Yvain the Adulterer, Yvain the Bastard
Ewein Avoutres, Uwaine Les Adventurous, Uwaine Les Avoutres, Yewains, Yvain les Avoutres, Yvain of Lafultere, Yvains li Avoutres, Yvains li Batarz, Yvoneet li Avoutres, Yvonet l’Avoltre, Yvonet li Aoltres
King Uriens of Gore had two sons of the same name: Yvonet le Grand by Arthur’s half-sister Morgan Le Fay, and Yvonet li Avoutres by the wife of Uriens’ seneschal, according to Vulgate II. To try to keep things a little less confusing, I have used the more common present-day variant spelling Ywaine for the legitimate son, Le Grand (also called Le Blanchemains, etc), and reserved the variant Yvonet for Li Avoutres.
The two brothers, Ywaine and Yvain left home to join Arthur’s service, even though his father was involved in a rebellion against Arthur. He fought in the Saxon wars and was knighted by Arthur. He further participated in the wars against Rome, Claudas, and Galehaut. He had a son named Cahus, who died as Arthur’s squire. During the Grail Quest, Yvain the Bastard adventured with Gawain and Galahad, and he helped Gawain and Gareth, his cousins, liberate the Castle of Maidens by killing the seven knights that ruled there.
Malory uses both brothers, but does not explain their birth history, which may lead to confusion. Both appear together on at least two occasions, once at the tournament at Castle Dangerous and once in company with Sirs Brandiles (Brandelis), Ozana, Agravaine, and Mordred in one of the interminable mix-and-match adventures that largely make up Malory’s books of Tristram. Yvonet, or Uwaine les Avoutres as Malory calls him, was killed by Gawaine, ironically, while they were both on the Grail Quest. Happening to meet, unaware of each others’ identity, they indulged in a joust, and by misadventure Yvonet was mortally wounded. Gawaine got him to an abbey, where he was unarmed and given the Sacrament.
Then Gawaine asked him what he was ... I am, said he, of King Arthur's court, and was a fellow of the Round Table, and we were brethren sworn together; and now Sir Gawaine, thou has slain me, and my name is Uwaine les Avoutres, that sometimes was son unto King Uriens, and was in quest of the Sangreal; and now forgive it thee God, for it shall ever be said that the one sworn brother hath slain the other.
Malory, in an obvious mistake, states that Yvain the Bastard appeared at the healing of Sir Urry, which occurs after his reported death.
Chrétien de Troyes lists Yvain the Bastard among Arthur’s good knights in the list beginning at line 1691 of Erec and Enide. He mentions him again in Perceval, when Queen Igraine asks Gawaine about King Uriens and his sons, and Gawaine tells her about both Yvains; the second is called “the Bastard” and has beaten every knight he has ever fought.
In the Scottish Lancelot of the Laik, Yvain the Bastard and Yvain les Avoutres are two separate characters. Both Yvains are considered extremely courteous, brave, and intelligent – aside from his own personal friendship for the first (legitimate) one, Gawaine seems to place them on a level.
Erec | Chrétien de Troyes, late 12th century
Erec | Hartmann von Aue, late 12th century
Perlesvaus | Early 13th century
Vulgate Lancelot | 1215-1230
Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal | 1215-1230
Vulgate Merlin | 1220-1235
Post-Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal | 1230-1240
Arthour and Merlin | Late 13th century
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470
Lancelot of the Laik | Late 15th century