Beau Vivant, Bienpensant, Demoiselle Mesdisant, Maledisant
A maiden who arrived at Camelot seeking a champion to avenge the death of a knight in the Straight of Sorelois (Straits of Sorelois). She was hoping to find Lancelot, but she reluctantly accepted Arthur’s appointment of Sir Brunor the Black, or the Knight of the Ill-Fitting Coat, to the task.
She is first called Maledisant (“Evil-speaking”), because throughout their journey to Sorelois, she insulted the poor knight, who proved himself lousy at jousting but superior at swordplay. Other knights witnessed her behavior toward Brunor and chastised her for being such a shrew. She later revealed that she truly loved Brunor, and that she had only scorned him in hope that he would abandon the dangerous adventure. Lancelot renamed her Bien Pensant (“Well-thinking”). Finally, after the quest, and the marriage with La Cote Male Taile, she is called Beauvivante (“Well-living”).
The history of Sir La Cote Male Taile and his damsel as recorded in Malory IX parallels, or perhaps parodies, the history of Gareth and Lynette in his Book VII.
With so many unnamed damsels in the tales, it seems hardly fair that a single maiden should be given three distinctive, personality-tailored names. Her story suggests, however, that anyone with some knowledge of French can coin similar names for otherwise nameless characters.
Maledisant’s Shield | The Legend of King Arthur
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470