The Coming of Arthur

The Coming of Arthur”  story gives us a few principles that we must emulate and follow in life, such as
Good leaders count themselves as equal to the people they lead”، and “Those with power should protect those without.” among a lot of other principles.
It’s a tremendous historical and folklore story that we should all read.

The Coming of Arthur



“Long years ago, there ruled over Britain a king called Uther Pendragon. A mighty

prince was he, and feared by all men; yet, when he sought the love of the fair Igraine

of Cornwall, she would have naught to do with him so that, from grief

and disappointment, Uther fell sick and, at last, seemed like to die.

Now in those days, there lived a famous magician named Merlin, so powerful that

he could change his form at will or even make himself invisible; nor was there any

place so remote but that he could reach it at once, merely by wishing himself there.

One day, suddenly, he stood at Uther’s bedside and said: “Sir King, I know thy grief

and am ready to help thee. Only promise to give me, at his birth, the son that shall be

born to thee, and thou shalt have thy heart’s desire.” To this, the king agreed joyfully,

and Merlin kept his word: for he gave Uther the form of one whom Igraine had loved

dearly, and so she took him willingly for her husband.

When the time had come that a child should be born to the King and Queen, Merlin

appeared before Uther to remind him of his promise, and Uther swore it should be

as he had said. Three days later, a prince was born and, with pomp and ceremony,

was christened by the name of Arthur; but immediately thereafter, the King

commanded that the child should be carried to the postern gate, there to be given

to the old man who would be found waiting without.

Not long after, Uther fell sick, and he knew that his end had come; so, by Merlin’s

advice, he called together his knights and barons and said to them:

“My death draws near. I charge you, therefore, that ye obey my son even as ye have obeyed me, and my curse upon him if he claims not the crown when he is a man grown.”

Then the King turned his face to the wall and died.”

“Scarcely was Uther laid in his grave before disputes arose. Few of the nobles had

seen Arthur or even heard of him, and not one of them would have been willing to be

ruled by a child; rather, each thought himself fitted to be king and, strengthening his

own castle made war on his neighbors until confusion alone was supreme,

and the poor groaned because there was none to help them.

Now when Merlin carried away, Arthur—for Merlin was the old man who had stood

at the postern gate—he had known all that would happen and had taken the child

to keep him safe from the fierce barons until he should be of age to rule wisely

and well and perform all the wonders prophesied of him. He gave the child to the care

of the good knight Sir Ector to bring up with his son Kay but revealed not to him that

it was the son of Uther Pendragon that was given into his charge.

At last, when years had passed, and Arthur was grown a tall youth well, skilled

in knightly exercises, Merlin went to the Archbishop of Canterbury and advised him

that he should call together at Christmas time all the chief men of the realm

to the great cathedral in London; “For,” said Merlin, “there shall be seen a great marvel

by which it shall be made clear to all men who are the lawful King of this land.

The Archbishop did as Merlin counseled.

Under the pain of a fearful curse, he bade barons and knights come to London to keep

the feast, and to pray to heaven to send peace to the realm.

The people hastened to obey the Archbishop’s commands, and, from all sides, barons

and knights came riding in to keep the birth feast of our Lord. And when they had

prayed and were coming forth from the cathedral, they saw a strange sight. There,

in the open space before the church stood, on a great stone, an anvil thrust through

with a sword, and on the stone were written these words:

“Whoso can draw forth this sword is rightful King of Britain born.”

At once, there were fierce quarrels, each man clamoring to be the first to try his

fortune, none doubting his own success. Then the Archbishop decreed that each

should make the venture, in turn, from the greatest baron to the least knight; and each,

in turn, having put forth his utmost strength, failed to move the sword one inch,

and drew back ashamed. So the Archbishop dismissed the company, and having

appointed guards to watch over the stone-sent messengers through all the land to give

a word of great jousts to be held in London at Easter, when each knight could give

proof of his skill and courage, and try whether the adventure of the sword was for


Among those who rode to London at Easter was the good Sir Ector, and with him,

his son, Sir Kay, newly made a knight, and the young Arthur. When the morning came

that the jousts should begin, Sir Kay and Arthur mounted their horses and set out for

the lists; but before they reached the field, Kay looked and saw that he had left

his sword behind. Immediately Arthur turned back to fetch it for him, only to find

the house fast shut, for all were gone to view the tournament.

Sore vexed was Arthur, fearing lest his brother Kay should lose his chance of gaining

glory, till, of a sudden, he bethought him of the sword in the great anvil before

the cathedral.

Thither he rode with all speed, and the guards having deserted their post to view

the tournament, there was none to forbid him the adventure. He leaped from his horse,

seized the hilt and instantly drew forth the sword as easily as from a scabbard; then,

mounting his horse and thinking no marvel of what he had done, he rode after

his brother and handed him the weapon.

When Kay looked at it, he saw at once that it was the wondrous sword from the stone.

In great joy, he sought his father and, showing it to him, said:

“Then must I be King of Britain.”

But Sir Ector bade him say how he came by the sword, and when Sir Kay told how

Arthur had brought it to him; Sir Ector bent his knee to the boy and said:

“Sir, I perceive that ye are my King, and here I tender you my homage,”;

and Kay did as his father.

Then the three sought the Archbishop, to whom they related all that had happened;

and he, much marveling, called the people together to the great stone and bade Arthur

thrust back the sword and draw it forth again in the presence of all, which he did with

ease. But an angry murmur arose from the barons, who cried that what a boy could do,

a man could do; so, at the Archbishop’s word, the sword was put back, and each man,

whether baron or knight, tried in his turn to draw it forth, and failed. Then, for the third

time, Arthur drew forth the sword. Immediately there arose from the people

a great shout:

“Arthur is King! Arthur is King! We will have no King but Arthur”;

and, though the great barons scowled and threatened, they fell on their knees before

him while the Archbishop placed the crown upon his head and swore to obey him

faithfully as their lord and sovereign.

Thus Arthur was made King, and to all, he did justice, righting wrongs and giving all

their dues. Nor was he forgetful of those that had been his friends; for Kay, whom

 he loved as a brother, he made Seneschal and chief of his household, and to Sir Ector,

his foster father, he gave broad lands.

Chapter Two


“Thus Arthur was made King, but he had to fight for his own; for eleven great kings

drew together and refused to acknowledge him as their lord and chief amongst

the rebel was King Lot of Orkney, who had married Arthur’s sister, Bellicent.

By Merlin’s advice, Arthur sent for help overseas to Ban and Bors, the two great Kings

who ruled in Gaul. With their aid, he overthrew his foes in a great battle near the river

Trent, and then he passed with them into their own lands and helped them drive out

their enemies. So there was ever great friendship between Arthur and the Kings Ban

and Bors and all their kindred, and afterward, some of the most famous Knights

of the Round Table were of that kin.

Then King Arthur set himself on restoring order throughout his kingdom. To all

who would submit and amend their evil ways, he showed kindness; but for those who

persisted in oppression and wrong he removed, putting in their places others

who would deal justly with the people? And because the land had become overrun

with forest during the days of misrule, he cut roads through the thickets that no longer

wild beasts and men, fiercer than the beasts, should lurk in their gloom, to the harm

of the weak and defenseless.

Thus it came to pass that soon the peasant ploughed his fields in safety, and where

had been wasted, men dwelt again in peace and prosperity.

Amongst the lesser kings whom Arthur helped to rebuild their towns and restore order

was King Leodegrance of Cameliard.

Now Leodegrance had one fair child, his daughter Guenevere, and from the time that

first he saw her, Arthur gave her all his love. So he sought the counsel of Merlin,

his chief adviser. Merlin heard the King sorrowfully, and he said:

“Sir King, When a man’s heart is set, he may not change. Yet had it been well if ye had

loved another.”

So the King sent his knights to Leodegrance to ask him for his daughter

and Leodegrance consented, rejoicing to wed her to so good and knightly a King.

With great pomp, the princess was conducted to Canterbury, and there the King met

her and they two were wed by the Archbishop in the great Cathedral amid

the rejoicings of the people.

On that same day, Arthur found his Order of the Round Table, the fame of which was

to spread throughout Christendom and endure through all time. Now the Round Table

had been made for King Uther Pendragon by Merlin, who had meant thereby to set

forth plainly to all men the roundness of the earth. After Uther died, King Leodegrance

had possessed it; but when Arthur was wed, he sent it to him as a gift, and great

was the King’s joy at receiving it.

One hundred and fifty knights might take their places about it, and for them, Merlin

made sieges or seats. One hundred and twenty-eight did Arthur knight at that great

feast; thereafter, if any sieges were empty, at the high festival of Pentecost, new

knights were ordained to fill them, and by magic was the name of each knight found

inscribed, in letters of gold, in his proper siege. One seat only long remained

unoccupied, and that was the Siege Perilous. No knight might occupy it until

the coming of Sir Galahad, for, without danger to his life, none might sit there who was

not free from all stains of sin.

With pomp and ceremony did each knight take upon him the vows of true knighthood:

to obey the King; to show mercy to all who asked it; to defend the weak and for no

worldly gain to fight for a wrongful cause: and all the knights rejoiced together, doing

Honor to Arthur and to his Queen. Then they rode forth to right the wrong and help

the oppressed, and with their aid, the King held his realm in peace, doing justice to all.

Chapter Three


“Now, when Arthur was first made King, as young knights will, he courted peril for its

own sake, and often would he ride unattended by lonely forest ways, seeking

the adventure that chance might send him. All unmindful was he of the ruin to his

realm if mischief befell him, and even his trusty counselors, though they grieved

that he should thus imperil him, yet could not but love him the more for his hardihood.

So, on a day, he rode through the Forest Perilous where dwelt the Lady Annoure,

a sorceress of great might who used her magic powers for the furtherance of her

own desires. And as she looked from a turret window, she described King Arthur coming

riding down a forest glade, and the sunbeams falling upon him made one glory

of his armor and of his yellow hair. Then, as Annoure gazed upon the King,

her heart grew hot within her, and she resolved that come what might, she would have

him for her own, to dwell with her always and fulfill all her behests. And so she bade

lower the drawbridge and raise the portcullis, and sallying forth accompanied

by her maidens, she gave King Arthur a courteous salutation and prayed to him that

he would rest within her castle that day for that she had a petition to make to him;

and Arthur, doubting nothing of her good faith, suffered himself to be led within.

Then was a great feast spread, and Annoure caused the King to be seated in a chair

of state at her right hand while squires and pages served him on bended knee.

So when they had feasted, the King turned to Lady Annoure and said courteously:

“Lady, somewhat ye said of a request that ye would make. If there be aught in which I
may pleasure you, I pray you let me know it, and I will serve you as knightly as I may.”

“In truth,” said the lady, “there is that which I would fain entreat of you, most noble knight; yet suffer, I beseech you, that first I may show you somewhat of my castle
and my estate, and then will I crave a boon of your chivalry.”

Then the sorceress led King Arthur from room to room in her castle, and ever each

displayed a greater store of beauty than the last. In some, the walls were hung with rich

tapestries; in others, they gleamed with precious stones, and the King marveled

at what might be the petition of one that was mistress of such wealth.

Lastly, Annoure brought the King out upon the battlements, and as he gazed around

him, he saw that, since he had entered the castle, there had sprung up about it triple

walls of defense that shut out wholly the forest from view. Then turned he to Annoure,

and gravely he said:

“Lady, greatly I marvel in what a simple knight may pleasure one that is the mistress of so wondrous a castle as ye have shown me here; yet if there be aught in which I may render you knightly service, right gladly would I hear it now, for I must forth upon my way to render service to those whose knight I am sworn.”

“Nay, now, King Arthur,” answered the sorceress mockingly; ye may not think to
deceive me, for well, I know you and that all Britain bows to your behest.”

“The more reason than that I should ride forth to right wrong and succor them that,
of their loyalty, render true obedience to their lord.”

“Ye speak as a fool,” said the sorceress; why should one that may command be at the beck and call of every hind and slave within his realm? Nay, rest thee here with me,
and I will make thee ruler of a richer land than Britain and give thee to satisfy thy every desire.”

“Lady,” said the King sternly, “I will hear and judge of your petition at this time, and then will I forth upon my way.”

“Nay,” said Annoure, “there needs not this harshness. I did but spoke for the advantage. Only vow thee to my service, and there is naught that thou canst desire that thou shalt
not possess. Thou shalt be lord of this fair castle and of the mighty powers that obey me. Why waste thy youth in hardship and in the service of such as shall render thee little enough again?”

Thereupon, without ever a word, the King turned him about and made for the turret

stair by which he had ascended, but nowhere could he find it.

Then said the sorceress, mocking him: “Fair sir, how think ye to escape without my goodwill? See ye, not the walls that guard my stronghold? And think ye that I have not servants enow to do my bidding?”

She clapped her hands, and forthwith, there appeared a company of squires who,

at her command, seized the King, and bore him away to a strong chamber where

they locked him in.

And so the King abode that night, the prisoner of that evil sorceress, with little hope

that day, when it dawned, should bring him better cheer. Yet lost he, not courage,

but kept watch and vigil the night through lest the powers of evil should assail him

unawares. And with the early morning light, Annoure came to visit him. More stately

she seemed than the night before, tall and more terrible, and her dress was one blaze

of flashing gems so that scarce could the eye look upon her. As a queen might

address a vassal, so greeted she the King and, as condescending to one of low estate,

asked how he had fared that night. And the King made answer: “I have kept vigil as behooves a knight who, knowing him to be in the midst of danger, would bear himself meetly in any peril that should offer.”

And the Lady Annoure, admiring his knightly courage, desired more earnestly even than

before winning him to her will, and she said:

“Sir Arthur, I know well your courage and knightly fame, and greatly do I desire to keep you with me. Stay with me, and I promise you that ye shall bear sway over a wider realm than any that ever ye heard of, and I, even I, its mistress, Will be at your command. And what lose ye if ye accept my offer? Little enough, I ween, for never think that ye shall win the world from evil and men to loyalty and truth.”

Then answered the King in anger: “Full well I see that thou art in league with evil and that thou but seekest to turn me from my purpose. I defy thee, foul sorceress. Do thy worst; though thou slay me, thou shalt never sway me to thy will”;

and therewith, the King raised his cross-hilted sword before her. Then the lady quailed

at that sight. Her heart was filled with hate, but she said:
“Go your way, proud King of a petty realm. Rule well your race of miserable mortals since more it pleasures you than to bear sway over the powers of the air. I keep you not against your will.”

With these words, she passed from the chamber, and the King heard her give

the command to her squires to set him without her gates, give him his horse,

and suffer him to go on his way.

And so it came to pass that the King found himself once more at large and marveled

to have won so lightly to liberty. Yet knew he not the depths of treachery in the heart

of Annoure; for when she found she might not prevail with the King, she bethought

her how, by mortal means, she might bring the King to dishonor and death.

And so, by her magic art, she caused the King to follow a path that brought him

to a fountain, whereby a knight had his tent and, for the love of adventure, held the way

against all comers. Now, this knight was Sir Pellinore, and at that time, he had not

his equal for strength and knightly skill, nor had any been found that might stand

against him. So, as the King drew nigh, Pellinore cried:
“Stay, knight, for none passes this way except he jousts with me.”

“That is no good custom,” said the King; “it were well that ye followed it no more.”

“It is my custom, and I will follow it still,” answered Pellinore; “if ye like it not, amend it if ye may.”

“I will do my endeavor,” said Arthur, “but, as ye see, I have no spear.”

“Nay, I seek not to have you at advantage,” replied Pellinore and bade his squire give

Arthur a spear.

Then they dressed their shields, laid their lances in rest, and rushed upon each other.

Now the King was wearied by his night’s vigil, and the strength of Pellinore was as

the strength of three men; so, at the first encounter, Arthur was unhorsed.

Then said he: “I have lost the honor on horseback, but now will I encounter thee with my sword and on foot.”

“I, too, will alight,” said Pellinore; “small honor to me was it if I slew thee on foot, I being horsed the while.”

So they encountered each other on foot, and so fiercely they fought that they hewed off

great pieces of each other’s armor, and the ground was dyed with their blood. But at

the last, Arthur’s sword broke off short at the hilt, and so he stood all defenseless

before his foe.

“I have thee now,” cried Pellinore; “yield thee as recreant, or I will slay thee.”

“That will I never,” said the King, “slay me if thou canst.”

Then he sprang on Pellinore, caught him by the middle, and flung him to the ground,

himself falling with him. And Sir Pellinore marveled, for never before had he

encountered so bold and resolute a foe, but exerting his great strength, he rolled

himself over and so brought Arthur beneath him. Then had Arthur perished, but at that

moment, Merlin stood beside him, and when Sir Pellinore would have struck off

the King’s head, stayed his blow, crying: “Pellinore, if thou slayest this knight, thou puttest the whole realm in peril; for this is none other than King Arthur himself.”

Then was Pellinore filled with dread and cried: “Better make an end of him at once;
for if I suffer him to live, what hope have I of his grace, that have dealt with him so sorely?”

But before Pellinore could strike, Merlin caused a deep sleep to come upon him;

and raising King Arthur from the ground, he staunched his wounds and recovered

him of his swoon.”

But when the King came to himself, he saw his foe lie, still as in death, on the ground

beside him, and he was grieved and said:
“Merlin, what have ye done to this brave knight? Nay, if ye have slain him, I shall grieve my life long; for a good knight he is, bold and a fair fighter, though something wanting in knightly courtesy.”

“He is in better case than ye are, Sir King, who so lightly imperil your person, and thereby your kingdom’s welfare; and, as ye say, Pellinore is a stout knight, and hereafter shall he serve you well. Have no fear. He shall wake again in three hours and have suffered naught by the encounter. But for you, it was well that ye came where ye might be tended for your wounds.”

“Nay,” replied the King, smiling, “I may not return to my court thus weaponless; first will I find means to purvey me of a sword.”

“That is easily done,” answered Merlin; “follow me, and I will bring you where ye shall get you a sword, the wonder of the world.”

“So, though his wounds pained him sore, the King followed Merlin by many a forest

path and glade, until they came upon a mere, bosomed deep in the forest; and as

he looked thereon, the King beheld an arm, clothed in white samite, shot above

the surface of the lake, and in the hand was a fair sword that gleamed in the level rays

of the setting sun.

“This is a great marvel,” said the King, “what may it mean?”

And Merlin made answers: “Deep is this mere, so deep indeed that no man may fathom it; but in its depths, and built upon the roots of the mountains, is the palace of the Lady of the Lake. Powerful is she with a power that works ever for good, and she shall help thee in the hour of need. For thee has she wrought yonder sword. Go now, and take it.”

Then was Arthur aware of a little skiff, half hidden among the bulrushes that fringed

the lake, and leaping into the boat, without the aid of oar, he was wafted out into

the middle of the lake to the place where, out of the water, rose the arm and sword.

And leaning from the skiff, he took the sword from the hand, which forthwith vanished,

 and immediately thereafter, the skiff bore him back to land.

Arthur drew from its scabbard the mighty sword, wondering while at the marvel

of its workmanship, for the hilt shone with the light of many twinkling gems—diamond

and topaz and emerald, and many another whose names none know. And as he looked

on the blade, Arthur was aware of mystic writings on one side and the other,

and calling to Merlin, he bade him interpret them.

“Sir,” said Merlin, “on the one side is written ‘Keep me,’ and on the other, ‘Throw me away.'”

“Then,” said the King, “which does it behoove me to do?”

“Keep it,” answered Merlin; “the time to cast it away is not yet come. This is the good brand Excalibur or Cut Steel, and well shall it serve you. But what think ye of the scabbard?”

“A fair cover for so good a sword,” answered Arthur.

“Nay, it is more than that,” said Merlin, “for, so long as ye keep it, though ye be never wounded so sore, yet ye shall not bleed to death.”

And when he heard that, the King marveled the more.

Then they journeyed back to Caerleon, where the knights made great joy of the return

of their lord. And presently, thither came Sir Pellinore, craving pardon of the King,

who made but the jest of his own misadventure. And afterward, Sir Pellinore became

of the Table Round, a knight vowed, not only to deeds of hardihood but also to

gentleness and courtesy; and faithfully he served the King, fighting ever to maintain

justice and put down wrong and to defend the weak from the oppressor.

The End