Worldbuilding Wednesday 1/5/22: Ladies of Arthurian Romance

Detail of God Speed, by Edmund Leighton (1900)

The women of King Arthur’s Court did not go on grand quests like the men did, but for their comparatively fewer numbers, they were big big drivers of the plots. In the most familiar version of the Camelot story, Guinevere cheats on Arthur with Sir Lancelot, creating a major conflict; likewise, Morgan le Fay, Arthur’s half-sister, has a one-night stand with him, birthing his illegitimate, incestuous son, Mordred, who becomes Arthur’s downfall. Vivien (sometimes known as Nimue or Ninianne) was a beautiful sorceress who was generous enough to give Arthur a sword, but later became the downfall of Merlin when the old wizard’s sexual pursuit began to annoy her. Other characters are Igraine, who was Arthur’s mother, and Morgause and Elaine, his sisters.

Like the knights, many ladies in chivalric romance were referred to by sobriquets. Vivien was known as The Lady of the Lake, and Elaine, The Lily Maid of Astolat and The Lady of the Pale Hands. The latter sounds odd and horrific to us today, but in Medieval times, having pale hands meant a woman did not have to work at rough labor in the field, which meant she was a highbred lady of quality.

Other ladies might be compared to flowers or jewels. Some were referred to by a certain item of dress, like C. S. Lewis’ character pastiche The Lady of the Green Kirtle in The Silver Chair, or even by what they lacked (The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy.)

The world can always use more Medieval ladies, so here’s a list.


Ladies of Arthur’s Court

Angrova of the Languid Neck

Lady Bleona

Lady Ulrynne

Lady Pelleviene of the Virgin Lips

Lady Ouidna

The Lonely Maid of Plumford

Queen Sigthra

Anvienne the Pure

Eldenore of the Golden Tower

Amadabella, the Lady without a Heart

The Dark Lady of Withywood

Lady Claudana

Maid of the White Arms

The Maiden of the Golden Slippers

The Maiden of the Iron Hood

Beldisoma Long-Hair

The Pallid Maid Of Pursewood

Lady Sigraine

Lady Damvra

Lady Glestrice

Queen Urna The Prideful

Queen Murriana

Saint Agnelyn of the Burnt Bosom

Yglieve of the Winter Hair

Saint Salgriana of the Gentle Panther

Brandwynn, The Lioness of Graffich

Henriana of the Dark Ruby

Luthsona, The Faithful Rose

Lyonriana, The Maiden Without Guile

Lady Blandnes

Hetwynd the Pale


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