NIGHTBRINGER | The Arthurian Encyclopedia


Heroine of the non-Arthurian Le Roman de Silence by Heldris de Cornuälle (Heldris of Cornwall, an Arthurian pseudonym) in the thirteenth century.

Silence, a girl born to Count Cador of Cornwall some time after Arthur’s reign, was raised as a boy so that she might escape King Ebain of England’s law which prohibited a female from inheriting property.

Facing a gender conflict upon reaching puberty, she ran away and joined a group of minstrels. Still disguised as a male by the name Silentius, she eventually arrived at Ebain’s court, where the king’s wife, Eufeme, tried to seduce her, then accused her of rape when she refused.

After some further complications – in which Silence displayed much knightly prowess – she was given the task of finding Merlin, which could only be performed by a woman. Silence found Merlin roaming in a forest and brought him back to court. Merlin revealed her true gender to the surprised king, and informed the king of his wife’s adultery. After executing Eufeme, King Ebain married Silence and made her Queen of England.

The story of Ganieda in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Vita Merlini and the tale of Avenable in the Vulgate Merlin are echoed in the story of Silence.