King Arthur

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Statue of King Arthur, Hofkirche, Innsbruck, designed by Albrecht Dürer and cast by Peter Vischer the Elder, in 1520s

King Arthur was a mythical king in the mythology of Great Britain. He lived in the medieval times, in his famous castle, Camelot. He possessed a sword known as Excalibur, given to him by the Lady of the Lake.

King Arthur is a fabled ruler of Sub-Roman Britain who defended his kingdom from the Anglo-Saxons, and a popular fictional character in modern literature. He won several battles, and had many homes. However, his favourite home was in Camelot. One of the most famous tales of King Arthur is one where he pulls a sword out of a stone, making him King of the Britons.

Mordred, Arthur's final foe according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, illustrated by H. J. Ford (1902)
King Arthur. A crude illustration from a 15th-century Welsh language version of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae

The first narrative account of Arthur's life is found in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Latin work Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain), completed c. 1138.[1][2]

Camelot[change | change source]

Many castles claim to be Arthur's Camelot, but the most likely one is Tintagel Castle, Cornwall. In Camelot sat the famous Round Table, where Arthur, his queen Guinevere, Merlin, Morgan le Fay, Sir Lancelot, Sir Gawain, Sir Perceval and many other knights sat. Arthur and his knights went on many quests including The Quest For The Holy Grail, The Green Knight, The Black Knight and more. There is no evidence that Arthur's castle was Tintagel.[3]

Death[change | change source]

After King Arthur's many adventures his son, Mordred, seized his kingdom and queen, forcing Arthur to fight for what was truly his. They fought for a long time and Mordred hit King Arthur in many places, but in the end it was Arthur who killed Mordred. After this victory, King Arthur was weak and died from losing blood from the wounds received in the battle. As his knights rode back to Camelot, they threw Excalibur into the lake so that it could return to where it came from.[4] One legend is that he never died but will return when the British need him.

Books, poems and movies[change | change source]

Many books have been written about him. Most of them involve Merlin, the Knights of the Round Table, Morgan le Fay etc. Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote the first. Alfred, Lord Tennyson visited Tintagel, the mythical Camelot twice and wrote a series of poems about Arthur. One of the best-known books, The Death of Arthur, was written by Sir Thomas Malory. Another tells how he set out to find the Holy Grail, the cup that Jesus drank from at the Last Supper.[5] There are also many movies about him, including Disney's The Sword in the Stone, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, King Arthur (2004), King Arthur and the Legend of the Sword (2017) and the musical Camelot.

References[change | change source]

  1. Thorpe, Lewis, ed. 1966. Geoffrey of Monmouth, The History of the Kings of Britain. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
  2. Loomis, Roger Sherman 1956. The Arthurian legend before 1139. In Loomis, Roger Sherman Wales and the Arthurian legend. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, pp. 179–220,
  3. Thomas, Charles 1993. Tintagel: Arthur and archaeology. London: Batsford/English Heritage. ISBN 978-0-7134-6690-4
  4. "King Arthur." World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO, 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.
  5. Reiss, Edmund. "Arthur, King." World Book Student. World Book, 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.