King Arthur Legends Introductions to the man, the legend, the hero

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King Arthur Legends

  • Introductions to the man, the legend, the hero

The Soldier

  • Not a king but a Celtic warlord/general

  • Successful against barbarians who invaded England

  • Trained in way by the Romans


  • Story passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation

  • Have been written down in 6 different languages, therefore spellings vary

  • Most popular: Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’ Arthur, Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, and T. H. White’s The Once and Future King

Legend of Excalibur

  • Two versions: Sword in the Stone and Lady of the Lake

Characteristics of Medieval Romances

  • Knights, kings, lords, queens

  • Chivalry—ideal qualities of knighthood

  • A quest

  • Good vs. evil

  • Magic—mysterious, supernatural events

  • Castles, gardens, forests

  • Larger than life heroes—can have magic or extraordinary powers

  • Use disguises to conceal true identity

  • Romantic love


  • Adventure for something/someone of importance

  • Has to be of personal significance

  • Elements of mystery—monsters, evil, etc.

  • Long voyage

  • Defeats the foe

  • Dangerous

  • Hero matures through quest

  • Examples: Star Wars, An American Tale, The Fugitive, Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Characteristics of the Romantic Hero

  • Larger than life

  • Wants to make world better

  • Has inner drive, strength

  • Usually young

  • Physically and mentally strong

  • Close to nature; understands ways of earth

  • Lives clean life, uncluttered, simple

  • courteous; has self-control

  • Has endurance

Chivalry Qualities of a Knight

  • Physically strong

  • Experienced horsemen

  • Well trained in use of weapons

  • Must love honor

  • Must right wrongs

  • Willing to risk own life

  • Must defend weak

Aspects of the Professional Warrior

  • Weapons

  • His flag

  • Horse

    • Had to have at least three


  • Attendants

    • Required several
      • One to conduct horses
      • One to bear heaviest weapons
      • One to aid master in mounting horses
      • One to guard prisoners

Arthurian legends are examples of medieval romances

  • Arthurian legends are examples of medieval romances

  • Sir Thomas Malory was responsible for making the story English—also romanticized it

  • Tennyson wrote heroic version of legends

Important People and Places

  • King Arthur—son of Uther Pendragon; King of Britian; founder of the Knights of the Round Table

  • Avalon—island in the western seas where King Arthur goes at his death

  • Sir Bedivere—last of the Knights of the Round Table

  • Camelot—city where Arthur’s court is established

Sir Ector—Arthur’s foster father

  • Sir Ector—Arthur’s foster father

  • Excalibur—Arthur’s sword

  • Sir Galahad—son of Sir Lancelot and purest of Arthur’s knights; succeeds in the quest for the Holy Grail

  • Sir Gareth—Gawain’s brother and Arthur’s nephew; assumes disguise as Beaumains

  • Sir Gawain—nephew to King Arthur; son of Morgana; most courteous of Arthur’s knights

Queen Guinevere—daughter of King Lodegreaunce; Arthur’s wife

  • Queen Guinevere—daughter of King Lodegreaunce; Arthur’s wife

  • Holy Grail—cup used at Last Supper; object of quests of Knights of the Round Table

  • Sir Kay—Arthur’s foster brother and steward

  • Lady of the Lake—Gives Arthur his sword

  • Sir Launcelot (Lancelot) du Lake—Greatest of the Knights of the Round Table; father of Sir Galahad

Merlyn/Merlin—a magician; counselor to Arthur

  • Merlyn/Merlin—a magician; counselor to Arthur

  • Sir Modred—arthur’s nephew; plots to overthrow the king

  • Morgan le Fay—Arthur’s half sister; a sorceress

  • Round Table—a wedding gift from Arthur’s father-in-law; provided seats for 150 knights

History of Britian/Significance of Arthur

  • The story begins with the battle at Troy. Rome was then founded by Aeneas. Britian’s royal lineage supposedly comes from this ancient lineage. Felix Brutus supposedly founded England and Arthur and his royal successors follow this fashion.


  • First Knight

  • Excalibur

  • Camelot

  • King Arthur

  • The Sword in the Stone

  • Kinghts of the Round Table

  • Etc.


  • What is the code of honor observed by the knights?

  • The Arthurian legends are examples of what form of writing?

  • What are the two different versions for how Arthur received Excalibur?

  • Who was Arthur’s foster father? His real father?

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