Monday, November 18, 2013


King Arthur
by David Nash Ford

Who were they?
The Round Table - first mentioned by Wace in his "Roman de Brut" - was not only a physical table, but the highest Order of Chivalry at the Court of King Arthur. Its members were supposedly the cream of the British military who followed a strict code of honour and service. Sir Thomas Malory outlines this as:
  • To never do outrage nor murder
  • Always to flee treason
  • To by no means be cruel but to give mercy unto him who asks for mercy
  • To always do ladies, gentlewomen and widows succor
  • To never force ladies, gentlewomen or widows
  • Not to take up battles in wrongful quarrels for love or worldly goods
Giovanni Boccaccio in his "De Casibus Virorum Illustrium" further says that the twelve basic rules of the Knights of the Round Table were:
  • To never lay down arms
  • To seek after wonders
  • When called upon, to defend the rights of the weak with all one's strength
  • To never lay down arms
  • To seek after wonders
  • When called upon, to defend the rights of the weak with all one's strength
  • To injure no one
  • Not to attack one another
  • To fight for the safety of one's country
  • To give one's life for one's country
  • To seek nothing before honour
  • Never to break faith for any reason
  • To practice religion most diligently
  • To grant hospitality to anyone, each according to his ability
  • Whether in honour or disgrace, to make a report with the greatest fidelity to truth to those who keep the annals
Lesser Orders of Chivalry established by King Arthur apparently included the Queen's Knights, the Knights of the Watch, the Table of Errant Companions and the, unfortunately named, Table of Less-Valued Knights. Perhaps these additional orders led to the confusion which exists over the the number of knights admitted to the Round Table. This varies dramatically, depending one which literary source one examines:
  • 13 in the "Didot-Perceval" (c.1225)
  • 50 in Robert De Boron's "Merlin" (c.1195)
  • 60 in Jean D'Ouremeuse's "Ly Myreur des Histors" (c.1350)
  • 130 in the English ballad, "The Legend of King Arthur" (16th century)
  • 140 in Hartmann Von Aue's "Erec" and "Iwein" (late 12th century)
  • 150 in the Vulgate "Lancelot" (c.1220)
  • 250 in the Vulgate "Merlin" (c.1225)
  • 1,600 in Layamon's "Brut" (late 12th century)
The names of the 25 knights inscribed on the Winchester Round Table are given as:
Kyng ArthurKing Arthur
Sir GalahalltSir Galahad
Sir Launcelot DeulakeSir Lancelot du Lac
Sir GauenSir Gawain
Sir PercyvaleSir Percivale
Sir LyonellSir Lionell
Sir Trystram DelyensSir Tristram de Lyones
Sir GaretheSir Gareth
Sir BedwereSir Bedivere
Sir BlubrysSir Bleoberis
Sir Lacotemale TayleLa Cote Male Taile
Sir LucaneSir Lucan
Sir PlomydeSir Palomedes
Sir LamorakSir Lamorak
Sir Bors De GanysSir Bors de Ganis
Sir SaferSir Safer
Sir PelleusSir Pelleas
Sir KaySir Kay
Sir Ectorde MarysSir Ector de Maris
Sir DagonetSir Dagonet
Sir DegoreSir Degore
Sir BrumearSir Brunor le Noir
Sir Lybyus DysconyusLe Bel Desconneu
Sir AlynoreSir Alymere
Sir MordredeSir Mordred

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