King Arthur: The Once and Future King

Legendary King of Britain from around 400 AD to 600 AD, Arthur was the son of Uther Pendragon and Igraine, whose actual name might have been its Latin version, Arturus. This king is mentioned briefly in the Easter Annals, or the Annals of Wales, describing battles of the sixth century, and later by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his History of the Kings of Britain (ca 1136). According to legend, Arthur's conception takes place when Uther seduces Igraine. Uther was made, by Merlin's sorcery, to resemble Igraine's husband, Gorlois. After Arthur was born, he was given to Ector to be raised in secret. Uther died in battle shortly after Arthur's birth. However, before Uther died, he planted Excalibur in a stone where it remained for many years. Merlin said that whoever withdrew the sword from the stone would be the future king of Britain. Though many tried to remove the sword, Arthur alone succeeded. However, this young King stirred controversy among other knights who had been competing for king. Arthur, under the guidance of Merlin, stopped the rebellion against him and married Guinevere. After this Arthur established the Knights of the Round Table at the castle of Camelot.

Many of the story elements are repeated again and again in the sources: the adultery between Guinevere and Lancelot, Arthur's favorite knight; the quest for the Holy Grail; and the battle between Arthur and his knights against his own son Mordred. This battle proved to be fatal for Arthur who was taken upon his death to the legendary Isle of Avalon where he is said to have become immortal. There is a legend which says that Arthur is the Once and Future King of Britain, meaning that he is bound to return at some time in the future to reign again over all of Britain.


Arthur leading the charge at Mount Badon
by George Wooliseroft & Louis Rhead