knight of the Cart on one last cart-ride, across the land to his old home, Joyous Gard, now a cold and empty place. They hold a large funeral for him, in the courtyard outside Joyous Gard, with bonfires and lots of peasants come to gawk at the dead body.
In the middle of the funeral, up rides Sir Ector the Lesser! He doesn’t recognize any of his old friends, because he hasn’t seen them for seven years and they’re all in robes with beards. They recognize him, though, and are extremely sheepish that they completely forgot about him.
“Seven years I’ve been looking for you guys! You all went off to be monks together and you didn’t tell me?!”
The hermit-knights are pretty abashed about it. They invite Ector to join their order, since with Launcelot dead there’s an empty bunk at the hermitage. At this point, says Malory, the story is pretty much over. Launcelot’s dead, Guenever’s dead, oh and of course Arthur’s dead. The hermit-knights go back to the hermitage, or whatever, and they dwell there. After a time Sir Constantine (who becomes the King of England after Arthur, mainly by keeping his head down until everyone else who wanted it is dead; that’s how you win the game of thrones) recalls the Archbishop of Canterbury to quit being a hermit and get back to the important work of Archbishoping. Maybe the hermit-knights go their separate ways at that point, with only Sir Bedivere remaining at the hermitage. Maybe Bors, Ector, and the rest get involved in the Crusades or something. Malory doesn’t know, and he doesn’t particularly care.
The book ends with a polite request from Sir Thomas Malory for you, the reader, to do him a solid and pray for him. If he’s alive, pray for him, and if he’s been dead for centuries and you’re reading a retelling of his novel on an electronic device of some kind, pray for his soul in Purgatory.
Thus endeth this noble and joyous book entitled the Death of Arthur. Notwithstanding it treateth of the birth, life, and acts of the said King Arthur, of his noble knights of the Round Table, their marvellous enquests and adventures, the achieving of the Grail, and in the end the dolorous death and departing out of this world of them all.
Mic drop, Malory out!
Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XXI, Chapter 13, the end — No Comments
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