Brunor, Breunor, Branor or Brunero is name given to several different characters in Arthurian legend. They include the Knight of the Round Table known as Br(e)unor le Noir (the Black), well known due to his tale having been included by Thomas Malory in his popular compilation Le Morte d'Arthur, as well as his father and others, among them another former knight of Uther's old Round Table and the father of Galahaut.

Brunor le Noir

Sir Brunor le Noir (/ˈbruːnor lə nojr/ or /ˈbʁœ̃nɔʁ lə nwaʁ/) (also spelled Breunor), nicknamed La Cote Male Taile/Tayle (Modern French: La Cote Mal Taillée = "the badly-cut coat") by Sir Kay after his arrival in his murdered father's mangled armour and surcoat at King Arthur's court. He should not be confused with his father, also named Brunor the Black but better known as the Good Knight Without Fear (see below). His elder brothers are Sir Dinadan and Sir Daniel, the latter in only some versions.

His tale related thematically to the "Fair Unknown" story popular in the Middle Ages, other versions of which appear in the stories of Gingalain, Gareth, and Percival.[1] It most closely resembles that of Gareth, who was also given an insulting name by Kay upon arriving at Camelot and also had to prove his worth to a damsel who constantly insulted and belittled him. Brunor's adventures first appear embedded in the Prose Tristan, and were popular enough that they were picked up and expanded by in Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur and in Italian romance La Tavola Ritonda. Brunor lacks skill in jousting but is near-invincible on foot. In Tavola Ritonda, his brother Daniel has been killed by Sir Lancelot thus making him Brunor's sworn enemy, but the two made an uneasy truce after fighting to a draw in a duel. He eventually marries his lady who, like Gareth's Lynette, used to mock him on his chivalric quest with her.

The tale of La Cote Male Taile (Malory's version)

Sir Brunor (Breunor) travels to Camelot wearing his dead father's bloodied coat which he had vowed not to take off as long as his father is not avenged. He is met with mockery, his outfit earning him the nickname of La Cote Male Taile, and is initially rejected from Arthur's service until Sir Gawain speaks out on his behalf. After Brunor returns, Kay continues his attempts at humiliating him, but he soon proves his worth by rescuing Queen Guinevere from an escaped lion and Arthur knights him.

A damosel arrives at court bearing a great black shield emblazoned with a white hand with a sword, along with a mission. She tells how the previous knight who carried the shield died while on the quest, and that she is searching for a knight of similar courage to continue the mission. Brunor volunteers to take up the quest and gows with her. She, disliking that this is to be her chosen knight, continuously taunts him regarding his clothing and appearance, earning her the nickname Maledisant ("Evil-speaking") or Mesdisant ("Ill-speaking"). After the pair leaves the castle, Brunor encounters Dagonet, Arthur's court jester, who has been sent by Kay to joust with the new knight. Brunor quickly defeats Dagonet, but Maledisant's taunts only increase because the court had sent a fool to challenge Brunor rather than a true knight. Brunor later encounters two other knights of Arthur, Sir Bleoberis and Sir Palomides, is challenged by them, and unhorsed by both; they each refuse to fight him on foot and walk away, drawing more criticism from Maledisant.

Brunor later travels with Mordred to Castle Orgulous (Orguellous/Orgulous, "proud"). The knights must fight their way into the castle; after Mordred is injured, Brunor continues into the castle alone. There, he meets a hundred knights in a lady's chamber. Brunor wins his way through the knights with the aid of the black shield, mounts his horse, and escapes from the castle. After retelling his tale of escape to Mordred and the Maledisant, she challenges his story and sends a witness to ask what happened in the castle. This proves Maledisant wrong, though Brunor continues to hold his peace and not rebuke her about her disbelief of him.

They continue to travel until Mordred leaves and Lancelot joins the pair. Lancelot, however, ends up leaving them for his own quest after Maledisant redirects her words at him. They come upon the Pendragon (Pandragon) Castle belonging to Arthur's enemy Sir Brian of the Isles (de les Isles), where one of six knights challenges Brunor to a joust. He wins, but then the other five attack him in an un-knightly manner and take him and the damsel into the castle as prisoners. Lancelot comes to rescue, fights Brian until he yields and releases them, as well as dozens of other knights and ladies. He hen agrees to ride with them on one condition only: that the damsel stop directing ill words at Brunor and himself. Maledisant then confesses that the only reason for her taunting was that she was testing the knights' strength (if they could take a little teasing from her, then they were apt to continue on the dangerous mission).

Later they come upon a castle near the border of the country of Sorelais (Sursule). Brunor enters the castle alone and defeats two brothers who challenge him. Then he continues on to another castle, where he comes face to face with Sir Plenorius. Brunor cannot carry on a fight due to the wounds he received in the first joust, so out of pity Plenorius decides not to finish him and instead carries him into the tower as prisoner. When Lancelot hears of this, he challenges Plenorius to a battle that lasts many hours, until Plenorius yields. Brunor remains at the castle in order to recover from his wounds. He recovers quickly and returns with Lancelot and the damosel to King Arthur's court, the quest accomplished.

Brunor is made a Knight of the Round Table the following Pentecost. He marries the Ill-Speaking Maiden, now known as Beauvivante ("Well-living") or Bienpensant ("Well-thinking") due to her changed attitude, and Lancelot gives them the Castle Pendragon. It is said that he later at last succeeds in avenging his father.

Other Brunor characters

Brunor the Black, the Good Knight Without Fear

Sir Brunor the Black (Brunor le Noir), also known as Brunor the King (Brunor le Roi), was the true yet seldom used name of Good Knight Without Fear (Bon Chevalier sans Paour)[2] in the French romance Palamedes and in the Prose Tristan, as well as the 13th-century Italian prose collection Novellino. Son of Esclanor the Black and the father of Brunor and Dinadan, Sir Brunor senior was known as a great knight in the time of Uther Pendragon, who made him the King of Estrangorre (Estrangore).

Palamedes tells of his journey to rescue his old friend Ludinas, the Good Knight of Norgales (Bon Chevalier de Norgales) from the cruel giant Nabon the Black, the lord of the Val of Servage. He defeats and slays Nabon's son Nathan in a duel (killed by Tristan in the Prose Tristan) but is then imprisoned in Nabon's castle's dungeon for several years. There, he goes mad until he is either let go or both he and Ludinas are freed by Tristan, and is eventually restored to his senses by Uther and Arthur's medic Baucillas. Two years later, he is eventually attacked and mortally wounded by two villainous knights named Briadan and Ferrant), who hated him, when is both old and unarmed.[3][4][5] An additional story told in the Novellino relates how the Good Knight Without Fear was rescued by his mortal enemy (and Tristan's father) King Meliadus a different circumstances.[6]

Branor the Brown, the Dragon Knight

Sir Branor the Brown (French: Branor le Brun, Italian: Branor li Brun) is a famed knight of Uther's original Round Table order featured in Palamedes and in the prologue section of Rustichello da Pisa's Roman de Roi Artus.[7] Their renowned family from Castle Vallebrun in the Brown Valley (Val Brun)[8] also included his nephew Segurant the Brown, Uther greatest warrior, whose father was Branor's brother named either Brunor the Brown or Ector (Hector) the Brown.

An over 120-years-old Branor, also known as the Knight of the Dragon or the Dragon Knight (Le Chevaulier au Dragon), visits King Arthur's court and proceeds to defeat Arthur and many of his knights of the new Round Table (including Gawain, Lancelot, Palamedes, and Tristan) in jousts, thus proving the superiority of the previous generation.[9][10][11] That episode is also the titular subject of the Greek verse romance Ho Presbys Hippotes (The Old Knight),[12] where he goes unnamed.

Brunor of Castle Pluere

Sir Brunor or Breunor (Italian: Brunoro[13]) is an Irish knight who is the father of the great knight Galehaut in the Prose Tristan, La Tavola Ritonda, and Le Morte d'Arthur. Some Italian authors confused him with the Branor the Black from the section above.[14]

Bruenor had conquered the Island of Giants' Castle Pluere, also known as the Castle of Tears / Weeping Castle (Castello del Proro / Chastel des Pleurs),[15][16] from its original ruler. He also married a giantess, the slain giant-count's widow, with whom he sired Galehaut and a daughter (named Delice in the Prose Tristan and Riccarda in Italian romance I Due Tristani[17]). Brunor then upheld the pagan custom of the castle (in Le Morte d'Arthur he appears to be actually its source), which involved the beheading death of visiting knights and their ladies if they are proved not more powerful (in a duel) and not more beautiful (in a contest) as the castle's lord and lady, respectively. Eventually, Tristan defeats and beheads Brunor according to that custom, becoming the new lord of the castle.[18][19][20]

Brunero the Brown

Brunero (or Blanor) the Brown relative of Lancelot brazenly cucking the Hebrew Damsel of Thornbush Ford's husband Lambergus in La Tavola Ritonda. His role is played by Bleoberis in a corresponding episode in the Prose Tristan[21] (Tristano Riccardiano).

See also


  1. "The Fair Unknown | Robbins Library Digital Projects". Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  2. Edlich-Muth, Miriam (2014). Malory and His European Contemporaries: Adapting Late Arthurian Romance Collections. Boydell & Brewer Ltd. ISBN 9781843843672.
  3. Busby, Keith (2005). Arthurian Literature XXII. DS Brewer. ISBN 9781843840626.
  4. Lathuillère, Roger (1966). Guiron le Courtois: étude de la tradition manuscrite et analyse critique (in French). Librairie Droz. ISBN 9782600027953.
  5. Sutcliffe, F. E. (1965). Medieval Miscellany. Manchester University Press.
  6. Psaki, Regina; Allaire, Gloria (2014). The Arthur of the Italians: The Arthurian Legend in Medieval Italian Literature and Culture. University of Wales Press. ISBN 9781783161584.
  7. Psaki, Regina; Allaire, Gloria (2014). The Arthur of the Italians: The Arthurian Legend in Medieval Italian Literature and Culture. University of Wales Press. ISBN 9781783161584.
  8. Bruce, Christopher W. (2013). The Arthurian Name Dictionary. Routledge. ISBN 9781136755378.
  9. Konnari, Angel Nicolaou; Schabel, Christopher David (2005). Cyprus: Society And Culture 1191–1374. BRILL. ISBN 9789004147676.
  10. Whitehead, Frederick; Vinaver, Eugène (1965). Medieval Miscellany Presented to Eugène Vinaver by Pupils, Colleagues and Friends. Manchester University Press.
  11. Taylor, William (1829). Historic Survey of German Poetry: Interspersed with Various Translations. Treuttel and Würtz, Treuttel Jun. and Richter.
  12. Lacy, Norris J.; Ashe, Geoffrey; Mancoff, Debra N. (2014). The Arthurian Handbook: Second Edition. Routledge. ISBN 9781317777434.
  13. Psaki, Regina; Allaire, Gloria (2014). The Arthur of the Italians: The Arthurian Legend in Medieval Italian Literature and Culture. University of Wales Press. ISBN 9781783161584.
  14. Allaire, Gloria; Psaki, Regina (2002). Italian Literature: Il tristano panciatichiano. Boydell & Brewer Ltd. ISBN 9780859916455.
  15. Grimbert, Joan Tasker (2013). Tristan and Isolde: A Casebook. Routledge.
  16. Reyerson, Kathryn L.; Powe, Faye (1991). The Medieval Castle: Romance and Reality. U of Minnesota Press.
  17. Bruce, Christopher W. (2013). The Arthurian Name Dictionary. Routledge.
  18. Ross, Charles Stanley (1997). The Custom of the Castle: From Malory to Macbeth. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520204300.
  19. Huot, Sylvia (2016). Outsiders: The Humanity and Inhumanity of Giants in Medieval French Prose Romance. University of Notre Dame Pess. ISBN 9780268081836.
  20. Darrah, John (1997). Paganism in Arthurian Romance. Boydell & Brewer. ISBN 9780859914260.
  21. Bruce, Christopher W. (2013). The Arthurian Name Dictionary. Routledge. ISBN 9781136755378.
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