The story of King Arthur is not unknown to us as he was a legendary ruler of the British Kingdom in the 6th Century. There is no historical evidence that he was a real king as everything mentioned is in the stories and poems. His appearance can be felt in the medieval romances commonly known as the Matter of Britain. In this article, we will find out more about this British legend.
Who Was King Arthur?
As mentioned earlier, there is no hard historical evidence that King Arthur existed. His full name was Arthur Pendragon. It is considered to be a legend or a story based on a strong character that went to conquer the world and expand his kingdom. The name of his queen was Guinevere. It is not confirmed whether all these stories have any historical base or not. These stories fancy a strong man originating in Wales or somewhere in North Britain. He is considered to be Brythonic and spoke Celts.
The legend of this king contains a set of stories fabricated during the medieval time about his valour and the adventures of his knights. All these stories centre on King Arthur legend and also have different characters. In fact, the stories have different versions as the writers from different origins pitched in.
The French storytellers and writers have written various kinds of stories circling King Arthur’s birth and his childhood. When he was an established king, the stories revolved around his valiant knights and army. It also tells about the adulterous love between the queen and Sir Lancelot, the knight of King Arthur. As per the legend, the final quest of this king was to find the Holy Grail seen at the Last Supper. It was given to Joseph of Arimathea. This last quest resulted in the dissolution of his knightly fellowship and his death. In fact, his kingdom crumbled and fell apart after his death.
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Stories of King Arthur
He was first mentioned in the victory of the Battle of Camlann in Annales Cambriae dating back to 537 AD. He was also mentioned as a victorious king at Mons Badonicus in the year 516. The first appearance of this legendary king can be found in the writings of Nennius and Gildas, two 10th Century writers. Gildas was a polemicist who engaged in controversial discussions and debates.
Nennius, on the other hand, was a historian. In the 9th Century, he mentioned in Historia Brittonum that King Arthur fought 12 battles against the invasion of the Saxons and came to the power. He headed the Welsh resistance right in the middle of Thames and stopped the Saxon invasion.
There are many stories circling around this legend. As mentioned earlier, the medieval romances mentioned in the Matter of Britain centre around this king. These stories tell a lot about his adventures and his court. It was quite popular during the 11th Century in Wales. The European connection of fame pitched in to make it a legend via Historia Regum Britanniae (1135 - 38) written by Geoffrey of Monmouth.
This story celebrates the triumphant King Arthur Pendragon who won against the mighty Roman army in the eastern part of France. He was mortally wounded when the rebellion started. It was Mordred, his nephew who started and led the rebellion. These stories mentioned in Historia Regum Britanniae have marvellous fabrications.
On the other hand, the Celtic stories were formulated suiting the feudal times. It means that the King Arthur legend has been fabricated according to the locations and societal practices. It was also influenced by the condition of the contemporary conditions of the medieval era.
If we want to answer who is King Arthur, we will find different answers from different romances and author references. It is clear that a legendary image was prepared in every King Arthur story so that it can match the supremacy of Emperor Charlemagne and Alexander the Great. The adaptations can be perfectly visualized matching the specific historical times and were seen inspired by the true facts.
Later, the references from the writers Lawamon and Wace of Jersey filled the gap by stating the knightly fellowship. These references can be found in the Knights of the Round Table (1155). As per the Celtic sources, Chrétien de Troyes mentioned King Arthur as the supreme ruler of the marvel realms in five consecutive romances. All these romances are based on the adventurous tales of the king. It was him who introduced the adulterous love between the queen and one of his knights named Sir Lancelot. Later in the 13th Century, the prose written centring on these romances explored these themes majorly.
The most famous among all these stories of King Arthur is depicted by Robert de Boron. In this story, the magic sword Excalibur was been mentioned. The legend said that the one who can draw the sword from the boulder will be the king of England. It was Arthur who drew the sword and eventually became the king. It has also been mentioned that he exploited his military powers. This false historical narrative tells us that his clash with Mordred and the adulterous relation of his knight with his queen led to his devastation.
The stories of King Arthur seem to be far from true as modern-day historians were unable to find logical explanations and evidence. He was mentioned in various texts originating in the 6th Century till the 13th Century.