Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Old and Young Knights of the Meadow

In Yvain ou le Chevalier au Lion, by Chrétien de Troyes, the old knight of the meadow is a character who appears in the early part of the story. He is a wealthy nobleman who lives in a castle surrounded by a meadow. The old knight is known for his generosity and hospitality, he is sporting, and appears to be an elegant, prudent, and in some ways easy going personality. He swears by the faith he owes Saint Peter, which suggests some special allegiance to that apostle and might contain particular relevance if this romance is indeed a secularization of medieval afterlife stories (Meliagrant also swears by Saint Peter).

When Yvain (Ywaine) becomes lost in the forest, this old knight invites the younger knight to stay at his castle. The old knight has two daughters, one of whom is married to Gawain. The other daughter falls in love with Yvain and helps him in his quest to win back his lady love. Eventually, Yvain defeats the old knight in a duel and takes possession of his castle and his daughter’s love.

The old knight is an important character in the story, as he sets the plot in motion by inviting Yvain to his castle and providing him with the opportunity to meet his future love interest. Additionally, the old knight’s castle serves a symbolic representation of the feudal system, with Yvain’s conquest of the castle representing his rise in status within that system.

As Chrétien’s translator D.D.R. Owen point out, the old knight’s argument with his son regarding the inadvisability of fighting Lancelot foreshadows King Bademagu’s similar arguments with Meliagrant in the same romance; the “Old Knight of the Meadow,” unlike Bademagu, prevails upon his offspring.

See also
Gawaine’s Wife | The Legend of King Arthur
Portia | The Legend of King Arthur

Yvain, or Le Chevalier au Lion | Chrétien de Troyes, late 12th century