Arthurian Legends

Start Free Trial

What was the legendary King Arthur actually?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Arthurian legend came down to modern times through the French romances, notably Chretien de Troyes, but its origin (and the origin of King Arthur himself) was in the Welsh saga The Mabinogion, a set of ten stories, in which an early general/leader of the Welsh tribes united the Welsh into a force opposing the Roman invasion of Wales; this partly fictional, partly historical man named Arthur forms a group of followers (Sir Kay, his seneschel, for example; a parallel to Percival also appears).  This legend bore fruit during the Norman Invasion, and the “modern” additions, such as the Round Table, Queen Gueneveire, Merlin, etc. stemmed from that origin.  The question of whether he was “real” is the subject of centuries of scholarly debate.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial