Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Amy from Irvine, CA. Amy Wonders, “Was King Arthur a real person?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Amy!
Long, long ago in a castle far, far away, a baby boy was born to King Pendragon. At the advice of the wise magician Merlin, the boy was raised secretly so that no one would learn his true identity as the heir to the throne.
Years later, King Pendragon died and, just as the magician had feared, there arose a fierce dispute over who would become the next King of England. To settle the matter, Merlin magically set a sword in a stone and revealed that only the true heir to the throne would be able to remove the sword.
All those who wanted to be king tried their best, but no one was able to pull the sword from the stone. Then one day a young boy happened upon the sword and was able to pull it from the stone, proving he was the rightful heir and the new King of England. Who was this boy? King Arthur, of course!
If this story sounds familiar, it should! The many legends and myths of King Arthur have been favorites of kids and adults alike for many years. They can be found in books, as well as the many movies that have been made about these stories.
In addition to Merlin and the sword in the stone, other famous aspects of the legends of King Arthur include his home (Camelot), his wife (Queen Guinevere), his sword (Excalibur), his trusted friend (Lancelot), his knights (the Knights of the Round Table), and their quest (the Quest for the Holy Grail). King Arthur is known for having fought many great battles and saving England from the Saxons.
The only account written at the time of the Saxon invasion does not mention Arthur. In fact, he doesn't appear in any writings until several hundred years later in the works of Nennius.
Nennius wrote about a dozen battles that Arthur supposedly fought in. Unfortunately, historians have proved that, given the times and places these battles took place, it would have been impossible for one man to have fought in all of them.
Drawing upon the work of Nennius, other people began to write about Arthur and the popular stories we know today began to spread. In particular, Geoffrey of Monmouth's 12th-century work, History of the Kings of Britain, helped to establish many of the most popular stories about King Arthur.
Although no one knows for sure whether there ever was a real King Arthur, some historians believe it's possible. For example, some researchers believe a military leader from Rome may have helped defend Britain from the Saxons in the 5th or 6th century. Others believe King Arthur may be a mythical figure based upon multiple real leaders who lived at that time.