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The Legend of King Arthur

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Geoffrey Ashe (recently): The man behind the legend may have been a British ... The name 'Arthur' offers possible evidence for the existence of the legendary hero. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Legend of King Arthur


1
The Legend of King Arthur
  • Background

2
Arthur of Britain
  • Part of the Latin text, Historia Regum Britanniae
    (History of the Kings of Britain), ca. 1136
  • Written by a bishop named Geoffrey of Monmouth
    (Southeast Wales)?

3
Geoffrey's Historical Context
  • Norman Conquest (1066)?
  • Normans were Vikings from Scandinavia who had
    settled in France
  • Under William the Conquerer, they invaded the
    Saxon Kingdom of England
  • Won control at the Battle of Hastings

4
Setting of Geoffrey's Arthur
  • 5th century CE (Dark Ages)?
  • A castle was a fortified hill rather than a
    great stone building with turrets inhabited by
    knights and maidens

5
  • Romans control most of Britain (England, Wales,
    some of Scotland) but are in the process of
    leaving
  • Britain is vulnerable to invasion by Picts
    (Scottish tribes) and Saxons (Germanic tribes)
  • Approx. 100 years after Geoffrey's Arthur, the
    Saxons succeed in taking over most of Britain

6
The Historical Arthur?
  • Several Latin chronicles refer to a heroic
    soldier or general named Arthur (English/Welsh)
    or Artorius (Latin)?
  • These chronicles claim to recount history, but
    their accuracy is debatable

7
  • Latin Chronicles
  • Gildas, On the Downfall and Conquest of Britain
    (547)?
  • Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English
    Nation (731)?
  • Nennius, The History of the Britains (around 800)
    first chronicle to state the name Arthur
  • Annals of Cambria (i.e. Wales) (900s)?
  • The Legend of St. Goeznovius (1019)?
  • William of Malmesbury, The Deeds of the English
    Kings (1125)?

8
  • The man behind the legend may be a British
    military leader -- Riothamus or Supreme King
    -- who led his army to Gaul in the last stages of
    the collapse of the Roman empire

9
A Few Theories
  • R.D. Collingwood (1930s) Arthur was a British
    general who turned the tide of battle against the
    Saxons by reviving the cavalry
  • Geoffrey Ashe (recently) The man behind the
    legend may have been a British military leader --
    Riothamus or Supreme King -- who led his army
    to Gaul in the last stages of the collapse of the
    Roman empire
  • Helmut Nickel, C. Scott Littleton, and Ann C.
    Thomas) Sarmatian Connection -- Arthur may
    have been a commander of the Sarmations, members
    of an Eastern European tribe imported to Britain
    by the Romans in the 2nd century to serve as
    soldiers.

10
  • The name Arthur offers possible evidence for
    the existence of the legendary hero. It is a
    Roman, rather than Celtic, name. Romans were
    named Artorius until the 5th century. The name
    petered out and was revived in the decades after
    550, suggesting that people were inspired by a
    real-live hero named Artorius.
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