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Body of stories and medieval romances centring on the legendary English king Arthur. The stories chronicle Arthur's life, the adventures of his knights, and the adulterous love between his knight Sir Lancelot and his queen, Guinevere. The legend was popular in Wales before the 11th century, was brought into literature by Geoffrey of Monmouth, and was adapted by other medieval writers, including Chrétien de Troyes, Wace, Lawamon, and Sir Thomas Malory, becoming entwined with legends of the Holy Grail. From Victorian times, when interest in the legend revived, it has figured in major works by Alfred Tennyson (Idylls of the King) and T.H. White (The Once and Future King). It is uncertain whether Arthur was a historical figure. Medieval sources say he was a 6th-century warrior and champion of Christianity who united the British tribes against the Saxon invaders, died in battle at Camlann c. 539, and was buried at Glastonbury. See alsoGalahad; Merlin; Tristan and Isolde.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Arthurian legend, visit Britannica.com.
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