Cheneau, Victoria English IV G, 2nd period Ms.

Tierce 17 December 2013 Rough Draft

The earliest apparent reference to Arthur as a mighty Celtic warrior is a brief passage in the Welsh poem Gododdin, written in the 600s (citation should be here but I didn’t get the author’s name.) Arthur was first clearly mentioned in a book written in the early 800s. He was again mentioned in a work produced on the 900s. There has been speculation about whether or not King Arthur ever really existed but his stories have definitely managed to stay prevalent in our literature studies and have set the tone for future literature works.

In some of the earliest works Arthur is mentioned in, he is described as a very successful Celtic warrior. He defeated the Saxons on twelve different occasions. It has been written that Arthur lead a Welsh resistance against a Saxon advance that ended in Arthur’s victory. This was called the Battle of Mount Badon. These references testify to the fact that well before 1100, folktales about a hero called Arthur were circulating through Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and other Celtic sections of Europe (quote from same book here.)

The basic outline of the legend as it emerged in the Middle Ages found literary expression in England (quote from book.) These stories explain in detail important events that Arthur deals with in his personal life as well as in his private life. There have been other writers who’ve come along and added elements to the Arthurian Legend. These stories have been polished with more romantic and mystical elements.

Arthur was the first son of King Uther and was the heir to his throne. There was a magician that advised the king that Arthur should be raised in secret and that no one should know his identity. As a man Arthur did not know who his father was and when King Uther died there was great conflict over who would take the next seat on the throne as king. The magician used his magic to set a sword in stone. The one person that was strong enough to remove the sword from the stone would be the new king. Later on, this sword would be titled as “Excalibur.” Round-table discussions? This idea came from the Arthurian Legend. King had a set of knights and he and these noble knights would meet at a round table in his huge castle in a place named Camelot. The Saxons were trying to take complete control over Britain since the Romans had left the country and these knights helped Arthur stop their advance. These knights put their lives on the line for Arthur. The first reliable reference to Arthur was written by a Welsh monk, Nennius, around the year 830AD. At this point, Arthur is simply referred to as a warrior , not a king. This work is where those twelve battles, including Mount Badon and the City of The Legion , with the Saxons are mentioned. Arthur is mentioned in early Welsh literature, but the surviving manuscripts that refer to him date from a time after the legend had already been firmly established. The work of Geoffrey of Monmouth, another Welsh monk, really set the foundations of the Arthurian legend. Writers that have come along after him have expanded his themes and added new strands to the story. His work, 'Historia Regum Britaniae' was written in the year 1133AD. He claimed to have based this piece of work on an ancient Celtic document he’d had in his possession. The work became a best seller and still survives in two hundred manuscripts. Geoffrey's work was intended to be a historical document. Within fifty years of its completion it had fired the imagination of fiction writers across Europe, this being where the new elements had come from.

The Round Table is an example of one of these new elements; it was added in 1155 by French poet Maistre Wace. Robert de Boron from Burgundy, developed the idea of the Quest for the Holy Grail, said to be the cup of the Last Supper and the cup that received blood flowing from Christ’s side at the Crucifixion. Around the same time, in England, the story appeared in English for the first time. Chretien de Troyes, who was also French, wrote five Arthurian stories that developed the theme of chivalry and dwelt on the subtleties of courtly romance.