King Arthur Legend and lore surround the life of Arthur, a medieval king of the Britons. According to legend, Arthur was raised unaware of his royal ancestry and became king by pulling a sword from a stone.
Authurian Legend Arthurian Legend, group of tales in several languages that concern the legendary King Arthur of the Britons, his realm, and the knights of his inner circle. The legend is one of the most enduring tales in recorded history. It first appeared in the 5th or 6th century A.D. and took its basic form between the 12th and 15th centuries. It continues as a popular subject in modern times. The legend presents Arthur as a leader in ancient times who defeats the Saxons and other enemies.
The so-called Round Table, the meeting place of Arthur and the knights, was round so that no one member seemed favored over the others. Arthur, legendary king of the Britons in ancient times, and the major figure in Arthurian legend. Arthur expelled foreigners from Britain, brought peace to the country, and established a kingdom based on justice, law, and morality. He held court at his castle at Camelot and instituted an order known as the knights of the Round Table. Knights of the Round Table
In Arthurian legend, the Round Table at Camelot served as a gathering place for King Arthurs knights. The tables shape ensured that all who sat around it were equals. This replica of the Round Table can be seen at Winchester Castle in England.
Arthur is the son of King Uther Pendragon and the lady Ygraine (who was married to Gorlois, the duke of Cornwall, when Arthur was conceived). After Arthur is born, the magician Merlin gives him to a man named Hector (also called Antor) to be raised with Hectors son, Kay. Arthur grows up as a commoner, but then he alone succeeds at a test devised to choose Uther's successor: Arthur draws a sword from a stone (or, in some versions of the story, from an anvil). Arthur
Merlin and Arthur Merlin is an aged magician who helps bring King Arthur to power. Arthur Receiving Excalibur With Excalibur, Arthur led his armies to many victories over Britains enemies.
In Arthurian legend, the enchantress Morgan le Fay is King Arthurs half sister. She rules the island of Avalon, where she takes Arthur after he is seriously wounded in a battle on Salisbury Plain. Morgan le Fay The Passing of Arthur
Legend tells that once Arthur became king of Britain, he embarked on a series of wars to guarantee Britains independence and security. Early texts state that he defeated the Saxons, Picts, and Scots, as well as overunning Ireland and Iceland. Later he battled the Romans. King Arthur and His Knights
This stained glass window designed by 19th-century British artist William Morris depicts two characters from Arthurian legend: Queen Guinevere, left, and the lady Isolde, right. Guinevere was the wife of King Arthur. Isolde had a love affair with an adventurer named Tristan. Guinevere and Isolde
Guinevere Guinevere, major figure in Arthurian legend, the wife and queen of King Arthur. In most stories she falls in love with Lancelot, one of Arthur's finest knights. Their love affair is a major cause of the ruin of Arthurs court at Camelot, including the destruction of the Round Table community, Arthur's inner circle of knights. There are numerous versions of the Arthurian legend, and Guinevere's origins and actions differ from tale to tale. In some, she is a noble Roman woman of extraordinary beauty. Other stories identify her as the daughter of the nobleman Leodegan (also called Leodegrance), who presents the Round Table to Arthur when he marries Guinevere.
Camelot Camelot, in Arthurian legend, the favorite castle of King Arthur, a legendary British king of ancient times. In Arthurian stories, Camelot is a center for social, administrative, military, and religious activities. The knights of the Round Table (Arthur's inner circle), the ladies of the court, and Arthur's other subjects gather there frequently, for feasts and celebrations and sometimes to make plans and engage in love affairs. It is also from Camelot that knights leave on the quest for the Holy Grail, the sacred cup used by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper.
In Arthurian legend, Lancelot, left, is one of King Arthurs fiercest warriors. But when Arthur discovers that his wife, Queen Guinevere, has been having a love affair with Lancelot, the king and the knight become bitter enemies. Lancelot
Lancelot is the son of King Ban of Brittany, but when he is a child, the fairy Vivienne, known as the Lady of the Lake, steals him. After Lancelot reaches manhood, the Lady of the Lake takes him to Arthurs court, where he becomes a knight. Lancelot, knight in Arthurian legend, falls in love with Queen Guinevere, the wife of King Arthur. Their love is a major cause of the ruin of Arthurs court at Camelot and the destruction of the Round Table community. The knight Galahad completes the quest for the Holy Grail, the sacred cup used by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. Galahad was the son of the knight Lancelot. Galahad
Arthurian legend has inspired writers, artists, and performers for centuries. One of the most famous adaptations was the 1960 musical Camelot, starring Julie Andrews as Guinevere and Richard Burton as Arthur. Scene from Camelot
For hundreds of years, people have written about Arthurian legend. This table lists some of the major books that tell versions of the stories. The list is not comprehensive, but any reader who wants to learn more about Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and the rest of the Arthurian figures should find these books interesting. The Gododdin History of the Britons Mabinogion History of the Kings of Britain Story of BrutusYvain, or the Knight with the Lion Lancelot, or the Knight of the Cart Percival, or the Story of the Grail Erec Iwein Story of Brutus Parzival Tristan and Isolde Sir Gawain and the Green Knight The Death of Arthur The Faerie Queene Idylls of the King A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court The Once and Future King The Crystal Cave The Mists of Avalon Daughter of Tintagel Arthurian Books