NIGHTBRINGER | The Arthurian Encyclopedia

Damsel of Noire Espine

Damsel of the Black Thorn
Noire Espane, Noire Espees

The Damsel of Noire Espine is a character in Chrétien de Troyes’ Lancelot, le Chevalier de la Charrette.

Lancelot encounters a damsel in distress during his quest to free Guenevere. The Damsel of Noire Espine is a captive of Meleagant (Meleagaunce), the antagonist of the romance. The Damsel of Noire Espine is mistreated and subjected to harsh conditions while in Meleagant’s custody. Lancelot, driven by his chivalric values and his compassion for those in need, intervenes to free her from captivity and offers his assistance.

In an earlier part of the story, Lancelot had consumed poisoned water from a fountain. He became gravelly ill as a result. The Damsel of Noire Espine came to his aid, nursing him back to health. She cared for him and ensured that he recovered from the effects of the poison. Lancelot’s life was saved by her kindness and healing skills.

Later in the story, the Damsel of Noire Espine is also associated with a magical fountain that vanishes when approached. This scene occurs when Lancelot is on his quest to rescue Queen Guenevere. The damsel may be present in this episode, and her involvement contributes to Lancelot’s ability to overcome the challenges presented by the fountain.

Lancelot, or Le Chevalier de la Charrete | Chrétien de Troyes, late 12th century