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King Lot: Wikis


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Lot or Loth is the eponymous king of Lothian in the Arthurian legend, best known as the father of Sir Gawain. The first references to such a ruler appear in the early hagiographical material concerning Saint Kentigern (also known as Saint Mungo), which mention a Leudonus, king of Leudonia, a Latin name for Lothian. Later, Geoffrey of Monmouth included a Lot, king of Lothian in his influential chronicle Historia Regum Britanniae, portraying him as King Arthur's brother-in-law and ally. In the wake of Geoffrey Lot appeared regularly in later romance.

Lot chiefly figures as king of Lothian, but in other sources he also rules Orkney and sometimes Norway. He is generally depicted as the husband of Arthur's sister or half-sister, variously named Anna or Morgause. The names and number of his children vary depending on the source, but the later romance tradition gives him the sons Gawain, Agravain, Gaheris, Gareth, and Mordred.


Literary appearances

An eponymous king of Lothian appears in both early Latin and Welsh sources. An early fragmentary Life of St Kentigern contains a Leudonus of Leudonia as the maternal grandfather of Saint Kentigern, also known as Mungo.[1] In these texts Leudonus becomes enraged when he discovers his daughter, Kentigern's mother Teneu, has been impregnated by Owain mab Urien, and has her thrown from a cliff. However, she is protected by God and survives the ordeal. She goes to Saint Serf's community, where she gives birth to Kentigern. Welsh sources call this same character Lewdwn or Llewdwn Lluydauc (Llewdwn of the Hosts).

Geoffrey of Monmouth was evidently recollecting this earlier figure in the the king he called Lot or Loth in his Historia Regum Britanniae, although his sources are obscure.[1] Geoffrey's choice of name is probably based on its similarity to Lodonesia, the typical Latinized name for Lothian.[1] Geoffrey's Lot is one of three brothers who each rule a part of northern Britain: Lot rules Londonesia or Lothian, while his brothers Urien and Angusel rule over Mureif (Moray) and Scotland, respectively.[2] Lot is first mentioned as a loyal vassal to Uther Pendragon, King of Britain, in his wars with the Saxon Octa. When Uther falls ill, he marries his daughter Anna to Lot and entrusts them with the oversight of the kingdom.[3] Lot and Anna have two sons, Gawain and Mordred. When Uther's son Arthur takes up the kingship, he helps Lot and his brothers regain their territories, which have fallen to the Saxons.[2] Lot is also the heir to the kingdom of Norway, as nephew to the previous king Sichelm; with Arthur's aid he takes the kingdom from the usurper Riculf.[4] Lot later leads one of Arthur's armies in his war with Emperor Lucius of Rome.[5]

The early romances, such those of Chrétien de Troyes, often refer to Lot, but he rarely receives more than a mention in connection to his more famous son Gawain.[6] However, he takes a more prominent role in the later cyclical narratives. Here, Lot's previous association with Norway make him king not only of Lothian, but Orkney as well.[1] In the Lancelot-Grail, after Uther Pendragon marries Igraine, he marries her daughters from her first marriage off to his political allies. Her oldest daughter, here named Morgause, is married off to King Lot; they have five sons, Gawain, Agravain, Gaheris, Gareth, and Mordred (whose biological father, unbeknown to Lot, is actually Arthur). Later, when Arthur comes to power, Lot at first opposes him, and with his brothers and several other Brythonic kings, raises an army against him. It is only after Arthur defeats the coalition at Bedegraine and helps them fend off the Saxons that Lot becomes Arthur's ally.[7]

The Post-Vulgate Cycle offers a different version of Lot's story. As in the Lancelot-Grail Lot opposes Arthur until the defeat at Bedegraine. Afterwards, however, Arthur hears a prophecy that a child born on May Day will destroy him. He gathers up all noble babies born around that time, including his own bastard son Mordred, and puts them on a ship where they all seemingly perish. The incensed Lot joins Arthur's enemy Rience and resumes his campaign against the king. In the ensuing battle he is killed by King Pellinore, leading to a long feud between their families.[7] This version of Lot's story was taken up by Thomas Malory in his English work Le Morte d'Arthur, and has subsequently appeared in a number of modern Arthurian works.

Other information

In the wake of Geoffrey, Lot entered into Welsh Arthurian tradition as Lleu.[1] The Welsh Triads maintain Geoffrey's association between him and Urien as brothers, drawing him into the historical Urien's genealogical tradition as a son of Cynfarch and Nefyn, daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog.[8] Lleu ap Cynfarch shares his name with the figure Llew Llaw Gyffes, likely a euhemerized deity known from the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, though the extent of this connection is conjectural.[9] Charles Squire further identified Lot with the British hero Lludd Llaw Eraint.[10]

The name Lot may be connected to the Norse name Hlot or Ljot, which appears in the Norse sagas and was known in Orkney. It may also be connected to the standing stone called the Stone Lud[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Bromwich, pp. 414–415.
  2. ^ a b Historia Regum Britanniae, Book 9, ch. 9.
  3. ^ Historia Regum Britanniae, Book 8, ch. 21.
  4. ^ Historia Regum Britanniae, Book 9, ch. 11.
  5. ^ Historia Regum Britanniae, Book 10, ch. 6.
  6. ^ cf. Chrétien's Erec, (vv. 1691-1750), where he is actually present at Arthur's court; and Yvain, [ vv. 6229-6526, which mentions him as Gawain's father.
  7. ^ a b Bruce, Christopher W. (1999). The Arthurian Name Dictionary. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0815328656. Retrieved January 11, 2010.  
  8. ^ Bromwich, pp. 195–198.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Gresham, Celtic Myths and Legends, 1912, page 359 as republished by Paragon 1998, ISBN 0-7525-2676-6)
  11. ^ Leslie J. Myatt, The Standing Stones of Caithness, 2003




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