Short summary - Yvain, the Knight of the Lion - Chrétien de Troyes

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - Yvain, the Knight of the Lion
Chrétien de Troyes

On Trinity, in the chambers of the noble and kind King Arthur, a brilliant noble is feasting. The knights have a pleasant conversation with the ladies. As everyone knows, in those blessed times, ardent tenderness and courtesy were valued above all else - now morals have become much rougher, no one thinks about purity, genuine feeling is defeated by deceit, lovers have been blinded by vice.
One amusing story replaces another, and now honest Kalogrenan takes the floor: he wants to tell his friends what he hitherto hid. Seven years ago, the knight had a chance to get into the dense Broseliadr forest. After wandering all day, he saw a small, cozy castle, where he was greeted very cordially. The next day, he came across a shaggy, fanged shepherd in the thicket, and he said that there was a spring in the forest, near which there was a small chapel and a wonderful pine tree. A ladle is suspended between the branches on a chain, and if you pour it onto a gemstone, a terrible storm will rise - whoever returns from there alive may consider himself invincible. Kalogrenan immediately galloped to the spring, found a pine tree with a ladle and caused a storm, which he now regrets very much. As soon as the sky cleared, such a terrible roar was heard, as if ten knights were rushing at once. But only one appeared - a gigantic appearance and a fierce disposition. Kalogrenan suffered a crushing defeat and with difficulty made his way to the hospitable castle - the amiable owners pretended not to notice his shame.
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Calogrenan's story amazes everyone. Messer Ivain vows to avenge his cousin's dishonor, but the evil-speaking Seneschal Kay remarks that it is easy to boast after a good dinner and abundant libations. The queen cuts off the mocker, and the king announces his decision to go to the wonderful source and invites all the barons to accompany him. Hurt, Ivain hurries to get ahead of the other knights: on the same evening he secretly leaves the palace and gallops in search of the Broceliander forest. After a long wandering, Ivain finds a hospitable castle, then a bestial shepherd, and finally a spring. Then everything happens in full accordance with the words of Kalogrenan: a terrible storm rises, then an angry giant appears and throws himself at the stranger with abuse. In a desperate battle, Ivain defeats his opponent: the dying knight turns his horse, and Ivain rushes after. He bursts into an unfamiliar fortress, and then a secret ax door falls on him. The iron slides along Ivain's back, chopping the horse in half:
he himself remains unharmed, but falls into a trap. He is rescued by a beautiful maiden whom Ivain once welcomed at Arthur's court. Wanting to repay good for good, she puts a magic ring on his finger so that the vassals of the mortally wounded owner of the castle won't find him.
The girl brings the knight to the upper room, orders him to sit on the bed and not move. Squires and pages prowl everywhere: they found the chopped horse instantly, but the rider seemed to evaporate. Frozen on the bed, Ivain looks with delight at a lady of amazing beauty who has entered the room. The coffin is brought in, and the lady begins to sob, calling out to her deceased husband. Blood appears on the dead man's forehead - a clear sign that the killer is hiding very close. Vassals rush about the room, and the lady curses the invisible enemy, calling him a vile coward, a pitiful slave and a devilish spawn. When the funeral rite is over, the coffin is carried into the courtyard. A frightened girl runs in, who was very worried about Ivain. The knight gazes out of the window. Ivain fell victim to love - he burns with passion for his hater. Beauty is always mortally wounded, and there is no shield from this sweet misfortune - it strikes sharper than any blade.
At first, the knight in love reproaches himself for extravagance, but then decides to conquer the lovely lady who pierced his heart. A reasonable girl, guessing about Ivain's ardent feelings, starts a conversation about him with her mistress: there is no need to grieve about the dead - perhaps the Lord will send her a better husband who will be able to protect the source. The lady angrily cuts off the confidante, but curiosity turns out to be stronger, and she asks to which clan the warrior who defeated her husband belongs. The girl who brightened Ivaina's imprisonment arranges everything in the best way: the beautiful Lodina agrees to marry a noble knight, the son of King Urien. The vassals unanimously approve of her choice: she needs a reliable defender - Ivain's fame thunders throughout the land, and he proved his strength by defeating the powerful Esclados. The knight is at the height of bliss - from now on he is the legitimate and beloved husband of the golden-haired beauty.
The next morning, the news comes that the king is approaching the spring with all his retinue. The evil-tongued Kei shames the absent Ivain and declares that he himself will fight the knight who humiliated Calogrenan. In a short battle, Ivain, to the delight of the court, knocks the mocker out of the saddle, and then invites the king to his castle, to his beautiful wife. Happy and proud Lodina warmly welcomes the monarch. Noticing the sensible girl who saved Ivain, Gawain expresses his desire to become the knight of the dark-haired Lunetta.
The feast lasts for seven days, but every celebration comes to an end, and now the king is already going on his way back. Gawain begins to persuade his friend to a military life: you need to be tempered in tournaments in order to be worthy of a beautiful wife. Ivain turns to his wife for permission: Lodina reluctantly lets her husband go, but orders him
to return exactly one year later. Ivain sadly leaves his beautiful lady.
The year passes unnoticed; Gawain entertains his friend in every possible way, starting battles and tournaments. August comes: King Arthur summons the knights to a feast, and Evein suddenly remembers his vow. There is no limit to his despair, and here the messenger of Lodina comes to the court: loudly accusing the knight of treason, she rips off the ring from his finger and sends the order of the mistress not to appear in her eyes anymore. Ivain loses his mind from grief: tearing his clothes on, rushes into the forest, where he gradually runs wild. One day the sleeping madman is found by a noble lady. Madame de Nurisson decides to help the unfortunate man: she rubs the Morgana fairies from head to toe with a balm and puts rich clothes next to her. Upon awakening, the healed Ivain hastily covers his nakedness. Suddenly, he heard the desperate lingering roar of a lion, which was grabbed by a fierce serpent's tail. Ivain cuts the reptile into pieces, and the lion with a sigh of relief kneels before the knight, recognizing him as his master. The mighty beast becomes Ivain's loyal companion and squire.
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After two weeks of wandering, the knight again finds himself at a wonderful source and faints from grief; the lion, considering him dead, tries to commit suicide. When he wakes up, Ivain sees Lunetta in the chapel - slandered and sentenced to death at the stake. There is no one to protect her, for Messer Ivain disappeared, and Messer Gawain went in search of the queen, kidnapped by vile enemies. The knight with the lion promises to stand up for the girl - he will have a fight with three opponents at once. Before the eyes of the crowd gathered in anticipation of the execution, Ivain defeats the villains. The regal Lodina invites the wounded hero to the castle, but the knight says that he must wander until he expiates his guilt before the beautiful lady - not recognizing her husband, Lodina complains about the cruelty of his beloved. Ivain finds shelter in the castle of Monsieur de Chaporosa, the father of two lovely daughters.
Soon, the news of the exploits of the mysterious Knight with the Lion spreads throughout the country: he defeated the evil giant, saved Gawain's relatives from death and defended the possessions of Madame de Nurisson. Meanwhile, Monsieur de Chaporoz dies, and the older sister refuses
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younger one has the right to inheritance. The insidious girl is in a hurry to enlist support, and she manages to win over Gawain, who has already returned to the court. King Arthur, dissatisfied with such greed, can do nothing - the invincible Gawain has no rivals. The younger sister now trusts only in the Knight with the Lion and sends her friend in search of him. The girl finds a defender of the weak and oppressed: after learning about the intrigues of the greedy heiress, Ivain willingly agrees to help. On the way to the royal palace, the Knight with the Lion performs another feat: he frees three hundred virgins who were captured by two Sataniel demons in the Castle of Misadventure.
The younger sister, meanwhile, is already completely exhausted from grief and despair. The day of the trial comes: the older sister demands to decide the case in her favor, since she has a defender, and no one wanted to stand up for the younger sister. An unknown knight suddenly appears and, much to King Arthur's delight, challenges Gawain to battle. A fight begins - a terrible battle in which the best friends unknowingly come together. They fight to the death: Ivain wants to slay Gawain, Gawain wants to kill Ivain, However, the forces of the opponents are equal - they cannot win, but they do not want to yield either. In vain the king and queen try to appeal to the conscience of their elder sister - the stubborn and greedy girl does not want to listen to anything. But with the onset of night, the fight is still interrupted. Opponents enter into conversation and finally get to know each other. Both are horrified: Ivain insists that he is defeated by Gawain, Gawain begs to recognize the winner of Ivain. The king pronounces the verdict: the sisters must reconcile and share the inheritance justly. Suddenly, a huge beast runs out of the forest with a loud roar, and it becomes clear to everyone who the rumor has christened the Knight with the Lion.
The court greeted Ivain with glee, but he is still gnawed by melancholy - he cannot live without the beautiful Lodina, and no longer hopes for forgiveness. Ivain decides to return to the source and reignite the storm. Hearing thunder rolls, Lodina trembles with fear. Her vassals murmur - there is no life in the castle. Reasonable Lunetta reminds the lady of the Knight with the Lion, and the lady vows to accept him as her protector. The girl instantly goes to
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spring and finds Ivain there. The knight prostrates himself before his wife. Upon learning of the guilty husband, Lodina becomes terribly angry: it is better to endure the daily storms than to love the one who defiantly neglected her. Filled with admiration, Ivain says that he is ready to die in separation, if the heart of his beloved is so inflexible. Lodina objects to this that the oath has already been taken: Ivain will have to forgive so as not to destroy the soul. The happy knight embraces his wife. His wanderings are over - love has triumphed.