Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Alain the Large

Two entries with the name Alain the Large.

Alain the Large

Alain le Gros, Alaine, Alains, Alan, Alanz, Alein, Aleins, Helain, Helains li Gros, Hellyas, Julain

Grail character who first appears in Robert de Boron’s Joseph d’Arimathie as the twelfth son of Bron, Joseph of Arimathea’s brother-in-law. Appointed the third Grail keeper, Alain was charged with leading his eleven brothers to Britain. There, his unborn son would become the eternal Grail King. (The mention of Alain’s son conflicts with Robert’s earlier statement that Alain remained celibate.)

Joseph does not provide the name of Alain’s son; we learn this in the Didot-Perceval, which was possibly based on a lost romance by Robert. At the beginning of the story, Alain, having received instructions from the Holy Spirit, orders Perceval, his son, to depart for Arthur’s court. Thus, unlike Perceval’s father in other legends (e.g., Bliocadran and Gahmuret), Alain lived to see his son’s youth.

Perlesvaus, written about the same time as Joseph, also continues Alain’s story past Perceval’s birth. Calling his father Gais the Large, the text says that he married Yglais and ruled the castle and valley of Kamaalot. In contrast to the Didot-Perceval, Alain opposes Perceval’s departure for Arthur’s court. As he grew old and infirm, his lands were invaded by the Lord of the Fens. Seeking to avenge his brother Aliban’s death, he challenged a giant called the Red Giant. Although he was victorious in the combat, he received a mortal wound and perished.

The Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal expanded and modified the story told by Robert de Boron. In the Vulgate, he is no longer named as Perceval’s father, since centuries span Alain’s time and Arthur’s. Still, however, he is the twelfth son of Bron and the third Grail keeper. He was called the Rich Fisherman (a title given to his father in Robert’s version) because he caught a single fish which God multiplied into thousands for Joseph’s followers to feast upon. When Josephus (Josephe), Joseph’s son, died, the Grail was passed on to Alain. With 100 people, including his brother Joshua, Alain left the Christian stronghold of Galafort and traveled to the city of Malta in the Strange Land. There, he converted King Calafes to Christianity and used the Grail to heal the king’s leprosy. In reward, Calafes built the Grail Castle of Corbenic (Carbonek), where Alain’s brother Joshua ruled after his death. Alain was buried in the chapel of Notre Dame in Corbenic.

The Vulgate Merlin and the Livre d’Artus, probably confused by the change in roles listed above, name him as the Fisher King in Arthur’s time. With his brothers, ruled the lands of Listenois or the Strange Land. He wasted away from an illness, and waited for the best knight in the world to come and ask the Grail Question. His brothers were Pelles and Pellinore. His soldiers fought with Arthur against the Saxons. In other Vulgate tales, however, his brother Pelles is identified with the Fisher King. He is said to possess the high qualifications which the Damsel of the Lake deemed essential to a knight.

Finally, in a brief interpolation at the end of one manuscript of the first continuation of Chrétien’s Perceval, Alain, named as Perceval’s father, is called the husband, and not the son, of Enygeus.

Joseph d’Arimathie | Robert de Boron, 1191-1202
Perlevaus | Early 13th century
Didot-Perceval | c. 1220-1230
Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal | 1220-1235
Vulgate Merlin | 1220-1235
Le Livre d’Artus | Early 13th century

Alain the Large

Alan le Gros, Eian, Elains, Elians le Gros, Elyan, Elym, Helain, Helains li Gros

A Christian king who was a descendant of Nascien, and the ancestor of Lancelot and Galahad. His father was named Nascien and his son was Isaiah.

Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal | 1220-1235
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470