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LICEUL TEORETIC ,,MIHAIL SEBASTIAN”

BRĂILA

Atestat De Competenţă Lingvistică

La

Limba Engleză

Îndrumător Candidat

Creţu Alina-Arsaluis Vasile Geanina

Brăila
2019
Contents

Mentions .................................................................................................................. 4

Chapter 1: Debated historicity ................................................................................. 5

Chapter 2: Name ...................................................................................................... 7

Chapter 3: Medieval literary traditions .................................................................... 8

3.1: Pre-Galfridian traditions ..................................................................... 8

3.2: Geoffrey of Monmouth .................................................................... 10

3.3: Romance traditions ........................................................................... 12

Chapter 4: Decline, revival and the modern legend .............................................. 15

4.1: Post-medieval literature .................................................................... 15

4.2: Tennyson and the revival .................................................................. 15

4.3: Modern legend .................................................................................. 17

Chapter 5: King Arthur’s messianic return ............................................................ 19

5.1: Origins .............................................................................................. 19

5.2: Medieval policics............................................................................... 19

5.3: Post-medieval politics ...................................................................... 20

5.4: Modern adaptations .......................................................................... 21

Chapter 6: Family .................................................................................................. 22

6.1: In medieval Welsh literature ............................................................ 22


6.2: In other medieval literature .............................................................. 23

6.3: Descendants ...................................................................................... 24

Chapter 7: Excalibur .............................................................................................. 26

7.1: Forms and etymologies ..................................................................... 26

7.2: Excalibur and the Sward in the Stone ............................................... 27

7.3: Other developement of the legend .................................................... 28

7.4: Attributes .......................................................................................... 29

7.5: Arthur’s other weapons .................................................................... 29

7.6: Similar weapons ............................................................................... 30

Chapter 8: Holy Grail ............................................................................................ 31

8.1: Etymology ........................................................................................ 31

8.2: Medieval literature ............................................................................ 32

8.3: Chrétien de Troyes ........................................................................... 33

8.4 Scholary hypotheses .......................................................................... 33

8.5: Later traditions ................................................................................. 34

8.6: Modern interpretations ..................................................................... 35

Chapter 9: Death .................................................................................................... 37

Books about King Arthur and works based on Arthurian legend ......................... 38

Webliography ........................................................................................................ 40
Mentions

K ing Arthur was a legendary British leader who, according to medieval histories
and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the late 5th and
early 6th centuries. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and
literary invention, and his historical existence is debated and disputed by modern historians. The
sparse historical background of Arthur is gleaned from various sources, including the Annales
Cambriae, the Historia Brittonum, and the writings of Gildas. Arthur's name also occurs in early
poetic sources such as Y Gododdin.

Arthur is a central figure in the legends making up the Matter of Britain. The legendary Arthur
developed as a figure of international interest largely through the popularity of Geoffrey of
Monmouth's fanciful and imaginative 12th-century Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the
Kings of Britain). In some Welsh and Breton tales and poems that date from before this work,
Arthur appears either as a great warrior defending Britain from human and supernatural enemies
or as a magical figure of folklore, sometimes associated with the Welsh otherworld Annwn. How
much of Geoffrey's Historia (completed in 1138) was adapted from such earlier sources, rather
than invented by Geoffrey himself, is unknown.

Although the themes, events and characters of the Arthurian


legend varied widely from text to text, and there is no one
canonical version, Geoffrey's version of events often served
as the starting point for later stories. Geoffrey depicted
Arthur as a king of Britain who defeated the Saxons and
established a vast empire. Many elements and incidents that
are now an integral part of the Arthurian story appear in
Geoffrey's Historia, including Arthur's father Uther
Pendragon, the wizard Merlin, Arthur's wife Guinevere, the
sword Excalibur, Arthur's conception at Tintagel, his final
battle against Mordred at Camlann, and final rest in Avalon.
The 12th-century French writer Chrétien de Troyes, who
added Lancelot and the Holy Grail to the story, began the
genre of Arthurian romance that became a significant strand
of medieval literature. In these French stories, the narrative
focus often shifts from King Arthur himself to other
characters, such as various Knights of the Round Table.

Arthurian literature thrived during the Middle Ages but


waned in the centuries that followed until it experienced a major resurgence in the 19th century.
In the 21st century, the legend lives on, not only in literature but also in adaptations for theatre,
film, television, comics and other media.

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Chapter 1: Debated historicity

T he historical basis for King Arthur has long been debated by scholars. One school of
thought, citing entries in the Historia Brittonum (History of the Britons) and Annales
Cambriae (Welsh Annals), sees Arthur as a genuine historical figure, a Romano-
British leader who fought against the invading Anglo-Saxons some time in the late 5th to early
6th century. The Historia Brittonum, a 9th-century Latin historical compilation attributed in
some late manuscripts to a Welsh cleric called Nennius, contains the first datable mention of
King Arthur, listing twelve battles that Arthur fought. These culminate in the Battle of Badon,
where he is said to have single-handedly killed 960 men. Recent studies, however, question the
reliability of the Historia Brittonum.

The other text that seems to support the case for Arthur's historical existence is the 10th-
century Annales Cambriae, which also link
Arthur with the Battle of Badon.
The Annales date this battle to 516–518, and also
mention the Battle of Camlann, in which Arthur
and Medraut (Mordred) were both killed, dated
to 537–539. These details have often been used
to bolster confidence in the Historia's account
and to confirm that Arthur really did fight at
Badon. Problems have been identified, however,
with using this source to support the Historia
Brittonum's account. The latest research shows
that the Annales Cambriae was based on a
chronicle begun in the late 8th century in Wales. Additionally, the complex textual history of
the Annales Cambriae precludes any certainty that the Arthurian annals were added to it even
that early. They were more likely added at some point in the 10th century and may never have
existed in any earlier set of annals. The Badon entry probably derived from the Historia
Brittonum.

This lack of convincing early evidence is the reason many recent historians exclude
Arthur from their accounts of sub-Roman Britain. In the view of historian Thomas Charles-
Edwards, "at this stage of the enquiry, one can only say that there may well have been an
historical Arthur [but ...] the historian can as yet say nothing of value about him". These modern
admissions of ignorance are a relatively recent trend; earlier generations of historians were less
sceptical. The historian John Morris made the putative reign of Arthur the organising principle of
his history of sub-Roman Britain and Ireland, The Age of Arthur (1973). Even so, he found little
to say about a historical Arthur.

Partly in reaction to such theories, another school of thought emerged which argued that
Arthur had no historical existence at all. Morris's Age of Arthur prompted the

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archaeologist Nowell Myres to observe that "no figure on the borderline of history and
mythology has wasted more of the historian's time". Gildas’ 6th-century polemic De Excidio et
Conquestu Britanniae (On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain), written within living memory of
Badon, mentions the battle but does not mention Arthur. Arthur is not mentioned in the Anglo-
Saxon Chronicle or named in any surviving manuscript written between 400 and 820. He is
absent from Bede's early-8th-century Ecclesiastical History of the English People another major
early source for post-Roman history that mentions Badon. The historian David Dumville wrote:
"I think we can dispose of him [Arthur] quite briefly. He owes his place in our history books to a
'no smoke without fire' school of thought ... The fact of the matter is that there is no historical
evidence about Arthur; we must reject him from our histories and, above all, from the titles of
our books."

Some scholars argue that Arthur was originally a fictional hero of folklore—or even a
half-forgotten Celtic deity—who became credited with real deeds in the distant past. They cite
parallels with figures such as the Kentish Hengist and Horsa, who may be totemic horse-gods
that later became historicised. Bede ascribed to these legendary figures a historical role in the
5th-century Anglo-Saxon conquest of eastern Britain. It is not even certain that Arthur was
considered a king in the early texts. Neither the Historia nor theAnnales calls him "rex": the
former calls him instead "dux bellorum" (leader of battles) and "miles" (soldier).

Historical documents for the post-Roman period are scarce, so a definitive answer to the
question of Arthur's historical existence is unlikely. Sites and places have been identified as
"Arthurian" since the 12th century, but archaeology can confidently reveal names only through
inscriptions found in secure contexts. The so-called "Arthur stone", discovered in 1998 among
the ruins at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall in securely dated 6th-century contexts, created a brief stir
but proved irrelevant. Other inscriptional evidence for Arthur, including the Glastonbury cross, is
tainted with the suggestion of forgery. Although several historical figures have been proposed as
the basis for Arthur, no convincing evidence for these identifications has emerged.

Tintagel 12th century castle ruins, Cornwall legendary birthplace of KIng Arthur, Camelot

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Chapter 2: Name

T he origin of the Welsh name "Arthur" remains a matter of debate. The most widely
accepted etymology derives it from the Roman nomen gentile (family name) Artorius.
Artorius itself is of obscure and contested etymology, but possibly of Messapian
or Etruscan origin. Linguist Stephan Zimmer suggests Artorius possibly had a Celtic origin,
being a Latinization of a hypothetical name *Artorījos, in turn derived from an
older patronym *Arto-rīg-ios, meaning "son of the bear/warrior-king". This patronym is
unattested, but the root, *arto-rīg, "bear/warrior-king", is the source of the Old Irish personal
name Artrí. Some scholars have suggested it is relevant to this debate that the legendary King
Arthur's name only appears as Arthur or Arturus in early Latin Arthurian texts, never
as Artōrius (though Classical Latin Artōrius became Arturius in some Vulgar Latin dialects).
However, this may not say anything about the origin of the name Arthur, as Artōrius would
regularly become Art(h)ur when borrowed into Welsh.

Another commonly proposed derivation of Arthur from Welsh arth "bear"


+ (g)wr "man" (earlier *Arto-uiros in Brittonic) is not accepted by modern scholars
for phonological and orthographic reasons. Notably, a Brittonic compound name *Arto-
uiros should produce Old Welsh *Artgur (where u represents the short vowel /u/) and
Middle/Modern Welsh *Arthwr, rather than Arthur (where u is a long vowel /ʉː/). In Welsh
poetry the name is always spelled Arthur and is exclusively rhymed with words ending in – ur —
never words ending in – wr — which confirms that the second element cannot be [g]wr "man".

An alternative theory, which has gained only limited acceptance among professional
scholars, derives the name Arthur from Arcturus, the brightest star in the constellation Boötes,
near Ursa Major or the Great Bear. Classical Latin Arcturus would also have
become Art(h)ur when borrowed into Welsh, and its brightness and position in the sky led people
to regard it as the "guardian of the bear" (which is the meaning of the name in Ancient Greek)
and the "leader" of the other stars in Boötes.

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Chapter 3: Medieval literary traditions

T he familiar literary persona of Arthur began with Geoffrey of Monmouth’ s pseudo-


historical Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain), written in the
1130s. The textual sources for Arthur are usually divided into those written before
Geoffrey's Historia (known as pre-Galfridian texts, from the Latin form of Geoffrey, Galfridus)
and those written afterwards, which could not avoid his influence (Galfridian, or post-Galfridian,
texts).

3.1: Pre-Galfridian traditions

T he earliest literary references to Arthur come from Welsh and Breton sources. There
have been few attempts to define the nature and character of Arthur in the pre-
Galfridian tradition as a whole, rather than in a single text or text/story-type. A 2007
academic survey that does attempt this by Caitlin Green identifies three key strands to the
portrayal of Arthur in this earliest material. The first is that he was a peerless warrior who
functioned as the monster-hunting protector of Britain from all internal and external threats.
Some of these are human threats, such as the Saxons he fights in the Historia Brittonum, but the
majority are supernatural, including giant cat-monsters, destructive divine boars,
dragons, dogheads, giants, and witches.The second is that the pre-Galfridian Arthur was a figure
of folklore (particularly topographic or onomastic folklore) and localised magical wonder-tales,
the leader of a band of superhuman heroes who live in the wilds of the landscape. The third and
final strand is that the early Welsh Arthur had a close connection
with the Welsh Otherworld, Annwn. On the one hand, he launches
assaults on Otherworldly fortresses in search of treasure and frees
their prisoners. On the other, his warband in the earliest sources
includes former pagan gods, and his wife and his possessions are
clearly Otherworldly in origin.

One of the most famous Welsh poetic references to


Arthur comes in the collection of heroic death-songs known as Y
Gododdin (The Gododdin), attributed to 6th-century poet Aneirin.
One stanza praises the bravery of a warrior who slew 300 enemies,
but says that despite this, "he was no Arthur" – that is, his feats
cannot compare to the valour of Arthur. Y Gododdin is known
only from a 13th-century manuscript, so it is impossible to
determine whether this passage is original or a later interpolation,
but John Koch's view that the passage dates from a 7th-century or earlier version is regarded as
unproven; 9th- or 10th-century dates are often proposed for it. Several poems attributed
to Taliesin, a poet said to have lived in the 6th century, also refer to Arthur, although these all
probably date from between the 8th and 12th centuries. They include "Kadeir Teyrnon" ("The
Chair of the Prince"), which refers to "Arthur the Blessed"; "Preiddeu Annwn" ("The Spoils of

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Annwn"), which recounts an expedition of Arthur to the Otherworld; and "Marwnat vthyr pen
[dragon]" ("The Elegy of Uther Pen[dragon]"), which refers to Arthur's valour and is suggestive
of a father-son relationship for Arthur and Uther that pre-dates Geoffrey of Monmouth.

Other early Welsh Arthurian texts include a poem found in the Black Book of
Carmarthen, "Pa gur yv y porthaur?" ("What man is the gatekeeper?"). This takes the form of a
dialogue between Arthur and the gatekeeper of a fortress he wishes to enter, in which Arthur
recounts the names and deeds of himself and his men, notably Cei (Kay) and Bedwyr (Bedivere).
The Welsh prose tale Culhwch and Olwen (c. 1100), included in the
modern Mabinogion collection, has a much longer list of more than 200 of Arthur's men, though
Cei and Bedwyr again take a central place. The story as a whole tells of Arthur helping his
kinsman Culhwch win the hand of Olwen, daughter of Ysbaddaden Chief-Giant, by completing a
series of apparently impossible tasks, including the hunt for the great semi-divine boar Twrch
Trwyth. The 9th-century Historia Brittonum also refers to this tale, with the boar there named
Troy(n)t. Finally, Arthur is mentioned numerous times in the Welsh Triads, a collection of short
summaries of Welsh tradition and legend which are classified into groups of three linked
characters or episodes to assist recall. The later manuscripts of the Triads are partly derivative
from Geoffrey of Monmouth and later continental traditions, but the earliest ones show no such
influence and are usually agreed to refer to pre-existing Welsh traditions. Even in these,
however, Arthur's court has started to embody legendary
Britain as a whole, with "Arthur's Court" sometimes
substituted for "The Island of Britain" in the formula "Three
XXX of the Island of Britain". While it is not clear from
the Historia Brittonum and the Annales Cambriae that Arthur
was even considered a king, by the time Culhwch and
Olwen and the Triads were written he had
become Penteyrnedd yr Ynys hon, "Chief of the Lords of this
Island", the overlord of Wales, Cornwall and the North.

In addition to these pre-Galfridian Welsh poems and


tales, Arthur appears in some other early Latin texts besides
the Historia Brittonum and the Annales Cambriae. In
particular, Arthur features in a number of well-
known vitae ("Lives") of post-Roman saints, none of which
are now generally considered to be reliable historical sources (the earliest probably dates from
the 11th century). According to the Life of Saint Gildas, written in the early 12th century
by Caradoc of Llancarfan, Arthur is said to have killed Gildas' brother Hueil and to have rescued
his wife Gwenhwyfar from Glastonbury. In the Life of Saint Cadoc, written around 1100 or a
little before by Lifris of Llancarfan, the saint gives protection to a man who killed three of
Arthur's soldiers, and Arthur demands a herd of cattle as wergeld for his men. Cadoc delivers
them as demanded, but when Arthur takes possession of the animals, they turn into bundles of
ferns. Similar incidents are described in the medieval biographies of Carannog, Padarn, and
Eufflam, probably written around the 12th century. A less obviously legendary account of Arthur
appears in the Legenda Sancti Goeznovii, which is often claimed to date from the early 11th
century (although the earliest manuscript of this text dates from the 15th century and the text is
now dated to the late 12th to early 13th century). Also important are the references to Arthur
in William of Malmesbury's De Gestis Regum Anglorum and Herman's De Miraculis Sanctae

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Mariae Laudensis, which together provide the first certain evidence for a belief that Arthur was
not actually dead and would at some point return, a theme that is often revisited in post-
Galfridian folklore.

3.2: Geoffrey of Monmouth

G
eoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, completed c. 1138, contains the
first narrative account of Arthur's life. This work is an imaginative and fanciful
account of British kings from the legendary Trojan exile Brutus to the 7th-century
Welsh king Cadwallader. Geoffrey places Arthur in the same post-Roman period as
do Historia Brittonum and Annales Cambriae. He incorporates Arthur's father Uther Pendragon,
his magician advisor Merlin, and the story of Arthur's conception, in which Uther, disguised as
his enemy Gorlois by Merlin's magic, sleeps with Gorlois's wife Igerna (Igraine) at Tintagel, and
she conceives Arthur. On Uther's death, the fifteen-year-old Arthur succeeds him as King of
Britain and fights a series of battles, similar to those in the Historia Brittonum, culminating in the
Battle of Bath. He then defeats the Picts and Scots before creating an Arthurian empire through
his conquests of Ireland, Iceland and the Orkney Islands. After twelve years of peace, Arthur sets
out to expand his empire once more, taking control of Norway, Denmark and Gaul. Gaul is still
held by the Roman Empire when it is conquered, and Arthur's victory leads to a further
confrontation with Rome. Arthur and his warriors, including Kaius (Kay), Beduerus (Bedivere)
and Gualguanus (Gawain), defeat the Roman emperor Lucius Tiberius in Gaul but, as he
prepares to march on Rome, Arthur hears that his nephew Modredus (Mordred) - whom he had
left in charge of Britain - has married his wife Guenhuuara (Guinevere) and seized the throne.
Arthur returns to Britain and defeats and kills Modredus on the river Camblam in Cornwall, but
he is mortally wounded. He hands the crown to his kinsman Constantine and is taken to the isle
of Avalon to be healed of his wounds, never to be seen again.

How much of this narrative was Geoffrey's own


invention is open to debate. He seems to have made use of the list
of Arthur's twelve battles against the Saxons found in the 9th-
century Historia Brittonum, along with the
battle of Camlann from the Annales
Cambriae and the idea that Arthur was still
alive. Arthur's status as the king of all Britain
seems to be borrowed from pre-Galfridian
tradition, being found in Culhwch and Olwen,
the Welsh Triads, and the saints'
lives. Finally, Geoffrey borrowed many of
the names for Arthur's possessions, close
family, and companions from the pre-
Galfridian Welsh tradition, including Kaius
(Cei), Beduerus (Bedwyr), Guenhuuara
(Gwenhwyfar), Uther (Uthyr) and perhaps
also Caliburnus (Caledfwlch), the latter becoming Excalibur in subsequent

10
Arthurian tales. However, while names, key events, and titles may have been borrowed, Brynley
Roberts has argued that "the Arthurian section is Geoffrey's literary creation and it owes nothing
to prior narrative." Geoffrey makes the Welsh Medraut into the villainous Modredus, but there is
no trace of such a negative character for this figure in Welsh sources until the 16th
century. There have been relatively few modern attempts to challenge the notion that
the Historia Regum Britanniae is primarily Geoffrey's own work, with scholarly opinion often
echoing William of Newburgh's late-12th-century comment that Geoffrey "made up" his
narrative, perhaps through an "inordinate love of lying". Geoffrey Ashe is one dissenter from this
view, believing that Geoffrey's narrative is partially derived from a lost source telling of the
deeds of a 5th-century British king named Riotamus, this figure being the original Arthur,
although historians and Celticists have been reluctant to follow Ashe in his conclusions.

Whatever his sources may have been, the immense popularity of Geoffrey's Historia Regum
Britanniae cannot be denied. Well over 200 manuscript copies of Geoffrey's Latin work are
known to have survived, as well as translations into other languages. For example, 60
manuscripts are extant containing the Brut y Brenhinedd, Welsh-language versions of
the Historia, the earliest of which were created in the 13th century. The old notion that some of
these Welsh versions actually underlie Geoffrey's Historia, advanced by antiquarians such as the
18th-century Lewis Morris, has long since been discounted in academic circles. As a result of
this popularity, Geoffrey's Historia Regum Britanniae was enormously influential on the later
medieval development of the Arthurian legend. While it was not the only creative force behind
Arthurian romance, many of its elements were borrowed and developed (e.g., Merlin and the
final fate of Arthur), and it provided the historical framework into which the romancers' tales of
magical and wonderful adventures were inserted.

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3.3: Romance traditions

T he popularity of Geoffrey's Historia and its other derivative works (such


as Wace's Roman de Brut) gave rise to a significant numbers of new Arthurian works
in continental Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries, particularly in France. It was
not, however, the only Arthurian influence on the developing "Matter of Britain". There is clear
evidence that Arthur and Arthurian tales were familiar on the Continent before Geoffrey's work
became widely known (see for example, the Modena Archivolt), and "Celtic" names and stories
not found in Geoffrey's Historia appear in the Arthurian romances. From the perspective of
Arthur, perhaps the most significant effect of this great outpouring of new Arthurian story was
on the role of the king himself: much of this 12th-century and later Arthurian literature centres
less on Arthur himself than on characters such
as Lancelot and Guinevere, Percival, Galahad, Gawain, Ywan,
and Tristan and Iseult. Whereas Arthur is very much at the
centre of the pre-Galfridian material and
Geoffrey's Historia itself, in the romances he is rapidly
sidelined. His character also alters significantly. In both the
earliest materials and Geoffrey he is a great and ferocious
warrior, who laughs as he personally slaughters witches and
giants and takes a leading role in all military
campaigns, whereas in the continental romances he becomes
the roi fainéant, the "do-nothing king", whose "inactivity and
acquiescence constituted a central flaw in his otherwise ideal
society". Arthur's role in these works is frequently that of a
wise, dignified, even-tempered, somewhat bland, and
occasionally feeble monarch. So, he simply turns pale and
silent when he learns of Lancelot's affair with Guinevere in
the Mort Artu, whilst in Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, he is
unable to stay awake after a feast and has to retire for a
nap. Nonetheless, as Norris J. Lacy has observed, whatever his faults and frailties may be in
these Arthurian romances, "his prestige is never - or almost never - compromised by his personal
weaknesses ... his authority and glory remain intact."

Arthur and his retinue appear in some of the Lais of Marie de France, but it was the work of
another French poet, Chrétien de Troyes, that had the greatest influence with regard to the
development of Arthur's character and legend. Chrétien wrote five Arthurian romances between
c. 1170 and 1190. Erec and Enide and Cligès are tales of courtly love with Arthur's court as their
backdrop, demonstrating the shift away from the heroic world of the Welsh and Galfridian
Arthur, while Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, features Yvain and Gawain in a supernatural
adventure, with Arthur very much on the sidelines and weakened. However, the most significant
for the development of the Arthurian legend are Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, which
introduces Lancelot and his adulterous relationship with Arthur's queen Guinevere, extending
and popularising the recurring theme of Arthur as acuckold, and Perceval, the Story of the Grail,
which introduces the Holy Grail and the Fisher King and which again sees Arthur having a much

12
reduced role. Chrétien was thus "instrumental both
in the elaboration of the Arthurian legend and in the
establishment of the ideal form for the diffusion of
that legend", and much of what came after him in
terms of the portrayal of Arthur and his world built
upon the foundations he had laid. Perceval,
although unfinished, was particularly popular: four
separate continuations of the poem appeared over
the next half century, with the notion of the Grail
and its quest being developed by other writers such
as Robert de Boron, a fact that helped accelerate the
decline of Arthur in continental romance. Similarly,
Lancelot and his cuckolding of Arthur with
Guinevere became one of the classic motifs of the
Arthurian legend, although the Lancelot of the
prose Lancelot (c. 1225) and later texts was a
combination of Chrétien's character and that
of Ulrich von Zatzikhoven's Lanzelet. Chrétien's
work even appears to feed back into Welsh
Arthurian literature, with the result that the romance
Arthur began to replace the heroic, active Arthur in
Welsh literary tradition. Particularly significant in
this development were the three Welsh Arthurian
romances, which are closely similar to those of Chrétien, albeit with some significant
differences: Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain is related to Chrétien's Yvain; Geraint and Enid,
to Erec and Enide; andPeredur son of Efrawg, to Perceval.

Arthur and his retinue appear in some of the Lais of Marie de France, but it was the work of
another French poet, Chrétien de Troyes, that had the greatest influence with regard to the
development of Arthur's character and legend. Chrétien wrote five Arthurian romances between
c. 1170 and 1190. Erec and Enide and Cligès are tales of courtly love with Arthur's court as their
backdrop, demonstrating the shift away from the heroic world of the Welsh and Galfridian
Arthur, while Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, features Yvain and Gawain in a supernatural
adventure, with Arthur very much on the sidelines and weakened. However, the most significant
for the development of the Arthurian legend are Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, which
introduces Lancelot and his adulterous relationship with Arthur's queen Guinevere, extending
and popularising the recurring theme of Arthur as acuckold, and Perceval, the Story of the Grail,
which introduces the Holy Grail and the Fisher King and which again sees Arthur having a much
reduced role. Chrétien was thus "instrumental both in the elaboration of the Arthurian legend and
in the establishment of the ideal form for the diffusion of that legend", and much of what came
after him in terms of the portrayal of Arthur and his world built upon the foundations he had
laid. Perceval, although unfinished, was particularly popular: four separate continuations of the
poem appeared over the next half century, with the notion of the Grail and its quest being
developed by other writers such as Robert de Boron, a fact that helped accelerate the decline of
Arthur in continental romance. Similarly, Lancelot and his cuckolding of Arthur with Guinevere
became one of the classic motifs of the Arthurian legend, although the Lancelot of the
prose Lancelot (c. 1225) and later texts was a combination of Chrétien's character and that

13
of Ulrich von Zatzikhoven's Lanzelet. Chrétien's work even appears to feed back into Welsh
Arthurian literature, with the result that the romance Arthur began to replace the heroic, active
Arthur in Welsh literary tradition. Particularly significant in this development were the three
Welsh Arthurian romances, which are closely similar to those of Chrétien, albeit with some
significant differences: Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain is related to Chrétien's Yvain; Geraint
and Enid, to Erec and Enide; and Peredur son of Efrawg, to Perceval.

Up to c. 1210, continental Arthurian romance was expressed primarily through poetry; after
this date the tales began to be told in prose. The most significant of these 13th-century prose
romances was the Vulgate Cycle (also known as the Lancelot-Grail Cycle), a series of five
Middle French prose works written in
the first half of that century. These works
were the Estoire del Saint Grail,
the Estoire de Merlin, the Lancelot
propre (or Prose Lancelot, which
made up half the entire Vulgate Cycle on
its own), the Queste del Saint
Graal and the Mort Artu, which
combine to form the first coherent version
of the entire Arthurian legend. The
cycle continued the trend towards
reducing the role played by Arthur in his
own legend, partly through the introduction
of the character of Galahad and an
expansion of the role of Merlin. It also
made Mordred the result of an incestuous
relationship between
Arthur and his sister Morgause and
established the role of Camelot, first
mentioned in passing in
Chrétien's Lancelot, as Arthur's primary court. This series of texts was quickly followed by
the Post-Vulgate Cycle (c. 1230–40), of which the Suite du Merlin is a part, which greatly
reduced the importance of Lancelot's affair with Guinevere but continued to sideline Arthur, and
to focus more on the Grail quest. As such, Arthur became even more of a relatively minor
character in these French prose romances; in the Vulgate itself he only figures significantly in
the Estoire de Merlin and the Mort Artu. During this period, Arthur was made one of the Nine
Worthies, a group of three pagan, three Jewish and three Christian exemplars of chivalry. The
Worthies were first listed in Jacques de Longuyon’s Voeux du Paon in 1312, and subsequently
became a common subject in literature and art.

The development of the medieval Arthurian cycle and the character of the "Arthur of
romance" culminated in Le Morte d'Arthur, Thomas Malory's retelling of the entire legend in a
single work in English in the late 15th century. Malory based his book—originally titled The
Whole Book of King Arthur and of His Noble Knights of the Round Table—on the various
previous romance versions, in particular the Vulgate Cycle, and appears to have aimed at
creating a comprehensive and authoritative collection of Arthurian stories.

14
Chapter 4: Decline, revival and the modern legend

4.1: Post-medieval literature

T
he end of the Middle Ages brought with it a waning of interest in King Arthur.
Although Malory's English version of the great French romances was popular, there
were increasing attacks upon the truthfulness of the historical framework of the
Arthurian romances – established since Geoffrey of Monmouth's time – and thus the legitimacy
of the whole Matter of Britain. So, for example, the 16th-century humanist scholar Polydore
Vergil famously rejected the claim that Arthur was the ruler of a post-Roman empire, found
throughout the post-Galfridian medieval "chronicle tradition", to the horror of Welsh and English
antiquarians. Social changes associated with the end of the medieval period and
the Renaissance also conspired to rob the character of Arthur and his associated legend of some
of their power to enthrall audiences, with the result that 1634 saw the last printing of Malory's Le
Morte d'Arthur for nearly 200 years. King Arthur and the Arthurian legend were not entirely
abandoned, but until the early 19th century the material was taken less seriously and was often
used simply as a vehicle for allegories of 17th- and 18th-century politics. Thus Richard
Blackmore's epics Prince Arthur (1695) and King Arthur (1697) feature Arthur as an allegory for
the struggles of William III against James II. Similarly, the most popular Arthurian tale
throughout this period seems to have been that of Tom Thumb, which was told first
through chapbooks and later through the political plays of Henry Fielding; although the action is
clearly set in Arthurian Britain, the treatment is humorous and Arthur appears as a primarily
comedic version of his romance character. John Dryden's masque King Arthur is still performed,
largely thanks toHenry Purcell's music, though seldom unabridged.

4.2: Tennyson and the revival

I
n the early 19th century, medievalism, Romanticism, and the Gothic Revival reawakened
interest in Arthur and the medieval romances. A new code of ethics for 19th-century
gentlemen was shaped around the chivalric ideals embodied in the "Arthur of romance".
This renewed interest first made itself felt in 1816, when Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur was
reprinted for the first time since 1634. Initially, the medieval Arthurian legends were of
particular interest to poets, inspiring, for example, William Wordsworth to write "The Egyptian
Maid" (1835), an allegory of the Holy Grail. Pre-eminent among these was Alfred Tennyson,
whose first Arthurian poem "The Lady of Shalott" was published in 1832. Arthur himself played
a minor role in some of these works, following in the medieval romance tradition. Tennyson's
Arthurian work reached its peak of popularity withIdylls of the King, however, which reworked

15
the entire narrative of Arthur's life for the Victorian era. It was first published in 1859 and sold
10,000 copies within the first week. In the Idylls, Arthur became a symbol of ideal manhood who
ultimately failed, through human weakness, to establish a perfect kingdom on earth. Tennyson's
works prompted a large number of imitators, generated considerable public interest in the
legends of Arthur and the character himself, and brought Malory's tales to a wider
audience. Indeed, the first modernisation of Malory's great compilation of Arthur's tales was
published in 1862, shortly after Idylls appeared, and there were six further editions and five
competitors before the century ended.

This interest in the "Arthur of romance" and his


associated stories continued through the 19th century
and into the 20th, and influenced poets such
as William Morris and Pre-Raphaelite artists
including Edward Burne-Jones. Even the humorous
tale of Tom Thumb, which had been the primary
manifestation of Arthur's legend in the 18th century,
was rewritten after the publication of Idylls. While
Tom maintained his small stature and remained a
figure of comic relief, his story now included more
elements from the medieval Arthurian romances and
Arthur is treated more seriously and historically in
these new versions. The revived Arthurian romance
also proved influential in the United States, with
such books as Sidney Lanier's The Boy's King
Arthur (1880) reaching wide audiences and
providing inspiration for Mark Twain's satiric A
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
(1889). Although the 'Arthur of romance' was
sometimes central to these new Arthurian works (as
he was in Burne-Jones's "The Sleep of Arthur in
Avalon", 1881-1898), on other occasions he reverted
to his medieval status and is either marginalized or
even missing entirely, with Wagner's Arthurian
operas providing a notable instance of the
latter. Furthermore, the revival of interest in Arthur
and the Arthurian tales did not continue unabated. By
the end of the 19th century, it was confined mainly to
Pre-Raphaelite imitators, and it could not avoid
being affected by World War I, which damaged the reputation of chivalry and thus interest in its
medieval manifestations and Arthur as chivalric role model. The romance tradition did, however,
remain sufficiently powerful to persuade Thomas Hardy, Laurence Binyon and John
Masefield to compose Arthurian plays, and T. S. Eliot alludes to the Arthur myth (but not
Arthur) in his poem The Waste Land, which mentions the Fisher King.

16
4.3: Modern legend

I n the latter half of the 20th century, the influence of the romance tradition of Arthur
continued, through novels such as T. H. White's The Once and Future King (1958)
and Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon (1982) in addition to comic strips such
as Prince Valiant (from 1937 onward). Tennyson had reworked the romance tales of Arthur to
suit and comment upon the issues of his day, and the same is often the case with modern
treatments too. Bradley's tale, for example, takes a feminist approach to Arthur and his legend, in
contrast to the narratives of Arthur found in medieval materials, and American authors often
rework the story of Arthur to be more consistent with values such as equality and
democracy. In John Cowper Powys's Porius: A Romance of the Dark Ages (1951), set in Wales
in 499, just prior to the Saxon invasion, Arthur, the Emperor of Britain, is only a minor character,
whereas Myrddin (Merlin) and Nineue, Tennyson's Vivien, are major figures. Myrddin's
disappearance at the end of the novel is "in the tradition of magical hibernation when the king or
mage leaves his people for some island or cave to return either at a more propitious or more
dangerous time" (see King Arthur's messianic return). Also Powys's earlier novel, A Glastonbury
Romance (1932) is concerned with both the Holy Grail and the legend that Arthur is buried in the
town of Glastonbury.
The romance Arthur has become popular in film and theatre as well. T. H. White's novel
was adapted into the Lerner and Loewe stage musical Camelot (1960) and Walt Disney's
animated film The Sword in the Stone (1963); Camelot, with its focus on the love of Lancelot
and Guinevere and the cuckolding of Arthur, was itself made into a film of the same name in
1967. The romance tradition of Arthur is particularly evident and in critically respected films
like Robert Bresson's Lancelot du Lac (1974), Éric Rohmer's Perceval le Gallois (1978)
and John Boorman's Excalibur (1981); it is also the main source of the material used in the
Arthurian spoof Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).
Retellings and reimaginings of the romance tradition are not the only important aspect of
the modern legend of King Arthur. Attempts to portray Arthur as a genuine historical figure of
c. 500, stripping away the "romance", have also emerged. As Taylor and Brewer have noted, this
return to the medieval "chronicle tradition" of Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Historia
Brittonum is a recent trend which became dominant in Arthurian literature in the years following
the outbreak of the Second World War, when Arthur's legendary resistance to Germanic enemies
struck a chord in Britain. Clemence Dane's series of radio plays, The Saviours (1942), used a
historical Arthur to embody the spirit of heroic resistance against desperate odds, and Robert
Sherriff's play The Long Sunset (1955) saw Arthur rallying Romano-British resistance against
the Germanic invaders. This trend towards placing Arthur in a historical setting is also apparent
in historical and fantasy novels published during this period. In recent years the portrayal of
Arthur as a real hero of the 5th century has also made its way into film versions of the Arthurian
legend, most notably the TV series' Arthur of the Britons (1972–73) and The Legend of King
Arthur (1979), and the feature films King Arthur (2004) and The Last Legion (2007).
Arthur has also been used as a model for modern-day behaviour. In the 1930s, the Order of
the Fellowship of the Knights of the Round Table was formed in Britain to promote Christian
ideals and Arthurian notions of medieval chivalry. In the United States, hundreds of thousands of

17
boys and girls joined Arthurian youth groups, such as the Knights of King Arthur, in which
Arthur and his legends were promoted as wholesome exemplars. However, Arthur's diffusion
within modern culture goes beyond such obviously Arthurian endeavours, with Arthurian names
being regularly attached to objects, buildings, and places. As Norris J. Lacy has observed, "The
popular notion of Arthur appears to be limited, not surprisingly, to a few motifs and names, but
there can be no doubt of the extent to which a legend born many centuries ago is profoundly
embedded in modern culture at every level."

18
Chapter 5: King Arthur messianic return

K
ing Arthur's messianic return is an aspect of the legend of King Arthur, the
mythical 6th-century British king. Few historical records of Arthur remain, and there
are doubts that he ever existed, but he achieved a mythological stature that gave rise
to a growing literature about his life and deeds. One recurrent aspect of Arthurian literature was
the notion that he would one day return in the role of a messiah to save his people.

5.1: Origins

T
he possibility of Arthur's return is first mentioned by William of Malmesbury in 1125:
"But Arthur’s grave is nowhere seen, whence antiquity of fables still claims that he will
return." In the "Miracles of St. Mary of Laon" (De Miraculis Sanctae Mariae
Laudensis), written by a French cleric and chronicler named Hériman of Tournai in c. 1145, but
referring to events that occurred in 1113, mention is made of the Breton and Cornish belief that
Arthur still lived. As Constance Bullock-Davies demonstrated, various non-Welsh sources
indicate that this belief in Arthur's eventual messianic return was extremely widespread amongst
the Britons from the 12th century onwards. How much earlier than this it existed is still debated
– it was often linked to the expulsion of the English and Normans from Britain. This did, in fact,
remain a powerful aspect of the Arthurian legend through the medieval period and beyond.
So John Lydgate in his Fall of Princes (1431–8) notes the belief that Arthur "shall resorte as lord
and sovereyne Out of fayrye and regne in Breteyne" and Philip II
of Spain apparently swore, at the time of his marriage to Mary I of
England in 1554, that he would resign the kingdom if Arthur
should return.

A number of locations were suggested for where Arthur


would actually return from. The earliest-recorded suggestion
was Avalon.Geoffrey of Monmouth asserted that Arthur "was
mortally wounded" at Camlann but was then carried "to the Isle of
Avallon (insulam Auallonis) to be cured of his wounds", with the
implication that he would at some point be cured and return
therefrom made explicit in Geoffrey's later Vita Merlini. Another
tradition held that Arthur was awaiting his return beneath some
mountain or hill. First referenced by Gervase of Tilbury in
his Otia Imperialia (c.1211), this was maintained in British
folklore into the 19th century and Loomis and others have taken it
as a tale of Arthur's residence in an underground (as opposed to an
overseas) Otherworld. Other less common concepts include the
idea that Arthur was absent leading the Wild Hunt, or that he had
been turned into a crow or raven.

19
5.2: Medieval politics

T he influence of Arthur's legend is not confined to novels, stories and films; the legend
of Arthur's messianic return has often been politically influential. On the one hand it
seems to have provided a means of rallying Welsh resistance to Anglo-
Norman incursions in the 12th century and later. The Anglo-Norman text Description of
England recounts of the Welsh that "openly they go about saying,... / that in the end they will
have it all; / by means of Arthur, they will have it back... / They will call it Britain again." It may
be that such references as this reflect a post-Galfridian Welsh belief that Arthur ought to be
associated with the "Mab Darogan" ("Son of Prophecy"), a messianic figure of the Welsh
prophetic tradition who would repel the enemies of the Welsh and who was often identified with
heroes such as Cadwaladr, "Owain" (Owain Lawgoch and Owain Glyndŵr in Welsh prophetic
verse. However, as Oliver Padel has noted, no example of a Welsh prophetic poetry telling of
Arthur's return to expel the enemies of the Welsh from Britain has survived, which some have
seen as troubling and a reason for caution: we must rely on non-Welsh texts (such as the above)
for the notion that this was a widespread belief amongst the Welsh from the mid-12th century
onwards, along with more debatable evidence such as Henry VII's attempts to associate himself
with Arthur when taking the throne, discussed below.
On the other hand, the notion of Arthur's eventual return to rule a united Britain was
adopted by the Plantagenet kings to justify their rule. Once King Arthur had been safely
pronounced dead, in an attempt to deflate Welsh dreams of a genuine Arthurian return, the
Plantagenets were then able to make ever greater use of Arthur as a political cult to support their
dynasty and its ambitions. So, Richard I used his status as the inheritor of Arthur's realm to shore
up foreign alliances, giving a sword reputed to be Excalibur to Tancred of Sicily. Similarly,
'Round Tables' – jousting and dancing in imitation of Arthur and his knights – occurred at least 8
times in England between 1242 and 1345, including one held by Edward I in 1284 to celebrate
his conquest of Wales and consequent 're-unification' of Arthurian Britain The Galfridian claim
that Arthur conquered Scotland was also used by Edward I to provide legitimacy to his claims of
English suzerainty over that region.

5.3: Post-medieval politics

T he influence of King Arthur on the political machinations of England's kings was not
confined to the medieval period: the Tudors also found it expedient to make use of
Arthur. In 1485 Henry VII marched through Wales to take the English throne under the
banner of the Arthurian Red Dragon, he commissioned genealogies to show his putative descent
from Arthur, and named his first-born son Arthur.Later, in the reigns of Henry
VIII and Elizabeth, Arthur's career was influential once again, now in providing evidence for
supposed historical rights and territories in legal cases that pursued the crown's interests.

20
Whilst the potential for such political usage – wherein the reality of Geoffrey's Arthur and
his wide-ranging conquests was accepted and proclaimed by English antiquarians and thus
utilised by the crown – naturally declined after the attacks on Geoffrey's Historia by Polydore
Vergil and others, Arthur has remained an occasionally politically potent figure through to the
present era. In the 20th century, a comparison of John F. Kennedy and his White House with
Arthur and Camelot, made by Kennedy's widow, helped consolidate Kennedy's posthumous
reputation, with Kennedy even becoming associated with an Arthur-like messianic return
in American folklore.

5.4 Modern adaptation

T his idea of Arthur's eventual return has proven attractive to a number of modern
writers. John Masefield used the idea of Arthur sleeping under a hill as the central
theme in his poem Midsummer Night (1928). C. S. Lewis also was inspired by this
aspect of Arthur's legend in his novel That Hideous Strength (1945), in which King Arthur was
said to be living in the land of Abhalljin on the planet Venus.
The return of King Arthur has been especially prominent in the comics medium with
examples from at least the 1940s. One of the better known uses of this motif is by Mike Barr
and Brian Bolland, who have Arthur and his knights returning in the year 3000 to save the Earth
from an alien invasion in the comic book series Camelot 3000 (1982–85). Other examples
include Stephen R. Lawhead's novel Avalon: The Return of King Arthur (1999), featuring a
reincarnated Arthur who rises to restore the British monarchy as it is about to be abolished.
In Vinland Saga, a manga on the Viking invasion and rule of England, the character Askeladd, a
Norwegian-Welsh half-blood recounts the tale of his true king and ancestor, Lucius Artorius
Castus and his glorious return from Avalon to save Britannia.

21
Chapter 6: Family

K ing Arthur's family grew throughout the centuries with King Arthur's legend.
Several of the legendary members of this mythical king's family became leading
characters of mythical tales in their own right.

6.1: In medieval Welsh literature

I n Welsh Arthurian literature from before the time


of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum
Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain), Arthur
was granted numerous relations and family members. Several
early Welsh sources are usually taken as indicative of Uther
Pendragon being known as Arthur's father before Geoffrey
wrote, with Arthur also being granted a brother (Madog) and
a nephew (Eliwlod) in these texts. Arthur also appears to have
been assigned a sister in this material – Gwalchmei is named
as his sister-son (nephew) in Culhwch and Olwen, his mother
being one Gwyar. Culhwch and Olwen, the Vita Iltuti and
the Brut Dingestow combine to suggest that Arthur had a
mother too, named Eigyr.
In addition to this immediate family, Arthur was said to
have had a great variety of more distant relatives, including
maternal aunts, uncles, cousins and a grandfather
named Anlawd (or Amlawdd) Wledig ("Prince Anlawd").
The latter is the common link between many of these figures
and Arthur: thus the relationship of first cousins that is
implied or stated between Arthur, Culhwch, Illtud, and Goreu
mab Custenhin depends upon all of their mothers being
daughters of this Anlawd, who appears to be ultimately a
genealogical construct designed to allow such inter-
relationships between characters to be postulated by medieval
Welsh authors. Arthur's maternal uncles in Culhwch and
Olwen, including Llygatrud Emys, Gwrbothu Hen, Gweir
Gwrhyt Ennwir and Gweir Baladir Hir, similarly appear to
derive from this relationship.
The genealogies from the 13th-century Mostyn MS. 117 assert that Arthur is the son
of Uthyr, the son of Custennin, the son of Cynfawr, the son of Tudwal, the son of Morfawr, the
son of Eudaf, the son of Cadwr the son of Cynan, the son of Caradoc, the son of Bran, the son
of Llŷr.

22
Regarding Arthur's own family, his wife is consistently stated to be Gwenhwyfar, usually
the daughter of King Ogrfan Gawr (variation: 'Gogrfan Gawr', "[G]Ogrfan the Giant") and sister
to Gwenhwyach, although Culhwch and Bonedd yr Arwyr do indicate that Arthur also had some
sort of relationship with Eleirch daughter of Iaen, which produced a son named Kyduan
(Cydfan). Kyduan was not the only child of Arthur according to Welsh Arthurian tradition – he
is also ascribed sons called Amr (Anir), Gwydre, Llacheu and Duran.

6.2: In other medieval literature

R elatively few members of Arthur's family in the Welsh materials are carried over to
the works of Geoffrey and the chivalric romancers. His grandfather Anlawd Wledic
and his maternal uncles, aunts and cousins do not appear there, and neither do any of
his sons or his paternal relatives. Only the core family seem to have made the journey: his wife
Gwenhwyfar (who became Guinevere), his father Uther, his mother (Igerea) and his sister-son
Gwalchmei (Gawain). Gwalchmei's mother – Arthur's sister – failed to make the journey,
Gwyar's place being taken by Anna, the wife of Loth,
in Geoffrey's account, whilst Medraut (Mordred) is
made into a second sister-son for Arthur (a status he
does not have in the Welsh material).

In addition, new family members enter the


Arthurian tradition from this point onwards. Uther is
given a new family, including two brothers and a
father, while Arthur gains a sister, Morgan le
Fay (first named as Arthur's sister by Chrétien de
Troyes), and a new son, Loholt, in Chrétien's Eric and
Enide, the Perlesvaus and the Vulgate Cycle.

Another significant new family-member is


Arthur's half-sister Morgause, the daughter of Gorlois
and Igerna and mother of Gawain and Mordred in the
French romances (replacing Geoffrey of Monmouth's
Anna in this role). In the Vulgate Mort Artu we
find Mordred's relationship with Arthur once more
reinterpreted, as he is made the issue of an unwitting
incestuous liaison between Arthur and this Morgause,
with Arthur dreaming that Mordred would grow up to
kill him. This tale is preserved in all the romances
based on the Mort Artu, and by the time of Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur Arthur has started to
plot, Herod-like, to kill all children born on the same day as Mordred in order to save himself
from this fate. A third half-sister, Elaine, is also added at this time. Through his sisters, Arthur is
given further nephews (Gareth, Gaheris, Agravain, Ywain, and Galeschin) who become Knights
of the Round Table.

23
6.3: Descendants

A
lthough Arthur is given sons in both early and late Arthurian tales, he is rarely granted
significant further generations of descendants; this is at least partly because of the
premature deaths of his sons in these legends. Amr is the first to be mentioned in
Arthurian literature, appearing in the 9th-century Historia Brittonum:
"There is another wonder in the region which is called Ercing. A tomb is located there
next to a spring which is called Licat Amr; and the name of the man who is buried in the
tomb was called thus: Amr. He was the son of Arthur the soldier, and Arthur himself
killed and buried him in that very place. And men come to measure the grave and find it
sometimes six feet in length, sometimes nine, sometimes twelve, sometimes fifteen. At
whatever length you might measure it at one time, a second time you will not find it to
have the same length – and I myself have put this to the test."
Why Arthur chose to kill his son is never made clear. The only other reference to Amr
comes in the post-Galfridian Welsh romance Geraint, where "Amhar son of Arthur" is one
of Arthur’s four chamberlains along with Bedwyr's son Amhren.Gwydre is similarly
unlucky, being slaughtered by the giant boar Twrch Trwyth in Culhwch and Olwen, along
with two of Arthur's maternal uncles – no other references to either Gwydre or Arthur's
uncles survive.
More is known of Arthur's son Llacheu. He is one of the "Three Well-Endowed Men of
the Island of Britain", according to the Triad 4, and he fights alongside Cei in the early
Arthurian poem Pa gur yv y porthaur?. Like his father is in Y Gododdin, Llacheu appears in
the 12th-century and later Welsh poetry as a standard of heroic comparison and he also
seems to have been similarly a figure of local topographic folklore too. Taken together, it is
generally agreed that all these references indicate that Llacheu was a figure of considerable
importance in the early Arthurian cycle. Nonetheless, Llacheu too dies, with the speaker in
the pre-Galfridian poem Ymddiddan Gwayddno Garanhir ac Gwyn fab Nudd remembering
that he had "been where Llacheu was slain / the son of Arthur, awful in songs / when ravens
croaked over blood."
Finally, Loholt is treacherously killed by Sir Kay so that the latter can take credit for the
defeat of the giant Logrin in the Perlesvaus. Another son, known only from a possibly 15th-
century Welsh text, is said to have died on the field of Camlann:
Sandde Bryd Angel drive the crow
off the face of ?Duran [son of Arthur].
Dearly and belovedly his mother raised him.
Medraut/Mordred is an exception to this tradition of a childless death for Arthur's sons.
Mordred, like Amr, is killed by Arthur – at Camlann – according to Geoffrey of Monmouth and
the post-Galfridian tradition but, unlike the others, he is ascribed two sons, both of whom rose
against Arthur's successor and cousin Constantine with the help of the Saxons. However, in

24
Geoffrey's Historia (when Arthur's killing of Mordred and Mordred's sons first appear), Mordred
was not yet actually Arthur's son.
Later literature has expanded Arthur's family further. Richard Johnson's 16th-century
romance Tom a Lincoln adds another illegitimate son, the eponymous Tom. Through Tom,
Arthur is also given grandsons referred to only as the Black Knight and Faerie Knight. Other
works, such as Henry Fielding's Tom Thumb, Walter Scott's The Bridal of Triermain and modern
film and television adaptations of Arthurian legend, have occasionally given Arthur daughters,
diverging from the earlier legends.

25
Chapter 7: Excalibur

E xcalibur or Caliburn, is the legendary sword of King Arthur, sometimes


also attributed with magical powers or associated with the rightful sovereignty of
Britain. Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone (the proof of Arthur's lineage) are
sometimes said to be the same weapon, but in most versions they are considered separate.
Excalibur was associated with the Arthurian legend very early on. In Welsh, it is
called Caledfwlch; in Cornish, Calesvol; in Breton, Kaledvoulc'h; and in Latin, Caliburnus.

7.1: Forms and etymologies

T he name Excalibur ultimately derives from


the Welsh Caledfwlch (and Breton Kaledvoulc'h, Middle Cornish Calesvol) which is a
compound of caled "hard" and bwlch "breach, cleft". Caledfwlch appears in several
early Welsh works, including the prose taleCulhwch and Olwen. The name was later used in
Welsh adaptations of foreign material such as the Bruts (chronicles), which were based
on Geoffrey of Monmouth.
It is often considered to be related to the phonetically similar Caladbolg, a sword borne by
several figures from Irish mythology, although a borrowing of Caledfwlch from
IrishCaladbolg has been considered unlikely by Rachel Bromwich and D. Simon Evans. They
suggest instead that both names "may have similarly arisen at a very early date as generic names
for a sword"; this sword then became exclusively the property of Arthur in the British tradition.
Geoffrey of Monmouth, in his Historia Regum Britanniae (The History of the Kings of
Britain, c. 1136), Latinised the name of Arthur's sword as Caliburnus (potentially influenced by
the Medieval Latin spelling calibs of Classical Latin chalybs, from Greek chályps [χάλυψ]
"steel"). Most Celticists consider Geoffrey's Caliburnus to be derivative of a lost Old Welsh text
in which bwlch (Old Welsh bulc[h]) had not yet been lenited to fwlch (Middle
Welsh vwlch or uwlch).
In Old French sources this then became Escalibor, Excalibor, and finally the
familiar Excalibur. Geoffrey Gaimar, in his Old French L'Estoire des Engleis (1134-1140),
mentions Arthur and his sword: "this Constantine was the nephew of Arthur, who had the sword
Caliburc" ("Cil Costentin, li niès Artur, Ki out l'espée Caliburc"). In Wace's Roman de Brut (c.
1150-1155), an Old French translation and versification of Geoffrey's Historia, the sword is
called Calabrum, Callibourc, Chalabrun, and Calabrun (with alternate spellings such
as Chalabrum, Calibore, Callibor, Caliborne, Calliborc, and Escaliborc, found in various
manuscripts of the Brut).

26
In Chrétien de Troyes' late 12th-century Old French Perceval, Arthur's
knight Gawain carries the sword Escalibor and it is stated, "for at his belt hung Escalibor, the
finest sword that there was, which sliced through iron as through wood" ("Qu'il avoit cainte
Escalibor, la meillor espee qui fust, qu'ele trenche fer come
fust"). This statement was probably picked up by the author of
the Estoire Merlin, or Vulgate Merlin, where the author (who
was fond of fanciful folk etymologies) asserts that Escalibor
"is a Hebrew name which means in French 'cuts iron, steel,
and wood'" ("c'est non Ebrieu qui dist en franchois trenche fer
& achier et fust"; note that the word for "steel" here, achier,
also means "blade" or "sword" and comes from medieval
Latin aciarium, a derivative of acies "sharp", so there is no
direct connection with Latin chalybs in this etymology). It is
from this fanciful etymological musing that Thomas
Malory got the notion that Excalibur meant "cut steel" ("'the
name of it,' said the lady, 'is Excalibur, that is as moche to
say, as Cut stele'").

7.2: Excalibur and the Sward in the Stone

I
n Arthurian romance, a number of explanations are given for Arthur's possession of
Excalibur. In Robert de Boron's Merlin, the first tale to mention the "sword in the stone"
motif, Arthur obtained the British throne by pulling a sword from an anvil sitting atop a
stone that appeared in a churchyard on Christmas Eve. In this account, the act could not be
performed except by "the true king," meaning the divinely appointed king or true heir of Uther
Pendragon. As Malory writes: "Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil, is rightwise
king born. This sword is thought by many to be the famous Excalibur, and its identity is made
explicit in the later Prose Merlin, part of the Lancelot-Grail cycle. The challenge of drawing a
sword from a stone also appears in the Arthurian legends of Galahad,
whose achievement of the task
indicates that he is destined to find
the Holy Grail.
However, in what is called
the Post-Vulgate Cycle, Excalibur was
given to Arthur by the Lady of the
Lake sometime after he began to
reign. In the Vulgate Mort Artu,
Arthur is at the brink of death and so
orders Griflet to throw the sword into

27
the enchanted lake; after two failed attempts (as he felt such a great sword should not be thrown
away), Griflet finally complies with the wounded king's request and a hand emerges from the
lake to catch it. This tale becomes attached to Bedivere instead of Griflet in Malory and the
English tradition. Malory records both versions of the legend in his Le Morte d'Arthur, naming
both swords as Excalibur.

7.3: Other developement of the legend

n Welsh legend, Arthur's sword is known as Caledfwlch. In Culhwch and Olwen, it is one

I of Arthur's most valuable possessions and is used by Arthur's warrior Llenlleawg the
Irishman to kill the Irish king Diwrnach while stealing his magical cauldron. Irish
mythology mentions a weapon Caladbolg, the sword of Fergus mac Róich, which was
also known for its incredible power and was carried by some of Ireland's greatest heroes.
The name, which can also mean "hard cleft" in Irish, appears in the plural, caladbuilc, as a
generic term for "great swords" in Togail Troi ("The Destruction of Troy"), the 10th-century
Irish translation of the classical tale.
Though not named as Caledfwlch, Arthur's sword is described vividly in The Dream of
Rhonabwy, one of the tales associated with the Mabinogion:
Then they heard Cadwr Earl of Cornwall being summoned, and saw him rise with Arthur's
sword in his hand, with a design of two chimeras on the golden hilt; when the sword was
unsheathed what was seen from the mouths of the two chimeras was like two flames of fire, so
dreadful that it was not easy for anyone to look. At that the host settled and the commotion
subsided, and the earl returned to his tent.
— From The Mabinogion, translated by Jeffrey Gantz.

In the late 15th/early 16th-century Middle Cornish play Beunans Ke, Arthur's sword is
called Calesvol, which is etymologically an exact Middle Cornish cognate of the Welsh
Caledfwlch. It is unclear if the name was borrowed from the Welsh (if so, it must have been an
early loan, for phonological reasons), or represents an early, pan-Brittonic traditional name for
Arthur's sword.
Geoffrey's Historia is the first non-Welsh source to speak of the sword. Geoffrey says the
sword was forged in Avalon and Latinises the name "Caledfwlch" as Caliburnus. When his
influential pseudo-history made it to Continental Europe, writers altered the name further until it
finally took on the popular form Excalibur (various spellings in the medieval Arthurian romance
and chronicle tradition include: Calabrun, Calabrum, Calibourne, Callibourc, Calliborc,
Calibourch, Escaliborc, and Escalibor). The legend was expanded upon in the Vulgate Cycle,
also known as the Lancelot-Grail Cycle, and in the Post-Vulgate Cycle which emerged in its
wake. Both included the work known as the Prose Merlin, but the Post-Vulgate authors left out
the Merlin continuation from the earlier cycle, choosing to add an original account of Arthur's
early days including a new origin for Excalibur.

28
In several early French works, such as Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the
Grail and the Vulgate Lancelot Proper section, Excalibur is used by Gawain, Arthur's nephew
and one of his best knights. This is in contrast to later versions, where Excalibur belongs solely
to the king.

7.4: Attributes

n many versions, Excalibur's blade was engraved with phrases on opposite sides: "Take

I
me up" and "Cast me away" (or similar). In
addition, when Excalibur was first drawn, in
the first battle testing Arthur's sovereignty, its
blade blinded his enemies. Malory writes:
"thenne he drewe his swerd Excalibur, but it
was so breyght in his enemyes eyen that it gaf light
lyke thirty torchys."

Excalibur's scabbard was said to have powers of


its own. Loss of blood from injuries, for example,
would not kill the bearer. In some tellings, wounds
received by one wearing the scabbard did not bleed at
all. In the later romance tradition, including Le Morte
d'Arthur, the scabbard is stolen from Arthur by his
half-sister Morgan le Fay in revenge for the death of
her beloved Accolon and thrown into a lake, never to be found again. This act later enables the
death of Arthur at the Battle of Camlann.

7.5: Arthur’s other weapons

xcalibur is by no means the only weapon associated with Arthur, nor the only sword.

E
although
Welsh tradition also knew of a dagger named Carnwennan and a spear named
Rhongomyniad that belonged to him. Carnwennan ("little white-hilt") first appears
in Culhwch and Olwen, where Arthur uses it to slice the witch Orddu in
half. Rhongomyniad ("spear" + "striker, slayer") is also mentioned in Culhwch,
only in passing; it appears as simply Ron ("spear") in
Geoffrey's Historia. The Alliterative Morte Arthure, a Middle English poem, mentions Clarent, a
sword of peace meant for knighting and ceremonies as opposed to battle, which Mordred stole
and then used to kill Arthur at Camlann. The Prose Lancelot of the Vulgate Cycle mentions a
sword called Seure, which belonged to the king but was used by Lancelot in one battl

29
7.6: Similar weapons

n Welsh mythology, the Dyrnwyn ("White-Hilt"), one of the Thirteen Treasures of the

I Island of Britain, is said to be a powerful sword belonging to Rhydderch Hael, one of the
Three Generous Men of Britain mentioned in the Welsh Triads. When drawn by a
worthy or well-born man, the entire blade would blaze with fire. Rhydderch was never
reluctant to hand the weapon to anyone, hence his nickname Hael "the Generous", but the
recipients, as soon as they had learned of its peculiar properties, always rejected the sword.
There are other similar weapons described in other mythologies. In particular, Claíomh
Solais, which is an Irish term meaning "Sword of Light", or "Shining Sword", appears in a
number of orally transmitted Irish folk-tales.

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Chapter 8: Holy Grail

T he Holy Grail is a treasure that serves as an important motif in Arthurian literature.


Different traditions describe it as a cup, dish or stone with miraculous powers that
provide happiness, eternal youth or sustenance in infinite abundance, often in the
custody of the Fisher King. The term "holy grail" is often used to denote an elusive object or
goal that is sought after for its great significance.
A "grail", wondrous but not explicitly holy, first appears in Perceval, le Conte du Graal, an
unfinished romance written by Chrétien de Troyes around 1190. Here, Chrétien's story attracted
many continuators, translators and interpreters in the later 12th and early 13th centuries,
including Wolfram von Eschenbach, who perceived the Grail as a stone. In the late 12th
century, Robert de Boron wrote inJoseph d'Arimathie that the Grail was Jesus's vessel from
the Last Supper, which Joseph of Arimathea used to catch Christ's blood at the Crucifixion.
Thereafter, the Holy Grail became interwoven with the legend of the Holy Chalice, the Last
Supper cup, a theme continued in works such as the Vulgate Cycle, the Post-Vulgate Cycle,
and Le Morte d'Arthur.

8.1: Etymology

he word graal, as it is earliest spelled, comes from Old French graal or greal,

T cognate with Old Provençal grazal and Old Catalan gresal, meaning "a cup or bowl
of earth, wood, or metal" (or other various types of vessels in
different Occitan dialects). The most commonly accepted etymology derives it
from Latin gradalis or gradale via an earlier form,cratalis, a derivative of crater or cratus,
which was, in turn, borrowed from Greek krater (κρατήρ, a large wine-mixing
vessel). Alternative suggestions include a derivative of cratis, a name for a type of woven basket
that came to refer to a dish, or a derivative of Latin gradus meaning "'by degree', 'by stages',
applied to a dish brought to the table in different stages or services during a meal".
In the 15th century, English writer John Hardyng invented a fanciful new etymology for
Old French san-graal (or san-gréal), meaning "Holy Grail", by parsing it as sang real, meaning
"royal blood". This etymology was used by some later medieval British writers such as Thomas
Malory, and became prominent in the conspiracy theory developed in the book The Holy Blood
and the Holy Grail, in which sang real refers to the Jesus bloodline.

31
8.2: Medieval literature

rail literature divides into two classes. The first concerns King Arthur's

G knights visiting the Grail castle or questing after the object. The second concerns the
Grail's history in the time of Joseph of Arimathea.
The nine works from the first group are:

 Perceval, the Story of the Grail by Chrétien de Troyes.


 Four Continuations of Chrétien's poem, by authors of differing vision and talent, designed to
bring the story to a close.
 Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach, which adapted at least the holiness of Robert's Grail
into the framework of Chrétien's story. In Wolfram's telling, the Grail was kept safe at the
castle of Munsalvaesche (mons salvationis), entrusted to Titurel, the first Grail King. Some,
not least the Benedictine monks, have identified the castle with their real sanctuary
of Montserrat in Catalonia.
 The Didot Perceval, named after the manuscript's former owner, and purportedly a
prosification of Robert de Boron's sequel to Joseph d'Arimathie.
 Welsh romance Peredur son of Efrawg, a loose translation of Chrétien's poem and the
Continuations, with some influence from native Welsh literature.
 Perlesvaus, called the "least canonical" Grail romance because of its very different character.
 German poem Diu Crône (The Crown), in which Gawain, rather than Perceval (Percival),
achieves the Grail.
 The Lancelot section of the vast Vulgate Cycle, which introduces the new Grail
hero, Galahad.
 The Queste del Saint Graal, another part of the Vulgate Cycle, concerning the adventures of
Galahad and his achievement of the Grail.
Of the second group there are:

 The Estoire del Saint Graal, the first part of the Vulgate Cycle (but written
after Lancelot and the Queste), based on Robert's tale but expanding it greatly with many
new details.
 Verses by Rigaut de Barbezieux, a late 12th or early 13th-century Provençal troubador,
where mention is made of Perceval, the lance, and the Grail ("Like Perceval when he lived,
who stood amazed in contemplation, so that he was quite unable to ask what purpose the
lance and grail served" - "Attressi con Persavaus el temps que vivia, que s'esbait d'esgarder
tant qu'anc non saup demandar de que servia la lansa ni-l grazaus").
The Grail was considered a bowl or dish when first described by Chrétien de Troyes. There,
it is a processional salver, a tray, used to serve at a feast. Hélinand of Froidmont described a grail
as a "wide and deep saucer" (scutella lata et aliquantulum profunda); other authors had their
own ideas. Robert de Boron portrayed it as the vessel of the Last Supper. Peredur son of
Efrawg had no Grail as such, presenting the hero instead with a platter containing his kinsman's
bloody, severe

32
8.3: Chrétien de Troyes

T he Grail is first featured in Perceval, le Conte du Graal (The Story of the Grail) by
Chrétien de Troyes, who claims he was working from a source book given to him by
his patron, Count Philip of Flanders. In this incomplete poem, dated sometime between
1180 and 1191, the object has not yet acquired the implications of holiness it would have in later
works. While dining in the magical abode of the Fisher King, Perceval witnesses a wondrous
procession in which youths carry magnificent objects from one chamber to another, passing
before him at each course of the meal. First comes a young man carrying a bleeding lance, then
two boys carrying candelabras. Finally, a beautiful young girl emerges bearing an elaborately
decorated graal, or "grail".
Chrétien refers to this object not as "The Grail" but as "a grail" (un graal), showing the
word was used, in its earliest literary context, as a common noun. For Chrétien a grail was a
wide, somewhat deep dish or bowl, interesting because it contained not a pike, salmon, or
lamprey, as the audience may have expected for such a container, but a single Mass wafer which
provided sustenance for the Fisher King's crippled father. Perceval, who had been warned against
talking too much, remains silent through all of this and wakes up the next morning alone. He
later learns that if he had asked the appropriate questions about what he saw, he would have
healed his maimed host, much to his honour. The story of the Wounded King's mystical
fasting is not unique; several saints were said to have lived without food besides communion, for
instance Saint Catherine of Genoa. This may imply that Chrétien intended the Mass wafer to be
the significant part of the ritual, and the Grail to be a mere prop.

8.4 Scholary hypotheses

S
cholars have long speculated on the origins of the Holy Grail before Chrétien,
suggesting that it may contain elements of the trope of magical cauldrons from Celtic
mythology combined with Christian legend surrounding the Eucharist, the latter found
in Eastern Christian sources, conceivably in that of the Byzantine Mass, or even Persian sources.
The view that the "origin" of the Grail legend should be seen as deriving from Celtic mythology
was championed by Roger Sherman Loomis, Alfred Nutt and Jessie Weston. Loomis traced a
number of parallels between Medieval Welsh literature and Irish material and the Grail
romances, including similarities between the Mabinogion's Bran the Blessed and the Arthurian
Fisher King, and between Bran's life-restoring cauldron and the Grail.
The opposing view dismissed the "Celtic" connections as spurious and interpreted the
legend as essentially Christian in origin. Joseph Goering has identified sources for Grail imagery
in 12th-century wall paintings from churches in the Catalan Pyrenees (now mostly removed to
the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya), which present unique iconic images of the Virgin
Mary holding a bowl that radiates tongues of fire, images that predate the first literary account by
Chrétien de Troyes. Goering argues that they were the original inspiration for the Grail legend.

33
Psychologists Emma Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz used analytical psychology to
interpret the Grail as a series of symbols in their book The Grail Legend. This expanded on
interpretations by Carl Jung, which were later invoked by Joseph Campbell.
Richard Barber (2004) argued that the Grail legend is connected to the introduction of
"more ceremony and mysticism" surrounding the sacrament of the Eucharist in the high medieval
period, proposing that the first Grail stories may have been connected to the "renewal in this
traditional sacrament". Daniel Scavone (1999, 2003) has argued that the "Grail" in origin
referred to the Shroud of Turin. Goulven Peron (2016) suggested that the Holy Grail may reflect
the horn of the river-god Achelous as described by Ovid in the Metamorphoses.

8.5: Later traditions

I n the wake of the Arthurian romances, several artifacts came to be identified as the Holy
Grail in medieval relic veneration. These artifacts are said to have been the vessel used at
the Last Supper, but other details vary. Despite the prominence of the Grail literature,
traditions about a Last Supper relic remained rare in contrast to other items associated with Jesus'
last days, such as the True Cross and Holy Lance.
One tradition predates the Grail romances: in the 7th century, the pilgrim Arculf reported
that the Last Supper chalice was displayed near Jerusalem. In the wake of Robert de Boron's
Grail works, several other items came to be claimed as the true Last Supper vessel. In the late
12th century, one was said to be in Byzantium; Albrecht von Scharfenberg's Grail romance Der
Jüngere Titurel associated it explicitly with the Arthurian Grail, but claimed it was only a
copy. This item was said to have been looted in the Fourth
Crusade and brought to Troyes in France, but it was lost during
the French Revolution.
Two relics associated with the Grail survive today.
The Sacro Catino is a green glass dish held at the Genoa
Cathedral said to have been used at the Last Supper. Its
provenance is unknown, and there are two divergent accounts of
how it was brought to Genoa by Crusaders in the 12th century. It
was not associated with the Last Supper until later, in the wake of
the Grail romances; the first known association is in Jacobus da
Varagine's chronicle of Genoa in the late 13th century, which
draws on the Grail literary tradition. The Catino was moved and
broken during Napoleon's conquest in the early 19th century,
revealing that it is glass rather than emerald.
The Holy Chalice of Valencia is an agate dish with a mounting for use as a chalice. The
bowl may date to Greco-Roman times, but its dating is unclear, and its provenance is unknown
before 1399, when it was gifted to Martin I of Aragon. By the 14th century an elaborate tradition
had developed that this object was the Last Supper chalice. This tradition mirrors aspects of the
Grail material, with several major differences, suggesting a separate tradition entirely. It is not

34
associated with Joseph of Arimathea or Jesus' blood; it is said to have been taken to Rome
by Saint Peter and later entrusted to Saint Lawrence. Early references do not call the object the
"Grail"; the first evidence connecting it to the Grail tradition is from the 15th century. The
monarchy sold the cup in the 15th century to Valencia Cathedral, where it remains a significant
local icon.
Several objects were identified with the Holy Grail in the 17th century. In the 20th century,
a series of new items became associated with it. These include the Nanteos Cup, a medieval
wooden bowl found near Rhydyfelin, Wales; a glass dish found near Glastonbury, England; and
the Antioch chalice, a 6th-century silver-gilt object that became attached to the Grail legend in
the 1930s.

8.6: Moderm interpretations

S
ince the 19th century, the Holy Grail has been linked to various conspiracy theories. In
1818, Austrian pseudohistorical writer Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall connected the
Grail to contemporary myths surrounding the Knights Templar that cast the order as a
secret society dedicated to mystical knowledge and relics. In Hammer-Purgstall's work, the Grail
is not a physical relic but a symbol of secret knowledge that the Templars sought. There is no
historical evidence linking the Templars to a search for the Grail, but subsequent writers have
elaborated on the Templar theories.
Starting in the early 20th century, writers, particularly in France, further connected the
Templars and Grail to the Cathars. In 1906, French esoteric writer Joséphin Péladan identified
the Cathar castle of Montségur with Munsalväsche or Montsalvat, the Grail castle in
Wolfram's Parzival. This identification has inspired a wider legend asserting that the Cathars
possessed the Holy Grail. According to these stories, the Cathars guarded the Grail at Montségur,
and smuggled it out when the castle fell in 1244.
Starting in 1933, German writer Otto Rahn published a series of books tying the Grail,
Templars, and Cathars to a German nationalist mythology. According to Rahn, the Grail was a
symbol of a pure Germanic religion repressed by Christianity. Rahn's books inspired interest in
the Grail in Nazi occultism and led to Heinrich Himmler's abortive sponsorship of Rahn's search
for the Grail, as well as many subsequent conspiracy theories and fictional works about the Nazis
searching for the Grail.
In the late 20th century, British writers Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry
Lincoln created one of the most widely known conspiracy theories about the Holy Grail. The
theory first appeared in the BBC documentary series Chronicle in the 1970s, and was elaborated
upon in the bestselling 1982 book Holy Blood, Holy Grail. The theory combines myths about the
Templars and Cathars with various other legends and a prominent hoax about a secret order
called the Priory of Sion. According to this theory, the Holy Grail is not a physical object, but a
symbol of the bloodline of Jesus. The blood connection is based on the etymology reading san
greal (holy grail) as sang real(royal blood), which dates to the 15th century. The narrative
developed here is that Jesus was not divine, and had children with Mary Magdalene, who took

35
the family to France where their descendants became the Merovingians dynasty. While
the Catholic Church worked to destroy the dynasty, they were protected by the Priory of Sion
and their associates, including the Templars, Cathars, and other
secret societies. The book, its arguments, and its evidence have
been widely criticized by scholars, but it has had a vast influence
on conspiracy and alternate history books. It has also inspired
fiction, most notably Dan Brown's 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code
and its 2006 film adaptation.

36
Chapter 9: Death

W
eakened by the losses incurred during the quest for the grail, and then by the
scandal of Lancelot and Guinevere, Arthur’s kingdom began to break apart.

War broke out after Lancelot staged an armed rescue of Guinevere, condemned to death for
her treasonous love for the great knight. In the heat of battle Lancelot killed two of Arthur’s best
men, Gareth and Gaheris, who had defended the queen. Their brother, the famous knight Sir
Gawain, thus became Lancelot’s most bitter foe, and as Arthur was forced to respond to
Lancelot’s rescue of the queen, he reluctantly led an army to France to attack him.

While Arthur and Gawain were away attacking Lancelot, King Arthur’s son, Mordred,
raised an army and declared himself king. With the hasty return of the true king to Britain, a final
battle took place at Camlann. Arthur killed Mordred, but suffered a wound that seemed likely to
kill him – though in the end he was taken to Avalon to be healed.

There follows one of the most famous scenes in the entire series of Arthurian stories:
Arthur’s faithful follower, Sir Bedivere, throws the king’s mighty sword back into the lake from
which it had come at the beginning of his reign (given him by the Lady of the Lake). A
mysterious hand rises from the water and seizes the sword, drawing it under.

A ship then appears, carrying three queens, who take the wounded Arthur away, across the
sea to the fabled Isle of Avalon, where it is said he would be healed of his wounds and live on,
awaiting recall by his country in time of need – the ‘once and future king’ indeed.

Belief in Arthur’s expected return to his country was kept alive in stories for many years by
the people of Britain. Arthur’s bones were supposedly found at Glastonbury Abbey in 1191,
though this was nothing more than a fabrication designed to quell the belief that Arthur would
return to expel the invading Normans. Nevertheless, some bones were indeed interred in a black
marble tomb in 1278 at the expense of Edward I.

To this day, countless new books, films, television shows and plays continue to be created
about King Arthur, adding to the popularity of the legends, which remain among the most
familiar and best-loved stories of all time.

37
Books about King Arthur and works based on Arthurian
legend

Books

6th century

- De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae by Gildas, mentions the Battle of Mons Badonicus, but
famously neglects to mention Arthur;

9th century

- Historia Britonum attributed to Nennius;

12th century

- Culhwch and Olwen, Anonymous, c. 1100;

15th century

- Arthur;

- Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory;

- "King Arthur and King Cornwall"

18th century

- "The Grave of King Arthur" (1777)

- "On King Arthur's Round-table at Winchester" (1777)

- Vortigern and Rowena by W. H. Ireland (1799) (A Shakespearian forgery)

21th century

- J.R.R. Tolkien - The Fall of Arthur (2013, written in the 1920s-30s)

- Sir Thomas the Hesitant and the Table of the Less Valued Knights by Liam Perrin (2013)

- The Devices Trilogy by Philip Purser-Hallard, starting with The Pendragon Protocol (2014)

38
Films

- A Connecticut Yankee (1931), first sound film adaptation of Twain's novel, with Will Rogers as
the time-traveling Yankee and William Farnum as Arthur.

- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949), a musical film adaptation of Twain's
novel, with Bing Crosby as the time-traveling Yankee and Cedric Hardwicke as Arthur.

- Knights of the Round Table (1953), based on Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory,
with Robert Taylor as Lancelot, Ava Gardner as Guinevere, and Mel Ferrer in the role of Arthur.

- Sword of Lancelot a.k.a. Lancelot and Guinevere (1963), a film directed by Cornel Wilde and
starring Mr. Wilde as Lancelot, Jean Wallace as Guinevere, and Brian Aherne as Arthur.

- The Sword in the Stone, a 1963 Disney animated film about Arthur's childhood, loosely adapted
from T.H. White's take on the legend.

- Camelot, a 1967 film adaptation of the successful 1960 Broadway musical of the same name, in
turn heavily based on the last three of T.H.White's quartet of novels. It starred Richard Harris as
Arthur, Vanessa Redgrave as Guenevere, and Franco Nero as Lancelot.

Adaptations

- Knights of the Round Table (1953)

- Excalibur (1981)

- King Arthur (2004)

- Arthur & Merlin (2015)

- King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

Series

- The Canadian TV show Guinevere Jones features a reincarnation of Guinevere who is helped
by the spirit of Merlin to learn magic and fight against Morgana.

- The 1970s British television series, Arthur of the Britons (1972–1973), starring Oliver Tobias,
sought to create a more "realistic" portrait of the period and to explain the origins of some of the
myths about the Celtic leader.

- The Legend of King Arthur (BBC TV series, 1979)

39
Webliography


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ki
ng_Arthur

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ki
ng_Arthur%27s_family

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ki
ng_Arthur%27s_messianic_retur
n

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_works_based_on_Arthurian_legends#Film

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bibliography_of_King_Arthur

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excalibur

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Grail

 https://www.historyextra.com/period/medieval/8-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-
king-arthur/

Observatii

Fara alineat deoarece ai spatiu intre paragrafe.

Sa scrii pagina cu “Motivation” la inceput-de ce ai ales aceasta tema.

E prea lung . poti renunta la capitolele pe care le-am marcat cu rosu. Daca renunti la ele sa ai
grija sa modifici la cuprins si numerele subcapitolelor.

Mi-l trimiti din nou dupace modifici.

In rest e foarte bine. Well done!!!!

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