Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Circle of Gold

In Perlesvaus, the thorn of crowns worn by Christ was set in gold and bejeweled by the maiden Elyza. This crown was bestowed upon Perceval in reward for his defeat of the Knight of the Burning Dragon. Perceval left the Circle in Elyza’s stewardship. It was later stolen by Nabigan of the Rock but recovered by Gawain. For a time, Perceval was known as the Knight of the Circle of Gold.

Interestingly, the author of the Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal, describing the adventure that provided him with the Estoire, relates how he came across a messenger who said,

My lord, my lady greets you, she who was rescued by the Knight of the Circle of Gold on the day that the person ou know saw the great marvel.

These allusions are not otherwise explained.

Vallet of the Circle of Gold and a Maiden of the Circle of Gold appear in French verse romance, though their names are not explained. The Maiden, appearing in the Fourth Continuation of Chrétien’s Perlesvaus, is besieged by a Knight of the Dragon whose appearance and activities mirror the Knight of the Burning Dragon. 

Part of the narrative of Jacob van Maerlant’s Torec involves the recovery of a magical golden circlet stolen from its owners, and both Pelleas and Morholt are awarded circlets of gold as a tournament prize in Malory’s Le Morte Darthur.

Perlesvaus | Early 13th century
Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal | 1220-1235
Fourth Continuation of Chrétien’s Perceval | Gerbert de Montreuil, c. 1230
Torec | Jacob van Maerlant, c. 1280
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470