King Arthur

Topics: King Arthur, Le Morte d'Arthur, Mordred Pages: 9 (1676 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Tales Of King Arthur

Since the romanticizing of the Arthurian legends by Geoffery of

Monmouth, the historian, during the twelfth century, the legendary 'king

of England' has been the source of inspiration for kings, poets, artists

and dreamers alike. The most famous work is probably Sir Thomas Malory's

Le Morte d'Arthur, completed around 1470, and published in many abridged

and complete versions. Malory's work contains in one the legend that had

been continually added to over the years by many different writers who

introduced such elements as Sir Galahad, and the ill-fated love affair

between Lancelot and Guinevere. Geoffery of Monmouth had been the first

to put the legends surrounding Arthur into literary form in his History

of the Kings of Britain. He described Arthur's genealogy as the son of

Uther Pendragon and Igerna, or Igraine, wife of the Duke of Cornwall,

and brought in Merlin the magician, who disguised Arthur as the Duke in

order to romance Igerna at Tintagel Castle while the real Duke was away.

Geoffery also introduced Arthur's famed court (placed at

Caerleon-on-Usk) and his final battle and defeat at the hands of Modred,

his treacherous nephew.

Artos Of The Celts

It is almost certain that Arthur did exist, although it is unlikely he

was a king. He is more likely to have been a warrior and Celtic cavalry

leader. The Saxon invaders, who were unmounted, would have been at a

considerable disadvantage against the speed with which the Celtic

company were able to move around the country, which would make possible

the dozen victories up and down the country that have been attributed to

the shadowy figure of Arthur. Around the fifth century, a resistance

movement against Britain's invaders, including Saxons and Angles from

the continent, Picts from the North, and Irish from the West, was being

led which maintained a British hold on the South and West. Around this

time, a man named Artos was beginning to be written of as a powerful

soldier who united the leaders of the small British kingdoms against the

invading armies. It seems likely that he was a noble Celt. The first

mention of his victory in battle was written down around 600 AD, in a

set of church annals called the Annales Cambriae. He must have been a

glimmer of hope to the Britons, and it is not surprising that he might

have been thought of as a king.





Guinevere And The Court At Camelot

In the earliest tales of Arthur, there is no mention of his queen,

Guinevere; she was introduced by later writers, possibly to illustrate

how the dream world of Camelot fell from grace. When Guinevere first

appears in early Welsh stories, she is the daughter of a giant, but

later she becomes the daughter of King Leodegrance of the West Country.

In her original Welsh form of Gwenhwyfar, she was an folk figure before

being connected to Arthur, and may originally have been a lesser


Geoffery located Camelot at the very real Roman town of Caerleon in

South Wales; Malory placed it at Winchester, which was the headquarters

of the kings of Wessex and remained a royal seat after the Norman

invasion. Other stories place it near Arthur's supposed birthplace at

Tintagel. Cadbury Castle in Somerset has been named as another possible

location of Camelot, which has been revealed during excavations to have

been occupied during the time of Arthur and to have been the

headquarters of a leader, if not a king. The real Arthur may have been

buried at Glastonbury Abbey, which lays around twelve miles north-west

of the castle. It is said to have been a secret burial, so the news of

his death would not raise Saxon morale; the mystery may have given rise

to the rumors that he still lived on. In 1190, the monks of Glastonbury...
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