The Knights of the Round Table were the knights associated with the legend of King Arthur. They were a fabled group of knights who used to sit around the table in King Arthur's castle at Camelot.
This table was circular, rather than rectangular, contrary to the fashion in those times. In many stories and fables, these knights were portrayed as the hallmark of virtue, chivalry and loyalty. Their position around the table meant that they were all equal and belonged to the highest order of knights in King Arthur's kingdom.
Sir Lancelot was the first Knight of the Round Table, raised to the highest honour of knighthood by King Arthur. He fought fearlessly and was an embodiment of knightly chivalry, hailed as the unbeatable champion of the King Read more about the Sir Lancelot >>
The Winchester Round Table is a table made in the imitation of the legendary Round Table of King Arthur's knights. The Winchester table was originally constructed in the reign of Edward I during the 13th century Read more about the Winchester Round Table >>
Knights of Round Table
No actual historical sources provide any details about King Arthur and his knights of the round table.
However, there are many legends and stories in Britain which have existed since medieval times, mentioning King Arthur and the brave feats accomplished by him and his knights.
The Knights of the Round Table was a knightly order established by the legendary King Arthur.
These stories also relate to the Round Table at Camelot, although no archaeological evidence related to the legends has been discovered. In fact, it can’t be said for sure whether or not King Arthur existed, although the legends make him out to be a King of the Sub-Roman Britain who fought against the onslaught of the Anglo-Saxons.
The Chivalry of the Knights
The Knights of the Round Table strictly adhered to a certain code of conduct. In fact, legends have it that only such knights were seated at the table who best adhered to chivalry and were considered by King Arthur as the knights of the highest Order of Chivalry.
This is why it was said that earning a place at the table was not an easy thing to do, even for a knight. Some writers who have penned down the legends of King Arthur have provided the purported code of Chivalry or the exact set of rules that King Arthur’s knights acted upon.
Code of Chivalry
The legends about King Arthur were written in the middle ages, whereas his fabled existence preceded the Middle Ages. In the legends, a code of chivalry had been given for the Knights of the Round Table, which comprised of the following tenets:
To never murder anyone.
To be merciful unto everyone who asks for it.
Not to fight over worldly gains or personal quarrels
To never indulge in treason
To do succor unto ladies, gentlewomen, and widows
To never lay down arms
To defend the weak with all one’s might
To not attack another knight
To fight and lay down one’s life for the safety of one’s country
To practice religion diligently
The name of King Arthur and 24 other knights are found inscribed on the Winchester Round Table.
Winchester Round Table
In medieval times and even in more recent scholarship, it has been surmised that Camelot which was the place of King Arthur’s castle, was located where modern-day Winchester is.
In the latter half of the 20th century, this estimate was revived amid new enthusiasm when a huge table with the names of knights inscribed along its border was discovered in Winchester.
The Winchester Round Table
The table was initially dated to the 15th century but more modern techniques put its date somewhere in the 13th century. Although an extraordinary table, researchers believe that the table was probably constructed during the reign of Edward I, who had a passion for King Arthur’s legends. One intriguing aspect of the table is the names inscribed on it.
They begin with the King’s name and include the names of the following list of knights:
du Lac Sir Gawain
Sir Tristram de Lyones
Sir Lacotemale Taile
Sir Bors de Ganis
Sir Ector de Maris
Sir Brunor le Noir
Sir Lebius Desconneu
Sir Alymere Sir Mordred
Mordred was also the name of King Arthur’s son in the actual legend!
Mordred was one of the famous Knights of the Round Table
How Many Knights of The Round Table?
There are varying accounts, in different legends, regarding the exact number of the knights who sat at the Round Table with King Arthur.
Didot-Perceval, writing in 1225, claimed this number to be 13!
Robert De Boron’s work in 1195 put it at 50!
Jean D’Ouremeuse’s book in 1350 claimed that 60 knights were seated at the table!
Another 12th-century version of the legend placed this number as high as 1600!
Vulgate’s Merlin claimed that there were a total of 250 Knights of the Round Table. In all, the number as cited in various versions of the legend has ranged from 13 to 1600.
Sir Gawain *Exemplary Knight
Myths and legends abound not just about King Arthur but also about his knights. Specifically, many stories have come down to us from the medieval ages regarding Sir Gawain, one of the Knights of the Round Table.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was a famous story that surrounds the legend of King Arthur
He is portrayed as the ideal knight in these stories and his valor was unmatched among King Arthur’s knights. His name in Welsh means the “Hawk of May” and has also been associated in Welsh mythology with the solar god.
This is reasserted by the curious trait of Sir Gawain’s strength, as recounted in some fables, according to which his strength reached its peak when the Sun was high in the noon and waned as the hours moved to sunset.
Although many notable knights from King Arthur’s legends are known for their chivalric qualities, none of them surpasses Sir Gawain
According to the stories related to Sir Gawain, he was not only valorous and an embodiment of true chivalry, but he also had vast amounts of knowledge so that he knew what herbs to use to heal wounds.
Mordred, King Arthur’s adopted son, was a brother of Gawain’s. Gawain was supposed to be the rightful heir of the throne after King Arthur.
Knights of the Round Table Summary
The Knights of the Round Table were a group of knights who attended to the fabled character of King Arthur. These knights were said to be seated around the table as equals, next to the King, and were honored by the King as the most worthy knights of his Kingdom.
Many fables and legends related to King Arthur and his knights existed in the medieval ages and survive to this day. Notable among King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table are Sir Gawain and Sir Lancelot, each of them becoming the subject of many medieval legends related to the knights.
White Knight is a title that the famed Arthurian knight, Sir Lancelot, used until he discovered his actual name.