The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Arthur (king)

Edition of 1920. See also King Arthur on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

ARTHUR, king of the Silures in the 6th century, an ancient British hero, whose story has been the theme of much romantic fiction. He is said to have been the son of Uthyr, chief commander of the Britons, and to have been born about 501. In 516 he succeeded his father in the office of general, and performed those heroic deeds against the Saxons, Scots and Picts which have made him so celebrated. He married the celebrated Guinevere belonging to the family of the dukes of Cornwall; established the famous order of the Round Table; and reigned, surrounded by a splendid court, 12 years in peace. After this he is reported to have conquered Denmark, Norway and France, slain the giants of Spain and journeyed to Rome. From thence he is said to have hastened home on account of the faithlessness of his wife, and Modred, his nephew, who carried on an adulterous intercourse, and stirred up his subjects to rebellion; to have subdued the rebels, but to have died in consequence of his wounds, in 542, on the island of Avalon, where it is pretended that his grave was found in the reign of Henry II. The story of Arthur is supposed to have some foundation in fact, and it is generally believed that he was one of the last great Celtic chiefs who led his countrymen from the west to resist the settlement of the Saxons in southern Britain. But many authorities regard him as a leader of the Cymry of Cumbria and Strath-Clyde against the Anglo-Saxon invaders of the east coast and the Picts and Scots north of the Forth and the Clyde. In our own day the interest of the old legends has been revived by the works of Lvtton and especially Tennyson. For bibilography, see Arthurian Legends.