King Arthur created an environment in which his closest knights were treated as his equals, and this is the reason they sat at a round table. During Arthur’s reign, high moral values were very important and (to become part of his inner circle) knights had to take a vow known as the Code of Chivalry. The conditions of this oath included:
- Never to commit murder
- Never to commit treason
- Always ensure that women are safe (this clause excluded peasants, as they were considered inferior)
- Never to engage in battle unless fighting for God or country
Among the missions that the knights were given to complete, one of the most important was locating the Holy Grail. The Red Cross Knights were assigned this task specifically, and included:
Sir Lancelot of the Lake (Lancelot du Lac)
When he was a youth, Lancelot’s home was attacked and The Lady of the Lake rescued and raised him in her magical kingdom. Known for his extraordinary jousting abilities, he is the only knight to have ever defeated Arthur in a match. As the king’s closest companion, Lancelot betrayal was devastating when he fell in love with Queen Genevieve. The discovery of their affair led to a civil war which eventually resulted in the fall of Arthur’s kingdom. Distraught at the part she had played, Genevieve becomes a nun and Lancelot joins her in penitence in the priesthood after she refuses to give him a good-bye kiss. The queen’s death proved to be too much for the heartbroken knight and he passes away a mere 6 weeks after her.
Even though the queen was the love of Lancelot’s life, he had been tricked by Elaine of Corbenic into sleeping with her and their union resulted in the birth of Galahad. The boy is reunited with his father upon adulthood, who bestows the title of knight upon him. Sir Galahad is then escorted to The Siege Perilous, which is a seat at the round table that has been reserved for the knight who will find The Holy Grail. Galahad’s survival upon sitting on the cursed chair (which has resulted in the death of all others that have attempted it) shocks the other knights and he is immediately given another ‘impossible’ task by King Arthur. He passes this as well by retrieving a sword, much in the same way as Arthur did with Excalibur, and the king proclaims him to be the greatest knight ever.
Shortly after these events the knights receive a vision of the Holy Grail, and their quest begins. Sir Galahad eventually locates the Grail in the court of King Pelles, and it is requested that he transport it to the holy city of Sarras. Galahad’s requests the ability to choose his time of death as a reward for finding the Holy Grail and this is granted. During the journey, he is visited by Joseph of Arimathea and because of the rapturous nature of the experience demands that his time on earth ends. He is taken to heaven by a flock of angels, under the awestruck gaze of Sir Percival and Sir Bors, and the Holy Grail once again mysteriously vanishes.