King Arthur Essay, Research Paper
During medieval period, which took place between 1066-1485, the literature of the time went through change. The medieval romance, which contains kings, knights, and the supernatural, is one type of medieval literature. The Legend of King Arthur is the most well known medieval romance. A study of the Legend of King Arthur involves an analysis of the kings that preceded his ascension to the throne, which includes Vortigern s rise to power, Constantine s sons control of the throne, and ultimately how Arthur regains back his birth right.
Vortigern, a council member, rose to power by deceit of a young king. Arthur belonged to the House of Constantine, in which Constantine, the king of Britain, was Arthur’s grandfather. After the death of Constantine, the king s council had to decide between Aurelius and Uther, the younger sons, to take over the throne because the eldest, Constans, was to become a priest. Vortigern wanted Constans to be the king and took him from the church because he knew he could influence Constans so much that he would have control of the throne. Vortigern plotted against Constans by having Pictish mercenaries kill him. Vortigern in return killed the Pictish mercenaries and overtook the throne. Aurelius and Uther were sent to live with their uncle in Armoria because of fear for their lives. Vortigern allowed Saxons, who were led by Hengist and Horsa, to come into Britain during his reign. Vortigern fell in love with Hengest s beautiful daughter, Rowenna, and married her. Hengist became Vortigern s most trusted adviser and the numbers of Saxons grew. King Vortigern s eldest son, Vortimer, even disapproved of this action and tried to take the throne from his father, but Rowenna tricked him into drinking poison. Hengist shyly implanted his son-in-law as the king of Britain and Vortigern fled to Wales. The Saxons took over Britain by looting, raping, and killing the Britons, who were helpless. In Wales, Vortigern built a castle on a hill, but every night the walls would crumble. The wizard, Merlin, told him why the foundation caused the walls to collapse and became a prophet. Merlin prophesized the deaths of Vortigern and Constantine s sons but told of the coming of a great king named Arthur. (Life of King Arthur 2-3). Constantine s middle son, Aurlius, was next in line for the throne.
Aurelius Ambrosius and Uther had reached manhood in Brittany, because they left Britain when Vortigern took power, and compiled a large army to get revenge on Vortigern for the death of their brother Constans. They also wanted to drive out the Saxons. They set Voortigern s palace on fire and burned him to death inside it. They fought many battles against the pagan Saxons with the leadership of the new king, Aurelius. Hengist was captured and then executed, while Horsa got off easy by dying in battle. King Aurelius rebuilds the kingdom. Merlin advised him in making a giant stone ring known today as Stonehenge. Aurelius was poisoned during a war against Vortigern s son, Paschent, and he was buried within Stonehenge. (3-4). The last of Constantine s sons would get his chance to be crowned.
Uther heard about his brother s death by Merlin when he was on strife against Paschent and Gillomanius, king of Ireland. Uther get his new last name, Pendragon, from a phenomenon in the night sky, which was witness by him and Merlin. It was a comet streaking past two dragons flying in the night sky. Uther won many battles and Gorlois, duke of Cornwall, defeated Paschent and Gillomanius who were both killed in battle. At the victory party, Uther met Igraine, Gorlois young and beautiful wife, and instantly fell in love with her. Gorlois noticed the lust Uther showed for his wife and he left without asking for the king s leave. Gorlois put Igraine in the strongest castle and left to fortify the others in preparation for the attack of Uther s army. Because Uther s army was holding Gorlois to one of his under castles, Uther was able to use Merlin s magic to disguise himself as Gorlois and enters the castle that Igraine was in. Nobody knew that the Gorlois they saw was really Uther not even Igraine. Uther disguised as Gorlois, and Igraine conceived Arthur that night. Meanwhile at the other castle, Uther s army had siege the walls and killed Gorlois. Uther, still in disguise, pretended to go to the other castle but went to his army and found out that Gorlois was in fact, dead. Uther took control of the land adding it to his kingdom and also took Igraine, who was pageant with Arthur, as his wife. Igraine also had a daughter, who later marries Lot. Uther was involved in another war this time with Octa, Hengist s son, and Colgrim, king of the Saxon in Germany. Although Uther was sick, he still went to battle because Lot, his daughter s husband, was losing most of the battles. In this battle Uther defeated and killed Octa but spies of Colgrim poisoned the drinking well that Uther used which killed him. Uther was buried beside his brother, at Stonehenge. (1-5). Unrest was abound because of the empty throne and missing aerie, Arthur.
It was believed at this time that Arthur was the son of Gorlois (Andronik 25). Merlin foresaw the potential of the child so he brought and left him with Sir Ector (O Neal 18). When Uther died, Arthur wasn t immediately crowned king because there was question of who his true father was (18). There were civil war taking place as smaller kings were trying for the throne (18). The archbishop of Canterbury called for all British nobles to come to London in order to crown a king, which would end the war (18). Arthur accompanied Ector and Kay, his son about the same age as Arthur, to London for the meting (18). The archbishop proclaimed that whom ever could withdraw the sword from the stone would be the rightful king (18-19). Everyone tried even Kay but no one could do it (19). That was until Arthur was successful and earned his birth right (19).
In the analysis of the Legend of King Arthur, one must consider Vortigern rise to power, Constantine s sons control of the throne, as well as how Arthur took back his birth right. The Legend of King Arthur is only the beginning of the Arthurian Legends. The Arthurian Legends are examples of medieval literature that fantasize chivalry and romance thorough a pledge to a lady. Loyalty and valor, both on and off a battlefield, are more important than life itself. King Arthur will forever stand as a symbol for a kind of golden age. He is the image of the ideal ruler: the perfect once and future king . (Andronik 112).