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  • Writer's pictureZoe Franznick

Perlesvaus Pt. VIII

We are back yet again with Perlesvaus, and our heroes (questionable) have found the one stretch of land in all England where there is no hermitage! Not only that, we get some interesting fourth wall breaks - our narrator knows he's inconsistent, but is that his fault? Nah!

In case you missed our previous episodes, we’ve summarized all of them here on the blog, so be sure to check those out before reading on!

As our author changes point-of-view characters again, we return to Arthur, who notices an awful lot of sunlight streaming in his castle. When he goes outside t investigate, he sees that there are two suns in the sky. Kneeling, Arthur prays for an answer. God tells him directly that they have appeared because Percival has taken the Fisher King’s palace back, and in honor of this, Arthur should take a few knights to accompany him on a pilgrimage.

Before he can prepare, however, a damsel with a bejeweled casket arrives in King Arthur’s courts, proclaiming that the only one who may open the casket is the killer of the knight who lays within. Arthur and many of his knights attempt to open it, but thankfully all fail. The coffin begins to pour sweat from itself.

However, the stupid Sir Kay shoves his way to the front of the queue, boasting that he is the best and bravest of all knights, and he shall be able to open the casket, of course. Nonplussed by the fact that Sir Kay doesn’t understand that opening the casket is not a sign of bravery, but dishonor, King Arthur lets him try.

Kay immediately opens the casket to reveal the body of Loholt, King Arthur’s son, whom Kay slayed to take credit for a giant slaying. Mourning commences, and the lady reveals that she has done this as part of her revenge Kay for…dishonoring… her. Sir Kay flees across the water to Brien of France.

After this event, Arthur takes Gawain and Lancelot with him on his pilgrimage. As they travel, they spot a small fire ahead and send a squire to see what is there. The squire runs back screaming and declaring that there is a house full of decapitated heads and chopped off feet.

The party goes to this ramshackle house and indeed, Lancelot says he’s never seen so many dead before. Shortly after, the Queen of the Castle of the Beards arrives, hauling the dead body of another knight, and places it with the others. When she sees Lancelot, she rejoices because her penance has ended.

As night falls, many black demon knights appear, and Lancelot draws a magical circle around the party to keep them safe. As the demon knights kill one another, they burst into crows. After this event, hermits made the place holy.

As the pilgrimage party continues, they lodge in the castle of the knight that Lancelot had forced into marriage with the woman he wooed. This knight has sworn not to treat his lady honorably, out of spite, or something.

As they travel, the narrator explains that the land around them changes according to the will of God, because the local knights in England get bored with normal life and always seek new adventures.

Lancelot briefly departs the party to return to the Waste Castle, where he decapitated Hydrox, due to that being the custom of the place. When he returns, two maidens stop Hydrox’s brother from killing him, as the curse to decapitate people has been lifted, since, finally, someone held to their word to return.

Meanwhile, Mabogan has stolen the circle of gold from the Queen of the Golden Circle, and has put it up as a prize at a tournament so that he may “win” it honorably. The party goes to the tournament to win her circlet back, and settles once more into the tent of the two ladies that had desperately wanted Gawain to sleep with them in an earlier branch.

The ladies host the knights and put them up in armor. On the first day, the two compete well. On the second day, however, the elder maiden holds Gawain to his vow that he would stand by any request a maiden made of him. She tells him to fight as cowardly as possible, and so he does, coming in last place. Finally, on the third day, King Arthur wins back the circlet, and Gawain returns it to the queen. Neither of the ladies at the tent get laid, despite their attempts to woo both men.

Lancelot then meets Gawain and King Arthur (in disguise) at another tournament, this time hosted by Brien of the Isles, who has been conquesting Britain. The prize at this tournament is a crown from a dead lady. Whosoever wins the lady’s crown must defend her land. Arthur easily wins, and then it is revealed that this was Queen Guinevere’s crown, and she has died while Arthur was away.

Though the party mourns, they cannot neglect their quest, and so finally arrive at the Fisher King’s Palace to see the procession of the Grail. There, they meet one of the maidens of the cart, who has been wounded. She tells the party that Dindraine, Percival’s sister, has been kidnapped and will soon be forced to marry her captor! They must stop the wedding, she declares, for this man has a bad habit of killing his wife after a year of marrying her.

Will the party succeed in saving Dindraine? Is Britain lost to Brien of the Isles? What’s Percival been up to this whole time? We won’t know until next time!

Thanks for joining us in this week's episode of The Maniculum Podcast. Looking for more? Check out our Master List series for the full collection of segments at the end of our show, and for more gaming and world building ideas, check out The Gaming Table section of our blog, Marginalia!

Searching for our sources? Read Perlesvaus here, and check out our Library for more! Additional references for interested scholars:

  • Burger, Glenn, and Steven F. Kruger, editors. Queering the Middle Ages. NED-New edition, vol. 27, University of Minnesota Press, 2001. Link.

  • Castration and Culture in the Middle Ages. Ed. Larissa Tracey. Brewer, D.S, Cambridge, 2013. Link.

  • Geary, Patrick. "Humiliation of Saints," Saints and Their Cults, Cambridge University Press. Link.

  • Harward, Vernon J. The Dwarfs of Arthurian Romance and Celtic Tradition. E.J. Brill, 1958.

We do our best to accurately research, source, and cite the works we use, and make them available to you, too! Each episode has a corresponding blog post which includes further breakdowns of the big ideas in each text as well as cites our sources and references. We also have the Maniculum Library, which actively collects resources and recommendations for writers, scholars, and geeks alike! We update our collection of Master Lists after each new episode, so be sure subscribe and stay updated!

Are we missing something? Let us know! We'd love to add more knowledge to our ever-growing compendium. Chat with us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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