12 Facts About Arthurian


Arthurian's name occurs in early poetic sources such as Y Gododdin.

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Many elements and incidents that are now an integral part of the Arthurian story appear in Geoffrey's Historia, including Arthur's father Uther Pendragon, the magician Merlin, Arthur's wife Guinevere, the sword Excalibur, Arthur's conception at Tintagel, his final battle against Mordred at Camlann, and final rest in Avalon.

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Arthurian literature thrived during the Middle Ages but waned in the centuries that followed, until it experienced a major resurgence in the 19th century.

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Arthurian is absent from Bede's early-8th-century Ecclesiastical History of the English People, another major early source for post-Roman history that mentions Badon.

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Arthurian seems to have made use of the list of Arthur's twelve battles against the Saxons found in the 9th-century Historia Brittonum, along with the battle of Camlann from the Annales Cambriae and the idea that Arthur was still alive.

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However, the most significant for the development of the Arthurian legend are Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, which introduces Lancelot and his adulterous relationship with Arthur's queen Guinevere, extending and popularising the recurring theme of Arthur as a cuckold, and Perceval, the Story of the Grail, which introduces the Holy Grail and the Fisher King and which again sees Arthur having a much reduced role.

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Similarly, Lancelot and his cuckolding of Arthur with Guinevere became one of the classic motifs of the Arthurian legend, although the Lancelot of the prose Lancelot and later texts was a combination of Chretien's character and that of Ulrich von Zatzikhoven's Lanzelet.

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Up to, continental Arthurian romance was expressed primarily through poetry; after this date the tales began to be told in prose.

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King Arthur and the Arthurian legend were not entirely abandoned, but until the early 19th century the material was taken less seriously and was often used simply as a vehicle for allegories of 17th- and 18th-century politics.

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Tennyson's Arthurian work reached its peak of popularity with Idylls of the King which reworked the entire narrative of Arthur's life for the Victorian era.

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The revived Arthurian romance proved influential in the United States, with such books as Sidney Lanier's The Boy's King Arthur reaching wide audiences and providing inspiration for Mark Twain's satire A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

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The romance tradition did remain sufficiently powerful to persuade Thomas Hardy, Laurence Binyon and John Masefield to compose Arthurian plays, and T S Eliot alludes to the Arthur myth in his poem The Waste Land, which mentions the Fisher King.

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