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Forgotten Knights Who Were a Part of the Arthurian Legend

 

The numerous fascinating tales of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table have been well-known for ages. King Arthur, the legendary British leader who fought Saxon invaders, has been an incredibly famous literary figure whose adventures have regaled us for a long time. However, the history of his loyal knights isn’t particularly clear.

Different versions of the Arthurian legend have mentioned 12–150 Knights of the Round Table. Some of them - like Sir Lancelot, Sir Percivale, Sir Gawaine and Sir Mordred – are quite popular. But not much is known about the several other knights that appear in the many Arthurian tales. While the origin of the knights is often disputed, their significant contribution and tremendous impact on Western literature cannot be overlooked.

Here we look at some of the lesser-known Knights of the Round Table. It is more than likely that you’ve never heard of most of these names but they did play an important part in establishing the Arthurian legend further. 

1. Sir Lamorak

Knights of the Round Table Sir Lamorak

Image source - Wikimedia Commons

According to various legends, Lamorak was one of the strongest, most fierce and brutal knights of the Round Table. One of the sons of King Pellinore (ruler of Listenoise), Lamorak was known to be a hot-tempered person but a remarkably skilled knight. In fact, he received a degree for jousting at a very young age. Such were his skills on the field that Lamorak could take on more than 30 other knights at the same time successfully. He was also one of the rare knights who had the ability to use two swords during battle.

A few sources say that Sir Lamorak was killed by Sir Mordred (Arthur’s rebellious nephew) after the latter had a fallout with the king and the other knights of the Round Table. 

2. Sir Gareth

Knights of the Round Table Sir Gareth

Image source - Wikimedia Commons

A faithful and brave knight, Sir Gareth was renowned for his chivalrous nature. He was one of the sons of King Lot and was the brother of Sir Gawain, Sir Gaheris, and Sir Agravain who had by then already established themselves as powerful knights in King Arthur's kingdom. 

When he first arrived at Arthur’s court, he came disguised as a peasant boy with no past. This apparently displeased his brothers and their relations became a little frosty since then. Initially, Gareth was made to work in the kitchen of the castle and was given menial jobs by some other knights. However, he soon found a way to exhibit his skills and defeated the Green Knight and the Red Knight, among a host of others. On one occasion, Gareth even entered a tournament in disguise to defeat his brothers and only revealed himself when he had vanquished his brother Gawain in the final combat.

It was Lancelot who recognized his talents and went on to knight him. This action made Gareth extra affectionate towards Lancelot even though he was loyal to Arthur. Unfortunately, he was accidentally killed by Lancelot while he attempted to save Guinevere (the wife and queen of King Arthur) from being burned at the stake.

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3. Sir Agravain

Knights of the Round Table Sir Agravain

Image source - Wikimedia Commons

Widely regarded as one of the most handsome knights of the Round Table, Sir Agravain was also a remarkably gifted fighter. However, it is these qualities that supposedly made him extremely proud and arrogant. He was an intelligent man with an acid tongue and was at times known to indulge in ungentlemanly-like conduct. In several incidents, Sir Agravain is even depicted as malicious and villainous. He was notably different than his brothers, Sir Gawain and Sir Gareth, and was always in conflict with them.

Interestingly, though, Agravain wasn’t always like this. In his younger days, he was known to be a noble and humble knight. He was also a relative of King Arthur and had impressed the king when he had liberated the prisoners on the Hill of Wretches. This one act of bravery earned Agravain his place at the Round Table. Later on, the knight established his name by taking an important part in the Saxon Wars.

Unfortunately, Agravain was a jealous man, too. According to some versions, he couldn’t stand Lancelot’s popularity as the best knight and wanted him dead. When he discovered that Lancelot was having an alleged affair with Guinevere he was the first to break the news to the king and hatched a plot to murder the knight. He failed, however, and was slain by Lancelot in the fight. 

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4. Sir Geraint

Knights of the Round Table Sir Geraint

Image source - Wikimedia Commons

The eldest son of King Erbin of Dumnonia (modern-day Cornwall), Sir Geraint was a Knight of Devonshire. After the death of his first wife, Geraint began spending a lot of his time at Arthur’s court looking for action and adventure. During this time, he went on to meet Lady Enid of Caer-Teim of Cardiff and married her. Geraint and his wife Enid became good friends with both King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. 

One day, Geraint heard Enid complaining that he was a lazy knight. This upset him greatly and he was determined to prove his manliness. Geraint then went on a tour of Dumnonia with his wife and faced several trials and challenges. He triumphed eventually and showed his worth as a good leader and a skillful fighter. The journey managed to intensify the bond between the couple and also enhanced Geraint’s reputation among the other knights of the table.

5. Sir Bors de Ganis

Knights of the Round Table Sir Bors de Ganis

Image source - Wikimedia Commons

Sir Bors de Ganis is known as the only knight of the three Grail knights (Bors, Percivale, and Galahad) who managed to survive the Quest for the Holy Grail and return to the court of King Arthur. His father’s name was Bors too and Sir Bors de Ganis later went on to succeed him as the King of Gannes/Ganis.

Sir Bors was a chaste and honorable knight and had taken a vow to remain single throughout his life. However, according to some legends, the daughter of King Brandegoris was smitten with him and with the help of a magic ring made him fall in love with her. 

One of the biggest hallmarks of Bors’ life as a knight, though, is when he undertook the Quest for the Holy Grail along with Sir Galahad and Sir Percivale. Together, they were hailed as Grail Knights. It was only Sir Bors, however, who successfully completed the quest. He is still regarded as one of the greatest knights of the Round Table.

6. King Urien

King Urien Knights of the Round Table

Image source - Wikimedia Commons

Urien was the father of the Round Table knight named Yvain. He was a Celtic monarch who ruled over the region of Rheged (southwest of Hadrian’s Wall) and was considered in many accounts as one of the three greatest warrior-kings in Britain.

Urien was a successful ruler and his great exploits have been documented in the medieval manuscript 'The Book of Taliesin'. In his heydays, Urien resisted the northern expansion of the Anglo-Saxon invaders. With time, his deeds became famous in Welsh myth and Urien was then incorporated into the Arthurian legend as Urien of Gorre – a distinguished figure and Knight of the Round Table.

According to a legend, Urien initially rebelled against Arthur and tried to dethrone him. However, he was defeated in the process. Later on, he went on to become a resourceful and loyal vassal to Arthur and a respected member of the Knights of the Round Table.

Urien was eventually slain on the orders of northern king Morgant Bwlch who was jealous of his growing reputation.

7. Sir Lionel

Knights of the Round Table Sir Lionel

Image source - Wikimedia Commons

Sir Lionel was the son of King Bors of Gaunnes and Evainne. In different versions of the Arthurian legend, he appeared as the cousin and squire of Sir Lancelot. At birth, he had an odd mark on his chest in the shape of a lion. That is why his mother decided to name him Lionel.

Lionel was knighted by Arthur after his war against the Saxons at La Roche. He was supposedly impressed by Lionel’s commitment. He was an accomplished swordsman and also took part in the Grail quest like the other knights of the Round Table. During the journey, Lionel was captured by two knights and was brutally beaten. Fortunately, he managed to escape their clutches. 

In the later years, he grew closer to his cousin Lancelot and sided with him when he had a conflict with Arthur. Despite this, there were many notable achievements in his life as a knight of the Round Table - his role in the rescue of Guinevere, the war at Joyeuse Guard and the war in Gaune, France, being some of the prominent ones.

Sir Lionel was killed in the Battle of Winchester by Melehan, the son of Sir Mordred.

 

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