Sir Galahad

Sir Galahad was the son of Sir Lancelot and Elaine. His name may be of Welsh origin or come from the place name of Gilead in Palestine. Born out of wedlock, he was placed in a nunnery as a child being that the abbess there was his great aunt.

On one occasion a “sword in a stone” was seen in a river by King Arthur’s knights and legend stated that only the world’s best knight could pull out the sword. Galahad was led into King Arthur’s court where he sat in the Siege Perilous (the vacant seat at the Round Table reserved for the Knight who would one day be successful at recovering the Holy Grail). Following his seat at the Round Table, Galahad then drew the sword from the stone. Years later while at Arthur’s Court, the Holy Grail appeared in a vision to Galahad and showed him that he was one of the three knights chosen to undertake the Quest for the Holy Grail. He was given a white shield, made by Evelake with a red cross which Joseph of Arimathea had drawn in blood. In the course of his Quest he joined up with Sir Percivale, Sir Bors de Ganis, and Percivale’s sister. Once on board Solomon’s ship, Sir Galahad obtained the Sword of David, and after the death of Percivale’s sister the trio split up for a while and Galahad traveled with his father, Sir Lancelot.

Sir Galahad of Legend

All of the Knights of the Round Table embarked on the Grail quest at first, but only three of the knights persevered together… When Galahad, Bors de Ganis and Percivale rejoined forces they traveled to Carbonek and discovered the Grail together. Sir Galahad mended the broken sword, and therefore, He was allowed to see the Grail. After seeing the Holy Grail, Galahad requested of Joseph of Arimathea that he die, which request was granted unto him. Galahad was always known as the “Perfect Knight” – perfect in courage, gentleness, courtesy, and chivalry.

Galahad was always known as the “Perfect Knight” – perfect in courage, gentleness, courtesy, and chivalry.

Eventually, Bors left Galahad and Percivale to take Percivale’s sister’s body back to England, and so Galahad and Percivale traveled alone together. According to legend, after bidding farewell to Percivale, Galahad ascends to heaven with the angels, and thus never truly dies. Well before Galahad’s birth, Merlin had prophesied of Galahad, telling Uther Pendragon that one would come who would “fill the table of Joseph”, but he had not yet been born.

“How Galahad drew out the sword from the floating stone at Camelot.” Arthur Rackham’s illustration for Alfred W. Pollard’s The Romance of King Arthur (1917).

According to History

The addition of Galahad to the Arthurian legends was done relatively later in the traditions. Galahad isn’t mentioned in any of the early works, including the writings of Chrétien de Troyes, but does appear later on in the 13th-century Old French Arthurian epic, the interconnected set of romances known as the Vulgate Cycle.

Sir Galahad may have originally come from the fourth book of the Vulgate Cycle, which was derived from the Cistercian Order. As a matter of fact, St. Bernard of Clairvaux is often credited with the creation of the monastic knight, who displays “ideal chivalry” and is referred to in his work on the Knights Templar.