Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Iwanet, Yonet

A servant and squire who appears in Chrétien’s Perceval and Wolfram’s Parzival. He was the son of Yder and was related to Guinevere.

When Percivale first arrives at Arthur’s court, Yvonet, holding a knife in his hand (he has obviously just been carving meat for the banquet), comes forward and points the King out to him.

As Percivale leaves to challenge the Red Knight of Quinqueroi, Yvonet follows him, eager to learn the outcome at first hand and bring the news back to court. Going alone (which may suggest he has slipped out secretly) and following paths he knows, he apparently arrives in time to witness the battle. Watching Percivale drag the Red Knight’s body around trying to get the armor off, Yvonet enjoys a laugh (presumably good-humored) at his inexpertise, then helps him with the arms and armor, afterward carrying Arthur’s cup and Percivale’s message (about returning to avenge “Verrine”) back to court along with word of how the fight went.

Much later in the same romance, when Gawaine sets forth to answer Guigambresil’s challenge, he takes seven squires along with him. Chrétien makes the point that, although many fellow knights offer to lend him good horses and pieces of equipment, he takes only what is his own; presumably this includes the squires. We learn in line 5664 that Yvonet is one of them, not improbably the principal one. They accompany Gawaine as far as Escavalon, but, after undertaking the quest of the Bleeding Lance, he sends them home. They are mournful but obedient.

D.D.R. Owen remarks in a note that these two Yvonets are not necessarily the same character; I have failed to find any reason to suppose them different, unless it is the theory that Gawaine’s adventures were originally meant to form a separate romance from Percivale’s – and not even that would preclude the same squire Yvonet from appearing in both.

Chrétien leaves so many key characters unnamed or very tardily named, that when he drops one in ready-named, I cannot help but suspect a figure already established in the chivalric literatur of his time. Or even, perhaps, a living person known to the original target audience? Whatever the case, this Yvonet cannot be either of Uriens’ sons, for they are both already knights, as Gawaine later explains to Queen Igraine.

His name is a diminutive form of Yvain and is used to describe the various Yvains in the Vulgate Merlin.

Perceval, or Le Conte del Graal | Chrétien de Troyes, late 12th century
First Continuation of Chrétien’s Perceval | Attributed to Wauchier of Denain, c. 1200
Parzival | Wolfram von Eschenbach, 1200–1210