Sacremors, Sagramor, Sagarmour, Sagramore le Desirous, Sagremoir le Desree, Sagremor, Sagremore, Sagremoret, Saigremor, Saigremors, Saigremort, Segramors, Segremore, Segremores, Seigramore, Seigremor, Sigamor, Sogremor, Sygramors
The Impetuous, The Hothead
True, Sagramore does not cut all that impressive a figure in Malory. He and three other knights of Arthur’s court see Lancelot riding in Kay’s armor, sally out against him, and are promptly unhorsed. He goes riding in the West Country with Sir Dodinas; they meet and defeat Sir Andred, but then encounter Tristram. Sagramore scornfully remarks,
[I]t is seldom seen ... that ye Cornish knights be valiant men of arms,
rides against Tristram, and is again unhorsed, as is Dodinas in turn. Learning Tristram’s name, they admiringly ask him to stay in their company and bid him respectful Godspeed when he rides on to rescue Segwarides’ wife from Bleoberis.
Sagramore and Kay chance to meet Tristram before the Castle of Maidens tournament, get into a broil when Tristram, wishing to arrive at the tournament unbruised, tries to refuse a joust, and again Sagramore is unhorsed. Once again adventuring with Dodinas, Sagramore get it yet a third time from Tristram; Sagramore and Dodinas remount and ride after him to demand a chance for revenge, but forbear on learning that he is on his way to fight Palomides at the tomb of Lanceor and Colombe.
When Alice la Beale Pilgrim announces her intention of marrying whomever can defeat Sir Alisander le Orphelin at the ruins of La Beale Regard, Sagramore is apparently the first challenger to present himself and be defeated, whereas Alice decides to love Alisander.
Sagramore is one of twenty-three knights who set out searching for Lancelot when he has gone mad on being discovered by Guenevere with Elaine of Carbonek. Lancelot unhorses Sagramore in the Winchester tournament. Sagramore is among the knights who ride a-Maying with Guenevere and fall into Meliagrant’s ambush. He is one of those who try unsuccessfully to heal Sir Urre.
For all this, Sagramore seems to have been a knight of major stature among the Round Table companions, and it is likely that Malory, unaware that his compalition/summarization/retelling would one day be the principal Arthurian sourcebook for the English-speaking world, used Sagramore’s frequent unhorsing to emphasize the prowess of Lancelot, Tristram, and Alisander.
The Vulgate tells us that Sagramore was the nephew of the Emperor of Constantinople and came to Britain to join the flower of Arthur’s chivalry in the first part of Arthur’s reign. Sagramore “knew no limits” in a fight; however, his blood had to be up if he were to be at his fighting best. When he cooled down, he usually had a headache and a ravenous hunger. He also had an illness (epilepsy?) that manifested itself in sudden attacks, when he might think his end was near. Because of this illness, Kay gave him a second nickname besides “le Desirous”: “le mort jeune” (“the dead youth”). Sagramore was rash. He was killed at last by Mordred during the last battle.
Li Desreez is the name given to Sagremore, the nephew of the emperor of Constantinople, by the old Queen of Vandeberes.
His nickname “le Desirous” may apply to battlelust or some other trait than bed-lust (of which it would probably have taken a remarkable amount to be considered noteworthy), but Vulgate VII records the name of one of his paramours, Dame Senehauz (Senehaut), who give him a daughter.
In the idyll Merlin and Vivien, Tennyson applies to Sir Sagramore the story of a man who stumbles in the dark into the wrong bedroom and innocently sleeps the night through besides the woman whose room it really is, each one unaware of the other’s presence until they wake in the morning. Gossip and public opinion then force them to marry, and they are happy. (Tennyson says it is a happy marriage because they are pure; a French author who retells the tale in a much later setting says they are happy because marriage is a lottery at best and they were lucky.) Arthur’s court as Tennyson pictures it may have forced the parties to marry in such a situation, but it is difficult to fit this tale of Sagramore’s marriage to Arthur’s court as depicted in the medieval romances.
We meet Sagramore in the works of Chrétien de Troyes: he is among Arthur’s knights in the list beginning in line 1691 of Erec and Enide, in which romance we also see him fighting in the Tenebroc tournament; he is the first of Arthur’s great champions whom Cligés unhorses in the tournament near Wallingford; he is among the group to hear Calogrenant’s story of the marvelous spring; and he figures in Perceval as the first knight to attempt bringing Percivale out of his rapt contemplation of blood-spotted snow.
Phyllis Ann Karr: “I regret that neither of the translations I consulted supplies the original medieval French of the soubriquet D.D.R. Owen renders as ‘the Impetuous’ and Ruth Cline as ‘the Hothead’; still, I feel reasonably confident in identifying Chrétien’s Sagremor with Sagramore le Desirous.”
Kex the Seneschal (Kay) gave him the nickname Mort Jeuin (Mors Jeuns, Mort Geun).
Qrainglaie | The Legend of King Arthur