The legend of King Arthur is one that the history books know well, and there have been countless retellings of the classic story. None is more famous and well-known than that of the Round Table. There has long been a debate about whether King Arthur actually existed, and this is something that is still up for dispute even to this day.
But, one thing is clear, and that is that the legend endures. The Once and Future King is known to people all over the world, and we’re going to look at his legendary knights of the Round Table. This is the centerpiece of Arthurian legend and the table around which Arthur and his knights would congregate in order to have meetings and concoct plans. Here is everything you need to know about this great legend.
The first mention of the table is thought to have been in Robert Wace’s Roman de Brut. It was also mentioned in the 13th Century by poet Layamon. According to him, Arthur requested that the table be built by a famous Cornish carpenter, and requested a table that would seat 1,600 men – an exaggeration of course. But, Arthur also wanted it to be portable so that he could take it with him wherever he went. As you might imagine, this would have taken some carpenter to achieve such a table!
The purpose of the table
Now, many have speculated about the purpose of the Round Table – why it was round, and what Arthur had it made so large for. Now, we know that around 150 knights actually sat at the table, so there are a couple of reasons behind the shape. For starters, it would be more efficient with space, because a round table would be able to fit more people than a square one of the equivalent size – no corners. But, more than that, it is thought that the reason behind the shape was because of equality. It meant that no knight felt like he was sat lower, and ranked lower, than any other. In terms of morale and diplomacy, this is simply genius.
Of course, there are also other explanations and legends for how the table was created. Don’t forget that this was an ancient time, a time of magic. A time when witches and wizards were feared and revered and Merlin had probably the most powerful wizard of all time in his corner, Merlin. Now, there are claims that Merlin used his powerful magic to create the table. This lends itself to the mythology of the King Arthur legend, but it’s not quite as likely as the first option, we’re afraid to say!
As you can see, there is a lot to the King Arthur legend, and the Knights of the Round Table are hugely iconic in popular culture. We all know about the legendary table, but you may not have been aware of its origins. Well, now you can’t say that anymore, and you now know a little more about the legend of the Round Table. There are so many different interpretations of what happened, and we’ve looked at one aspect of the history behind the Round Table.