Arthur Pendragon, the King of Britain

King Arthur (Arthur Pendragon) is a legendary Romano-British leader and King of Britain in the late 5th and early 6th centuries, and the most prominent figure in Arthurian legend. He was the son of Uther Pendragon, the former King of Britain.

He led the British peoples against the Saxon invaders  and halted their progress at Badon Hill but fell in the Battle of Camlann at the sword of his nephew/son Mordred. His sword Excalibur was thrown into a lake and the body was removed to Avalon, where he lies sleeping, to awake again when Britain is in danger.

Development of the Legends

The legends surrounding the possible historical figure of Artorius were believed to have been concocted by Geoffrey of Monmouth and embellished by later writers, such as the introduction of Guinevere as his wife, the wizard Merlin and the anachronistic addition of knights.

The story was increasingly romanticised by medieval/Renaissance authors; eventually Arthur and his knights became associated with Camelot, which became the capital of Arthur's kingdom. Arthur and his knights sat at a Round Table and became models of chivalry, fighting off legendary monsters,enchantresses and dark knights. However, the legends are also based on Celtic practices, such as the throwing of Excalibur into the lake. The Lady of the Lake as a character may represent Celtic water spirits such as Sulis.

The sleeping guardian figure of Arthur after Camlann is reflected and copied in many medival tales involving the demise of historical figures, such as Charlemgane and Frederick Barbarossa.

In Popular Culture

The tale of Arthur has been adapted into historical fiction novels, plays, paintings, movies and television shows. 

Preceded by:
Uther Pendragon
King of Britain
Succeeded by
Constantine III
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