Queste del Saint Graal (late 12th century)

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Queste del Saint Graal (late 12th century)


"Then came the king to Galahad and said: "Welcome, sire, for we have greatly yearned to see you. Now at last we have you here, thanks be to God and also to you who have deigned to come." "Sire," he replied, "I have come because I was bound to do so; for all those who are to be companions in the Quest of the Holy Grail must start from here, and the Quest will soon begin."

"Sire," said the king, "we had great need of your arrival for many reasons, both in order to terminate the great marvels of this land and to achieve an adventure which has this day come to us and 15 Quest of the Holy Grail in which the knights here have met defeat. But I know that you will not fail, for you are destined to succeed in the adventures where the others have failed. For this reason has God sent you to us, that you should accomplish what the others have had to leave undone."

"Sire," said Galahad, "where is this adventure of which you speak? I should be glad to see it." "I will show it to you," the king replied; then he took him by the hand and they went down from the palace, followed by all the other knights to see how the adventure of the stone would turn out. They all ran thither so that there did not remain behind a single knight in the entire palace. The news of this quickly reached the queen.

And as soon as she heard it, she had the food removed and said to four of the noblest ladies with her: "Fair ladies, come with me to the river, for I would not miss seeing the end of this adventure, if I can arrive in time." Then the queen went down from the palace and with her a great company of ladies and damsels. When the ladies had reached the water and the knights saw them approaching, they began to say: "Turn around, here is the queen!"

And all those who stood nearest made way for her. Then the king said to Galahad: "Sire, here is the adventure of which I told you. Some of the most valued knights of my household have to day failed to draw this sword out of this stone: they have failed utterly in their attempt." "Sire," said Galahad in reply, "that is not surprising, for the adventure was reserved for me, and not for them. And because I was sure to get this sword, I did not bring any to court, as you can see."

Then he stretched forth his hand and drew the sword from the stone as easily as if it had no hold there; then he took the scabbard and placed the sword in it. Then he girded it on him and said to the king: "Sire, now it is better placed than it was before. Now I lack nothing but a shield." "Fair sire," the king replied, "God will send you a shield from some source, as He has sent you a sword."


The author of the passage is Walther Map, also known by his French name Gautier Map, a Welshman born in England circa 1140.  He was a notable clergyman and writer and wrote histories in Latin.  The passage above tells the story of how Sir Galahad was given the quest to find the Holy Grail just shortly after his arrival at Camelot by pulling a sword from a stone in the lake.  This echoes the origin of King Arthur, famous for pulling the sword from the stone winning the right to rule over Camelot.  The passage states that many in Arthur’s court failed to draw the blade from the stone before, indicating that it was God’s desire for Galahad and Galahad alone to be the one to undertake the quest.  The original story of the Quest for the Holy Grail is much different from what is more commonly known, with Galahad being the one to undertake the quest from God instead of Arthur.  Galahad is already a lesser-known member of Arthur’s court compared to figures such as Lancelot and Bedevere and, in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, he is only given a single scene.  But in this story of the quest, it falls to Galahad to carry out this important task.  


Gautier Map (c. 1140 – c. 1210)


Comfort, W.W., trans. Queste del Saint Graal. By Gautier Map. Old French Series, Cambridge, Ontario, 2000.


In Parentheses Publications


late 12th century


Michael Esposito


In Parentheses Publications




Primary Source Text


Gautier Map (c. 1140 – c. 1210), “Queste del Saint Graal (late 12th century),” Medieval Hollywood, accessed June 16, 2024,

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