Arthur is a fabled Britishking 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.
Knights of the Round Table were those men awarded the highest order of Chivalry at the Court of King Arthur in the literary cycle the Matter of Britain. The table at which they met was created to have no head or foot, representing the equality of all the members. Different stories had different numbers of knights, ranging from only 12 to 150 or more. The Winchester Round Table, which dates from the 1270s, lists 25 names of knights.
To by no means be cruel but to give mercy unto him who asks for mercy
To always do ladies, gentlewomen and widows succor
To never force ladies, gentlewomen or widows
Not to take up battles in wrongful quarrels for love or worldly goods
The first writer to describe the Round Table was Wace, whose Roman de Brut was an elaboration of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae. The actual table itself was round in order to represent that each knight was of equal value to the king and thus there was no 'head' of the table, although one understood that Arthur's place was 'the head.' In later writings, the table was said to be a gift to King Arthur from his father-in-law, King Leodogran of Cameliard, as a wedding gift upon the marriage of Arthur to Guinevere. The company was used by many subsequent authors. However, even the earliest writers ascribe to Arthur a following of extraordinary warriors; in Geoffrey, Arthur's court attracts the greatest heroes from all of Europe. In the Welsh Arthurian material, much of which is included in the Mabinogion, Arthur's men are attributed with superhuman abilities. Some of the characters from the Welsh material even appear under altered names as Knights of the Round Table in the continental romances, the most notable of which are Cai (Sir Kay), Bedwyr (Sir Bedivere), and Gwalchmai (Sir Gawain). (read more . . . )
The early works featuring Morgan do not elaborate her character beyond her role as a fay or magician. She became much more prominent in the later cyclical prose works such as the Lancelot-Grail and the Post-Vulgate Cycle, in which she is said to be the daughter of Arthur's mother, the Lady Igraine, and her first husband, Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall; Arthur is her half brother by Igraine and Uther Pendragon. Morgan has at least two older sisters, Elaine and Morgause, the latter of whom is the mother of Gawain and the traitor Mordred. In Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur and elsewhere, she is married, unhappily, to King Urien of Gore and Ywain is her son. Though she becomes an adversary of the Round Table when Guinevere discovers her adultery with one of her husband's knights, she eventually reconciles with her brother, and even serves as one of the four enchantresses who carry the king to Avalon after his final battle at Camlann. (read more . . . )