Alright! Confession time: I’m a HUGE King Arthur fan. I’ve read multiple books about or inspired by the legend and seen many movie/TV adaptations (good and bad). I once got into a heated argument with one of my classmates about whether or not King Arthur broke the laws of chivalry when he died. I won’t go any details but let’s just say he was wrong and I was right. 😊
So it probably goes without saying, that I cannot stop talking about Thomas Wheeler and Frank Miller’s Cursed, a clever re-imagining of the Lady of the Lake. Cursed follows Nimue as she sets out to fulfill her mother’s dying wish and deliver the Sword of Power to the legendary magician, Merlin.
Turns out, while I know a lot about King Arthur, I didn’t know much about the Lady of the Lake. So in honor of Cursed, here are 8 Lady of the Lake facts you (probably) didn’t know.
8 Lady of the Lake Facts That You (Probably) Didn’t Know
Lady of the Lake Fact #1
The Lady of the Lake has been known by many names. Most common are Nimue, Viviane, and Vivien. Nimue became the most popularly used name for this character from Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.
Lady of the Lake Fact #2
Similar to the fact above, the Lady of the Lake is more of a title than a specific person. Although she is most famous for giving King Arthur the sword, this title has been used to refer to many different people: water fey, an enchantress whom Merlin fell in love with, etc. It makes sense that she’d have multiple names, because it actually wasn’t the same person in all these legends.
Lady of the Lake Fact #3
This is less of a fact and more of a theory. Since no one actually knows the origins of the Lady of the Lake legend, people have theorized that she originated from the Celtic Water Goddess, Coventina. Why do people think this, you ask? The name Viviane stems from Co-Vianna, which is a variation of Coventina.
Lady of the Lake Fact #4
Of all the facts, this is my favorite. The Lady of the Lake first started appearing in French texts as a sort of fairy godmother/foster mother to Lancelot. She even raised Lancelot after the death of his father King Ban!
Lady of the Lake Fact #5
In earlier versions of the King Arthur legend, after giving King Arthur the sword Excalibur, the Lady of the Lake was killed by one of his knights. (This is a poor way to thank someone after they give you a present.) This is usually left out of the legend these days. Do I mind? I think not!
Lady of the Lake Fact #6
The Lady of the Lake shows up in Monty Python and the Holy Grail! Not as a character but they do reference her!
(They make some very compelling arguments here.)
Lady of the Lake Fact #7
The Lady of the Lake appears many times in Le Morte d’Arthur. Every time she appears it’s a hint to the fact that something new is about to happen.
Lady of the Lake Fact #8
In Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, Nimue is one of the magical queens who takes Arthur to Avalon after he is mortally wounded so that he can be healed.
Bonus King Arthur Fact!
Legend says that King Arthur now sleeps in Avalon waiting to return to England. Some stories say he will rise again when England needs him most. (Some people even believe it already happened and it was Winston Churchill.)
Are you sufficiently excited to read Cursed now? Because if we’ve learned anything, it’s that Nimue has not yet received the page or screen time that she deserves.
If you want to know more, Wikipedia is a good place to start. 😉