I always wondered about Galahad, why he showed up in some tales but not others and why sometimes Lancelot was called Galahad. Here are the answers!
Originally posted on Tallhwch:
The grail hero was originally Peredur/Perceval. He is present in the oldest extant “Arthurian” stories and is the most common grail hero in Arthurian literature. He also seems to have the older elements associated with him; the relationship to the Welsh Peredur and the grafting of the story from Phillip of Flanders’ life.
However, as the Arthurian corpus began to grow and develop, there were two problems with the continued use of Perceval in the grail story. For one, he was associated with an established tale involving a buffoon who persevered and gained wisdom through his own efforts. Such literature was simple and had roots deep in the legends of Europe, but did not appeal to the higher echelons of society that were reading grail stories.
The second problem was even greater than the first, that Perceval was not Lancelot. Lancelot grew in popularity from the moment he came off of Chretien’s pen in the late twelfth century, and was by 1250 perhaps the most popular hero in King Arthur’s court. However, because of his affair with the queen, one of the most popular topics in Arthurian literature, he was unforgiveably stained on a religious level. No writer dared to pen him as the pinnacle of religion necessary to achieve the grail. Instead, his inability in this one quest served to differentiate it from every other.