Session: Arthurian Horses


Dr Anastasija Ropa


Dr Joseph M. Sullivan

Dr Eleana Creazzo

Dr Sandy Feinstein


Horses in the Middle Ages were a means of transport, but, in the world of chivalry, they were also powerful symbolic vehicles. An Arthurian knight would be judged not only by his clothes but also, and firstly, by the horse he rode: thus, Chrètien de Troyes’s Perceval is ridiculed for riding an old piebald mare, whereas Chrètien Sir Lancelot (in The Knight of the Cart) undergoes the utter humiliation of being driven in a cart pulled by a nag. On the more positive side, the knights at the height of their glory ride powerful white destriers, and ladies are seated on elegant palfreys, bedecked with colourful equipment.

viviane and lancelot

Paris, BNF, f. français 111, fol. 23v. Viviane retains Lancelot


The session on Arthurian horses explores the variety of meanings given to horses in the medieval Arthuriana. The individual papers are devoted to the appearance and significance of horses in the English (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Thomas Malory’s Morte d’Arthur), French (La Queste del Saint Graal), Welsh (Y Seint Greal) and Middle Dutch (Lancelot Compilation) romances. Meanwhile, medieval Latin and French texts outside the canon of Arthurian romances often associate certain places with the Arthurian tradition; interestingly, the legend of Arthur in the Etna Volcano in Sicily brings horses to the foreground, highlighting the symbolic importance of horses in the medieval Arthuriana.


About thegrailquest

Anastasija Ropa holds a doctoral degree from Bangor University (North Wales), for a study in medieval and modern Arthurian literature. She has published a number of articles on medieval and modern Arthurian literature, focusing on its historical and artistic aspects. She is currently employed as guest lecturer at the Latvian Academy of Sport Education. Anastasija’s most recent research explores medieval equestrianism in English and French literary art and literature, and she is also engaged as part-time volunteer horse-trainer. In a nutshell: Lecturer at the Latvian Academy of Sport Education Graduate of the School of English, University of Wales, Bangor. Graduate of the University of Latvia Passionate about history, particularly the Middle Ages A horse-lover and horse-owner
This entry was posted in Academic life, Arthurian Literature, conference, equestrian history, Medieval animals, Medieval horses, Medieval Literature, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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