This page is intended to help you remember the main plot points of the Queste del Sant Graal. The page numbers refer to the beginning of the relevant section in our class text (if you've stumbled on this page from elsewhere, that's the Penguin translation by Pauline Matarasso, The Quest of the Holy Grail, Penguin, 1969). The illustrations are taken from manuscripts of Tristan and the Queste held by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France: the shelfmarks are BNF Manuscrits Français 97, 99, 101, 111, 112, 116, 120, 122; these are, with one exception, all French manuscripts of the 15th century. One manuscript (122) is from Hainault, and dates to the 14th century. You can see these and other images from manuscripts held by the Bibliothèque Nationale in two ways. One is to search Mandragore, the iconographic database of the Department of Manuscripts. The other is to visit Gallica, the digital library of the BNF. The BNF allows the use of digital images of public-domain items in its collection for non-commercial purposes, in accordance with French law and provided credit is given.


The Quest

for the

Holy Grail

L to R above: A composite illustration for the opening events; The envoy of King Pelles arrives at court to request Lancelot to accompany her into the forest, p. 31; The nuns present Galahad to his Lancelot (who does not yet know he is the boy's father), and request that Lancelot knight the youth, p. 32


L to R above: Lancelot knights Galahad, with Bors and Lionel in attendance, p. 32; At Arthur's request, Perceval tries to draw the sword from the block of marble: p. 36; The old man sent by King Pelles seats Galahad in the Siege Perilous, p. 37; Galahad draws the sword from the block of stone, p. 41


L to R above: Galahad defeats all the knights except Lancelot and Perceval in a tournament, p. 43; The Holy Grail appears at the feast, p. 44; Galahad takes the Grail oath, p. 50; by this point, he has been told by Guenevere that Lancelot is his father


L to R above: Galahad receives his shield, after King Baudemagus has been seriously wounded by the White Knight after carrying it off himself despite being warned not to, p. 55 (the shield had been kept in an abbey; here the monks watch as Galahad receives it); Galahad talks to the White Knight who guarded the shield, p. 58; the knight tells how the shield was marked by the blood of Josephus, the son of Joseph of Arimathea, and how King Evalach was told that the shield was destined for Galahad; Galahad raises the lid of the tomb and casts out the devil, p. 62; Galahad rides out with his new squire, Melias, son of the King of Denmark, p. 65


L to R above: Melias, who has taken the left-hand road despite the warning sign, is severely wounded; from p. 70 onwards, a monk explains to Melias that he was engaged in a combat against the Enemy (Satan); Galahad fights the seven brothers in order to liberate the Castle of Maidens, p. 73; Sir Gawain sets out on what will be a pretty unrewarding quest (for him), p. 76


L to R above: Gawain meets a monk, who calls him a bad and faithless servant, p.77; Lancelot sleeps outside a chapel while a knight is cured by the Grail, p. 83; A hermit explains to Lancelot the significance of his failure to see the Grail, and the meaning of the voice that called him "harder than stone, more bitter than wood, more barren and bare than the fig tree," p. 86


L to R above: It's a long explanation: Lancelot finally confesses his relationship with Guenevere, and vows to mend his ways, p. 94 Perceval encounters his aunt, once the Queen of the Wasteland, and now an anchoress, p. 95; Perceval's aunt fills him in (at length) about the history of the Grail and the role of the Round Table, p. 97; her information includes Merlin's prophecy that three men will succeed in the Grail quest, two virgins (Galahad and Perceval) and one chaste man (Bors); Galahad comes to Perceval's aid when the latter is beset, p. 109


L to R above: Perceval takes the part of a lion against a serpent, p. 114, thus proving that despite his lapse regarding the beautiful lady and the wondrous black horse (p. 112), he's not a total idiot A mysterious man appears to Perceval in the wilderness and tells him what his recent adventures mean, p. 120; this man appears to Perceval again and calls him "simple," p. 131, after our hero has narrowly avoided sleeping with a demon; Lancelot, after another chewing-out by a hermit, dons a hair shirt and rides out; he takes the part of the hard-pressed black knights when he comes upon a tournament outside a castle, p. 156; Wrong! A recluse (female this time), unfolds the allegorical meaning of the tournament for Lancelot on p. 158 (black = bad, at least this time)


L to R above: Lancelot finds himself trapped on the banks of the Median River, p. 161 (but see the boat-- this comes in a bit...); Gawain and Hector run into each other, and complain about the lack of adventures, p. 162; Gawain and Hector fall asleep, and dream of bulls in a field, p. 164; then they see a disembodied arm and a voice calls them "weak in faith and erring in belief," p. 165; Nascien the hermit explains to Gawain and Hector (who have just accidentally killed Owein the Bastard), what their dream and vision meant, and why everything is going so dreadfully wrong for them, p. 170


L to R above: Bors meets an old monk, p. 175, who tells him he will be one of the three to succeed in the Grail Quest; Bors, acting as champion to a woman disinherited by her sister, fights Priadan the Black, p. 186; Bors chooses to rescue a maiden who is about to be raped, rather than following after the men who have abducted and are beating his brother Lionel, p. 187 (Lionel will not be amused); Lionel beheads a hermit who is trying to prevent him from killing Bors (who has refused to fight his brother), p. 202


L to R above: Bors, Perceval, Galahad, and Perceval's sister sail off in the miraculous ship, p. 212, with its miraculous bed, whose spindles are made from the Tree of Life, p. 221; The legend of the Tree of Life is explained in a lengthy section that begins on p. 222; Solomon and his wife in the miraculous ship; Solomon places the sword on the foot of the bed, p. 233; the sword is destined for Galahad, and its belt will eventually be made from the hair of Perceval's sister, p. 236; Perceval's sister dies in surrendering her blood to the lady of a castle; the inhabitants of the castle are then punished for their pernicious custom by a fierce storm that utterly destroys the castle, p. 250


L to R above: The funeral boat of Perceval's sister arrives at the Median River and Lancelot, as instructed in a vision, boards, p. 255; Lancelot finally meets up with Galahad, and the two sail around together for more than six months, but eventually, Galahad disembarks, after warning his father to be mindful of himself, p. 259; Lancelot finally arrives at the Castle Corbenic, where he (naturally enough, one might think) takes his sword with him to guard against the lions; WRONG again, p. 260; Lancelot finally gets a partial vision of the Grail, p. 262, and then lies unconscious for 24 days


L to R above: King Mordrain, who has awaited Galahad's coming for many, many years, dies in Galahad's arms, p. 269; Bors, Perceval, and Galahad are reunited, and come to the Castle Corbenic, where Galahad restores the sword that was shattered when it wounded Joseph of Arimathea in the thigh, p. 272; Galahad and his companions are granted a vision of the Holy Grail, p. 274; Galahad and his companions take the Grail to the city of Sarras, p. 280


L to R at left: Galahad and the Grail heal a cripple, p. 281; After a year as king of Sarras, Galahad is permitted to look into the Grail; he then asks God's permission to die, and it is granted, p. 284; the Grail and the lance are taken up into heaven, Perceval lives in a hermitage for a year and three days and then days, after which Bors returns to King Arthur's court and relates the whole of the Adventures of the Holy Grail.

  Return to 344 syllabus page

  Return to Siân Echard's hub page

©Siân Echard. Not to be copied, used, or revised without explicit written permission from the copyright owner.