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Galahad, Bors the Younger, and Percival achieve the Grail (Edward Burne-Jones C. 1895)

Bors (/ˈbɔːrz/; French: Bohort) is the name of two knights in the Arthurian legend, one the father of the other. Bors the Elder is the King of Gaunnes or Gaul during the early period of King Arthur's reign, and is the brother of King Ban of Benoic. The two first appear in the 13th-century Lancelot-Grail cycle. Bors the Younger later becomes one of the best Knights of the Round Table, and even achieves the Holy Grail.

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King Bors the ElderEdit

As Ban's brother, King Bors is Lancelot's and Hector de Maris' uncle. He marries Evaine, the sister of Ban's wife Elaine, and has two sons, Bors the Younger and Lionel. Ban and Bors become Arthur's early allies in his fight against eleven rebel kings in Britain, including Lot, Urien, and Caradoc, and he vows to help them against their enemy Claudas, who has been threatening their lands. Arthur is late on his promise, however, and Claudas succeeds in his invasion, resulting in both kings' deaths. Ban's son Lancelot is taken by the Lady of the Lake, but Bors' children are raised in captivity by Claudas' retainers.

Sir Bors the YoungerEdit

Sir Bors the Younger is better known than King Bors throughout Arthurian studies. Sir Bors and Lionel live for several years at Claudas' court. But they eventually rebel against him and even slay his cruel son Dorin. Before Claudas can retaliate, the boys are rescued by a servant of the Lady of the Lake and are spirited off to be raised with their cousin Lancelot. All three grow to be excellent knights and go to Camelot to join King Arthur's retinue. Bors is recognizable by a distinctive scar on his forehead, and participates in most of the King's conflicts, including the eventual battle with Claudas that liberates his father's lands. Bors fathers Sir Elyan the White when the daughter of King Brandegoris tricks him into sleeping with her by way of a magic ring; he later introduces his son into the Round Table.

 
Bors chooses to save a maiden rather than his brother Lionel

Bors is always portrayed as one of the Round Table's finest, but his real glory comes on the Grail Quest, where he proves himself worthy enough to witness the Grail's mysteries alongside Galahad and Percival. Several episodes display his virtuous character; in one, a lady approaches Bors vowing to commit suicide unless he sleeps with her. He refuses to break his vow of celibacy; the lady and her maidens threaten to throw themselves off the castle battlements. As the ladies jump off, they reveal themselves to be demons set on deceiving him by playing to his sense of compassion. In another, Bors faces a dilemma where he must choose between rescuing his brother Lionel, being whipped with thorns by villains in one direction, and saving a young girl who has been abducted by a rogue knight in the other. Bors chooses to help the maiden, but prays for his brother's safety. Lionel escapes his tormentors and tries to murder Bors, and Bors does not defend himself, refusing to raise a weapon against his kinsman. Fellow Knight of the Round Table Sir Calogrenant and a religious hermit try to intervene, but Lionel slays them both when they get in the way. Before he can kill his brother, however, God strikes him down with an immobilizing column of fire. Bors, Galahad, and Percival go on to achieve the Holy Grail and accompany it to Sarras, a mystical island in the Middle East. Both Galahad and Percival pass away while there; Bors is the only one to return.

In Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, Sir Bors agrees to fight as Guinevere's champion when she is accused of poisoning a knight. Bors is reluctant, as her first choice, Lancelot, left Camelot because of Guinevere. He relents when Arthur sees Guinevere kneeling before him. He is about to joust for her sake when Lancelot arrives to take his place.

Like the rest of his family, Bors joins Lancelot in exile after his affair with Guinevere is exposed, and helps rescue the Queen from her execution at the stake. Bors becomes one of Lancelot's most trusted advisors in the ensuing war between Lancelot and Arthur, and becomes ruler of Claudas' former lands. When Arthur and Gawain must return to Britain to fight the evil usurper Mordred, Gawain sends a letter to Lancelot asking for aid. Lancelot's men arrive to put down the remainder of the rebellion led by Mordred's sons Melehan and Melou; Lionel is killed by Melehan, and Bors avenges his death.

Modern portrayalsEdit

  • In T.H. White's The Once and Future King, Bors is described as a "misogynist" and an "almost-virgin", and generally something of a curmudgeon.
  • In 1975's Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Sir Bors (played by Terry Gilliam) is the first Knight of the Round Table to succumb to the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog. Arthur, dismissive of the Rabbit despite Tim the Enchanter's warnings, orders Bors to kill the Rabbit to demonstrate that it is of no threat. However, the Rabbit leaps through the air and onto Sir Bors, and he is quickly decapitated before he can attempt a single blow.
  • In 2004's King Arthur, British actor Ray Winstone plays a different Bors. He is one of the Sarmatian 'knights', and is brash, bold and violent in a departure from the saintly earlier figure. He is brother to Dagonet; has a native lover Vanora, and more than ten illegitimate children. Vanora is believed to be an early identity of Guenevere; the Vanora of the film is also some-time mistress to fellow Sarmatian knight Lancelot, who is strongly hinted to be the father of Bors' youngest child, and possibly others (for example Gilly, the eldest), as they have dark hair whereas neither of their parents do.
  • In Adventures of Sir Galahad, a Columbia serial from 1949, Sir Bors is played by Charles King as a comedy relief sidekick for Galahad.

See alsoEdit