Bedegraine

Baradigan, Bedingan, Bedingran, Bedinham, Bedingham, Bedingram, Bedyngan, Bedyngran, Bredigain, Bredigan, Brekenho, Brekingho

A castle, city, meadow and forest in Britain where Arthur fought a major battle against the eleven rebel kings at the beginning of his reign. Arthur’s victory at Bedegraine is first mentioned in the Vulgate Merlin, and it becomes a major episode in Malory’s treatment. Though outnumbered, Arthur won the battle via a combination of creative tactics – including a surprise midnight attack – and a clandestine alliance with the French kings Ban of Benoic and Bors of Gannes.

After suffering the crushing defeat, the rebellious kings were forced to return to their own lands to combat a Saxon invasion. Soon, the kings were forced to ally with Arthur to purge the invaders, and Arthur became the undisputed ruler of Britain. After the battle, Bedegraine Castle served as one of Arthur’s many courts, and was the setting for the bulk of the False Guinevere (“Genievre”) episode. Baudin Butor says that the castle had perviously been one of King Vortigern’s courts.

The Vulgate Lancelot places it on the border between Ireland and Carmelide (Cameliard), while the Livre d’Artus places it on the border of Cornwall. The Vulgate Merlin calls it the chief city of Britain and Carmelide. Malory equates it with Sherwood ForestArthour and Merlin places the same battle at Rockingham. The original form of the name, Bredigan, recalls Brandigan from Chrétien de Troyes’s Erec.

The lands were in the Lincoln area as Malory later states that the castle was the major one of the castles that stood in the Bedegraine Forest (Forest of Sherwood), loyal to Arthur, to which the rebels had laid siege before the battle. The text says

the castle of Bedegraine, that was one of the castles that stand in the forest of Sherwood,

coupled with the description in that and surrounding chapters of the battle fought in Bedegraine Forest between Arthur, with his allies Ban and Bors, and the eleven rebel kings.

In a valley in the “forest of Bedegraine”, before the battle, Merlin secretly lodged Ban and Bors’ host of 10,000 men on horseback, though this may argue more for Merlin’s magic than Bedegraine’s extent.


See also
King Arthur’s Twelve Battles | The Legend of King Arthur


Sources
Vulgate Lancelot | 1215-1230
Vulgate Merlin | 1220-1235
Unknown (the pre-Arthurian period) | Baudin Butor, c. 1290
Le Livre d’Artus | Early 13th century
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470