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Character Name Variants: MorienBackground Essay Author: Jessica Bates

Moriaen, a black Christian knight from the Land of Moors and Percival’s nephew, appears in the Dutch Roman van Moriaen written in the 13th centaury. The unknown author provides a few metatextual claims such as that a scribe neglected this story when copying the Roman van Lanceloet and that another version exists where Moriaen was Percival’s son instead of his nephew (Moriaen 23-24). Unfortunately neither of the surviving copies of Moriaen, the complete copy found in the Lancelot-Compilatie and the Moriaen-fragment found by M. Steel, contain this version where Moriaen is Percival’s son; and some scholars speculate it may never have existed at all (Buuren 41, Reiss 224, 338, Wells, “Source” 40).

Moriaen, the result of a union between a black mother and a white father, seeks out his absent father in an attempt to restore his mother to her throne. Scholars have noted the similarity of this premise, a mixed race child searching for an absentee father, to Feirefiz the half-brother of Percival in Wolfram Von Eschenbach’s Parzival. This has resulted in scholarly debate as to the relationship between the two texts (Wells, “Source” 30-32).

In Moriaen, Moriaen enters the story by challenging Lancelot to a duel to win information about his father’s location, a duel that Gawain ends before there is a clear victor out of a growing respect for Moriaen’s prowess (Moriaen 434-448, 531-43). The three travel together until they come to a crossroad, after which, Moriaen struggles to gain supplies and aid from the locals who fear his skin and height (Moriaen 938-40, 1175-80, 2363-78, 2398-2410). He reunites with Gawain in time to save him from treachery and then, upon finding the information he needs, sets out with Gareth to his father’s location. Securing Gareth’s aid in taking a boat he could not


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