Sir Ector

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Sir Kay showeth the mystic sword unto Sir Ector, by Howard Pyle from The Story of King Arthur and His Knights. (1903)

Sir Ector /ˈɛktɵr/, sometimes Hector, Antor, or Ectorius, is the father of Sir Kay and the foster father of King Arthur in the Arthurian legend. Sometimes a king instead of merely a lord, he has an estate in the country as well as properties in London. In The Once and Future King T. H. White says his lands lie in the "Forest Sauvage"; later writers have used this as well.

Ector appears in the works of Robert de Boron and the Lancelot-Grail Cycle, as well as later adaptations such as the Post-Vulgate Cycle and Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. In these versions, Merlin takes Arthur from his biological parents King Uther Pendragon and Igraine, and brings him to Ector's estate. Merlin does not reveal the boy's true identity, and Ector takes him on and raises him with Kay as his own son. When Kay is old enough to be knighted, Ector's young ward serves as his squire.

Foreseeing Uther's death, Merlin arranges to have his sword (sometimes equated with Excalibur) magically set in a stone (or an anvil in a stone) so that only the rightful heir to the throne will be able to remove it. When Uther dies, a tournament is held in London to bring all potential heirs to the area, and Ector and sons attend. Kay breaks his sword during the tournament, and Arthur is determined to find him a new one (In The Once and Future King, Kay leaves his sword at the inn, but when Wart goes to fetch it, the inn is closed). He comes across the Sword in the Stone, not realizing what it is, and pulls it out easily. When he tells Kay where he got it, Kay tries to take credit for the miracle. Ector sees through the lie, however, and he and Kay are the first to swear fealty to the new king. Both are made Knights of the Round Table and remain loyal to King Arthur throughout his reign.

In the earlier Welsh stories, the father of Kay (Cei) is instead named Cynyr (Kyner).

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