Ither of Cucumerland

Red Knight

The King of Cucumerland or Gaheviez.

He is first mentioned by Hartmann von Aue as one of Arthur’s knights. In Wolfram von Eschenbach, he takes on the role of the Red Knight from Chrétien’s Perceval: Once the squire of Perceval’s uncle Trevrizent, he became a noble Knight of the Round Table.

He was a cousin of both Arthur and Perceval, the son of Uther’s sister, and he was the lover of Perceval’s aunt Lamiere (Lammire).

Ither went before Arthur to claim his inherited lands and Arthur’s throne, but he accidentally offended Arthur by spilling some wine on Guinevere (in contrast to Chrétien’s Red Knight, with whom the offense is deliberate). While waiting outside Arthur’s court for Arthur to send a knight to avenge the deed, the young Perceval, on his way to Arthur’s court, encountered him. Perceval admired his red armor and, once he was in the presence of Arthur, asked for it. Kay sarcastically told Perceval to go ahead and take the armor. When Perceval went back outside and demanded the armor, and Ither refused, Perceval hurled a well-aimed javelin through Ither’s visor, killing him. Perceval then took the armor, as well as Ither’s sword, and became the new ‘Red Knight’.

Later, when Perceval had become more mature and knowledgeable, and after several people rebuked him for it, Perceval regretted the killing of such a skilled warrior.

Erec | Hartmann von Aue, late 12th century
Parzival | Wolfram von Eschenbach, 1200–1210