Sir Meleagant, the wicked knight

Meleagant is known as the wicked knight who abducts Guinevere and Meleagant is eventually slain by Lancelot.

Sir Meleagant was the son of good King Bagdemagus. Meleagant was not the most popular of knights at court and appears to have been resentful of the respect earned by others. His tale is an old one in origin, Meleagant appears to have been based on an historical King of Glastening called Melwas. The classic account is the kidnapping of Guinevere, as told by Chrétien de Troyes's Lancelot or the Knight of the Cart. The Meleagant story is told in different forms by others both before and after Chrétien.

On hearing of Guinevere's abduction by Meleagant, Sir Lancelot immediately started out in pursuit. Meleagant’s archers shot his horse from under him and he had to continue in a humble cart. A very embarrassing mode of transport, because it was only used by criminals at that time. Eventually Lancelot reached Meleagant Castle, and Meleagant was so afraid of Lancelot’s wrath that he quickly handed over the queen to avoid fighting the greatest of the knights.

During the night Lancelot broke into the Queen’s bedchamber, cutting his hand in the process. Meleagant found her the next morning lying in blood-stained sheets and accused her of sleeping with one of her wounded supporters. Lancelot had set up a trial by combat between himself and Meleagant which Meleagant wanted to avoid. Meleagant took Lancelot on a tour of his castle, and in a particular room, a trap door opened and threw Lancelot into a deep dungeon. Providentially the knight’s gaoler was the pretty young sister of Maleagant , who in return for a passionate kiss, released the knight. Lancelot was therefore able to turn up to the arranged fight. With Lancelot in the accendancy, Maleagant tried to surrender. Guinevere, however, wanted him dead, and Lancelot refused to accept his surrender. Meleagant refused to continue the fight unless Lancelot tied his left hand behind his back. Lancelot agreed, and non the less was still able to split the head of Meleagant in two.

Full references to more about Sir Meleagant at the Rochester site


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