Percival: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

How Sir Galahad, Sir Bors and Sir Percival were Fed with the Sanc Grael; But Sir Percival's Sister Died by the Way, an 1864 watercolour by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Percival or Perceval is one of King Arthur's legendary Knights of the Round Table. In Welsh literature his story is allotted to the historical Peredur. He is most famous for his involvement in the quest for the grail.


Fictional background

Scenes from Perceval, from a medieval illumination.

Chrétien de Troyes wrote the first story of Percival; Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, and the now lost Perceval of Robert de Boron are other famous accounts of his adventures.

There are many versions of Percival's birth. In most accounts he is of noble birth; his father is either King Pellinore or another worthy knight. His mother is usually unnamed but plays a significant role in the stories. His sister is the bearer of the Holy Grail, she is sometimes named Dindrane. In tales where he is Pellinore's son his brothers are Sir Tor, Sir Aglovale, Sir Lamorak, and Sir Dornar.

After the death of his father, Percival's mother takes him to the Welsh forests where she raises him ignorant to the ways of men until the age of 15. Eventually, however, a group of knights passes through his wood, and Percival is struck by their heroic bearing. Wanting to be a knight himself, the boy travels to King Arthur's court, and after proving his worthiness as a warrior he is knighted and invited to join the Knights of the Round Table.

Knight of the Round Table

In the earliest story about him he is connected to the grail. In Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail, he meets the crippled Fisher King and sees a grail, not yet identified as "holy", but he fails to ask a question that would have healed the injured king. Upon learning of his mistake he vows to find the Grail castle again and fulfill his quest but Chretien's story breaks off soon after, to be continued in a number of different ways by various authors.

In later accounts, the true Grail hero is Galahad, Lancelot's son. But though his role in the romances had been diminished, Percival remained a major character and was one of only two knights (the other was Sir Bors) who accompanied Galahad to the Grail castle and completed the quest with him.

In early versions, Percival's sweetheart was Blanchefleur and he became the King of Carbonek after healing the Fisher King, but in later versions he was a virgin who died after achieving the Grail. In Wolfram's version, Percival's son is Lohengrin, the Knight of the Swan.

Modern interpretations

Galahad, Bors, and Percival achieve the Grail, a tapestry with figures by Edward Burne-Jones.

In modern times his story has been used in such varied retellings as T. S. Eliot's modernist poem The Waste Land, Richard Wagner's opera Parsifal, John Boorman's Excalibur and the novel and film The Natural.[1] The movie The Fisher King is a modern retelling with Robin Williams as Parry, and Jeff Bridges as the Fisher King-like Jack Lucas. Éric Rohmer's 1978 film Perceval le Gallois is an eccentrically staged interpretation of Chrétien de Troyes's original poem.[2] As well, Richard Monaco's series of four novels based on the Arthurian Grail Quest of Percival, beginning with Parsival or a Knight's Tale, is a re-telling of the Percival legend. [3].The book "Parzival" by Katherine Patterson is a retelling of the story.


  1. ^ Barry Levinson (director). (2007-04-03). Knights in Shining Armor. [Documentary]. Sony Pictures Entertainment. 
  2. ^ Lacy, Norris J. (1991). "Eric Rohmer". In Norris J. Lacy (Ed.), The New Arthurian Encyclopedia, p. 389. New York: Garland. ISBN 0-8240-4377-4.
  3. ^ Fries, Maureen, and Thompson, Raymond H. (1991). "Richard Monaco". In Norris J. Lacy (Ed.), The New Arthurian Encyclopedia p. 326. New York: Garland. ISBN 0-8240-4377-4.


  • Chrétien de Troyes, Nigel Bryant (translator) (1996) Perceval, the Story of the Grail, D. S. Brewer. ISBN 0-85991-224-8.
  • Chrétien de Troyes, D. D. R. Owen (translator) (1988) Arthurian Romances, Tuttle Publishing, reprinted by Everyman. ISBN 0-460-87389-X.
  • Lacy, Norris J. (Ed.) (1991). The New Arthurian Encyclopedia. New York: Garland. ISBN 0-8240-4377-4.

External links



Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




Old French Perceval, name of a knight in a twelfth century Arthurian romance by the French poet Chrétien de Troyes. Shaped like Old French perce (pierce) + val (valley), but probably representing some Gaulish or Welsh name. Cognate with German Parsifal.

Proper noun




  1. A male given name.
  2. A patronymic surname.


  • 1953 Agatha Christie, A Pocket Full of Rye, page 20:
    Lancelot Fortescue! What a name! And what was the other son - Percival? He wondered what the first Mrs Fortescue had been like? She had a curious taste in Christian names...


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address