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Sir Gaheris
Arthurian Literary Character

Sir Gaheris was the son of King Lot of Orkney and/or Lothian. He first appears in Arthurian tradition accompanying his mother, Morgause, to the court of King Arthur at an early age. It was during this visit that his brother Mordred was conceived. After his father's death, the youthful Gaheris and his elder brothers returned to court. Gawain was knighted and Gaheris served as his squire in many heroic adventures. However, they appear to have exacted revenge on their father's slayer, King Pellinore of Listinoire, by killing him through less than honourable means. 

The family feud continued in the next generation when Gaheris' misguided mother took Pellinore's son, Lamorak, as her lover. Gaheris followed them and, catching the couple in flagrante delicto, sliced off Morgause's head! Lamorak initially escaped but was later ambushed by the brothers and killed. Gaheris' exploits continued with the rescue of his brothers from Newcastle, the liberation of Gawain & Morholt from the Rock of Maidens and the killing of the giant, Aupatris. He was a great friend of Percevale and supported Tristram in his quarrels with King Mark of Cornwall.

Gaheris appears to have been quite the ladies' man. His official sweetheart was the Damoiselle de la Blanche Lande, but this did not prevent him courting other beauties. He fought the Cornish knight, Matto le Breune, and stole his lover away, sending the the Cornishman out of his mind. He eventually married the Damsel Savage, Lynet. Another side to his character shows he was also very charitable towards the poor. He once accidentally frightened a commoner who left his donkey and fled into the woods. Returning to find the beast of burden devoured by wolves, he had lost his means of livelihood. Gaheris therefore requested his host to give the man a horse.

Gaheris tried to prevent his brother, Mordred, from revealing Queen Guinevere's affair with Lancelot. After her eventual downfall, King Arthur asked Gawain to escort her to her execution stake. He refused and suggested his brothers, Gaheris and Gareth, instead. They reluctantly complied, but were killed in the fighting when Lancelot's party attacked their armed guard and rescued the Queen. Gaheris was later buried with his brother, Gawain, at Dover Castle.

In origin, Gaheris appears to have been a little known British character named Gwalchafed, a son of King Lot Luwddoc of Gododdin.

 

    Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.