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Sir Percivale
Arthurian Literary Character

The earliest works telling Sir Percivale's story show that his real name was Peredyr. Hence his identification with Peredyr Arueu Dur (Steel Arms), the historic King of Ebrauc (York) who lived about a hundred years after the great King Arthur. His father - whether the literary King Pellinore or the historic King Eliffer of Ebrauc - was killed when Sir Percivale was still young. He and his twin-brother, Gurgi, were therefore raised in the woods by their mother who wanted them to know nothing of knighthood; but, having seen some of High-King Arthur’s knights, Percivale determined to go to the Royal Court at Caer-Ligualid (Carlisle) and become one. His mother told him to demand either a kiss or a jewel from any ladies he met. So, when Percivale came upon a girl asleep in a tent, he kissed her and purloined her ring. On arrival at King Arthur's court, he discovered that the Red Knight had insulted Queen Guinevere by throwing wine over her and departing post haste. So Percivale pursued and killed him. He later stayed with an old knight named Gornemant de Goort who taught him chivalry and knighted him. Leaving his tutor, he came to the castle belonging to Lady Blanchefleur which was under siege by King Clamadeus. So he defeated Clamadeus in single combat and became Blanchefleur's lover. On the way to see his mother, a fisherman directed Percivale to his old family castle at Listinoise (which means “Castle in the North”) where he beheld an old man - Pelles, the Fisher King - on a couch and was given a fine sword. The Holy Grail was paraded before him, but Percivale did not ask what the Grail was or whom it served. When he awoke the next morning, he found his sword broken and the castle deserted. He only just escaped it alive. Percivale then encountered his cousin who informed him that he should have asked more questions and told him to take the sword to its original forger. On his journey, he overcame the husband of the girl whom he had kissed earlier in the tent, who had not understood that Percivale had acted innocently. After five years of wanderings, he finally returned to Listinoise and asked his questions. He discovered that the Fisher King was wounded by fragments of a sword which had killed his brother. Though sustained by the Grail, his wounds would not heal until the murderer was brought to justice. Percivale killed the villain and the King recovered. It was then revealed that Percivale was the Fisher King’s nephew and when the he died, Percivale succeeded to his kingdom.


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