Sir Lancelot du Lac or Lancelot of the Lake lived in the Middle Ages, during a period dominated by knights which lasted from the 12th to the 14th century AD. Sir Lancelot is the protagonist of a series of legendary tales which are part of the Arthurian cycle. The central figure of the stories is the famous King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. As is commonly known, Arthur was the mythical King of Camelot who played a leading role in many adventures, with the help of his most loyal knights, such as the search for the Holy Grail.
The figure of Sir Lancelot has inspired the creation of the Lancelot sword
When Sir Lancelot reached his youth he was taken by the Lady of the Lake to King Arthur's court. Amazed by his honour, his skill with the sword and his bravery in combat, King Arthur decided to accept him as a knight of the Round Table. This was how Sir Lancelot became a loyal knight, companion and friend of King Arthur. Together they went on to experience multiple adventures. However they did not only share wartime adventures but also a lover, Queen Guinevere.
Representation of Guinevere
arming knight with Sir Lancelot's medieval sword
The basic equipment of a medieval
knight consisted of several essential items. Firstly, as defensive material,
the medieval warrior had a coat of mail which the soldier wore over a tunic,
with a rather small pointed shield; and a cylindrical helmet which he could
wear with or without a nose protector. As regards offensive weapons, he
could be equipped with a crossbow or lance. However the most important
weapon for a knight was the sword which enabled him to engage in hand to
hand combat. The most common medieval sword had a straight blade with a
double cutting edge and was over one metre in length. The sword was used
with a single hand, so the hilt was short; with the other hand the soldier
held the shield.
Lancelot sword, the medieval knight's essential weapon
Design of knight Lancelot of the Lake's sword with scabbard
In his adventure in search of the Holy Grail, Sir Lancelot reaches the fortress of King Pelles, who guarded the holy relics. In this castle lived Elaine, King Pelles' daughter. The princess fell at the feet of the handsome knight and declared her love for Sir Lancelot. The latter refused, maintaining his strict attitude of remaining loyal to Guinevere. However, Elaine drugged the knight, making him spend the night with him. From this meeting another famous knight from Arthurian tales would be born, Sir Galahad.
The Knights of the Round Table
armed with their swords
Ever since that battle, Camelot never recovered. It was Mordred, son of Arthur, fruit of his incest with Morgana, who usurped the throne from his father, thereby starting a new civil war. At this time, some knights loyal to Arthur and companions of Sir Lancelot asked the latter to come to the aid of the monarch. The loyal soldier accompanied by his sword came to the aid of King Arthur but failed to arrive on time. Arthur died and lost Camelot.
After this difficult event, Queen
Guinevere decided to join a monastery and commend the rest of her days to
the Lord. The path of Sir Lancelot was to be similar, as he became a hermit
guarding the coffin of Arthur in the same chapel where he lay. One of his
final achievements before dying was that of burying the body of the deceased
Queen Guinevere next to King Arthur so that both could sleep together for
The story of the adventures of Sir Lancelot belongs to legend, however, it is likely that the author Chrétien de Troyes, who wrote one of the key works on the figure Sir Lancelot in the 12th century, based his tale on popular memory relating to a true fact concerning the adventures of a warrior king and his court of loyal knights. Therefore, although the facts may not have taken place as the legendary tales tell us, as these have been adorned by men of letters throughout history, perhaps there is some truth in the seed of the tale. It could be that at some point at the beginning of the Middle Ages there was a knight of French origin who was a great companion and loyal servant to a British king. In any case, it is a difficult mystery to get to the bottom of, so until then we can hold on to the imagination and fantasy that allow us to recall the knight Sir Lancelot sword in hand and enjoy the adventures of this medieval hero.
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