Parzival

The legend of Parzival tells of man’s quest for the Grail, the source of life and abundance. It tells of the soul’s journey through duality, the third dimension. Munsalvaesche, the Grail Castle , cannot be found in the third dimension. The castle is accessible only to the man or woman who lives from compassion. Compassion is a quality of the soul and is not something you learn. It emerges by itself when selfishness is cast aside.

 

Parzival was the son of Gahmuret and Herzeloyde (valour and heartache). Gahmuret lived a life of moderation. He was not given to boasting, he was humble when showered with honours and was never vainglorious. He also refused to join anyone’s retinue. Gahmuret recognised only a single authority and that was his own heart.

After Gahmuret married Herzeloyde, the queen of three countries, he embarked on a crusade in the Near East. There he was killed before his son Parzival was born. Herzeloyde’s sorrow was immense. She withdrew to a castle in Scotland, where she and Parzival lived far from the world’s turmoil.

The land was ruled by King Arthur, whose knights of the round table practised knighthood and engaged in battle. And there were battles aplenty. In the hope that Parzival would never go to war, unlike his father, Herzeloyde had instructed everyone in the castle never to mention the king, knights and war to Parzival. To Parzival there was but one king and that was God. The angels were God’s knights.

Parzival was a handsome and strong young man with a good heart. He loved his mother, as well as nature and hunting. But this produced an internal conflict. As his prowess with the javelin improved, he became increasingly torn between his love of nature and the thrill of the hunt.

One day, the pursuit of a young roe brought Parzival to the boundaries of the family estate. There he heard three knights on horseback approaching. He stepped onto the path and saw men unlike any he had ever seen. Even the horses they rode were splendidly tacked up. Parzival could not help but think they were a group of angels. He dropped to his knees in the middle of the path and praised the Lord for sending his angels.

The knights were forced to come to a halt in front of the kneeling lad. They were surprised to find a young man of such noble countenance so ignorant to think they were angels. They told him they were King Arthur’s knights on their way to Camelot.

Thereupon Parzival went to his mother, told her what he had just witnessed and said: “Mother, I want to become a knight. Give me a horse.” Herzeloyde’s heart broke a second time. She knew she could no longer hold Parzival back and granted him permission. But she came up with a cunning trick. “If people laugh at him, he’ll soon return to me,” she thought. So she made a jester’s costume out of linen and gave him an old and worn-out horse. Parzival had never been at a king’s court. He knew nothing of kings, princes and knights and therefore nothing of court jesters. And so he thanked his mother from the bottom of his heart. Upon parting, Herzeloyde gave him this wise counsel: 

“If you take the unbeaten paths, you must pass murky fords but bravely enter those that are shallow and clear.

Endeavour to be polite and greet all those you meet.

If a wise old man wants to teach you manners, which he is in a good position to do, always do as he says and never lose your temper with him.

Son, if you can obtain the ring and the greeting of a good woman, you’d be well advised to accept. It will deliver you of all sorrow. Be quick to kiss her and take her firmly in your arms. If she is chaste and good, she will bring you happiness and make you proud.”

Parzival promised to follow her good counsel and dressed in his jester’s costume and seated on his old nag he set off.

Jeschute

The people who saw Parzival go by in his motley dress and on his old horse began laughing at him and calling him all kinds of names. But in his innocence, Parzival thought that the people were laughing and waving because they were pleased to see such a brave knight. He waved back and greeted everybody, just like his mother had told him to. His radiant good looks and knightly countenance won the people over, turning their jeers into joy. When asked how he could reach King Arthur they directed him as best they could and Parzival continued on his fearless way.

His journey took him past a ford which was dark with overgrown grasses and flowers. But where the water was clear and transparent, he crossed. He saw before him a tent with a knightly façade. Unabashed, he entered and lay eyes on the beautiful Jeschute, the wife of Duke Orilus de Lalander. She was asleep and completely oblivious to the intruder. Parzival noted her beauty as well as a ring on her finger. Misinterpreting his mother’s wise counsel, he took her in his arms, kissed her and took the ring and a brooch. Jeschute offered fierce resistance, but Parzival was strong. When he said he was hungry, she offered him what was on the table after which Parzival calmly filled his empty stomach. Jeschute thought she was dealing with a servant gone mad and begged him to leave before her lord would find him. Her lord’s anger did not scare him, but if her honour was at stake Parzival was prepared to leave. He exited the tent and resumed his journey.

A little later the Duke returned, spotted the young man’s footsteps and accused Jeschute of having an ami. Her protests went unheard and Jeschute was rejected and subjected to humiliation. This continued for at least a year. Parzival had inadvertently caused a woman to suffer while thinking he had done the right thing.

 

Sigune

Orilus had set off in pursuit, but Parzival, oblivious to any wrong-doing, hurried onwards to Arthur. Parzival was quick, so quick that Orilus gave up the chase.

After a while Parzival came to a clearing where he found a young maiden crying from the bottom of her heart. In her arms lay a knight who had just been killed. When Parzival asked whose javelin had felled the knight, Sigune replied that it had not been a javelin but that the knight had been killed in a joust while defending the land of Kingrivals.

Asked his name, Parzival replied: “Oh, I go by many names. They call me bon fils, beau fils or cher fils. By those names Sigune recognised Parzival. She knew of the secluded life of Herzeloyde and Gahmuret’s son. She also knew that Herzeloyde wanted to shield her son from war and knighthood and immediately realised that the young man before her did not know his true identity.

“Your name is Parzival,” she said. “My mother is your mother’s sister. Gahmuret, your father, was an Angevin and on your mother’s side you are a Waleis. You were born in Kanvoleis. You are also King of Norgals and you will be crowned in the capital Kingrivals. Two brothers caused you a great deal of harm: Lähelin and Orilus. Orilus killed this prince in a joust. He was killed for your sake, as he was defending your land . Parzival, deeply touched by his cousin’s sorrow, promised to revenge this crime. Sigune gave him directions to Arthur but, fearing for his life, deliberately sent him the wrong way.

Parzival hurried to get to King Arthur’s court as quickly as possible. By the end of the day he arrived at a large house and knocked. The man of the house was a fisherman and known to be extremely unfriendly and miserly, but when Parzival offered him Jeschute’s brooch in exchange for accommodation he was only too keen to help. After Parzival was given food he retired for the night and the following morning the fisherman escorted him to the city of Nantes where Arthur held court. As soon as the town came into view, the fisherman stopped, pointed to the city and said: “that’s where you’re headed. I’m turning back now, because the noblemen can’t stand villagers.” Thereupon Parzival continued alone. Still dressed in his motley clothes and seated on his old horse, oblivious to conventions and courteousness, he spotted a knight in red armour just outside the city walls. He addressed the knight and asked where he might find King Arthur.

The knight looked upon Parzival with surprise, as he stood there all innocently in his peculiar outfit. He was Ither of Gaheviez, the son of Arthur’s aunt. He had a claim to the land of Britain and was the king of Cucumerlant. The Red Knight, as he was known, held a red gold cup in his hand. When Parzival asked him for directions to Arthur’s court, the knight said: “Give Arthur my regards and tell him that I didn’t spill wine on the queen’s robes on purpose. I snatched the king’s cup off the table to challenge him to send someone to do battle with me. I lay claim to my land, the land of Britain.”

“I will,” said Parzival and entered Nantes. Parzival’s appearance attracted a great deal of attention. Thanks to his unusual attire and his casual demeanour nobody tried to stop him from approaching Arthur. Parzival greeted the king and asked him for a knightly task. Arthur said he would have to become a knight first and would need a knight’s armour.

“There is a knight outside the city gates. He is dressed in red and holds a red gold cup in his hand. He sends his regards. He says he didn’t spill wine on the queen’s robes on purpose. He wants you to send someone to fight for his land. If I could obtain his armour, would I be worthy of a knightly task?”

Arthur had no intention of jeopardising the life of this innocent fool, but Keie, the seneschal, suggested that Parzival be given a chance. Leading his horse by the hand, Parzival was escorted by Iwanet and along the way passed a gallery where the queen and her retinue were sitting.

Among them was Lady Cunneware, who had never laughed and, so it was said, would only laugh upon seeing the knight who would go on to be the greatest. When Cunneware saw Parzival walk past, she burst out laughing. This made Keie so angry that he slapped her, whereupon the silent Antanor, who would only speak when Cunneware would laugh, said: “God knows you slapped Cunneware of Lalant on account of this young man. May your joy be lost by his hand.” Thereupon the wise Antanor was also given a thrashing. Parzival was aghast at seeing these two nobles suffer. He wanted to use his javelin, but there were too many people crowding around the queen. After Iwanet escorted him out of the city Parzival rode towards The Red Knight.

 

The Red Knight

When Ither of Gaheviez saw Parzival approaching, he never suspected that the young man had come back to challenge him. Not on account of the king’s honour or the good name of a woman, but for his armour. Ither was a highly respected knight who had only come to the king for his legitimate inheritance. The fact that he had taken the golden cup in a fit of temper, causing wine to be spilled on the queen’s robes, did not justify Arthur’s permission for Parzival to strip The Red Knight of his armour. But Parzival, who only wanted to do what was right, knew nothing of codes of honour and morality. He approached the knight with the words:

“I delivered your message to King Arthur, saying that you regret your actions. I asked the king for your armour and he gave his permission. So dismount and give me your suit of armour and everything that goes with it.”

“Is this how Arthur treats his loyal servants these days?” the knight asked. He turned his horse, took a run-up and with one mighty stroke of his lance threw Parzival off his unsteady horse. Parzival quickly scrambled to his feet. He grabbed his javelin, took aim and managed to hit The Red Knight between his helmet and his visor. The Red Knight was slain in one fell swoop.

The steed and the smaller horse began to neigh loudly, so loudly that Iwanet, who had been awaiting the outcome of the duel at the gates of Nantes, ran toward the noise and saw how Parzival was trying to strip The Red Knight off his suit of armour.

Parzival had no idea about buckles and clasps and without Iwanet’s help he would never have pulled it off. He most certainly would not have managed to put it on himself. Finally Iwanet helped him buckle on his sword and explained how to draw it.

Parzival thanked Iwanet, gave him the golden cup, asked him to return it to the king and then rode off without performing any ceremonial rites for the dead knight. Iwanet lay flowers on the body of Ither of Gaheviez. Then he took the cup and returned to the court, where he announced Ither’s death. The court was plunged in mourning. That this had been done by the man who would go on to be the greatest knight, as Cunneware’s laughter had predicted, did not occur to anyone.

 

Gurnemanz de Graharz

The Red Knight’s horse was indefatigable. Parzival rode for the remainder of the day without stopping and by nightfall he saw spires rising up above the trees. He had reached the castle of Gurnemanz de Graharz. The lord of the castle was sitting out on the forecourt under the great linden tree as Parzival approached. Because of his immense fatigue and his empty stomach, Parzival was unable to keep his shield in the position Iwanet had taught him that morning. Gurnemanz could not believe his eyes. Here was a knight with the finest armour but with the worst riding skills. Parzival pulled up his horse right in front of Gurnemanz.

“My mother advised me to listen to a wise old man. In exchange I offer you my services, as my mother taught me.” Thus spake Parzival.

“You will have to prove your loyalty,” Gurnemanz said and invited Parzival into the castle. He ordered his servants to help Parzival out of his armour and to give him fine clothes and some food.

At first Parzival refused to take off his armour. It took quite a bit of persuasion before he gave in. Besides, he was wounded. When he finally agreed to being helped out of his armour, his mother’s wondrous costume raised many an eyebrow and soon everybody in the castle was wondering who this fool might be. So handsome that no sovereign compared to him, yet so ill-mannered any country bumpkin would do better.

Gurnemanz himself tended to Parzival’s wound and invited him to dinner. Parzival was ravenous, since he had not eaten since leaving the fisherman’s house! Without a word, he devoured plate after plate. Gurnemanz watched in amazement. This young man had a lot to learn.

 

Gurnemanz’s lessons

After the meal, Gurnemanz asked Parzival the usual questions:  who are you and where are you from? Parzival talked frankly about his mother, his encounter with the knights, his departure and the meeting with Jeschute; about the ring and the brooch, Arthur’s court and The Red Knight. Gurnemanz had known The Red Knight and lamented his fate. From that moment onwards, he addressed Parzival as The Red Knight.

“You came here for advice, “Gurnemanz said next. “Well, let me say this: you speak like a child. I suggest you keep quiet about your mother and focus on other things.” Thereupon Gurnemanz resumed:  

“Never lose your sense of shame; the shameless shed the plumage of truth.

If you become the leader of a people, be sure to protect the needy.

Practice humility.

A nobleman in need will battle with shame. Be prepared to help him.

Strike a balance between extravagance and avarice.

Let indecency fight its own battle.

Don’t ask too many questions.

Give an honest answer when someone asks you who you are.

Be courageous as well as merciful. When you have won a man’s submission in battle, accept it, unless your foe has hurt you deep in your heart.

Heed your senses.

Be manly and cheerful; this will foster a good reputation.

Hold the ladies in high esteem and be honest to them.

Man and woman are one. The twain are inseparable. They flower together as if from a single seed.

Reflect on these things.

The following morning Gurnemanz commenced his lessons. He taught Parzival how to perform manoeuvres at a gallop, how to correctly lower his lance and how to hold his shield to parry his opponent’s thrust. He also ordered knights to joust with Parzival. And so Gahmuret’s blood began to flow in Parzival. Young, skilful and brave, he was a quick learner.

At the end of the long, tiring day, Parzival would sit at the dinner table next to Liaze, the charming daughter of Gurnemanz.  As the weeks went by everybody in the castle thought Parzival ought to marry Liaze. Luck seemed to be smiling on Gurnemanz again after the loss of his three sons, but when Parzival had learned enough to be a knight, he asked for permission to leave. Experience was all he lacked, but he promised Gurnemanz to return.

As Gurnemanz watched Parzival leave, he asked the heavens to cleave his heart in four. The fourfold loss of a son was unbearable to him.

 

Belrepeire

Parzival rode all day, through fields and forests. Most of it passed in a blur, as he was grief-stricken to be separated from his beloved Liaze. At the end of the day he arrived at a castle in a state of siege. Having been allowed to cross the drawbridge he was met by sixty armed, but exhausted men. The castle was besieged by King Clamide, who had sent his seneschal Kingrun for the hand of Condwiramurs (led by love). Either with or against her will. Condwiramurs refused and had a great many faithful servants who were prepared to lay down their lives for her. But the siege wore on and the food had run out. When Parzival told the men he had come to offer his services, they let him pass and see their queen.

Like the rest of her court, Condwiramurs was ashen with sorrow and rail-thin with hunger. She told Parzival of the sorry state she, her people and her country were now in. King Clamide had destroyed the entire country. Only the castle still stood.

“I will never, ever be his wife,” Condwiramurs said. “I will jump off the tallest tower ere he can take me by force.”

Upon seeing Condwiramurs Parzival was completely overwhelmed by her beauty, her strength and her dignity. Compared to her, Liaze was just a little girl. Parzival pledged his allegiance and the next morning he rode into battle against Kingrun who had beaten and killed many great knights, including two of Gurnemanz’s sons.

Kingrun battled for the honour to be the best. Parzival battled for the honour of the most beautiful woman he knew. It roused the Gahmuret (valour) in him. Kingrun was good, but he began to lose his self-assurance. Where did all those blows come from? Kingrun suspected some of the bystanders might be throwing stones at him. Then Parzival knocked Kingrun to the ground and planted a knee on his chest. Kingrun, who had never shown mercy, was now looking death in the face. He offered Parzival his submission. Mindful of his teacher’s words, Parzival did not accept but said he would offer it to Gurnemanz instead. But Kingrun, having caused Gurnemanz great sorrow, feared his wrath more than death. Thereupon Parzival said: “Go to Arthur’s court and offer your services to the lady who smiled at me and who was severely punished for it: Cunneware de Lalant.”

Parzival’s victory brought a wave of hope and joy to the castle. Out at sea, the brown sails of two merchant vessels could be seen. Loaded with food, they could now enter the harbour and be unloaded under strict supervision. The food was parcelled out in such a way that everybody received their fair share. And so Belrepeire regained its joy for life.

Condwiramurs took Parzival into her arms and said: “I shall marry no other than the man I just held in my arms.”

That night Parzival and Condwiramurs slept in a tight embrace, yet chastity was maintained. The following morning, however, Condwiramurs wore the headdress of a married woman. How this could be was a mystery to many but perhaps herein lies the secret of the Holy Grail.

 

King Clamide

Meanwhile King Clamide had set off for Belrepeire with a small army, convinced that Kingrun had prepared the way for him to win the queen. But when he heard that Kingrun had been defeated by an exceptionally handsome knight and the queen had chosen him as her lover, doubt arose in Clamide’s heart. Had he been right to sacrifice the lives of so many good and loyal knights to obtain Condwiramurs’ hand?

Clamide decided against another siege and challenged Parzival to a duel. Neither would receive help from their armies if they got into difficulties. Clamide was a formidable opponent. His knighthood was renowned. But Parzival’s love gave him wings and Clamide began the duel with doubt in his heart. Parzival also extracted an oath of submission from Clamide and likewise sent him to Arthur’s court to offer his services to the woman who had laughed.

 

The Fisher King

After King Clamide had left for Arthur’s court, peace and quiet descended once more and the people worked hard to rebuild the land. And although Parzival was happy, a restless yearning began gnawing at him. Was this what he was born to do? Had he not become a knight because he had a mission? What was that mission? Parzival decided to return to court in the hope that King Arthur would charge him with a mission. Condwiramurs had long since sensed the unrest in Parzival and consented.

Parzival set off and soon he left the beaten track again. He travelled through fields and forests until he reached the banks of a lake. Fishing boats were at anchor while the fishermen were hauling in their nets. One of the boats was close enough to the shore for Parzival to ask about a place to spend the night. A man in the finest clothes replied that there was only one place for miles around and that he would be his host there. Parzival thanked him and followed the path indicated by the man.

 

Munsalvæsche

Before Parzival appeared a splendid castle, so securely walled and perfectly built that it had no cause to fear an enemy. The gate was open. Parzival dismounted and walked into the courtyard, leading his horse by the bridle. After a friendly welcome, Parzival was invited to the guest wing and his horse was taken to the stables. Nobody asked who he was or why he was here.

Parzival was helped out of his armour. A bath was prepared for him and clean clothes laid out, but everything happened in the greatest silence and everyone’s eyes were filled with sorrow. The entire castle appeared to be in deep mourning. After Parzival had washed the tiring journey off him and felt refreshed in his new clothes, he went in search of something to eat. He wound up in the great hall and spotted a large dining hall through the open doors. The tables were set and at that point everybody entered.

The host was carried in and placed close to the biggest fire. He was ill and suffered the most excruciating pains. He had lost the will to live, yet could not die. He was cold, but nothing could warm him. The host invited Parzival to sit down next to him. Thereupon a door opened at the back of the hall. Eight women entered in a ceremonial procession. They were led by Repanse de Schoye, the queen who had renounced all falsity, carrying the dish known as the Holy Grail. The grail was placed in front of the host and out of it the most delicious foods were served around the hall.

Parzival could not bear to see his host’s suffering. But his teacher Gurnemanz had said: “accept the world as it is and don’t ask too many questions.” So Parzival’s thoughts began to wander to his own setbacks. The beauty of the castle and the knights and ladies all slowly retreated into the background now that his spirits were darkening. Even when his host gifted him a sword, adding that it would make its owner invincible but that he himself could no longer carry it, Parzival never thought to inquire after the cause of his suffering. Filled with self-pity he retired after the meal and when he awoke his armour was laid out beside his bed. The castle was empty. Everybody had left. He found his horse tied up in the courtyard. He mounted his horse and as he crossed the drawbridge it was abruptly raised behind him.  

 

Sigune

Once again Parzival encountered his cousin Sigune. Still inconsolable over her lover’s death, her beauty had now completely faded. Asked where he had been, Parzival told her about the castle where he had spent the night. “There are only forests around here,” Sigune said. “But Munsalvæsche Castle is said to admit only pure souls. Is that where you were? If so you must have delivered the king of his suffering and thus liberated us all.”

“My host was indeed unbearably sick, but I didn’t deliver him,” Parzival replied, surprised to hear Sigune’s expectations. “Your host was Anfortas, the Keeper of the Grail,” she resumed. He was punished with pain and illness because he succumbed to the temptations of a nymph, but he can’t die as long as he’s near the Grail. Only someone with a pure heart can find the Grail Castle and if that person asks his host what ails him, Anfortas will be cured. Now that chance is gone.”  

It slowly dawned on Parzival that he had wasted an exceptional chance. Not only had he harmed his own prospects, but the world he lived in would now be denied the wonderful gifts and life force of the Grail. Parzival fell into a great melancholy. 

For the first time in his life Parzival felt defeated. Huddled deep inside his red armour, he rode slowly and aimlessly through the forest. Sometimes he would follow a path, sometimes not. It got colder and started snowing. A falcon which had strayed from King Arthur’s retinue flew high above him. The falcon spotted its prey and stooped and three drops of blood fell onto the white snow in front of Parzival.

The red colour reminded him of the lips of his beloved Condwiramurs, the white snow of her pale skin. It touched a chord with Parzival who promptly forgot the world around him. Dead quiet and deep in thought he kept staring at the three drops of blood.

This is how one of Arthur’s scouts found him: a red knight in full armour, ready for battle. The scout hurried back to the retinue and told Arthur of the knight who was close by and hungry for battle. One of Arthur’s belligerent knights immediately offered to challenge the red knight. A duel ensued, but Parzival had little trouble with his opponent, extracted an oath from him and returned to the drops of blood and to his thoughts as if hypnotised.

The defeated dueller returned on foot and upon hearing his account Keie declared that he would tell the knight that it is inappropriate to provoke Arthur’s knights by approaching the king’s retinue so closely in full armour. Keie rode up to Parzival with his visor down, so the two failed to recognise each other. It came to a duel and Keie too was forced to return to Arthur on foot.

Thereupon Gawan came forward. Gawan was a good fighter, but always preferred to avoid battle if something could be solved through negotiation. Gawan rode up to Parzival and saw the red knight staring silently at the ground. He spoke to Parzival, asking him what it was that drove him to challenge Arthur’s knights. He also asked him why he just stood there, in full armour, ready for battle. Gawan received no answer. Parzival was captivated by the thought of his love. He did not hear Gawan’s questions.

After Gawan had observed the red knight for a while he realised that the man could not hear him, that he was mesmerised by something on the ground. Gawan calmly approached Parzival and when he was close enough he noticed the three drops of blood. He threw a cloth over them, whereupon Parzival woke from his enchantment. Gawan explained that he was very close to Arthur’s retinue and invited him to join him and the other knights. 

 

King Arthur’s Court

When Parzival reached Arthur he was helped out of his armour, given a bath and had the rust washed away from under his eyes. He was given fine clothes and when he rejoined the people they all marvelled at his strength and beauty. Parzival was seated at the long table where the feast was laid on and for a brief moment he felt at home. But then the meal was interrupted by the arrival of the shrewdest of ladies, versed in all the arts and sciences but ugly as the night and seated on a mule: Cundrie the Sorceress. Everyone was startled and everyone knew who she was: an envoy from Munsalvæsche, the Grail Castle nobody can find.

Seated on her mule, Cundrie entered the circle of tables and made straight for Parzival. She came to a halt in front of him and started cursing him in a loud voice. It was Parzival who had had the honour of entering the Grail Castle and it was Parzival who had failed to ask his host what ailed him and why he suffered so. Cundrie concluded with the words: “Oh, Munsalvaesche, epitome of sorrow. Alas, none will offer you solace.” In tears, she turned her mule and rode off.

Parzival remained behind, distraught. The knights and ladies appeared to shun him. Nobody would look at him or speak to him. Parzival left the table by himself, aware that he had no choice but to set off in search of the Grail Castle.

 

The Holy Trevrizent

Parzival rode lonely through the land and practiced knighthood as it was done in those days. He battled to help the poor and the weak and used his sword to settle conflicts between people. Sometimes he battled for God, sometimes for himself, just as he saw fit. Was it good or was it evil what he was doing? He grew ever more melancholy, judged more and more harshly and began using his sword more often. Until one morning – he was in full armour – he heard the church bells ring. He saw people heading to church, among them a knight with his entire family, on foot.

“What are you doing?” the man asked Parzival. “Don’t you know you’re meant to go to church on the Lord’s day and not to the battleground?”

“What day is it then?” Parzival asked.

“Good Friday,” the knight replied and showed Parzival the way to the hermit Trevrizent.

Trevrizent, was the brother of Anfortas, lord of the Grail Castle. When Trevrizent spotted the knight, he asked him to dismount and lay down his weapons, something Parzival was only too happy to do. He told the hermit he had once taken a lance here and wondered when this may have been. Trevrizent replied it was four-and-a-half years ago.

Parzival told Trevrizent that he was looking for the Grail Castle. Anfortas, the lord of Munsalvæsche, had been injured by a poisoned lance. He became gravely ill and suffered excruciating pains, but was unable to die because those who laid eyes on the grail were unable to die that week. He could only be cured by someone inquiring after his suffering. Trevrizent said a knight had visited once, but had failed to ask the question. Thereupon Parzival revealed his identity, saying he had been the knight who had forgotten to ask.

Parzival stayed a fortnight. During this time Trevizent took away his sins.

Then Trevrizent advised Parzival to rejoin Arthur. Parzival set off. In the forest he encountered a wealthy stranger who had come from the east with a great army. The two knights, both with their visors down, engaged in battle. To their great surprise they were quite evenly matched. But when Parzival broke his sword on a stone the other knight broke off the fight. They both took off their helmets and his opponent turned out to be as dark as Parzival was blond. It was Feirefiz, Parzival’s half-brother.

Together they made their way to Arthur’s temporary encampment. Arthur welcomed Parzival and his brother and erected a round table. The meal had only just got underway when the mule carrying Cundrie la surziere appeared again. All the diners held their breath, and Parzival turned pale. Only Feirefiz watched with undisguised amazement as the loathly lady on the mule stepped into the circle with such great authority.

This time, however, Cundrie did not reproach Parzival. On the contrary, she told him all had been forgiven and that words had appeared on the Grail saying that he was to be the lord of the Grail Castle. Parzival was deeply moved when he heard this. Once he had chosen a companion Cundrie would lead them to Munsalvæsche. Parzival asked his brother Feirefiz to accompany him.

 

Parzival as the Grail King

Every day, tormented by hellish pains, Anfortas asked not to be shown the Grail. But now his suffering was about to come to an end. In the great hall, the tables were laid, Anfortas was carried in and Parzival sat down beside him. The large doors opened and a veiled woman carried in the grail. And this time, when the Grail was placed in front of them, Parzival asked Anfortas the question born of genuine compassion: what ails you Lord?

The pains left his body and Anfortas felt instantly revitalized. Thereupon the woman who had carried in the Grail lifted her veil. It was Condwiramurs. Parzival was overjoyed to see his beloved wife again after nearly five years.

Parzival and Condwiramurs were blessed with two sons: Kardeiz and Loherangrin. When Parzival was crowned Lord of the Grail Castle his son Kardeiz became king of all of Parzival’s lands. His son Loherangrin joined him for a life at Munsalvæsche, the Grail Castle.