Is King Arthur real or fake?

Some know King Arthur by his sword Excalibur, while others know him because of King Arthur Flour. This legendary hero permeates European literature, but one question remains: did King Arthur really exist?

Smithsonian Magazine asked this question in a recent article. Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table permeate Western culture. Learn more about the legendary king and the latest information on whether or not he really exists.

Troy Media reported that King Arthur has resurfaced in the news due to an archaeological dig in Herefordshire, England. According to The Guardian, this excavation aimed to explore the site around Arthur’s Stone. Questions around the historicity of King Arthur have resurfaced due to this excavation.

Who is King Arthur?

King Arthur predates some of the most famous stories about him. Appearing in Welsh poetry from the late 6th and 7th centuries, he appears as a military leader and king, leading the charge against the Saxons. According to the History website, it would have been impossible for a single man to participate in all the battles attributed to Arthur that appear in this Welsh poetry.

According to the Legend of King Arthur website, the first mention of King Arthur may be in the 7th century poem “Y Gododdin”. Composed in Old Welsh, it is a collection of elegies on fallen heroes. When commemorating a fallen hero, the poet remarks that the hero fought bravely, “even though he was not Arthur”.

These earlier mentions do not include Arthur’s story with his wife Guinevere and his sword Excalibur, but later mentions do. According to the History website, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “History of the Kings of Britain” written in 1136 appears to be the turning point in King Arthur’s literature. Although scholars consider it a pseudo-history, contemporaries believed it to be truly true and were convinced of the existence of King Arthur.

According to Troy Media, Sir Thomas Malory’s 15th-century “The Death of Arthur” builds on what others have written about him and tells a thoroughly fleshed-out story of the legendary king. Malory incorporated the mythology of Merlin as well as the legends of the Knights of the Round Table to tell a complete story of Arthur. Malory compiled various sources about the king and weaved them together which shows Arthur’s story as well as the legendary thought that existed around him. The legends of Arthur are unavoidable in Western literature.

Written by an anonymous poet, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” details the legendary story of Gawain while also incorporating legendary iconography of King Arthur. This poet, as the author of Smithsonian Magazine notes, was adapted for the screen as David Lowry’s film “The Green Knight”. This film, released in 2021, demonstrates the persistence of the legends of King Arthur.

Was King Arthur a real person?

It is complicated. While historians agree that King Arthur did not exist in the full sense he embodies in European literature, it does appear that there was a heroic warrior named Arthur. Some historians believe that the Welsh monk Nennius’ version of Arthur, a famous warrior, is probably the person behind the legends of King Arthur.

But many questions still remain about this figure. A King Arthur researcher says: “It will always remain a mystery.”

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