Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Ascolot, Askalot, Astolat, Escalot, Scalliotto, Scalot, Shallot

Astolat is a castle and city, often identified with the modern city of Guildford in Surrey, England.

This town near Camelot was the home of Bernard, Tirre (or Torre) and Lavaine. A young girl lived there with her father and brothers and she died for love of Lancelot. She was called the Maid of Astolat, and became Elaine the White (Elaine of Astolat) or Lady of Shalott.

One time when Lancelot anonymously competed in a tournament which King Arthur announced in Winchester, he stayed at Astolat. The daughter in the house fell in love at first sight, and since she didn’t know who Lancelot was or that he was eternally faithful to Queen Guenevere whom he loved with forbidden love, she convinced him to wear a sleeve of her red dress on his helmet. Lancelot won but was badly wounded and were cared for at the maiden’s relative for a long time.

When he was well enough to leave, the maiden revealed her love, and when Lancelot rejected her by telling he loved someone else, she said she had to die. Lancelot remained steadfast, but when he returned to the court Gawaine, who himself had courted Elaine, told the Queen that Lancelot had worn a delightful young girl’s colors. After that the Queen did not want to see Lancelot anymore, who, devastated, left the castle. The truth about his faithfulness was later known.

Painting: The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse, 1888.

One night King Arthur and Gawaine saw a boat in mourning come gliding on the Thames. In the boat a beautiful girl was lying dead and Gawaine recognized the Lady of Astolat. Lancelot reads the letter found in the maiden’s hand and realizes the depth of Elaine’s love for him, causing him great sorrow and guilt. King Arthur buried her in the cathedral in Camelot.

In the Hebrew Melekh Artus, Edelpert attended a tournament at Escalot.

The name may come from Alclud, the old name for Dumbarton, through an intermediary Asclut. Malory identifies this as Guildford, which is in present-day Surrey, south of London.

See also
Fair Maid of Astolat | The Legend of King Arthur
Karavoç | The Legend of King Arthur
Scalot | The Legend of King Arthur
Shalott | The Legend of King Arthur

Vulgate Mort Artu | 1215-1230
The Stanzaic Le Morte Arthur | 14th century
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470
”The Lady of Shallot” | Lord Alfred Tennyson, 1832
Idylls of the King | Lord Alfred Tennyson, 1859-1886
Melekh Artus | 1279

The Lady of Shalott | Artist: John William Waterhouse, 1888.