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Free MonkeyNotes-The Once and Future King-T.H. White
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Chapter 8

Summary and Notes

Lancelot has a few other adventures that the author relates in this chapter. White introduces a group called the Force Majeur, which the old school nobility. These are the people that Arthur is trying to reform, and it is clear at this point that a big part of Lancelotís role is to suppress and reprimand these men.

One day he is riding along and a lost falcon perches on a tree above him. A woman comes, frantic for her bird, and asks Lancelot to retrieve it for him. She tells Lancelot that her husband will kill her if she loses the falcon. Lancelot reluctantly agrees to retrieve the bird from the tree.

Once he is up in the tree, he realizes that he will not be able to climb down with only one hand available, and he asks the woman for help. Suddenly, a fat knight appears and exclaims that he will now kill Lancelot. Lancelot infers that the man and his wife have tricked him. He tells the knight that it is unchivalrous to fight an unarmed man, and he asks that the man let him arm himself. The fat man refuses, and Lancelot slits his throat with a tree bough.

On Lancelotís last adventure he encounters a man who is chasing a helpless damsel on a horse. Lancelot stops them and the man tells him that his wife has been cheating on him and thatís why he needs to kill her. Lancelot informs the man that since King Arthur, men are not allowed to kill women. The man decapitates his wife while Lancelot is not looking, jumps off his horse, throws his armor away and pleads for mercy. Lancelot is forced to have mercy on the murderer because he is unarmed, and arranges to bring him back to Camelot as a prisoner.


These two adventures are noteworthy because they show deftly the rigors of the new chivalry. A knight must help a woman, whether he feels like it or not, and he may not kill an unarmed man, no matter how justified the killing may seem.

Lancelot returns to Camelot for Pentecost. Arthur has deemed the annual Pentecost feast as the time when the knights return to share their tales of chivalry. This year is the first year when Lancelot has returned from his own adventures, and he clearly outshines the other knights. In fact, the reader should remember that he has rescued several of the knights - most importantly from the Orkney faction. All of his captives, and all of his prisoners, and all of the knights who had yielded to him or been rescued by him are sent to Camelot, and they all kneel at Gueneverís feet for her sentence.

Lancelotís prowess is of course striking and impressive to Guenever, and the effect this has on her feelings for him is detailed in the following chapter.

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