In the Welsh folktale Culhwch and Olwen, she is mentioned alongside her sister, Gwenhwyfach.
In Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, she is described as one of the great beauties of Britain, descended from a noble Roman family and educated under Cador, Duke of Cornwall.
The earliest datable mention of Guinevere (as Guanhumara, with numerous spelling variations in the surviving manuscripts) is in Geoffrey of Monmouth's pseudo-historical chronicle of ancient British history, the Historia Regum Britanniae, written c. Geoffrey relates that Guinevere was descended from a noble Roman family and was the ward of Cador, Duke of Cornwall.
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The abduction sequence is largely a reworking of that recorded in Caradoc's work, but here the queen's rescuer is not Arthur (or Yder) but Lancelot, whose adultery with the queen is dealt with for the first time in this poem.
It has been suggested that Chrétien invented their affair to supply Guinevere with a courtly extramarital lover.
Mordred could not be used as his reputation was beyond saving, and Yder had been forgotten entirely., Valerin, King of the Tangled Wood, claims the right to marry her and carries her off to his castle in a struggle for power that reminds scholars of her prescient connections to the fertility and sovereignty of Britain.
Arthur's company saves her, but Valerin kidnaps her again and places her in a magical sleep inside another castle surrounded by snakes, where only the powerful sorcerer Malduc can rescue her.
Other works name cousins of note, though these do not usually appear in more than one place.
Guinevere has been portrayed as everything from a weak and opportunistic traitor to a fatally flawed but noble and virtuous gentlewoman.
The story states that Arthur spent a year searching for her and assembling an army to storm Melwas' fort when Gildas negotiates a peaceful resolution and reunites husband and wife.
A seemingly related account was carved into the archivolt of Modena Cathedral in Modena, Italy, which most likely predates Caradoc's telling.
The name is given as Guennuuar in Caradoc's Vita Gildae, while Gerald of Wales refers to her as , no.