The Court of King Arthur in the Tales of Lanval and Sir Gawain the Green Knight
King Arthur shows to be a very provident king who treats his people with a large amount
of his riches and fortune. Additionally, the people of his court show to be honest, full of chivalry,
and trustworthy. There would seem to be a sort of contract between the king and his subjects: he
provides for them, and they, as his most loyal subjects, keep to his standards of honor and
civility. The court of King Arthur as described in the tale of Lanval by Marie de France shows to
be actually quite similar to the court described in the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
Although the characters themselves are in different situations and are treated differently by the
king, the principles of the court remain the same.
As any great king would do, King Arthur shares and rewards his gold, riches, property,
and material wealth to the members of his court. However, in the tale of Lanval, Arthur tends to
ignore Lanval and give him nothing. The people of his court tend not to like Lanval because they
envy his beauty and "feign[…] the appearance of love" for him (Marie 24). Although the king
tends to pay very little attention to Lanval, he continues to be presented as a king of great fortune
and who shares –– for the most part –– with the people of his court, rewarding all of the other
knights and courtiers in his court, but he neglects to accept the fact that Lanval is even in his
presence: "[Arthur] gave out many gifts: / to counts and barons, / ………. / to all but one who
had served him. / That was Lanval; Arthur forgot him, / and none of his men favored him
either." (Marie 13-20). Be this as it may, Arthur is still thought of by his people to be a generous
In the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, King Arthur does not tend to be as
neglecting to Sir Gawain and continues to be quite generous to his people, allowing his court to
dine with him and share in his festivities. The king invites the men of his courts, "many mighty
lords, many liegemen" to a "splendid celebration" during Christmas time (Sir 38-40). Like a
good king, Arthur continues to treat his men to a banquet and to many festivities. In fact, in an
act of good faith, "Arthur would not eat until all were served." (Sir 85). In both tales, Arthur
shows to be a very noble, generous, and giving king who cares about his people –– with the
exception of the way he treats Lanval.
Another similarity of court life present in both tales is the honesty of courtly men.
Chivalry and honesty are large parts of a knight's code of honor. Both men hold themselves to
high courtly standards. Lanval is faced with the dilemma of breaking his promise to protect the
identity of his...