Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Two entries with the name Enide.


Gawaine’s paramour in Ulrich’s Lanzalet.

Lanzelet | Ulrich von Zatzikhoven, c. 1200


Enid, Enite, Evida, Nida

The beautiful daughter of an impoverished nobleman who figures into Chrétien’s Erec et Enide, the Welsh Geraint, and their adaptions. Chrétien describes her as so beautiful that Nature herself, who created her, could never again reproduce her (but that is more or less what he says of most of his heroins). She is the wife of the hero.

In Chrétien’s romance, her father’s name is Licorant (Liconal) and her mother’s name is Tarsenesyde. In Welsh legend, her father is the Earl of Niwl (or Ynwyl) and her mother is unnamed. Hartmann calls her father Koralus and her mother Karsinefite. Enide had at least two female cousins, one of them being Mabonagrain’s lady.

Her future husband (either Erec or Geraint, but referred to throughout the rest of this entry, for convenience, as Erec) met her when he came to her father’s humble home (in Lut, Laluth, or Tulmein) during a sparrowhawk tournament. Erec was intent on entering the tournament to exact revenge on Yder, who had insulted Queen Guinevere. As all knights entering the tournament had to be accompanied by a lady, Erec received Enide’s father’s permission to use Enide for this purpose, and he won the tournament.

At any rate, Enide was so lovely that Arthur easily solved his dilemma of killing the White Stag and having to choose the loveliest maid among the five hundred highborn damsels at court, simply by following Guinevere’s suggestion and naming golden-haired Enide as soon as she appeared with Erec, since not even the most jealous lover of any other maid could dispute this choice!

During these events, Erec fell in love with Enide. The poverty of Enide’s immediate family sprang from her parents’ pride. Her mother, Karsinefite (Tarsenesyde), was sister to the Count of Lalut and by her father Liconal’s account Enide had any number of would-be suitor, but he refused them all his parental permission until Erec arrived, to whom he betrothed her at once, to her own silent satisfaction. Her vavasour father being so impoverished he had only a single manservant, Enide could tend horses like an expert stablehand, a talent which must have come in handy when her husband later took her as his only attendant on a series of adventures. They returned to Arthur’s court together, married, and retired to Erec’s homeland.

In time, Erec grew so domesticated, preferring to spend all his time with Enide, that his people grew discontented. One night, while she thought Erec was asleep, Enide lamented that he had lost his valor. In some versions, her words also cause Erec to believe her unfaithful. Angered, Erec forced Enide to accompany him on a series of dangerous adventures, culminating in a combat with three giants that left him unconscious. A local nobleman (variously called Oringle, Limwris (Limors), or Doorm) found them and brought them to his castle, but began to make advances on Enide. When she refused him, he abused her. Erec awoke at her screams and killed the nobleman. Realizing the folly of his actions, Erec apologized to Enide, and the two returned to Erec’s kingdom to live out their days.

Among his methods to punish her fear was forbidding her to speak a word to him without first being addressed. Poor, patient Griselda, that famous medieval model of wifely virtue, would have obeyed her lord to the strictest letter; but Enide proved herself no patient Griselda by disobeying Erec on several occasions, though not without severe mental anguish, whenever she saw robbers or other dangers bearing down on him to his apparent (though feigned) ignorance. Even while berating her for disobeying his injunction not to speak, he secretly recognized and rejoiced in the love her disobedience displayed.

Such was Enide’s affection that it survived even the test to which her husband put it, which must make her one of the most remarkable examples of loyalty in all Arthurian romance.

The Prose Tristan tells a variant version of Erec and Enide. Enide is the daughter of the Duke of Huiscam, whi has been killed by Sir Senehar. Senehar is besieging Enide when Erec arrives with Galahad, Bleoberis, and Hector. Arthur’s knights defeat Senehar and Erec marries Enide.

The origin of Enide’s name is uncertain and it was perhaps at first a territorial designation.

See also
Enide’s Cousin | The Legend of King Arthur
Enide’s Dappled Palfrey | The Legend of King Arthur
Enide’s Sorrel Palfrey | The Legend of King Arthur
Enide’s Saddle | The Legend of King Arthur

Erec | Chrétien de Troyes, late 12th century
Erec | Hartmann von Aue, late 12th century
Erex Saga | 13th century
Parzival | Wolfram von Eschenbach, 1200–1210
Geraint and Enid | 13th century
Prose Tristan | 1230-1240
Idylls of the King | Lord Alfred Tennyson, 1859-1886