Swords from the Matter of Britain: Sword with the Red Hilt


Sword with the Red Hilt, one of the swords wielded by Sir Balin. After his death, Merlin sealed it in the float stone where it remained until it was drawn by Sir Galahad. After Galahad, the sword passes to his father, Sir Lancelot who fatally wounds Sir Gawain with it.

Sir Balin le Savage /ˈbeɪlɪn/, also known as the Knight with the Two Swords, is a character in the Arthurian legend. Like Sir Galahad, Sir Balin is a late addition to the medieval Arthurian world. His story, as told by Thomas Malory in Le Morte d’Arthur, is based upon that told in the continuation of the second book of the Post-Vulgate cycle of legend, the Suite du Merlin.

A knight before the Round Table was formed, Sir Balin lives only for a few weeks following his release from King Arthur’s prison and his subsequent slaying of a Lady of the Lake. Just prior to his departure, his destiny is sealed by the arrival of a mysterious damsel bearing a sword that only the “most virtuous” knight in Arthur’s court will be able to draw; Balin draws this sword easily. His adventures end when Balin and his brother Balan destroy each other in single combat, fulfilling an earlier prophecy about the destiny of the bearer of the damsel’s sword.

Prior to his tragic end, this ill-fated knight contrives to inflict a “Dolorous Stroke” with the spear that pierced Christ upon the Cross, thus setting the scene for the Post-Vulgate version of the search for the Holy Grail. Merlin tells Arthur Balin would have been his best and bravest knight.

This artifact is a part of SwordTemple Library

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