Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia



A powerful medieval sorcerer in Wolfram’s Parzival, formerly the Duke of Terre de Labour (probably Italy as its capital was Capua), nephew of Vergil of Naples (Vergilius; author of the Aeneid).

While a duke of Mantua, he fell in love with Iblis, the wife of King Ibert of Sicily. When Ibert discovered that his wife and Klingsor were having an affair, he had Klingsor castrated. Klingsor then started to hate the human kind, fled to Britain to heal and study the magical arts. His talents made him a startling necromancer, and he used his magic to create the enchanted Schastel Marveile (Castel of Marvels) in Terre Marveile (‘Land of Marvels’).

The uninvited visitor were met by the most hair-rising work of magic. Inside, he placed Lit Marveile (Bed of Marvels or Perilous Bed) – an extremely perilous adventure. He held fourteen maidens and four queens imprisoned in there, but these were in time released by Parsifal.

He imprisoned Gawain’s mother Sangive (Arnive by Wolfram), Gawain’s sisters Itonje and Cundrie, and Arthur’s mother Arnive in the castle, where they remained until Gawain braved the Perilous Bed and won.

An analogous character appears in Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône as Gansguoter. Klingsor also appears in the German compilation Wartburgkrieg, where he engages in a poetic competition with Wolfram von Eschenbach himself.

Klingsor’s character is not so black as it is represented by Wagner in his opera Parzifal (Parsifal). He is portrayed as courteous, a man whose word was his bond; one tradition makes him a bishop rather than a sorcerer.

See also
Wizards and Enchanters | Myths and Legends

Image credit
Artist: Unknown

Parzival | Wolfram von Eschenbach, 1200–1210