Greatest knights #5
After number six’s sturring biography, we return to the land of make believe and meet with number five…
5. Sir Galahad (5th century, Welsh)
Talk about pressure. Galahad was quite literally born for greatness, as his destiny (ascribed by Merlin, I believe) was to become the greatest knight as chosen by God. Sure, we’re talking fictional people here, but the Arthurian heroic cycle was such rich cultural currency that it dominated over all other ballads, and eventually crossed the English Channel to serve as a leading source for some of the most popular chansons de geste in France. That King Arthur and his band of knights are still famous today is testimony to the powerful legacy of those stories. As such, the respective Knights of the Round Table became the earliest archetypes of the ideal knight, or rather various types of ideal knights. Getting back to Galahad, although he appeared later in the cycle, he was indeed one of the great knights of the round table, as the son of Lancelot, one of the three achievers of the holy grail, and possessed some of the most highly valued virtues of a knight. Galahad was so special that he is knighted by papa-Lancelot himself and is seated in the Siege Perilous, which means that he is the man designated to find the Holy Grail. Lucky him. For added measure he does the sword-in-the-stone trick and is proclaimed by King Arthur himself as the greatest knight. Because he was not real, he cannot rise any higher on this list, but because of his cultural relevance, past and present, and because he satisfies most of the virtues of a medieval knight, he reaches #5. Galahad mostly quests alone, does chivalrous things, like saving damsels in distress and rescuing fellow knights. He is pious and merciful, but not without character, and he is in all the right places at all the right times, making him the keystone in the arch of the Round Table and he who holds the fate of England in his hands. He gets taken up in the Rapture after a visit by Joseph of Arimathea and seeing the Holy Grail, which is pretty cool, since achieving the Holy Grail is just about the wickedest thing a knight could do. Ultimately, Galahad mirrors and redeems Arthur after the Battle of Tintagel, which is a pretty sweet task, considering that Arthur was the greatest of all English kings.
This really is the best pic of ‘Sir Galahad’, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail rates as the third best movie comedy of all time.
Tomorrow I will be gving you another Frenchman.
Tags: historical fiction, Hotspur, King Arthur, knight, medieval, middle ages, Richard the Lionheart, top 10, top ten