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The History of the Holly Graal

The History of the Holly Graal

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Published by Madalina Ciornohuz

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Published by: Madalina Ciornohuz on Mar 26, 2011
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Of Lancelot the story is here silent, and so beginneth

another branch of the Graal in the name of the

Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.


You may well understand that King Arthur is no whit

joyful. He maketh the white destrier go after him,

and hath the crown of gold full near himself. They

ride until they come to the castle that belonged to King

Fisherman, and they found it as rich and fair as you have

heard told many a time. Perceval, that was there within,

made right great joy of their coming, as did all the priests

and ancient knights. Perceval leadeth King Arthur, when he

was disarmed, into the chapel where the Graal was, and

Messire Gawain maketh present to Perceval of the Golden

Circlet, and telleth him that the Queen sendeth it to him,

and relateth also how Nabigant had seized it, and moreover,

how Nabigant was dead. The King offereth the crown that

had been Queen Guenievre’s. When Perceval knew that she

was dead, he was right sorrowful thereof in his heart, and

wept and lamented her right sweetly. He showeth them the

tomb of King Fisherman, and telleth them that none had set

the tabernacle there above the coffin, but only the com-

mandment of Our Lord, and he showeth them a rich pall

that is upon the coffin, and telleth them that every day

they see a new one there not less rich than is this one. King

Arthur looketh. at the sepulchre and saith that never tofore

hath he seen none so costly. A smell issueth therefrom full

delicate and sweet of savour. The King sojourneth in the

castle and is highly honoured, and beholdeth the richesse

and the lordship and the great abundance that is every-

where in the castle, insomuch that therein is nought want-

ing that is needful for the bodies of noble folk. Perceval had

made set the bodies of the dead knights in a charnel beside

an old chapel in the forest, and the body of his uncle that

had slain himself so evilly. Behind the castle was a river, as


The High History of the Holy Graal

the history testifieth, whereby all good things came to the

castle, and this river was right fair and plenteous. Josephus

witnesseth us that it came from the Earthly Paradise and

compassed the castle around and ran on through the forest

as far as the house of a worshipful hermit, and there lost the

course and had peace in the earth. All along the valley thereof

was great plenty of everything continually, and nought was

ever lacking in the rich castle that Perceval had won. The

castle, so saith the history, had three names.


One of the names was Eden, the second, Castle of

Joy, and the third, Castle of Souls. Now Josephus

saith that none never passed away therein but his

soul went to Paradise. King Arthur was one day at the castle

windows with Messire Gawain. The King seeth coming before

him beyond the bridge a great procession of folk one before

another; and he that came before was all clad in white, and

bare a full great cross, and each of the others a little one,

and the more part came singing with sweet voices and bear

candles burning, and there was one behind that carried a

bell with the clapper and all at his neck.

“Ha, God,” saith King Arthur, “What folk be these?”

“Sir,” saith Perceval, “I know them all save the last. They

be hermits of this forest, that come to chant within yonder

before the Holy Graal, three days in the week.”


When the hermits came nigh the castle, the King

went to meet them, and the knights adore the

crosses and bow their heads before the good men.

As soon as they were come into the holy chapel, they took

the bell from the last and smote thereon at the altar, and

then set it on the ground, and then began they the service,

most holy and most glorious. The history witnesseth us that

in the land of King Arthur at this time was there not a single

chalice. The Graal appeared at the sacring of the mass, in

five several manners that none ought not to tell, for the

secret things of the sacrament ought none to tell openly but

he unto whom God hath given it. King Arthur beheld all the

changes, the last whereof was the change into a chalice.

And the hermit that chanted the mass found a brief under

the corporal and declared the letters, to wit, that our Lord

God would that in such vessel should His body be sacrificed,


The High History of the Holy Graal

and that it should be set upon record. The history saith not

that there were no chalices elsewhere, but that in all Great

Britain and in the whole kingdom was none. King Arthur was

right glad of this that he had seen, and had in remembrance

the name and the fashion of the most holy chalice. Then he

asked the hermit that bare the bell, whence this thing came?

“Sir,” saith he to Messire Gawain, “I am the King for whom

you slew the giant, whereby you had the sword wherewith St

John was beheaded, that I see on this altar. I made baptize

me before you and all those of my kingdom, and turn to the

New Law, and thereafter I went to a hermitage by the sea, far

from folk, where I have been of a long space. I rose one night

at matins and looked under my hermitage and saw that a ship

had taken haven there. I went thither when the sea was re-

treated, and found within the ship three priests and their

clerks, that told me their names and how they were called in

baptism. All three were named Gregory, and they came from

the Land of Promise, and told me that Solomon had cast three

bells, one for the Saviour of the World, and one for His sweet

Mother, and one for the honour of His saints, wherefore they

had brought this hither by His commandment into this king-

dom for that we had none here. They told me that and I

should bear it into this castle, they would take all my sins

upon themselves, by Our Lord’s pleasure, in such sort as that

I should be quit thereof. And I in like manner have brought it

hither by the commandment of God, who willeth that this

should be the pattern of all those that shall be fashioned in

the realm of this island where never aforetime have been none.”

“By my faith,” saith Messire Gawain to the hermit, “I know

you right well for a worshipful man, for you held your cov-

enant truly with me.”

King Arthur was right glad of this thing, as were all they

that were within. It seemed him that the noise thereof was

like the noise that he had heard sound ever since he had

moved from Cardoil. The hermits went their way each to his

hermitage when they had done the service.


One day, as the King sate at meat in the hall with

Perceval and Messire Gawain and the ancient

knights, behold you therewithal one of the three

Damsels of the Car that cometh, and she was smitten all

through her right arm.

“Sir,” saith she to Perceval, “Have mercy on your mother

and your sister and on us. Aristor of Moraine, that is cousin


The High History of the Holy Graal

to the Lord of the Moors that you slew, warreth upon your

mother, and hath carried off your sister by force into the

castle of a vavasour of his, and saith that he will take her to

wife and will have all her land that your mother ought to

hold of right, maugre your head. But never had knight cus-

tom so cruel as he, for when he shall have espoused the

damsel, whomsoever she may be, yet will he never love her

so well but that he shall cut off her head with his own hand,

and so thereafter go seek for another to slay in like manner.

Natheless in one matter hath he good custom, that never

will he do shame to none until such time as he hath es-

poused her. Sir, I was with my Lady your sister when he

maimed me in this manner. Wherefore your mother sendeth

you word and prayeth you that you succour her, for you

held her in covenant that so you would do and she should

have need thereof and you should know it; for and you con-

sent to her injury and loss, the shame will be your own.”

Perceval heard these tidings, and sore sorrowful was he


“By my head,” saith the King to Perceval, “I and my nephew,

so please you, will go to help you.”

“Sir,” saith he, “Gramercy, but go and achieve your own

affair also, for sore need have you thereof; wherefore I pray

and beseech you that you be guardian of the castle of Camelot,

if that my lady mother shall come thither, for thereof make

I you lord and champion, and albeit the castle be far away

from you, yet garnish it and guard it, for it is builded in a

place right fair.”


Lords, think not that it is this Camelot whereof these

tellers of tales do tell their tales, there, where King

Arthur so often held his court. This Camelot that

was the Widow Lady’s stood upon the uttermost headland of

the wildest isle of Wales by the sea to the West. Nought was

there save the hold and the forest and the waters that were

round about it. The other Camelot, of King Arthur’s, was

situate at the entrance of the kingdom of Logres, and was

peopled of folk and was seated at the head of the King’s

land, for that he had in his governance all the lands that on

that side marched with his own.


The High History of the Holy Graal

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