Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Liberal Studies

First Advisor

Carolyn M. Craft, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Rosemary Sprague, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

William L. Frank, Ph.D.


In this thesis I have researched the origin and development of the character of Lancelot . I have attempted to make intelligible analyses of contributions of his character to the development of Arthurian romance. In so doing , I have stressed the origin of his character according to the belief that Lancelot's antecedents lie in Celtic myth; I have outlined the role of Lancelot in certain medieval romances-- "Le Chevalier de la Charrette" by Chretien de Troyes and Le Morte D 'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory ; and , I have shown how the character of Lancelot illustrates and glorifies the congenial doctrines of amour courtois.

Since the first: use of the name "Lancelot" in the romances of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, his character has achieved wide spread fame , according to scholars such as R. M. Lumiansky, Eugene Vinaver, and R. S. Loomis, to the point of overshadowing the fame of Gawain. Lancelot ' s fame , of course , is partly due to Chretien and Malory , who place Lancelot; as the first knight of the Round Table. Both Chretien and Malory describe him as the epitome of chivalric heroism and of the ideal of courtly lovers.

My task, then, has been to show how Chretien and Malory portray Lancelot as the most noble knight in .Arthurian chivalry, the epitome of knightly virtuosity, and the ideal lover. The text of this thesis is divided into four chapters which deal with topics relevant to Lancelot: origin and source, medieval romance, characterization, and courtly love. In the pages which follow, I have focused attention on Lancelot and I have attempted to establish the importance of his character in the development of Arthurian legend.



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