The Legends of King Arthur began to appear in the twelfth century, and it is possible that they are based on a Celtic leader in the fifth or sixth century who defended his country against Saxon invasion.
King Arthur was the son of Pendragon, and was born in Tintagel in Cornwall. He was brought up by Merlin, an old Celtic magician, and became king of Britain when he was fifteen. He proved his right to be king when he managed to pull a sword from a rock. He had to fight many lords, and when, with Merlin’s help, he defeated them, he received the magic sword Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake. He married Guinevere and lived in a castle at Camelot. His knights sat at a round table so that they were all equal – nobody was sitting at the head of the table.
Many of the stories in the legends are about the adventures of the knights, among them Lancelot, Perceval, Gawain, and Galahad. The spent their time hunting wild pigs, having feast, and singing ballads. They often had to kill dragons and giants. At all times they behaved very correctly, with respect, honour, and compassion.
Arthur went to Rome to fight the emperor, Lucius, and he left his kingdom in the hands of his nephew, Modred. As he was entering Rome, Arthur learned that Modred had taken control of the kingdom and had captured Guinevere. He came back to England and defeated his nephew, but in the battle was seriously wounded. Arthur told Sir Belvedere, the last surviving knight, to throw Excalibur into the water of lake. He did this, and the sword was caught by a hand which came out of the water and then took the sword below the surface.
Arthur was then taken to the Isle of Avalon to get better. We understand that he did not die, but lives on and will return when his country needs him. The legend says that the following verse is written on his tomb:
HIC IACET ARTHURUS,
(HERE LIES ARTHUR, THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING).