Chapter III:
A Queen for a Kingdom

The character of Arthur's wife, Guinevere, is as old as Arthur's himself, and she appears in even the earliest tales of Arthur.

After being crowned king, Arthur indeed proved that he was the greatest warrior ever alive. As King, he used his skills in fighting and leadership to drive off all hostile invaders from Britain. But his real strength was in the wisdom he had received from his instructor, Merlin, who had taught him to use his wits, rather than brute force, to overcome his enemies. From Merlin, Arthur had learned to be a wise and just king, who fought only to protect his people, and never for ill deeds.

The people of Britain, finally relieved of their suffering, happily welcomed him as their new king. Not even the dukes and lords quarreled over the right to rule anymore, for Arthur had indeed brought the peace and prosperity that the kingdom had long awaited. Under his rule, laws were made with justice and mercy, and the people were treated fairly. He named his kingdom Camelot, and his coat of arms was the red dragon.

Guinevere was the most beautiful woman Arthur had ever seen. But like his father before him, Arthur had no wife, no love to call his one and only. One night, a beautiful woman came to his castle and asked for shelter. She was one of the most exquisite women Arthur had ever laid eyes on, and he stayed with her that night. The next morning, she was gone, and the King was all alone again. He never learned her name. In time, he learned to forget her and to move on.

One night, Arthur fought a bitter battle trying to drive off some invaders, and although he emerged victoriously, his sword was broken. That night, he decided to stay and rest at a local castle. Merlin tried to dissuade him, but Arthur insisted on going. While asleep that night, Arthur was awakened by the sound of a harp echoing throughout the castle halls. He arose from his bed and followed the sound until he came upon a woman sitting all alone in her bed chamber. Her name was Guinevere, and she was the most beautiful woman Arthur had ever seen.

Merlin warned that Guinevere would bring him nothing but misery, but Arthur was intent on marrying her. The next day, Arthur asked Guinevere's father for her hand, and he gladly agreed. The announcement was made later that day. The people of Camelot rejoiced. They were glad to see their beloved king happy and in love, and the prospect of having an heir to the throne was, indeed, cause for celebration. Everyone in the kingdom was filled with excitement and tears of joy. Everyone, that is, except for Merlin.

A beautiful woman came rising up out of the water. Later that day, Merlin took Arthur out to a misty lake. On the other side of the mist, he told Arthur, was the island of Avalon. The beings who lived there possessed supernatural powers, which they used for both good and evil.

All of a sudden, a beautiful woman came rising up out of the water. In her hand, she held a magnificent, jeweled sword.

“If you insist on surrounding yourself with such dangers,” Merlin told Arthur, “then you're going to need a powerful weapon to protect yourself. This is Nimue, the Lady of the Lake. The sword is Excalibur. It is of the finest strength, and can cut through iron and steel. But the real magic lies in the scabbard. For, whoever holds the scabbard shall never die of his wounds. Always keep it by your side. Never let yourself be parted from it.”

Soon thereafter, Arthur and Guinevere married. The entire kingdom celebrated. There was much feasting and dancing at the wedding, and people from all parts of the kingdom came to see their beloved king enter into matrimony with his one, true love.

As a wedding present, Guinevere's father gave the couple a round table, large enough to seat all of Arthur's knights. Over each seat was a plaque inscribed with the name of the knight for whom the seat was intended. Only one seat had no name inscribed above it. This seat was reserved for the greatest knight of all. If anyone else sat there, he would surely die. The gift of the round table made Arthur happy, for he had been worried that his knights were becoming too competitive amongst each other. With the round table, all of his knights could sit together and discuss matters of the kingdom as equals.

Many years passed, and Arthur and Guinevere lived together in married bliss. The King looked at his bride with adoration and contentment, and he spared no expense in making her happy. For years, they lived together happily. Then Lancelot came.