Mordred

From Academic Kids

This entry is on the King Arthur character. For other meanings, go to Mordred (disambiguation).

Mordred or Modred (Welsh: Medraut) is a legendary figure of Britain, known in the Matter of Britain as a notorious traitor who fought King Arthur at the Battle of Camlann, where he was killed, and Arthur fatally wounded.

Tradition differs on his relationship to Arthur, which variously reports that he was Mordred's uncle or father. In more detail there are three versions of his parentage:

  • The first reports that he was the son of Lot Luwddoc, King of Gododdin and his wife Ann-Morgause, a maternal half-sister of Arthur.
  • A second reports that he was the son of Arthur and Ann-Morgause though adopted and raised by Lot.
  • A third reports that he was the son of Arthur and Morgan Le Fay, another maternal half-sister of Arthur and sister of Ann-Morgause. Because Morgan was yet unmarried he was given to Ann-Morgause and Lot for adoption and he was raised as their own son.

The earliest mention of Mordred is in the Annales Cambriae, a chronicle that forms part of one of the recensions of the Historia Britonum. Mordred is mentioned again in Welsh tradition in the Welsh Triads: in one triad, based on Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, provides an account of his betrayal of Arthur; in another, he is described as the author of one of the "Three Unrestrained Ravagings of the Isle of Britain" -- he came to Arthur's court at Kelliwic in Cornwall, devoured all of the food and drink, and even dragged Gwenhwyfar (better known as Guinevere) from her throne and beat her.

Geoffrey of Monmouth introduced the figure of Mordred to the world beyond Wales. He tells of when Arthur set forth to wage war on Rome, he left Mordred behind to rule his kingdom and to protect Guinevere; during his absence Mordred made himself king and married Guinevere, forcing Arthur to return to Britain, where he and Mordred fought at Camlann. The battle (dated to either 537 or 542) resulted in the deaths of both Arthur and Mordred along with most of their armies.

Mordred is mentioned as having two or three marriages:

Some accounts mention Mordred as being survived by Melehan and Melou, his twin sons though which one of his wives was their mother is usually left unmentioned. They reportedly tried to claim the throne of Britain for themselves following the death of Arthur and Mordred. Melehan was eventually slain by Lancelot and Melou by Bors.

In The Divine Comedy, Mordred is condemned to the ninth circle of Hell, in the region of Cocytus reserved for traitors to family.

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