Brocéliande is a legendary forest in France that first appears in
literature in 1160, in the Roman de Rou, a verse chronicle written by
Brocéliande is a notable place of legend because of its uncertain
location, unusual weather, and its ties with Arthurian Romance, most
notably a magical fountain and the tomb of the legendary figure
2 Medieval historical accounts
3 Arthurian legend
4 Modern fiction
7 External links
Early source works provide unclear or conflicting information on the
exact location of Brocéliande; different hypotheses exist to locate
Brocéliande on the map.
According to Wace,
Brocéliande is in Brittany. In modern times,
Brocéliande is most commonly considered to be
Paimpont forest in
Some scholars think that
Brocéliande is a mythological place and has
Jean Markale notes that while the forest itself is legendary, it is
part of the "remainder of the immense forest that covered the entire
Brittany until the High Middle Ages." He goes on to point
out that the notion of a magical forest in France has its roots in the
Lucan who describes a numinous, magical forest full of
ominous happenings in Gaul.
Medieval historical accounts
Brocéliande is a land of peoples with many legends according to the
Roman de Rou, which covers the history of the Dukes of Normandy from
the time of
Rollo of Normandy
Rollo of Normandy to the battle of Tinchebray. Wace
numbers the Bretons from Brocéliande, about whom there are many
legends, along with the Breton knights: "ceux de Brecheliant (sic)
dont les Bretons disent maintes légendes..."
Wace also gives the
name of the fountain of Barenton: "La fontaine de Berenton/sort d'une
part lez le perron..."
Wace describes how hunters scoop water from the
fountain and wet a stone in order to summon rain. He also mentions
rumors of fairies and magic; he travels to
Brittany in search of these
marvels, but finds nothing notable.
Brocéliande is briefly mentioned in one historical text:
in Bertran de Born's 1183 poem dedicated to Geoffrey II, Duke of
Brittany – the duke to whom
Brocéliande's unusual weather alone is noted in a handful of texts:
in Giraldus Cambrensis's c. 1185 expeditionary account, Topographia
in Alexandre Neckham's c. 1195 work on nautical science, De naturis
in William the Breton's c. 1215 poem Philippide.
in the 1170s,
Chrétien de Troyes
Chrétien de Troyes mentions the forest of Brocéliande
in his Arthurian romance, Le Chevalier au lion. While in Brocéliande,
Yvain pours water from a spring into a stone, causing a violent storm
to erupt. This in turn summons the knight
Esclados le Ros who defends
in Jaufré, the Arthurian romance of unknown authorship composed in
Catalonia, the forest of
Brocéliande is near King Arthur's palace and
the site of a mill where
King Arthur battles a strange bull-like
animal. The dating of
Jaufré is debated and may have been written as
early as 1183 or as late as 1225-1228.
in the late 12th or early 13th century,
Robert de Boron associates the
Brocéliande in his poem Merlin, also known as the
Estoire de Merlin, or the Vulgate or Prose Merlin.
in the early 13th century,
Brocéliande appears in context with
archangels and Arthurian Knights in the medieval poet Huon de Méry's
allegorical poem Tournoiement Antecrist.
By the timeframe of 1230–1240, the forest of
established as part of Arthurian legend, having appeared in multiple
Brocéliande continues to appear throughout the Arthurian canon, in
works such as Alfred, Lord Tennyson's 19th century poem Idylls of the
King and 20th century works including Edwin Arlington Robinson's 1917
Merlin and Alan Seeger's 1916 poem Brocéliande. Jean Lorrain
wrote the play
Brocéliande (1898), in which the love between Myrddhin
(Merlin) and Viviane (Nimue/ Elaine) is treated. As in many of the
earlier Arthurian works,
Brocéliande is the location where Vivien
Merlin inside an oak tree.
Brocéliande serves as the location of Robert Holdstock's fantasy
novel Merlin's Wood.
It is mentioned repeatedly in Andre Norton's Here Abide Monsters using
the formula 'Avalon, Tara, Brocéliande, Carnac'.
The name was an inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien's fictional realm of
Beleriand in Middle-earth. The name Broseliand was used in the early
The Silmarillion (1926 to 1930). It is also the setting of
Tolkien's poem The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun.
Several of the short stories of Sylvia Townsend Warner's collection
Kingdoms of Elfin (many of which appeared in
The New Yorker
The New Yorker in the
1970s) are set in
Brocéliande or mention it, among several other
enchanted forests where Townsend's Elfin folk live.
It appears in the movie Robin Hood (2010, directed by Ridley Scott) as
the place where Robert Loxley is ambushed by the French.
In Michael Swanwick's The Dragons of Babel, Broceliande is a train
station where a bomb was dropped in a war between two kingdoms.
Vanni Santoni's novel Terra Ignota - il Risveglio features a magic
forest named Brocéliande.
Sarah Singleton's book The Poison Garden features a magic garden
Cassandra Clare's series "The Mortal Instruments" features a forest
named Brocelind in the fictional Shadowhunter nation of Idris.
Broceliande is the name of a forest in Joan Aiken's young adult novel
"The Stolen Lake" which, despite taking place in a fictionalized
version of South America, has a strong Arthurian themes.
In Bernard Cornwell's Arthurian trilogy The Warlord Chronicles,
Broceliande is one of two British (Celtic) kingdoms that form
modern-day Brittany, the other being Armorica.
The ABC television series Once Upon a Time features
the season 5 episode "Siege Perilous" as the location of a magical
toadstool needed for a potion to free the sorcerer
Merlin from his
imprisonment in a tree. The lake in the center of
filled with possessed suits of armor known as Phantom Knights.
The Witcher novel series by
Andrzej Sapkowski features an ancient
forest inhabited by magical beings known as Brokilon to humans and
Brokiloén in the Elven language.
^ « Mil chent et soisante anz out de temps et d'espace/puiz que
Dex en la Virge descendi par sa grace/quant un clerc de Caen, qui out
non Mestre Vace/s'entremist de l'estoire de Rou et de s'estrasce/qui
conquist Normendie, qui qu'en poist ne qui place/contre l'orgueil de
France, qui encor les menasce/que nostre roi Henri la congnoissë et
^ a b c d Lupack, Alan. The Oxford guide to Arthurian Literature and
Legend, (New York, NY: Oxford University Press USA, 2007), page 437.
^ Pelan, Margaret, "L'influence de
Wace sur les romanciers français
de son temps", p. 56, cité par A.-Y. Bourgès
^ Markale, Jean Merlin: Priest of Nature, (Rochester, VT: Inner
Traditions International, 1995), page 121.
^ Markale, Jean Merlin: Priest of Nature, (Rochester, VT: Inner
Traditions International, 1995), pages 120-121.
^ "e cil devers Brecheliant/donc Breton vont sovent fablant/une forest
mult longue e lee/qui en Bretaigne est mult loee"
^ "Brecelianensis monstrum admirabile fontis"
^ Eckhardt, Caroline D. (May 2009). "Reading Jaufré: Comedy and
Interpretation in a Medieval Cliff-Hanger". The Comparatist. 33:
^ Tolkien, JRR. as his horse bore him o'er the land to the green
boughs of Broceliande,, (Welsh Review, 1945).
Eckhardt, Caroline D. (May 2009). "Reading Jaufré: Comedy and
Interpretation in a Medieval Cliff-Hanger".
The Comparatist 33: 40-62.
Lupack, Alan (2007). The Oxford guide to Arthurian Literature and
Legend (1st paperback ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press USA.
Markale, Jean (1995). Merlin: Priest of Nature (1st English translated
ed.). Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Brocéliande.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Brocéliande.
French studies concerning
Brocéliande as a place:
Broceliande as Broualan near Dol, « Thèse Kerfontaine »
Broceliande in the Maine, « Thèse Payen-Bertin »
Broceliande as Paule, near Carhaix, «Thèse JC
King Arthur and the Matter of Britain
Lady of the Lake
Morgan le Fay
Knights of the
Elyan the White
Hector de Maris
Ywain the Bastard
Elaine of Astolat
Elaine of Corbenic
Battle of Badon
Battle of Camlann
King Arthur's family
Historicity of King Arthur