Summary

King Arthur

The Birth of King Arthur

Uther Pendragon was king of all England long before King Arthur was born. The Duke of Tintagel resisted the King’s power and constantly challenged him in numerous battles. When Uther persuaded the Duke and his wife, the lovely Igraine, to meet in peace, he fell in love with her at once. However, Igraine was loyal to her husband and refused him. She convinced the Duke to run away from the palace together and return to Tintagel. Instead of following the enraged king’s orders to return immediately, the Duke left Igraine in the fortified castle at Tintagel and met Uther in battle at Castle Terrabil.

Even while King Uther fought, he became sick with love for Igraine, which troubled his knights. A council of the knights sent for Merlin the Wizard, who had became the King’s chief counselor while still a boy because of his great wisdom and powerful magic. In a disguise as an old beggar, Merlin agreed to help Uther with Igraine. In return Uther would give the son she bears to Merlin to keep. Merlin casted a spell and changed the king into the shape of the Duke and that night, Uther went to Igraine while the real Duke fell dead from an arrow in a charge. Igraine knew she had been deceived when the news of the Duke's death came the next morning.

Uther claimed Igraine as his bride once the Duke was dead. She accepted him and saw that he loved her truly. When her son was born, Uther confessed his trick and of the pact he had with Merlin. The child was given to Merlin, wrapped in a gold embroidered cloak, and then handed to Sir Ector. This devoted and honorable knight christened the baby Arthur and with his wife raised him as a son and a prince.

After some years, King Uther became seriously ill and had not long to live while armies were still invading from the north. On Merlin's advice, Uther lead his men into battle and stopped the invaders at St. Albans. London rejoiced but became sorrowful when they learned that King Uther was dying. Before he died, Merlin approached him about the successor for the throne. When asked whether his son should be his heir and rule England, Uther Pendragon said with his last breath, "Arthur has my blessing. May he wear the crown with honor, reign justly and wisely...and may he remember me with love."


The Sword in the Stone

Even though Merlin had prophesied that Arthur would become a far greater king than Uther several years before, only he knew the secret of Arthur's birth. After King Uther died, many powerful lords and nobles began to fight for the crown while invaders came from across the sea. The Archbishop, on the advice of Merlin, sent for all to come to London for a tournament during Christmas. As the nobles arrived at the great Church, they saw an anvil of steel planted with a naked sword on top of a huge stone. On the sword, there were golden letters engraved with the words,

"Whoso pulleth this sword out of this stone and anvil, is rightly born king of Britain."

When none of the nobles and knights could draw the sword, the Archbishop decreed that every man should be allowed to try, but ten good men should guard over it. On New Year's Day, Sir Ector rode to the joust along with his son, Sir Kay, and Arthur as the squire. Sir Kay asked Arthur to fetch his sword which he had left back at the lodging. However, when Arthur arrived at the inn the door was locked and everyone had gone. Arthur was determined to fetch a sword for his brother and decided to take the sword in the churchyard that was wedged in the anvil. The knights keeping watch were away at the jousting, so he pulled the sword out easily and returned to Sir Kay.