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What was the legend of King Arthur? Well, you’re about to find out what is so exciting about King Arthur.
Arthur was the first born son of King Uther pendragon and heir to the throne. However, these were very troubled times and Merlin, a wise magician advised that the baby Arthur should be raised in a secret place and that none should know his true identity.
As Merlin feared, when King Uther died there was great conflict over who should be the next king. Merlin used his magic to set a sword in a stone. Written on the sword, in letters of gold, were these words: “Whoso pullet out this sword of this stone is the rightwise born king of all England.” Of course all the contenders for the throne took their turn at trying to draw the sword, but none could succeed. Arthur, quite by chance, withdrew the sword for another use in a tournament. Following this, he became king.
He gathered Knights around him and fought back against the Saxons who, since the Romans left Britain, were slowly but surely taking the country over. After many great battles and a huge victory at Mount Badon the Saxons’ advance was halted.
Arthur’s base was at a place called Camelot. Here he built a strong castle. His knights met at a round table. They carried out acts of chivalry such as rescuing damsels in distress and fought against strange beasts. They also searched for a lost treasure, which they believed would cure all ills – this was the ‘Quest for the Holy Grail’.
Under guidance of Merlin, Arthur has obtained a magical sword from The Lady of the Lake. This sword was called “Excalilbur” and with this weapon he vanquished many foes.
Unfortunately, as peace settled over the country things turned sour within the court of Camelot and civil war broke out. In the final battle at Camlan both Arthur and Mordred, Arthur’s traitorous nephew, were mortally wounded. Arthur was set upon a boat and floated down river to the isle of Avalon. Here his wounds were treated by three mysterious Maidens. His body was never found and many say he rests under a hill with all his knights – ready to ride forth and save the country again.
How did the legend develop? This is a question that has been asked many times.
During the years 500 – 550AD the Britons appear to have held back the Saxon advance. However, in the following years they were forced back into Cornwall and Wales. The territory held by the Saxons eventually became known as England and the people in Wales were called ‘Welsh’ from the Saxon word ‘weala’ meaning ‘foreingers’. (It’s worth noting that the Welsh called themselves ‘Cymru’.) Now, the importance of this division is that the Saxon conquerors were hardly likely to be interested in the exploits of a ‘foreign’ leader who was successful in holding them at bay. Maybe it is for this reason that Arthur is not mentioned in early English chronicles while his name occurs in Welsh ones.
The first reliable reference to Arthur is in the ‘Historia Brittonum’ written by the Welsh monk Nennius around the year 830AD. Surprisingly he refers to Arthur as a warrior – not a king. He lists twelve battles fought by Arthur including Mount Badon and the City Of The Legion.
Arthur is mentioned in early Welsh literature, however the surviving manuscripts which refer to him date after the legend was firmly established. These documents, though interesting, do not help us understand the roots of the legend.
It was the work of Geoffrey of Monmouth, another Welsh cleric, which really set down the foundations of the Arthurian legends. Other subsequent writers have expanded his themes and added new strands to the story. His work, ‘Historia Regum Britaniae’ was written in the year 1133AD. He claimed to have based the work on an ancient Celtic document in his possession. It became a ‘best seller’ and still survives in two hundred manuscripts.
Geoffrey’s work was intended to be an historical document. Within fifty years of its completion it had fired the imagination of writers of fiction across Europe. Many of these added new strands to the story which subsequently became essential elements:
In 1155 the French poet Maistre Wace added The Round Table.
Chretien de Troyes, also French, wrote five Arthurian stories between the years 1160 and 1180. He developed the theme of chivalry and dwelt on the subtleties of courtly romance.
Another French man, Robert de Boron from Burgundy, developed the idea of the Quest for the Holy Grail.
Back in England around the same time, (around 1200AD) the priest Layamon wrote the story in English – the first time it had appeared in this language. In this version Arthur did not die from his wounds, he remained on the Isle of Avalon – to return some time in the future.
In 1485 William Caxtan published ‘Le Morte Darthur’ – one of the first printed books. Written by Sir Thomas Malory, this was a collection of eight stories which brilliantly drew together the whole saga and gave us the account we know today.
It’s really cool that the writers put Arthur in their own times. The way the whole story develops informs us far more about the times in which the author lived than the time referred to.
Geoffrey gave his book to Robert. It is said that he gathered a brilliant body of learned men in his court. He must have welcomed Geoffrey’s account which located important events in Caerleon.
Geoffrey’s writing obviously touched a nerve particularly in France. Maybe it was because it harkened to a “better time”. In reality life must have been very different from that depicted in the legend that developed.
The story as we know it was written by Malory in 1470. He very clearly set the events in the middle ages.
What is the truth? Is there a thing such as the truth? Locating facts is very difficult. Geoffrey was writing some 600 after the events. Where he gets his information is unknown. Until recently there was no spelling for common words – names of people and areas in particular took many kinds. So ‘Different’ researchers can discover what they desire to find, while skeptics don’t find anything they can name concrete evidence. The deeper you dig, the less you can see.
The Holy Grail was a cup used by Christ at the Last Supper. Given to his grand-uncle, St. Joseph of Arimathea, it was used by him to gather Christ’s blood and sweat when Joseph put Christ on the cross. After Christ died, Joseph was apparently trapped in a rock tomb just like the one he gave for the body of his grand-nephew. Left to starve, he was sustained for several years by the Grail that provided food and water every morning. Later, St. Joseph went to Britain with his family and some followers. He stayed at Ynys Witrin (Glastonbury) but the Grail was transported to Corbenic to be housed in a spectacular castle, always guarded by the Grail Kings, children of Joseph’s daughter, Anna (Enygeus) and her husband, Brons.
Many years later, the location of the Great Castle of Corbenic was forgotten. At the court of King Arthur, however, a prophecy said that the Holy Grail would be rediscovered by a descendant of St. Joseph: The greatest knight in the land, the only man able to sit in the mysterious Siege Perilous. When such a person came in the form of Galahad, son of Lancelot, along with a miraculous, though quick vision of the Holy Grail itself, the quest to find the mysterious Holy Grail began. Through many years of adventures, the Knights of the Round Table went across Britain from one end to another in the search. Perceval (Peredyr) rediscovered the castle in a land that was nasty just like its spear-wounded King. When entertained by this “Fisher” or “Grail King”, however, he failed to question of the Grail and left with nothing. Lancelot next arrived at Corbenic, but was not permitted to enter because he was an adulterer. Finally Galahad arrived. He was aloud to enter the Grail Chapel and permitted to look upon the Grail. His life became finished and both Grail and man were lifted up to heaven.
A long time ago, when England was just a small couple of kingdoms that fought between them, Arturo, King Uther’s son was born.
Arturo’s mother died just after Arturo was born, and King Uther gave Arturo to the magician Merlin to be educated by him. Merlin chose to take little Arturo to the castle of a Nobel, who also had a young son named Kay. Although to assure Safety of Prince Arthur, Merlin didn’t discover his origins.
Every day, Merlin taught all of the known sciences to little Arthur, and as a magician, Merlin taught him also something about the sciences of the future and many magic forms.
Years past, and king Uther died while nobody could discover any descendants of him. Then, the Nobles went to request Merlin to search for his successor monarch. Then Merlin made a sword attached to an anvil or a stone, with a legend that said: “This is Excalibur sword. The man capable to pull it from this anvil may be the King of England.”
The Nobles tried many times, but even though their many efforts, the sword wouldn’t move an inch. Arthur and Kay, who were two formed youths, went to the city to see a tournament that Kay went to participate in.
When the time for the tournament was coming, Arthur realized that he had left Kay’s weapon in the guest’s house. He ran to the guest house, but when he got there, the door was locked.
Arthur had no idea what to do. Without a sword, Kay couldn’t participate in the tournament. Desperate, he looked around and saw Excalibur. Going to the rock, he effortlessly pulled the blade out of the rock. He ran to Kay, and presented the sword to Kay. Kay was surprised to see that it wasn’t his sword.
Arthur explained what had happened to Kay. Kay saw the name “Excalibur” engraved in the sword and he told his father. He told Arthur to place the sword back into the stone. All of the Nobles tried again to take it, but none succeeded to take the sword. So then, Arthur grabbed the sword handle and a white shaft of light pointed at him again and he pulled out the sword with no effort involved.
Everyone decided that that youth without a known title should be crowned King of England.
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