Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Women In the Arthurian Legend

Queen Mab
Pagan or faerie women are often shown in the role of the temptress, seductress, adulteress, or witch. Some examples of these women are:

-Morgan le Fay, who gave birth to Mordred, and was the queen of the faeries(in some versions of the legend).

-Morgause, who, in other versions was the mother of Mordred, and is the sister of Morgan le Fay.

-Nimue, who tempted and trapped Merlin in a cave.

-Elaine, who seduced Lancelot and thus drove him into Guenevere's arms.

All of these women are displayed as wantons and sinners, and their actions are always destructive, even if they are performed in innocence, like Elaine's.

Mordred was the result of Arthur's sin with his half-sister. A pagan woman in the role of seductress caused a major reason for Arthur's downfall.
Christian women were always shown as pure maidens; the damsel in distress, virgins, and delicate flowers. They were always kind, pious maidens who gave help and advice to the knights on their quests. As has been mentioned before, most accounts of the legend were written by Christians and not by pagans, so the Christian women are always put in the best light while pagans are stereotyped and sneered at. However, the Christians were just as much at fault in causing this conflict as the pagans. As they say, it takes two to tango.
The Lady of Shalott

Wedding of King Arthur and Guenevere
Guenevere's case is practically the only exception from the rule of these stereotypes. Her situation is rather unique. She started off as a pure maiden queen, then turned into a 'pagan' adulteress when she began her affair with Lancelot. So Guenevere shows elements of both a pagan and a Christian woman. Guenevere's actions were more harmful than the actions of any of the other women portrayed in the Arthurian legend, since it gave Mordred the lever he needed to cause dissent in Arthur's court, resulting in its destruction. So it can be concluded that the rift between the two religions is more destructive than either on its own could possibly be.

Return to Homepage

This page was designed by Lindsey Johns.