The Arthurian legends have captured the imagination of people for centuries, inspiring countless tales of valor, chivalry, and the search for the legendary King Arthur. Although much of Arthur’s story remains shrouded in mystery and folklore, historical references to this iconic figure have appeared in texts throughout Europe and beyond.
This timeline aims to trace the evolution of Arthurian references from the earliest known mention in a Roman document about a warrior in Britain to the most recent texts that continue to perpetuate these captivating legends.
Timeline of Arthurian References:
- 6th Century – The Annales Cambriae (Welsh Annals):
- Mention of the Battle of Badon Hill, associated with Arthur.
- Location: The exact location of Badon Hill remains debated, but it is generally believed to have taken place in the West Country of England.
- 9th Century – Historia Brittonum (The History of the Britons):
- Detailed account of Arthur’s twelve battles:
- Battle of the River Glein
- Battle of Dubglas
- Battle of Bassas
- Battle of Cat Coit Celidon
- Battle of Celegion
- Battle of Guinnion Fort
- Battle of Agned Hill
- Battle of City of the Legion
- Battle of Tryfrwyd
- Battle of Conisbrough
- Battle of Ciltre
- Battle of Badon
- Locations: The specific locations of these battles are not well-documented.
- Detailed account of Arthur’s twelve battles:
- 12th Century – Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “Historia Regum Britanniae”:
- Introduction of Arthur as a legendary king, Excalibur, Merlin, and the Holy Grail.
- Origin: Geoffrey’s imaginative work contributed significantly to the development of Arthurian legends.
- 12th Century – Chretien de Troyes’ Arthurian Romances:
- Introduction of elements like the Round Table and Lancelot.
- Origin: These romantic tales added depth to Arthurian lore.
- 15th Century – Sir Thomas Malory’s “Le Morte d’Arthur”:
- Compilation of Arthurian stories.
- Origin: A comprehensive work that brought together various Arthurian narratives.
- Tintagel Castle:
- A legendary location associated with the birth of King Arthur.
- Origin: The connection to Arthur comes from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s writings in the 12th century.
- Legend of Princess Gwenefar of Knucklas:
- A legend tells the story of Princess Guinevere (Welsh: *Gwenhwyfar ; Breton: Gwenivar, Cornish: Gwynnever) of Knucklas marrying Arthur the Welsh warrior in Knucklas Castle.
- Origin: This legend is not widely documented in historical texts but remains part of local folklore and oral tradition in the region.
- 12th Century – France – “Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart” (Lancelot, le Chevalier de la Charrette):
- This French romance by Chretien de Troyes introduces Lancelot as one of the key figures in the Arthurian legend.
- Origin: Part of the Arthurian Romances by Chretien de Troyes, this story contributes to the Arthurian tradition in French literature.
- 13th Century – Italy – “Tristan and Isolde”:
- The tale of Tristan and Isolde is closely linked to the Arthurian world and is significant in Italian literature.
- Origin: While not an Arthurian text, it is a romance that often intertwines with Arthurian legends.
- 14th Century – Portugal – “The Legend of the Round Table”:
- An Arthurian adaptation by the Portuguese writer João de Barros.
- Origin: Reflects the Arthurian influence on European literature, even in countries like Portugal.
- 19th Century – Russia – “The Tale of the Knight Tri Sestrychki” (The Tale of the Three Sisters):
- An Arthurian-inspired Russian fairy tale.
- Origin: Demonstrates the global reach of Arthurian legends, even in Russian folklore.
- 21st Century – Global Adaptations:
- Contemporary literature, films, and television series around the world continue to adapt and reinterpret the Arthurian legends, showcasing their enduring appeal.
These references in Britain, France, Italy, Portugal, Russia, and other parts of the world highlight the far-reaching influence of Arthurian legends on global literature and storytelling. While the core of the legends is rooted in British tradition, they have transcended borders and continue to captivate audiences worldwide serving as a universal symbol of transformation and the potential for redemption that resonates across cultures.
Telling the Story of Arthur at storytelling events
Once upon a time, in a land filled with castles and mystery, there lived a legendary warrior named Arthur. Arthur was known far and wide for his bravery, kindness, and the magical sword he held, called Excalibur.
Arthur’s Humble Beginning
Arthur wasn’t always famous. When he was a little boy, he lived in a cozy village near a place called Knucklas. He was a kind and curious young lad with a heart full of innocence who loved exploring the hills and playing with his friends.
One day, while climbing the green hill near his home, he unearthed something very special hidden under a big, old maple tree. It was a sword! Little did Arthur know that this sword was destined to make him a great and noble king one day.
As Arthur grew, he had many exciting adventures. He fought battles to protect his land from scary invaders, just like the Battle of Badon Hill. He had friends who were as brave as he was, like the noble knights of the Round Table.
Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, was always by his side, helping him make the right decisions and keep his land safe. He even took Excalibur on a quest to find the magical Holy Grail, a cup that was said to hold incredible powers.
But what made Arthur truly special was not just his bravery and sword. He was known for being kind and caring. He forgave those who made mistakes and tried to help them find their way.
The Legend Lives On
As the years went by, Arthur’s story was told and retold, becoming a legend that children like you hear today. The legend of King Arthur reminds us that even the youngest among us can grow up to be brave and kind, just like Arthur, and find our own magical adventures.
So, whenever you see a green hill, just like the one at Knucklas, remember Arthur’s humble beginning. And when you find something special, just like he found Excalibur, know that it might be the start of your own magical journey.
(Research, design and story by Grant. Story first performed at the foot of the original green hill – in *Knucklas)
- Knucklas is a village and civil parish located in Powys, Wales. The name “Knucklas” is of Welsh origin. In Welsh, “knuck” (Cnwc) mean “hill.” and refers to the hill on which Knucklas Castle / Castell y Cnwclas was built.
“And in this place it is related that there were some brothers to Gwenhwyfar, the daughter of Gogyrfan Gawr, who were imprisoned by some of these giants. And she grieved greatly they were in captivity. But Arthur saved them each one, killing the giants, and taking the head of the biggest of them and throwing it into the middle of the river instead of a stone, in stepping across the river, to go to Castell y Cnwclas. And as he placed his foot on the head of the giant in stepping across the river Arthur said, Let the head grow in the river instead of a stone. And henceforth that river was called Afon Tyfed-iad, as the side of the giant’s head grew.” SOURCE: “Peniarth Ms. 118, fos. 829-837” ed. and trans. Hugh Owen. Y Cymmrodor. vol. 27. London: Honorable Society of Cymmrodorion, 1917. pp.115-152