Legendary Life, Legacy, and Death of King Arthur

The classical story of King Arthur reveals him as the son of a Britain King, a certain Uther Pendragon. The great wizard Merlin, foreseeing the King's death, took the baby Arthur from his home and left him in the care of a certain Sir Ector. After the King's death, there was great strife among the various English nobles, over who should be the next King. When there seemed to be no end to the blooshed, the bishop of England prayed for a sign from God, and it was granted. A sword appeared, embedded in a stone in front of a church, and written on it were the words:

"Whoesever shall pull this sword from the stone, shall be the rightful King of England."

No one, however, had the strength to pull it out, and for a time, the sword was left alone. But by some twist of fate, Arthur pulled the sword from the stone, not realizing what he had done. At first, opposition was fierce, but in the end he was proclaimed the rightful King of England. Eventually, Arthur is married to the lovely Queen Guinevere, though their relationship is eventually strained because of the great knight, Lancelot du Lake. Arthur creates the great fellowship of the Round Table, a group of knights sworn to protect the innocent and uphold peace and justice in the Kingdom. Many adventures these knights embarked on, including the legendary quest for the Holy Grail, rumored to be the Chalice Jesus Himself used at the Last Supper. After all his glorious conquests, however, Arthur was betrayed by his own wife, who was unfaithful to him because of her love for Lancelot. It broke his heart, but he was forced to sentence her to be burnt at the stake. Lancelot, however, frees the Queen and escapes with her to his own stronghold, along with many of his fellow knights, splintering the Round Table. And during all the confusion, Mordred, a bitter rival of Arthur's rumored to be his own son, attacks Camelot. Mordred and Arthur fight a pitched battle, and in the end, both fall to the sword of the other. And yet a legend was passed down that Arthur would someday rise again and lead his army to victory against other forces who threatened the country.

Excalibur and The Sword in the Stone

Contrary to popular belief, Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone are usually not considered one and the same. In a document written by Sir Thomas Malory, it was revealed that Excalibur was indeed quite different from the Legendary Sword in the Stone that only Arthur was able to extract from the stone. This sword had its own name of Caliburn. Supposedly, this sword was broken in a fight with a rival King, Pellinore. With Merlin's help, Arthur finds the legendary Lady of the Lake, who gives him both the Sword Excalibur and its sheath. Merlin actually suggests the sheath is more valuable than the sword itself because it had the magical ability to heal any wounds sustained. The end of Excalibur occurs just before Arthur's death at the hands of Mordred. He instructs his loyal Knight Sir Bedivire to throw Excalibur back into the lake from whence it came, so it couldn't come into evil hands. Twice Bedivire lies and pretends to throw the sword into the lake, but tells Arthur it is gone. Arthur sees through his lies and at last Sir Bedivire does throw the sword back into the lake, and the Lady of the Lake grabs the sword, where it remains safe in her keeping for ages to come.

Arthur: Fact or Fiction?

So, was the King Arthur of Legend truly real? Well, history does suggest some truths to what many have dismissed as mere fantasy. A history of Brittain written by the Welsh monk, Nennius, is the first reference we have to Arthur. While not a King of Britain, Arthur mentioned in this source as a a great warrior who won twelve battles against the barbaric Saxons. Nennius, however, most likely romanticized his account of this character named Arthur. A more plausible explanation is that Arthur was really General Magnus Clemens Maximus who was really of Celtic origin. He was one of the greatest figures in Britain and could have easily been portrayed in heroic and legendary proportions. Another candidate for the historical King Arthur was a supreme commander of the Roman army named Ambrosius Aurelianus. His Roman name could have been changed over time from Arotrius to Arthur. Yet whoever the true Arthur was, the figure in history who proved the basis for the legend has given to us one of the most exciting, riveting tales written in history.


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