Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Earl of Niwl

Yniol, Yniwl, Ynwyl

Father of Enide in the Welsh Geraint and Tennyson’s Idylls.

Niwl was an unfortunate earl whose lands were stolen by his nephew. Although he was impoverished, he granted lodging to Geraint when Geraint came to the Knight of the Kestrel tournament seeking to exact revenge on Edern (Yder). Niwl agreed to “lend” Geraint his daughter Enide for the tournament (each competitor had to bring his lady in order to enter). Geraint eventually fell in love with Enide and married her.

At the urging of Geraint, Niwl’s nephew restored to Niwl his former lands. Niwl’s counterpart in Chrétien’s Erec is Licorant (Liconal). I. L. Foster sees his name as a corruption of li cons uials (“the old earl”), the nobleman’s name in Geraint’s presumed source (Loomis, Romance, 193).

Tennyson combines the characters of the unnamed nephew and Yder, making Yder Niwl’s nephew and disinheritor. Yder’s cruelty towards Niwl stemmed from Niwl’s refusal to allow Yder to marry Enide.

Compare with
Erec | The Legend of King Arthur

Geraint and Enid | 13th century
Idylls of the King | Lord Alfred Tennyson, 1859-1886