Saturday, 28 March 2009

Arthurian Films

Films based on the Arthurian legend are many and varied. They can be divided into several broad categories:AdaptationsRelatively straightforward adaptations of the legends, reconstructed history, or modern Arthurian material.
Parsifal (1904)

Launcelot and Elaine (1909)

Il Re Artù e i cavalieri della tavola rotonda (1910) Parsifal (1912)

The Quest of the Holy Grail (1915)

The Adventures of Sir Galahad (serial) (1950)

Knights of the Round Table (1953)

Parsifal (1953)

The Black Knight (1954)

Prince Valiant (1954)

The Adventures of Sir Lancelot (serial) (1956)

Lancelot and Guinevere (1963)

Camelot (1967)

Arthur of the Britons (1972)

Gawain and the Green Knight (1973)

Lancelot du Lac (1974)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Perceval le Gallois (1979)

Parzival (1980)

Excalibur (1981)

Parsifal (1982) (a film version of the performance of the Wagner opera by H.J.Syberberg) Camelot (a videotaped stage performance of the musical, presented on HBO) (1982)

Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1984)

Les Chevaliers de la table ronde (1990)

Ginevra (1992)

Guinevere (1994)

First Knight (1995)

Prince Valiant (1997)

Merlin (1998)

The Mists of Avalon (2001)

King Arthur (2004)

Merlin's Apprentice (2006)

The Last Legion (2007)

Pendragon Sword of his Father (in production 2008)

Merlin and the War of the Dragons (2008)

Merlin (BBC TV series, 2008)


Films whose plot "updates" or otherwise moves the legend to modern times.
Knights of the Square Table (1917)

King Arthur Was a Gentleman (1942)

Knightriders (1981)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

The Fisher King (1991)

Seaview Knights (1994)

Four Diamonds (1995)

Kids of the Round Table (1995)

Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders (1996)

Lancelot, Guardian of Time (1997)

Arthur's Quest (1999)

Avalon (2001)

Fate/stay night (2004)

Stargate SG1 Season 9 to 10 (2006 - 2007)

Films based on the Tristan legend

Tristan et Yseut (1909) Tristan et Yseut (1911)

Tristan et Yseut (1920)

The Eternal Return (1943)

Tristana (1970)

Tristan et Yseut (1972)

Tristan and Isolt aka Lovespell (1979)

Fire and Sword (1981)

The Woman Next Door (1981)

Isolde (1989)

In the Shadow of the Raven (1988)

Connemara (1989)

Pardes (1997)

Tristan et Yseut (2002)

Tristan and Isolde (2006)

Connecticut Yankee

Films based on Mark Twain's novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, about a modern man/woman who travels in time to Arthur's period.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1921)

A Connecticut Yankee (1931)

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949), a musical film starring Bing Crosby and Rhonda Fleming

A Connecticut Yankee (1955 TV movie)

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1970)

Unidentified Flying Oddball, also known as The Spaceman and King Arthur (1979)

Novye prikluchenia janke pri dvore Korola Artura (1987)

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1989 TV movie)

A Young Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1995)

A Kid in King Arthur's Court (1995)

A Knight in Camelot (1998)

Black Knight (2001)


The Sword in the Stone (1963) A Connecticut Rabbit in King Arthur's Court (1978) The Legend of Prince Valiant (1991-1994) Quest for Camelot (1998) Tristan et Yseut (2002) An scene in No Time for Nuts (2007)


Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Kaamelott (2005)

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Characters in Arthurian Literature

The Arthurian legend featured many characters, including the Knights of the Round table and members of his family. Their names often differed from version to version and from language to language. The following is a list of them with descriptions. (Note: The '†' symbol indicates a Knight of the Round Table.)

Accolon Le Morte D'Arthur, c. 1470 Morgan le Fay's lover
Aglovale† Agloval, Sir Aglovale de Galis King Pellinore's eldest son
Agravain† Agravaine Second son of King Lot and Morgause
Amr Amhar, Amir, Anir Historia Brittonum, c. AD 820 Geraint and Enid Son of King Arthur
King Arthur† Arthur Pendragon Y Gododdin, c. 7th century Many King of the Britons
Aurelius Ambrosius Ambrosius Aurelianus Gildas' De Excidio Britanniae c. AD 540s Historia Brittonum c. AD 820
Ban Lancelot-Grail, early 13th century Lancelot's father
Balan Sir Balan le Savage Post-Vulgate Cycle, 1230s Post-Vulgate, Le Morte D'Arthur Brother to Balin
Balin Sir Balin le Savage, Knight with Two Swords Post-Vulgate Cycle, 1230s Post-Vulgate, Le Morte D'Arthur Brother to Balan
Bedivere† (Welsh: Bedwyr)(French: Bédoier) Bedevere Culhwch and Olwen, c. 11th century Returns Excalibur to The Lady of the Lake, brother to Sir Lucan
Black Knight King Arthur's grandson through Tom a'Lincoln, usually an antagonist figure Blanchefleur Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail, c. 1181 Percival's wife, niece to Gornemant
Bors the elder (French: Bohort) Lancelot-Grail, early 13th century Brother to King Ban, and an ally of Arthur's
Bors the younger† Son of Bors the Elder, Father of Elyan the White
Brangaine Brangaene, Brangwane, Brangien Tristan poems by Béroul and Thomas of Britain, 12th century Tristan poems of Béroul, Thomas, Eilhart von Oberge, Gottfried von Strassburg, Prose Tristan, Post-Vulgate Cycle, Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur Handmaid to Iseult Breunor le Noir† Brunor, La Cote Male Taile ("The Badly-shaped Coat")
Brutus of Britain (Brut, Brute, Welsh: Bryttys) Historia Brittonum, c. AD 820 First King of Britain, a Trojan
Cador† (Latin: Cadorius) Historia Regum Britanniae, The Dream of Rhonabwy Raised Guinevere as his ward, father to Constantine III of Britain, Described in some works as Arthur's cousin
Caelia The Faerie Queene, Gloriana Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, 1590; Richard Johnson's Tom a Lincoln part 1, 1599 Tom a'Lincoln's lover, mother to the Faerie Knight Calogrenant† Colgrevance Chrétien de Troyes' Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, 1170s Le Morte d'Arthur Cousin to Sir Ywain Caradoc† (Welsh Caradog Freichfras, meaning Caradoc Strong (or Stout) Arm)) (French: Carados Briefbras) Perceval, the Story of the Grail, the Mabinogion At first rebelled against Arthur when he first became king, but later supported him
Cerdic of Wessex Anglo Saxon Chronicle, 9th century First King of Wessex, an ancestor of Arthur's
Claudas Perlesvaus, Lancelot-Grail, Post-Vulgate Cycle, Le Morte d'Arthur A Frankish King antagonistic to Arthur, has two sons, Dorin and Claudin
Claudin Lancelot-Grail, Le Morte d'Arthur Virtuous son of the Frankish villain Claudas, eventually becomes one of 12 knights to achieve the Holy Grail
Constans son of Constantine Based on the historical figure Constans Historia Regum Britanniae Son ofConstantine II of Britain, older brother to Uther Pendragon
Constantine II of Britain Based on the historical figure Constantine Historia Regum Britanniae Arthur's Grandfather, father to Uther Pendragon, Constans, and Ambrosius Aurelianus Constantine III of Britain Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, c. 1136 Historia Regum Britanniae, Le Morte d'Arthur Arthur's cousin and successor to his throne, Cador's son Culhwch Culhwch and Olwen, c. 11th century Friend of Arthur's in early Welsh legend
Cynric of Wessex Anglo Saxon Chronicle, 9th century Second King of Wessex, son of Cerdic Dagonet† Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King Arthur's court jester
Daniel von Blumenthal† Daniel von Blumenthal, 1220 A Knight of the Round Table found in an early German offshoot of Arthurian legend
Dinadan† Prose Tristan, 1230s Son of Sir Brunor the Senior
Dindrane (Italian: Agrestizia)(Welsh: Danbrann) Also Dindraine or Heliabel depending on the sources) Sister (sometimes half-sister) of Percival, plays a large part in many Holy grail stories Ector† (sometimes Hector, Antor, or Ectorius) Lancelot-Grail, early 13th century The Once and Future King, Le Morte d'Arthur Raises Arthur according to Merlin's command, Father to Sir Kay Elaine of Astolat Elaine the White, Elaine the Fair, The Lady of Shalott Le Morte d'Arthur, 1470 The Lady of Shalott Daughter of Bernard of Astolat, classic Arthurian figure of unrequited love Elaine of Carbonek Amite, Helaine or Helizabel; "The Grail Maiden" Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail c. 1181, or Perceval le Gallois 1978 Daughter of the Fisher King, mother of Galahad by Lancelot
Elaine the Peerless Niece of the Lord of the Fens and wife of Persides the Red of the Castle of Gazevilte, sometimes confused with Elaine of Carbonek
Elaine of Garlot Daughter of Gorlois and Igraine, sister to Morgan le Fay and Morgause and a half-sister to King Arthur, wife to King Nentres
Elaine of Benoic Wife of King Ban and mother to Lancelot, Evaine's sister
Eliwlod Welsh Triads Nephew to Arthur, son of Madoc, Uther Pendragon's brother
Elyan the White† (French: Helyan le Blanc) Son of Sir Bors and Claire, King Brandegoris' daughter, helps Lancelot rescue Guinevere and goes into exile with him
Enide Enid Chrétien de Troyes' Erec and Enide, c. 1170 Idylls of the King, Geraint and Enid Erec's wife
Erec† Unclear; first literary appearance as Erec in Chrétien de Troyes' Erec and Enide, c. 1170 See Geraint and Enid Son of King Lac and a Knight of the Round Table
Esclabor† Father of Palamedes, Safir, and Segwarides
Esclados Chrétien de Troyes' Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, 1170s Defended a magical fountain in the Forest of Broceliande, married to Laudine
Faerie Knight, The Richard Johnson's Tom a Lincoln part 1, 1599 Bastard son of Tom a'Lincoln and Caelia, the Faerie Queen, half brother to the Black Knight
Feirefiz† Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, early 13th century Half-brother to Percival and King Arthur's nephew
Fisher King, The The Wounded King, Pelles, Pelias Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail, c. 1181 Guardian of the Holy Grail
Gaheris† Le Morte d'Arthur Son of King Lot and Morgause, brother to Gawain, Agravaine, and Gareth, and half-brother to Mordred,
Galahad† Lancelot-Grail, early 13th century Lancelot-Grail, Post-Vulgate Cycle, Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur Bastard son of Sir Lancelot and Elaine of Carbonek
Galehalt or Galehault† Galehault, Galehaut Lancelot-Grail, early 13th century
Gareth† Beaumains Le Morte d'Arthur, Idylls of the King Also a son of Lot and Morgause, in love with Lyonesse
Gawain† (Latin: Walwanus, Welsh: Gwalchmai, Irish: Balbhuaidh) Culhwch and Olwen, c. 11th century Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and many others Another son of Lot and Morgause, father of Gingalain
Geraint† Geraint and Enid Enid's lover
Gingalain† (Guinglain, Gingalin, Gliglois, Wigalois, etc.) also Le Bel Inconnu, or The Fair Unknown Le Bel Inconnu Gawain's and Blanchemal's son
Gorlois (Old Welsh: Gwrlais) Historia Regum Britanniae Igraine's first husband before she married Uther Pendragon
Gornemant Chrétien de Troyes' Erec and Enide, c. 1170 Chrétien's Perceval, the Story of the Grail Percival's mentor
Green Knight† Bercilak, Bertilak, Bernlak, Bredbeddle Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, 1300s The Greene Knight, King Arthur and King Cornwall An knight enchanted by Morgan le Fay in order to test Gawain
Griflet† Girflet, Jaufre Jaufré The son of Do (or Don), cousin to Sir Lucan and Sir Bedivere Gringolet (Welsh: gwyn calet ("white-hardy"), or ceincaled ("handsome-hardy")) Chrétien de Troyes' Erec and Enide, c. 1170 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Gawain's horse
Guinevak Gwenhwyvach, Guinevak Culhwch and Olwen, c. 11th century Welsh Triads, Thomas Love Peacock's Misfortunes of Elphin Guinevere's sister
Guinevere (Welsh: Gwenhwyfar, 'The White Fay' or 'White Ghost')(Latin: Guanhumara) Culhwch and Olwen, c. 11th century Many Wife to King Arthur, famous for her affair with Lancelot
Hector de Maris† Quest du Saint Graal Vulgate Cycle Half-brother of Lancelot, son of King Ban and the Lady de Maris, Sir Bors and Sir Lionel are his cousins
Hengest Hengist Bede's The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, AD 721 Historia Regum Britanniae An Anglo-Saxon King killed by Uther Pendragon, Horsa's brother
Hoel† (Welsh: Howel, Hywel) The Dream of Rhonabwy, Geraint and Enid Son of King Budic of Britanny, father to St. Tudwal
Horsa Bede's The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, AD 721 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Brother to Hengest
Igraine (Latin: Igerna)(Welsh: Eigyr) (French Igerne) Also Ygrayne and Arnive. Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, c. 1136 Vulgate Merlin Mother to King Arthur through an affair with Uther Pendragon
Iseult of Ireland Isolde, Yseult, Isode, Isoude, Isotta Tristan and Iseult Wife of Mark of Cornwall and adulterous lover of Sir Tristan
Iseult (Queen of Ireland) Isolde, Yseult, Isode, Isoude, Isotta Tristan and Iseult Iseult of Ireland's mother.
Iseult of the White Hands Isolde, Yseult, Isode, Isoude, Isotta Tristan and Iseult Daughter of Hoel of Brittany, sister of Sir Kahedin, and wife of Tristan
Joseph of Arimathea Biblical figure; first connection with Arthur is in Robert de Boron's Joseph d'Arimathie, 12th century First keeper of the Holy Grail in Arthurian legend Josephus of Arimathea Josephe, Josephes Lancelot-Grail cycle Son of Joseph of Arimathea
Kay† (Welsh: Cai, Latin: Caius) Culhwch and Olwen, c. 11th century Many Foster brother to Arthur, Sir Ector's son
Kahedin Kahadin, Kahedrin, Kehenis, Kehidius; possibly the Welsh character Kae Hir Prose Tristan Brother to Iseult, son of King Hoel, had an affair with Brangaine
Lady of the Lake Nimue, Viviane, Niniane, Nyneve, etc. Unclear; a water fay is first mentioned as Lancelot's foster mother in Chrétien de Troyes' Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, 1170s Many There are several related characters called the Lady of the Lake. Their actions include giving Arthur his sword Excalibur, raising Lancelot and his cousins as foster children, enchanting Merlin, and taking the dying king to Avalon.
Lamorak† Prose Tristan, c. 1235 Lancelot-Grail Cycle Son of King Pellinore, brother to Tor, Aglovale, Percival, Dindrane
Lancelot† Lancelot du Lac, Lancelot of the Lake, Launcelot Chrétien de Troyes' Erec and Enide, c. 1170 Chrétien's Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, Lancelot-Grail, many others Son to King Ban and Elaine, most famous for his affair with Queen Guinevere, Arthur's wife, most prominent Knight of the Round Table
Lanval† Marie de France's Lanval, late 12th century Sir Landevale, Sir Launfal, Sir Lambewell A knight of King Arthur's court who falls in love with a fairy
Laudine Lady of the Fountain Chrétien de Troyes' Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, 1170s Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain, Iwein Sir Ywain's wife
Leodegrance† Leondegrance Guinevere's father, King of Cameliard in what is now southwest England
Lionel† Lancelot-Grail, early 13th century Son of King Bors of Gaunnes (or Gaul), brother of Bors the Younger
Lohengrin Loherangrin, Lorengel Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, early 13th century Parzival, German romance Lohengrin, Lorengel, Richard Wagner's Lohengrin A knight of the Holy Grail
Lot Loth Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, c. 1136 Le Morte d'Arthur King of Lothian, father to Gawain, Agravain, Gaheris, Gareth, and Mordred
Lucan† Sir Lucan the Butler Le Morte d'Arthur Servant to King Arthur, Bedivere's brother, Griflet's cousin
Lucius Lucius Tiberius, Lucius Hiberius Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, c. 1136 Alliterative Morte Arthure, Le Morte d'Arthur, A fictional Roman Emperor and antagonist to Arthur
Lunete (Welsh: Luned) (French: Lunete, Lunet) Chrétien de Troyes' Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, 1170s Handmaiden and advisor to Laudine
Lynette Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, c. 1470 Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King Seeks aid from Arthur to rescue her sister Lyonesse; Arthur sends an incognito Gareth, who she berates until he proves his worth
Lyonesse Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, c. 1470 Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King Entrapped sister of Lynette; rescued by Gareth, whom she eventually marries
Mabon ap Modron Culhwch and Olwen, 11th century Welsh Triads Son of Modron, kidnapped at birth, rescued by Culhwch
Maleagant† Malagant, Meleagant, perhaps Melwas Unclear, a similar character named "Melwas" appears in the 12th century Life of Gildas Lancelot-Grail, Post-Vulgate Cycle, Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur Abductor of Guinevere
Mark of Cornwall (Latin: Marcus Cunomorus)(Cornish: Margh)(Welsh: March) Possibly based on a historical figure from the 6th century Post-Vulgate Cycle, Prose Tristan, Le Morte d'Arthur, Romance of Palamedes Tristan's uncle, husband to Iseult
Meirchion Tristan and Iseult Father to Mark of Cornwall
Melehan Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, c. 1136 (unnamed) Elder son of Mordred
Meliodas Meliadus Prose Tristan; Tristan's father was named Rivalen in earlier versions Le Morte d'Arthur Father to Tristan
Melou Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, c. 1136 (unnamed) Younger son of Mordred
Merlin (Welsh: Myrddin) First mention of his familiar character is Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, c. 1136, but derived from earlier Welsh tales Many Wizard, guide to King Arthur Modron Mentioned as the mother of Mabon ap
Modron in Culhwch and Olwen and the Welsh Triads Welsh Triads Mother of Mabon; in another folktale, she is the mother of Owain (Ywain) and Morvydd by Urien
Mordred† Modred (Welsh: Medrawd, Latin: Medraut) Annales Cambriae, c. 970 Many In some literature, Arthur's illegitimate son through Morgause, kills and is killed by Arthur
Morgan le Fay Morgaine, Morgain, Morgana Unclear; first mention as Morgan in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Vita Merlini, c. 1150 Many Sister and sometime antagonist of Arthur
Morgause Anna Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, c. 1136 Arthur's half-sister, wife to King Lot, mother to Gawain, Agravaine, Gaheris, Gareth, and Mordred
Morholt† Tristan poems of Béroul and Thomas of Britain, 12th century Tristan poems of Béroul, Thomas, Eilhart von Oberge, Gottfried von Strassburg, Prose Tristan, Post-Vulgate Cycle, Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur
Morien† Moriaen Dutch romance Morien, 13th century Half-Moorish son of Aglovale
Morvydd Welsh Triads, Culhwch and Olwen Owain's twin sister
Nimue see Lady of the Lake
Oberon Auberon, King of Shadows and Fairies
Olwen Culhwch and Olwen, c. 11th century Daughter of Ysbaddaden, beloved of Culhwch Orgeluse Haughty Maiden of Logres Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail, c. 1181
Owain† (see Ywain) Historical figure Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain Son of Urien Palamedes† Palamede, Palomides Prose Tristan, 1230s T.H. White's The Once and Future King Saracen Knight of the Round Table
Pellam King Pellam of Listeneise, Pellehan see Fisher King
Pelleas† Post-Vulgate Cycle, 1230s Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King A Knight of the Round table in love with Ettarre
Pelles see Fisher King
Pellinore† Lancelot-Grail, Post-Vulgate Cycle, Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, T. H. White's The Once and Future King King of Listenoise and friend to Arthur
Percival† (Welsh: Peredur) Perceval, Parzifal As Percival, Chrétien de Troyes' Erec and Enide, c. 1170 Chrétien's Perceval, the Story of the Grail, Lancelot-Grail, many Achiever of the Holy Grail; King Pellinore's son in some tales
Questing Beast Beast Glatisant (Barking Beast) Perlesvaus, c. 1210 Gerbert's Continuation of Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail, Post Vulgate Suite du Merlin, Prose Tristan, Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur A strange beast quested after by many knights associated with Arthur
Red Knight Chrétien's Perceval, the Story of the Grail, c. 1181 Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur Appears in many tales, usually as an antagonist
Rience Ritho, Ryence, Ryons, and Rion Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, c. 1136 Lancelot-Grail, Post Vulgate Cycle, Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur King defeated by Arthur
Safir† Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, Prose Tristan Son to Esclabor, brother of Segwarides and Palamedes
Sagramore† Lancelot-Grail, Post-Vulgate Cycle, Prose Tristan, Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur Ubiquitous Knight of the Round Table; various stories and origins are given for him Segwarides† Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, Prose Tristan Son of Esclabor, brother of Safir and Palamedes
Taliesin Historical figure The Welsh Triads, Story of Taliesin, Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King Bard to king Arthur, oldest known Welsh poet
Tom a'Lincoln The Red Rose Knight At least in Richard Johnson's Tom a Lincoln part 1, 1599; possibly mentioned in Robert Greene's Farewell to Folly, 1591 Illegitimate son of King Arthur through Angelica
Tor† Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur Son of King Ars, adopted by Pellinore
Tristan† (Latin/Brythonic: Drustanus; Welsh: Drystan; Portuguese: Tristão; Spanish: Tristán; also known as Tristran, Tristram, etc.) Tristan and Iseult Son of Blancheflor and Rivalen, Iseult's lover
Urien† Historical figure Welsh Triads Father of Ywain (Owain mab Urien), husband of Morgan le Fay
Uther Pendragon (French: Uter Pendragon; Welsh: Wthyr Bendragon, Uthr Bendragon, Uthyr Pendraeg) Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, c. 1136 Welsh Triads Arthur's father
Vortigern (Latin: Urtigernus), Guorthigirn, Vortiger, Vortigen, Gwrtheyrn Probably a historical figure; first mentioned in Bede's The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, AD 721 King of Britain whose decisions assisted the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain
Vortimer Historia Brittonum, c. AD 820 Son of Vortigern
Ysbaddaden Culhwch and Olwen, c. 11th century A giant and antagonist in the story Culhwch and Olwen
Ywain† (Welsh: Owain) Yvain, Ewain or Uwain Based on the historical figure Owain mab Urien Historia Brittonum, Yvain, the Knight of the Lion Urien's son, Morvydd's brother
Ywain the Bastard† Ywain the Adventurous Urien's illegitimate son through a seneschal, accidentally killed by Gawain

King Arthur's Family

King Arthur's family grew throughout the centuries with King Arthur's legend. Several of the legendary members of this mythical king's family became leading characters of mythical tales in their own right.

Welsh literature
In Welsh Arthurian literature from before the time of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae ("History of the Kings of Britain"), Arthur was granted numerous relations and family members. Several early Welsh sources are usually taken as indicative of Uther Pendragon being known as Arthur's father before Geoffrey wrote, with Arthur also being granted a brother (Madog) and a nephew (Eliwlod) in these texts. Similarly, as Bromwich and Evans have observed, Culhwch and Olwen, the Vita Iltuti and the Brut Dingestow combine to suggest that Arthur was assigned a mother too – Eigyr – as well as maternal aunts, uncles, cousins and a grandfather called Anlawd Wledig. Arthur would seem to have had a sister, as Gwalchmei is named as his sister-son (nephew) in Culhwch, Gwalchmei's mother being one Gwyar. Turning to Arthur's own family, his wife is consistently stated to be Gwenhwyfar, usually the daughter of Ogrfan Gawr (Ogrfan "the Giant"), although Culhwch and Bonedd yr Arwyr do indicate that Arthur also had some sort of relationship with Eleirch daughter of Iaen, which produced a son named Kyduan. Kyduan was not the only child of Arthur according to Welsh Arthurian tradition – he is also ascribed sons called Amr, Gwydre, Llacheu and Duran.

Geoffrey of Monmouth era
Relatively few members of Arthur's family in the Welsh materials are carried over to the works of Geoffrey and the romancers. His grandfather Anlawd Wledig and his maternal uncles, aunts and cousins do not appear there and neither do any of his sons or his paternal relatives. Only the core family seem to have made the journey: his wife Gwenhwyfar (who became Guinevere), his father Uther, his mother (Igerna) and his sister-son Gwalchmei (Gawain). As Roberts has noted Gwalchmei's mother – Arthur's sister – failed to make the journey, Gwyar's place being taken by Anna, the wife of Loth, in Geoffrey's account, whilst Medraut (Mordred) is made into a second sister-son for Arthur (a status he does not have in the Welsh material). In addition, new family members enter the Arthurian tradition from this point onwards. Uther is given a new family, including a brother and a father, while Arthur gains a sister, Morgan le Fay (first named as Arthur's sister by Chrétien de Troyes), and a new son, Loholt, in Chrétien's Eric and Enide, the Perlesvaus and the Vulgate Cycle.
Another significant new family-member is Arthur's half-sister Morgause, the daughter of Gorlois and Igerna and mother of Gawain and Mordred in the French romances (replacing Geoffrey of Monmouth's Anna in this role). In the Vulgate Mort Artu we find Mordred's relationship with Arthur once more reinterpreted, as he is made the issue of an unwitting incestuous liaison between Arthur and this Morgause, with Arthur dreaming that Mordred would grow up to kill him. This tale is preserved in all the romances based on the Mort Artu, and by the time we reach Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur Arthur has started to plot, Herod-like, to kill all children born on the same day as Mordred in order to save himself from this fate.

Although Arthur is given sons in both early and late Arthurian tales, he is rarely granted significant further generations of descendents; this is at least partly because of the premature deaths of his sons in these legends. Amr is the first to be mentioned in Arthurian literature, appearing in the 9th century Historia Brittonum:
There is another wonder in the region which is called Ercing. A tomb is located there next to a spring which is called Licat Amr; and the name of the man who is buried in the tomb was called thus: Amr. He was the son of Arthur the soldier, and Arthur himself killed and buried him in that very place. And men come to measure the grave and find it sometimes six feet in length, sometimes nine, sometimes twelve, sometimes fifteen. At whatever length you might measure it at one time, a second time you will not find it to have the same length . Why Arthur chose to kill his son is never made clear. The only other reference to Amr comes in the post-Galfridian Welsh romance Geraint, where "Amhar son of Arthur" is one of Arthur’s four chamberlains along with Bedwyr’s son, Amhren. Gwydre is similarly unlucky, being slaughtered by the giant boar Twrch Trwyth in Culhwch and Olwen, along with two of Arthur's maternal uncles – no other references to either Gwydre or Arthur's uncles survive. More is known of Arthur's son Llacheu. He is one of the "Three Well-Endowed Men of the Island of Britain", according to Triad number 4, and he fights alongside Cei in the early Arthurian poem Pa gur yv y porthaur?. Like his father is in Y Gododdin, Llacheu appears in 12th century and later Welsh poetry as a standard of heroic comparison and he also seems to have been similarly a figure of local topographic folklore too Taken together, it is generally agreed that all these references indicate that Llacheu was a figure of considerable importance in the early Arthurian cycle. Nonetheless, Llacheu too dies, with the speaker in the pre-Galfridian poem Ymddiddan Gwayddno Garanhir ac Gwyn fab Nudd remembering that he had "been where Llacheu was slain / the son of Arthur, awful in songs / when ravens croaked over blood". Finally, Loholt is treacherously killed by Sir Kay so that the latter can take credit for the defeat of the giant Logrin in the Perlesvaus, while another son, known only from a possibly 15th century Welsh text, is said to have died on the field of Camlann:
Sandde Bryd Angel drive the crow off the face of ?Duran [son of Arthur]. Dearly and belovedly his mother raised him. Arthur sang it Medraut/Mordred is an exception to this tradition of a childless death for Arthur's sons. Mordred, like Amr, is killed by Arthur – at Camlann – according to Geoffrey of Monmouth and the post-Galfridian tradition but, unlike the others, he is ascribed two sons, both of whom rose against Arthur's successor and cousin Constantine with the help of the Saxons. However, in Geoffrey's Historia (when Arthur's killing of Mordred and Mordred's sons first appear), Mordred was not yet actually Arthur's son.

Bromwich, R. Trioedd Ynys Prydein: the Welsh Triads (Cardiff: University of Wales, 1978) Bromwich, R. and Simon Evans, D. Culhwch and Olwen. An Edition and Study of the Oldest Arthurian Tale (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1992)
Bryant, N. The High Book of the Grail: A translation of the thirteenth century romance of Perlesvaus (Brewer, 1996)
Coe, J. B. and Young, S. The Celtic Sources for the Arthurian Legend (Llanerch, 1995).
Green, T. "The Historicity and Historicisation of Arthur", Arthurian Resources, retrieved on 22-06-2007
Green, T. "Tom Thumb and Jack the Giant Killer: Two Arthurian Fairytales?" in Folklore 118.2 (August, 2007), pp.123-40
Green, T. Concepts of Arthur (Stroud: Tempus, 2007) ISBN 978-0-7524-4461-1
Higham, N. J. King Arthur, Myth-Making and History (London: Routledge, 2002).
Jones, T. and Jones, G. The Mabinogion (London: Dent, 1949)
Kibler, W. and Carroll, C. W. Arthurian Romances (Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1991)
Lacy, N. J. Lancelot-Grail: The Old French Arthurian Vulgate and Post-Vulgate in Translation (New York: Garland, 1992-6), 5 vols
Padel, O. J. Arthur in Medieval Welsh Literature (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000) ISBN 978-0-7524-4461-1
Roberts, B. F. "Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum Britanniae and Brut Y Brenhinedd" in R. Bromwich, A.O.H. Jarman and B.F. Roberts (edd.) The Arthur of the Welsh (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1991), pp.98-116
Rowland, J. Early Welsh Saga Poetry: a Study and Edition of the Englynion (Cambridge, 1990) Sims-Williams, P. "The Early Welsh Arthurian Poems" in R. Bromwich, A.O.H. Jarman and B.F. Roberts (edd.) The Arthur of the Welsh (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1991), pp.33-71


"Stitching the Standard" by Edmund Blair Leighton: the lady prepares for a knight to go to war.

Chivalry is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood. It is usually associated with ideals of knightly virtues, honour and courtly love. Today, the terms chivalry and chivalrous are used to describe courteous behavior, especially that of men towards women.
Bors' Dilemma - he chooses to save a maiden rather than his brother Lionel.
The term originated in France in the late 10th century; based on the words for "knight" (French: chevalier), and "horse" (French: cheval). Knights possessed military training, a war horse and military equipment which required a substantial amount of wealth and prestige to acquire.
Between the 11th century and 15th centuries Medieval writers often used the word chivalry, but its definition was never consistent among authors, and its meaning would change on a regional basis, and even over time. Further, its modern meanings are different from its medieval meanings. Thus, the exact meaning of chivalry changes depending on the writer, the time period, and the region; so a comprehensive definition of the term is elusive.

The term chivalry is very commonly found in medieval chronicles, vernacular literature and other written records, but its meaning varies. It can refer to a company of mounted knights. It can mean the status of being a knight, either as an occupation or as a social class. In legal documents, references to lands held in chivalry imply a type of land tenure in which military services was owed, as in feudalism. In literary texts, such as The Song of Roland, chivalry means a worthy action on the battlefield.
From the 12th century onward chivalry came to be understood as a moral, religious and social code of knightly conduct. The particulars of the code varied, but codes would emphasize the virtues of courage, honor, and service. Chivalry also came to refer to an idealization of the life and manners of the knight at home in his castle and with his court.
Medieval knights glorified and identified with the valor, tactics and ideals of ancient Romans. For example the ancient hand-book of warfare written by Vegetius called De Re Militari was translated into French in the 13th century as L'art de chevalerie by Jean de Meun. Later writers also drew from Vegetius such as Honore Bonet who wrote the 14th century L'arbes des batailles, which discussed the morals and laws of war. In the 15th century Christine de Pizan combined themes from Vegetius, Bonet and Frontinus in Livre des faits d'armes et de chevalerie.
The medieval knightly class was adept at the art of war, trained in fighting in armor, with horses, lances, swords and shields. Knights were taught to excel in the arms, to show courage, to be gallant, loyal and to swear off cowardice and baseness.

Related to chivalry was the practice of heraldry and its elaborate rules of displaying coats of arms. When not fighting, chivalric knights typically resided in a castle or fortified house, while some knights lived in the courts of kings, dukes and other great lords. The skills of the knight carried over to peacetime activities such as the hunt and tournament.
The tradition of the chivalric "knight in shining armor" can be traced back to the Arabs, with notable pre-Islamic figures like the Bedouin knight Antar The Lion (580 CE). He is believed to be the model of this tradition. Charles Reginald Haines noted traits "such as loyalty, courtesy, munificence...are found in eminent degree among the Arabs." Medieval Spain, which he calls the "cradle of chivalry", could bear that pre-modern title, due to the direct impact of Arab civilization in al-Andalus. "Piety, courtesy, prowess in war, the gift of eloquence, the art of poetry, skill on horseback, dexterity with sword, lance, and bow" was expected of the elite Moorish knight. Richard Francis Burton, when characterizing this strain of thought in the writings of Europe as a whole, maintained "were it not evident that the spiritualising of sexuality by imagination is universal among the highest orders of mankind", he continues, "I should attribute the origins of love to the influences of the Arabs' poetry and chivalry upon European ideas rather than to medieval Christianity." The frequent clashes between the Christians and Muslims preceding the Christian Crusades leave no doubt that orders of the knighthood and the tradition of courtly love were transmitted into Europe by way of the Muslim occupation
Christianity had a modifying influence on the virtues of chivalry. The Peace and Truce of God in the 10th century was one such example, with limits placed on knights to protect and honor the weaker members of society and also help the church maintain peace. At the same time the church became more tolerant of war in the defense of faith, espousing theories of the just war; and liturgies were introduced which blessed a knight's sword, and a bath of chivalric purification. In the 11th century the concept of a "knight of Christ" (miles Christi) gained currency in France, Spain and Italy. These concepts of "religious chivalry" were further elaborated in the era of the Crusades, with the Crusades themselves often being seen as a chivalrous enterprise. Their ideas of chivalry were also further influenced by Saladin, who was viewed as a chivalrous knight by medieval Christian writers.
The relationship between knights and the nobility varied based on region. In France being dubbed a knight also bestowed noble status. In Germany and the Low Countries, knights and the nobility were distinctly different classes. In England, the relations between knights, nobles and land-owning gentry were complex.
In the later Middle Ages, wealthy merchants strove to adopt chivalric attitudes - the sons of the bourgeoisie were educated at aristocratic courts where they were trained in the manners of the knightly class. This was a democratization of chivalry, leading to a new genre called the courtesy book, which were guides to the behavior of "gentlemen". Thus, the post-medieval gentlemanly code of the value of a man's honor, respect for women, and a concern for those less fortunate, is directly derived from earlier ideals of chivalry and historical forces which created it.

There are a number of questions historians debate related to chivalry. In his study of chivalry, The Broad-Stone of Honour, Kenelm Henry Digby offers the following definition: "Chivalry is only a name for that general spirit or state of mind which disposes men to heroic actions, and keeps them conversant with all that is beautiful and sublime in the intellectual and moral world."
It is still debated as to what extent the exploits of notable knights such as Godfrey of Bouillon, William Marshal and Bertrand du Guesclin set new standards of knightly behavior, or were instead reflections of existing models of conduct.
Another common debate is whether (since knights bore arms) the ranks of knights were open to anyone who had the physical requirements and skills, or restricted to only those who were born into knightly families.
When examining medieval literature, chivalry can be classified into three basic but overlapping areas:
Duties to countrymen and fellow Christians: this contains virtues such as mercy, courage, valour, fairness, protection of the weak and the poor, and in the servant-hood of the knight to his lord. This also brings with it the idea of being willing to give one’s life for another’s; whether he would be giving his life for a poor man or his lord. Duties to God: this would contain being faithful to God, protecting the innocent, being faithful to the church, being the champion of good against evil, being generous and obeying God above the feudal lord.

Duties to women: this is probably the most familiar aspect of chivalry. This would contain what is often called courtly love, the idea that the knight is to serve a lady, and after her all other ladies. Most especially in this category is a general gentleness and graciousness to all women. These three areas obviously overlap quite frequently in chivalry, and are often indistinguishable.
Different weight given to different areas produced different strands of chivalry:
warrior chivalry, in which a knight's chief duty is to his lord, as exemplified by Sir Gawain in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle, religious chivalry, in which a knight's chief duty is to protect the innocent and serve God, as exemplified by Sir Galahad or Sir Percival in the Grail legends. Courtly Love chivalry, in which a knight's chief duty is to his own lady, and after her, all ladies, as exemplified by Sir Lancelot in his love for Queen Guinevere or Sir Tristan in his for Iseult. One particular similarity between all three of these categories is honour. Honour is the foundational and guiding principle of chivalry. Thus, for the knight, honour would be one of the guides of action.


Camelot was the great castle of King Arthur. Camelot was the seat of power in Britain, where inside a council was established. Arthur and his knights who presided over the council were called Knights of the Round Table. Camelot symbolised the Golden Age of Chivalry.
There was no Camelot in the early tradition by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Wace and Layamon. These early Arthurian authors say that Arthur's capital was in Caerleon (Caerleon-on-Usk). The earliest reference to Camelot I could find comes from the French poet named Chretien de Troyes. At the beginning of his romance, called Le Chevalier de la charrette ("Knight of the Cart" or "Lancelot"), Chretien say that Arthur was holding court at Camelot which was situated in the region of Caerleon. No other details were given. In about 1210, Perlesvaus (Le Haut Livre du Graal), the writer say that Camelot belonged to Alain le Gros, the father of Perceval.
Camelot is the most famous castle and court associated with the legendary King Arthur. Later romance depicts it as the fantastic capital of Arthur's realm, from which he fought many of the battles and quests that made up his life. Camelot as a place is associated with ideals like justice, bravery and truth, the virtues Arthur and his knights embody in the romances. The stories locate it somewhere in Britain and sometimes associate it with real cities, though Camelot is absent from the early material. Most modern academic scholars regard it as being entirely fictional, its geography being perfect for romance writers; Arthurian scholar Norris J. Lacy commented that "Camelot, located no where in particular, can be anywhere." Nevertheless arguments about the location of the "real Camelot" have occurred since the 15th century and continue to rage today in popular works and for tourism purposes.
The castle is mentioned for the first time in Chrétien de Troyes' poem Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, dating to the 1170s, though it is not mentioned in all the manuscripts. It is mentioned in passing, and is not described:
A un jor d'une Acenssion / Fu venuz de vers Carlion / Li rois Artus et tenu ot / Cort molt riche a Camaalot / Si riche com au jor estut.

Upon a certain Ascension Day King Arthur had come from Caerleon, and had held a very magnificent court at Camelot as was fitting on such a day. Nothing in Chrétien's poem suggests the level of importance Camelot would have in later romances. For Chrétien, Arthur's chief court was in Caerleon in Wales; this was the king's primary base in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae and most subsequent literature. Chrétien depicts Arthur, like a typical medieval monarch, holding court at a number of cities and castles. It is not until the 13th-century French prose romances, including the Lancelot-Grail and the Post-Vulgate Cycle, that Camelot began to supersede Caerleon, and even then, many descriptive details applied to Camelot derive from Geoffrey's earlier grand depiction of the Welsh town. Arthurian romances of this period produced in English or Welsh such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight did not follow this trend; Camelot was referred to infrequently and only in translations from French. In Britain Arthur's court continued to be located at Caerleon, or at Carlisle, which is usually identified with the "Carduel" of the French romances. It was not until the late 15th century Thomas Malory created the image of Camelot most familiar to English speakers today in his Le Morte d'Arthur, a work based mostly on the French romances. He firmly identifies Camelot with Winchester, an identification that remained popular over the centuries, though it was rejected by Malory's own editor, William Caxton, who preferred a Welsh location.

The name's derivation is also unknown. Some have suggested it is similar enough to other Iron Age and Romano-British place names such as Camulodunum to suggest some historicity, while that particular locale was the first capital of Roman Britain and would have significance in Romano-British culture. Indeed John Morris, the English historian who specialized in the study of the institutions of the Roman Empire and the history of Sub-Roman Britain, suggested in his book The Age of Arthur that as the descendants of Romanized Britons looked back to a golden age of peace and prosperity under Rome the name "Camelot" of Arturian legend was probably a reference to the capital of Britannia (Camulodunum) in Roman times. If historical the first part of it, Cam, could also reflect the Celtic word meaning "crooked" which is commonly used in place names as seen in Camlann. Given Chrétien's known tendency to create new stories and characters, being the first to mention the hero Lancelot and his love affair with Queen Guinevere for example, the name might also be entirely invented.

The romances depict the city of Camelot as standing along a river, downstream from Astolat. It is surrounded by plains and forests, and its magnificent cathedral, St. Stephen's, is the religious center for Arthur's Knights of the Round Table. There Arthur and Guinevere are married and there are the tombs of many kings and knights. In a mighty castle stands the Round Table; it is here that Galahad conquers the Siege Perilous, and where the knights see a vision of the Holy Grail and swear to find it. Jousts are held in a meadow outside the city. In the Romance of Palamedes and other works, the castle is eventually destroyed by King Mark of Cornwall after the loss of Arthur at the Camlann. However maddening to later scholars searching for Camelot's location, its imprecise geography serves the romances well, as Camelot becomes less a literal place than a powerful symbol of Arthur's court and universe.

The romancers' versions of Camelot drew on earlier descriptions of Arthur's fabulous court. From Geoffrey's grand description of Caerleon, Camelot gains its impressive architecture, its many churches and the chivalry and courtesy of its inhabitants. Geoffrey's description in turn drew on an already established tradition in Welsh oral tradition of the grandeur of Arthur's court. The tale Culhwch and Olwen, associated with the Mabinogion and perhaps written in the 11th century, draws a dramatic picture of Arthur's hall and his many powerful warriors who go from there on great adventures, placing it in Celliwig, an uncertain locale in Cornwall. Although the court at Celliwig is the most prominent in remaining early Welsh manuscripts, the various versions of the Welsh Triads agree in giving Arthur multiple courts, one in each of the areas inhabited by the Britons: Cornwall, Wales and in the Old North. This perhaps reflects the influence of widespread oral traditions common by 800 which are recorded in various place names and features such as Arthur's Seat indicating Arthur was a hero known and associated with many locations across Brittonic areas of Britain as well as Brittany. Even at this stage Arthur could not be tied to one location. Many other places are listed as a location where Arthur holds court in the later romances, Carlisle and London perhaps being the most prominent.
Malory's identification of Camelot as Winchester was probably partially inspired by the latter city's history. It had been the capital of Wessex under Alfred the Great, and boasted the Winchester Round Table, an artifact constructed in the 13th century but widely believed to be the original by Malory's time. Malory's editor Caxton rejects the association, saying Camelot was in Wales and that its ruins could still be seen; this is a likely reference to the Roman ruins at Caerwent. Malory associated other Arthurian locations with modern places, for instance locating Astolat at Guilford.
In 1542 John Leland reported the locals around Cadbury Castle in Somerset considered it to be the original Camelot. This theory, which was repeated by later antiquaries, is bolstered, or may have derived from, Cadbury's proximity to the River Cam and towns Queen Camel and West Camel, and remained popular enough to help inspire a large scale archaeological dig in the 20th century. These excavations, led by archaeologist Leslie Alcock from 1966-70, were titled "Cadbury-Camelot," and won much media attention, even being mentioned in the film of the musical Camelot. The dig revealed by far the largest known fortification of the period, with Mediterranean artifacts (representing extensive trade) and Saxon artifacts. The use of the name Camelot and the support of Geoffrey Ashe helped ensure much publicity for the finds, but Alcock himself later grew embarrassed by the supposed Arthurian connection to the site, following the arguments of David Dumville, feeling it was too late and too uncertain and modern archaeologists follow him in rejecting the name, calling it instead Cadbury Castle hill fort. Cadbury remains widely associated with Camelot.
The fact there were two towns in Roman Britain named Camulodunum, Colchester in Essex, and Slack in Yorkshire, deriving from the Celtic god Camulos has led to the suggestion they originated the name. However, the Essex Camulodunum was located well within territory usually thought to have been conquered early in the 5th century by Saxons, so it is unlikely to have been the location of any "true" Camelot. The town was definitely known as Colchester as early as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 917. Even Colchester Museum argues strongly regarding the historical Arthur: "it would be impossible and inconceivable to link him to the Colchester area, or to Essex more generally" pointing out that the connection between the name Camuloduum and Colchester was unknown till the 18th century. Other places in Britain with names related to "Camel" have also been suggested, such as Camelford in Cornwall, located down the River Camel from where Geoffrey places Camlann, the scene of Arthur's final battle. The area's connections with Camelot and Camlann are merely speculative.

Camelot has become a permanent fixture in interpretations of the Arthurian legend. Modern versions typically retain Camelot's lack of precise location and its status as a symbol of the Arthurian world, though they typically transform the castle itself into romantically lavish vision of a High Middle Ages palace. It lends its name to the 1960 musical Camelot, by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, which is based on T. H. White's literary version of the legend, The Once and Future King. The musical was adapted into a 1967 film of the same name, which starred Richard Harris as Arthur, and which featured the Castle of Coca, Segovia as fittingly opulent Camelot. The symbolism of Camelot so impressed Alfred, Lord Tennyson that he wrote up a prose sketch on the castle as one of his earliest attempts to treat the Arthurian legend. Some writers of the "realist" strain of modern Arthurian fiction have attempted a more sensible Camelot; inspired by Alcock's Cadbury-Camelot excavation, writers Marion Zimmer Bradley, Mary Stewart, and Catherine Christian place their Camelots in that city and describe it accordingly.

When these oral tales were being written down in the 11 th century King Stephen and Matilda were raging a bloody civil war, hence the mentioning of St. Stephen's church a religious centre, for the joining of Norman's to Anglo-Saxons.

Alcock, Leslie; Stenvenson, S. J.; & Musson, C. R. (1995). Cadbury Castle, Somerset: The Early Medieval Archaeology. University of Wales Press.
Ashley, Mike (2005). The Mammoth Book of King Arthur. London: Running Press. ISBN 0786715669.
Lacy, Norris J. (Ed.) (1991). The New Arthurian Encyclopedia. New York: Garland. ISBN 0-8240-4377-4.
Malory, Thomas (1994). Le Morte D'Arthur. New York: Modern Library. ISBN 0-679-60099-X.
Gildas and the City of the Legions, by P.J.C. Field, University of Wales, Bangor Abstract: What Gildas calls "the City of the Legions" is York, which has implications for the rate of progress of the Anglo-Saxon conquest; and what Nennius called "the City of the Legion" is also York (although he seems not to have known it), which has implications for the credibility of his list of Arthur's battles.
The Gododdin Revisited by Tim Clarkson, University of Manchester Abstract: A critical review of John Koch's reconstruction of the historical background to the Old Welsh Gododdin poems which, in addition to depicting aspects of the heroic society of "Dark Age" Britain, may contain the earliest literary reference to Arthur.
Artúr mac Aedan of Dalriadaby Michelle Ziegler, Belleville, Illinois Abstract: A discussion of the life of Artúr mac Aedan of the Dalriadic Cenél nGabráin and the relevant phase of the reign of his father Aedan, king of Dalriada (r. 574-606/8). There is also an evaluation of the assertion that Artúr was the historical King Arthur.

Arthur's Weapons

Excalibur is the legendary sword of King Arthur sometimes attributed with magical powers or associated with the rightful sovereignty of Great Britain. Sometimes Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone (the proof of Arthur's lineage) are said to be the same weapon, but in most versions they are considered separate. The sword was associated with the Arthurian legend very early. In Welsh, the sword is called Caledfwlch.
The name Excalibur came from Old French Excalibor, which came from Caliburn used in Geoffrey of Monmouth (Latin Caliburnus). There are also variant spellings such as Escalibor and Excaliber (the latter used in Howard Pyle's books for younger readers). One theory holds that Caliburn[us] comes from Caledfwlch, the original Welsh name for the sword, which is first mentioned in the Mabinogion. In Culhwch and Olwen and the Welsh Bruts, Arthur's sword is also called Caledfwlch (derived from caled, "battle, hard" + bwlch, "breach, gap, notch. It is often considered to be related to the phonetically similar Caladbolg, a sword borne by several figures from Irish mythology, although a borrowing of Caledfwlch from Irish Caladbolg has been considered unlikely by Bromwich and Evans. They suggest instead that both names "may have similarly arisen at a very early date as generic names for a sword"; this sword then became exclusively the property of Arthur in the British tradition.
Another theory states that "Caliburnus" is ultimately derived from Latin chalybs, a loanword from the Greek word for steel: χάλυψ, which is in turn derived from Chalybes, the name of an Anatolian ironworking tribe. According to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable by Ebenezer Cobham Brewer, Excalibur was originally derived from the Latin phrase Ex calce liberatus, "liberated from the stone". In Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, Excalibur is said to mean "cut-steel". Geoffrey of Monmouth calls Arthur's sword Caliburnus, a name which most Celticists consider to be derivative of a lost Old Welsh text in which bwlch had not yet been lenited to fwlch. In early French sources this then became Escalibor, and finally the familiar Excalibur.
In her book The Ancient Secret, Lady Flavia Anderson postulates that "Excalibur" has a Greek origin, Ex-Kylie-Pyr or "out of a cup—fire". This corresponds to her thesis that the Holy Grail refers to those items used to draw down the Sun in order to make fire. Excalibur, she believed, was a "brand of light" and associated with Aaron's Rod. Just as only Aaron or Moses could make their rod "flower" (into flame), so only Arthur could pull Excalibur from the stone.

Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone
In Arthurian romance a number of explanations are given for Arthur's possession of Excalibur. In Robert de Boron's Merlin, Arthur obtained the throne by pulling a sword from a stone. In this account, the act could not be performed except by "the true king," meaning the divinely appointed king or true heir of Uther Pendragon. This sword is thought by many to be the famous Excalibur and the identity is made explicit in the later so-called Vulgate Merlin Continuation, part of the Lancelot-Grail cycle. However, in what is sometimes called the Post-Vulgate Merlin, Excalibur was given to Arthur by the Lady of the Lake sometime after he began to reign. She calls the sword "Excalibur, that is as to say as Cut-steel." In the Vulgate Mort Artu, Arthur orders Girflet to throw the sword into the enchanted lake. After two failed attempts he finally complies with the wounded king's request and a hand emerges from the lake to catch it, a tale which becomes attached to Bedivere instead in Malory and the English tradition.
Malory records both versions of the legend in his Le Morte d'Arthur, and confusingly calls both swords Excalibur. The film Excalibur attempts to rectify this by having only one sword, which Arthur draws from the stone and later breaks; the Lady of the Lake then repairs it.
In Welsh legend, Arthur's sword is known as Caledfwlch. In Culhwch and Olwen, it is one of Arthur's most valuable possessions and is used by Arthur's warrior Llenlleawg the Irishman to kill the Irish king Diwrnach while stealing his magical cauldron. Caledfwlch is thought to derive from the legendary Irish weapon Caladbolg, the lightning sword of Fergus mac Roich. Caladbolg was also known for its incredible power and was carried by some of Ireland's greatest heroes.
Though not named as Caledfwlch, Arthur's sword is described vividly in The Dream of Rhonabwy one of the tales associated with the Mabinogion:
Then they heard Cadwr Earl of Cornwall being summoned, and saw him rise with Arthur's sword in his hand, with a design of two chimeras on the golden hilt; when the sword was unsheathed what was seen from the mouths of the two chimeras was like two flames of fire, so dreadful that it was not easy for anyone to look. At that the host settled and the commotion subsided, and the earl returned to his tent.
—From The Mabinogion, translated by Jeffrey Gantz.
Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain is the first non-Welsh source to speak of the sword. Geoffrey says the sword was forged in Avalon and Latinizes the name "Caledfwlch" to Caliburn or Caliburnus. When his influential pseudo-history made it to Continental Europe, writers altered the name further until it became Excalibur. The legend was expanded upon in the Vulgate Cycle, also known as the Lancelot-Grail Cycle, and in the Post-Vulgate Cycle which emerged in its wake. Both included the work known as the Prose Merlin, but the Post-Vulgate authors left out the Merlin Continuation from the earlier cycle, choosing to add an original account of Arthur's early days including a new origin for Excalibur.
The story of the Sword in the Stone has an analogue in some versions of the story of Sigurd (the Norse proto-Siegfried), whose father, Sigmund, draws the sword Gram out of the tree Barnstokkr where it is embedded by the Norse god Odin.
In several early French works such as Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail and the Vulgate Lancelot Proper section, Excalibur is used by Gawain, Arthur's nephew and one of his best knights. This is in contrast to later versions, where Excalibur belongs solely to the king. In the Alliterative Morte Arthure, Arthur is said to have two legendary swords, the second one being Clarent, stolen by the evil Mordred. Arthur receives his fatal blow from Clarent.

The Lady of the Lake offering Arthur the sword Excalibur
In many versions, Excalibur's blade was engraved with words on opposite sides. On one side were the words "take me up", and on the other side "cast me away" (or similar words). This prefigures its return into the water. In addition, when Excalibur was first drawn, Arthur's enemies were blinded by its blade, which was as bright as thirty torches. Excalibur's scabbard was said to have powers of its own. Injuries from losses of blood, for example, would not kill the bearer. In some tellings, wounds received by one wearing the scabbard did not bleed at all. The scabbard is stolen by Morgan le Fay and thrown into a lake, never to be found again.
Nineteenth century poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, described the sword in full Romantic detail in his poem "Morte d'Arthur", later rewritten as "The Passing of Arthur", one of the Idylls of the King:
There drew he forth the brand Excalibur, And o’er him, drawing it, the winter moon, Brightening the skirts of a long cloud, ran forth And sparkled keen with frost against the hilt: For all the haft twinkled with diamond sparks, Myriads of topaz-lights, and jacinth-work Of subtlest jewellery.
Excalibur is by no means the only weapon associated with Arthur, nor the only sword. Welsh tradition also knew of a dagger named Carnwennan and a spear named Rhongomyniad that belonged to him. Carnwennan ("Little White-Hilt") first appears in Culhwch and Olwen, where it was used by Arthur to slice the Very Black Witch in half. Rhongomyniad ("spear" + "striker, slayer") is also first mentioned in Culhwch, although only in passing; it appears as simply Ron ("spear") in Geoffrey's Historia. In the Alliterative Morte Arthure, a Middle English poem, there is mention of Clarent, a sword of peace meant for knighting and ceremonies as opposed to battle, which is stolen and then used to kill Arthur.

Alexandre, M. Merlin: roman du XIIIe siècle (Geneva: Droz, 1979)
Bromwich, R. and Simon Evans, D. Culhwch and Olwen. An Edition and Study of the Oldest Arthurian Tale (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1992)
Ford, P.K. "On the Significance of some Arthurian Names in Welsh" in Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies 30 (1983), pp.268-73
Gantz, Jeffrey (translator) (1987). The Mabinogion. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-044322-3. Green, T. Concepts of Arthur (Stroud: Tempus, 2007) ISBN 978-0-7524-4461-1
Jones, T. and Jones, G. The Mabinogion (London: Dent, 1949)
Lacy, N. J. Lancelot-Grail: The Old French Arthurian Vulgate and Post-Vulgate in Translation (New York: Garland, 1992-6), 5 vols
Lacy, N. J (ed). The New Arthurian Encyclopedia. (London: Garland. 1996). ISBN 0815323034. MacKillop, J. Dictionary of Celtic Mythology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)

Monday, 9 March 2009

Arthurs Battles

The Battle of Camlannis is King Arthur's final battle, in which he is mortally wounded by his his nephew Mordred. The story recalls that Arthur and his forces were away in Europe fighting (according to earlier sources) Emperor Lucius or (according to later sources) fighting Lancelot. When Arthur landed back in England, a series of battles ensued that climaxed with the Battle of Camlann. Both Arthur and Mordred are mortally wounded in this battle, but Arthur's army triumphed in the end.
While Camlann, Arthur's last battle, is not part of the battle list, it was a battle that was fought in Britain. The battle of Camlann is first mentioned in the Annales Cambriae (ca. 960-980). The name Camlann has a number of possible locations. It is said to have taken place by a river, and the prefix Cam means crooked. The battle probably took place, then, near a crooked river.
Slaughter Bridge in Cornwall. Wace, like Geoffrey, speaks of this site in Cornwall as being the final battle Fort Camboglanna (Castlesteads) on Hadrian's Wall. This was one of several Hadrian's Wall forts that saw heavy fighting during the Caledonian invasion. It does not fit with the earliest historic references which refer to Cornwall. Welsh area around Cader Idris. Cader Idris means the Chair of Idris (a legendary giant). The mountain ridge lies near the town of Dolgellau, but its only connection to the Battle of Camlann are the nearby Camlan and Gamlan rivers. Gamlan River is very near the Camlan valley and Cader Idris, also in mid Wales. River Allen runs through the town of Bridge of Allen, just north of Stirling in Scotland. If you accept that Arthur was Scottish, this is a possible site of the final battle. Various stories differ on how the battle started. Geoffrey of Monmouth's account is of a normal battle--both sides lined up and then charged into battle. In many other sources, though, the battle is set of by misunderstanding. Malory makes the beginning of the battle a complete misunderstanding: A knight is bitten by an adder, he draws his sword to kill the snake, and when others saw his drawn sword a battle resulted by mistake.
Nennius records that King Arthur fought twelve major battles. The texts of Nennius (AD 796), the Easter Annals, and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle point to where these battles were geographically, but as in most things to do with King Arthur, there is room for debate as to where events really took place.
This list is believed not to be chronological. And the rhyming names in Nennius' original work, indicates that he probably took his list from a rhyming-poem. Nennius could well have taken names from a number of unrelated sources.
Some scholars believe that the Roman commander, Lucius Artorius Castus, and King Arthur point to them being the same person when you examine this battle record.
Nennius' list is
Battle 1. On the river Glein.
Battle 2, 3, 4 and 5. On the river Dubglas in the region of Linnuis.
Battle 6. On the river Bassas.
Battle 7. In the wood of Celidon/Cat Coit Celidon.
Battle 8. At castle Guinnion.
Battle 9. In the city of the Legion
Battle 10. On the river Tribruit
Battle 11. On Mount/Hill/Rock Agned or Breguoin
Battle 12. At Mount/Hill/Rock Badon.
Then there is the final battle
Camlann, King Arthur's final battle
Camlann, King Arthur had his final battle, in which he is mortally wounded, does not appear in Nennius