The creation of the Round Table
The legendary Round Table was created a long time ago by Merlin, right in the center of Camelot. He created the round shape symbolizing the roundness of the universe, and each person seated around the table would be considered equal in the face of the vastness of the universe. For, at a rectangular table, there is always a place at the ‘head of the table’ reserved for one man to be superior to all others seated around the table. With the creation of a round table, Merlin promoted the idea that no matter what station your birth, if you could prove yourself worthy, you could be the equal of the Kings and Lords seated at the round table. After King Uther died, Merlin passed the keeping of the table unto King Leodegrance, a loyal follower of King Uther.
Anyone, regardless of birth, could become a loyal knight of the King. They simply had to prove themselves to be chivalrous enough, and swear an oath to live a life by rules within the Code of Chivalry. They had to spend their lives upholding these rules, which included:
- To never do outrage nor murder not in battle or in honorable combat
- Never commit treason (a crime against your Country or King)
- Do not be unnecessarily cruel to others, and grant mercy to those who ask, even in combat
- To aid women in need
- To never harm women
- Not to take up battles over anything less than your King and Country
During the reign of King Arthur the Round Table was a center of operations, a place to meet and decide who would pursue which quests.
The Knights of the Round Table
When King Arthur was given the Round Table, with seats for 150 knights, he was also given 100 Knights by King Leodegrance. During his time at the Round Table, the most well-known knights proven by quests and combat were King Arthur, Sir Lancelot of the Lake, Sir Gawain, Sir Geraint, Sir Percival, Sir Bors the Younger, Sir Lamorak, Sir Kay, Sir Gareth, Sir Bedivere, Sir Gaheris, Sir Galahad, Sir Tristan and Sir Mordred
The most famous Knight of the Round Table was Sir Lancelot of the Lake. He was the best and bravest in battle, and admired wherever he went. He won almost every tournament he participated in, defeated knights no one else could match and heroically upheld the chivalrous ideal. For these reasons, he was hero-worshipped by many a young knight. He received the epithet as the Knight of the Lake as he arrived in King Arthur’s court sent by the Lady of the Lake, who had raised him. It was her who requested King Arthur take Lancelot under his wing and train him in the art of knighthood, and it is during this time that King Arthur and Sir Lancelot became close friends as Lancelot impressed the King with his chivalrous feats. On the day he was knighted, he was shamed, for he had forgotten his sword, and if you did not have your sword you could not be knighted. It was the Queen herself, Guinevere, who found his sword and returned it to him in time for the knighting to go ahead. For her help, she had earned his undying loyalty and love, and on a whim he requested to become the Queen’s Champion, proclaiming his worship of her. This meant that it would become his royal duty to protect the Queen and defend her honor. Queen Guinevere, already attracted to him from the first time they laid eyes on each other, was flattered by his words and accepted.
Guinevere’s first encounter with King Arthur was in her father’s Castle in Camelerd. She was the daughter of the King of Camelerd, King Leodegrance. When Camelerd was under siege, it was the brave King Arthur who came to the rescue. During the celebrations Arthur had his first sight of Guinevere, whom he loved ever after. Arthur went to Merlin to seek his counsel and advice, as he would not take a wife without the consensus of his mentor. When Merlin asked if there was a lady he loved more than any other, Arthur replied Guinevere without any hesitation. Merlin warned Arthur that Guinevere was not wholesome enough to be his wife, and that she would be loved by Lancelot and she would love him back in return. But Arthur had to follow his heart, believing that this fate could be escaped, and Merlin eventually agreed to support him. King Leodegrance was overjoyed upon hearing this news and delivered his daughter via Merlin to Arthur, with the gift of the Round Table he had been entrusted with and 100 knights.
In the years that followed, Merlin’s predictions came true. After being knighted her Champion, Sir Lancelot tried to see his love for Queen Guinevere as the love of a friend, and she for him. But the circumstances of their closeness meant that this was doomed to fail. For Sir Lancelot would go on to defend the Queen’s honor and go on quests to save her, and the two of them would often end up alone together, eventually unable to resist their fate. It was on one of these quests to save Queen Guinevere that Sir Lancelot earned one of his epithets. Sir Meliagrance desired Queen Guinevere for himself, and he ambushed her and kidnapped her to his Castle. She was able to secretly dispatch a messenger to Sir Lancelot, with a plea for him to rescue her, and he rushed to her aid on his horse. Unfortunately for him, he was also ambushed and his horse was struck down by archers. Unscathed, he tried to find a vehicle to quickly travel to Sir Meliagrance’s Castle, and the only available vehicle was a cart driven by a dwarf. He suffered through the humiliation of this cart ride, as people laughed at them, so that he could quickly race to save Queen Guinevere. Of course, due to this cart ride he managed to arrive in time at Sir Meliagrance’s Castle to rescue the Queen. His reputation was so fierce, that on his arrival Sir Meliagrance surrendered to Sir Lancelot and not a single drop of blood was shed. This endeavor earned him the title ‘The Knight of the Cart’.
As famed as the Round Table is, possibly even more famous is Excalibur. Arguably the most famous sword in history, it was a faithful companion to King Arthur. When Arthur was defeated at the Battle of Camlann, his final request was for Excalibur to be returned to the stone on the Isle of Avalon. He directed these words to Sir Bedivere, one of his closest and most trusted knights. But after Arthur’s body had been taken to Avalon and the time came for Bedivere to throw the sword, he couldn’t let go. As he held it in his trembling grip, the truth was Excalibur’s power held him in its. Merlin saw his hesitation and ordered him to let go. But a great change had come over the honorable Sir Bedivere, who was now intoxicated with the surge of power from the sword. Merlin knew there was no way he could physically take it from the huge knight. He suggested that Sir Bedivere should prove himself worthy of wielding it and pointed at an old tree with a thick trunk. Sir Bedivere swung and cut clean through it with one swoop. Merlin then suggested that he should try using it against steel, and Sir Bedivere challenged two soldiers at once, slicing both of their blades with a single swing. Merlin finally challenged him to penetrate a rock scorched by dragon fire, one of the hardest substances known to man. Sir Bedivere scoffed at this and plunged Excalibur into the stone as if it was soft flesh. He smiled, boasting of the proof of his destiny to rule as king. Merlin simply repeated that only the one true king can truly wield the blade. Sir Bedivere grew angry at Merlin and moved to strike the wizard down. He frowned as he pulled on the sword and it didn’t move. He pulled and pulled again, his mighty muscles straining. But Excalibur still did not budge. He let go, realizing his madness. Overcome with shame, he got down on his knees and begged Merlin for forgiveness. And thus Excalibur is embedded in the Stone once more, awaiting the one true king to lift it.