King Arthur

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Tales Of King Arthur

Since the romanticizing of the Arthurian legends by Geoffery of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geoffery also introduced Arthur's famed court (placed at

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

his treacherous nephew.

Artos Of The Celts

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

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

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

considerable disadvantage against the speed with which the Celtic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The flooding was later brought under control, and by the time of the

late fourteenth century poem, Le Morte Arthur, Avalon was referred to as

a vale.

According to the legend, Arthur's nephew or son, Modred, used the

exposed affair of Lancelot and Guinevere to begin civil war, and Arthur

himself was seriously wounded at the battle of Camlan. He was carried

away to Avalon to have his wounds tended. Here can be seen the strongest

remaining influence of the other, older story that became confused with

the legend of Arthur; that of a Celtic god who was said to lay sleeping

in a cave on a remote Western Island. This god had once ruled over a

peaceful and happy kingdom, but had been overthrown. One day he would

rise again and return to rule. There are stories of this ilk that

explicitly name Arthur, such as the Wizard of Alderley edge, in which

Merlin the magician guards Arthur and his knights, who lay sleeping in a

cavern there until England once again needs them. Malory writes that

after Arthur sailed for Avalon, he died, and was buried in some other

place - but that over his grave is written the words, Here lays Arthur:

the once and future king.
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