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The Knights of the Round Table (Welsh: Marchogion y Ford Gron, Cornish: Marghekyon an Moos Krenn, Breton: Marc'hegien an Daol Grenn) are the knights in the fellowship of King Arthur in the literary cycle of the Matter of Britain, first appearing in literature in the mid 12th century.
There were actually hundreds of Knights associated with the Round Table and King Arthur, but here we’ll take a look at the most often mentioned, well-known, or most associated with King Arthur and Arthurian Legend. The individual Knights, mostly who were not based on historical figures, were pulled together from Scottish, French, Welsh, and English legends and lore.
King Arthur establishes the greatest reign England has ever seen, and along for the ride are his indispensable Knights of the Round Table, particularly Sir Lancelot. Then, Arthur finds himself a bride, the beautiful Guenivere. While she loves Arthur, she also loves Lancelot and though Lancelot repeatedly fights it, he loves her, too.
- Richard Thorpe
- 4 min
- Differences in Historical Sources
- The Winchester List of Knights
- The Names of The Knights Written on This Table Are as Follows
- The 12-Knights List
- Notable Knights of The Round Table
- List of The Knights of The Round Table Summary
Different historical sources report different numbers of the Knights of the Round Table. Robert De Boron, for example, wrote in 1195 that King Arthur had 50 knights, and the Round Table had 50 seats with one seat being vacant for the true knight who would seek Holy Grail.
The Winchester Round Table was created, in imitation of King Arthur’s legends, during the reign of Edward I in 13th century. Edward I was an admirer of Arthurian legends and wanted to revive the chivalric styles of the Arthurian stories. To that end, he had a table made which housed 24 knights and the King. The names of the knights were inscribed on the top of the table, all of them being derived from King Arthur’s stories.Sir Galahad (Son of Sir Lancelot)Sir LancelotSir GawainSir Percivale
Correspondingly, a list of 12 knights is provided, comprising of names which have recurred in nearly all accounts of the legend. The following is this list containing 12 Arthurian knights. 1. Sir Lancelot 2. Sir Gawain 3. Sir Geraint 4. Sir Percival 5. Sir Bors the Younger 6. Sir Lamorak 7. Sir Kay Sir Gareth 8. Sir Bedivere 9. Sir Gaheris 10. Sir Galahad 11. Sir Tristan
Although different lists provide different lists and numbers of knights, some notable knights figure in most of the Arthurian legends. Notable among these is Sir Lancelot, who was among the earliest to join the knightly order of the King and defended him in many a battle. Sir Percival was another one of King Arthur’s most trusted knights. Sir Lancelot’s son, Sir Galahad, was reported in later Arthurian stories to be a knight who was considered the bravest knight in the world. According to the legends, Galahad was the one who ultimately found the Holy Grail and beheld it. He was an embodiment of piety, chastity and bravery.
Mordred was another very significant knight of the Round Table. According to some legends, King Arthur adopted him as a son, while others cite that he was an illegitimate son of King Arthur. When King Arthur crossed the English Channel to fight the Roman armies, Mordred usurped the throne in his absence and married Queen Guinevere. After fierce fighting in which both sides sustained a large number of losses, Mordred was killed but King Arthur also sustained very serious wounds. He was taken away from the battlefield so that his wounds could be tended to but soon afterwards died. Mordred is thus portrayed as a villain and usurper in Arthurian legends and is the one who ultimately brought to an end to King Arthur’s glorious reign as depicted in the legends.
The Knights of the Round Table was a knightly order established by the legendary King Arthur. According to the legends associated with him, King Arthur had a circular table made which he seated the knights he valued the most around. While the total number of the knights is unknown, legends do offer the names of the most prominent knights of the order. These included Sir Lancelot, whose fatal love with Queen Guinevere contributed to King Arthur’s downfall. Sir Lancelot’s son, Galahad, who was considered the bravest knight and who ultimately found the Holy Grail; Sir Gawain, the wise knight who was the most chivalric and was among the top three knights of the Round Table. Mordred was also a knight of the Round Table, noted not for his bravery but as King Arthur’s adopted sun, he usurped the throne in his absence and finally fought against King Arthur. He died on the battlefield, also causing the death of King Arthur. Save
List of the Knights of the Round Table Sir Aban Sir Abrioris Sir Adragain Sir Aglovale Sir Agravain Sir Aqiff King Bagdemagus Sir Balin Sir Baudwin Sir Brastius Sir Bredbeddle ( Green Knight) Sir Breunor Sir Caradoc Sir Calogrenant Sir Constantine Sir Dagonet, the court jester Sir Degore Sir Daniel ...
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- Plot summary
If the Knights of the Round Table ever existed in real life, it wasnt in the time of King Arthur. Medieval knights as characterised in Arthurian Legend belong to a period running from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries the historical King Arthur is placed much earlier, around the fifth century. Nonetheless, the image of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table appeals to the imagination and has become an accepted one, if only in literature and legend.
Knights, as such, were real enough and still are: people become knighted in Britain even today. Medieval knights were usually of noble birth: kings, princes, dukes, earls, and barons, who formed the backbone of any army of the time. They could afford armour and weapons, and the cost of training and maintaining their war-horse: in medieval times, the armoured warrior on horseback was the equivalent to the modern tank. Glory in war spilled over into peacetime, with attitude and status and knightly pursuits like jousting and heraldry, hunting and hawking, and a chivalrous way of life (especially towards the ladies, as the knight became the archetypal hero of high romance). Knights were also formed into religious or other Orders of Chivalry like the Round Table and made an oath to protect the distressed, maintain the right, and live a stainless existence. The Round Table was first mentioned by the French poet, Wace, in 1155 and in that account was made round so that all the knights seated around it would have the same stature a table with no head to sqabble over. In Arthurian legend it wasnt just an actual table but represented the highest Order of Chivalry at King Arthurs court. The Knights of the Round Table were the cream of British nobility, who followed a strict code of honour and service.
The consensus is that Merlin the Wizard created the legendary Round Table in a shape symbolising the roundness of the universe for Uther Pendragon, Arthurs father. When Uther died, it passed to Guineveres father, King Laudegraunce, and then to King Arthur when he married Guinevere. Real or symbolic, the Round Table for the fellowship of knights has remained a powerful and appealing concept for several hundreds of years.
In literature, the Round Table varies in size according to which author is decribing it. The consensus is that it seated 150, with one chair the Siège Perilous (danger-seat) which no-one could occupy safely except for the true Grail-Knight: the knight destined to achieve the Holy Grail, or Sangreal, a symbolism sometimes linked to the Last Supper, which had one place for Judas of ill-omen. The Grail-Knight it was said that the Siège Perilous was reserved for Sir Perceval, then later, Sir Galahad was required to be a hero with the purest heart, who was chaste and a virgin without sins (which disqualified Sir Lancelot from the start).
Arthurian legend also contains reference to lesser Orders: the Queens Knights, the Knights of the Watch, the Table of Errant Companions, and the Table of Less-Valued Knights, which could explain, in a literary sense, why the Round Table would be so large, though it must have been ring-shaped rather than a round normal table, otherwise most of its surface would have been unreachable.
More interesting are their deeds, exploits, and their social significance at the time the best and most comprehensive Arthurian legend works were written, most notably Le Morte dArthur, completed in the year 1470.
Regarding the origins of the Holy Grail and its relationship with the Round Table, there are three especially interesting works of Arthurian legend a trilogy of poems by Robert de Boron (a Burgundian knight who wrote not too long after Chrétien de Troyes c.1191): Joseph of Arimathea, Merlin, and Perceval, and which describe the First Table and the Origin of the Grail, The Grail Dynasty, The Construction of the Third Table, and The Round Table and Perceval. The last one provides a particularly interesting insight into the Holy Grail and the motivations behind the exploits of the Knights of the Round Table:
After Arthur is crowned king, Merlin informs the court about origins of the Round Table made by Joseph of Arimathea, and of the Grail family, and the attainment of the Grail. Perceval, the son of Alain le Gros, comes to Arthurs court and is knighted, but he is not made a member of the Round Table. At Pentecost, King Arthur proclaims a festival at which twelve knights will sit at the Round Table, leaving the thirteenth seat empty to symbolise the seat occupied by Judas at the Last Supper. Perceval asks if he may sit there, and when Arthur attempts to discourage him, the other twelve knights plead on Percevals behalf and he is allowed to occupy the vacant seat. But the seat cracks beneath him and a voice remontrates against King Arthur, and says that Perceval has only been saved from a terrible death by the goodness of his father and his grandfather, Bron. The voice goes on to predict that there will now be great suffering for those seated at the Round Table as they pursue the quest that Perceval has precipitated the quest for the Holy Grail. The achievement of the quest will require one of the Round Table knights to become the finest knight in the world by performing feats of arms and goodness and prowess. This knight will be guided by God to the house of the Rich Fisher King (Bron), where he will achieve the Grail, and understand its purpose. The Rich Fisher King will be then healed and the cracked seat at the Round Table will be restored.
These predictions are to be fulfilled by Sir Perceval, who becomes the new custodian of the Grail after the death of Bron. But the successful quest marks the beginning of the end of the fellowship of the Knights of the Round Table, now undermined by a lack of common-purpose, and the knights plan to go overseas to seek new challenges. Sir Kay persuades King Arthur that only an invasion of continental Europe will hold the Knights of the Round Table together in his service. France (then Gaul) is duly conquered and the army of the emperor of Rome is defeated, but before he can march on Rome, King Arthur is forced to return to Britain to supress the treachery of Mordred, who has usurped the throne of Britain and is cohabiting with Arthurs wife, Guinevere. He overcomes Mordred in Cornwall, then pursues him to Ireland where the traitor is finally killed, but Arthur is also fatally wounded, and is taken to Avalon for his wounds to be healed, but he never returns.
On King Arthurs conquest of Gaul, his forced return to Britain, and his consequent death, note Robert de Borons consistency with the writer Geoffrey of Monmouth in the origins of King Arthur .
- Sir Gallahad. Sir Gallahad or Galeas is one the Knights of the Round Table and the main achiever of the Holy Grail. He was the son of the love affair between Lancelot and Elaine and it was preconceived that he who would be born thereafter was the chosen one by the Gods to acquire the Holy Grail.
- Sir Lancelot. Sir Lancelot or the Knight of the Lake was the father of Sir Galahad and paramour of the King’s queen, Guinevere. He was first mentioned by Troyes in his writing of ‘Erec’ and later in a tale titled by his own name, Lancelot, which elaborates on the abduction, rescue and affair of Guinevere with Sir Lancelot.
- Sir Gawain. Considered as among the top three, Sir Gawain is most famous among the other knights. He was also regarded as the first to join King Arthur’s fellowship.
- Sir Percival. Sir Percival is one of the prominent figures of the legend of ‘Perceval, the Story of the Grail’ authored by Chretien de Troyes. Some other versions include ‘Parzival’ by Wolfram von Eschenbach and ‘Perceval’ by Robert de Boron.
Knights of the Round Table - the Round table at Winchester A large round wooden table in the Great Hall at Winchester is reputed to be King Arthur's Round Table. The Round Table is made of 121 separate pieces of oak and measures 18 feet across. The round table is nearly 3 inches thick and weighs nearly 1.25 tons.
The Arthurian knights, who sat with King Arthur around a circular table, became the focal point of fellowship between knights. Some of them are famous as heroes and champions of just cause. In theory, they were brothers; however, jealousy, envy and hatred existed with the fellowship.
Many of us only know of King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, and Queen Guinevere, but there were many other characters that were cornerstones to the legends and stories surrounding Camelot, the Round Table, and the Holy Grail. What was the significance of the Lady of the Lake, King Mark, Merlin the Magician, Sir Mordred, and Morgan Le Fay?