NIGHTBRINGER | The Arthurian Encyclopedia

Escalon li Tenebreux

Chastel Tenebreux, Escalon li Aaisies, Escalon li Envoisies, Escalon the Dark

A British castle that was shrouded in an evil enchantment after its lord raped a maiden (or a knight raped the daughter of the lord) in the castle’s church on Ash Wednesday, where they found it by a holy man. From that day, castle and church were enveloped in darkness. Only the churchyard remained light, also giving off a sweet fragrance because of the many holy folk buried there.

It was said that only the best knight alive in the world could open the church door, and thus free Escalon from the spell; the same knight, it was said, would also liberate the Dolorous Tower. But any knight who entered the cold, dark, malodorous chapel was driven back by a rain of blows from invisible hands.

Fourteen years went by, reapers on the surrounding farms supplying the castle dwellers with food. After Galescalain (Galeshin) and Yvain both attempted the adventure and failed, before Lancelot arrived to make it through the chapel and open the far door, thus bringing back light and freeing the castle from the spell. Henceforth the place was called Escalon li Aaisies, or Escalon li Envoisies. The sight of a certain tomb in the churchyard healed Lancelot’s wounds.

From the neighborhood of Escalon li Tenebreux, the only way to the Dolorous Tower, where Lancelot finally defeated Sir Carados and freed Gawaine and other prisoners, went past Morgan’s Chapel and through the Val Sans Retour.

Vulgate Lancelot | 1215-1230
Le Livre d’Artus | Early 13th century