Le Morte D’Arthur, book 1, part 3

We finally get to meet Arthur! And he is cute! This is the cutest part ever!

And also Uther dies. I am liking this chapter.


Then Queen Igraine waxed daily greater and greater, so it befell after half a year that as King Uther lay by his queen, he asked her by the faith she owed to him whose was the child within her body. [*mutters* What the hell does she owe you, you raped her and killed her husband] Then she was sore abashed to answer. ‘Do not be dismayed,’ said the king, ‘but tell me the truth, and I shall love you the better, by the faith of my body.’

‘Sire,’ said she. ‘I shall tell you the truth. The same night that my lord died, the hour of his death as his knights record, there came into my castle of Tintagel a man like my lord in speech and in countenance, and two knights with him in likeness of his two knights Brastias and Iordanus. And so I went into bed with him as I ought to do with my lord, and the same night, as I shall answer unto God, this child was begotten upon me.’

‘And that is the truth,’ said the king. ‘I myself came in the likeness of your husband, and therefore do not be dismayed, for I am father to the child.’ And there he told her all the cause, how it was by Merlin’s council. Then the queen made great joy when she knew who was the father of her child. […Malory? Is that a realistic reaction?]

Soon came Merlin unto the king and said, ‘Sir, you must purvey you for the nourishing of your child.’ [I don’t know exactly what this means…but it’s something about giving Merlin the baby. He really wants that baby.]

‘As thou wilt,’ said the king. ‘So be it.’

‘Well,’ said Merlin, ‘I know a lord of yours in this land that is a passing true man and faithful, and he shall have the nourishing of your child. His name is Sir Ector, and he is a man of fair livelihood in many parts in England and Wales. And this Sir Ector, let him be sent for to come and speak with you, and desire him as he loveth you that he will give his own child to another woman and have his wife nourish yours. And when the child is born, let it be delivered to me at yonder privy postern unchristened.’  [Wait, Uther and Igraine never even gave Arthur a name?] [Like, Merlin, you can see the future. Literally SO MUCH of the mess in Le Morte D’Arthur could have been averted if you had just mentioned to Igraine, ‘So, I was thinking about naming him Arthur! Maybe tell his sisters that?’]

So it was done as Merlin devised. And when Sir Ector came, he promised the king to nourish the child as the king desired.

Then when Igraine delivered the child, the king commanded two knights and two ladies to take the child bound in a cloth of gold, and deliver him to the poor man they met at the postern gate of the castle. [I’ve finally memorized what ‘postern’ means! I don’t have to look it up every time I see it anymore!] So the child was delivered unto Merlin, and he bore it forth unto Sir Ector and made a holy man to christen him, and named him Arthur. And so Sir Ector’s wife nourished him with her own breast. […Did you think we would get confused as to what she nourished him with, Malory?]

Then within two years King Uther fell sick of a great malady. [It was really sad.] And in the meanwhile his enemies usurped upon him and did a great battle with his men, and slew many people. ‘Sir,’ said Merlin, ‘You may not lie so as you do, for you must go to the field though you ride on a horse-litter. For you shall never have the better of your enemies unless you be there.’ So it was done as Merlin devised, [Starting to see a pattern here] and they carried the king forth in a horse-litter with a great host toward his enemies. [Does anyone know what a medieval English litter looks like, when they were introduced, etc.? I didn’t know they had those.] And that day Sir Ulfius and Sir Brastias did great deeds of arms, and King Uther’s men overcame the northern army and slew many people and put the remnant to flight. And then the king returned unto London and made great joy of his victory.

The king fell passing sore sick, so that he was speechless three days and three nights, wherefore all the barons made great sorrow and asked Merlin what council were best. ‘There is no other remedy,’ said Merlin, ‘but God will have his will. But let all of you be before King Uther tomorrow morn, and God and I shall make him speak.’ [Okay, but I do have one question. If, later in the story, Morgan can heal Arthur after he got stabbed in the skull, why can’t Merlin heal Uther? Does he not want to? Is this just yet another inconsistency? (I mean probably)(But to be fair, nothing’s consistent in my story either)] So in the morning all the barons with Merlin came before the king. Then Merlin said aloud unto King Uther, ‘Sire, shall your son Arthur be king of this realm after your days?’

Then Uther Pendragon turned to him and said in the hearing of them all, ‘I give him God’s blessing and mine, and bid him pray for my soul, [‘CAUSE YOU NEED IT] and righteously and worshipfully that he claim the crown, upon forfeiture of my blessing. [I…I don’t know what ‘righteously and worshipfully’ means in this context. Is he saying that Arthur can claim the crown righteously and worshipfully?] And therewith he yielded up the ghost and was interred as belonged to a king, wherefore the fair Queen Igraine and all the barons made great sorrow. [Igraine, baby, don’t feel bad for this douchebag, he doesn’t deserve it]

Then stood the realm in great jeopardy for a long while, for every lord that was mighty of men made himself strong, and many wished to be king. Then Merlin went to the Archbishop of Canterbury and counselled him to send for all the lords of the realm and all the gentlemen of arms that they should come to London by Christmas upon pain of cursing; and for this cause, that Jesus who was born on that night would of his great mercy show some miracle, as he was come to be king of mankind, for to show some miracle who should be rightwise king of this realm. [That was a complicated sentence, but basically God is sick of everyone’s BS and is going to perform a miracle to tell everyone who is going to be king.] [Does ‘pain of cursing’ have another meaning in this context, or did Merlin just threaten to curse a whole bunch of people if they didn’t do what he said? XD I have no idea if that’s what it means, but I really, really hope it means that.]

So the Archbishop, by the advice of Merlin, sent for all the lords and gentlemen of arms that they should come by Christmas eve unto London. And many of them made them clean of their life that their prayer might be the more acceptable unto God. [Lol, so cleaning up your act for the holidays isn’t a modern thing.] So in the great church of London (whether it was St. Paul’s or not the French book makes no mention) all the estates were long or day in the church to pray. […That last part means everyone prayed for a really long time? I think?] [Also, Malory, which French book, you use so many French books as a source for this.] And when matins and the first mass were done, there was seen in the churchyard against the high altar a great stone foursquare, like unto a marble stone. And in the middle of the stone was an anvil of steel a foot high, and therein was a sword, and letters there were written about the sword that said thus: ‘Whoso pulleth out the sword from this stone and anvil is rightwise king born of all England.’

Then the people marveled and told it to the Archbishop. ‘I command,’ said the Archbishop, ‘that you keep within the church and pray unto God, and no man touch the sword till the high mass be done.’ So when the mass was done, all the lords went to behold the sword and the stone. And when they saw the writing, some who would have been king attempted to take the sword. But none might stir the sword nor move it.

‘He is not here,’ said the Archbishop, ‘that shall achieve the sword, but doubt not that God will make him known. But this is my council, that we find ten knights, men of good fame, and they will guard this sword.’ So it was ordained, and then there was made a cry, that every man that would should attempt to win the sword.

And on New Year’s Day the barons had a joust and a tournament, so all knights that would joust or tourney there might play. All this was ordained to keep the lords together and the commons, for the Archbishop trusted that God would make known him who should win the sword.

So upon New Year’s Day when the service was done, the barons rode unto the field, some to joust and some to tourney. And so it happened that Sir Ector who had great livelihood about London rode unto the jousts, and with him rode Sir Kay and young Arthur who was Sir Kay’s nourished brother. [Yay! Our boy!] Sir Kay had been made knight last Hallowmas. [Hallowmas means Halloween and is like one of my favorite words.]

And as they rode to the jousts-ward, [I can’t find a definition for this, I’m sorry] Sir Kay lost his sword, for he had left it at his father’s house. [#relatable] And so he asked Arthur to ride back for his sword. ‘I will,’ said Arthur, and rode fast to get the sword, but when he came home, the lady and the household were out to see the jousting. [I swear I’m getting flashbacks to all the times my family has lost something RIGHT BEFORE WE GO SOMEWHERE. If I ever become queen, this will be how.] Then Arthur was wroth and said to himself, ‘I will ride to the churchyard and take the sword that is in the stone, for my brother shall not be without a sword this day.’ [I love how determined this cute kid is? ‘Well, no one’s home? Screw it! I’m just taking that magic sword, then! To hell with the consequences!’ *accidentally becomes king*]

So when he came to the churchyard, Sir Arthur alighted and tied his horse to the stile, and he went to the tent and found no knights there, for they were jousting. And so he grabbed the sword by the handle and lightly and fiercely pulled it out of the stone and took his horse and rode his way until he came to his brother Sir Kay. And as soon as Sir Kay saw the sword, he knew well it was the sword of the stone, and rode to his father Sir Ector, and said, ‘Sir, look, here is the sword of the stone, wherefore I must be king of this land.’ [Oh, God, Kay was almost the king of England]

When Sir Ector beheld the sword, he returned again and came to the church. And he made Sir Kay swear upon a book [the bible, I guess?] how he came by the sword. ‘Sir,’ said Sir Kay, ‘by my brother Arthur, for he brought it to me.’

‘How did you get this sword?’ said Sir Ector to Arthur.

‘Sir, I will tell you. When I came home for my brother’s sword, I found nobody at home to give me his sword. And I thought my brother Kay should not be swordless, so I came here eagerly and pulled it out of the stone without any pain.’

‘Found you any knights about this sword?’ asked Sir Ector.

‘No,’ said Arthur.

‘Now,’ said Sir Ector, ‘I understand you must be king of this land.’

‘Wherefore I,’ said Arthur, ‘and for what cause?’ […Arthur, you didn’t bother to read the writing on the stone? Or, like, bother to listen to any of the gossip since Christmas?]

‘God will have it that whoever draws out this sword shall be king of this land,’ said Sir Ector. ‘Now let me see whether you can put the sword there as it was and pull it out again.’

‘That is no mastery,’ said Arthur, and he put it in the stone, and Sir Ector tried to pull out the sword and failed.


I knew the story of how Arthur pulled the sword from the stone, but somehow it always missed me how relatable and just plain cute that was. I feel like becoming king because your older brother lost his sword and you had to find one for him is…probably the most realistic way of accidentally becoming king. I’ve never seen a more accurate portrayal of this type of story in all the books and fairy tales I’ve read. We will never trump Arthurian legend in this.

Also, if I were a knight, I would definitely always be losing my sword. I wouldn’t actually be able to fight anyone because I’d always accidentally be leaving my weapons at home. Hell, I’d probably be the Dinadan of the bunch and always think of ways to get out of fighting anyway, let’s be honest with ourselves.

Have you also been waiting for Uther to die? Is this an accurate portrayal of how you would become king? Does your family also lose lots of things right before they go somewhere?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s