The de Ganis Clan
Lancelot “the Elder”, was the first King of Ganis, and great-grandson of the first Grail King, Helaius. Upon his death, he bequeathed his lands to his first two sons, Ban and Bors, who were contemporaries of Uther Pendragon, and lived up until the early part of Arthur’s reign. The Ganis line were reknown for their powerful might of arms, vigour, great honor and friendship, and long age.
Kings Ban and Bors were some of Arthur’s first supporters, seeing the goodness and honor in the young Boy King. But Arthur was unable to return his owed favor to Ban and Bors in 518, due to the Saxon insurrection which ended with the triumphant but costly Battle of Badon Hill. He learned later that King Claudas of France had won, and killed the two good kings, and exiled many of the Ganis clan.
Arthur welcomed the exiles as they trickled to his court, especially the young Lancelot du Lac. Lancelot quickly became the leader of the Ganis knights, and led them in war for the first time against the Roman Empire.
The direct members of the Ganis clan are the descendents of King Ban and Bors: primary among them Lancelot, Lionel and Bors de Ganis, Lancelot’s nephews Blamore, Bleoberis and Bors de Ganis’ son, Helin le Blank (who later became Emperor of Constantinople). Indirect descendents include Ector de Maris (Lancelot’s half-brother, being an illegitimate son of Ban), plus many remote cousins and much-honored “friends of the family.”
Unlike the fiercely insular Orkneys, the Ganis clan, perhaps due to their own diaspora, often take in outcasts and treat them with great honor. As a whole, they never hold a lasting emnity for anyone, even if held in utter hatred and contempt by their enemies, as the Orkney clan did late in Arthur’s reign. They were the clan which held closest to the ideals of Chivalry and Christianity, and it is little wonder that the greatest knight of Arthur’s court, Lancelot, was father to Galahad, the knight who finally achieved the Holy Grail.
The de Ganis clan, Lancelot prime among them, made friends with all they met. Tristram joined Arthur’s court only for the sake of Lancelot’s fellowship. Gawaine and Lancelot were best friends, until the tragedy of the rescue of Guenever. Duke Galeholt of the Long Isles even halted his war with Arthur for the sake of Lancelot. However, to a lesser degree, all of the rest of the Ganis clan were known for their good fellowship, and all were greatly reknown for their courtesy.
Theme: The Fellowship (The Round Table)
Before the lands of Ganis were overwhelmed by King Claudas of the Franks, their theme had already taken root: a brotherhood that even extended beyond kinship.
For though Ban and Bors were the closest of brothers, and their kindred were well reknown to hold fast with each other, their goodwill was unlike the insular ways of the Orkneys. The Kings of Ganis and Benwick extended their friendship to many though they were not of direct blood kinship, especially young Arthur.
After the fall of their homelands to the Franks, the outcast de Ganis clan sought refuge and were welcomed into Arthur’s court in repayment for their father’s service of years before. Perhaps due to their own exodus, this clan of outcasts always welcomed other outcasts into their circle as friends: Prince Galaholt of the Long Isles, Tristram, Hebes le Renoumes (who had been herald of their enemy, King Claudas himself!). These and others befriended and were befriended by the noble de Ganis knights.
They filled King Arthur’s realm with many strong knights, and their friendships nearly doubled the number of allies Arthur could count on. Indeed, the de Ganis knights and allies made the core of the Round Table.
Though fierce warriors, they also became known for seeking reconciliation where possible, in the true spirit of fraternity – “brotherly love.”
Symbolically, the de Ganis clan represent the magnanimous, borderless and timeless brotherhood of Chivalry. As the Pendragons link the lineage of the British Celtic nobility to the Roman emperors and represent the right to rule, the de Ganis clan links the continental Celtic warrior class to the Roman military tradition, and embody the esprit de corps of the Celtic cavalry and the Roman
equites. Pure cavalrymen, they are gallant, free, and fearsome. Holding to these traditions sets them apart and keeps alive the spirit of Aquitainian independence from Frankish rule.
They are the natural supporters of the Pendragons, as the military is always in the service of the state. When the de Ganis clan finally breaks from Arthur, it is then that the Round Table truly dissolves.
In religious analogy, they represent the fraternal community of monasticism. Monkhood is spartan, as is a soldier’s life, and the service is open to all who wish to enter. Not incidentally, during the last years of the period, Lancelot and his kindred travel to Glastonbury to become monks until Lancelot’s death and the final dissolution of his company to their homelands and the Holy Land.
It is this central and open brotherhood of knights that give honor and glory to Arthur at the Round Table, just as monks give glory and honor to God.
Two of their number, Galahad and Bors, achieve the Grail Quest, and Galahad can be seen as a primogenitor of the monk-knight tradition of the Crusades to come.
An almost heretical interpretation of the Christian tradition sheds light upon Lancelot’s love affair with Guenever. This is the central theme of the tragedy. It upsets the natural harmony of the King/Pope and the Queen/Divinity. Yet the ideal of Chivalry was service to your lord, but paramount was true worship of your lady. As the Popes were the supreme rulers of the Christian church, but not God, the monastics’ service to the Pope was natural, but their love for God was greater. If King Arthur represents the Pope, and Guenever the God (Goddess), then it is only right for Lancelot to serve Arthur, but truly worship Guenever.
To the pagan, the de Ganis clan seems the most alluring yet most threatening. Their well-known Christian piety, from Lancelot through Bors and Galahad, is nearly incorruptible. Morgan le Fay’s torn feelings are telling. She is consistently vexed by Lancelot, knowing he is beyond her powers in some way, yet desirous of him. She varies in her attitude and actions from covetous desire to murderous spite.
Another common theme of the de Ganis clan which has Pagan origins is their fosterage: lacking of normal childhood and being truly “bred-for-battle.” Lancelot is preserved from harm as a child and raised by Viviane, the Lady of the Lake, in most remarkable and martial manner. Galahad is likewise raised in hidden Carbonek until he arrives at Arthur’s court a full-fledged knight.
Back to the Clans.