Ancient history


Last updated:2022-07-25

Perceval is in Arthurian legend one of the Knights of the Round Table. In Welsh literature his name is Peredur. He is best known for his participation in the Quest for the Holy Grail.

There are many versions about its origin. In most tales he is of noble birth and the youngest of a family of knights all killed in battle. His father is either King Pellinor of Listenois or some brave knight. His mother, usually unnamed, plays an important role in the story. She went to live alone in a mansion in the middle of a wasteland forest (lost, isolated) to prevent her son from becoming a knight. His sister, bearer of the Holy Grail, is sometimes called Dandrane. In the versions where Perceval is the son of Pellinor, his brothers are Tor, Agloval, Lamorat of Wales, and Dornar.

After the death of his father, his mother raises him in the isolation of the forest, making him ignore until the age of 15 how men behave. One day, while playing javelin in the forest, the young Perceval meets five knights in armor so sparkling that he takes them for angels. He then wants to become a knight himself, and goes to the court of King Arthur; after proving himself to be an excellent fighter, he was dubbed and invited to join the Knights of the Round Table.

From the oldest stories he is involved in the Quest for the Grail. At Chrétien de Troyes he meets the wounded Fisher King and sees the Holy Grail, but refrains from asking the question which would have cured the sovereign. Having learned of his mistake, he only seeks to find the castle of the Grail and complete his quest.

Later accounts make Galahad, the son of Lancelot, the true hero of the Grail. But even if his role in the novels was diminished, Perceval remained an important character and he is one of only two knights (the other being the knight Borort) who accompanied Galahad to the castle of the Grail and led the search with him. .

In early versions Percival's beloved was Blanchefleur and he became King of Corbenic after curing the Fisher King, but in later versions he remained a virgin and died after finding the Grail. In Wolfram's version, Perceval's son is Lohengrin, the swan knight.

Some scholars once believed that Percival, with the legend of the Holy Grail, was of Persian origin, but these theories have been rejected by the majority of scholars.

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