Sir Lancelot du Lac which translates to Lancelot of the Lake is a character of Arthurian legend. Over the centuries there have been many poems, stories, tellings and retellings of Lancelot’s actions and deeds. Lancelot is known as King Arthur's greatest companion, the lord of Joyous Gard and the greatest swordsman, jouster and knight of his age. In one such telling we know that Lancelot was born and raised in France. While in France he learned how to fight and eventually became the greatest knight in all of France. Lancelot was so great a knight in fact that he never met his match in single combat and had to leave France in search of greater adventure and to meet a king worthy of his allegiance.
Lancelot travels to England where one day he blocks passage on a bridge by a lake and will not move until he is defeated in single combat. He is seeking a king worthy to pledge his loyalty and his sword. Lancelot explains that it is his curse to never have met his equal in single combat and that since no man is his equal he cannot step aside and yield the right of way on the bridge to any knight. He encounters several knights and joust with them defeating each and every knight he faces by unhorsing them easily with his lance. After Lancelot defeats all the knights he faces one by one he finally meets King Arthur on the bridge. Arthur also refuses to yield to Lancelot. Arthur and Lancelot have a joust to see who is more skilled. Lancelot also unhorses King Arthur and defeats Arthur in single hand to hand combat. At first the battle is thought to be to the death. However, at the last minute Arthur calls on the magical power of his sword Excalibur which ultimately gives Arthur the victory, but Excalibur is broken in the process. Arthur is ashamed of abusing the sword's power to serve his own vanity and throws the sword's remains into the lake, while admitting that Lancelot really defeated him. The Lady of the Lake, Viviane offers a restored Excalibur to the king. Lancelot states that his curse to never have met his equal in single combat is now lifted. He pledges to serve Arthur, and to become the champion of the king and of Knights of the Round Table. Over time Lancelot became Camelot’s greatest champion. Lancelot, Arthur and the other knights unify the land. King Arthur creates the Knights of the Round Table and builds Camelot. There is peace throughout the land and this is Camelot’s Golden Age.
Arthur falls in love with and marries Guinevere who becomes his queen. Meanwhile, Arthur's half-sister Morgana, a budding sorceress who hates Arthur, becomes apprenticed to Merlin the magician in hopes of learning Merlin’s sourcerer secrets. Eventually, Lancelot falls in love with King Arthur’s queen, Guinevere from afar. At first, Guinevere is unaware of Lancelot’s love for her, but one day after the queen’s caravan is attacked by bandits Lancelot saves Guinevere’s life. The two spend much time together and eventually Lancelot reveals to Guinevere his love for her and tells Guinevere that “while you live I will love no other”. At first Lancelot’s love for Guinevere is the love a loyal subject and knight has for his sovereign queen. However, Guinevere cannot deny her deep desire and the growing passionate feelings she has for Lancelot. Lancelot stays away from the Knights of the Round Table to avoid Guinevere because of his loyalty to his friend Arthur the King. He meets Perceval, a peasant boy and takes him to Camelot to become a squire. Sir Gawain, a knight of the Round Table under Morgana's influence, accuses Guinevere of driving Lancelot away, "driven from us by a woman's desire". As the king Arthur must judge all charges and therefore must judge Guinevere’s guilt or innocent in her relationship with Lancelot so he arranges a trail by combat with Lancelot as the champion to prove the queen’s innocence against Gawain who fights to prove her guilt. The night before the trail by combat Lancelot attacks himself in a nightmare and awakens to find himself severely wounded by his own sword.
Because of his wounds Lancelot is late to the duel and Arthur hastily knights Perceval to fight Gawain in Lancelot’s place but Lancelot appears at the last minute and defeats Gawain, while nearly dying from his own self-inflicted wounds. Merlin heals him and he rides out to the forest to rest. Guinevere realizes her passion for Lancelot cannot be denied and goes to him and they consummate their love in the forest. Arthur finds Guinevere and Lancelot asleep together. Heartbroken at their betrayal, he thrusts Excalibur into the ground between the sleeping couple. Merlin's magical link to the land impales him on the sword and Morgana seizes the opportunity to trap him in a crystal with the Charm of Making. Morgana takes the form of Guinevere and seduces Arthur. On awakening to the sight of Excalibur, Lancelot realizes the king knows of their betrayal and flees in shame while Guinevere lies weeping. Once Arthur abandons Excalibur, Lancelot cries, “A king without a sword! A land without a king!”.
Morgana bears a son, Mordred, and a curse caused by Mordred's unnatural origin strikes the land with famine and sickness for many years. Arthur spends the next several years at war with Mordred’s armies as their two forces struggle for control of the land with Mordred’s forces gaining in strength. While traveling Perceval encounters a bearded old man with armor under his tattered robes, not knowing that it is Lancelot, who preaches to followers that the kingdom has fallen because of "the sin of Pride". Arthur and Mordred's forces meet in battle, with Arthur's army benefiting from the fog that conceals their small size. Vastly outnumbered with almost no chance of victory Arthur’s forces are losing the battle, but an old and tattered Lancelot arrives unexpectedly on the battlefield and turns the tide of battle in Arthur’s favor. At first Arthur doesn’t recognize this old vagabond, but something about his fight style is both familiar and brilliant. Arthur eventually realizes it is his old friend and champion Lancelot come one last time to his rescue. Mordred is slain and Arthur’s forces win the battle. Lancelot collapsing from his old, self-inflicted wound tells Arthur the wound has never healed. Arthur and Lancelot reconcile and Lancelot is able to die with honor.