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is one of the most famous legends in all of history. His heroic adventures, his castle at Camelot and his magical sword Excalibur are very well-known and they have even entered popular culture. The Arthurian legends and stories have inspired countless books, play, tv series and of course movies. One of the most fascinating stories in the Arthurian cycle of legends is those of the Knights of the Round Table. They are among the best-known characters in the Arthurian cycle of stories, including memorable figures as Lancelot, Gawain, and Perceval. The knights who gathered around the circular table are regarded as the paragons of knightly virtue. They inspired many nobles during the Middle Ages to abide by the code of chivalry. However, did the Knights of the Round Table exist and are they based on historical figures. This article examines if the fabled knights have some basis in fact. It argues that the story of the Round Table probably has no real basis in fact, but that the chivalrous warriors were probably based on stories of elite fighters who fought for early medieval warlords and possible some historical figures who survived in folklore.
[[File: Knights 1.jpg|200px|thumb|left|A 19th century painting of the knights leaving Camelot]]
==The Arthurian Legend==
King Arthur was once believed to have lived in the Dark Ages, in Britain and had fought the invading pagan Anglo-Saxons and he brought peace and plenty to the land. It was once widely accepted that he was a historical figure but later he came to be regarded as only a myth or a figure out of folklore. Today, many believe that Arthur was a composite figure and he was based on a number of the many Romano-Britain warlords that fought against Germanic invaders in the wake of the collapse of the Western Roman Empire <ref> Littleton, C. Scott, and Linda A. Malcor. From Scythia to Camelot (London, Routledge, 2013), p 134 </ref>. The source of the Arthurian legend is in a number of Welsh chronicles and epic poems. In these Arthur is a ‘king’ who fights many battles against the Anglo-Saxons. His story was well-known and became popular and it was later taken up by French writers. These added to the Welsh tales and added many of the characters and the details that we are all now familiar with. The first reference to the Knights of the Round Table was in the work of a Breton poet in the 11th century. Later poets added details to the Knights and created characters such as Gawain. Chrétien de Troyes is widely credited with weaving the story of the Quest for the Holy Grail into the tale of the Knights of the Round Table <ref> Littleton, p 123</ref>. de Troyes had the knights search for the Grail, which was the cup used by Jesus and the Apostles during the Last Supper. Since then the Knights of the Round Table have become an integral part of the much-loved Arthurian cycle of stories. However, there is practically no other references to the knights and the Round Table in any other medieval sources, other than those associated with the Arthurian legends. Although there are some place names in Wales and England that are called after the site of the Table, all of these are probably later inventions.