Historical basis for King Arthur

Historical Basis For King Arthur

Historical basis for King Arthur

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The historical basis of King Arthur is a source of considerable debate among historians. The first datable mention of King Arthur in a historical context comes from a Latin text of the 9th century - more than three centuries after his supposed floruit in 5th to early 6th century Sub-Roman Britain - where he is styled as a British soldier (miles in the original Latin) fighting alongside the British kings against the invading Saxons. Later texts regard him as a legendary king of the Britons. The King Arthur of Arthurian legend as it develops from the 12th century is detached from a possible historical character, and there is no consensus as to such a possible identity.

Historical context

In the 9th century Historia Brittonum, inserted between anecdotes concerning the death of Hengist (followed by the arrival of his son Octha) and the reign of Ida in Bernicia, we find a brief list of 12 battles said to have been conducted by the soldier Arthur and the British kings against the Saxons. This suggests that the Historia Brittonum's compiler believed Arthur's floruit to have been in the early-mid 6th century.

In the 12th century, Geoffrey of Monmouth's list of kings of the Britons, which was partially based on the chronology found in the Historia Brittonum, placed Arthur and Uther Pendragon in sequence between Aurelius Ambrosius and a Breton ruler named Constantinus (often erroneously identified with Constantine III), all of them Romano-British rulers placed in the Sub-Roman...
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