Joyous Gard

The castle of Joyous Gard (Joyeuse / Joieusei / Joiouse Garde, Gioiosa Guardia) is the home of the knight Lancelot as mentioned in Arthurian legend, supposed to be located in northern England. It has been associated with Bamburgh Castle.

Arthurian legend

In Arthurian legend, the Joyous Gard is named by the young Sir Lancelot as such when he sets up his household at the castle after capturing it and ending an evil enchantment during the task to prove his knighthood to King Arthur. Following Lancelot's adulterous and treasonous affair with Queen Guinevere, Lancelot rescues Guinevere, who is under sentence of death from Arthur, and brings her to the Joyous Gard. According to the Stanzaic Morte Arthur, Arthur then unsuccessfully besieges Joyous Gard. The castle then reverts to its former name, Dolorous Gard (Dolorous Guard, Doloreuse / Dolereuse / Douleureuse Garde). Later, Lancelot abandons his castle to live in France before becoming a hermit at Glastonbury, where he spends the rest of his days. His body is then taken to the Joyous Gard for burial (in the French prose cycles, to lie there next to the body of his friend Galehaut).[1] In the prose stories of Tristan and Iseult, they live in the castle with Lancelot's permission as refugees from King Mark.

Suggested locations

Thomas Malory identified the Joyous Gard with Northumberland's Bamburgh Castle,[2] the northern coastal castle known to the Anglo-Saxon as Bebbanburgh.[3] Previously it had been the location of a fort of the Celtic Britons known as Din Guarie.[4] It is also associated with the early medieval castle site known as the Château de Joyeuse Garde in Brittany.


  1. Lacy, Norris J.; Ashe, Geoffrey; Mancoff, Debra N. (2014). The Arthurian Handbook: Second Edition. Routledge. p. 328. ISBN 9781317777441.
  2. Black, Joseph (2016). "The Broadview Anthology of British Literature: Concise Volume A - Third Edition". Broadview. p. 536. ISBN 978-1554813124.
  3. Nennius. "Historia Brittonum, 8th century". Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  4. "Bernaccia (Bryneich / Berneich)". The History Files. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
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