,Kids like King Arthur and kids like wearing things on their heads. So here’s King Arthur’s crown to make when reading about King Arthur.
King Arthur’s Story
Some people say Arthur was nothing but a story, a mythical make-believe person. Others think he was totally real, though obviously embellished. Was King Arthur real? We may never know, but Viking and Germanic tribes, as well as the Picts from Scotland were really invading Britain in the 5th century after Christ. Britain was overrun.
Rome ruled Britain for about four hundred years before this. Then suddenly, as Rome fell apart, the legions were recalled and Britain was abandoned. When the British called for help as Roman citizens, they were told to look to their own defense; Rome could do nothing for them. With no one in power, several of the nobles grabbed at the chance to create their own tiny kingdoms. But the tiny kingdoms were no match for the Picts who came pouring down from Scotland or the Norse who sailed in raiding seaside towns. They had to band together or die. They chose to die as they could not bury their petty power struggles or their pride to take orders from another.
Enter the high king. Finally someone gained enough of a following to compel the lesser kings to bow down before him as the high king. Arthur supposedly came of this line of high kings. And Arthur was the greatest of the high kings of Britain. For decades Arthur solidified his reign, held off the invaders, and established peace and the rule of law based on Roman and Christian principles.
The Romans in Britain, as well as other places, had adopted Christianity. Arthur was one of these early Christians of the Celtic variety. That is why there are Christian references sprinkled with magic throughout the Arthurian tales. Their religion was really a blend of the old and new.
Eventually, the Saxons and Angles from Germany overran Britain. Later the Danes invaded, and finally, the Normans. Celtic Christianity disappeared as the old pagan religions took its place. Then Roman Catholic Christianity eventually replaced them both.
- Today’s Arthurian legends stem from Sir Thomas Malory, an English knight from the 1400’s. He wrote the stories while serving a prison sentence in someone’s drafty castle. The oldest Arthurian references in existence go back much further to monks who wrote the history of England before 1000 AD.
- When reading a story about Arthur, talk about the moral codes the court lived by. How are they different and how are they the same as the moral codes in your culture?
- Discuss myths and legends. Are they truth or just fanciful stories? Or do they stem from truth but evolve into embellished shadows of the truth?
- Art based on the Arthur legends is plentiful. Take a tour through some artists who painted in this theme.