Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


The Red Knight of the Launds, The Red Knight of the Red Lands

This is the knight who was besieging Lyonors in Castle Dangerous when her sister Lynette came to Arthur’s court for a champion in hopes of drawing Lancelot, Tristan, Gawain or Lamorat into combat with the knight, but was given Gareth Beaumains, Gawain’s brother.

Along the way he defeated many knights and finally met Sir Ironside. The battle lasted for an entire day from morning to night. Sir Ironside might have defeated Gareth, but Gareth beheld the face of the lovely Lyonors in the castle window and doubled his strength. He overcame Ironside, who asked for mercy, explaining that he only had opposed Arthur’s knight because he promised a lady, a former love, to do so after her brother had been killed by either Lancelot or Gawain. Gareth spared his life, and Ironside went to Camelot to tell all of the deeds of ‘Sir Beaumains’. he later served as a carver at Gareth’s wedding feast.

Ironside had hanged nearly forty armed knights by the neck from trees, perhaps the most shameful death that could be inflicted on a knight, but this was forgiven because he had done it to fulfill a promise.

She had made Ironside swear

to labour daily in arms unto [sic] I met with one of them; and all that I might overcome I should put them unto a villainous death.

The lady who exacted this promise seems never mentioned again, but Ironside became a knight of the Round Table. Malory mentions him at least twice more, as one of the guests at Guenevere’s small dinner party and as one of ten knights to ride a-Maying with the Queen when Meliagrant ambushed her. He also appears among the would-be healers of Sir Urre.

While he besieged Castle Dangerous, Ironside’s shieldarms, and harness were all blood red. This may create some confusion, but Ironside does not seem to have been related to the brothers Percard, PertolepePerimones, and Persant, whom Gareth defeated on his way to Castle Perilous, even though Perimones also wore all red arms and armor.

Ironside’s strength, like Gawaine’s, increased daily until noon, until he had the strength of seven men.

He first appears in the Middle English Sir Gawaine and the Carl of Carlisle, Ironside is called the father of Sir Raynbrown, ‘The Knyght of Armus Grene’, ‘the knight with the green shield’, perhaps referring to the Green Knight, by the fair Damsel of Blanche Land. He was famed as a giant and dragon slayer, he owned a steed named Favelhand (or Sorrel-Hand). He was called Ironside because he was always armed, both in the winter and the hot summer.

He was originally a bad knight who besieged the castle of the Lady Lyonnesse until she was rescued by Gareth. He and Gareth later became close friends.

Syre Gawene and the Carle of Carlyle | c. 1400
The Carle off Carlisle | Early 16th century
Sir Lambewell | 16th century
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470