The Legendary Exploits of King Arthur in Le Morte d'Arthur, a Book by Sir Thomas Malory

Sir Thomas Malory wrote regarding the legendary exploits of King Arthur. Arthur was often debated as fact or fictional. (see Appendix I) He was the legendary British King who appeared in Medieval romances as the sovereign of a knightly fellowship. It has not been certain, however, if Arthur was fact, fiction or legend. An overview of the history of the times in which Malory and Arthur lived has aided readers and historians in their quest for Arthur. Sir Thomas Malory Malory and Arthur lived during the Medieval Period that dated from 1066 to 1485.

(1-31) The Period began with the Norman Conquest began in 1066 with the Battle of Hastings. William “The Conqueror” Duke of Normandy defeated Harold the King of England. (1-31) William imposed Marshall law and a strong government whose lines of authority were clearly defined. (1-31) The Normans was a name derived from Northman. The Normans descended from the Vikings. (1-31) Their dual kingdoms where from both England and Normandy. (1-32) they had a complicated The Feudal System was a complicated system of landholding.

No one owned land independently. The feudal system was an elaborate chain of loyalties. (1-33) The Medieval Church began in the 11th to the 15th Century. Latin was the main language of the church and almost everyone in the church was Christian. They were all responsible. (1-33).

There was much information leading to the non-existence of King Arthur. Many points that were brought up and no one has been able to offer any conclusive proof that a real, historical, human King Arthur ever existed in any incarnation or by any name.

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Geoffrey of Monmouth claimed to have had in his possession a “certain very ancient book written in the British language.” Unfortunately, this book has never been found, and as the centuries progressed its very existence was called into question. Geoffrey of Monmouth did have many reasons for fabricating Arthur’s story. Actual history had not been kind to the Britons, who had suffered wave after wave of invasions from various peoples, including the Romans, the Saxons, and most recently the Normans. He may have wanted to see his people take their place among the eminent figures of the past. There is also a possibility, although a faint one, that Geoffrey told the truth about the “certain very ancient book” he consulted for his facts. It is important to realize that if he did exist, the “real King Arthur” and the world in which he lived would bear very little resemblance to the legend we have come to know so well.

Geoffrey of Monmouth was born sometime around 1100, perhaps in Monmouth in southeast Wales. His father was named Arthur. Geoffrey was appointed archdeacon of Llandsaff in 1140 and was consecrated bishop of St. Asaph in 1152. He died c. 1155. (1-n.p.) Geoffrey is one of the most significant authors in the development of the Arthurian legends. It was Geoffrey who, in his Historia Regum Britanniae (completed in 1138) located Arthur in the line of British kings. Such an action not only asserted the historicity of Arthur but also gave him an authoritative history which included many events familiar from later romance. Geoffrey also introduced the character of Merlin as we know him into the legends.

Geoffrey’s Merlin, a combination of the young and prophetic Ambrosius in Nennius’s history and the prophet Myrddin who figures in several Welsh poems, first appears in a book known as the Prophetiae Merlini (The Prophecies of Merlin), which was written about 1135 but then incorporated as Book VII of the Historia. This book contains the prophecies made by Merlin to Vortigern, which foreshadow not only the downfall of Vortigern but also the rise and fall of Arthur, events subsequent to the end of the Historia, and events of the obscure future. (2-n.p.) The Saxons, who had been converted to Christianity, conquered the ancient county of Somerset in the 7th Century. Their King was Ine of Wessex, who was widely regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of the Abbey. He was a local man who boosted the status and income of the Abbey, and it is said that he put up a stone church, the base of which forms the west end of the nave. The Abbot of Glastonbury, St. Dunstan, who became the Archbishop of Canterbury in 960, enlarged this church in the 10th century. In 1066, the wealth of the Abbey could not cushion the Saxon monks from the disruption caused by the foreign invasion and subsequent conquest of England by the Normans.

Glastonbury is a small town about 125 miles or 220 km west of London it is full of myth and legend. In ancient times, Glastonbury lay in a triangle with the enormous stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury – between them they formed a world energy-point. Great circle lines go from Glastonbury to many sacred centres worldwide. Glastonbury has long been a pilgrimage place, attracting travelers from far and wide. It was a pilgrimage place in Druidic times (2,000-2,500 years ago) and further back in Megalithic times, 4,000 years ago. A prominent site in town is the Glastonbury Tor (tor means rocky hill or peak). The Tor has many legends connected to it. Many say that it was the location of King Arthur’s stronghold.

Another legend says that it is the home of the Fairy King and that the top of the Tor was a place of fairy visions and magic. A Celtic legend says that the hill is hollow and that the top guards the entrance to the Underworld. Glastonbury is also believed to be the place known in Arthurian lore as the Isle of Avalon. According to the legend, Arthur, after being mortally wounded by Mordred, was taken by a sacred boat to Avalon. And it is in Avalon that Arthur waits the day when Britain requires his services as the “once and future king”. Situated on a major acupuncture point of the Earth, Glastonbury is one of the most powerful energy centers on the planet. Prophecies have seen it playing an important role in the New Age. The entire area around this small town in Somerset has a very holy vibration. It is steeped in the deeply mystical Arthurian legends. These legends symbolize the search for the Holy Grail the Eternal Self, represented by the Silver Chalice used at the Last Supper and for collecting Christ’s blood from the cross. Joseph of Arimathea brought the chalice to Glastonbury where it is supposedly buried. In past years, England’s young seekers have come here to take psychedelic sacraments. (3-n.p) The Lady of the Lake was the foster-mother of Sir Lancelot and raised him beneath the murky waters of her Lake. She is, however, best known for her presentation to King Arthur of his magical sword Excalibur, through the intervention of the King’s druidic advisor, Merlin who was constantly worried that his monarch would fall in battle.

Merlin had met the Lady at the Fountain of Brittany and fallen so deeply in love with her that he agreed to teach her all his mystical powers. The lady became Merlin’s scribe, who recorded his prophecies, as well as his lover. Unfortunately however, over the years, the Lady became so powerful that her magical skills outshone even her teacher and she imprisoned him in Glass Tower. To some extent she stepped into Merlin’s role at King Arthur’s side, but the old man’s removal contributed considerably to the great monarch’s downfall. The Lady of the Lake was eventually obliged to reclaim her sword when Arthur was fatally wounded at the Battle of Camlann and Excalibur was hurled back to misty waters. She was later one of the three Queens who escorted the King to Avalon.(4-n.p) Sir Lancelot was the son of King Ban of Benwick by his wife Elaine. After his father’s death, he was left near a lake by his mother and was taken in by the mystical Lady of the Lake who raised him. When he grew up, Sir Lancelot traveled to the British Royal Court and set up home at Bamburgh Castle in Northern Britain. He became King Arthur’s trusted companion and a Knight of the Round Table. Unfortunately however, he fell in love with Queen Guinevere and commenced a prolonged affair with her. King Meleagant abducted Guinevere; Lancelot pursued him in a cart. The two fought, but the villain’s father pleaded with Guinevere to spare Meleagant’s life. So their combat was stopped. Lancelot eventually slew him at Arthur’s court. Sir Lancelot was also the object of the affections of Elaine the Lily Maid of Astolat who died of a broken heart when he rejected her. Years later, Sir Galahad arrived at court. His father knighted him and the Grail Quest began. During this adventure, Galahad outshone his father. Sir Lancelot was unable to succeed because of his sinful relationship with Guinevere, despite his promise to end the affair and to perform acts of penance. When he tried to approach the Holy Grail, he was knocked unconscious.

Lancelot and Guinevere were eventually discovered together by the evil Sir Mordred. Sir Lancelot fled, but returned to rescue Guinevere from being burnt at the stake. War between him and King Arthur followed but was broken off when the latter had to return to Britain to deal with Sir Mordred’s rebellion. (5-n.p) The Holy Grail is generally considered to be the cup from which Christ drank at the Last Supper and the one used by Joseph of Arimathea to catch his blood as he hung on the cross. This was introduced into the Arthurian legends by Robert de Boron in his romance Joseph d’Arimathie, which was probably written in the last decade of the twelfth century or the first couple of years of the thirteenth. In earlier sources and in some later ones, the grail is something very different. The term “grail” comes from the Latin gradale, which meant a dish brought to the table during various stages or courses of a meal.

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The Legendary Exploits of King Arthur in Le Morte d'Arthur, a Book by Sir Thomas Malory. (2022, May 12). Retrieved from

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