Arthurian legends, Sir Galahad is the son of
Sir Galahad is a
Round Table and one of the three
achievers of the Holy Grail in
He is the illegitimate son of Sir Lancelot
and Elaine of Carbonek, and is renowned for his gallantry and
purity. He is perhaps the knightly embodiment of pure Christian virtue
in the Arthurian legends.
Sir Galahad first appears in the
Lancelot-Grail cycle, and his story is
taken up in later works such as the Post-Vulgate Cycle and
Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte
Galahad's conception comes about when
Elaine, daughter of the Grail King Pelles, uses magic to
trick Sir Lancelot into thinking she is
They sleep together, but on discovering what has
transpired, Sir Lancelot abandons Elaine and returns to
Galahad is placed in the care of his great
aunt, the abbess at a nunnery, and is raised there. According to the
Quest del Saint Graal (part of the interconnected set of
romances known as the Vulgate Cycle)
"Galahad" had been Lancelot's original name, but it had been changed
when he was a child.
prophesies that Galahad would surpass his father in valor and be
successful in his search for the Holy Grail.
It is also interesting to note that Galahad's maternal grandfather
Pelles is generally considered to be a descendent of
Joseph of Arimathea's
brother-in-law Bron (whose bloodline was entrusted with the
Grail by St Joseph).
Upon reaching adulthood, Galahad is reunited with his father
Lancelot, who knights him. He is then brought to
King Arthur's court at
Camelot during Pentecost.
Without realizing the danger he is putting
himself in, Galahad walks over to the Round
Table amidst the revelry and takes his seat at the Siege
Perilous. This place had been kept vacant for the sole man who would
accomplish the quest of the
Holy Grail; for anyone else sitting
there, it would prove to be immediately fatal.
Sir Galahad survives the event, witnessed
by King Arthur and his knights.
King Arthur then asks the young knight
to perform a test which involves pulling a sword from a stone. This he
accomplishes with ease, and King
Arthur swiftly proclaims Sir Galahad to be the greatest knight
in the world. He is promptly invited to join the
Order of the Round Table,
and after an ethereal vision of the Holy
Grail, and so the quest to find the
Holy Grail commences.
In Thomas Malory's Le Morte
d'Arthur, Galahad's incredible prowess and fortune in the quest
for the Holy Grail are traced back to his piety. According to the
Arthurian legend, only pure
knights may achieve the Grail. While in a general sense, this "purity"
refers to chastity, Galahad appears to have lived a holy life, and so as
a result, lives and thinks on a level entirely apart from the other
knights of the Arthurian legend.
This virtue is reflected in
Lord Alfred Tennyson's poem
Sir Galahad and its first four lines which state:
"My good blade carves
the casques of men,
My tough lance
My strength is as the
strength of ten,
Because my heart
Despite, and perhaps because of his
sinless nature, Galahad as a character seems superhuman. He defeats
rival knights apparently without effort, speaks little to his fellow
knights, and leads his companions to the
Holy Grail with a relentless
determination. So of the three who undertake the
quest for the Grail, with
Sir Bors and Sir Perceval, Galahad is the one who
actually achieves it. When he does, he is taken up into heaven or
assumed into heaven like the biblical patriarch Enoch or the prophet
Elijah, leaving his companions behind in awe and wonder.
When the three rejoined forces they came to Carbonek
and achieved the Grail. Galahad mended the broken
sword, and therefore, He was allowed to see the
Grail. After beholding the Holy Grail, Galahad
requested of Joseph of Arimathea that he die, which
request was granted unto him. Galahad was always
known as the "Perfect Knight". He was "perfect" in
courage, gentleness, courtesy, and chivalry.