When the green knight rode into King Arthur's banquet hall on Christmas eve and posed a challenge to the knights of the round table, they were nonplussed. The knights had a reputation for skill, courage and honour in the face of mortal danger, but this time, they were encountering a being who seemed supernatural. And so they paused, and for a moment, no one responded to the challenge. Into the breach stepped young King Arthur, who accepted the challenge in order to defend the reputation of his court. In contrast to the huge bulk of the Green knight, King Arthur was slight; and youthful in contrast to the knight's obvious maturity. His fearlessness and loyalty to his knights are some of the reasons why he was loved and respected by them.