By Daniel Mersey
King Arthur, the most renowned of British kings and one whose identify is synonymous with braveness, chivalry and romanticism. Arthur, King of the Britons, Arthur the medieval legend, Arthur the Celtic warlord, Arthur of the Pre-Raphaelites and Arthur of the movies...would the genuine King Arthur please rise up? Daniel Mersey explores the numerous faces, myths and theories surrounding this recognized king.
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Extra info for Arthur, King of Britons: From Celtic hero to cinema icon
Any Britons who did not flee were slain by Saxon warriors or taken as slaves, and all the time, more Saxon families arrived from mainland Europe. British place names, language and customs disappeared from lowland Britain, and the remaining Britons soon forgot their Roman heritage and took on older Celtic customs which had never been forgotten in the hills of Wales and Cumbria. And that, for the moment, is where we shall leave the traditional history. Modern studies have shown that the final part of this story does not appear to be true – most Britons probably continued to live in their homelands under Saxon rule, and archaeological examples of genocide are few and far between.
Modern studies have shown that the final part of this story does not appear to be true – most Britons probably continued to live in their homelands under Saxon rule, and archaeological examples of genocide are few and far between. Throughout this chapter, references are made to ‘the Saxon kingdoms formed’, or to how ‘the British lost control’ of certain areas. It used to be imagined that when a region became, for example, ‘Saxon’, the Britons (or Irish or Picts) who had happily lived there beforehand were wiped out or fled elsewhere.
For raids and minor campaigns, the King would probably have mustered only his own warriors. For larger campaigns – perhaps a full scale invasion of a rival king with the intent to topple the throne – a Dark Ages warlord would have summoned the retinues of his allies and lesser nobles, perhaps swelling the ranks of his army to the thousand men projected by Alcock. Tactically, we know very little about how the battles between the British kings, their rivals and their enemies were fought. Poetic sources suggest that cavalrymen advanced towards their enemies and hurled javelins, with the emphasis on individual prowess and heroism rather than a considered, cohesive approach.