Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Lamorak of Gaul

Amorotto, Lamerake of Wales, Lamerok, Lamorack, Lamorak de Galis, Lamorant, Lamorat of Gaul

He was King Pellinore’s son, apparently the second born in wedlock, and named after his uncle, Lamorat of Listenois. His brothers were AglovaleDrianPercivaleAlain, and Tor; his known sisters, Eleine and Amide.

His story is related by the Prose Tristan, the Post-Vulgate Cycle, and Malory. A companion of the Round Table, Lamorak was

the most noblest knight [but] one that ever was in Arthur's days as for a wordly knight.

[S]o all the world saith, that betwixt three knights is departed clearly knighthood, that is Launcelot du Lake, Sir Tristram de Liones, and Sir Lamorak de Galis; these bear now the renown.

So Sir Persant of Inde tells Gareth Beaumains, adding that if Gareth conquers Ironside he “shall be called the fourth of the world.” At the Michaelmas jousts marking Gareth’s marriage, Lamorak overthrew thirty knights, to Tristram’s forty and Lancelot’s fifty. At the end of these jousts, both Lamorak and Tristram (Tristan)

departed suddenly, and would not be known, for the which King Arthur and all the court were sore displeased.

It may have been before this tournament, though it is described later in the Morte D’Arthur, that Lamorak, traveling with one Sir Driant, gave another thirty knights their falls within sight of King Mark’s pavilion.

Mark sent Tristram to match Lamorak, sorely against Tristram’s will, for, as the Cornish knight pointed out, he himself was fresh, while Lamorak would be spent with his thirty conquests. Nevertheless, Tristram obeyed Mark far enough to give Lamorak a fall (Lamorak’s horse also being tired and going down before Tristram’s spear). He then refused to fight Lamorak with the sword,

for I have [already] done to thee over much unto my dishonour and to thy whorship.

Lamorak did not appreciate Tristram’s courtesy. While still in a pique over Tristram’s refusal to fight, he met the messenger bearing Morgan’s magic drinking horn to Arthur’s court and made him bear it to Mark’s court instead, which almost resulted in the execution of La Beale Isoud and more than ninety other ladies. This angered Tristram.

While Tristram was in Brittany, Lamorak was shipwrecked near the Isle of Servage and nursed back to health (apparently having caught a chill in the water) by fishermen. Here Tristram and Isoud la Blanche Mains, also shipwrecked, met him, and the two knights buried their differences to plot how to exterminate the evil Sir Nabon le Noir, whom Lamorak especially hated for having shamefully drawn a cousin of his, Sir Nanowne le Petite (Mennon the Small), limb from limb. Nabon holding a tournament about this time, both Tristram and Lamorak attended; Lamorak, having borrowed horse and armor from Nabon himself, gave him such a good fight that, when he

was so sore bruised and short breathed, that he traced and traversed somewhat aback,

Nabon spared him: to Tristram fell the honor of killing Nabon. On his way back to Arthur’s court, Lamorak encounted Sir Frol of the Out Isles and Sir Belliance le Orgulus, had a friendly encounter with Lancelot, and a not-so-friendly one with Gawaine.

Lamorak next encountered Tristram when the latter’s party was blown ashore near Castle PerilousNorth Wales. Here Tristram remembered his annoyance at the drinking-horn incident and Lamorak remembered the friendship they had pledged each other in the Isle of Servage; they fought a long time, Tristram at first promising it would be to death, but ended by yielding to each other and swearing eternal friendship in honor of one another’s prowess. Not long thereafter, Lamorak got into a battle with Meliagrant over which queen was the more beautiful, Morgawse or Guenevere.

Lamorak’s love for Morgawse was his undoing, for Lamorak was the son of the man who had killed King Lot in battle, and Lot’s son felt it an insult that the son of their father’s killer should become their mother’s lover and potential husband. They therefore first killed Morgawse (as described under Gaheris) while she was in bed with her lover. Gaheris refusing to fight Lamorak at that time, Lamorak left the place, but

for the shame and dolour he would not ride to King Arthur's court, but rode another way.

He surfaced again at Duke Galeholt’s tournament in Surluse (Sorelois), where he did great deeds of battle and complained to Arthur of the wrongs done him by Lot’s son. Arthur expresses his grief at his sister’s death, wished that she had been married to Lamorak instead, and promised to protect Lamorak from Lot’s sons and arrange a truce if Lamorak would stay with him. Lamorak, however, refused to remain with Arthur and Lancelot and departed alone. Palomides later describes, first to Ector de MarisBleoberis, and Percivale, and later to Tristram, Gareth, and Dinadan, what happend then:

[Of] his age he was the best that ever I found; for an he might have lived till he had been an hardier man there liveth no knight now such. ... And at his departing [from the Surluse tournament] there met him Sir Gawaine and his brethren, and with great pain they slew him feloniously ... would I had been there, and yet had I never the degree at no jousts nor tournament thereas he was, but he put me to the worse, or on foot or on horseback; and that day that he was slain he did the most deeds of arms that ever I saw knight do in all my life days. And when him was given the degree by my lord Arthur, Sir Gawaine and his three brethren, Agravaine, Gaheris, and Sir Mordred, set upon Sir Lamorak in a privy place, and there they slew his horse. And so they fought with him on foot more than three hours, both before him and behind him; and Sir Mordred gave him his death wound behind him at his back, and all to-hew him for one of his squires told me that saw it.

Lamorat was eventually slain by Gawain and his brothers in an unfair fight, just after they killed his brother Drian. Sir Pionel, Lamorat’s cousin, tried to avenge Lamorat’s murder by poisoning Gawain, but the plan went awry.

Among his noteworthy adventures are the liberation of the Castle of the Ten Knights, his victory at the Sorelois tournament, and the conquest of the Isle of Servage. In this last adventure, he teamed with Tristan. (Tristan and Lamorat had previously been enemies: Tristan once refused to joust with Lamorat, so Lamorat arranged for a magical horn that proved infidelity to be sent to Isolde.) Malory considered Lamorat the third greatest knight in Britain, behind Lancelot and Tristan.

La Tavola Ritonda says he had a son named Sodoc.

Lamorak is occasionally depicted with his own shield. The design of the shield can vary, but it often incorporates elements of nature, such as trees or animals, reflecting his affinity with the wilderness.

See also
Bleoberis de Ganis | The Legend of King Arthur

Post-Vulgate Suite du Merlin | 1230-1240
Post-Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal | 1230-1240
Palamedes | c. 1240
Prose Tristan | 1230-1240
La Tavola Ritonda | 1325–1350
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470