Knights of the Round Table - King Arthur answers questions

Knights of the Round Table

Lancelot to the rescue! Notice the importance
of his strong steel sword

In the early Middle Ages, poets and story-tellers were telling a lot of different stories about knights and ladies and their adventures. When people wanted all of these stories to be tied together somehow, the poets came up with the idea of the Knights of the Round Table. It's a framing story, like the framing story in the earlier Odyssey, the Mahabharata, or the Arabian Nights. A poet named Wace wrote the earliest written description of the Round Table, about 1150 AD.

The table was at the court of King Arthur, and it was round so that all his knights could sit at it without anyone seeming more important than anybody else: they would all be equal to each other (though not to women, or peasants, who couldn't even sit at the table).

Some of the most famous Knights of the Round Table were Sir Kay, Sir Gawain, Sir Lancelot, Sir Tristan, and Sir Mordred.

Bibliography and further reading about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table:

Tristan and Isolde
Lancelot and Guinevere
Arthur and Mordred
Arthur and Morgaine
Medieval literature home

Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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