The quest for the Holy Grail

The quest for the Holy Grail

Anon.

early 14th century

northern France

Manuscript

The twelfth-century French author Chrétien de Troyes left an unfinished poem called Perceval, le conte du Graal (Percival: the Grail Story). Motifs of the Grail Castle, the Fisher King, and the mystical Grail itself were developed from this and related legends, helping to form a sprawling narrative that intertwines with the fate of the Arthurian court. This manuscript includes several branches of the Lancelot–Grail Cycle, punctuated with miniatures that depict key moments in the story and help readers to find their place amidst its twists and turns. A large illustrated copy of parts of the Lancelot–Grail Cycle, finishing with the Mort Artu. One of its scribes names himself as Ernoul d’Amiens. The text is punctuated by miniatures that highlight the drama of the action, but also help a reader navigate around a long and complex series of narratives. The miniatures shown in close-up here are: fol. 136r (Gawain is captured and attacked with flails); fol. 160r (Lancelot risks humiliation by riding on a cart to pursue Guinevere’s captors); fol. 211r (Guinevere, thinking Lancelot is dead, laments in his chamber); fol. 346v (Galahad with the red cross shield, whose history is traced back to Josephus, son of Joseph of Arimathea. Spenser’s Redcrosse Knight in The Faerie Queene owes much to Galahad, as well as the cross of Saint George.)

Comments

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