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The Lilymadin of Astolat
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This is not an Irish legend, however it is a very poignant tale of the great love of a woman for Sir Lancelot of Arthurian legend. 

Many a maiden loved Sir Lancelot, but his heart had been pledged to Queen Guinevere from the moment he joined King Arthur's company at Camelot. So the maidens sighed in vain, and most gave up the chase. Only one ever matched with her affection the perfect, tragic exclusivity of Lancelot's passion for the Queen. That woman was Elaine of Astolat, the fair, the loveable, the lily maid. When she first saw Lancelot, from the tower of her father's castle, she did not even know who he was. He was riding in disguise to test his valor without the support of his formidable reputation.

Elaine's father gave him shelter for the night, as was the custom of the day. Elaine sat by him in her father's hall. When she found out that he was to fight in a tourney (a display of skill) held each year in Camelot, she asked him if he would wear her favor. This was an expected courtesy, for knights often rode into battle wearing ribbons or silks from the ladies they loved. Lancelot was an exception because he could not wear Guinevere's favor and he vowed to wear no other. He refused Elaine's request, but when he saw her stricken look, he relented. A favor, after all, would add to his disguise. But Elaine took the gesture seriously.

So Lancelot rode into the jousting field bearing a white shield Elaine's scarlet sleeve, embroidered with pearls. He was not recognized that day as he unseated forty and he himself was wounded by a spear. He rode back to Elaine with his injury. She nursed him lovingly for months, and when he was healed, she asked him to marry her. He told her as gently as he could, that he would never marry. She offered to become his paramour. Appalled, Lancelot said that his heart was given elsewhere and returned alone to Camelot. 

Elaine simply wasted and died for love. Her deathbed, at her request, was a barge set upon a river to drift to Camelot. It was Lancelot who found her and who sadly buried her.

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