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==The Arthurian Legend and Camelot==
The setting for the stories of King Arthur is the period after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Britain was invaded by pagan Anglo-Saxons who killed and enslaved the native Britons. There emerged a number of Romano-British warlords who fought the invaders and who established kingdoms in the 6th and 7th century AD. It is believed by many that Arthur was one of these warlords who battled the pagan invaders or that he was a composite of several of these Brythonic leaders
<ref><ref>Halsall, Guy Worlds of Arthur: Facts & Fictions of the Dark Ages (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2013), p 78</ref>. There are many connections between the Arthurian stories and Wales. The first tales about the great king and hero are from Welsh poems and chronicles. However, they appear to have been widely known throughout England and even in Brittany (France). In the Middle Ages, several French writers composed cycles of stories about the king and his adventures. These were enormously influential, and they introduced new characters and themes. In the 15th century, Thomas Malory composed ‘Morte d’Arthur which was largely based on French and Welsh sources. This was one of the first printed books in England and was critical in the development of the Arthurian legends <ref> Snyder, Christopher Allen. The World of King Arthur (London: Thames & Hudson, 2000), p. 6</ref>.
[[File: King Arthur 2.jpg|200px|thumb|left|A 19th-century painting of the Death of Arthur]]
==The story of Camelot==
Camelot was first mentioned in the Romance of Lancelot written by the French author Chretien de Troyes in the 1200s. The first mention of the location is the following ‘Upon a certain Ascension Day King Arthur had come from Caerleon and had held a very magnificent court at Camelot as was fitting on such a day."<ref> de Troyes Chrétien Four Arthurian Romances (London, Gutenberg, 1914), p 56</ref>None of the earlier Welsh sources had mentioned a place called Camelot and they had referred to Arthur holding his court at Caerleon. They had stated that Arthur had several capitals throughout his realms. The image of Camelot was developed by successive French writers. In brief, they portrayed Camelot as a fantastic fortress, with a Christian Cathedral, magnificent halls, palaces and of course the Round Table. In some of the medieval French stories, Camelot was the capital of Arthur’s realm before the conquest of Britain by the Anglo-Saxons. Camelot had a brilliant court, where the most chivalrous knights from as far as France gathered to serve the monarch. Some 150 Knights of the Round Table gathered here and from where they decided to go on a crusade to find the Holy Grail. The French sources do not really describe the court and city, and simply state that it was surrounded by forests but was also located near some pastures that were ideal for knights’ tournaments. In the medieval sources, there were regular tournaments where knights, such as Galahad, would joust to win honors and to impress their lady-loves. In the medieval stories, Camelot is portrayed as a Christian city whose population were all noble and chivalrous. There was a dark side to this place of magic and chivalry. It was here that Arthur lived with Guinevere and where she and Lancelot fell in love. The adulterous affair between the great knight and the Queen lead to a series of ruinous civil wars that ultimately led to the death of Arthur and the decline of his realm. The magical court and stronghold did not end with the death of the great king. In some medieval tales, the city continued but was much diminished until it was sacked and destroyed by a King of Cornwall who was portrayed as a traitor and an ally to the pagan Anglo-Saxons. The story of Camelot was later adopted by Malory and other writers. Today the Arthurian court and city have become a symbol for an ideal and chivalrous realm, a fantasy land, and utopia.