Lycoming College: HIST 449W – Historical Methods, Spring (2010)
King Arthur is a well known character of literature and film, and any person on the street could probably recall many aspects of his story. However, the story that so many people know and love is the result of hundreds of years of transformation and manipulation of a legend. It did not begin with much grandiosity or with very much background information. Arthur began as a man mentioned briefly in the history of Britain. The legends culminated with the most well known version, Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte d’Arthur. With the death of King Uther, Britain is left without a leader, and Uther’s advisor, Merlin, announces that God has established a test to identify the chosen successor. Before the cathedral, there will be a great stone topped by an anvil in which a sword is embedded.
No one other than the intended king will be able to draw that sword. Many try and fail, but Arthur sees the sword in the stone and easily draws it. With Merlin as his advisor, Arthur reigns as king. He valiantly meets Britain’s enemies in battle, and his conquests are made easier because of his sword, Excalibur. He received the sword from a hand that emerged from a lake. Arthur rules his land from Camelot and marries a beautiful young woman named Guinevere.