Guenevere and Lancelot
Early versions of the Arthurian legends makes no mention of the famous love affair between her and Lancelot, and instead give the reason for Arthur's absence, leaving Mordred the chance to seize the throne and Guinevere, as Arthur's campaign against the Roman Empire. It is the later version of the legends that most are familiar with, and in these she is the mistress of Lancelot.
Lancelot was a latecomer to the Knights of the Round Table, and, almost immediately after his arrival, it became clear that he was attracted to Guenevere, and she likewise. In clandestine meetings they affirmed their love, but, even though other members of the court knew of the affair, Arthur would hear nothing against his queen unless proof could be given to him.
As Arthur had his Knights of the Round Table, Guenevere had her own company, the Queen's Knights, who carried white shields; at first, the Queen's Knights were apparently made up of youthful aspirants to the Table, but eventually there seems to have been considerable overlapping in the membership of the two companies. Malory is unclear on when and how Guenevere and Lancelot slew Turquine and Peris de Forest Savage, gossip was already hot enough that the damsel who guided the great knight to Peris could mention it to his face, while by the time Tristram and La Beale Isoud gave in to their passion, the relationship was sufficiently established and known that Isoud could send Palomides to Arthur's court charging him
there recommended me unto Queen Guenever, and tell her that I send her word that there be within this land but four lovers, that is, Sir Launcelot du Lake and Queen Guenever, and Sir Tristram de Liones and Queen Isoud.
Perhaps Guenevere shows to her worst advantage in this long, stormy love affair. Lancelot called forth her jealosy in a way that Arthur seems never to have done (although, ironically, Arthur probably deserved her jealosy more, Lancelot being drawn into side affairs and appearances of affairs through trickery and misfortune).
She accepted Lancelot's explanation of the engendering of Galahad and forgave him, but later, when Elaine of Carbonek tricked Lancelot into her bed at Arthur's court itself, within earshot of Guenevere's own room, the Queen's rather understandable fury drove Lancelot mad. While he wandered out of his wits she spared no expense to find him, financing the knights who went out searching, so that when Percivale and Ector de Maris finally found him at Joyous Isle, Percivale could say that "I was sent by the queen for to seek you".
The affair seems to have become even more tempestuous after the Grail Quest. Lancelot quickly forgot the vow he had made during the holy adventures to break it off with Guenevere - Malory's wording seems to put the responsibility for the resumption of the affair more on Lancelot than on the Queen - but he also became more careless about secrecy. When he realized the scandal they were causing and began championing as many ladies and damsels as possible to throw the gossips off the scent, Guenevere waxed angry and jealous again, speaking to him so hotly that he followed his cousin Bors' advice and left court again, hiding with the hermit Sir Brasias at Windsor until the Queen should repent her words and want him back.
- 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