Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Finding Sir Lancelot

From Medievalists:
Today, being the world’s only Lancelot wall paintings preserved in situ, the Siedlęcin set ranks among the most outstandingly complete and well preserved in Europe. The story of Arthur’s greatest knight, his glittering career, adulterous love for Guinevere and subsequent downfall has been told in two registers and should be ”read” from the lower to the upper one, from left to right (as in case of many other examples of medieval cycles). 
The lower register shows Sir Lancelot and his cousin, Sir Lionel, claiming the world shortly after they had been knighted. To prove their valour and knightly skills in hand-to-hand combat they set off for their first big adventure. The story goes with the tale of Lionel’s capture and Lancelot’s duel with the knight named Tarquin, whom Lancelot defeats and kills. Thanks to this victory sixty-four knights imprisoned in Tarquin’s castle (including Lionel and four other knights of the Round Table) obtain their freedom. 
The upper register shows fair Guinevere with her ladies before the walls of Camelot. Lancelot accompanied by his entourage presents himself to her. The next scene depicts the wicked knight Meleagant as he carries the queen away. He is going to be ultimately slain by Lancelot. The latter hurries to his lady’s rescue, suffering – among many a hardship – a total humiliation of riding in a cart, a form of travelling reserved for criminals. He rescues the queen in the end, the sinful nature of their love being shown in a depiction where they hold their left hands – a clear symbol of their adulterous affair. (Read more.)

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