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Templar Elements.

In endeavouring to account for the remarkable claims put forward for the Grail Church and its Scriptures two points may be noted. In the Parzival form of the Early History the Grail Church is certainly reminiscent of, and modelled upon, the organisation of the Knights Templar. In the Grand St. Graal the two most prominent personages, after Josephes, are the converted heathen warriors Mordrains and Nasciens. Mordrains fills to some extent in the Quête the same rôle as Anfortas in the Parzival; Nasciens is the direct ancestor of the successful Grail quester. Now both are, without doubt, the outcome of crusading conditions, of the early stage of that great conflict between West and East, between Christendom and the Moslem world, which called the Knights Templar into existence. We know what, at a later date, was the attitude of the Church to the Temple, and how the latter fell, crushed by the terrible accusations of impiety and alliance with the Powers of Darkness brought against it. Is it too rash a conjecture that the Grail romances reveal, in part, early attempts to claim for the knightly priesthood a position and sanction equal, if not superior, to those of the regular priesthood? If only a conjecture, it is at least better founded than the endeavours of earlier scholars to ascribe the essential heterodoxy of the Grail romances to the separatist tendencies of the British Church. May we not further recall the fact that the greatest of the Angevin kings, the politician who so persistently endeavoured to utilise the Arthurian legend for his own purposes, the patron of Walter Map, the traditional inspirer of the Lancelot Grail romances, was the opponent of Becket, and waged the bitterest struggle of his strenuous life against what, to use modern terminology, may be styled Oltramontanism?

That portion of the Grail romances which we have seen reason to regard as originally non-Christian now claims an examination. And here we must bear in mind the antecedent probability that, as well as the Christian portion, it has been modified by association with alien conceptions and incidents. In no instance, not even in the case of the Peredur or Sir Percyvelle, can we be sure that features and incidents have not been distorted in order to fit them into a Christian framework. Allowing for this possibility, and considering the Quest versions as a whole, we detect two main themes in the -complicated mass of adventure of which they are formed. Certain versions, as we saw, are vengeance stories pure, and simple, Sir Percyvelle, for instance, and Manessier's conclusion to Crestien's poem ; in the Peredur the vengeance conception predominates, but we note other and inconsistent elements. Two of the mysterious talismans should, it would seem, be referred to this, the vengeance theme-the bleeding lance (as a rule the weapon with which the hero's injured kinsman has been slain or wounded), and the broken sword (as a rule the weapon with which the injury is to be avenged). In such a story there would seem to be no room for the Grail, the food-producing vessel. But we have more than one version of Perceval's visit to the castle of the Talismans, and, as we saw, his comrade Gawain likewise essays and partly achieves the venture. As might be expected, the Gawain version is more primitive in tone, less affected by Christian symbolism than that in which Perceval figures. In one form (found in a German poem, Diu Crone, by Heinrich v. d. Türlin, which reproduces a lost French original), the inmates of the castle are in a Death in Life trance from which the hero's visit releases them; in another the partial achievement of the venture causes the heretofore desert land to bloom and blossom afresh. To this theme, the release from enchantment or unspelling quest as we may call it, the mysterious vessel of increase and plenty (the Grail) and the question are, it would seem, referable. The Grail here plays at wofold part; its inexhaustible food-producing qualities may be the means whereby the life of the lord of the castle is prolonged until the advent of his successor releases him from his vigil, or again, it may be regarded as a fertility talisman from which the land is debarred until the destined hero appears. In either case the result is to put the hero, directly or indirectly, in possession of a fertile land, and the question is the chief means by which the result is attained.


Quelle: The Legends of The Holy Grail, Alfred Nutt, London 1902, S. 48ff