Portal:King Arthur

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The King Arthur Portal

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Arthur is a fabled British king who figures in many legends. He appears as the ideal of kingship both in war and peace; even in modern times he has been ranked as one of the 100 Greatest Britons of all times. Over time, the popularity of the stories of King Arthur have captured interest far beyond his being the legendary hero of one nation. Countless new legends, stories, revisions, books, and films have been produced in Europe and the United States of America that unabashedly enlarge on and expand the fictional stories of King Arthur.

The scarce historical background to Arthur is found in the works of Nennius and Gildas and in the Annales Cambriae. The legendary Arthur developed initially through the pseudo-history of Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Welsh collection of anonymous tales known as the Mabinogion. Chretien de Troyes began the literary tradition of Arthurian romance, which subsequently became, as the Matter of Britain, one of the principal themes of medieval literature. Medieval Arthurian writing reached its conclusion in Thomas Mallory's comprehensive Morte D'Arthur, published in 1485. Modern interest in Arthur was revived by Tennyson in Idylls of the King, and in the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites. Key modern reworkings of the Arthurian legends include Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, T.H. White's The Once and Future King and Richard Wagner's opera Parsifal.

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The Winchester Round Table

In the legend of King Arthur, the Round Table was a mystical table in Camelot around which King Arthur and his knights sat to discuss matters crucial to the security of the realm. In some versions, the wizard Merlin also has a seat.

The Round Table first appears in Wace's Roman de Brut, though the idea of Arthur surrounding himself with the world's finest warriors dates back to Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae and the medieval Welsh material such as Culhwch and Olwen and the Triads. The most popular origin story of the table first appears in Robert de Boron's Merlin, and was taken up by the later prose romances. In it, the table was created by Merlin in imitation of Joseph of Arimathea's Grail table; itself an imitation of the table of the Last Supper. In works like the Lancelot-Grail Cycle, the Post-Vulgate Cycle, and Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, the Round Table was created for Arthur's father Uther Pendragon, and was kept by Uther's vassal Leodegrance after his death. When Arthur becomes king, he receives the table as a gift when he marries Leodegrance's daughter Guinevere.

There is no "head of the table" at a round table, and so no one person is at a privileged position. Thus the knights were all peers and there was no "leader" as there were at so many other medieval tables. There are indications of other circular seating arrangements to avoid conflicts among early Celtic groups. However, one could infer importance on the basis of the number of seats each knight was removed from the king. The siège périlleux ("dangerous chair") was reserved to knights of pure heart. (read more . . . )

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In the Arthurian legend, Sir Lancelot (Lancelot du Lac, also Launcelot) is one of the Knights of the Round Table. In most of the French prose romances and works, he is characterized as the greatest and most trusted of Arthur's knights, and plays a part in many of Arthur's victories – but Arthur's eventual downfall is also brought about in part by Lancelot, whose affair with Arthur's wife Guinevere destroys the unity of Arthur's court.

Lancelot is a popular character, and has been the subject of many poems, stories, plays, and films as a famous figure in the Arthurian cycle of romances. To the great majority of English readers the name of no knight of King Arthur's court is so familiar as is that of Sir Lancelot. The mention of Arthur and the Round Table at once brings him to mind to moderns as the most valiant member of that brotherhood and the secret lover of the Queen. Lancelot, however, is not an original member of the cycle, and the development of his story is still a source of considerable disagreement between scholars.

According to legend Lancelot's father is King Ban of Benoic and his mother's name is Elaine; his illegitimate half-brother is Hector de Maris. Dame Albatross is his aunt, King Bors is his uncle, and Sir Bors and Sir Lionel are his cousins. With the Fisher King's daughter Elaine, he becomes the father of Galahad (in some sources, Galahad is also Lancelot's own baptismal name). (read more . . . )

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Arthurian legend - British traditional history Britons of the Southwest - Knights of the Round Table - Medieval legends - Mythological kings - People in Cornish history - Sub-Roman Britain - Sub-Roman monarchs - Welsh monarchs - Welsh mythology - Celtic people

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