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King Arthur and Guinevere

 

 

Mystery Links

 

The Birth of King Arthur

 

Arthur Becomes King

 

 

 

 


The neighboring kingdom of Camelaird was laid waste, and King Leodogran was hard pressed by Roman legions. Only a year before, Ryance, the mighty king of North Wales, had made war on Leodogran and nearly destroyed his realm; now came a barbarian host, and the disheartened king knew not where to turn for help. Arthur had not yet distinguished himself by great deeds of arms, for he had been but lately crowned; but the fame of his beauty and wisdom had gone throughout the land.

He heard of King Leodogran's peril, and offered his aid, which was very gladly accepted.

King Leodogran had a daughter, his only child, famous for her marvelous beauty. Her eyes were as blue as the summer skies; her hair so gold-bright as to have stolen rays from the sun.

Already kings and princes had sought to win her, but none had found favor in her sight.

When Guinevere heard that the young king Arthur was approaching Camelaird, she put on her finest robes and most costly jewels, and eagerly waited his coming.

But Arthur came not heralded by trumpeters, as she had expected, so while she was waiting and looking, King Arthur went by with his men, dressed only as a common knight.

Even though she did not distinguish him from the many knights, Arthur felt the glance of her eyes, and vowed to win King Leodogran's fair daughter for his queen.

Guinevere, disappointed, went back to her chamber, while Arthur went on to the war.

The tents were pitched that night, and on the following morning the terrible struggle began. All day long the land resounded with the noise of battle; the shouts of the barbarians mingled with the cheers of the Britons, and the field was wet with the blood of both.

Neither side would give way, and Arthur's men were far outnumbered by the Pagan tribe; many, brave knights fell that sorrowful day while defending their king.

All day long Guinevere watched King Arthur from her tower, and prayed that he might not be slain.

When night came, Merlin cast a spell upon the barbarians, so they could not see how small the band was that they were fighting; then Arthur's men were filled with new courage, and dashed into the enemy's ranks, cutting down the men like reeds.

So Arthur and his brave knights won the battle and brought peace to the land of Camelaird. King Leodogran sent for Arthur, and made a great banquet for him, but Arthur was on his way to Camelot, haunted by visions of the beautiful daughter of the king.

Then Leodogran sent messages to Arthur, and slaves bearing rich gifts. All these Arthur sent back, saying if he had pleased the king all he desired was the hand of Guinevere.

But King Leodogran was very loth to give up his fair daughter, especially to one about whose royal birth so many doubted. For some said he was an impostor; while others declared he was more than mortal—a child of the sea, cast by the waves at Merlin's feet; while others said he was the true heir to the throne—the lawful son of Uther and Igerna.

King Arthur's realm was also in great danger, for many nobles were intriguing for the throne and disputing his royal right to the crown.

While thinking of these things, three messengers were sent from Arthur—Sir Ulfius, Sir Brastius, and Sir Belvidere, most faithful knights, who assured Leodogran that their lord King Arthur was indeed King Uther's son, and that he was fast subduing the rebellious and would erelong unite Britain.

Leodogran hesitated no longer, but sent a favorable answer to Arthur, and his peerless knight, Launcelot, was sent to bring Guinevere to court.

Great and costly were the preparations for her coming; all the knights of the realm were stationed at the postern gate to escort her to the castle.

The marriage ceremony was celebrated with great pomp, and all the people thought their new queen the fairest that lived.

King Leodogran sent as a present to Arthur a Round Table which Uther Pendragon had given him. Around this table Arthur seated his favorite knights and made a great banquet; but the seats were not all filled, for at the table was room for one hundred and fifty knights.

So Arthur called Merlin to him and said: "Go and find me fifty noble knights, and I will institute the order of The Knights of the Round Table."

But Merlin found only twenty-eight whom he thought worthy to bear fellowship with the other knights of Arthur's court.

Then the Archbishop of Canterbury blessed all the knights in their places, and when they rose to do honor to the king, the name of each knight appeared in letters of gold on the back of his seat.

There were several seats unoccupied, and on the back of one was written

"This is the Seat Perilous."

" What means this ? " asked King Arthur.

"My noble lord," answered Merlin, "there shall only two men sit in that seat, and one of them shall have great worship."

"I marvel much at your meaning," said Arthur. "The year will show you all," replied Merlin. "There is destined to come a son of Launcelot—Galahad, the spotless knight—who will achieve many marvelous things, among them the Sangreal. He shall sit in this seat. But many, many adventures will come before that time."

After the banquet was over, the Knights of the Round Table were bound by oaths to assist one another, even at the peril of their own lives; to attempt the most hazardous adventures; when necessary, to lead a life of solitude; to take up arms at the first call, and never leave a battle-field until they had defeated the enemy, unless night should intervene; and, according to the law of chivalry, they were to redress wrongs, and help the widows and orphans.