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King Arthur (Legend)

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"King Arthur"
Background Information
Written by: Geoffrey of Monmouth
Publication: 1136
Adaptation Information
Featured Episode:

"King Arthur" is a legend featured to on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Geoffrey of Monmouth and incorporated in the book The History of the Kings of Britain in 1336.

Traditional Plot

Arthur was the first born son of King Uther Pendragon and heir to the throne. However these were very troubled times and Merlin, a wise magician, advised that the baby Arthur should be raised in a secret place and that none should know his true identity. Arthur was raised by his foster father Sir Ector and his son Kay.

As Merlin feared, when King Uther died there was great conflict over who should be the next king. Merlin used his magic to set a sword in a stone. Written on the sword, in letters of gold, were these words: "Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone is the rightwise born king of all England." A tournament occurred where Kay was old enought to take part in with Sir Ector and Arthur accompanying him to it. Of course all the contenders for the throne took their turn at trying to draw the sword, but none could succeed. Arthur, quite by chance, withdrew the sword for another to use in a tournament. Following this, he became King.

He gathered Knights around him which included Sir Agravain, Sir Bagdemagus, Sir Bedivere, Sir Bors, Sir Breunor, Sir Calogrenant, Sir Caradoc, Sir Dagonet, Sir Dinadan, Sir Ector, Sir Elyan the White, Sir Erec, Sir Gaheris, Sir Galahad, Sir Gareth, Sir Geraint, Sir Griflet, Sir Hector de Maris, Sir Hoel, Sir Kay, Sir Lamorak, Sir Lancelot, Sir Leodegrance, Sir Lionel, Sir Lucan, Sir Maleagant, Sir Marhaus, Sir Palamedes, Sir Pelleas, Sir Pellinore, Sir Safir, Sir Sagramore, Sir Segwarides, Sir Tor, Sir Uriens, Sir Ywain, and Sir Ywain the B******. With the Knights of the Round Table, King Arthur fought back against the Saxons who, since the Romans left Britain, were slowly but surely taking the country over. After many great battles and a huge victory at Mount Badon the Saxons' advance was halted.

Arthur's base was at a place called Camelot. Here, he built a strong castle. His knights met at a Round Table. They carried out acts of chivalry such as rescuing damsels in distress and fought against strange beasts. They also searched for a lost treasure which they believed would cure all ills - this was the 'Quest for the Holy Grail'.

Under the guidance of Merlin, Arthur had obtained a magical sword from the Lady of the Lake. This sword was called 'Excalibur" and with this weapon he vanquished many foes.

Queen Guinevere, Arthur's beautiful wife brought romance to the story while his equally beautiful half-sister Morgan le Fay added a dark side.

Unfortunately, as peace settled over the country, things turned sour within the court of Camelot and civil war broke out. In the Battle at Camlann, both Arthur and Mordred (Arthur's traitorous nephew and the son of the sorceress Morgan le Fay) were mortally wounded. As he was dying, King Arthur told Sir Bedivere to return Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake. Arthur's body was then set upon a boat and floated down river to the isle of Avalon. Here, his wounds were treated by three mysterious maidens. His body was never found and many say that he rests under a hill with all his knights ready to ride forth and save the country again.

Show Adaptation

The story has yet to be fully adapted for Once Upon a Time.

  • The knights of the round table have the power to conduct marriage ceremonies. As such, even in cases of a "fallen" knight like the show's adaption of Lancelot, he still can perform a marriage ceremony.
  • The Siren is loosely based on the Lady of the Lake. She lures in men while in the form of a woman and drowns them in Lake Nostos. The Siren was later killed by Prince Charming.
  • Merlin is the Sorcerer from The Sorcerer's Apprentice story. He also created the sword Excalibur and placed it in a stone, waiting for the kingdom's true ruler to pull the sword out.

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