The History

The legend of King Arthur has been passed down through the ages. So who was King Arthur? Was he a real person, or was he made up? Is there any historical basis for his legend? Is it possible there was a real person who accomplished the deeds attributed to him in the legend?

First, the bad news: if there was a real King Arthur, he isn't still sleeping on an enchanted island. (Well, probably not. I know, some of you are die–hard enthusiasts who would just love for it to be true.) He also didn't pull a magical sword from a stone, and his birth wasn't magically orchestrated by a wizard.

Second, more bad news: to this day, historians still haven't been able to determine conclusively whether Arthur's legend was based on some real person. Different historians have come up with different theories of who a historical Arthur could have been, but none of these theories are possible to prove with any certainty. As far as we know, there is no one person in history who undeniably screams "Me! I'm King Arthur! Pick me! Pick me!"

But there is a silver lining: historians have been able to put together quite a bit of information concerning the period during which King Arthur is said to have lived, and we do know quite a bit about the political forces in place which caused his legend to develop, and caused him to gain so much fame that he's still remembered 1,500 years later.

In this section, we'll take a closer look at what we know about said time period, and the historical evidence which has been uncovered in historians' search for Arthur.