Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Carados of the Dolorous Tower

Caradoc of the Dolorous Tower, Carados le Grant de la Dolerouse Tour, Carados of the Perilouse Tour, Carahues, Carodac, Carodas, Carodoc, Carrado, Charado le Grant, Cradoc, Craddoc, Cradock, Cradocke, Kaiados, Karacados de la Dolerouse Tor, Karacados de la Perilleuse Tor, Karacados de la Tor Perrine, Karados le Gaant, Kardos, Karaduz, Karodas

The evil lord of the Dolorous Tower who was “made like a giant” lived here with his enchantress mother, and whom Lancelot later called

a full noble knight and a passing strong man.

Testifying as to his popularity as one of the earliest Arthurian villains, Caradoc appears in a sculpture on an archivolt of a cathedral in Modena, Italy, constructed in the early twelfth century. On the sculpture, he seems to serve a Lord Mardoc of the Dolorous Tower, and is involved in a kidnapping of Arthur’s Queen Winlogee (Guenevere). He is apparently slain by Gawain during the queen’s rescue.

In French romance, he is the son of Aupatris or Mitrides and the father of Karakadin. He is variously called “the Cruel,” “the Great,” and “the Huge.” In contrast to the scene on the Modena relief, Caradoc is an autonomous lord. He enjoyed capturing and imprisoning other knights, including Gawaine and Yvain, which prompts Arthur to declare war. Caradoc’s forces held Arthur at the Wicked Pass, but Lancelot pressed through and arrived on the scene when Caradoc was carrying Gawaine away on his saddlebow to lodge him in a dungeon and Lancelot engaged Caradoc in single combat.

A lady named Floree, who Caradoc had imprisoned, handed Lancelot a magic sword during the fight, and Lancelot killed him by striking off his head with the only sword which could kill him (though we are not told what special properties the sword possessed). His brother, Tericam the Impenetrable (Turquine), gave Arthur and Lancelot similar trouble and died in the attempt to avenge Carados’ death on Lancelot.

Carados and Turquine illustrate the problem of Malory’s chronology. Lancelot fights and kills Turquine in Book VI, 7-9. Turquine reappears, along with Carados, at the tournament at Castle Dangerous in VII, 26-29, where they do not appear to be villainous. The rescue of Gawaine and the slaying of Carados, for which Turquine seeks revenge, is not described until VIII, 28.

Nor is the problem alleviated by the presence of at least one other Carados in malory’s account. Shall we blame it all on Caxton? Although in VIII, 28, Malory calls Carados of the Dolorous Tower “the mighty king”, I am reasonably sure this Carados is not to be confused with King Carados of Scotland. The name “Caradoc” enjoyed extensive proliferation throughout French Arthurian romances. The name is Welsh in origin and is represented in Welsh Arthurian literature as Caradawg. A number of other giants or tyrants, including Caradoc the Thirteenth and Karedos recall the character of Carados of the Dolorous Tower.

He is identical with the Vulgate’s Karacados de la Tor Perrine, a cousin of Greomar.

The Modena Archivolt | Italian sculpture, 1120-1140
Vulgate Lancelot | 1215-1230
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470