Portal:King Arthur

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Introduction

Tapestry showing Arthur as one of the Nine Worthies, wearing a coat of arms often attributed to him (c. 1385)

King Arthur was a legendary British leader who, according to medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the late 5th and early 6th centuries. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and his historical existence is debated and disputed by modern historians. The sparse historical background of Arthur is gleaned from various sources, including the Annales Cambriae, the Historia Brittonum, and the writings of Gildas. Arthur's name also occurs in early poetic sources such as Y Gododdin.

Arthur is a central figure in the legends making up the Matter of Britain. The legendary Arthur 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 some Welsh and Breton tales and poems that date from before this work, Arthur appears either as a great warrior defending Britain from human and supernatural enemies or as a magical figure of folklore, sometimes associated with the Welsh otherworld Annwn. How much of Geoffrey's Historia (completed in 1138) was adapted from such earlier sources, rather than invented by Geoffrey himself, is unknown.

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The Fisher King or the Wounded King figures in Arthurian legend as the latest in a line charged with keeping the Holy Grail. Versions of his story vary widely, but he is always wounded in the legs or groin, and incapable of moving on his own. When he is injured, his kingdom suffers as he does, his impotence affecting the fertility of the land and reducing it to a barren Wasteland. Little is left for him to do but fish in the river near his castle Corbenic. Knights travel from many lands to heal the Fisher King but only the chosen can accomplish the feat. This is Percival in the earlier stories; in the later versions Percival is joined by Galahad and Bors.

Confusingly, many works have two wounded Grail Kings who live in the same castle, a father (or grandfather) and son. The more seriously wounded father stays in the castle, sustained by the Grail alone, while the more active son can meet with guests and go fishing. For simplicity, the father will be called the Wounded King, the son the Fisher King where both appear in the remainder of this article. (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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