Since Merlin Season 4 is back in full swing, I have resurrected the Clash series!
Here is Morgause v Morgause!
THERE ARE SPOILERS FOR THE CURRENT SEASON (S4 ) IN THIS ARTICLE
Morgause of the Legends
Morgause started her life in the legendary tale as ‘Anna’, as told by Geoffrey of Monmouth. She was the wife of Lot, and Arthur’s half sister. Even earlier than Monmouth’s writing, Morgause was Gwyar , and Arthur’s cousin, sharing a half sister with him, in the form of Morgan le fay. In most stories, Morgause’s sisters are Morgan and Elaine – and her children are Gawain, Gaheris, Agravain, Gareth, and Mordred – all who play a large part in the Arthurian legend, either as a trusted knight of Arthur’s or as his enemy.
In Le Morte d’Arthur, Morgause’s husband is killed by King Pellinore in battle, starting a blood feud between the families of Pellinore and Lot. Pellinore is killed by Gawain and Gaheris, and Morgause later has an affair with Lamorak, son of Pellinore. Her son Gaheris catches them together, and kills Morgause in bed, though he lets Lamorak go. Gaheris is later exiled by his brothers (after they kill Lamorak – believing that he was responsible for their mother’s death).
In modern literature, Morgause is very much connected to Morgan Le Fay, either as her ally in evil, or as her competition (a la Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “the Mists of Avalon” – it is Morgause who brings up Mordred after Morgraine has an affair with her brother). TH White’s The Queen of Air and Darkness (also known as the witch in the wood, and is a part of The Once and Future King stories) is Morgause’s story -and it is after Lot loses a battle with Arthur that Morgause travels to England and seduces Arthur – and falls pregnant with Mordred ( and Merlyn suddenly remembers that he forgot to tell Arthur that Morgause is his half sister.)
In a lot of these retellings, Morgause also requests that Merlin tutor her in the ways of magic – much like Morgana does- but is rejected by the wizard.
Morgause’s story in the legends is very much wrapped up in Morgan le Fay’s – which is fortunate – because, as is BBC Morgause’s.
BBC Morgause (played by Emilia Fox)
Picture from: BBC MERLIN
Morgause has been shown to be a part of one of the noble houses of Camelot, the house of Gorlois. Her mother is Vivienne, the wife of Gorlois. It is implied by Morgause in the episode The Sins of the Father that Morgana’s mother Vivienne is also Morgause’s mother and they both inherited their magical powers from her. She owes her life to Gaius, who shepherded her out of Camelot as Uther was beginning to order the murder of all those who held magic
We first see Morgause in the season 2 episode , Sins of the Father. She appears as some Knights are being sworn in – as an anonymous knight herself. It is not until she removes her helmet does anybody realise she is a woman. She challenges Arthur to a battle – one that he is reluctant to fight – due to not wanting to kill a girl – he sends Merlin to her Chambers to try to convince her not to battle Arthur – to which she declines. During the fight – she manages to disarm Arthur, and tells him she will spare him if he promises to visit her the next day. Arthur does so, much to Uther and Merlin’s protestations – and Morgause proves herself to be a witch. Arthur still chooses to trust her; and she shows him a vision of his mother. Unfortunately, this was all a ruse to cause animosity towards Uther on Arthur’s behalf, and ends in Arthur almost killing his father. Merlin has to restore hatred and doubt of magic into Arthur’s heart to stop this happening. From here on in, Morgause becomes a catalyst for Morgana’s fall to evil. She reveals herself as Morgana’s sister – and she uses her as a vassal for magic in s2 The fires of Idirsholas. She also whisks the poisoned Morgana away from Camelot at the end of S2.
S3 sees Morgause and Morgana working together to bring down Camelot and place Morgana on the throne. Morgana works from the inside of Camelot, and Morgause works with Cenred on the outside. They finally break Uther by the end of s3 and Morgana takes the throne, only to be defeated by Arthur and the knights. Merlin and Gaius seemingly wound Morgause. As of season 4 , Morgause is still alive, but allows Morgana to use her as a sacrifice to create a rift between the worlds, which will cause chaos to all magic.
This Morgause is powerful and ruthless, and hell bent on revenge for her kind. The only person she shows any affection for is Morgana. She does show interest in Merlin during various moments of the show – but, in my opinion , not the amount he deserves!
What do you think of Morgause? Do you like her as a character? What did you think of Emilia Fox’s portrayal?