Beyond the Legend: The Real Story of the Knights of the Round Table

The Knights of the Round Table are some of the most famous and celebrated characters in Arthurian legend.

However, separating fact from fiction can be challenging when it comes to these legendary warriors.

King Arthur Knights Round Table
King Arthur and the Knights of the round table

“The story of King Arthur and his knights offers a window into the complex social and cultural dynamics of medieval Europe, as well as the enduring power of myth and legend.”

Richard Barber, Author of “The Holy Grail: Imagination and Belief”

In this article, we will explore the historical and literary sources that inspired the creation of the Round Table, and delve into the possible origins of the individual knights.

The concept of a round table as a symbol of equality and unity among knights is thought to have originated in Celtic mythology.

Celtic Cross

However, it was the French poet Chrétien de Troyes who first introduced the idea of the Round Table in his epic poem “Perceval, the Story of the Grail” in the late 12th century.

It was later popularized in the English-speaking world by the writer Sir Thomas Malory in his 15th-century work, “Le Morte d’Arthur”.

The origins of the individual knights are equally fascinating. Some, like Sir Gawain, Sir Lancelot, and Sir Percival, are thought to have been based on historical figures.

Sir Gawain was a popular figure in Welsh folklore, while Sir Lancelot is often associated with the Breton knight Lanzelet. Sir Percival, on the other hand, may have been inspired by a 6th-century Welsh warrior named Peredur.

The White Knight Jousting
White Knight is a title which the famed Arthurian knight, Sir Lancelot, used until he discovered his actual name.

“The image of the chivalrous knight, embodied by the likes of Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawain, has become an enduring symbol of the ideals of courage, loyalty, and honor.”

Maurice Keen, Historian and Author of “Chivalry

Others, like Sir Galahad and Sir Bors, were later additions to the legend. Sir Galahad, the purest and most chivalrous of all the knights, was invented by the medieval writer Robert de Boron in the early 13th century.

Sir Bors, a loyal and steadfast companion of Sir Galahad, was first mentioned in the “Post-Vulgate Cycle”, a series of Arthurian tales that appeared in the 13th century.

Sir Galahd and Knights of Round Table
Sir Galahad was one of the most famous knights of the knight of the round table

“The Knights of the Round Table are an integral part of the Arthurian legend, embodying the ideals of justice, equality, and fellowship that were central to King Arthur’s vision of a just and harmonious society.”

Norris Lacy, Professor Emeritus of French at Pennsylvania State University.

The stories that surround the Knights of the Round Table are filled with adventure, romance, and intrigue. However, it is often difficult to separate fact from fiction.

For example, while the Round Table may have been a real symbol of unity among Arthur’s knights, it is unlikely that there was ever an actual table that was round.

Similarly, the love affair between Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere is most likely a later invention, as there is no mention of it in the earlier Arthurian sources.

Lancelot and Guinivere
Lancelot and Guinivere had an extramarital affair which was discovered and brought to King Arthur’s notice. King Arthur gave the order for the queen to be burned at stake

In conclusion, while much of the legend surrounding the Knights of the Round Table may be fictional, the real story of these legendary warriors is no less fascinating. From their possible origins in Celtic mythology to their literary and historical influences, the Knights of the Round Table continue to capture our imaginations and inspire us to this day.


Here are the top 10 events of the story of the Knights of the Round Table

King Arthur draws the sword from the stone and becomes the King of England.
The establishment of the Knights of the Round Table, a fellowship of the most virtuous and brave knights of the realm.

The quest for the Holy Grail, a sacred artifact believed to possess miraculous powers, undertaken by the knights to prove their worthiness.

The betrayal of Sir Lancelot, one of King Arthur’s most trusted knights, who falls in love with Queen Guinevere and begins an affair with her.

The quest for the magical sword Excalibur, which was believed to have been given to King Arthur by the Lady of the Lake.

The Battle of Camlann, in which King Arthur fights his own son Mordred, who had rebelled against him, and both are mortally wounded.

The search for the kidnapped Queen Guinevere, who was taken by the evil knight Melwas and rescued by Sir Lancelot.

The Quest for the Golden Fleece, in which the knights traveled to distant lands to retrieve the magical fleece, a symbol of kingship.

The adventures of Sir Gawain, one of the most illustrious knights of the Round Table, who embarks on a series of quests and battles.

The Arthurian legend’s enduring legacy, with countless adaptations, reinterpretations, and retellings in literature, art, and popular culture.

Note: It’s worth mentioning that the story of the Knights of the Round Table is a complex and multifaceted legend that has been adapted and reinterpreted in countless ways throughout history, and the events listed above are just a few of the many possible highlights.

5 Great Books about King Arthur Legend

“The Sword in the Stone” by T.H. White
This classic novel tells the story of young Arthur and his journey to become King of England, including his discovery of the legendary sword in the stone.

“Le Morte d’Arthur” by Sir Thomas Malory
This seminal work of Arthurian literature includes the story of the sword in the stone, as well as other tales of King Arthur and his knights.

“The Once and Future King” by T.H. White
This modern retelling of the Arthurian legends includes the story of the sword in the stone, and follows Arthur’s life from his youth to his death.

“King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table” by Roger Lancelyn Green
This children’s book retells the story of King Arthur and his knights, including the tale of the sword in the stone.

“The Legend of King Arthur” by Michael Morpurgo
This young adult novel tells the story of King Arthur and his knights, including the story of how Arthur retrieved the sword from the stone and became king.