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. No one would learn his true identity as the heir to the throne.
Years later, King Pendragon died. 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. He 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. He pulled 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. Many books and movies have been made about these stories.
Merlin and the sword in the stone aren’t the only famous parts of the legends of King Arthur. There are also stories about his home (Camelot) and his wife (Queen Guinevere). His sword (Excalibur) and his trusted friend (Lancelot) play important parts, too. The Knights of the Round Table and their quest (the Quest for the Holy Grail) make for exciting stories as well.
King Arthur is known for having fought many great battles and saving England from the Saxons. But are any of these stories true? Or are they simply myths, legends, tall tales, and fables? Could these be real, historical facts? Was King Arthur a real person?
The answer to that question is still a mystery. These stories are quite popular, and many historians have studied King Arthur. Still, there is no consensus about whether he was a real person or not.
The only account written at the time of the Saxon invasion does not mention Arthur. In fact, he doesn’t appear in any texts until hundreds of years later. The first person to write about him was Nennius.
Nennius wrote about a dozen battles that Arthur supposedly fought in. Unfortunately, experts don’t think that one man could have fought in all of these battles. The times and places these battles took place make it impossible.
Drawing on the work of Nennius, other people also wrote about Arthur. That’s how the stories we know today began to spread. In particular, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s 12th-century work told many of the most well-known stories about King Arthur. It was called History of the Kings of Britain.
No one knows for sure whether there ever was a real King Arthur. But some experts say 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.
What do you think? Was King Arthur a real person? Did Camelot really exist? Whether the answer is yes or no, the legends of King Arthur are certain to be enjoyed by people for generations to come.
Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2