The Legend

The legend of King Arthur developed over a period of over one thousand years. Everyone's heard about King Arthur from one place or another. We've all heard bits and pieces of the legend. Gallant knights fighting bravely for their ladies–in–waiting, heroes slaying dragons, all in a peaceful, justly–run kingdom called Camelot, run by King Arthur, with the old wizard Merlin by his side.

But who was King Arthur, exactly? Did he slay dragons himself, or just employ knights in shining armor to do it for him? And what's so special about him that we remember him in legend, anyway?

It turns out that the Arthurian Legend (that's the legend of King Arthur, for you novice Arthur enthusiasts) developed over a period of more than a thousand years. As such, there is no officially recognized version of the King Arthur story. In some authors' renditions of the tale, Arthur has three wives in his lifetime. In others, two, and in some cases, only one. In some ancient versions of the legend, Arthur is a hero whose deeds are comparable to those of Hercules. In more modern versions, he is merely a king whose knights are the real heroes of the story.

So how does anyone know what the story of King Arthur is? Well, there are some elements which are generally recognized as part of the legend. And there are some basic points of which any Arthurian enthusiast should be aware. Many modern movies, books, or other forms of literature assume a general knowledge of the Arthurian Legend in their audience. What follows, therefore, is a general version of the King Arthur legend. This is by no means an official or authoritative version of the tale – no such version exists. But this is the basic story of King Arthur as it is widely understood today, and it includes the basic elements of the legend of which anyone should be aware.