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A Merlin Poll: Are Arthur, Morgana, and Morgause related?
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How do you think Arthur, Morgana, and Morgause are related?

(This post owes a great debt to this recent conversation between selenak and myself. Please note that many of the ideas in it are hers.)

Theory one: Morgause is actually Arthur’s half-sister too; they are both Ygrain's children. She’s also Morgana’s half-sister through their father Gorlois.

There are actually two ways this could work: Morgause could be the daughter of Ygrain through a previous relationship with Gorlois, who went on to become Morgana’s father, or Ygrain could have had an affair with Gorlois while married to Uther.

• Don’t you know that on television hair color is always significant? The blondes and blond must be related! In other words, they did not have to cast Arthur, Morgause, & Ygrain as they did.
• Morgause tells Arthur she knew his mother well.
• It would explain why Morgause and Morgana are only half-sisters.
• It would explain why Morgause doesn’t mean any threat to Arthur the first time she meets him, in 2x08, but waits to test him before turning on him.
• Arthur and Morgause’s skill with swords could be hereditary, through Ygrain.
• The show has already set up Arthur and Morgause as parallel characters in many ways—including their mysterious births (both of which involve Gaius swearing a solemn oath never to reveal the truth).
• If we work with the Ygrain-had-an-affair theory, it would explain
  • why Morgause was born in Camelot (Ygrain lived there),
  • why she was smuggled out and given to priestesses to raise, given that she was born a good ten years before Uther turned against magic,
  • and the rumors that Uther sent his good friend Gorlois to his death.
• It would be awesome.

• Ygrain being unable to conceive a child except with magic is too important to the world-building to circumvent.
• How well could Morgause have known Ygrain if she was smuggled out of Camelot shortly after her birth? We have many reasons to suspect her honesty.
• Morgause is never as tender or protective toward Arthur as she is toward Morgana. In fact she turns on him awfully quickly after he fails to kill Uther, and clearly intends for the Knights of Idirsholas to kill him (unlike Morgana).
• Ygrain’s brother Tristan DuBois does not seem to have been a great swordsman—Uther beat him twice, and Pellinore and even Owain would have killed him if not for the magic—so the fighting-skills argument is weak.
• The show has already gone to great lengths to remove the adultery element from Arthur’s magical birth, and probably does not want to present its young viewers with a plot that involves it.
• If we avoid adultery, we need a divorce, but which the show is likely to avoid as a false anachronism (despite the fact that medieval divorce was not uncommon).

Theory two: Morgana is actually the daughter of Uther, not Gorlois. She is therefore half-sister to both Arthur (through their father) and Morgause (through their unnamed mother).

• A conversation in 2x03 deliberately hints this. Uther says Morgana “takes after her father too much,” and stiffens when Gaius mentions Gorlois and says Uther has “looked after that girl as if she were your own.”
• It would explain why Uther became Morgana’s guardian but never treated her as a prospective bride for Arthur (unlike Arthur, Gwen, and Morgana herself).
• It would explain the rumors Morgana alludes to in 1x12 that Uther sent her father to his death, and his reaction when she brings them up. (Actually, it would cast all of 1x12 in an interesting light.)
• It would explain Uther’s increasing obsession with Morgana’s safety (which began shortly after the writers squelched the Arthur/Morgana romance).
• It would explain why Morgause and Morgana are only half-sisters.
• It would be completely consistent with Uther’s character to cover such an affair up, add a new dimension to his guilt in 2x12, and give him a reason to hide Morgana’s sister from her.
• Morgana and Uther are very similar characters, with the same tendencies toward denial, personalizing all conflicts, and vengeance.

• If they don’t share a father, why would Morgause give Morgana a bracelet with the crest of Gorlois?
• The same objection to adultery on a kids’ show still stands, and there’s no way to avoid it in this scenario.
• The troll episode implies that Uther is a one-woman man, and that woman is Ygrain.
• It doesn’t explain why Gaius smuggled baby Morgause out of Camelot and away from her parents years before magic was banned.
• If Uther is Morgana’s father, it’s a tightly-guarded secret only he knows. So why would Gaius openly refer to Morgause as Morgana’s half-sister in front of him?

Theory three: Morgause is the daughter of Uther and a woman with powerful magical powers who then went on to marry Gorlois and bear Morgana, and then died (naturally or not) around the time of the Purge.

• This theory would explain why both Morgause and Morgana have powerful magic. (Both Merlin and Edwin inherited their magic from parents.)
• It would explain why Morgause was raised by powerful priestesses of the Old Religion, while Morgana, born around the Purge, grew up a clueless noblewoman.
• It would explain why Morgause has magic and Arthur doesn’t, but allow them to be related, explaining the parallels between them.
• We already know Uther has a tendency to be attracted to magic and then revile it.
• Uther could have begotten Morgause before he married Ygrain, thereby avoiding adultery and anything age-inappropriate.

• No hair color match, unless Uther really has a thing for blondes.
• Again, it requires Uther to be more of a player than we’ve seen him.
• Again, the bracelet thing.
• Do you really think the coolly cunning Morgause is the daughter of hotheaded Uther? What do they have in common besides swordfighting skills and the desire to rule Camelot?
• (If we follow the second option) Hiding the truth about Ygrain’s death is one thing, but do you really think Uther could hide it if he had killed Morgana’s mother?

Theory four: Morgana and Morgause are half-sisters, but neither is related to Arthur. The mysteries of Morgause’s birth and Uther’s break from Gorlois have other answers, probably involving more magic than sex.

• The solemn oath Gaius swore to never reveal the truth of Morgause’s birth is implied to have something to do with magic and the Old Religion.
• It would fit with the emphasis on magic in the evolution of Morgana & Morgause’s relationship.
• It’s an opportunity to bring Nimue back and explain her role better.
• Probably the most age-appropriate answer, given the show’s target audience.

• Why make things simple? The other theories are much more fun.

Poll #1551095 Once and Future Relatives

If I had to pick one theory, I would say that...

Morgause is the daughter of Ygrain and Gorlois through a previous relationship.
Morgause is the daughter of Ygrain and Gorlois through an adulterous relationship.
Morgana is Uther's secret love-child.
Morgause is the daughter of Uther and a powerful sorceress.
Arthur and Uther are not related to Morgana and Morgause.
I have a different theory, which I will describe in the comments.

If you have other theories, arguments, objections, or just want to say which ideas carry the most weight with you, please let me know in the comments! (And if you have any impulse to cross-list, I'd love to get a wider sample.)

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I am a strict adherence of the Laws of Television Genetics. Morgause, Arthur, and Ygrain are all blonder than blonde. And Morgause obviously has some kind of special relationship with Ygrain.

The other possibility that I think occurred to me at one point was that Ygrain had a sister who was mother to both Morgause and Morgana, or something.

Ooh, I like the sister theory--it's very classic (or medieval, as the case may be).

Very interesting post! Thanks for making it =)
I kinda want Morgana to be Uther's secret love child, but I don't know whether the show would touch incest with a barge pole (I know it's not really incest with Morgana and Arthur, but the shows creators had planned to go down that route).

I went for the fourth voting option, but I'm not too sure... I was torn between the fourth & fifth.

Don’t you know that on television hair color is always significant? The blondes and blond must be related! In other words, they did not have to cast Arthur, Morgause, & Ygrain as they did.

That's why I was so surprised when Morgause turned out to be Morgana's sister!

I do think that Bradley's and Emilia's casting probably didn't have much to do with the hair colour, but something's telling me that Ygraine's was. And of course Emilia could have worn a darker wig to look more like Morgana... Maybe they are all related?

Yeah, now that I've started to contradict myself I've decided to just wait until the show tells us exactly what's going on here! =P

Thanks! You're welcome!

I completely believe that Morgana is really Uther's secret love child, but (as this poll shows) I'm in a clear fandom minority there, and there are enough holes in every theory that the show could do anything. Your stance to wait and see may be the wisest move!

But I think Arthur/Morgana is dead enough that the show could go there & make them siblings--not just because they haven't flirted in a while, but because we've now seen how both Arthur and Morgana act with real love interests (Gwen and Alvarr), and neither of them uses the particular type of flirtatiousness they used with each other. They're both actually quite vulnerable and cautious. Also, they both seem drawn to love interests with whom they have a lot in common, instead of the opposites-attract-types they'd need to be to end up together.

This post is amazing for actually putting down all the options with proper arguments, because they've been buzzing half-formed in my head for months.

Anyhow, I voted A. This is theory I have become quite attached to, and will one day finish ficcing. A prior relationship has allusions to the Arthurian legend, Arthur and Morgause are actually quite similar in their characteristics, swordmanship is obvs something they've inherited and she seems quite oddly proud of her baby brother's morals and style and probably won't mind him being king, and no, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS COINCIDENTALLY BLONDE.

Ygrain being unable to conceive a child except with magic is too important to the world-building to circumvent
I have decided everything is Uther's fault.

How well could Morgause have known Ygrain if she was smuggled out of Camelot shortly after her birth?
Very well, because Ygraine would have definitely wanted to see her daughter - maybe even been the one to keep Gaius to his oath - and she totally used to sneak down to the island to check out if all was well (thereby also forging an independent bond between herself and Nimueh).

Having fanwanked thus far, the theory does fall a bit because Uther didn't seem to care a jot that Arthur might discover they're half-sibs. :P

I also voted for A, because, as you say, there is such thing as coincidentally blonde, hee. But this:

Having fanwanked thus far, the theory does fall a bit because Uther didn't seem to care a jot that Arthur might discover they're half-sibs. :P

Poses problems. Because if Ygraine did bear Morgause, then the problem is Uther, not Ygraine... Or perhaps it was a difficult pregnancy, and she could not bear children after that, therefore magic?

Fantastic, fantastic post. I'm stuck between theory one and theory two, but they've both got enough holes to be suspect - the only one of these options without holes is the last, and that's because it's so hand-wavy. And in that way, it'd be very much like the show. *g*

Then again, plot holes are also very much like the show and if there's no connection, what about the hair? There is DEFINITELY a reason why Morgause is one of the few powerful magic users they chose not to cast with the dark hair/pale eyes combination. That's deliberate. There must be a connection with the Pendragons through more than just Morgana, or they wanted to leave the door open for one.

And I remember your 2x08 post which details the similarities between Arthur and Morgause brilliantly - and made me think a least some of that was very much intentional. Their connection on a personal level is a bit thinner; like you said, she was willing to give him a chance to prove himself, but by the end of the episode, she was ready to plop him down on the opposing side and be done with it. It may be possible she doesn't know they're related.

Edited at 2010-04-14 03:05 pm (UTC)

It may be possible she doesn't know they're related.

If she is Ygraine's daughter, Morgause must know that they're related? Or does she not know that she is Ygraine's daughter, only that Gorlois is her father?

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My first thought was Aunty Morgause (with Ygrain being her half-sister, but not Morgana's). That would mean Morgause and Morgana share a father - Gorlois - and Morgause, Ygrain and Tristan (?) share a mother who married twice and died, leaving Gorlois free to marry Morgana's mother. Apparently, he had a thing for magical women.

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I'm rather enamoured with the idea that the reason Uther and Igrane couldn't concieve is because Uther's infertile.

I am a huge fan of this one as well. It would also mesh with the notion that if Ygrain already had a child (e.g. Morgause) then she would have 'proven' her fertility and Uther would have felt comfortable marrying her...right up until the point where he realized the fertility problem was *his* problem.

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I like all of your theories, but I think I might have another one (these kinship relationships always get me tangled up! :-)

If Ygraine, Morgause's mother, and Morgana's mother are all sisters (aren't there always a few Elaine's roaming about in Arthurian legend?), and Ygrain's sisters both had children with Gorlois, then Morgause and Morgana would be half-sisters and they both would be cousins to Arthur making them all related to one another.

Ooh, clever! I like this theory! Admirable simplicity.

I have an urge to make Nimue one of the sisters, which doesn't quite work, but then (as I suppose the entire piece shows) I like complexity.

I'm vacillating between 1 and 3; 1 has a lot speaking for it, but I have a hard time getting past the "Ygraine - not as barren as we thought"-thing. I could totally see Uther being in denial about his own infertility but it's more difficult to see why both Nimueh and Ygraine's ghost are too.
Also, I love the idea of having a child who is a magic-user. (Which makes theory 2 work quite well for me too, even if I prefer the idea of Morgause and Arthur being siblings.)

I also have a lot of trouble with the Ygrain infertility thing, and I love your point about the Nimueh and Ygain's ghost. Hmm. This is affecting my thinking...

One of the reasons I favor the Morgana-is-Uther's-daughter thing is that he seems convinced in 2x03 that magic-users are going to go after Morgana (to use her against him? because he's projecting?), and consistently reads the signs that she's the magic-user in question wrong. But really at the moment it's anyone's guess what will happen...

I don't mind as long as Morgana and Morgause are secretly shagging.

Maybe Morgause believes she and Morgana are half-sisters, and so can't give in to her forbidden passion, but after a sufficient period of intense UST it turns out that Morgana is actually Uther's secret love-child and they aren't related at all.

And then there is lots and LOTS of shagging!

Teehee, I find this post hilarious (and awesome, obviously) because I was exploring wiki just yesterday and trying to figure out who's whose sister/cousin/mother and in which way is everyone related, at least in the original legends; we've seen the show doesn't follow them 100%.

I personally prefer #1, although my biggest problem with it is that Morgause is never as tender or protective toward Arthur as she is toward Morgana.

As for the bracelet... Didn't Morgause say it was her mother's? I see everyone's talking about it like it was something from her father, so maybe I just dreamt it. o.ô

Oh and, I sincerely hope Morgana is not Uther's daughter. I like to live in my dreamworld where she and Arthur are madly in love. :))

Didn't Morgause say it was her mother's? I see everyone's talking about it like it was something from her father, so maybe I just dreamt it.

I think that Gauis recognized the crest on the bracelet as belonging to the House of Gorlois.

I thought in the series it was implied by Morgause (or Uther? I can't remember) that Uther slept with his best friend's (Gorlois') wife and that Morgause was his daughter. Making her Morgana's half-sister. Maybe I'm dreaming this? I just remember picking up on yet another way that Uther Is A Jerk-- of course he slept with his best friend's wife...

I do like the idea that Arthur and Morgause are half-siblings somehow, with the blond hair, the arrogance and the natural sword-fighting ability. Although she shares her magical ability with Morgana, not Arthur...

If you have the reference or scene that made you think that, I'd love to know what it is. Thus far I think the show has kept it deliberately vague, other than telling us that the bracelet Morgause got from her mother bears the mark of the house of Gorlois, and that she's Morgana's half-sister. But I'd love to collect any evidence for other theories...

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It's interesting how many people have theories involving aunts of some kind. It's a whole new category of possibilities!

And it works well. I especially like the idea of Nimueh training Morgause. The only thing I would say is that Nimueh calling Ygrain "your barren wife" in 1x08 isn't a very friendly thing to say, and that both Uther and Gaius seem shocked that Morgause claims to have known Ygrain.

It is interesting that we don't yet know exactly why Morgause wants Uther dead--if it's because of his anti-magic policies or a more personal vendetta. I am very curious to find out!

My pet theory is that Ygraine and Morgause were sisters. For evidence: they're both blonde, and obviously they have to be related; everyone is SHOCKED that M knows Y, so mother/daughter is out; this makes aunt/niece or sisters make more sense. Age-wise I think a much older sister works, plus it's more interesting than aunts. Tristan's zombification by Nimueh makes some sense too, I guess, because it brings Ygraine's family into the role of priestly types fighting Arthur (as Morgause does). Morgause's mother has a bracelet from the house of Gorlois, so perhaps Igraine's mother is a Gorlois. Then I'm not sure how Morgana fits in here--she shares a father with Morgause and Igraine? Or a mother? (Maybe they were only half siblings to start with.) But I think Igraine's family was allied with the old religion.

This makes Arthur Morgause's nephew, and it makes Morgana his half-aunt if they aren't also half siblings.

Yes, the Morgause-is-Arthur's-aunt theory makes so much sense that I wish I had thought to include it in the poll. I really like your point that an aunt/niece or sisterly relationship makes more sense given that Uther and Gaius don't know about any Ygrain/Morgause connection.

Although if Ygrain's family were heavily invested in the Old Religion, you'd think Ygrain would have known a bit more about the magic that caused her death. Maybe she does and Morgause doesn't let us see it?

I am still personally convinced that Morgana is going to turn out to be Uther's secret love child. If that came true AND Morgause was Ygrain's sister I would be very happy!

ugh thinking about this makes my brain hurt. Honestly I picked theory 4 soley because everything else is just so darn complicated it and adding adulterey to list of horrible things Uther has done would make even the 9 year olds question why Merlin was protecting such a jerk. Also it gives the oppurtunity of adding new characters to the story which Merlin seems to love. I can also see theory 1 being true as well.

Thanks for putting this all up, I made a list as well and we seemed to have found the same things XD

Спасибо за статью

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