Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Two entries with the name Guiromelant.


An aide to King Amant of Lambal, Arthur’s enemy. When Amant was slain by King Bors, Guiromelant vowed never so serve Arthur.

Vulgate Merlin | 1220-1235


The Guiromelant
Geromelans, Geromelant, Giremelanz, Giromelans, Grinomelant, Guiremelanz, Guyromelans, Li Giromelanz

Ruth Cline consistently uses “the” with his name while D.D.R. Owen does not.

Guiromelant was a knight who ruled the town of Orguelenes (Orquenseles) in Galloway, or the land of Janphis. He’s a cousin of Guinganbresil, Greoreas le Rous, Brandelis and Illesgaleron.

His story comes from Chrétien’s Perceval and the First Continuation. He loved Gawain’s sister Clarissant but hated Gawain. Gawain encountered him after freeing Clarissant from Canguin Rock. They arranged to meet in combat at Arthur’s court in Orcanie to settle their differences. Arthur intervened, canceled the duel, and allowed Guiromelant to marry Clarissant. As a wedding present, Arthur gave him the Nottingham or Madarp.

He appears in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival as Gramoflanz. In the Livre d’Artus, he joins Arthur’s war against the Saxons but dislikes Gawain because of Gawain’s conflict with Guinganbresil, Guiromelant’s brother or cousin.

I cannot yet visualize the geographical element involved: sometimes the Rock of Canguin and Guiromelant’s country seem to face each other across a river, and sometimes an additional tounge of land seems to lie between them. Gawaine has the Ferryman row him over from Canguin side to meet the Haughty Maid of Logres and her companion, the Haughty Knight of the Rock on the Narrow Way.

After defeating the knight, Gawaine accepts the damsel’s challenge to leap his horse across the Perilous Ford. On the far side of this ford, he meets Guiromelant, who is out hunting with a sparrowhawk on his wrist and two bird dogs in the field. Guiromelant reveals himself as lord of the city they can see, which he boasts of holding from no other overlord except God alone – it is called Orquelenes and I tentitively identify it with the city where the Haughty Maid the previous day sent Gawaine for her palfrey.

Guiromelant proceeds to tell Gawaine all about the Haughty Maid, whom he once loved: Since she did not love him, he slew the sweetheart she did love and appropriated her. Strangely – to Guiromelant’s mind – even this failed to win her affection, and she ungratefully took her first opportunity to escape with yet another knight, thus earning Guiromelant’s contempt. Now he has turned his undying devotion to a worthier object: the young lady of Canguin.

At first questioning Gawaine about Canguin, and becoming sarcastic almost to the point of rudeness when Gawaine confesses how little he knows about it, Guiromelant proceeds to enlighten him as to the identities of Queen Ygerne (Igraine), her daughter, and granddaughter (whom he knows to be Gawaine’s sister, though I remain unsure whether he knows her name). Much though he loves her, he hates her brother enough to rip his heart out in her sight, because Gawaine’s father, Lot, killed Guiromelant’s father and Gawaine himself killed one of Guiromelant’s first cousins.

By the way, Guiromelant goes on to the stranger, will you kindly do me the favor of delivering this emerald finger ring to my lady along with the message that I love and trust her so much I feel confident she would rather that her brother Gawaine die a painful death than that I should scratch my toe. At last Guiromelant asks Gawaine’s name, learns it, and observes that Gawaine has been overfoolish or overbold in revealing it:

If only I were armed for combat, I'd cut your head off right now ... As it is, we'll have to hold our fight in a week, for greater glory: I'll have my army on hand, and you'll have time to summon Arthur and his court, since they're just two days away at Orkney right now.

Gawaine accepts all this, even though he would prefer to make more peaceable amends; Chrétien never got beyond the arrival of Gawaine’s messenger at Arthur’s court.

From Ronan Coghlan’s Encyclopedia of Arthurian Legends I learn that at least one continuator had Guiromelant succeed in marrying Igraine’s granddaughter, Clarissant, which Arthur arranged, and begetting a daughter, Guigenor, on her. After the nuptials he bestowed the city of Nottingham on him. I sincerely hope that wasn’t the outcome Chrétien had in mind.

Guiromelant strikes me as one of the least likeable characters in his author’s entire output, comparing unfavorably even with Count Galoain. I cannot think him nearly good enough for Clarissant, who explains that Guiromelant has seen her only from a distance, never having crossed to her side of the river; that she is his only to the extent of a few messages sent back and forth; and that he was astonishingly foolish to say she would prefer her brother’s death to her admirer’s scratching his toe.

See also
Guiromelant’s Ring | The Legend of King Arthur

Perceval, or Le Conte del Graal | Chrétien de Troyes, late 12th century
First Continuation of Chrétien’s Perceval | Attributed to Wauchier of Denain, c. 1200
Le Livre d’Artus | Early 13th century
Diu Crône | Heinrich von dem Türlin, c. 1230