Essay on Did King Arthur Truly Exist?

Essay on Did King Arthur Truly Exist?

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Did King Arthur Truly Exist?


Who was King Arthur? Most people would tell of a great King; a devoted circle of heroic knights; mighty castles and mightier deeds; a time of chivalry and courtly love; of Lancelot and Guinevere; of triumph and death. Historians and archaeologists, especially Leslie Alcock, point to shadowy evidence of a man who is not a king, but a commander of an army, who lived during the late fifth to early sixth century who may perhaps be the basis for Arthur. By looking at the context in which the stories of King Arthur survived, and the evidence pertaining to his castle Camelot and the Battle of Badon Hill, we can begin to see that Arthur is probably not a king as the legend holds.
While stories about the places that Arthur has lived, visited and fought at are numerous, attempts at pinpointing many of these sites have been futile. Arthur's most famous battle, the Battle of Badon Hill, cannot be ascribed a location. Depending on the historian, the Battle of Badon Hill could have been located at many different places: According to Alcock, the battle at Mount Badon took place on a hill near Bath; while Wood attempts to pin the battle at Liddington castle. If we are unable to be sure of a location at which a massive battle took place (and indeed, his most famous), how can we be sure that Arthur truly existed?
Attempts at pinning down Camelot have also proved fruitless. Wood describes the difficulty in locating Camelot, saying, "A late local tradition connected Arthur with a hill fort, and when the Camelot Research Committ dug there, they caused a sensation…The Excavators did not, in fact find Camelot, nor was anything turned up to connect the place specifically with King Arthur" (51). This serves to...


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...s an Vortigern, probably the same one who exists in Geoffrey of Monmouth's account of Britain. According to Alcock, Vortigern "ruled with a group of consiliarii like a Roman -- or for that matter, a Visigothic -- provincial governor" (357). If there was a Vortigern, it is possible to imagine that there may be a chance that Arthur was a king --- after all, he was related to Vortigern, and Vortigern was, by Alcock's definition, royalty.
Who was King Arthur? Most people would tell of a great King; however, historians and archaeologists, especially Leslie Alcock, point to shadowy evidence of a man who is not a king, but a commander of an army. By looking at the context in which the stories of King Arthur survived, and the evidence pertaining to his castle Camelot and the Battle of Badon Hill, we can begin to see that Arthur is probably not a king as the legend holds.

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