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Lyonesse
Lyonesse
is a country in Arthurian
Arthurian
legend, particularly in the story of Tristan
Tristan
and Iseult. Said to border Cornwall, it is most notable as the home of the hero Tristan, whose father was king. In later traditions Lyonesse
Lyonesse
is said to have sunk beneath the waves some time after the Tristan
Tristan
stories take place, making it similar to Ys and other lost lands in medieval Celtic tales, and perhaps connecting it with the Isles of Scilly.

Contents

1 Lyonesse
Lyonesse
in Arthurian
Arthurian
legend 2 Analogues in Celtic mythology 3 Lyonesse
Lyonesse
in modern English literature 4 Lyonesse
Lyonesse
in Cornish literature 5 Other uses of Lyonesse 6 See also 7 Notes 8 References

Lyonesse
Lyonesse
in Arthurian
Arthurian
legend[edit] In medieval Arthurian
Arthurian
legend, there are no references to the sinking of Lyonesse, because the name originally referred to a still-existing place. Lyonesse
Lyonesse
is an English alteration of French Léoneis or Léonois (earlier Loönois), a development of Lodonesia, the Latin name for Lothian
Lothian
in Scotland. Continental writers of Arthurian romances were often puzzled by the internal geography of Great Britain; thus it is that the author French Prose Tristan
Tristan
appears to place Léonois contiguous, by land, to Cornwall. In English adaptations of the French tales, Léonois, now "Lyonesse", becomes a kingdom wholly distinct from Lothian, and closely associated with the Cornish region, though its exact geographical location remained unspecified. The name was not attached to Cornish legends of lost coastal lands until the reign of Elizabeth I of England, however.[1] However, the legendary lost land between Land's End and Scilly has a distinct Cornish name: Lethowsow. This derives from the Cornish name for the Seven Stones reef, on the reputed site of the lost land's capital and the site of the notorious wreck of the Torrey Canyon. The name means "the milky ones", from the constant white water surrounding the reef. Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Arthurian
Arthurian
epic Idylls of the King
Idylls of the King
describes Lyonesse
Lyonesse
as the site of the final battle between Arthur and Mordred. One passage in particular references legends of Lyonesse
Lyonesse
as a land fated to sink beneath the ocean:

Then rose the King and moved his host by night And ever pushed Sir Mordred, league by league, Back to the sunset bound of Lyonesse— A land of old upheaven from the abyss By fire, to sink into the abyss again; Where fragments of forgotten peoples dwelt, And the long mountains ended in a coast Of ever-shifting sand, and far away The phantom circle of a moaning sea.

Deriving from a false etymology of Lyonesse, the 'City of Lions' was said in some later traditions to be the capital of the legendary kingdom, situated on what is today the Seven Stones reef, some eighteen miles west of Land's End and eight miles north-east of the Isles of Scilly.[2] Analogues in Celtic mythology[edit] The legend of a sunken kingdom appears in both Cornish and Breton mythology. In Christian times it came to be viewed as a sort of Cornish Sodom and Gomorrah, an example of divine wrath provoked by unvirtuous living, although the parallels were limited in that Lyonesse
Lyonesse
remained in Cornish thought very much a mystical and mythical land, comparable to the role of Tir na nÓg
Tir na nÓg
in Irish mythology.[citation needed] There is a Breton parallel in the tale of the Cité d'Ys, similarly drowned as a result of its debauchery with a single virtuous survivor escaping on a horse, in this case King Gradlon. The Welsh equivalent to Lyonesse
Lyonesse
and Ker Ys is Cantre'r Gwaelod, a legendary drowned kingdom in Cardigan Bay. It is often suggested that the tale of Lyonesse
Lyonesse
represents an extraordinary survival of folk memory of the flooding of the Isles of Scilly and Mount's Bay
Mount's Bay
near Penzance.[3] For example, the Cornish name of St Michael's Mount
St Michael's Mount
is Karrek Loos y'n Koos - literally, "the grey rock in the wood". Cornish people
Cornish people
around Penzance still get occasional glimpses at extreme low water of a sunken forest in Mount's Bay, where petrified tree stumps become visible. The importance of the maintenance of this memory can be seen in that it came to be associated with the legendary British hero Arthur, although the date of its inundation is actually c.2500 BC. Lyonesse
Lyonesse
in modern English literature[edit] Walter de la Mare's "Sunk Lyonesse" (1922) evokes it as a lost world:

In sea-cold Lyonesse, When the Sabbath eve shafts down On the roofs, walls, belfries Of the foundered town, The Nereids pluck their lyres Where the green translucency beats, And with motionless eyes at gaze Make ministrely in the streets.   And the ocean water stirs In salt-worn casement and porch Plies the blunt-nosed fish With fire in his skull for torch. And the ringing wires resound; And the unearthly lovely weep, In lament of the music they make In the sullen courts of sleep:

Whose marble flowers bloom for aye: And—lapped by the moon-guiled tide— Mock their carver with heart of stone, Caged in his stone-ribbed side.

Lyonesse
Lyonesse
has been used as a setting for many modern fantasy stories, including:

Jack Vance's Lyonesse
Lyonesse
trilogy Lyonesse
Lyonesse
makes a small appearance in Gordon R. Dickson's The Dragon and the Gnarly King, the seventh book in the Dragon Knight series, and features much more prominently in The Dragon in Lyonesse, the eighth book. In Stephen R. Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle, Lyonesse
Lyonesse
is where refugees from Atlantis
Atlantis
(the "Fair Folk") settle, the word Lyonesse
Lyonesse
being derived from the Celtic corruption of the word Atlantis. In the film First Knight, Lyonnesse is the home of Guinevere, a small land situated between Camelot
Camelot
and Malagant's territory. Lyonesse
Lyonesse
was ruled by Guinevere's father until his death, after which Guinevere became the "Lady of Lyonesse". The Trevelyan family
Trevelyan family
of Cornwall
Cornwall
takes its coat of arms from a local legend, in which a man named Trevelyan escaped the inundation by riding a white horse.[citation needed] To this day the family's shield bears a white horse rising from the waves.[citation needed]. Based on the above, in Cornish author Craig Weatherhill's The Lyonesse
Lyonesse
Stone trilogy (The Lyonesse
Lyonesse
Stone, Seat of Storms, and The Tinners' Way), the Trevelyan family, drawn into the worlds of ancient Cornish legend, are direct descendants of the Lyonesse
Lyonesse
flood survivor. The Vyvyan family
Vyvyan family
of Cornwall
Cornwall
also takes its coat of arms from the legend, in which a man named Vyvyan, governor of Lyonesse, escaped the inundation by having ready bridled and saddled in his stable a white horse. To this day the family's shield bears a white horse fully bridled with one foot over the waves. The horse leapt, with Vyvyan aboard, and where it landed, there the Vyvyan family
Vyvyan family
set its roots. (Trelowarren) Both Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy
and Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath
published poems referring to Lyonnesse, the latter taking the mythical land's name as its title. English composer Gerald Finzi set the Hardy poem, "When I Set Out for Lyonnesse", to music in his song cycle Earth and Air and Rain (published 1936). Sam Llewellyn wrote two children's books set in the sinking Lyonesse, with original Celtic names for the cast of Arthurian
Arthurian
legend: Lyonesse: The Well Between The Worlds (2009) and Lyonesse: Dark Solstice (2010). "Lyonesse" is a song, by Cornish folk composer Richard Gendall, which appears as the title track of the 1982 album by Brenda Wootton. In Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, the narrator describes the Oxford
Oxford
of his youth as being "submerged now and obliterated, irrecoverable as Lyonnesse, so quickly have the waters come flooding in..." In the PC game Dark Age of Camelot, Lyonesse
Lyonesse
is a partially inundated zone at one end of the land of Albion, filled with ruins and dangerous monsters, many of them undead.

Lyonesse
Lyonesse
in Cornish literature[edit] See also: Cornish literature

Lyonesse
Lyonesse
is featured heavily in the 2009 novel Jowal Lethesow (The Lyonesse
Lyonesse
Stone) by Craig Weatherhill.

Other uses of Lyonesse[edit] The name Lyonesse
Lyonesse
has often been applied to transport subjects:

Lyonesse: West Cornwall
Cornwall
Steam Ship Company steam ferry Lyonesse: Great Western Railway
Great Western Railway
Bulldog Class steam locomotive no. 3361 Lyonnesse: Southern Railway (Great Britain)
Southern Railway (Great Britain)
King Arthur
King Arthur
Class steam locomotive no. 743 Lyonnesse: British Railways
British Railways
Standard Class 5 steam locomotive no. 73113

Lyonesse
Lyonesse
is also the name of one of the three school houses at Cape Cornwall
Cornwall
School. See also[edit]

Cornish culture Gallia Lugdunensis Matter of Britain St Michael's Mount Ys Where Troy Once Stood

Notes[edit]

^ Bivar, A. D. H. (February 1953). "Lyonnesse: The Evolution of a Fable". Modern Philology. 50 (3): 162–170. doi:10.1086/388954.  ^ James, Beryl (1988). Tales of the Tinners' Way. Redruth: Dyllansow Truran. ISBN 1-85022-042-5. p. 2. ^ Hind, C. Lewis. (1907). "Days in Cornwall": 163. 

References[edit]

Eilhart von Oberge (c. 1180) Tristant Anonymous (c. 1220) Prose Tristan Anonymous (c. 1335) La Tavola Ritonda Malory, Sir Thomas (1470) Le Morte D'Arthur Anonymous (1555) I Due Tristani Tennyson, Alfred Lord (1886) Idylls of the King

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Culture of Cornwall

Cornish: Gonisogeth Kernow

Symbols

Celtic cross Cornish chough Cornish heath Cornish kilts and tartans Jonathan Trelawny Michael An Gof Saint Piran Saint Piran's Flag

Festivals

AberFest Allantide Chewidden Thursday Furry Dance Golowan Guldize Kernewek Lowender Montol Festival Mummer's Day Nickanan Night Noze looan 'Obby 'Oss Picrous Day St Piran's Day Tom Bawcock's Eve

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Cornish Cider Cloam oven Clotted cream Cornish cheeses Cornish cream tea Cornish fairings Cornish Gilliflower Hevva cake Hog's pudding Pasty Saffron bun Stargazy pie Cornish Yarg

Arts

List of Cornish writers Tristan
Tristan
and Iseult Cornwall
Cornwall
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"Bro Goth agan Tasow" "Camborne Hill" "Come, all ye jolly tinner boys" "Delkiow Sivy" "Hail to the Homeland" "The Song of the Western Men"

Language

Anglo-Cornish Cornish literature Ordinalia Beunans Meriasek Bewnans Ke Prayer Book Rebellion Radyo an Gernewegva

Mythology

Beast of Bodmin Blunderbore Bucca Cruel Coppinger Knocker King Arthur Lyonesse Mermaid of Zennor Owlman Piskie

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Cornwall
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Cornwall
portal

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King Arthur
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and the Matter of Britain

Key people

King Arthur Constantine Galahad Gawain Queen Guinevere Igraine Lady of the Lake Lancelot Merlin Mordred Morgan le Fay Morgause Percival Tristan Uther Pendragon

Knights of the Round Table

Aglovale Agravain Bagdemagus Bedivere Bors Breunor Calogrenant Caradoc Dagonet Dinadan Elyan the White Erec Gaheris Gareth Geraint Griflet Hector de Maris Hoel Kay Lamorak Leodegrance Lionel Lucan Morholt Palamedes Pelleas Pellinore Safir Sagramore Segwarides Tor Urien Ywain Ywain
Ywain
the Bastard

Other characters

Balin Balan King Ban Claudas Culhwch Dindrane Ector Elaine of Astolat Elaine of Corbenic Fisher King Galehaut Gorlois Gwenhwyfach Hellawes Iseult Black Knight Green Knight Red Knight Lohengrin King Lot Maleagant King Mark Emperor Lucius Olwen Questing Beast Rience Tom Thumb

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