Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Latin: Vorgium
Camaheu, Carahais, Carahaix, Carahan, Carahes, Caraheu, Carais, Caroaise, Carohaise, Karahais, Karahrs, Karahes, Karaheu(?), Karalei

Carhaix is a commune in the Brittany region, northwestern France.

This city appears often in continental Arthurian literature. In Eilhart von Oberge’s Tristrant, Carhaix is the city ruled by King Havelin, father of Kahedins and Isolde of the White Hands (Iseult). It was besieged by Count Riole of Nantes when Havelin refused to give Isolde to Riole, but was saved by the arrival of Tristan.

In the Vulgate Merlin, Carhaix is a wealthy city in Carmelide (Cameliard) (some geographic confusion here; Carmelide is supposed to be in Britain), ruled by King Leodegan (Leodegrance), Guenevere’s father. Here a tournament was held between the Queen’s Knights and the Knights of the Round Table.

Cleodalis was Leodegan’s steward of the city. It was besieged by Saxons led by King Rions of Ireland (Ryons) in the early days of Arthur’s reign. ArthurMerlinKing Ban of Benoic, and King Bors of Gannes joined Leodegan’s forces there. A combination of the kings’ prowess and Merlin’s magic helped repel the Saxons.

Some time later, Rions returned with greater numbers but was still unable to take the city. The second siege ended when Arthur fought Rions in single combat, and Rions was slain. Arthour and Merlin describes action at Carhaix which in the Vulgate Merlin takes place at Aneblayse.

In other texts, Carhaix is named as the homeland of Gaheris de Kareheu, or as one of Arthur’s many courts.

Carhaix | 0 and the 9th century AD

Roman Period | 1st – 5th centuries
Carhaix, known as Vorgium during the Roman era, was a significant town in the region. It served as the capital of the Osismii, a Celtic tribe in Brittany. Vorgium was an important administrative and religious center, and remnants of Roman structures have been discovered in the area.

The region of Brittany, including Carhaix, has a strong Celtic heritage. The local population retained its Celtic cultural identity, including language, traditions, and customs.

Early Medieval Period | 5th – 9th centuries
During the fourth and fifth centuries AD, the Roman Empire was undergoing significant changes, including the gradual decline and withdrawal of Roman forces from certain regions. Carhaix, as an important Roman town, likely experienced the influence of these changes. The Roman presence and infrastructure in the town might have continued to shape its governance, economy, and culture to some extent.

Christianity had begun to spread in the region during this period, and the conversion of the Bretons to Christianity played a significant role in shaping their society and culture.

Breton Migrations
With the decline of the Roman Empire and the onset of the medieval period, Brittany became a refuge for Celtic Britons fleeing Anglo-Saxon invasions in Britain. The region maintained its distinct Celtic character and saw the emergence of various Breton kings and dynasties in the region, including rulers such as Riothamus, Macliau, and Waroch. Carhaix may have been a significant location for the ruling elites and their courts, potentially hosting important gatherings, legal assemblies, or religious ceremonies.

Medieval Kingdoms
The early medieval period witnessed the formation of Breton kingdoms, and Carhaix was likely part of this political structure. The Breton rulers sought to establish and consolidate their territories against external threats.

Influence on Breton Saints
The Age of the Saints, from the fifth to seventh centuries, saw the influence of Christian missionaries and saints in the region. The spread of Christianity contributed to the establishment of monastic communities and religious sites.

Viking Invasions | 8th – 9th centuries
Like many coastal areas in western Europe, Brittany experienced Viking raids during the eighth and ninth centuries. These raids led to the fortification of coastal towns and the emergence of defensive structures.

Tristrant | Eilhart von Oberge, 1170–1190
Gliglois | Early 13th century
Lancelot do Lac | 1215-1220
Vulgate Lancelot | 1215-1230
Vulgate Merlin | 1220-1235
Arthour and Merlin | Late 13th century