Short summary - The Death of King Arthur - Sir Thomas Malory

British literature summaries -

Short summary - The Death of King Arthur
Sir Thomas Malory

The King of England, Morning Pendragon, falls in love with Igrain, the wife of the Duke of Cornwall, with whom he is at war. The famous sorcerer and diviner Merlin promises to help the king conquer Igrain, provided that he will give him their child. The duke dies in the fray, and the barons, wanting to put an end to the strife, convince the king to marry Igrein. When the queen is freed from the burden, the baby is secretly taken to Merlin, and he calls him Arthur and gives him upbringing to Baron Hector.

After the death of King Uther, to prevent confusion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, on the advice of Merlin, calls all the barons to London to elect a new king. When all the estates of the kingdom gather for prayer, a stone miraculously appears in the courtyard of the temple with an anvil standing on it, under which lies a naked sword. The inscription on the stone says that the king by birth is the one who draws the sword from under the anvil. This is possible only for young Arthur, who does not know who his real parents are. Arthur becomes king, but many consider him unworthy to rule the country, for he is too young and low by birth. Merlin tells Arthur’s opponents the secret of his birth, proving to them that the young man is the legitimate son of Uther Pendragon, and yet some barons decide to go to war against the young king. But Arthur defeats all his opponents.


In Carlion, Arthur meets the wife of King Lot of Orkney. Not knowing that she is his sister from his mother Igreina, he shares a bed with her, and she conceives from him. Merlin reveals to the young man the secret of his birth and predicts that Arthur and all his knights will die at the hands of Mordred, the son of Arthur, whom he conceived with his sister.

Instead of a sword that broke in a fight with King Pelinor, Arthur receives from the Lady of the Lake a wonderful sword Escalibur, which means «cut steel». Merlin explains to Arthur that the scabbard from this sword will save him from injuries.

Arthur orders to deliver to him all the babies born by the noble ladies from the noble lords on the first day of May, for Merlin revealed to him that Mordred was born on that day. All babies are put on the ship and allowed into the sea, the ship crashes, and only Mordred is saved.

Knight Balin the Fiercely enchanted sword kills the Lady of the Lake for destroying his mother. Arthur expels Balin. This sword causes the death of Balin and his brother Balan. Merlin predicts that no one but Lancelot or his son, Galahad, can now take possession of the enchanted sword, and that Lancelot will kill Gawain with this sword, which is dearest to him in the world.

Arthur marries Guinevere, the daughter of King Lodegrans, from whom he receives a Round Table as a present, at which one hundred and fifty knights can sit. The king instructs Merlin to choose fifty more knights, for he already has a hundred. But he found only forty-eight: two places at the table remain unoccupied. Arthur commands his knights to fight only for a just cause and to serve as the whole model of chivalrous valor.

Merlin falls in love with Nineva, one of the mistresses of the Lady of the Lake, and so annoys her that she locks him in a magic cave under a heavy stone, where he dies. Arthur's sister, the fairy of Morgan, wants to destroy her brother. She replaces his sword, Escalibur, and the king almost dies in a duel with her lover. The Morgan Fairy wants him to kill Arthur and become king. However, despite her cunning plans, Arthur remains alive and performs glorious feats.

Ambassadors from Rome arrive at Arthur's court demanding tribute to the emperor Lucius. Arthur decides to go to war with him. Having landed in Normandy, Arthur kills the cannibal giant, and then defeats the Romans. Lucius dies. Arthur invades Allemania and Italy and captures one city after another. Roman senators and cardinals, frightened by his victories, ask Arthur to be crowned, and the pope himself crowns him with the emperor. Four queens, one of which is the fairy of Morgan, are found under the tree of the sleeping Lancelot. The fairy of Morgan casts a spell on him and takes him to his castle, so that he himself chooses which of the four ladies will become his lover. But he rejects them, loyal to Queen Guinevere, who secretly loves everyone. The daughter of King Bagdemagus rescues Aanselot from captivity, and he performs many glorious feats.

A young man arrives at Arthur’s court and, without revealing his name, asks him for shelter for a year. He is nicknamed Beaumein, which means «Beautiful Hands,» and lives in the kitchen with the servants. A year later, rich equipment was brought to him, and Beaumain asked the king to let him go to protect the lady, whom the Red Knight oppressed. Lancelot knights Bomein, and he reveals his name to him: he is Gareth of Orkney, the son of King Lot and brother of Gawain, who, like Lancelot, is one of the knights of the Round Table. Bomain accomplishes many glorious feats, defeats the Red Knight and marries Lady Lionessa, the lady who asked him for protection.

Tristram, the son of King Meliodas, who was the ruler of the country of Lyon, wants to poison his stepmother so that her children own all the lands after the death of Meliodas. But she does not succeed, and the king, learning about everything, condemns her to be burned. Tristram begs his father to have mercy on his stepmother, he yields to his requests, but sends his son to France for seven years.

After returning from France, Tristram lives at the court of his uncle, King Mark of Cornwall, and helps him in the fight against his enemies. King Mark knights him, and Tristram fights with the knight Markholt, the brother of the Queen of Ireland, to save Cornwall from tribute. He kills Markholt and goes to Ireland, for he was predicted that only there he could be healed from a dangerous wound received in a duel.

Isolde the Fair, daughter of the Irish King Angvisance, heals him. But soon Tristram is forced to leave Ireland, as the queen finds out that it was he who killed her brother Markholt. Saying goodbye to Tristram, Isolda promises him not to get married for seven years, and the knight swears that from now on only she will be the lady of his heart.

After some time, King Mark sends Tristram to Ireland to wrest Isolde for him. Tristram and Isolda set sail for Cornwall and accidentally drink the love drink that the Queen of Ireland wanted to give for King Mark. Even after the wedding of King Mark and Isolde between her and Tristram love affairs do not stop. King Mark finds out about this and wants to kill Tristram, but he manages to escape. On the advice of Isolda Tristram goes to Brittany, so that the daughter of the king, Isold Belorukai, healed him of a dangerous wound. Tristram forgets his former beloved and marries Isolde Beloruka, but after the wedding he remembers her and is so sad that she does not touch his wife, and she remains a virgin.

Izolda the Beautiful, learning of the marriage of Tristram, writes him woeful letters and calls to her. On the way to her, he performs glorious feats and saves Arthur, whom the sorceress Annaura wants to destroy, but does not give the king his name. Finally Tristram meets Isolde at the court of King Mark. Having discovered the letter of Kakhidin who is in love with her, he loses his mind from jealousy, wanders through the forests and shares food with shepherds. King Mark gives shelter to the unfortunate, but only because he does not recognize him. When Isolde the Fair recognizes the beloved, the mind returns to him. But King Mark expels Tristram from the country for ten years, and he wanders, performing glorious feats.

Tristram and Lancelot fight in a duel, not recognizing each other. But when each of them calls his name, they happily give in to each other's victory and return to Arthur's court. King Mark pursues Tristram to take revenge on him, but Arthur makes them reconcile, and they depart for Cornwall. Tristram fights with the enemies of King Mark and wins, despite the fact that the king harbored anger at him and still wants to kill him. Knowing the insidiousness and vengeance of King Mark, Tristram still does not hide his affection for Isolde and does everything possible to be near her. Soon, King Mark traps Tristram and holds him in captivity until he is freed by Persivad. Fleeing from the treacherous plans of King Mark, Tristram and Isolde set sail for England. Lancelot brings them to his castle "Jolly Guard", where they live, happy that

Lancelot sets off in search of adventure and meets King Peles, the ruler of the Hereceless Country. The knight learns from him that he, Peles, descends from Joseph of Arimathea, who was a secret student of our Lord Jesus Christ, the King shows Lancelot the Holy Grail - a precious golden cup, and explains to him that when this treasure is lost, Round The table will fall apart for a long time.

From the prophecy of Peles, it is known that his daughter Elaine must give birth to a son from Lancelot, Galahad, who will save the Hereafter and reach the Holy Grail. Peles asks for help from Bruzena, the great fortune-teller, for he knows that Lancelot loves only Guinevere, the wife of King Arthur, and will never change her. Bruzene sprinkles a witch's potion in wine to Lancelot, and the knight spends the night with Elaine, mistaking her for Guinevere. When the spell dissipates, Elaine explains to Lancelot that she went to deception only because she had to obey the prophecy that her father had revealed to her. Lancelot forgives her.

Elaine gives birth to a baby, whom Galahad is called. When King Arthur organizes a festival to which he invites all the lords and ladies of England, Elaine, accompanied by Bruzen, goes to the castle of Cmelotus. But Lancelot does not pay attention to her, and then Bruzen promises Elaine to cast a spell on him and arrange so that he will spend the night with her. The Queen of Guinevere is jealous of Lancelot for the beautiful Elaine and demands that he come to her bedroom at night. But Lancelot, powerless against Bruzen's witchcraft, is on the bed of Elaine. The Queen, not knowing that her lover was bewitched, orders Elaine to leave the courtyard, and Lancelot accuses her of treachery and treason. Lancelot, out of grief, loses his mind and wanders in the wild forests for two years, eating what he has to.

Knight Blyant recognizes in the madman who pounced on him in the forest and nearly killed the illustrious Lancelot. He brings it to his castle and takes care of it, but keeps it in chains, since the mind has not returned to Lancelot. But after one day, Lancelot, tearing them, saved Bliant from the hands of his enemies, he removes the shackles from him.

Lancelot leaves Bliant's castle and wanders around the world again, he is still insane and does not remember who he is. A case leads him to the castle of Korbenik, where Elaine lives, who recognizes him. King Peles takes the insensitive Lancelot to the tower, where the holy grail of the Holy Grail is stored, and the knight is healed. He asks King Peles for permission to settle in his region, and he gives him an island, which Lancelot calls the Island of Joy. He lives there with Elaine, surrounded by beautiful young ladies and knights, and demands that from now on he should be called Cavalier Malfet, which means "Knight who committed an act."

Lancelot arranges a tournament on the island, which is attended by the Knights of the Round Table. Upon recognizing Lancelot, they beg him to return to the court of King Arthur. Arthur and all the knights are glad for Lancelot's return, and although everyone knows why he fell into insanity, no one talks about it directly.

Lancelot, at the request of the lady who arrived at the court of Arthur from King Peles, goes to him and knights Galahad, but he does not know that this is his son. When Galahad arrives at Arthur Kamelot Castle, an inscription appears in the free seat at the Round Table: «This is the seat of Sir Galahad, the High Prince.» And this seat was called Fatal, for the one who sat on it, incurred misfortune.

A miracle was revealed to the Knights of the Round Table: a stone with a sword thrust into it floats on the river. And the inscription on the stone says that only the best of the knights of the world can draw a sword. In front of all the knights, Merlin's prediction is fulfilled: Galahad draws a sword from the stone that once belonged to Balin the Fierce. The Queen of Guinevere, who knows who the father of Galahad is, tells her court ladies that the young man comes from the best chivalrous families of the world: Lancelot, his father, comes in the eighth generation from our Lord Jesus Christ, and Galahad in the ninth generation.

On the day of Pentecost, when everyone gathers for evening prayer, the holy grail miraculously appears in the hall, and on the table - exquisite dishes and drinks. Gawain takes an oath to go on feats in the name of the Holy Grail. All knights repeat his oath. Arthur is afflicted, for he anticipates that they will never come together at the Round Table.

In the White Abbey, Galahad obtains a wonderful shield, which was made in the thirty-second year after the Passion of Christ. He is told that Joseph of Arimathea himself, with his blood, inscribed a red cross on a white shield. Galahad, armed with a wonderful sword and shield, performs glorious feats.

Wonderful things happen to Lancelot in reality and in visions. Once near the old chapel, into which he cannot enter, he hears a voice ordering him to move away from these holy places. The knight recognizes his sinfulness and repents, realizing that his exploits are not pleasing to God. He confesses to the hermit, and he interprets to him the words that the knight heard. Lancelot promises the hermit to refrain from communicating with Guinevere, and he appoints him repentance.

Percival, who went, like the other knights, in search of the Holy Grail, meets his aunt. She tells him that the Round Table built Merlin as a sign of the roundness of the world, and a person elected to the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Round Table should consider this the greatest honor. She also conveys to Percival Merlin's prophecy of Galahad, who will surpass his father, Lancelot. Percival sets off to search for Galahad and experiences many wonderful adventures along the way. Fighting the temptations of the flesh, he cuts his thigh with his sword and swears an oath to no longer sin.

Lancelot wanders in search of the Holy Grail and goes through many trials. He learns from the hermit that Galahad is his son. The Hermit interprets the knight of his vision; he is weak in faith, depraved of his soul, and pride does not allow him to distinguish the worldly from the divine, therefore, now that he seeks the Grail, God does not please his sweeping exploits.

Gawaine was bored of wandering in search of the Grail. The hermit, to whom he and the knight Bor confess their sins, interprets his dream to Gawain: most of the knights of the Round Table are burdened with sins, and their pride does not allow them to approach the shrine, for many went in search of the Grail, not even repenting of their sins.

Percival and Bors meet Galahad, and together perform glorious feats in the name of the Holy Grail. Galahad meets his father, Lancelot. They hear a voice that predicts that they will see each other for the last time.

Lancelot falls into a wonderful castle. In one of the chambers he sees a sacred chalice surrounded by angels, but a certain voice forbids him from entering. He tries to enter, but his fiery breath sears him, and he lies dead for twenty-five days. Lancelot meets King Peles, learns from him that Elaine is dead, and returns to Camelot, where he finds Arthur and Guinevere. Many knights returned to the court, but more than half died.

Galahad, Percival, and Bore arrive at King Peles at Korbenik Castle. In the castle, miracles were revealed to the knights, and they became owners of the holy grail and silver throne. In the city of Sarras, Galahad becomes his king. Joseph of Arimathea appears before him, from whose hands the knight takes holy communion, and soon dies. At the moment of his death, a hand reaches out from heaven and takes away the sacred chalice. Since then, no one has been honored to see the Holy Grail. Percival goes to the hermits, accepts the spiritual order and dies in two years.

At Arthur's court, joy reigns over the completion of the feat in the name of the Holy Grail. Aanselot, remembering his promise to the hermit, tries to avoid the company of the queen. She is outraged and commands him to leave the yard. Gawain accuses the queen of wanting to poison him. Lancelot enters into a duel for her and justifies the queen. At the tournament, Lancelot receives a dangerous wound and goes to the hermit to heal him.

Knight Melegant captures Queen Guinevere, and Lancelot frees her. He spends the night with her, and Melegant accuses her of treason. Lancelot fights with Melegant and kills him.

Agravein, the brother of Gawain, and Mordred, the son of Arthur, tell Arthur about the love affairs of Lancelot and the Queen, and he orders them to be hunted down and captured. Agravein and the twelve knights are trying to capture Lancelot, but he kills them, Arthur asks Gawain to take the queen to the fire, but he refuses and mourns that she must accept a shameful death. Lancelot, having killed many knights, saves her from execution, takes away the "Merry Guard" to his castle. Some knights of Arthur adjoin him. Gawaine learns that Lancelot killed two of his brothers, and gives the floor to take revenge on the killer. Arthur besieges Lancelot's castle, but the pope orders them to reconcile. Lancelot returns Queen Arthur and leaves for France. Following the advice of Gawain, who wants to take revenge on Lancelot, Arthur gathers his army again and goes to France.


In the absence of Arthur, his son, Mordred, rules all of England. He writes letters stating the death of his father, is crowned, and is about to marry Queen Guinevere, but she manages to escape. Arthur's army arrives at Dover, where Mordred is trying to stop the knights from landing on shore. Gawain dies in the fray, His spirit appears to the king and warns against the battle, but due to an absurd accident it happens. Mordred dies, and Arthur gets dangerous wounds. Anticipating an imminent death, he orders his Escalibur sword to be thrown into the water, and he himself sits in the barque, where the beautiful ladies and three queens are sitting, and floats away with them. The next morning, a fresh gravestone is found in the chapel, and the hermit says that several ladies brought him a dead body and asked to be buried. Guinevere, learning about the death of Arthur, is tonsured a nun. Lancelot arrives in England but when he finds Guinevere in the monastery, he also takes tonsure. Soon both of them die. The bishop sees in a dream Lancelot surrounded by angels who lift him up to heaven. The king of England is Constantine, son of Cador, and rules the kingdom with honor.