Escavalon

Acabalon, Ascalun, Cabalon, Catonais, Catonois, Cavalon, Cavillon, Escabalon, Escalon, Escarvalon, Escavellon, Eschavalon, Esquavalon, Kaerlyon, Karlyon, Kavillon, Quevalon, Scatanon, Ycastanon

A land mentioned in several romances; there is an obvious connection with Avalon. Wolfram von Eschenbach calls it Ascalun. According to Sommer, this subkingdom is called Kaerlyon, Scatanon, Catonois, or Ycastanon in various manuscripts of the Vulgate. Based on this statement, and on the Roman name for Caerleon being Isca Legionis, in Phyllis Ann Karr’s first edition of the Companions around King Arthur she suggested identifying Escavalon, as a city, with Caerleon and, as a country, with Monmouthshire.

Escavalon and its royal family feature rather prominently in Chrétien’s last romance. Gawaine leaves Arthur’s court at Caerleon and reaches Tintagil, where Tibaut offers to give him an escort and provisions for the very poor country he must pass through on his further way to Escavalon. All this makes Karr’s earlier identifications unviable. Of course, the geography of the British Isles might not have been Chrétien’s strongest point (although his placement of Bath in Gore is certainly clear and unambiguous); neither was her earlier sumise based on too much in the way of hard evidence, if one hypothesizes that “Kaerlyon”, where it occurs for “Escavalon”, was a scribal error or idiosyncracy.

Of Escavalon, Chrétien tells us that its fortress was very strong and overlooked an arm of the sea, its town was so prosperous that one might have thought it enjoyed a continuous fair, and its population was good-looking (probably meaning it was ‘healthy and well-fed’). The very poor country that Tibaut warned Gawaine about encountering between Tintagil and Escavalon seems to have been forgotten.

At least some of the people of Escavalon seem fairly well versed on the Bleeding Lance. Could this suggest some affinity between Escavalon and the Grail castle?In Chrétien’s Perceval and its First Continuation, Gawaine has to fight a duel at Escavalon against Sir Guigambresil. A bit of confusion caused the king of Escavalon to postpone the duel between Gawaine and Guigambresil for a year, provided that Gawaine spend that year looking for the Bleeding Lance. In the Second Continuation of Perceval, Escavalon seems to be one of Arthur’s courts, located in Wales.

In Chrétien’s Perceval and its First Continuation, Gawaine has to fight a duel at Escavalon against Sir Guigambresil. A bit of confusion caused the king of Escavalon to postpone the duel between Gawaine and Guigambresil for a year, provided that Gawaine spend that year looking for the Bleeding Lance. In the Second Continuation of Perceval, Escavalon seems to be one of Arthur’s courts, located in Wales.

In Perlesvaus, it is ruled by Perceval’s paternal uncle Elinant, and then by Elinant’s son Alain. In Raoul de Houdenc’s La Vengeance Raguidel, the King of Escavalon’s daughter, Lidoine, is loved by two knights: Meraugis and Gorvain Cadrut. In the Vulgate LancelotKing Arguel is mentioned as the ruler. Escavalon was the birthplace of Galescalain (Galeshin), the duke of Clarence.

According to Sommer, Arthur held court here when Meleagant (Meleagaunce) wanted to fight Lancelot whom he had treacherously imprisoned. Lancelot, when delivered by Meleagant’s sister, killed this knight.


See also
Ascalun | The Legend of King Arthur