Lancelot: Knight of the Cart by Chrétien de Troyes

Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart by Chretien de Troyes

Lancelot sacrifices his honor and suffers an arduous journey to rescue the abducted Queen Guinevere–the lady he loves more than his own life.
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Title: Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart
Author: Chretien de Troyes
Translator: W.W. Comfort
Type: Epic Poem
Genre: Arthurian Romance
Written: France, Circa 1170
English Translation Published: 1914
Text: Four Arthurian Romances
Audio Duration: Approximately 6.5 hours
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When Queen Guinevere is abducted by the villain Meleagant, Lancelot races to rescue her.  He suffers many trials, fights countless foes, and risks his reputation for the woman he loves more than his own life.  Will he survive and save his Queen?

Section Summaries:


Duration: 00:17:27 (about 17 minutes)
File Size: 16 MB
Download: Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart – Introduction – MP3

Lancelot was one of four Arthurian Romances written by the twelfth century poet Chrétien de Troyes about 1170.  Chrétien borrowed the story of Arthur from celtic mythology and set his legendary court in his time.  This work was originally written in French and was translated by W.W. Comfort into English in 1914.  Comfort introduces the literary landscape of the French poet de Troyes in order to reveal how much those of the Round Table were steeped in a chivalric code, which was more idealistic than realistic, but still fascinates nonetheless.

Part One

Duration: 00:31:27 (about 30 minutes)
File Size: 28.8 MB
Download: Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart – Part One – MP3

A villainous knight disturbs the court of King Arthur and proclaims that he is holding knights and ladies hostage. He challenges Arthur to send his Queen under the escort of one of his knights in order to free them. Kay tricks Arthur into letting him take Guinevere into the forest alone to meet the challenge.

Gawain rushes to follow them and meets up with Lancelot who rides two horses to death to pursue Guinevere. The two men begin a perilous quest to free the Queen. Gawain is driven by chivalry, while Lancelot is driven by a consuming love for his lady. Against all reason and the code of conduct for a knight, Lancelot rides in a cart, which is reserved for lowly criminals. He will suffer any penalty, or shame, to save the Queen.


Begins with a discussion of courtly love and chivalry and how they impact the story. Also contrasts the two heroic knights Gawain, who is rational, and Lancelot, who is emotional. Both are renowned in battle and beloved of King Arthur, yet Lancelot is love sick for Queen Guinevere. Gawain is not willing to debase himself in order to save the Queen, whereas Lancelot will do anything.

Also, the author Chrétien de Troyes makes a point to say that the Countess Marie, his patroness, provided the material and manner of telling the story. Is he just flattering her? Is he trying to avoid responsibility for this story? We have no answer, but it does color the way in which we interpret the text.

Part Two

Duration: 00:24:41 (about 25 minutes)
File Size: 22.6 MB
Download: Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart – Part Two – MP3

Lancelot and Gawain awake the next day and are treated very courteously by the damsel. While they are looking out from the tower, they see Queen Guinevere being led by her horse’s reign. When the Queen moves out of Lancelot’s site, he almost throws himself off of the tower.

Gawain and Lancelot set off in the direction the Queen was taken and meet a damsel. She forces them to swear an oath to her before she will tell them where the Queen is held hostage and how to get there. The Knights swear and she tells them they must take either the Water Bridge, or the Sword Bridge. Either way is perilous and they must suffer much to reach the kingdom of Bademagu where the villain Meleagant has taken the Queen.

The two knights separate and take either route. Alone, and lost in thought, Lancelot encounters a knight who guards a ford. The knight warns him not to come near, but Lancelot doesn’t even hear him. This spells trouble for the love-sick Lancelot.


Special thanks to Professor Alan Baragona of the VMI for his help with the proper pronunciations for Bademagu and Meleagant.  (Modern French:  Do not pronounce; make a nasal sound. Old French:  Do pronounce).

  • Bah-day-MAH-gu
  • MELL-ee-ah-gaunt

Part Three

Duration: 00:33:17 (about 30 minutes)
File Size: 30.5 MB
Download: Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart – Part Three – MP3

Lancelot departs from the Knight of the ford and the damsel. He continues his quest for the Queen and comes across another damsel. She gladly offers him her hospitality, but only upon the condition that he will lie with her.

Lancelot has no choice but to do her bidding. Yet, little does Lancelot realize, the damsel has more in store for him than he expects. A surprise assault forces Lancelot to face several knights in battle. He hesitates, but he proves he is strong and skilled.

Lancelot will fulfill his promise to the damsel, though his heart is heavy. The damsel asks him, if he is willing to escort her for a while along his journey. Lancelot consents to take her under his protection and now he sets off in the company of the winsome damsel.

Part Four

Duration: 00:32:01 (about 30 minutes)
File Size: 29.3 MB
Download: Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart – Part Four – MP3

Lancelot awakes in a hurry to resume his quest for Guinevere. The winsome damsel asks him to escort her along his journey and to promise that he will observe the old customs. Lancelot promises to protect her and will not harm her according to custom. They ride off together.

A knight who loves the damsel tries to take her away from Lancelot who will not give her to him. The other knight challenges Lancelot who accepts. They ride to an open field where the knight’s father and numerous ladies and men are playing games.

The knight’s father does not believe that the damsel wants to be with him, nor does he want his son to fight Lancelot, because he knows that Lancelot is more skilled. He forces his son to bend to his will. Still, he and his son follow Lancelot and the damsel.

Lancelot discovers a church and enters to pray. A monk tells him about a sarcophagus reserved only for a strong man who may lift the heavy stone lid and free all those imprisoned. Lancelot proves his greatness.

Part Five

Duration: 00:46:09 (about 46 minutes)
File Size: 42.2 MB
Download: Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart – Part Five – MP3

Lancelot travels alone in his quest for Queen Guinevere. He meets a vavasor (a feudal tenant) and his family who offer him hospitality. Lancelot discovers that they are fellow countrymen from Logres and have been held prisoners in this land. Two of his sons accompany Lancelot through the stony passage where they meet with opposition and fight.

The three men continue onward and are led into a trap, but soon break free and discover a thousand men engaged in a fierce battle. They fight alongside other men from Logres and Lancelot is the hero of the day.

Lancelot is offered hospitality and is much admired. Yet, trouble once again comes to Lancelot, when a rather haughty knight challenges him. When Lancelot defeats the knight, he begs for mercy. However, a fair maiden appears on the scene to offer Lancelot a reward for giving her his head. Whose plea will Lancelot satisfy?

Part Six

Duration: 00:27:02 (about 27 minutes)
File Size: 24.7 MB
Download: Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart – Part Six – MP3

Lancelot and his two companions journey to the Sword Bridge. It is perilous and the two brothers are fearful for Lancelot’s safety, as it looks impossible to cross. The bridge is suspended over a raging stream and is as sharp as a sword the length of two lances. Worse still, two lions are tied up on the other side. Lancelot is not discouraged, but will he survive the treacherous pass and the beasts that guard the way to the kingdom of Bademagu?

Lancelot manages to cross the bridge, though he is badly cut and bleeding. He discovers that the lions are not real and that they were all under an enchantment. His ring from the Lady of the Lake helped him to uncover the spell.

King Bademagu and his villainous son Meleagant see Lancelot approaching and witness his valorous deed. Bademagu pleads with his son to hand the Queen over peaceably to Lancelot, but Meleagant will not give her up without a fight.

Bademagu sympathizes with Lancelot and offers him aid and protection and warns that his son will fight him for the Queen. Lancelot does not wish to delay, but the King urges him to wait until the next day and calls his doctor to assist him.

Meleagant is resentful of his father’s interest in Lancelot and is anxious to battle him. Still, Bademagu tries to stop his son again to no avail. Meleagant wants a fight and so does Lancelot. Spectators come from all around to witness the great conflict, while Lancelot rests for the night.

Part Seven

Duration: 00:19:07 (about 20 minutes)
File Size: 17.5 MB
Download: Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart – Part Seven – MP3

Lancelot and Meleagant engage in battle. Lancelot, still weak from his wounds, struggles to fight his foe. Guinevere watches the skirmish from a tower and is out of Lancelot’s sight, until a wise maiden asks the Queen for his name and shouts to Lancelot. He looks up and sees the Queen and is invigorated, but distracted. The maiden again shouts to Lancelot to alter his fighting. Lancelot heeds her counsel and gains the advantage over Meleagant.

King Bademagu is distressed to see his son get beaten by Lancelot. He beseeches the Queen to tell Lancelot to stop fighting Meleagant. She grants his request and Lancelot willingly obeys his Lady’s command. Yet, the villainous Meleagant attacks Lancelot. The king is angered by his son’s act and orders his barons to take him away. Then it is decided that the battle will be postponed for a year and will be held at the court of King Arthur.

Part Eight

Duration: 00:34:09 (about 34 minutes)
File Size: 31.2 MB
Download: Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart – Part Eight – MP3

Lancelot reunites with Queen Guinevere, but she is not pleased to see him and gives him a cold reception. Lancelot is dumbfounded and King Bademagu wonders why she treats him so badly. Then, the King escorts Lancelot to Kay the seneschal.

Kay tells Lancelot he is embarrassed that he could not do what Lancelot achieved. He also wonders why Guinevere was cool to him. Lancelot decides to search for Gawain, but he is abducted by natives who believe the King would approve.

A false report of Lancelot’s death reaches Guinevere who wants to kill herself, yet decides she should live and suffer for treating him so badly. Then, Lancelot hears that the Queen was dead and he attempts suicide by hanging himself from his saddlebow. Those near him save him from death, which upsets him. Yet, he learns that the Queen is alive and he is glad. She too learns that he is alive and is glad.

The two finally meet alive and well and Guinevere informs Lancelot that she was upset that he hesitated to mount the cart. Lancelot is repentant and Guinevere forgives him. They plan to meet later that night by a window, where Guinevere is held under guard.

Part Nine

Duration: 00:25:27 (about 25 minutes)
File Size: 23.3 MB
Download: Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart – Part Nine – MP3

Lancelot meets the Queen outside her prison where iron bars in the window stand between them and frustrate their mutual desire to be together.  Additionally, Kay the wounded seneschal sleeps in the room.  Yet, Lancelot declares that the bars will not prevent him from entering, unless the Queen forbids it.

Guinevere gladly invites Lancelot to her bed.  He tears the iron bars out of the window and injures two fingers.  Yet, Lancelot does not even notice his bleeding wounds, as he is completely fixated upon the Queen.  The two finally and joyfully consummate their forbidden love.

Then, Lancelot leaves and returns the iron bars, so that it looks as though no one entered.  However, his bloody fingers stained the Queen’s sheets.  Meleagant visits her the next day and notices the blood.  He accuses the Queen and Kay of misconduct, as Kay’s wounds bled during the night and the circumstantial evidence is strong.

Meleagant demands to fight Kay, yet King Bademagu determines that he is too weak to fight.  Guinevere summons a knight to fight on his behalf.  It is Lancelot who appears to fight Meleagant in defense of Kay and the Queen.  He and Meleagant battle, yet Bademagu once again pleads with the Queen to command her knight to stop.  Bademagu then convinces his vengeful son to wait for the arranged battle at Arthur’s court.

Part Ten

Duration: 00:24:45 (about 25 minutes)
File Size: 22.6 MB
Download: Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart – Part Ten – MP3

Lancelot and other men-at-arms, head to the water bridge to find Gawain. Yet, a dwarf tricks Lancelot into going with him; and leads Lancelot into prison. The men are grief-stricken and tell Gawain what happened. They beseech King Bademagu to assist them.

The King and Queen Guinevere are also full of sorrow, yet, a forged letter appearing to be from Lancelot, states that he is well and at home in King Arthur’s court; and that the Queen should be escorted home by Gawain and Kay. They are all jubilant.

However, upon returning to Arthur’s court, they soon discover the deception and realize that Lancelot is a prisoner held by Meleagant. The Queen is once again quite unhappy, yet she agrees to attend a tournament organized by ladies who wish to marry the best men. Lancelot wishes to attend also, so he convinces the lady where he is held under guard to let him leave, for he swears he will return and fulfill the oath he made to her.

Part Eleven

Duration: 00:24:57 (about 25 minutes)
File Size: 22.8 MB
Download: Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart – Part Eleven – MP3

The tournament begins. Lancelot’s identity is known only to the herald. He battles so well that he becomes the favorite.

Yet, Queen Guinevere sends one of her ladies to command the strange knight to do his worst. Lancelot willingly obeys her order. When he next participates, he intentionally loses and acts cowardly. He is berated by the other knights.

The Queen knows this is her Lancelot, who has passed her test, and she then sends word that he should do his best. He suddenly becomes the best of all the knights and beloved by the ladies who wish to marry him. Yet, Lancelot disappears and returns to his captors. All of the ladies are unhappy and say they will not marry anyone that year.


Special thanks to the Podsafe Music Network at for the use of: Pathetique Piano Sonata, mvt. 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven – Played by Mario Ajero.

Part Twelve

Duration: 00:33:42 (about 33 minutes)
File Size: 30.8 MB
Download: Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart – Part Twelve – MP3

Lancelot returns to his captor, but Meleagant is not satisfied. He orders builders to construct a tower on a small island. Lancelot is then sealed up into this tower, which only has a tiny opening to pass food through.

Meleagant presents himself at the court of King Arthur, as agreed upon, though he knows Lancelot is incapable of attending the fight. He then states he will return in one year. Gawain vows that if Lancelot does not appear, he will fight in his place.

Meleagant boasts of his ability to scare off Lancelot, but King Bademagu does not believe Lancelot would run in fear of his son. Meleagant’s sister is also certain that Lancelot is held captive somewhere. As Lancelot once did her a favor, so too will she. She sets out alone like a knight on a quest and, in an act of chivalry, she rescues Lancelot from his prison.


Special thanks to the Podsafe Music Network at: for the use of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Played by Everly.

Part Thirteen

Duration: 00:23:27 (about 23 minutes)
File Size: 21.5 MB
Download: Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart – Part Thirteen – MP3

All are gathered for the much-anticipated battle between Lancelot and Meleagant. However, there is still no sign of Lancelot. Gawain arms himself to fight in his stead, which pleases Meleagant.

Just as Gawain is about to take to the field, Lancelot appears and claims his right to duel with the villain who has caused him so much shame. Meleagant is shocked to see Lancelot whom he believed to be still captive in the tower. He soliloquizes his anger, confusion, and worry. Yet, Meleagant is as determined to kill Lancelot, as Lancelot is to kill him.


This episode marks the final installment of the story of Lancelot. Special thanks to the Podsafe Music Network at: for the use of KIN Theme Full (For The Trailer) by Joseph Rivera


Lancelot Links:

Medieval Music (French):

Pastourelle by Fortune’s Wheel