Guenevere's Sentence

When cornered at last together in the Castle of Carlisle by Mordred, Agravain, and their dozen knights, Lancelot offered, after slaying thirteen of the attackers and driving Mordred away wounded, to take Guenevere with him at once to safety. She, however, refused to go, probably hoping that the good of the court might yet be salvaged, telling him only that if he saw they would burn her, then he might rescue her as he thought best.

Most modern versions depict Arthur as being forced with a heavy heart to bow to the righteousness of the law in sentencing Guenevere, but a close reading of Malory and Vulgate version gives the impression of what might be called a kangaroo court, save that the King himself was presiding, with Arthur seeming to rejoice in the law (though it is just possible his rage was less for Guenevere's inconstancy than for the deaths of his thirteen knights) and hotly refusing Gawain's plea to allow Lancelot to fight a trial by combat yet again and prove their innocence - which would, of course, have averted the final catastrophe.

Indeed, Arthur apparently forbade any trial by combat at all and, far from hoping that Lancelot would come to the rescue, as in T.H. White's version, seems to have tried to burn her at once, before Lancelot got his chance. Guenevere probably never knew that even Lancelot had seemed to falter a little in his resolve to save her: talking the matter over with his kinsmen, he said

and this night because my lady the queen sent for me ... I suppose it was made by treason, howbeit I dare largely excuse her person, notwithstanding I was there by a forecast near slain.

See also
- Background of Guenevere / Guinevere
- Becoming a Queen
- The Invading Kings
- The Flower Bride
- Lancelot and Guenevere
- The Poisoned Apple
- The False Guenevere
- Abduction Stories
- Guenevere's Sentence
- The Abbess Queen
- The Character