Lot of Lothian
Aloth, Leodonus, Loot, Looth, Los, Lost, Lote, Loth, Lothus, Lott, Lotto, Loz
The King of Lothian (Lodonesia), Orkney and Norway.
Lot married Morgawse (according to Malory), daughter of Igraine and Gorloïs, at the same time Uther Pendragon married Igraine. According to Geoffrey he was the husband of Arthur’s sister Anna. He is the father of Gawaine, Agravaine, Gaheris, and Gareth, Soredamors and Clarissant.
He was one of the three dispossessed Yorkist princes, the others being Urian (Uriens) and Auguselus, to whom Arthur restored their lands after he and Hoel had raised their siege of York. Arthur gave Lot the kingdom of Norway after he had defeated that country.
In Geoffrey he is represented as a supporter of Arthur, already King of Lothian. The idea that he was King of Orkney seems a later development. Elsewhere, however, it is stated that he took part in the rebellion against Arthur at the start of his reign, and showed himself a good strategist during the battle of Bedegraine. He was killed by Pellinore and a resultant discord existed between Lot’s sons and those of Pellinore.
Then all the eleven [rebel] kings drew them together, and then said King Lot, Lords, ye must other ways than we do ... ye may see what people we have lost, and what good men we lose, because we wait always on these foot-men, and ever in saving of one of the foot-men we lose ten horsemen for him; therefore this is mine advice, let us put our foot-men from us, for it is near night, for the noble Arthur will not tarry on the foot-men, for they may save themselves, the wood is near hand. And when we horsemen be together, look every each of you kings ... that none break upon pain of death. And who that seeth any man dress him to flee, lightly that he be slain, for it is better that we slay a coward, than through a coward be slain.
Acting upon Lot’s advice, the kings at least saved themselves, though not the battle.
After Bedegraine, Lot’s wife Morgawse came to Arthur’s court,
in manner of a message, but she was sent thither to espy the court.
Although we know from the Vulgate account that Morgawse did not share Lot’s enmity against Arthur, from Malory’s account it appears that at this point Lot was sounding Arthur out, leaving himself free to opt for either peace or further rebellion according to Arthur’s strength and disposition.
Unfortunately, Arthur begat Mordred on Morgawse and later, learning that a boy born on May Day would destroy him, had Mordred, along with all the other lords’ sons born about that time, put on a ship and sent out to sea to die. Whether Lot knew that Arthur had cuckolded him or whether he believed Mordred – apparently killed with the other babies – to have been his own son, his enmity against Arthur was now cemented, and he joined Ryence (Ryons) and Nero as ringleaders of the second rebellion of twelve kings.
This time the crucial battle was fought before Terrabil Castle. During the first part of the battle, Merlin cunningly
came to King Lot ... and held him with a tale of prophecy, till Nero and his people were destroyed.
Learning too late of their destruction, Lot cried,
Alas ... I am ashamed, for by my default there is many of worship man slain. ... Now what is best to do? ... whether is me better to treat with King Arthur or to fight, for the greater part of our people are slain and destroyed? Sir, said a knight, set on Arthur for they are weary and forfoughten and we be fresh. As for me said King Lot, I would every knight do his part as I would do mine.
So he went into battle and was killed by King Pellinore (though there must have been some confusion, for Pellinore’s son, Lamorak, later claimed it had been Balin who dealt the fatal stroke).
There is an almost Grecian fate about Lot’s death. Merlin had known that either Arthur or Lot must die at Terrabil that day, and preferred it to be Lot, yet even Merlin regeretted the necessity.
Alas he might not endure, [says Malory] the which was great pity, that so worthy a knight as [Lot] was should be overmatched.
All the rebel kings died in battle, and Arthur buried them all with full honors in St. Stephen’s Church in Camelot.
But of all these twelve kings King Arthur let make the tomb of King Lot passing richly, and his tomb by his own ...
Chrétien de Troyes places King Lot among Arthur’s living knights in the list beginning line 1691 of Erec and Enide, and identifies him as Gawaine’s father in Yvain and Perceval.
The Enfances Gauvain says that the young Lot was a page at Arthur’s court and that he had an intrigue with Morgause, as a result of which Gawaine was conceived. The Life of St Kentigern says that he was the father of Thaney (Thenew), Kentigern’s mother – assuming that the same Lot is being referred to. Boece claims Lot was the king of the Picts. As to his ancestry, John of Fordun in his Chronica Gentis Scotorum claims he was descended from Fulgentius, one of Geoffrey’s early kings of Britain. However, John of Glastonbury gives the line of descent from Petrus, one of Joseph of Arimathea’s companions.
The name Lot (in its earlier form of Leudonus) simply means “Lothian-ruler”. It seems certain that there was a king in the Lothian area in the fifth century whose headquarters were at Traprain Law, near Edinburgh. It has been suggested that his personal name may have been Gwyar, though it seems certain that here the truth will remain a mystery.
Historia Regum Britanniae | Geoffrey of Monmouth, c. 1138
Roman de Brut | Wace, c. 1155
Erec | Chrétien de Troyes, late 12th century
Didot-Perceval | c. 1220-1230
Brut | Layamon, late 12th century to mid-13th century
Les Enfances Gauvain | Early 13th century
Parzival | Wolfram von Eschenbach, 1200–1210
Vulgate Lancelot | 1215-1230
Vulgate Merlin | 1220-1235
Post-Vulgate Suite du Merlin | 1230-1240
Arthour and Merlin | Late 13th century
De Ortu Waluuanii Nepotis Arturi | Late 13th century
Alliterative Morte Arthure | c. 1400
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470
Scotorum Historiae | Hector Boece, 1527