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A young King Arthur, a painting by Charles Ernest Butler (1903)

King Arthur

King Arthur was a legendary ruler of Britain. Tales of his life and deeds are known as Arthurian legends. They tell the story of a great king who brought peace to a war-torn land. The original legends may have been based on a real person who lived in the 5th or 6th centuries AD, but no one knows who he was. The medieval king who appears in the best-known legends was created centuries later. The most detailed account of King Arthur’s life was written by Geoffrey of Monmouth, who lived between about 1100 and 1155. His History of the Kings of Britain drew upon Welsh folklore, but Arthur, the conquering hero, was largely a fictional character made up by Geoffrey. French writer Chrétien de Troyes wrote poems about Arthur between 1155 and 1185. He introduced the character Sir Lancelot as well as the quest for the Holy Grail. A work by Sir Thomas Malory (died 1471), Le Morte D'Arthur (The Death of Arthur), became the best-known account of the legendary king. Modern versions are mostly based on Malory's story.

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