Team members: Leonel AlanisKaren CuevasAzenethVazquezAngelica OrtízAna Cecilia García
In a far off time, when Britain was divided and without aking, barbarian hordes laid waste the once fertilecountryside.The throne lay vacant for a just and righteousman, who could free the people from their servile yoke anddrive the invaders from the land. But only he who drewfrom the stone a magnificent sword could prove himselfthe rightful heir.Years passed and many tried, but themysterious sword stood firm and unyielding in theancient, weathered rock.Then, one day, a young manemerged from the forest and, to the amazement ofall, succeeded where even the strongest had failed.Thepeople rejoiced; the king had come and his name wasArthur.
On accession to the highest office in the land, Arthur setabout restoring the shattered country. After buildingthe impregnable fortress of Camelot, and founding anorder of valiant warriors, the Knights of the RoundTable, the king rode forth to sweep aside the evil whichhad beset the land.The liberated peasants quicklytook him to their hearts, and Arthur reigned justly overhis newly prosperous kingdom, taking for his queenthe beautiful Lady Guinevere.
Even a terrible plague that ravaged the country was overcome bythe newfound resolve of Arthurs subjects, for they mounted aquest to discover the HolyGrail, a fabulous chalice that held thesecret cure for all ills. But as happens so often during an age ofplenty, there are those whom power corrupts.Soon a rebellion torethe kingdom apart, an armed uprising led by Modred, Arthurstraitorous nephew.Yet there was one, possessed by darkforces, who lay at the heart of the strife: the mysterious andsatanic enchantress, Morganna. In a final battle, Modred was atlast defeated and Morganna was destroyed by Merlin the courtmagician. But all did not go well, for Arthur himself was mortallywounded.
As he lay dying on the field of battle, the last request by themighty king was that Excalibur, the source of all his power, be castinto a sacred lake and lost forever to mortal man.When themagical sword fell to the water a sylphid arm rose from thesurface, caught it by the hilt and took it down into the crystaldepths. When the great king was close to death, he was spirited away ona barge to the mystical isle of Avalon, accompanied by threemysterious maidens, each dressed completely in white. Many saythat he died and was buried upon the isle, yet there are those whobelieve that Arthurs soul is not to be found amongst the dead. It issaid that he only sleeps and will one day return.
This, in essence, is the fabulous tale of KingArthur and the Knights of the RoundTable asmost people now know it. In one form or anotherit has been told the world over, translationsbeing found in almost every language.
The story of King Arthur we know today was the work of SirThomasMalory, printed in 1485 under the title Le Morte Darthur (The Death ofArthur). Malory did not invent the story, he simply collected togethera wide variety of existing tales which were popular at the time andretold them. As one of the first books to be printed, Malorysestablished itself as the standard version.Yet from the MiddleAges, the era of jousting, chivalry and knights in armour in which thetales seem to be set, there are no records of such a king actuallyruling, either in England or elsewhere in Christendom. Even if we goback to the Norman Conquest of 1066 we find no King Arthur. If we goback still further to the ninth century, when Athelstan became the firstSaxon king of all England, again no such monarch exists. So who wasArthur? How did such an elusive and obscure character become sofamous?
In addressing this question we must trace the development of thenarrative itself, examining how the story evolved in the romanticliterature of the MiddleAges.The earliest detailed account of Arthurslife was written around 1135 by theWelsh cleric Geoffrey ofMonmouth, who later became Bishop of St Asaph. Geoffreys work,theHistoria Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain) becamethe foundation upon which all the later stories of King Arthur wereconstructed.As its title suggests, his book was not intended to be readas fiction. On the contrary, it was presented as an accurate historicalrecord of the British monarchy. But at a time when accurate historicalrecords were almost non-existent, and history was not seen, as it istoday, as a discipline dependent solely on the interpretation of provenfacts, writers often felt free to embellish history as they saw fit. It isthus difficult to distinguish between fact and invention in the works ofGeoffrey of Monmouth.
Arthur, it seems, is claimed as the King of nearlyevery Celtic Kingdom known.The 6th centurycertainly saw many men named Arthur born into theCeltic Royal families of Britain but, despite attemptsto identify the great man himself amongstthem, there can be little doubt that most of thesepeople were only named in his honour. Princes withother names are also sometimes identified with"Arthwyr" which is thought by some to be a titlesimilar to "Vortigern".
Breton King Geoffrey of Monmouth recorded Arthur as a High-King of Britain. Hewas the son of his predecessor, Uther Pendragon and nephew of KingAmbrosius.As a descendant of High-King Eudaf Hens nephew, ConanMeriadoc,Arthurs grandfather, had crossed the Channel fromBrittany and established the dynasty at the beginning of the 5thcentury.The Breton King Aldrien had been asked to rescue Britainfrom the turmoil in which it found itself after the Romanadministration had departed. He sent his brother, Constantine, tohelp. Constantine appears to have been the historical self-proclaimedBritish Emperor who took the last Roman troops from Britain in a vainattempt to assert his claims on the Continent in 407. Chronologicallyspeaking, it is just possible he was King Arthurs grandfather.ArthursBreton Ancestry was recorded by Gallet.
Riothamus the King Geoffrey Ashe argues that King Arthur was an historical King in Brittanyknown to history as Riothamus, a title meaning "Greatest-King". His army isrecorded as having crossed the channel to fight theVisigoths in the LoireValley in 468. Betrayed by the Prefect of Gaul, he later disappeared fromhistory.Ashe does not discuss Riothamus ancestry. He, in fact, appears quiteprominently in the pedigree of the Kings of DomnonŽe, dispite attempts toequate him with a Prince of Cornouaille named Iaun Reith. Riothamus wasprobably exiled to Britain during one of the many civil wars that plaguedBrittany. He later returned in triumph to reclaim his inheritance, but was laterkilled in an attempt to expel Germanic invaders.The main trouble with thisArthurian identification is that it pushes King Arthur back fifty years from histraditional period at the beginning of the sixth century (See Ashe 1985). Dumnonian King
Welsh tradition also sees Arthur as High-King of Britain but tends tofollow the genealogies laid down in the Mostyn MS117 and theBonedd yr Arwr.These show Arthur as grandson of Constantinebut, this time, he is Constantine Corneu, the King of Dumnonia.TraditionalArthurian legend records three Kings of Dumnonia duringArthurs reign: Constantines son, Erbin; grandson, Gereint and greatgrandson, Cado. Nowhere is there any indication that these threewere closely related to Arthur, nor that he had any claim on theDumnonian Kingdom. Nor is their any explanation as to why aDumnonian prince would have been raised to the High-Kingship ofBritain.Arthurs connection with this area of Britain is purely due to hissupposedly being conceived atTintagel, the residence of his mothersfirst husband, and buried at Glastonbury, the most ancient Christiansite in the country.
Cumbrian King The Clan Campbell trace their tribal pedigree back to one Arthuric Uibar: the Arthur son of Uther of tradition. Norma LorreGoodrich uses this fact to argue that Arthur was a "Man of theNorth".This idea was first proposed by theVictorianAntiquary,W.F.Skene, and there is some evidence torecommend it, especially the possible northern location ofNennius twelve battles. Goodrich places Arthurs Court atCarlisle.As the capital of the Northern British Kingdom ofRheged, this seems an unlikely home for Arthur, who was not ofthis dynasty. Prof. Goodrich relies heavily on late medievalliterary sources and draws imaginative conclusions. (SeeGoodrich 1986 & Skene 1868).
Pennine King There was a Northern British King named Arthwys wholived in the previous generation to the traditional Arthur.He was of the line of Coel Hen (the Old) and probablyruled over a large Kingdom in the Pennines. Many ofNennius Arthurian Battles are often said to have takenplace in the Northern Britain.These and other northernstories associated with the King Arthur may, inreality, have been relating the achievements of this nearcontemporary monarch.
King of Elmet Another Northern British Arthwys was the son ofMasgwid Gloff, probably a King of the Elmet regionof modernWestYorkshire. Nothing is known of thisPrince who was exactly contemporary with the realKings traditional period.Though it is unlikely that heheld his own kingdom, his exploits may havecontributed to King Arthurs story.
Scottish King The Scots, though fresh from Ireland, also usedthe name Arthur for a Royal Prince. Artur, the sonof King Aidan of Dalriada, was probably born inthe 550s. David F. Carroll has recently arguedthat this man was the real Arthur, ruling ManauGododdin from Camelon (alias Camelot) inStirlingshire. Details can be found on the authorsweb site. (Carroll 1996)
Powysian King Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman identify Arthuras Owain Ddantwyn (White-Tooth), a late 5thcentury Prince of the House of Cunedda (morespecifically of Gwynedd).Theirarguments, however, are wholly unconvincing, andcontain many unresolved discrepancies. Owainsson, Cuneglasus (known from Welsh pedigrees asCynlas) was among the five Celtic Kings condemnedin the writings of Gildas.
Through a misinterpretation of this account, Keatman & Phillipsimply that Cuneglasus was the son of one Arth, ie. Arthur.Theyfurther claim that he, and therefore his father, Owain, beforehim, must have ruled Powys, as this is the only Kingdom un-reconciled with Gildas Kings. However, Cynlas lived at Din Arthin Rhos. He was not the son of Arth. In traditionalWelsh mannerthe Kingdom of Gwynedd had been divided between hisfather, Owain, who received EasternGwynedd (ie. Rhos) and hisuncle, Cadwallon Lawhir (Long-Hand) who took the majorWestern portion. During this period, Cyngen Glodrydd (theRenowned) was ruling Powys. He was probably the AureliusCaninus mentioned by Gildas. (See Phillips & Keatman 1992).