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Lady Ragnell

By source page (direct link), Public Domain,, Lady Ragnell
By source page (direct link), Public Domain,
  • Gender – Female
  • Race – Human
  • Occupation – 
  • Religion – Celtic Pantheon
  • Allies – 
  • Enemies – 
  • Abode/ Base of operations –  Camelot
  • Nationality –
  • Languages – English
  • Alignment –
  • Affiliation (s) –
  • Significant others – 

The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle.

The mystical knight Sir Gromer Somer Joure challenged King Arthur to discover what women desire the most, or face dire consequences. This encounter took place following the stalking of a deer by the king in a haunted forest and a place where The Otherworld is near at hand. The king, on his own instructions, becomes separated from the rest of his hunting party, follows the deer, kills it and is then surprised by the arrival of an armed knight, Sir Gromer Somer Joure, whose lands, this knight claims, have been seized from him by Sir Gawain.

King Arthur is alone and unarmed and Sir Gromer’s arrival poses a real threat to him. Sir Gromer tells the king that he must return in exactly a year’s time, alone and dressed as he is now, and give him the answer to a question he will ask. If the king fails to give a satisfactory answer, Sir Gromer will cut off his head. The question is this: what is it that women most desire?

King Arthur returned to his knights and it is not long before Sir Gawain pries from his uncle the reason for his sudden melancholy. King Arthur explains to his nephew what happened to him in the forest and Sir Gawain, optimistically upbeat, suggests that they both ride about the country collecting answers to this tricky question. So they both do this, riding separately about the kingdom and writing down the answers they receive. When they return, they compare notes.

Sir Gawain is still willing, but King Arthur senses the hopelessness of it all and decides to go once more into Inglewood Forest to look for inspiration. In the forest he encounters an ugly hag on a fine horse, a loathly lady who claims to know the king’s problem and offers to give him the answer to this question that will save his life, on one condition. That she is allowed to marry Sir Gawain.

The king returns to Carlisle and reluctantly confronts Sir Gawain with this dilemma; for he is sure that his nephew will be willing to sacrifice himself in order to save him. Gawain selflessly consents in order to save his uncle. Soon, King Arthur rides alone into the forest to fulfill his promise to Sir Gromer Somer Joure and quickly meets with Dame Ragnelle, who is, in fact, Sir Gromer’s sister and who reminds King Arthur of the hopelessness of his task:

King Arthur tells her that Sir Gawain accepts her terms and she reveals to him that what women desire most is sovereynté, the ability to make their own decisions. With this answer King Arthur wins Gromer’s challenge, and much to his despair, the wedding of Gawain and Ragnelle goes ahead as planned.

Later, the new pair retire to the bedroom. After brief hesitation, Gawain assents to treat his new bride as he would if she were desirable, and go to bed with her as a dutiful husband is expected to do. When he looks up, he is astonished to see the most beautiful woman he has ever seen standing before him. She explains she had been under a spell to look like a hag until a good knight married her; now her looks will be restored half the day.

She gives him the choice to have her beautiful at night, when they are together, or during the day, when they are with others. Instead, he gives her the sovereynté to make the choice herself. This answer lifts the curse for good, and Ragnelle’s beauty returns permanently.

The couple live happily, and the court is overjoyed when they hear Ragnelle’s story. Ragnelle lives for only five more years, after which Gawain mourns her for the rest of his life. Ragnelle bore Gawain his son Gingalain, who is the hero of his own romance and whose arrival at King Arthur’s court and subsequent adventures are related.

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