Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Coward Knight

A cowardly knight in the service of the Maiden of the Cart.

He carried arms and armor only because he dreaded the thought of being attacked unprotected, and he refused to fight anyone. Every time he encountered a knight, he inquired nervously from a distance if the knight intended him any harm, and he fled at the first sign of danger.

When Gawaine met him, he had his armor on wrong and rode backwards; Gawaine later learned that the Coward Knight symbolized the backwardness of religion prior to Christianity. The Coward Knight eventually met Perceval, who was so disgusted with the him that he forced the Coward Knight to accompany him in search of adventure.

They came upon a Robber Knight attacking two maidens, and Perceval forced the Coward Knight into battle. At first, the Coward Knight sat still, shaking, but after the Robber Knight wounded him, he became sufficiently annoyed to fight back, and he astonished himself by winning. Realizing the joy and honor that accompanies victory, the Coward Knight cast off his cowardice and was re-dubbed the Bold Knight.

He was later killed fighting Aristor of Amorave.

Perlesvaus | Early 13th century
Third Continuation of Chrétien’s Perceval | Manessier, c. 1230