Le Morte D’Arthur, Book 1, Part 1

All right, so here’s part one, kicking off the messy family drama! I’d kind of like for the commentary to be a little less visible so it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the text, so if you have any ideas, let me know in the comments. Also, is there a way to change the color of one sentence without changing the whole paragraph? I looked and couldn’t figure it out, so I’m just a grumpy html user with very sore fingers >_< Anyway, onto the story!


It befell in the days of Uther Pendragon when he was king of all England and so reigned, that there was a mighty duke in Cornwall that held war against him for a long time. And the duke was called the duke of Tintagel, and so by means [Probably nefarious means] King Uther sent for this duke, charging him to bring his wife with him, for she was called a fair lady and passing wise, and her name was Igraine.

So when the duke and his wife were coming unto the king, by the means of great lords they were both accorded. [I think it means both Gorlois and Uther made peace?] The king liked and loved this lady well, and he made them great cheer out of measure, and desired to lie with her. But she was a passing good woman and would not assent to the king. And then she told the duke her husband and said, ‘I suppose that we were sent for so that I should be dishonoured. Wherefore, husband, I council you that we depart from hence suddenly, that we may ride all night unto our own castle.’ And in likewise as she said so they departed, so that neither the king nor none of his council were aware of their departing. [I kind of love the high-flown old-sounding language of this book, even though it’s a little hard to read

The blue text and brackets system I currently have set up is what’s really hard to read, but Idk what to do about that]

As soon as King Uther knew of their departing so suddenly, he was wonderfully wroth. Then he called to him his privy council and told them of the sudden departing of the duke and his wife. Then they advised the king to send for the duke and his wife by a great charge. [What…what is a great charge? Serious question] ‘And if he will not come at your summons, then may you do your best, for then you have cause to make mighty war upon him.’ [Pro tip: If a girl won’t get together with you, get a huge army and kill all of her knights + her husband

Works every time]

So that was done and the messengers had their answers. And that was this shortly, that neither Gorlois nor his wife would come to the king. Then the king was wonderfully wroth. [*squints at page* Again?] And then the king sent him plain word again, and bade him be ready and stuff him and garnish him, for within forty days he would drag him out of the biggest castle that Gorlois had. [I am used to the word ‘garnish’, especially ‘stuff and garnish’, being about cooking geese, but I think here Uther is telling Gorlois to make ready for war? As in, ‘get weapons and arm your castles now.’ At first I’ll admit I kind of hoped he was threatening to cook him like a goose, but apparently not. *shrugs*] [Also, I have no clue how you pronounce Gorlois. I have no clue how to pronounce most of these characters’ names, but you know what? I’m writing a retelling anyway.] [I’ll just call him Fred]

When the duke had this warning, he went and furnished and garnished two strong castles of his, one at Tintagel and the other castle at Terrabyl. [No stuffing?] So his wife, Dame Igraine, he put in the castle of Tintagel, and himself he put in the castle of Terrabyl, [No, no, bad idea!!] which had many issues and posterns throughout. [Apparently an issue is defined on Middle English Dictionary as ‘a place of exit, a way out of a place’, and a postern is a small side door. As a side note, wouldn’t he want his wife in the place with lots of nice escape routes? I mean, it didn’t matter anyway, but…]

Then in all haste came Uther with a great host and laid a siege about the castle of Terrabyl. And there he pight many pavilions, and there was great war made on both parties and many people slain. [I think ‘pight many pavilions’ means he pitched many tents? I couldn’t find a definition for ‘pight’, though, so I just left it as is and didn’t mess with it.] Then for pure anger and for great love of fair Igraine King Uther fell sick. So Sir Ulfius, a noble knight […he’s involved in this whole business, though? I am questioning ‘noble’?], came to King Uther and asked the king why he was sick. ‘I shall tell thee,’ said the king. ‘I am sick for anger and for love of fair Igraine, that I may not be whole.’

‘Well, my lord,’ said Sir Ulfius, ‘I shall seek Merlin, and he shall do you remedy so your heart shall be pleased.’ So Ulfius departed, and by adventure he met Merlin in a beggar’s array, and there Merlin asked Ulfius whom he sought, and Ulfius said he had little to tell him.

‘Well, said Merlin, ‘I know whom thou seekest, for thou seekest Merlin, and therefore seek no further, for I am he. And if King Uther will reward me and be sworn unto me to fulfill my desire, that shall be his honour and profit more than mine, for I shall cause him to have all his desire.’ [Someone else pointed out that Ulfius does not recognize Merlin at first, leaving it fully Merlin’s choice to get involved in this mess.

Merlin is yet one more character where I do not get the hype.] [Also, it’s…interesting that Merlin is kind of outside Uther’s command? The king can’t just come and tell him what to do, he has to bargain with him. He becomes something of a parental figure to Arthur later, which is also odd, if you think about it. Wth is up with this character?]

‘All this will I undertake,’ said Ulfius, ‘that there shall be nothing reasonable but thou shalt have thy desire.’ [Essentially (because I had trouble understanding this at first), he can have whatever he wants as long as it’s reasonable. (Always put that ‘as long as it’s reasonable’ clause in there in Celtic mythology. Otherwise someone inevitably asks for your wife.)]

‘Well,’ said Merlin, ‘he shall have his intent and desire. And therefore, ride on your way, for I will not be long behind.’ [#Idonotgetthehype]


And that was the end of part one! I just never really got why people liked Merlin. I mean, yes, the trope of the creepy old enchanter in the woods is really cool and fun, but on the other hand, he abets a rapist? And yes, if you go far back enough, someone has written every character in a bad light–or at least in a way that would be considered bad today–and there are versions where Mordred and even Arthur committed rape (mainly in the Vulgate Cycle), and I’m totally fine with retelling those two characters without those aspects. But in the case of Arthur and Mordred, it isn’t embedded into their character (as in, most of the legends I’ve read do not feature that), and for Merlin, I would say it kind of is? The story of Uther and Igraine is in most of the legends involving Merlin that I’ve heard of, anyway.

I also had a mild panic attack halfway through that I was misspelling each and every characters name (I mean probably). Arthurian names are hard. I have confused Iseult and Igraine, Gaheris and Gareth (UGH why do they have matching names), and Mordred and Morgan. I haven’t confused them in my actual story yet, thank God, but I’m terrified of the day when I write ‘Gareth shouted at Gareth’ or some weird sentence like that. It’s coming. I can feel it.

This is why you give your characters distinct names, kids.

Are you more sympathetic to Merlin? Did you understand all of the story? (I have so far, but I admit I have problems with the language sometimes.) Have you ever gotten your characters’ names confused and/or figured out your characters’ names were pronounced differently halfway through the story?

One thought on “Le Morte D’Arthur, Book 1, Part 1

  1. Pingback: To all my favourite bloggers… – Elated Books

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