King Arthur and the Round Table

4 April 2015
A paper which traces the history of written texts relating to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

The paper shows that if there was an historical King Arthur he would have existed centuries before the era of knighthood, probably sometime in the sixth century. It discusses how the historical reality of Arthur is much in doubt and remains a controversy, though Arthur has his champions who believe the stories of his reign began with a real personage and then were turned into myth and legend by various writers, each treating Arthur differently. The author traces the history of the stories relating to Arthur, and analyzes some of these works such as Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur and The History of the Kings of Britain by Welsh monk Geoffrey of Monmouth in 1135.
Many of the elements that would be part of the later tradition were missing, however. Arthur’s court is not at Camelot but at a place called Caerlon-on-Usk, or City of Legions. Geoffrey contributed at least three new elements to the existing histories of Arthur he supplied Arthur with a family tree, told of Arthur’s association with Merlin, and described his burial at Avalon. Later chroniclers would use Geoffrey’s account as a source and would develop more complex stories establishing Arthur as a king in the popular imagination.
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