Chrétien de Troyes's masterpiece Lancelot, The Knight of the Cart is a riveting tale of knightly valor and courtly love. This romance marks the first known appearance of Lancelot as a major player in the Arthurian canon, and it also provides the first account of his affair with Guinevere. The first half of the narrative follows Lancelot (then unnamed) as he rescues Guinevere, who has been taken hostage by the evil Méléagant. Méléagant visits Arthur's court, boasting that he has ensnared many from Arthur's land (Logres). He ultimately convinces Arthur through trickery to give him Guinevere, and sets out to bring her to his homeland of Gorre as another prisoner. When Lancelot ends up without a horse, he encounters a dwarf with a cart, who claims to have information about the queen's whereabouts. However, he will not share his information unless Lancelot ride in his pillory cart, which is usually reserved for criminals, and hence brings shame to any who ride in it. Lancelot nevertheless rides in the cart, which brings him much shame and causes confusion amongst many he encounters.
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