Welcome to Cyclopaedia 14: King Arthur. Cyclopaedia is a monthly article on the InnRoads Ministries website as part of the Resources series. I remember watching Disney’s The Sword in the Stone as a kid and getting my first glimpse into the legends of King Arthur. Then over the years I watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail with great laughter and eventually the amazing Excalibur, which started me down the path of so many memorable 80s fantasy films. With a last name of Knight, it is not surprising that I have always had a fascination with Knighthood and Chivalry, which have led me time and time again back to the Arthurian legends. The tales of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, Merlin and Morgan le Fey, and the Quest for the Holy Grail inspire so much storytelling. So, don your armor and mount your steed. We seek the Holy Grail!
Cyclopaedia 14: King Arthur
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King Arthur…the man, the myth, the legend. How do you view him? Is he just a king of Britain known for defeating the Saxons? Or is he a powerful knight become king supported by a mystical sword, a great wizard, and a cadre of knights? Did he receive the sword Excalibur from the Lady in the Lake or pull it from a stone? Was Merlin a great wizard who offered counseling and advice to young Arthur? Did his Knights of the Round Table seek the Holy Grail?
The Arthurian legends conjure up so many amazing medieval, romantic, and fantasy stories. The history and stories of Arthur and his retinue gained international interest in the 12th century via the Historia Regum Britanniae written by Geoffrey of Monmouth. His writings were built upon earlier poems and legends that spoke of the human and supernatural exploits of Arthur, Merlin, and his knights. Since then writers, historians, archaeologists and film makers have been fascinated by the Arthurian myths.
The Arthurian myths cover more than just King Arthur himself. Stories abound of the famed exploits of his knights such as Lancelot, Sir Gawain, Tristan, and the Black Knight. Tales of romantic intrigue, court politics, and forbidden love with Guinevere at the heart and soul of the kingdom. And what about Merlin? Was he merely a wise counselor or a powerful wizard in conflict with the likes of Morgan le Fey and her son Modred? And who can overlook the legends of the great Excalibur, sword of kings. Was it truly offered by the Lady in the Lake? Is it the same sword as was in the stone? Will King Arthur one day return to Great Britain to rule again?
At its core, the Arthurian mythos focuses upon romance, chivalry, intrigue, and adventure. It has become the spark of creativity for many. The Arthurian tale offers historians and archaeologists, storytellers and alternate history buffs, game designers and films writers a plethora of source material to keep them occupied for centuries to come.
Did King Arthur Really Exist?
The history, legends, and stories of King Arthur don’t answer that question. Some state as a fact his existence in history, while others view him only as a romantic character in literature. Archaeologists and historians do not even agree, and continue to write papers and books about possible historic references and origins of the King Arthur mythos. Most commonly, King Arthur is viewed as a…
- 5th Century Soldier
- 6th Century Romano-British Leader
- Forgotten Welsh King
- Folklore Hero
- Forgotten Celtic Deity
- Mythological Creation
- Poetic Creation
- Fictional Creation
Following are sources of information pertaining to King Arthur to assist prospective game masters, game designers, writers, and storytellers in knowing where to start their research.
Guinevere: Unchristian, Invisible, Unvictorian
By Hobbs, Vivian
Source: The Negro educational review. 55, no. 4, (2004): 161-174
King Arthur in History and Legend
By Williams, Mary
Source: Folklore Vol. 73, No. 2 (Summer, 1962), pp. 73-88
Medieval McGuffins: The Arthurian Model
By Lacy, Norris J.
Source: Arthuriana, v15 n4 (2005): 53-64
The Origins of the Arthurian Legend
By Ashe, Geoffrey
Source: Arthuriana, v5 n3 (1995): 1-19
The Use of History and Archaeology in Contemporary Arthurian Fiction
By Snyder, Christopher
Source: Arthuriana, 19, no. 3 (2009): 114-122
The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights
By Steinbeck, John
Black Knight comic
By Lee, Stan and Maneely, Joe
Camelot – musical script
By Lerner, Alan Jay and Loewe, Frederick
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
By Twain, Mark
Eric and Enide
By Chrétien de Troyes
The Fall of Arthur
By Tolkien, Chris and Tolkien, J.R.R.
Brennan, James Herbert
Hawk of May (Down the Long Wind Trilogy)
By Bradshaw, Gillian
Here Lies Arthur
By Reeve, Philip
Historia Regum Britanniae
By Geoffrey of Monmouth
Idylls of the King
By Tennyson, Alfred Lord
Le Morte d’Arthur/The Whole Book of King Arthur and of His Noble Knights of the Round Table
By Malory, Thomas
The Lost Tomb of King Arthur: The Search for Camelot and the Isle of Avalon
By Phillips, Graham
By Robert de Boron
The Mists of Avalon
By Bradley, Marion Zimmer
The Once and Future King
By White, T.H.
The Oxford Guide to Arthurian Literature and Legend
By Lupack, Alan
Prince Arthur/King Arthur
By Blackmore, Richard
Prince Valiant comic
By Foster, Hal
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
By Tolkien, J.R.R.
The Sword in the Stone: Magical Story of Young King Arthur
By White, T.H.
Taliesin (The Pendragon Cycle)
By Lawhead, Stephen R.
By Arthur Unknown
Artus – Tabletop Game
Britannia – Tabletop Game
Camelot: The Build – Tabletop Game
Camelot: The Court – Tabletop Game
Conquests of Camelot – Computer Game
Dark Age of Camelot – Computer Game
Excalibur – Tabletop Game
GURPS Camelot – RPG
Knights of the Round Table – Computer Game
Monty Python Fluxx – Tabletop Game
Monty Python and the Holy Grail CCG – Tabletop Game
Mordred – Tabletop Game
Pendragon – RPG
Quest for Camelot – Computer Game
Shadows Over Camelot – Tabletop Game
Sonic and the Black Knight – Computer Game
Tomb Raider: Legend – Computer Game
The Adventures of Sir Lancelot – TV
Arthur of the Britons – TV
Camelot – TV
Code Geass – Anime
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
The Fisher King
Guinevere Jones – TV
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Knights of the Round Table
Lancelot du Lac
The Legend of Prince Valiant – Cartoon
The Librarians – TV
Merlin – TV mini series
Merlin – TV
The Mists of Avalon – TV mini series
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Stargate SG-1: Seasons 9 and 10 – TV
The Sword in the Stone
Sword of the Valiant – The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Tristan and Isolde
International Arthurian Society – Branch Meetings/International Congress
Winchester Castle – The Round Table
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Chrétien de Troyes
Geoffrey of Monmouth
Lancelot du Lac
Morgan le Fay/Morgana
Robert de Boron
Alfred Lord Tennyson
I hope you find these resources informative and inspiring for your adventures, storytelling, or game design.
( If you would like to save this list of resources as a convenient PDF for later reference, you can find that HERE )
WHO IS T.R. KNIGHT?
He is a freelance editor, proofreader, and writer in the game industry. He is also a Husband and Caregiver to his wife Angie, Father of Twins Emily and Rachel, Foodie and Hobby Chef, and IT Director at Taylor University. You can learn more about T.R. at his blog http://www.freelanceknight.com.