Essay on King Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory

Essay on King Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory

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King Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory


the feast of Pentacost all manner of men assayed to
pull at the sword that wold assay, but none might prevail but Arthur,
and he pulled it afore all the lords and commons that were there,
wherefore all the commons cried at once, 'We will have Arthur unto
our king; we will put him no more in delay, for we all see that it is
God's will that he shall be our king, and who that holdeth against it,
we will slay him'.

And therewith they all kneeled at once, both rich and
poor, and cried Arthur mercy because they had delayed him so
long. And Arthur forgave them, and took the sword between
both his hands, and offered it upon the altar where the Archbishop
was, and so was he made knight of the best man there.

     The above passage is from LeMmorte d'Arthur : the history of King Arthur
and his noble knights of the Round Table, by Sir Thomas Malory, a book that
was written and published between 1469-1470, during the reign of King Edward
IV. Prior to this document, the exact origins of Arthurian legend are difficult to
trace reliably before the twelfth century, when Geoffrey of Monmouth produced
the History of the Kings of Britain, in which he devotes the last third of the book
to King Arthur, with the first two thirds leading up to this climax. Although
Monmouth's history contains passages which can be deemed 'mystical' in
nature, especially in regards to Arthur, the preceding pages leading up to King
Arthur's appearance, read as straight history as opposed to mythical tale. I found
this not only hard to follow but also hard to swlaoow. I htink it’s all in the
interpeators eyes. Some see the same facts or so-called-facts and read the
same documents of the same time periods and come up with completly different
ideas. King Arthur would have lived in the end of the fifth century to the
beginning of the sixth century, with his birth most likely occurring around 470
A.D. and his death, as related in the folklore, in the year 539, at the Battle of
Camlan. This means that six hundred years transpired between Arthur's life span
and any surviving written account, history or folklore, of a king named Arthur.
Although the majority of the British population in the fifth and sixth centuries was
illiterate, there was a classically educated, 'Romanized' minority that could read
and write, as well as a lite...


... middle of paper ...


...te has the 'right' types of finds located in
soil layers and pottery types to the 5th to 6th century AD. Does this prove that
King Arthur existed and defended Camelot, and was conceived at Tintagel? No.
Does it prove that he didn't exist and was not at these places? No, it doesn't.
What the archaeological remains do are create a record, a time line based on
tangible physical evidence for a mythic, literary figure.

     What is important to remember, is that the archaeology of Arthurian sites
is one thing and Arthurian literature is another. The same is true for early
'histories' of King Arthur; they may be based on fact but there was such a time
lapse between the actual events and recorded history, that these sources are
questionable at best. These written sources, both fact and fiction, may dissect at
times and compliment the archaeological record, but the characters of Morgaine
le Fay, Lancelot, Merlin, Guinievere, or even Arthur are not going to be buried in
the years accumulation of soil, waiting to be discovered, to tell us their tales; but
the archaeology of these sites, taken as a key to the factual past of Anglo-Saxon
history, can be just as fascinating.

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