I found the above image on the Centre’s Facebook page, but there was no information attached as to what is happening therein. It is therefore a mystery to solve when we visit. It is medieval and medievalist, full of motifs, people, and creatures familiar to anybody who has glimpsed into that wonderfully rich world. The courtly lady stands aloof, in her finery, from the knight, captivated instead by the dragon emerging from its cave. The knight, too, focuses on the dragon, with whom he is about to fight, for the lady. The stone carvings, or the facsimile thereof behind the lady, suggests a happy ending for the real couple, as the figures in said image look directly at one another, and the knight holds out a drink to the lady.
Yet the scene could be more ambiguous, as I have to come to learn is typical of most medieval romance tales. Compare the proferring of the drink here to the scene in which Iseult offers Tristan a drink, which unknown to both of them contains a love potion intended for Iseult to drink with her husband Mark, King of Cornwall, and Tristan’s uncle.This seemingly innocuous drink does in the end threaten the legitimacy of a king’s reign, and the future of his kingdom, not to mention the lives of the two unwitting lovers. Such ambiguity and complexity is one of the things I love most about my studies of all things medieval.
I will report back upon my return from Merlin’s enchanted forest of Broceliande, where lies the Centre de l’Imaginaire Arthurien, a place of mysterious legend and images.