Arthur’s illegitimate son by Margawse. Mordred is destined to kill his father someday, and Arthur attempts to have him killed as a child by sending all children born in the month of his birth on a ship to be sunk, but Mordred alone survives. He participates (along with his brothers) in the killing of Lamorak, and finally turns against Arthur when Arthur is off fighting Launcelot abroad. Mordred’s very existence is a testament to the book’s fascination with royal lineage and destiny, especially when tied to the omnipresent tendency to competition and jealousy—seeming to make it inevitable that a son will rise up against his father.
The timeline below shows where the character Sir Mordred appears in Le Morte d’Arthur. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...together, though he doesn’t know that Margawse is his half-sister—Igraine’s daughter. Margawse conceives a son Mordred. King Arthur then dreams that griffins and serpents have come into his land to do... (full context)
...Lake then enters the fight and strikes down the King of Northgalis. Launcelot and Sir Mordred (one of the knights fighting against Bagdemagus) joust together, and Launcelot hurls him off his... (full context)
...killing twelve knights and leaping back onto his horse. He arrives back at Maledisant and Mordred, but she doesn’t believe he killed the knights—she rather thinks that they’ve let him pass... (full context)
...5th day, the fighting begins again, and a Saracen strikes down three brothers of Gawaine: Mordred, Gaheris, and Agravaine. Arthur hears of this and is angry, so he decides to fight... (full context)
...Arthur to go out hunting, alerting Guenever that he’ll be gone that night: he and Mordred will take Launcelot captive with the queen. The king agrees. Agravaine and Mordred gather 12... (full context)
...appear before the king the next morning to be properly charged with treason. Agravaine and Mordred cry that they’ll kill him now, so Launcelot opens the door and immediately kills Agravaine,... (full context)
...that he’s brought Guenever according to the Pope’s command. He tells Arthur of Agravaine’s and Mordred’s treacherous actions, but Gawaine says they were right. Launcelot says he has always been loyal... (full context)
Chapter 8 The narrator returns to an earlier moment, and says that Launcelot learns of Mordred’s treachery through Gawaine’s letter, which has grieved him deeply. Launcelot prepares to go to Gawaine’s... (full context)