Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Morcades, Morcads, Orcades

The first version of Morgause, mother of GawainAgravainGaherisGarethMordredClarissant, and Soredamor.

She is found in the First Continuation of Chrétien’s Perceval, in Les Enfances Gawain, and in Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône. This would seem to indicate that she originated from the Orkneys, one of the realms of her husband, Lot. It appears to come from the Latin Orcades – ‘Orkneys’ – the land traditionally ruled by Gawain’s parents. The name became Morcades and then Morgause under the influence of Morgan le Fay.

Morcades had an affair with Lot, her page, and gave birth to Gawain, whom, in order to avoid a scandal, she gave up to a knight named Gawain the Brown. After Gawain had grown, he found his mother, grandmother (Igerne), and sisters living in Canguin Rock or Salie. Gawain freed them from the castle’s sorcery.

Her counterpart in Wolfram’s Parzival is Sangive. Heinrich von dem Türlin calls her husband Jascaphin rather than Lot.

First Continuation of Chrétien’s Perceval | Attributed to Wauchier of Denain, c. 1200
Les Enfances Gauvain | Early 13th century
Diu Crône | Heinrich von dem Türlin, c. 1230