Lancelot: Or, the Knight of the Cart

Lancelot: Or, the Knight of the Cart Character List

Lady Champagne

The Lady Champagne (or the Countess Marie de Champagne) was the author's patroness. She was the eldest daughter of King Louis VII and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Chrétien indicates that she not only commissioned the work, but supplied the plot as well.


Chrétien de Troyes is the romance's author. He frequently interjects directly into the narrative, commenting on the meaning of specific incidents or explaining the limits of his omniscience. He ceases composes the poem about 1000 lines from the end.

King Arthur

King Arthur is a minor character in Lancelot. He is peripherally important, since it is his wife Guinevere whose kidnap sets the plot in motion, but he himself remains marginal.


Kay, King Arthur's steward, instigates the romance's action by threatening to leave Arthur unless the king allows him to rescue Guinevere from Méléagant. Ultimately, he is defeated by Méléagant and imprisoned in Gorre until Lancelot arrives.


Guinevere is King Arthur's wife and queen, and Lancelot's adulterous lover. She is kidnapped by Méléagant, and kept in a tower until rescued. Her affair with Lancelot provides the protagonist's primary motivation, and allows Chrétien his most in-depth commentary in the romance.


Méléagant, the combative and rash son of King Bademagu, kidnaps Guinevere and imprisons King Arthur's people. Driven by malice, he is the romance's villain and a foil to Lancelot, who is driven by love.

Count Guinables

The count is a member of Arthur's court who overhears Guinevere speak regretful words of love before leaving with Sir Kay to find Méléagant.


Sir Gawain is a knight of Arthur's court who, along with Lancelot, pursues Méléagant to rescue the Queen. Though less successful than Lancelot, he proves himself quite reasonable and brave. Gawain is also Arthur's nephew.


Lancelot is the romance's brave protagonist, and Queen Guinevere's adulterous lover. He is the strongest knight in the land, though he also proves his worthiness in love by suffering shame that most courtly knights would avoid, like riding in a cart or purposefully losing in a battle. Lancelot is the main vehicle through which Chrétien explores the meaning of honor and shame, of chivalry and the balance between love and reason.

the cart dwarf

The cart dwarf drives the pillory cart into which Lancelot jumps.

the lady with the bed

This is lady is one of many beautiful women who exhibits hospitality towards Lancelot. It is at her house that Lancelot is nearly struck by a flaming spear after he chooses to sleep in the forbidden bed.

King Bademagu

King Bademagu (sometimes spelled King Bademaguz) is the honorable, reasonable and gracious king of Gorre. He is completely different from his son, Méléagant, who is treacherous, conniving, and dishonorable. The king is often presented as an embodiment of Reason.

a little girl with news

This little girl is one of the several girls who appears to help Lancelot over the course of the romance. She tells Lancelot about the dangerous bridges that lead to Méléagant's land. In return, Lancelot later grants her the favor of sparing the dangerous sentinel's life.

the dangerous sentinel

This sentinel tries to attack Lancelot after the knight does not heed his orders to stop before approaching a river. After they battle, Lancelot spares his life at the request of a little girl with news.

elegantly dressed woman

This beautiful woman offers Lancelot hospitality on the condition that he sleep with her. After staging a rape to test his honor and realizing that he loves another, she allows him to break his promise, and leaves him to sleep alone.

a rapist knight

Though actually a member of the elegantly dressed woman's household, this knight pretends to assault her in order to test Lancelot's honor.

the suitor knight

This foolhardy knight challenges Lancelot for possession of the elegantly dressed woman, but is never allowed to fight for the opportunity, largely at the restraint of his father.

the suitor knight's father

The suitor knight's father both forcefully and reasonably restrains his son from battling the obviously superior Lancelot. Their relationship foreshadows that between King Bademagu and Méléagant.

an elderly monk

This ancient monk shows Lancelot the huge tombstone, which the knight miraculously lifts.

the hunting knight

This knight invites Lancelot to his home for dinner and lodging. The hunting knight's sons accompany Lancelot as he continues onwards to Gorre.

knight of the Stony Path

This knight wears shiny new armor, but he and his companions stand at the Stony Path only as a threat; they do not even touch Lancelot and his companions as they cross the path.

a treacherous squire

This man offers hospitality to Lancelot and company, but truly means to capture them. They follow him into the castle prison, from which they escape to join the battle for freedom from Gorre.

a gracious lady and her lord

This couple offers hospitality to Lancelot and company after they escape from prison and fight for the people of Logres.

an arrogant knight

This knight interrupts Lancelot's dinner with a gracious lady and her lord, to mock him. His animosity leads to two battles, after which Lancelot kills him at the behest of Méléagant's sister.

Méléagant's sister

Méléagant's sister appears twice, riding a tawny mule in both instances. In the first instance, she is unnamed and asks him to give her the arrogant knight's head. Later, she frees Lancelot from her brother's imprisonment, and restores his health.

old Christian man

King Bademagu send this healer to repair Lancelot's wounds sustained at the Sword Bridge before the knight battles Méléagant.

a wise girl

This girl reminds Lancelot that Guinevere is watching his battle against Méléagant, knowing that it will empower him.

devious dwarf

This dwarf imprisons Lancelot on Méléagant's orders, by lying to Lancelot about where Gawain has been trapped.

Lancelot's jailer

The jailer is a steward of Méléagant's.

the jailer's wife

This woman allows Lancelot to temporarily leave imprisonment to compete in the tournament at Noauz.

Lady of Noauz

The lady of Noauz and the lady of Pomelegoi host the tournament at which Guinevere learns that Lancelot is still alive.

Lady of Pomelegoi

The lady of Pomelegoi and the lady of Noauz host the tournament at which Guinevere learns that Lancelot is still alive.

rascally herald

The rascally herald identifies Lancelot at the tournament, and spreads word that this new knight will "cut [the others] down." Though this does not reveal Lancelot's identity, it does create a sense of expectation amongst the other competitors.

a young messenger girl

This "quick-witted" and "sensible" girl instructs Lancelot to fight badly at the tournament of Nouaz, so that Guinevere can confirm that it is indeed him. She later retracts those orders, and Lancelot triumphs.

tournament ladies

These ladies organize the tournament at Noauz to find husbands. They are smitten with Lancelot when he fights well, but despise him when he begins to lose.

the hunting knight's sons

These young men, from Logres but imprisoned in Gorre, accompany Lancelot as his squires after Lancelot lodges with their father.

Godfrey of Lagny

This storyteller finishes the story once Chrétien abandons it.