Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Parlan, Pellam, Pelleam, Pellean, Pellehans, Pellehem, Phellehen

Grail King of Listenois in the Vulgate romances. One of several names applied to the Maimed King. The first appearance of his name in the Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal suggests that he was Perceval’s father, which would make him the origin of Pellinore (and also, probably, of Pelles).

The Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal, however, calls him the son of King Lambor and the father of Pelles and Pellinore, making him Perceval’s grandfather and Galahad’s great-grandfather. Like all Grail Kings, he inherited the title of Fisher King from Bron, the first of his lineage. Later, however, he fell ill with a festering wound and became known as the Maimed King. The circumstances behind this wound vary: the Vulgate Estoire tells us that he received it in a battle in Rome; in the Vulgate Queste, we learn that he was struck through the thighs by a holy spear when he tried to draw the Sword with the Strange Hangings, meant only for Galahad.

The Post-Vulgate Merlin continuation provides a much longer story. Here, he has a brother named Garlon, an invisible knight who commits murder and is pursued by Balin. Balin eventually slew Garlon during a feast in Pellehan’s Perilous Castle, for which Pellehan attacked Balin, shattering the latter’s sword. Pellehan pursued Balin throughout his castle as Balin ran from room to room looking for a weapon. Eventually, he found the Bleeding Lance – the spear that killed Christ – and struck Pellehan through the thighs with it. This blow was called the Dolorous Stroke, and it caused the castle to crumble and turn Listenois into a Waste Land. (In another version, however, the Dolorous Stroke occurs in an episode with Pellehan’s father, Lambor.)

Pellehan’s wound refused to heal, and he lay ill for many years. At the end of the Grail Quest, Galahad cured him with some blood from the Bleeding Lance, and Pellehan retired to a hermitage.

Tennyson alone names Pellehan as one of the kings who joined Lot’s rebellion against King Arthur at the beginning of Arthur’s reign.

Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal | 1215-1230
Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal | 1220-1235
Post-Vulgate Suite du Merlin | 1230-1240
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470