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Bleeding Lance


In Chretien de Troyes' 10th century work Le Conte du Graal, the Bleeding Lance was one of the three sacred objects passed before Perceval during the ceremony at the Grail Castle. Perceval failed to ask the Fisher King the significance of the ceremony, and therefore failed the quest to learn the mysteries of the grail. Unfortunately, Troyes died before he could finish the original story, and many subsequent writers wrote their own version of events. These are called "continuations".

In the first continuation written in the 12th century, Sir Gawain replaced Perceval as the main character. Gawain learned that the bleeding lance was the spear that pierced Jesus' thigh during the crucifixion. When presented with the same ceremony, Sir Gawain managed to ask the correct question, but he failed to listen to the answer and was unable to learn the mysteries of the grail.

In subsequent works, the bleeding lance is usually one of two important mythological weapons. In some versions of the story, the bleeding lance is the weapon that caused the Dolorous Stroke (or Dolorous Blow) which crippled the Fisher King and caused a devastating earthquake which laid waste to three kingdoms. In other stories, especially after the original folklore was heavily influenced by Chrisianity, the bleeding lance is the spear of Longinus, which the Roman soldier used to stab Jesus during the crucifixion. Joseph of Arimathea brought the spear and the holy grail to Britain.

Arthurian, England, Mythology, Spear, Weapon


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Recent Reader Comments:

Comment From: Mallorie --

I loved the Parzifal story, though I admit I did not see what you saw until I read your essay. Admittedly I haven't rraeed it for a long time, and I was struggling to learn German when I read it (the old form on one page, and modern German on the other) but what charmed me was the little glimpses of medieval life. Wolfram was a great observer of real humans, and it shows in tiny details; when I traveled in Europe, it was memories of Wolfram that helped me imagine people busy in castles and old towns.