King Arthur's Legend

According to legend, King Arthur was born sometime in the fifth century AD. Later he developed as a figure of international interest largely through the popularity of Geoffrey of Monmouth's fanciful and imaginative 12th-century Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain). In the fourth and fifth centuries tribes, and racial groups moved from the Western Europe and destroyed the integrity of the Roman Empire. The first raid was led by Saxons and began before the end of the third century. They had the support of the present Irish and Scots. Ambrosious Aurelianus was the leader of the British Roman in the 460s. He besieged Vortiegern, the ruler of the Saxons. Later, Ambrosious died and Uther Pendragon became the King of Britain.

It is said that the great magician Merlin disguised Uther Pendragon, one of Britain’s great warriors, to look like the Duke of Tintagel, the husband of Ingraine of Cornwall. Uther seduced Ingraine at Tintagel cottage, but the child they conceived was given away at birth. He was named Arthur and was raised completely unaware of his special lineage. When Uther died, the throne was empty.

Britons wanted Arthur to be crowned as the king of Britain. He was then a young man of only 15 years old, but he was loved by almost all the people. And then, Merlin set a sword called Excalibur in rock and stated that only someone of a truly royal bloodline would be able to remove Excalibur from its fixed position. When the young Arthur was the only one able to do this, he was pronounced king. Eleven other British rulers rebelled against the young leader, but Arthur quashed their uprising and began a noble and glorious reign.

Statue of King Arthur, Hofkirche, Innsbruck

Arthur married Guinevere and assembled a group of courageous and honest knights at a kingdom seat in Camelot, in the Vale of Avalon. To avoid any sense of preference among the knights, Guinevere’s father provided Arthur with the fabled Round Table. Together they had great victories over Saxon invaders and the Roman Empire. Arthur is even said to have become Emperor himself and set about on a search for the Holy Grail. However, during this time one of Arthur’s most trusted knights, Lancelot, had an affair with Guinevere.

As the adultery was treasonous, he had to sentence Guinevere to be burnt at the stake but Launcelot saved her and, in so doing, killed several knights and thus, precipitated the downfall of the Fellowship of the Round Table. The two lovers fled to Lancelot’s land in Brittany, France.

Arthur decided to follow and wage war on his former friend, leaving his nephew Mordred as custodian of England. Whilst he was battling across the English Channel, Mordred rebelled, so Arthur was forced to return home. A fierce battle ensued on Salisbury Plain. Arthur managed to kill Mordred, but the king himself was also mortally wounded. On the brink of death, he returned to Avalon. He is said to have thrown Excalibur into that kingdom’s lake and then he himself disappeared into a cave, pledging he would return if ever danger threatened England.

The name ‘Arthur’ appears in Nennius’ ninth century Historia Brittonum. However it was not until the twelfth century that the phenomenon of Arthur as an historical icon really had an impact. William of Malmesbury and Geoffrey of Monmouth produced works which sowed the seeds of our modern understanding of Athurian legend. Unfortunately their works also included many fictional details, which have subsequently obscured the true reality of Arthur’s reign.

There is other evidence for his place in historical fact. Many people believe that Glastonbury in Somerset is the true site of Camelot, and in the 12th century it was claimed that Arthur’s grave had been found there. Similarly, the Isles of Scilly are said to host the remains of the great king.

The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated by scholars. One school of thought, citing entries in the Historia Brittonum (History of the Britons) and Annales Cambriae (Welsh Annals), sees Arthur as a genuine historical figure, a Romano-British leader who fought against the invading Anglo-Saxons sometime in the late 5th to early 6th century. The Historia Brittonum, a 9th-century Latin historical compilation attributed in some late manuscripts to a Welsh cleric called Nennius, contains the first datable mention of King Arthur, listing twelve battles that Arthur fought. These culminate in the Battle of Mons Badonicus, or Mount Badon, where he is said to have single-handedly killed 960 men. Recent studies, however, question the reliability of the Historia Brittonum.

In July 1998, archaeologists found a slab marked in Latin with the name ‘Artagnov’ or ‘Arthnou’ on a rocky hilltop in Tintagel, Cornwall. The slab dates to the sixth century, and proves that the name was present in the legendary Arthurian lands at the correct time, and belonged to a man of some standing. Like many historical mysteries, the damage to truth caused by passing years, is slowly being fixed by science and the application of modern interest.

Sources:
100 Strangest Mysteries by Mat Lamy;
http://html.rincondelvago.com/ghost-stories-in-great-britain.html;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Arthur

Pic Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Innsbruck_1_262.jpg



Written By Tripzibit on May 15, 2008 | 17:22

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