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Elaine, Queen of Garlot
(Born c.AD 475)
(Welsh: Elen; Latin: Helena; English: Elaine)

Gorlois' daughter, Elaine, is best known from her single appearance in Malory's "Le Morte D'Arthur" as the step-daughter of King Uther Pendragon (and thus half-sister to King Arthur). Uther married her off to King Nentres of Garlot, an otherwise unknown King who appears to be a confused combination of Elaine's brother-in-law and her real husband. Geoffrey of Monmouth reveals the latter's identity when he states "Hoel was the son of Arthur's sister; and his father was Budicius, the King of the Armorican Britons". The 14th century tale of the "Birth of Arthur" confirms this by naming him as the Emyr Llydaw (Emperor of Brittany), that is King Budic II of Brittany, though here Arthur's sister is given as Gwyar (a confused character, usually identified as King Arthur's sister, Anna). "Nentres" is probably an extreme corruption of Emyr. "Garlot" stems from the residence of Elaine's brother-in-law, King Lot of Caer-Lot in Lothian (Gododdin). Elaine may also be identified with the lady of that name given in literary sources as the wife of King Ban of Benwick and mother of Sir Lancelot, since Ban is sometimes called King of Brittany (and was probably the historical Budic II). Elaine's apparent historicity is shown in one of the Welsh Triads which records her as one of the "Three Elens who went from the Isle of Britain". She accompanied her brother, Arthur, on his expedition to fight Frollo, the Roman Governor of Gaul and never returned. What more natural than to remain in Gaul, if her husband were a Breton?

Sources

Peter C. Bartrum (1993) A Welsh Classical Dictionary.
Rachel Bromwich (1961) Trioedd Ynys Prydein: The Welsh Triads.
Ronan Coghlan (1991) The Encyclopaedia of Arthurian Legends.
Llanstephen MS.201 (14th c.) The Birth of Arthur.
Thomas Malory (1485) Le Morte D'Arthur.
Geoffrey of Monmouth (1136) The History of the Kings of Britain.

 

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