The Evolution of the Arthurian Legend

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Edward the confessor- Harold vs Tostig- William- Battle of hastings. JSDIC.

Loss- King John lost Norm.- E & F broken, 1st concern(king nobles),Own Pol&Econ

E- NAtion - E non ultivate. E Not merely a geo term but once more a nation.

MeLIT - 1150-1250 "The period of Rel record", English was absent inb works

Appealing to courtly tastes, lang of midd low clases F top

1250-1350 " T + Secular Lit In English -- wider diff engl lang & adopted all class

1350-1400- "the Period of GIR". GC - Troilus& Criseyde" - Canter T.

W. Langland- social allegory / John Wycliffe putative transl of BIBLE, Sir gawain

and the Green Knight and the three allegorical religious poems. + 15 th period

Real Arthur.

No one has answered the question of the King Arthur being true or false. Early accounts of
the history of Britain are generously linked to legend and imagination and there is still
disagreement about whether King Arthur, or a historical model for him, ever lived.
Nennius, a Welsh monk writing in the late-eighth century, compiled a history that described
a ‘dux bellorum’, a war lord, called Arthur who led the Britons in 12 battles against the Saxons
some three hundred years earlier.
The ancient annals of Wales date one of Arthur’s battles, the Battle of Mount Badon, to the
year 518. But the description of that battle by Gildas, a chronicler writing less than 30 years
after the event, makes no mention of Arthur.
He emerges as a fully-formed hero in the Historia Regum Britanniae, written by Geoffrey of
Monmouth in the first half of the 12th century (mythological traditions from Celtic Britain
may have influenced it). He would have lived sometime between 400 AD and 600 AD, a time
of turmoil in Britain following the Roman withdrawal. And a time when written literature did

not exist. If there was ever a true King Arthur in history, he would probably be a Romano-
British warleader, probably named Artorius,


Examine Chrétien de Troyes’ influence on the Arthurian legend and the creation of the
Arthurian romance.

It is both traditional and correct to identify Chrétien de Troyes as the creator of Arthurian
romance. He gave to it a high-toned sensibility, psychological acuteness, wit, irony and
delicacy that were never surpassed. He is also known as the writer who inaugurated a
number of Arthurian motifs and themes. Those include Camelot, Lancelot, the Grail; the
nature of the court and of a good many Arthurian characters; and above all, the complex
quest structure resting on the opposition of public v. private responsibilities, of the individual
(or couple) v. society, occasionally of love v. chivalry itself.

Why does Sir Thomas Malory return to the past in his Morte d’Arthur? Justify your

Malory shared with Caxton and others in the late fifteenth century an idealizing admiration
for the golden age of chivalry and a desire to find in Arthur and the Round Table the
lineaments of a great and noble society. Maybe he goes back in time to restore the principles
of the golden age and that these principles serve as an exemplar to the present. Or maybe
he just wants to distract attention from its intractably unpleasant realities and make them
easier to accept or forget about. Malory was allegedly violent and spent his last years in
prison because of being accused of rape and attempted murder, so maybe he goes back to
the past trying to look for redemption.

Summarise the main sources, which could have influenced the film “Excalibur”, and
describe briefly the evolution of the myth of Arthur over the centuries.

It was directed by John Boorman in 1981 and it is based on Sir Thomas Malory’s La Morte
d’Arthur, but we can also see other influences, such as the poet Alfred Tennyson (1809-
Tennyson had great influence in the 19th century and popularised the Arthurian legend. He
also introduced some other aspects to the legend as religious, moral, sexual... Perhaps,
Tennyson’s biggest influence is Guinevere’s tragic betrayal of Arthur, which in the end
provokes their misfortune. However, this betrayal appeared for the first time in the 13th
century in Chrétien de Troyes’ story The Knight of the Cart.
The evolution of the myth of Arthur over the centuries is obvious as a possible example of
oral story. The story evolves depending on the concerns of the teller in that particular point
in time. Nervertheless, this story has also textual transmissions: first, Geoffrey of Monmouth
History of the kings of Britain, then Chrétien de Troyes The matter of Britain and finally
Thomas Malory La Morte d’Arthur.

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