They were named so because they usually sat around a circular table, with the King sitting beside them.
Different stories and traditions report different lists of the Knights of the Round Table.
Some, like the Winchester Round Table, offer the names of 24 knights while other sources have ranged from 13 to 1600 in reporting the actual number of these knights.
Different historical sources report different numbers of the Knights of the Round Table.
Robert De Boron (a French poet of the late 12th century) for example, wrote in 1195 that King Arthur had 50 knights, and the Round Table had 50 seats with one seat being vacant for the true knight who would seek the Holy Grail.
The Winchester Round Table was created, in imitation of King Arthur’s legends, during the reign of Edward I in 13th century. Edward I was an admirer of Arthurian legends and wanted to revive the chivalric styles of the Arthurian stories.
To that end, he had a table made which housed 24 knights and the King. The names of the knights were inscribed on the top of the table, all of them being derived from King Arthur’s stories.
Correspondingly, a list of 12 knights is provided, comprising of names which have recurred in nearly all accounts of the legend. The following is this list containing 12 Arthurian knights.
Although different lists of the knights of the round table vary, some notable knights figure in most of the Arthurian legends. Notable among these is Sir Lancelot, who was among the earliest to join the knightly order of the King and defended him in many a battle.
Sir Percival was another one of King Arthur’s most trusted knights. Sir Lancelot’s son, Sir Galahad, was reported in later Arthurian stories to be a knight who was considered the bravest knight in the world.
According to the legends, Galahad was the one who ultimately found the Holy Grail and beheld it. He was an embodiment of piety, chastity and bravery.
Mordred was another very significant knight of the Round Table.
According to some legends, King Arthur adopted him as a son, while others cite that he was an illegitimate son of King Arthur. When King Arthur crossed the English Channel to fight the Roman armies, Mordred usurped the throne in his absence and married Queen Guinevere.
After fierce fighting in which both sides sustained a large number of losses, Mordred was killed but King Arthur also sustained very serious wounds. He was taken away from the battlefield so that his wounds could be tended to but soon afterwards died.
Mordred is thus portrayed as a villain and usurper in Arthurian legends and is the one who ultimately brought to an end to King Arthur’s glorious reign as depicted in the legends.
The Knights of the Round Table was a knightly order established by the legendary King Arthur. According to the legends associated with him, King Arthur had a circular table made which he seated the knights he valued the most around.
While the total number of the knights is unknown, legends do offer the names of the most prominent knights of the order. These included Sir Lancelot, whose fatal love with Queen Guinevere contributed to King Arthur’s downfall.
Sir Lancelot’s son, Galahad, who was considered the bravest knight and who ultimately found the Holy Grail; Sir Gawain, the wise knight who was the most chivalric and was among the top three knights of the Round Table.
Mordred was also a knight of the Round Table, noted not for his bravery but as King Arthur’s adopted sun, he usurped the throne in his absence and finally fought against King Arthur.
He died on the battlefield, also causing the death of King Arthur.