Camille of La Roche

Camyle, Canile, Carmile, Carnile, Carnyle, Carvile, Caville, Cramile, Gamile, Gamille, Ganille, Kanille

An enchantress of Saxon descent, she held the castle of La Roche and helped her people against King Arthur. At the same time she loved Arthur – which did not prevent her having a lover, Gadrasolain, in the castle, and threw his lady into her prison.

After the battle with the Saxons, Arthur accepted an invitation to visit Camille in La Roche. He had a good time with her, but afterward he and Gaheris were captured with the help of Camille’s brother, the Saxon king Hargodabrans, and forty knights. For her brother’s sake, Camille used Arthur’s affections to manipulate him into her prison.

A damsel of Camille’s went to Lancelot, Duke Galeholt, Gawaine, and Ector de Maris, telling them that Camille meant to convey Arthur to Ireland. These four knights came into La Roche to save Arthur. The damsel’s tale had been a ruse which enabled Camille to capture them also. She released Lancelot, however, who was demented with grief at being captured. Lancelot, wearing Arthur’s arms and using Arthur’s sword Sequence, grievously wounded Hargodabrans in battle and penetrated into La Roche, where he killed Gadrasolain and many others. He freed Arthur with his companions. Threatening to kill Camille, unless she surrendered the castle, Arthur left Gawaine, whom she feared more than any other knight, in charge of La Roche.

Kay found a former sweetheart of Gadrasolain’s. This damsel, whom Camille had kept imprisoned for three years, warned Kay that if Camille escaped with her books and boxes all was lost. Kay burned the books and boxes. Camille, to Arthur’s grief, threw herself from the rocks and perished. Christopher Bruce, in his Arthurian Name Dictionary, says Arthur became enamored of Gamille when he were in Scotland to repel a Saxon invasion. When Lancelot took over the castle, he burnt her “books of sorcery”, and she survived her jump with injury.

It was after this episode that Lancelot, Galeholt, and Ector became members of Arthur’s court – and of the Round Table at once?


Sources
Lancelot do Lac | 1215-1220
Vulgate Lancelot | 1215-1230
Arthour and Merlin | Late 13th century