For today’s post I have decided to discuss the enchanted forest Broceliande in France. The forest is located in modern day Brittany. The stories set in this forest include many of the medieval French Arthurian romances.
The forest is still a place of interest today for medieval scholars and Arthurian lovers of all kinds. It is said that this is the forest that holds the enchanted prison of Merlin. In previous posts I have discussed Merlin’s imprisonment at the hands of his lover, Nimue or Vivienne depending on the telling, who was a Lady of the Lake that used Merlin to gain knowledge (only to then use that knowledge to defeat the great mage). It is in this forest that holds the cave, or in some cases it is described as a tree he was imprisoned within, is located. Visitors of the forest can go and see sights within that connect to the medieval tales.
Unsurprisingly, one of my favorite parts of this legendary forest is that it is said to contain the Val Sans Retour. This is Morgen le Fay’s famous Valley of No Return. Morgana decided that she would curse all of the knights that would fall into her clutches. But the only ones that would be cursed to remain forever in this Val Sans Retour would be the knights who proved themselves to be unfaithful of heart. This means that those that failed her test of having a true heart were doomed.
Honesty, most knights were unfaithful (at least in their hearts if not in their bodies) and they fell into her trap. This does not mean that they remained tortured forever. In fact, in most tales mentioning her Val it was described as a place where the knights were treated well (and even enjoyed her company). The catch of this cursed valley was that they were unable to leave its confines.
The reason for her creation of this Val Sans Retour is that she was burned by love herself one too many times. This is usually put into effect after Guiomar left her (at the behest of Guinevere) and Accolon died in their attempt to overthrow Arthur! It is not a surprise to me that one that was betrayed by those who she loved and cherished would want to punish others as a result. There is even a famous story of a cursed cup (sent accidentally to King Mark’s court instead of Arthur’s Camelot) that showed that all the woman at court were unfaithful to their husbands!
I hope that you have enjoyed this short post about the magical forest in Brittany that is so connected to the Arthuriad. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is a tree in Broceliande. I found the image on https://www.altearth.net/broceliande/.