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The Witchfinder
Tumbril
Also known as: Tumbrel
Type: Vehicle
Appearances: The Witchfinder

Tumbril or Tumbrel is the vehicle where the condemned prisoners are carried to the place of execution. It is usually a two wheeled vehicle, which is used by farmers to dump a load. When a prisoner in the cart is on his way to be executed, the people shout insults at him and throw stones and rubbishes to him. If the prisoner is a noble, he has got the right to keep his clothes, if he is not, he only wears a long shirt in hemp or linen. By itself, mounting the cart is an infamous punishment, a social humiliation which signifies the banishment from the human society and the loss of human dignity.

When Gaius has been sentenced to death and is to be burned at the stake, he is carried there in the cart. Arthur sees him about to be knocked by Aredian and says: "Show him some respect!" Yet Gaius had already lost his rights to any kind of respect. He now has to suffer the mockery and insults of the people who remain silent. Even the king does not make his usual speech and leaves the balcony before the execution starts (The Witchfinder).

The cart has four wheels and can be compared with the cart Freya was in the episode The Lady of the Lake, in which it is called a "cage" by Merlin. Therefore it cannot be a tumbril as its owner is Halig, a bounty hunter.

The legendEdit

In the novel of Chrétien de Troyes, Lancelot is the knight of the cart (Le Chevalier de la charrette). He has to free queen Guinevere from her abductor Maleagant, but has no horse and must mount the cart driven by a dwarf. He is hesitant in the first place because in this time, “the carts were used as the pillory was, and in each town, there was but one cart intended for those who committed a crime or treason, for those who fell in ordeal, for thieves and highway robbers… the one put in the cart, was led throughout the town and outlawed, he cannot be heard in a fair trial, or honoured, or have a celebration.” But, unlike Gawain, who refuses to mount the cart, Lancelot finally led by his unconditional love for Guinevere, relinquishes all his rights to the knighthood and get into the cart. This sacrifice shows the victory of Love upon Reason and makes Lancelot the model of the courtly knight. "
Charrette

Lancelot gets in the tumbril to save Guenevere. Lancelot-Graal cycle (manuscript of 1475)

GalleryEdit

  • The four wheeled cart in The Witchfinder
  • The four wheeled cart in The Lady of the Lake
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