Percivale’s Charcoal Burner

When Percivale first struck out for King Arthur’s court at Carduel, he asked directions of a charcoal burner whom he met driving his donkey. The charcoal burner politely gave him not only directions, but news of King Arthur’s recent battle with and defeat of King Rion of the Isles.

A note of Chrétien’s translator Cline reminds me that this man is the one and only charcoal burner (and one of the rather few peasants with speaking parts) to be found in Chrétien’s Arthurian works, and informs me that he may have been inspired by an actual charcoal burner who made it into the historical record by dint of finding and returning the young lost prince Philip-Augustus in mid-August of 1179.