Welcome to the Historical Fiction Online forums: a friendly place to discuss, review and discover historical fiction.
If this is your first visit, please be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above.
You will have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.
To start viewing posts, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Whence Cometh the Belief...

User avatar
Rowan
Bibliophile
Posts: 1462
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: I love history, but it's boring in school. Historical fiction brings it alive for me.
Preferred HF: Iron-Age Britain, Roman Britain, Medieval Britain
Location: New Orleans
Contact:

Whence Cometh the Belief...

Post by Rowan » Wed December 1st, 2010, 4:54 pm

When I was in England this summer, I went on a 'King Arthur' related trike tour and also ventured down to Glastonbury, which is the area to have greatest association with him. The tour guide on the trike tour and through some reading of material I bought in Glastonbury, I know that there is a belief that King Arthur will return at Britain's greatest hour of need.

Where does that belief come from?

(If this is in the wrong area, I apologise.)

User avatar
Kveto from Prague
Compulsive Reader
Posts: 919
Joined: September 2008
Location: Prague, Bohemia

Post by Kveto from Prague » Wed December 1st, 2010, 5:47 pm

[quote=""Rowan""]When I was in England this summer, I went on a 'King Arthur' related trike tour and also ventured down to Glastonbury, which is the area to have greatest association with him. The tour guide on the trike tour and through some reading of material I bought in Glastonbury, I know that there is a belief that King Arthur will return at Britain's greatest hour of need.

Where does that belief come from?

(If this is in the wrong area, I apologise.)[/quote]



I think just about every country has this type of legend. they are refered to as "kings under the mountain" and speak of a great leader who is sleeping and will one day return. The Germans have Fredrick Barbarossa, the french have Charlemagne, the danes have Hrolger, the Spainish have Roderigo, the Portugesse have mad Sebastian, we Czechs have Good King Wenceclas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_in_the_mountain

the list of kings for differerent countries seems huge. Not sure when the Arthur one specifically arose but its probably hard to pin down.

And the kings will always return at the time of the countries greatest need. dont know of any so far who have actually returned :-)
Last edited by Kveto from Prague on Wed December 1st, 2010, 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

annis
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4585
Joined: August 2008

Post by annis » Wed December 1st, 2010, 6:23 pm

12th century chroniclers like William of Malmesbury and Geoffrey of Monmouth perpetuated the Arthurian legend and the story of Arthur's return, which may possibly have originated in a Welsh legend about the Son of Prophecy, a messianic figure who was meant to come and toss the Saxons/English out of Britain and return it to the Britons.

See Wikipedia article on King Arthur's return
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Arthu ... nic_return

There's a useful collection of quotes from original sources at Britannia History
http://www.britannia.com/history/arthur/historians.html

The same legend also became attached to Merlin/Myrddin, the wizard associated with the Arthurian stories - he is meant to be just sleeping in a cave and will return when most needed.

As Keny says, the story of a charismatic leader who will return to save a nation is prevalent in many countries, and is often a response to a threat to national identity - for example, a belief arose after the death of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings that he would return again and save England at a time of need.
Last edited by annis on Thu December 2nd, 2010, 2:49 am, edited 10 times in total.

User avatar
SarahWoodbury
Avid Reader
Posts: 496
Joined: March 2009
Location: Pendleton, Oregon
Contact:

Post by SarahWoodbury » Wed December 1st, 2010, 8:52 pm

The belief that 'King Arthur' will return is actually adopted from the Welsh legends about Cynan and Cadwaladr (whom my Last Pendragon book is about!) that Taliesin immortalizes in the Great Prophecy of Britain and in the Prophecy of Cadwaladr. It is he who supposedly sleeps in the mountain for his eventual return. See: http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/?p=566
or for the complete poem: http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/t06.htmlz

I posted earlier about the way in which 'Arthur' was adopted by the English (specifically Matilda (Maud) during her fight with King Stephen) as a way to justify her rule of 'Britain' as a whole. Robert of Gloucester, Matilda's brother, was a patron of Geoffrey of Monmouth, who was the one effectively invented 'King Arthur' in the first place. This has led some to conclude (me included!) that Geoffrey located all the Arthurian touchpoints in and around Gloucester for that reason. Without Geoffrey, the Arthurian legend is hardly more than a few scraps of poetry from Wales. That list of sources from Annis above from britannia.com is excellent in putting what we know historically into context.
Last edited by SarahWoodbury on Thu December 2nd, 2010, 2:01 am, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
Rowan
Bibliophile
Posts: 1462
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: I love history, but it's boring in school. Historical fiction brings it alive for me.
Preferred HF: Iron-Age Britain, Roman Britain, Medieval Britain
Location: New Orleans
Contact:

Post by Rowan » Wed December 1st, 2010, 11:06 pm

All of you smart people are great. :D

User avatar
Michy
Bibliophile
Posts: 1649
Joined: May 2010
Location: California

Post by Michy » Wed December 1st, 2010, 11:49 pm

[quote=""Kveto from Prague""]I think just about every country has this type of legend. they are refered to as "kings under the mountain" and speak of a great leader who is sleeping and will one day return. The Germans have Fredrick Barbarossa, the french have Charlemagne, the danes have Hrolger, the Spainish have Roderigo, the Portugesse have mad Sebastian, we Czechs have Good King Wenceclas.

[/quote] I feel a little bit left out that we Americans don't have anybody. Oh, well, there's always Superman. :D

annis
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4585
Joined: August 2008

Post by annis » Thu December 2nd, 2010, 2:52 am

Yep- it's a bit hard to have a "king under the mountain" legend without a king :) The price you guys pay for republicanism, I guess. Anyway it's pretty hard to beat Superman!

User avatar
Katherine Ashe
Scribbler
Posts: 26
Joined: September 2010
Location: beside a waterfall

Post by Katherine Ashe » Thu December 2nd, 2010, 6:26 am

Not hard at all for us Americans to have a "king under the mountain" (I love that phrase) only ours is Rip van Winkle. Gives one pause -- how we conceive our national character -- at least how it was viewed during the 19th century's deliberate creations of our myths.

Washington Irving set out to establish suitable myths for a people without an aristocracy. Among his creations is Columbus with his orange, proving that the world was round to an imaginary audience of fools who still thought it was flat. For sheer merriment, there's Irving's Knickerbocker's History of New York. Perhaps this is the source of our fondness for all things Dutch.

By the way, Kveto, is that Roderigo you mentioned up above, Roderigo de Bivar, el Cid Campeador? I knew that his dead body was sent out against the besieging Moors, according to tradition. I didn't know he was expected to come back. It would seem he was alive a bit late for such beliefs?

annis
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4585
Joined: August 2008

Post by annis » Thu December 2nd, 2010, 6:58 am

Posted by Katherine Ashe
Among his creations is Columbus with his orange, proving that the world was round to an imaginary audience of fools who still thought it was flat.
Unfortunately it spawned the hard-to-dispel myth that people of the past actually believed the world was flat :)

Ash
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 2475
Joined: August 2008
Location: Arizona, USA

Post by Ash » Thu December 2nd, 2010, 10:08 am

[quote=""Michy""]I feel a little bit left out that we Americans don't have anybody. Oh, well, there's always Superman. :D [/quote]

Hee, funny, I was thinking the same thing. We are such a young nation in the grand scheme of things that Superman from the 40s is probably going to be the closest. Tho I suspect there is a Native American legend of a chief or warrior who is our once and future king, we just don't know it yet. (Rip Van Winkle just doesn't have the gravitas needed - but then I watched the old cartoon of it as a child and its hard to get rid of the image of a very thin, worn and weak Dumbledore)
Last edited by Ash on Thu December 2nd, 2010, 10:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

Post Reply

Return to “Questions and Research”