The legend that King Arthur, a fifth-century warrior king that supposedly led the fight against Saxon invaders, proceeds to fascinate today. But how much fact is there to the legends that the "once and future king"? We discover out with specialists John Matthews and also Miles Russell...

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Arthur, sometimes known as ‘the king the was and the king the shall be’, is recognised almost everywhere the people as one of the many famous characters of myth and legend. Yet, if he existed at every (which couple of scholars agree upon), he would certainly not have actually been a king, but the command of an elite pressure of fighting men. Furthermore, the would have actually lived much more than 500 years before medieval legends suggest.

Who to be King Arthur – and also was he real?

All that is known, with also the least level of certainty, is that a man named Arthur, or Arturus, led a tape of heroic warriors that spearheaded the resistance of Britons against the invading Saxons, Jutes, and also others from the north of Europe, at some time in the fifth and also sixth century AD.

Another theory cases that Arthur was a roman centurion called Lucius Artorius Castus, that fought against the Picts on Hadrian’s wall surface in the second century AD, some 300 years previously than the moment at which Arthur’s days are normally set.

Even Arthur’s birthplace and also base that operations are questionable. Camelot – the castled city linked with King Arthur – to be likely developed by the 12th-century French poet Chrétien de Troyes. Arthur’s association v Cornwall and parts that Wales is an idea fostered by 18th-century antiquarians such as William Stukeley, who carried out one of the very first archaeological investigations at Cadbury lock in Somerset, long thought in local folklore to it is in the original site the Camelot.

Camelot, the legendary court and also castle that King Arthur, was a peerless chair of chivalry. If the did exist, where could it have actually been built?


Some 150 knights were stated to have actually sat at the ring Table. Your adventures lead us right into a magical realm of wonder: whereby ‘faery women’ check the the aristocracy of the knights by offering them seemingly impossible tasks, and strange creatures lurk in the shadows of a vast forest, in whose depth are clearings wherein castles, chapels, hermitages, and ruins are discovered – some empty, rather containing danger foes.

When they had largely rid the floor of monsters, dragons, and also evil customs, the knights carried out their biggest task of every – the search for the divine Grail. Many did not return.


Who were the ‘faery women’ that Arthurian legend?

Many faery women thread together the story of Arthur and his knights. This is probably because a good number of the stories originated no in Britain, yet in Brittany – or, together it was known then, Armorica or Aermorica, where id in ancient deities and the faery gyeongju lived on.

These faery tales came to be interwoven through stories the chivalry lovely by the courtly circle. In ~ the courtly circle these stories were called by roving troubadours – poets who learned dozens of Arthurian story by heart.


It was c1150 Geoffrey that Monmouth called nine sister in his Vita Merlini together the rulers that the fascinating island of Avalon. Among them was Morgen (more familiar to us as Morgan le Fay), that in later on stories is explained as Arthur’s half-sister and also becomes his many implacable foe. Sir thomas Malory, in his an excellent 15th-century novel, Le Mort D’Arthur, tells us Morgan was “put to college on a nunnery, wherein she learned magic and necromancy”.

Though this may sound strange to us today, countless of the ladies in attached orders were learned, and since discovering was frequently equated v magic, hence Morgan came to be considered a sorceress.

Archaeologist Dr mile Russell speak to us around his bold new theory on legend British leader King Arthur, i beg your pardon is based on a reinterpretation that Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History that the monarchs of Britain.

The greatest task undertaken by Arthur’s knights to be the search for the grail, a secret vessel connected to the passion of Christ . Follow to the 12th-century poet Robert De Boron, the grail was supplied to memory the critical Supper, and afterwards by Christ’s ‘uncle’, Joseph of Arimathea, to capture some of the blood that flowed indigenous the Saviour together his body was taken down from the cross.

But did you recognize that earlier stories, indigenous the mythology that the Celts, have the right to be seen as precursors of the grail? They speak of “cauldrons that plenty” that detailed food for heroes and also could even carry the dead to life. However once the links with Christian id were created in the 12th century, the grail came to be a divine relic sought by mystics and heroes – and, most famously, by Arthur’s fellowship.

All 150 knights of the ring Table are stated to have gone forth looking for the spiritual vessel after ~ it appeared at Camelot throughout Pentecost . Of those that went forth only three succeeded in their pursuit to find the grail: the saintly knight teacher Galahad, the an easy Sir Percival, and the honest, plain-spoken sir Bors.

Many various other knights perished, and this indeed weakened both the round Table and Arthur’s court, preparing the means for the dark days to come once Arthur’s illegitimate boy Mordred rose up versus him and also ended the dream that Camelot.


Lancelot and also Guinevere – what happened and what became of them?

The love story that Lancelot and Guinevere, originating in France, became one of the ideal known the the Arthurian tales. Lancelot to be the greatest knight of the ring Table and also Arthur’s many trusted ally, but it to be his illegal love for Queen Guinevere the made him famous.

Later execution of the story prolonged Lancelot and Guinevere’s love into a full-blown affair, which in the end carried down the ring Table and ushered in the end of Arthur’s reign when Lancelot rescued the queen, who had actually been condemned to burn in ~ the stake, and in the procedure killed several of Arthur’s knights. V the king reluctantly forced to strike Lancelot, the method was left open up for Mordred to attack Camelot.

But walk you understand that in beforehand versions of the legend, Guinevere spurns Lancelot?

The 12th-century poet Chrétien de Troyes offered us an account of your romance in his Lancelot, or the Knight that the Cart (c1177). No stories before this attribute Lancelot, so we must assume the Chrétien developed him.

Chrétien’s story speak a dramatic tale of Guinevere’s kidnapping by a lord named Melwas, who had fallen in love v the queen, and of Lancelot’s initiatives to rescue her. In order to reach Melwas’ castle, where she is held, Lancelot is required to drive in a cart – a automobile reserved for criminals on their method to the gallows. However Lancelot hesitates because that a moment, and also when Guinevere to learn of this this afterwards she spurns that as not worthy of she affections.

Love stories feature a great deal in the Arthurian world. Tristan and Isolde, for example, finest known these days native Wagner’s 1859 opera that retold their story, were renowned doomed lovers.


The battle of Camlann is claimed to have actually been King Arthur’s final battle. Dilute by the losses incurred throughout the search for the grail, and then through the scandal of Lancelot and Guinevere, Arthur’s kingdom began to break apart.

War broke out after ~ Lancelot staged an equipped rescue of Guinevere, condemned to death for her treasonous love because that the good knight. In the warm of battle Lancelot eliminated two the Arthur’s ideal men, Gareth and Gaheris, that had protected the queen. Your brother, the famous knight teacher Gawain, thus ended up being Lancelot’s many bitter foe, and also as Arthur was compelled to respond come Lancelot’s rescue that the queen, that reluctantly led an military to France to strike him.

While Arthur and Gawain were far attacking Lancelot, King Arthur’s son, Mordred, raised an army and also declared self king. With the hasty return of the true king come Britain, a final battle took location at Camlann. Arthur eliminated Mordred, but suffered a wound the seemed likely to death him – despite in the end he was required to Avalon to be healed.

There adheres to one of the most famed scenes in the entire series of Arthurian stories: Arthur’s faithful follower, teacher Bedivere, throws the king mighty sword ago into the lake from which it had actually come in ~ the beginning of his reign (given that by the Lady of the Lake). A secret hand rises native the water and seizes the sword, drawing it under.

A ship climate appears, carrying three queens, who take the hurt Arthur away, throughout the sea to the fabled Isle that Avalon, wherein it is claimed he would be healed of his wounds and live on, awaiting recall by his nation in time of require – the ‘once and future king’ indeed.

Belief in Arthur’s expected go back to his nation was retained alive in story for plenty of years by the world of Britain. Arthur’s bones to be supposedly discovered at Glastonbury Abbey in 1191, despite this was nothing much more than a fabrication designed to quell the belief that Arthur would return to expel the invading Normans. Nevertheless, some bones were without doubt interred in a black color marble tomb in 1278 in ~ the expense of Edward I.

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To this day, countless brand-new books, films, tv shows and also plays continue to it is in created about King Arthur, adding to the popular of the legends, which remain amongst the most familiar and best-loved story of all time.