Portal:King Arthur

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Arth tapestry2.jpg

Arthur was a legendary British leader who, according to medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the late 5th and early 6th centuries AD. . He appears as the ideal of kingship both in war and peace; even in modern times he has been ranked as one of the 100 Greatest Britons of all times. Over time, the popularity of the stories of King Arthur has captured interest far beyond his being the legendary hero of one nation. Countless new legends, stories, revisions, books, and films have been produced in Europe and the United States of America that unabashedly enlarge on and expand the fictional stories of King Arthur.

The scarce historical background to Arthur is found in the works of Nennius and Gildas and in the Annales Cambriae. The legendary Arthur developed initially through the pseudo-history of Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Welsh collection of anonymous tales known as the Mabinogion. Chretien de Troyes began the literary tradition of Arthurian romance, which subsequently became the Matter of Britain and one of the principal themes of medieval literature. Medieval Arthurian writing reached its conclusion in Thomas Mallory's comprehensive Morte D'Arthur, published in 1485. Modern interest in Arthur was revived by Tennyson in Idylls of the King, and in the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites. Key modern reworkings of the Arthurian legends include Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, T.H. White's The Once and Future King, and Richard Wagner's opera Parsifal.

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The Arthur stone was discovered in 1998 in securely dated sixth-century contexts among the ruins at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom, a secular, high status settlement of Sub-Roman Britain. Apparently originally a practice dedication stone for some building or other public structure, it was broken in two and re-used as part of a drain when the original structure was destroyed.

The dating of the stone is arrived at by two methods: firstly, the stone came from a securely stratified context in association with imported pottery of known types dating to the fifth/sixth centuries; secondly, forms of certain letters noted on the slate appear in British inscribed stones from Scotland to Cornwall post-500 and are certainly known elsewhere from 6th century north Cornwall (part of the kingdom on Dumnonia).

A smaller, more lightly incised inscription runs across the surface below. Its[Latin inscription reads: PATER COLI AVI FICIT ARTOGNOV. Dr. Charles Thomas recognised Celtic elements in the Latin, for which he considers a likely translation would be Artognou, father of a descendant of Coll, has had (this) constructed. The name "Artognou" could mean "descendant of Arthur," but the arth- element, signifying "bear," appears in many name contexts aside from Arthur. The Tintagel connection made an association with King Arthur irresistible in the popular press.

According to Arthurian legend, first recorded by Geoffrey of Monmouth, King Arthur was conceived at Tintagel Castle. However, as the current Tintagel Castle had not been constructed at the time of Geoffrey's writing, something had to have influenced his placing of Arthur's conception there. Of further note is the fact that, in his History of the Kings of Britain, Geoffrey lists one of Arthur's relatives as Coel Hen (Old King Cole), and a "Coll" is listed on the "Arthur stone". (read more . . . )

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Gawain (/ˈɡwɪn/ or /ɡɑːˈwn/), also Gwalchmei, Gawan, Gauvain, Walewein and others, is King Arthur's nephew and a Knight of the Round Table who appears very early in the Arthurian legend's development. He is one of a select number of Round Table members to be referred to as the greatest knight, most notably in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. He is almost always portrayed as the son of Arthur's sister Morgause (or Anna) and King Lot of Orkney and Lothian, and his brothers are Agravain, Gaheris, Gareth, and Mordred. In some works he has sisters as well. Gawain is often portrayed as a formidable but brash warrior, fiercely loyal to his king and family. He is a friend to young knights, a defender of the poor, and a consummate ladies' man. In some works, his strength waxes and wanes with the sun; in the most common form of this motif, his might triples by noon, but fades as the sun sets. His knowledge of herbs makes him a great healer, and he is credited with at least three children: Florence, Lovell, and Gingalain, the last of which is also called Libeaus Desconus or Le Bel Inconnu, the Fair Unknown. In later Welsh Arthurian literature, Gawain is considered synonymous with the native champion Gwalchmei.

Gawain is commonly considered identical with the Welsh hero known as Gwalchmei (or Gwalchmai) ap Gwyar, who appears in the Welsh Triads and in Culhwch and Olwen, an Arthurian romance associated with the Mabinogion. His appearance in Culhwch, which probably dates to the 11th century, makes him, like Cai (Kay) and Bedwyr (Bedivere), one of the earliest characters associated with Arthur. Here Gwalchmei, like Gawain, is Arthur's nephew and one of his chief warriors; Arthur sends him and five other champions with the protagonist Culhwch on his journey to find his love Olwen. (read more . . . )


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