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King Arthur and His Knights

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King Arthur and His Knights. The Legend Begins…. Arthur is the son of King Uther Pendragon and Igrayne, wife of Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall. Merlin the Magician forced the King to “swear a solemn oath” to allow Merlin to bring up Arthur as he chose.

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The Legend Begins…

  • Arthur is the son of King Uther Pendragon and Igrayne, wife of Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall.
  • Merlin the Magician forced the King to “swear a solemn oath” to allow Merlin to bring up Arthur as he chose.
  • Merlin delivered the newborn unchristened child to Sir Ector.
  • Sir Ector christened the child and raised him as his own, not knowing he was the future king.

Insert appropriate art.


“Whoso pulleth this sword out of this stone and anvil is rightly King of all England”

  • King Uther died two years after Arthur’s birth, leaving England in turmoil – a country without a king
  • Several years passed, until all the lords of the realm gathered on Christmas Day looking for a miracle to show them who should rightly be King.
  • The “Sword in the Stone” appeared in the church courtyard, bearing the famous inscription.

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Who would be King?

  • It was decided that a tournament would be held to determine who would win the right to pull the sword out of the stone.
  • Sir Ector and his son, Sir Kay, traveled to the tournament.
  • Sir Kay forgot his sword and asked his younger brother, Arthur to retrieve it.
  • Arthur decided to get the sword that was in the stone and give it to Sir Kay.

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Arthur becomes King

  • Sir Ector and Sir Kay both knelt down to Arthur and told him of his true identity.
  • The Lords were upset because they did not want a boy who was not of “high blood” to govern their country.
  • The commoners finally cried out that Arthur was the rightful King and should be crowned.
  • Arthur was first knighted, then crowned, by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • Arthur swore to his Lords and Commoners to be a true King, and to govern with “true justice.”

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The Land Called Camelot

Arthur ruled in peace for many years…

  • Guinivere, daughter of King Leodegrance, married Arthur
  • Sir Lancelot, son of the Lady of the Lake, Arthur’s “First Knight”
  • Merlin, wizard and advisor to the King
  • Other Knights of the Round Table: Sir Gawain, Sir Galahad, Sir Percivale, Sir Bedivere

The Age of Chivalry

Arthur and his Knights practiced the Code of Chivalry…

  • Courage
  • Justice
  • Mercy
  • Generosity
  • Faith
  • Nobility
  • Hope

Le Morte D’Arthur

The Death of Arthur

  • Arthur is fatally wounded in a battle with Mordred.
  • Arthur requests Sir Bedivere to throw Excalibur, his sword, into the lake.
  • After Arthur’s third request, Sir Bedivere throws Excalibur into the lake, where it is reclaimed by Lady of the Lake.

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The Tales of King Arthur

  • Le Morte D’Arthur – Sir Thomas Malory
  • The Once and Future King & The Sword in the Stone – T.H. White
  • Camelot, a musical – Alan J. Lerner & Frederick Loewe
  • King Arthur-The Marvel of the Sword – Mary Macleod

Insert appropriate art from the time period.

  • No hard evidence of a historical Arthur
  • Solely recorded in chronicles
    • Geoffrey of Monmouth
    • Nennius
    • Gallet (Breton)
    • Bonedd yr Arwr (Welsh)
  • Nearly all chroniclers claim Arthur as their own
myth vs fact
Myth vs. Fact
  • What’s the difference?
    • Myth has no proof
      • relies on faith much of the time
    • Fact has at least partial proof
  • Often myths are based on fact
    • Event or person is real
    • Becomes larger than life through retelling
myth vs fact1
Myth vs. Fact
  • Myths based on fact
    • Jesus Christ
      • depending on your POV
    • Daniel Boone
    • Davy Crockett
  • Myths not based on fact
    • Paul Bunyan
    • Urban legends
      • Poodle in the microwave, etc.
so which is arthur
So Which Is Arthur?
  • Grey area
  • Some evidence of a historical figure
    • Battle of Badon Hill
      • defeated Germanic tribes
    • Battle of Camlann
      • death of Arthur
    • British ruler fighting in Gaul
    • British high or battle king
geographical evidence
Geographical Evidence

Bamburgh Castle

  • Stonehenge
  • Tintagel
  • Arthur’s Seat
  • Cadbury Castle
  • Merlin’s Cave
  • Carleton
  • Glastonbury Abbey and Tor

Arthur’s Seat

Glastonbury Abbey


Tintagel Castle

  • Supposed place of Arthur’s birth
    • Geoffrey of Monmouth
    • Local legend
  • Supposedly founded by Joseph of Arimathea
  • Housed Holy Grail
  • Site of Avalon
  • Arthur’s burial place
when did arthur exist if ever
When Did Arthur Exist (If Ever)?
  • Period between
    • 420 CE (Rome leaves)
    • 540 CE (Gildas)
  • Celts
    • Had a “high king”
      • may have been war king
    • Administered defense of Britain
when did arthur exist if ever1
When Did Arthur Exist (If Ever)?
  • Superlative victory at Mt. Badon
    • Under Celtic High King
    • Stemmed (temporarily) Anglo-Saxon advance
    • Chroniclers associate with Arthur
    • May have instituted brief period of peace
      • Camelot era?
      • Time of leisure and development?
arthur s actions
Arthur’s Actions
  • Continent
    • British war leader definitely went to Gaul (modern France)
    • Fought Germans and/or Roman legions
    • Returned to Britain because of civil war
      • regent claimed high kingship for his own
arthur s actions1
Arthur’s Actions
  • Corresponds to:
    • Arthur’s campaign against Lancelot
      • In “Lower Britain”
        • Probably Brittany
    • Mordred’s betrayal
      • Imprisoning Guinevere
      • Seizing kingdom
    • Arthur’s death


Haskell, Merrie. “People in Arthurian Legend.” MerrieHaskell’s King Arthur Page. November 2002.>8 June 2004.

Farrell, Scott. “The Seven Knightly Virtues.” ChivalryToday. 2002 Shining Armor Enterprises. www.chivalrytoday. 10 June 2004.

Prentice Hall. Literature. Bronze ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey:Prentice Hall, 2000.

Price, Brian. “A Code of Chivarly.” The Knighthood, Chivalry, and Tournaments Resource Library. 2003. <http:// www.>. 8 June 2004.