Le Morte D'Arthur (Book IV)

Week 9: Medieval Heroes - Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images


CHAPTER XXII How Sir Gawaine came to the Lady Ettard, and how Sir Pelleas found them sleeping.

Reading time: 4 minutes. Word count: 800 words.

Gawaine is going to go to Ettard on behalf of Sir Pelleas... but things are not going to turn out as expected. Can you guess what is going to happen when Gawaine meets Ettard?

AND therewith Sir Gawaine plight his troth unto Sir Pelleas to be true and faithful unto him; so each one plight their troth to other, and so they changed horses and harness, and Sir Gawaine departed, and came to the castle whereas stood the pavilions of this lady without the gate.

And as soon as Ettard had espied Sir Gawaine she fled in toward the castle. Sir Gawaine spake on high, and bade her abide, for he was not Sir Pelleas; I am another knight that have slain Sir Pelleas.

Do off your helm, said the Lady Ettard, that I may see your visage.

And so when she saw that it was not Sir Pelleas, she bade him alight and led him unto her castle, and asked him faithfully whether he had slain Sir Pelleas.

And he said her yea, and told her his name was Sir Gawaine of the court of King Arthur, and his sister's son.

Truly, said she, that is great pity, for he was a passing good knight of his body, but of all men alive I hated him most, for I could never be quit of him; and for ye have slain him I shall be your woman, and to do anything that might please you. So she made Sir Gawaine good cheer.

Then Sir Gawaine said that he loved a lady and by no means she would love him.

She is to blame, said Ettard, an she will not love you, for ye that be so well born a man, and such a man of prowess, there is no lady in the world too good for you.

Will ye, said Sir Gawaine, promise me to do all that ye may, by the faith of your body, to get me the love of my lady?

Yea, sir, said she, and that I promise you by the faith of my body.

Now, said Sir Gawaine, it is yourself that I love so well, therefore I pray you hold your promise.

I may not choose, said the Lady Ettard, but if I should be forsworn; and so she granted him to fulfil all his desire.

So it was then in the month of May that she and Sir Gawaine went out of the castle and supped in a pavilion, and there was made a bed, and there Sir Gawaine and the Lady Ettard went to bed together, and in another pavilion she laid her damosels, and in the third pavilion she laid part of her knights, for then she had no dread of Sir Pelleas.

And there Sir Gawaine lay with her in that pavilion two days and two nights. And on the third day, in the morning early, Sir Pelleas armed him, for he had never slept since Sir Gawaine departed from him; for Sir Gawaine had promised him by the faith of his body, to come to him unto his pavilion by that priory within the space of a day and a night.

Then Sir Pelleas mounted upon horseback, and came to the pavilions that stood without the castle, and found in the first pavilion three knights in three beds, and three squires lying at their feet. Then went he to the second pavilion and found four gentlewomen lying in four beds. And then he yede to the third pavilion and found Sir Gawaine lying in bed with his Lady Ettard, and either clipping other in arms, and when he saw that his heart well-nigh brast for sorrow, and said: Alas! that ever a knight should be found so false; and then he took his horse and might not abide no longer for pure sorrow.

And when he had ridden nigh half a mile he turned again and thought to slay them both; and when he saw them both so lie sleeping fast, unnethe he might hold him on horseback for sorrow, and said thus to himself, Though this knight be never so false, I will never slay him sleeping, for I will never destroy the high order of knighthood; and therewith he departed again.

And or he had ridden half a mile he returned again, and thought then to slay them both, making the greatest sorrow that ever man made. And when he came to the pavilions, he tied his horse unto a tree, and pulled out his sword naked in his hand, and went to them thereas they lay, and yet he thought it were shame to slay them sleeping, and laid the naked sword overthwart both their throats, and so took his horse and rode his way.

[Chapter 22 continues on the next page]


Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • how did Gawaine and Ettard end up sleeping together in the pavilion?
  • why did Pelleas not kill the two of them when he found them?
  • where did Pelleas leave his sword?

Source: Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, published by William Caxton (1485), with spelling modernized. Weblink. The original Caxton text is also available online: weblink.


Modern Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:52 PM