Gormans, Gornemans, Gornemant de Goort, Gornimans, Gurnemans of Gorhaut, Gurnemanz of Groharz
Fourth best of Arthur’s knights, according to the list Chrétien de Troyes begins in line 1691 of Erec and Enide, Gornemant of Gohort was to reappear in the same author’s final romance as the freshly-knighted Percivale’s tutor and mentor, teaching him the proper use of weapons and armor and the code of knightly conduct.
Gornemant first appears in Chrétien de Troyes’s Perceval, though an appearance in Ulrich von Zatzikhoven’s Lanzelet (at a tournament against King Lot of Lothian) suggests that Gornemant belongs to an older Arthurian tradition.
After his brief visit to Arthur’s court and his David-like defeat of the Red Knight of Quinqueror, Percevale comes to Gornemant’s castle. Welcoming him, Gornemant sees his potential, gives him a day’s good training in the techniques of knightly combat, and begs him, over supper, to stay for a month or a year. Percevale, anxious to return home and check on the health of his mother, refuses.
Accordingly, next morning Gornemant gives him new clothes (to wear under the Red Knight’s armor) and the accolade of knighthood, along with parting instructions about how to behave. These include an injunction to stop saying “My mother taught me” this or that, and henceforth to give all the credit for his education to the vavasour who fitted on his spur and made him a knight. This directive may reflect the anti-feminine sentiment of the age, or it may be a simple effort to make the youth appear less of an ignornt bumpkin.
More important to the storyline, Gornemant also stresses the importance of not talking too much. Again, he may simply hope to keep his protégé from showing off too much ignorance; this advice is to do the lad a grave disservice by preventing him from asking the crucial questions at the Grail Castle, which he might have asked had he preferred the spirit of his mother’s earlier advice never to have a companion, on road or in any lodging, for long without asking his name.
Wolfram von Eschenbach gives Gornemant three sons, Schentefleurs, Lascoyt and Gurzgi, all met violent ends. He also had a daughter named Liaze whom he hoped would marry Perceval, but the young knight declined.
Gornemant was one of Blancheflor’s uncles and had given her some assistance in her defensive war against Clamadeu and Engygeron (Anguingueron), for he had lost a brother at Engygeron’s hands in that conflict.
The description of Gornemant’s castle and its location near a river bears a striking resemblance to the descriptions of both the Grail Castle and the Rock of Canguin and their locales, both found later in the same romance. This, along with the verbal resemblance of the names “Gohort”, “Gorre”, and “Gohurru”, make me wonder if in Gornemant’s little realm we may glimpse yet another pocket of the Otherworld, and if the day Percivale passes there really equates to a single twenty-four-hour interval in the everyday world.
Erec | Chrétien de Troyes, late 12th century
Perceval, or Le Conte del Graal | Chrétien de Troyes, late 12th century
Lanzelet | Ulrich von Zatzikhoven, c. 1200
Parzival | Wolfram von Eschenbach, 1200–1210