Sir Percival - The Knight in Shepherd’s Boots - origins
Who was Sir Percival?
There are many versions of the story of Percival’s parenthood, but quite a number suggest that he was the son of Sir Perceval and the lady Blancheflour (King Arthur’s sister). His father, Sir Perceval, was killed in combat by the evil Red Knight when Percival was just a baby. His mother was determined he should not suffer a similar fate, and so crept out at night and took him into the forest where he was brought up with no knowledge of who he really was.
However, as he grew up he became a very skilled hunter, having a naturally true aim and, as the story tells, it was only a matter of time before he would find out about, and want to join, the Knights of the Round Table. In doing so, he unknowingly takes revenge for his father’s death.
Who were the Knights of the Round Table
Knights of the Round Table
These were King Arthur’s closest companions and some of the best knights in his kingdom. Every knight who sat with Arthur at the Round Table was equal. However, he had to swear to a code of chivalry, before being made a Knight of the Round Table.
According to ‘Le Morte ‘Arthur’ by Sir Thomas Malory (1405 – 1471), the knights had to swear to:
Never do outrage or murder; always flee treason; to by no means be cruel but to give mercy unto him who asks for mercy; to always do ladies, gentlewomen and widows succor (help); not to take up battles in wrongful quarrels for love or worldly goods.
Amongst the most famous characters, with many stories about them were Sir Lancelot, Sir Galahad, Sir Kay (Arthur’s step brother) and Sir Gawain.
Who was King Arthur
King Arthur is the hero of many legends. It is suggested that he lived in the 5th to 6th centuries and he united the British tribes against Saxon invaders. There were no writings fromthe times, but he does figure in some early Welsh tales. His legend, however, was really developed by Geoffrey of Monmouth, who lived in the first half of the 12th century, and who wrote ‘Historia Regum Britanniae’ (a History of British Kings) which featured King Arthur (among others) and many of the stories we know and love today.
According to Geoffrey, Arthur’s father was Uther Pendragon, who was helped by Merlin (see The Sword in the Stone) in the events that led to Arthur’s birth. Arthur’s famous sword was Excalibur and his wife was called Guinevere (though there are many spellings of this). Despite his many years defeating the Saxons, he was finally killed by his own son Mordred at the battle of Camlann.
Did Sir Percival have other adventures?
Finding the Holy Grail
Sir Percival had many adventures, one of them happening on his way to King Arthur’s court. His mother gave him a ring when he left, which he then exchanged for one on the finger of a sleeping lady – unaware that it is a magic ring.
Another story tells of his battle with Saracens in the Land of the Maidens. Yet another of his fight against a giant for his mother's ring.
Most famous of all, Percival went on the Quest of the Holy Grail, with all the Knights of the Round Table. Only 3 completed the quest, after many adventures, and they were Sir Galahad, Sir Bors the Younger and Sir Percival.