Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Gaynleyn, Geynleyn, Giglain, Gingalin, Ginglain, Gyngalyn, Gyngelayne, Gyngolyn, Gynleyn, Le Bel Inconnu

Sir Gawain’s son, apparently the oldest. He is the hero of Renaut de Bâgé’s Le Bel Inconnu and Thomas Chestre’s Lybeaus Desconus.

His mother was a fairy named Blanchemal who raised him in ignorance of his true name and paternity, so he was called Le Bel Inconnu (‘The Fair Unknown’). A damsel turned up with a dwarf and asked for a knight to rescue her mistress, a princess, with “the daring kiss”. Arthur sent La Bel Inconnu.

Blond Esmeree’s lady, Helie, who had come to Arthur’s court seeking help, was furious when she learned that Arthur had assigned a young and inexperienced knight to the task. Guinglain changed her thinking during the journey to Snowdon, as he conquered the evil Sir Bleoberis; rescued the lady Clarie from two giants; defeated three attackers named ElinWilliam, and the Knight of Saie; won a sparrowhawk tournament against Sir Girflet in honor of the lady Margerie; and defeated Malgier, the guardian of the Golden Isle.

In this last adventure, Guinglain fell in love with the fairy ruler of the Golden Isle, known as the Maiden with the White Hands (Pucelle aux Blanche Mains). The Maiden loved Guinglain in return and wished to marry him, but Guinglain was forced to sneak away from her in the middle of the night in order to complete his quest.

He traveled to the Desolate City of Snowdon, where he defeated a knight with a horned and fire-breathing horse, and darkness fell everywhere – the two sorcerers – Mabon and Evrain – were defeated, they had cursed the city and had turned Esmeree the Blonde into a snake. He was then approached by the snake, which had to kiss him in order to return to her true form. Guinglain fought the urge to cleave the snake in two, kissed it, and completed the adventure. A voice (which turned out to be the Maiden with the White Hands) then informed him of his true name and paternity.

He fell asleep and when he awoke the princess was there. Esmeree the Blonde fell in love with Guinglain and wished to marry him, but Guinglain’s love for the Maiden led him to return to the Golden Isle, where he found the Maiden incensed at his earlier departure. She eventually accepted him back, but he lost her love for good when he sneaked away to attend Arthur’s tournament at the Castle of Maidens. He married Esmeree the Blonde and became the king of Wales.

In Malory IX, we find Gingalin jousting with Tristram at Tintagil, apparently for the sport of it, and being defeated, his horse killed under him. King Mark witnessed the fight. Mark does not learn Tristram’s identity, for Tristram rides off into the woods; Mark does send a squire out to Gingalin, and, on learning who the defeated knight is, welcomes him and gives him a horse. It sounds as if Gingalin was on rather close terms with Mark, but Mark may, for once, have simply been showing the hospitality of the times.

Gingalin became a knight of the Round Table, being listed, with his brothers Florence and Lovel, among those who attempted to heal Sir Urre; Gingalin, Florence, and Lovel were among the knights who tried to trap Lancelot with the Queen and were slain when he escaped; in this episode, however, Arthur later tells Gawaine,

Remember ye he slew two sons of yours, Sir Florence and Sir Lovel,

without adding Gingalin, so it is conceivable there may have been two Gingalins.

The Wedding of Sir Gawain calls him the son of Ragnelle rather than Blanchemal. He appears in the Post-Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal as a knight defeated by Arthur the Less. In Malory, he joins Mordred and Agravain in their plot to catch Lancelot and Guinevere in flagrante delicto, and he is slain by Lancelot. His character becomes Beaudous in Robert de Blois’s romance, and his adventures are given to Carduino in an Italian cantare.

Le Bel Inconnu | Renaut de Bâgé, 1185–1190
First Continuation of Chrétien’s Perceval | Attributed to Wauchier of Denain, c. 1200
Second Continuation of Chrétien’s Perceval | Attributed to Wauchier of Denain, c. 1200
Post-Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal | 1230-1240
Prose Tristan | 1230-1240
The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell | 15th century
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470