The legend of King Arthur has evolved from the sixth century to the present time. From a battle lord to the great leader of the medieval times, the Arthurian legends have become the mythology of the English speaking people. At the heart of these stories, the reader finds Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. The adventures of the knights and the guidance of Arthur and his mentor Merlin are superb tales of chivalry.
Probably, the most renowned authority is Mallory’s L’Morte D’Arthur which Tennyson and the other writers have looked to for the basis of their versions. In Mallory’s version, the last knights that survived after the fatal wounding of Arthur were Lucan, Bedivere, Griflet, and Blioberis. However, according to all of the version of the legends, Bedivere is the only knight who is consistently mentioned as surviving the last battle against Mordred.
In the knights that are mentioned as survivors of Arthur, Lucan, the brother of Bedivere, dies by unknown means. Griflet does survive the battle, but later dies at Guinevere’s trial. Blioberis returns to France and joins a former French Archbishop and becomes a hermit.
Bedivere in several versions is the only surviving knight of the last battle. It is Bedivere that the gravely wounded Arthur asks to throw Excalibur [Arthur’s sword] into a nearby lake. Bedivere takes the sword to the lake; however, he is taken in by the beauty of the sword and its value and does not throw it in but rather hides it. He returns to Arthur who asks him what he saw when threw in the sword, Bedivere had no answer.
Arthur reprimanded Bedivere to obey him and do what he asked; yet, Bedivere again was unable to throw in the sword. He returned again with Arthur asking him with he saw when he threw in the sword. Bedivere had no response.
This time Arthur said he would kill him from his death bed if he did not obey his wishes. This time Bedivere obeyed. A beautiful arm came from the lake and caught the sword by the hilt, swung it around, and returned the sword to its watery grave.
This time Bedivere was able to tell the truth to Arthur. But when he returned, Arthur was already on a beautiful boat sailing to the isle of Avalon.
Straining his eyes beneath an arch of hand,
Or thought he [Bedivere] saw, the speck that bare the King,
Down that long water opening on the deep
Somewhere far off, pass on and on, and go
From less to less and vanish into light.
And the new sun rose bringing the new year.
After Arthur is gone, Bedivere enters a hermitage [religious retreat devoted to living according to the scriptures]where Bedivere spends the remainder of his life.
Since Lancelot did not fight in the battle against Mordred, he joins Bedivere there but dies before him--leaving Bedivere as the last knight of the Round Table.