Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Fearsome Kiss

The adventure achieved by Gawaine’s son Guinglain in Renaut’s Le Bel Inconnu.

Guinglain accepted the quest at Arthur’s court and, led by Helie, he traveled to the ruined Desolate City (formerly Snowdon) in Wales, where two sorcerers had invaded and turned the queen, Esmeree the Blonde, into a snake. Guinglain had to defeat the two wizards and then endure a kiss from the snake, resisting the urge to cleave the snake in two. After the vile kiss had been delivered, Esmeree the Blonde was restored to her true form and the curse was lifted.

An analog is found in Ulrich von Zatzikhoven’s story of Clidra the Fair, and in the Italian tale of Carduino and Beatrice. The theme is relatively common in folklore.

Le Bel Inconnu | Renaut de Bâgé, 1185-1190