King Arthur Essay, Research Paper
King Arthur, the legendary king of Britain, lived a life full of magic and controversy. His life and actual presents on earth has been disputed for a thousand years. The only records of his existence have been passed on in stories (Drabble 879). The popularity of King Arthur has only flourished over the years. This includes a great number of books and many movies (Starkillen 1).
The birth on Arthur has come to be one of the most disputed events on his life. In the story, it states that Uther falls in love with Gorlois’s wife Igraine. Uther, who is madly in love with his nemesis’s wife, begs of Merlin to help him. Merlin agrees to help Uther for a price to be named later. Merlin casts a spell to make Uther look like Gorlois. While Gorlois is away a war, the disguised Uther enters the castle. Igrain, believing that Uther is Gorlois excepts him that night and soon she becomes pregnant. The next day Uther kills Gorlois in battle. Soon after that Uther would marry Igraine. Nine months later Arthur was born (Harrison 3).
It is said that shortly after the birth of Arthur he was taken away from his parents by Merlin. Merlin took the boy as payment from the agreement with Uther. Arthur was kept alone with Merlin for an unknown amount of time before he was fostered by Sir. Ector. Arthur would grow up with Ector’s son Kay. Supposedly Merlin stayed around and taught Arthur during his young years (Ford 4).
While Arthur lived with Sir. Ector and Kay, the current king of England died without an heir to the thrown. Kay, who was recently knighted, traveled to London to compete in a tournament to decide who the new king would be. Kay brought along Arthur as his squire. The first day of the tournament, in a rush to make it to the field on time, Arthur forgot Kay’s sword in the hotel room. Kay ordered Arthur to fetch it quickly. On the way to the hotel Arthur passed by an Abby, and he noticed a sword in a stone. In an attempt to save time he pulled the sword from the stone and rushed back. When Arthur returned to the battlefield with the sward Kay recognized the sword and asked where Arthur found it. After confirming that the sward came from the stone, Kay went to his father and tried to take credit for pulling the sword from the stone. In the end Sir. Ector got the truth for the two and Arthur was proclaimed the King of Britain (Pyle 153).
As the King of Britain, Arthur faced many difficulties from the beginning. Being king he had to rule a country in turmoil, drive back the Saxon army, and get married to produce an heir. The first thing that Arthur did was unite the entire kingdom in Britain. This is said to be the hardest thing that he ever did but he did manage to accomplish it. Driving back the Saxons would be one of his biggest feats as king (Ford 5-6). To do this it would take the famous “Twelve Battles of Arthur”. The first battle was at the mouth of the Glein River. In this battle it is said that Arthur fought against the Eastern Saxons. The second, third, fourth, and fifth battles were all fought on the Dubglas River. The battles were separated only in books. It is believed that they were one long battle that moved along the river. The sixth battle was on the Bassas River. This battle sight is very near the known tomb of Arthur’s enemy Caw. It is believed that he died in the battle. The seventh battle was in the Caledonian Forest of Scotland. The Eighth battle was in the Guinnion fort. This battle is remembered because Arthur carried the image of the holy Mary on his shield. Arthur believed he won the battle through the power of the Virgin Mary. The ninth battle was in the City of the Legions. The tenth battle was on the bank of the Tribuit River. This battle was mentioned in many of the poems about Arthur. The eleventh battle was in Agned Hill. The twelfth battle was on Badon Hill. During this battle 960 men died as a result of Arthur’s charge. This would be Arthur’s greatest victory over the Saxons and would stop them (James 1-3).
With the Saxons at bay Arthur turned to find a wife. Arthur “turned his eye” to Guinevere. According to legend Arthur never met Guenivere before their marriage. In fact Arthur sent Lancelot to go fetch her before the wedding. On the way supposedly the two fell in love. This would prove to be a doomed romance (Ford 6).
According to Barbara Harrison, as Arthur aged his kingdom, Camelot went into decline. The knights would turn against one another; they became mean and lost their chivalry. Arthur turned to Merlin for help in this matter. Merlin proposed a quest, a great quest for the Holy Grail. This is just what Arthur needed. He scattered his knights to the ends of the earth in search for the Grail. Sir. Lancelot came close to finding it a number of times but was said to be “too flawed” to achieve this feat. The only man pure enough to find the Grail was Sir. Galahad. In the most popular version of the story, Galahad did find the grail but “vanished form the mortal realm forever”(Starkillen 8).
After the return of Lancelot from the quest for the grail he was a different person. The man who Arthur trusted most betrayed him and started an affair with his wife. Eventually Lancelot and Guenivere were discovered and captured as prisoners. Lancelot managed to escape from captivity. Guenivere is sentenced to burn at the stake as an adulteress, and without warning Lancelot swoops by on horse and rescues her. He then takes her to his castle (Starkillen 8).
In Arthur’s haste to retrieve Guenivere he is attacked by the Romans. In this, his final battle of Arthur’s knights killed. In the end he is pushed to a final showdown with his son Mordred. Arthur kills Mordred, but he is mortally injured (Lord Tennyson 897). According to Bath’s Manuscripts Arthur died in the year 542 after a rule of 22 years. The grave of Arthur is supposed to be in Cornwall, England.