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  • Jo-Anne Blanco

Sir Safir, Knight of the Round Table

Al-Mustakfi Caliph of Islam Imam of Baghdad

A knight of the Round Table, Sir Safir is relatively unfamiliar to modern readers and audiences. The youngest son of King Esclabor the Unknown, pagan king or nobleman of Babylon, Safir is the brother of the more famous Sir Palomides and lesser known Sir Segwarides, fellow knights of the Round Table, and of Lady Florine, their sister, for whose love the Knight of the Castle of Three Roses died. Along with Sir Morien, the son of Sir Percival’s brother Aglovale and a Moorish princess, and Feirefiz, Sir Percival’s half-brother, Safir and his siblings were among a number of characters of colour who brought cultural, ethnic and racial diversity to King Arthur’s court.

Unlike his brother Palomides, who did not convert to Christianity until after he was defeated by Sir Galahad or Sir Tristan (depending on the version), Safir was baptised as a Christian. He enjoyed competing in tournaments, and was renowned for his bravery, skill, and honour, appearing at the famous jousts of Castle Perilous, King Galehaut’s Kingdom of Sorelois, Castle Leverzep, and Winchester. In judicial combat at Arthur’s court, he fought and killed the Count of the Plank, who had waged war on his father, King Esclabor.

In another story, Safir disguised himself as Sir Hector de Maris or Sir Hector of the Fens, Lancelot’s younger half-brother. In this disguise, he fought and defeated Sir Helior le Preuse, who had abducted the paramour of Sir Espinogrés, which, by the rules of combat, meant that he was to keep the lady as his prize. However, Safir was then confronted by another knight whose identity was obscured by a mask. The two knights fought for hours with no victor in sight until, impressed by his opponent’s skill that matched his own, Safir asked the other knight’s identity. The other knight unmasked himself to reveal that he was Safir’s own brother Palomides. Horrified, Safi threw himself to his knees to ask Palomides’ forgiveness. The two brothers were reconciled and together they reunited Espinogrés with the lady he loved.

Together with his fighting skills, one of Safir’s greatest qualities was his loyalty. In one story, while travelling together, Safir and Palomides were ambushed by the knights of a lord who Palomides had killed in the jousts of Castle Leverzep. The two brothers were thrown into a dungeon for three days and put on trial. Safir was freed and forced to leave, but Palomides was sentenced to death. Before Safir could gather a rescue party, Palomides was freed by Sir Lancelot. Such was Safir’s gratitude that he became a staunch friend and ally of Lancelot, and, along with several of the other knights, defected with the latter when he left Camelot following his falling-out with Arthur over Guinevere. Safir accompanied Lancelot in exile from Arthur’s court and was among the knights who helped him rescue Guinevere from being burned at the stake for treason.

After joining Lancelot in exile in the latter’s homeland of Gaul and in return for his fealty, Safir was made Duke of Languedoc, while his brother Palomides was made Duke of Provence. There are varying accounts of Palomides’ subsequent fate: in the Post-Vulgate Quest del Saint Graal, he is killed by Gawain shortly after the Grail Quest, causing his father Esclabor to commit suicide; in the Serbo-Russian Povest o’Tryshchane, he is mortally wounded by Sir Tristan at the Castle of the Foul Heathen; and in the Italian I Due Tristani, he tries to kidnap Isolde and is killed by Tristan’s cousin Palante.

However, legend does not record Safir’s ultimate fate. We can surmise and be happy with the thought that he lived a long and happy life in Languedoc as its duke.

Safir is a major character in the Fata Morgana Series appearing as a child from Babylon, a friend of Morgan, and squire to Morgan’s father Gorlois, Duke of Belerion

Discover Safir and all of the Morgan le Fay characters in the Fata Morgana book series.

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