Explorations in Arthurian Legends

Essay by nadahope June 2006

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The legends tell us that Arthur was a wise and powerful king, who ruled from a giant and glorious castle and who commanded the loyalty of hundreds of men.

First and foremost of these followers were the Knights of the Round Table. That greatest knight in skill of arms, Lancelot, pledged his loyalty to Arthur, is testament to the fact that the king was worthy of such admiration, both as a king and as a warrior.

War was a way of life in Arthur's day. Just after he pulled the Sword from the Stone, he hurried to Bedegraine and defeated a rogue band of 11 powerful men who had rebelled against his leadership.

He faced constant pressure from the Saxons and the Picts and the Irish and the Romans; in the end, he faced a mortal threat from his own men.

He was also the backdrop against which many other adventures took place.

Beginning with Chretien de Troyes, writers wrote adventures of Arthur's knights, telling us of their wonderful adventures and of courtly love. The court, of course, was Arthur's. In a sense, Arthur was moved above the day-to-day adventures his knights having and put on a pedestal as the symbol of what a knight could hope to achieve.

He was also the one whom everyone looked up to and whom everyone trusted to pass judgment if they had a dispute. Important men bowed to his authority and his wisdom. He held court and was the arbiter of justice. He made his own laws and enforced them himself, with the respect of his subjects. He fought in battles and sent his knights out to do battle. As such, he was both king and battle commander.

Later, Arthur was said to have conceived a son out of matrimony; Guinevere was said...