More than that of any other knight of the Round Table, the reputation of Gawain, King Arthur’s favorite nephew, has fluctuated through the extremes of heroism and villainy. The earliest accounts in the chronicles portray him as a mighty warrior who serves his uncle valiantly in battle. When he first appears in French romance during the twelfth century, most notably the poems of Chrétien de Troyes, Gawain is distinguished by his courtesy and sens (discretion) as well as valor, but his reputation suffers from two developments. In the verse romances, he becomes the object of generally affectionate humor and irony as the poets take advantage of his idealism to place him in embarrassing situations. Much more damaging, however, is his decline in the prose romances, where his shortcomings (particularly vengefulness) are contrasted, with increasing severity, to the virtues of newer heroes like Lancelot and Tristan, Galahad and Perceval. He reaches his nadir in the Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal and the Prose Tristan. As the Arthurian legend spread throughout Europe, French romance provided models for fresh creative endeavor. Where verse was most influential, as in Dutch and German, Gawain remains an admirable figure; but where the prose romances proved more popular, as in Spanish and Portuguese, his reputation suffers (though Italian seems to be an exception). In English, he is treated favorably for the most part, and he is the attractive (if imperfect) hero of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, one of the greatest works of Arthurian literature.