Le Morte D’Arthur, book 1, part 4

For some reason, whenever I size the image down, it comes out slightly blurry. IDK what’s wrong with WordPress. Also, I feel like I need to make a new character design for Arthur, but idk, what do you think?

In which Arthur pulls the sword from the stone…again…and again…and again. Because bureaucracy was just as infuriating back then as it is today.

In other news, I went into the city and I brought back loot! I got two fairy tale books at a used bookstore, one on Scottish folklore and the other on African folklore. I wavered for about three seconds between buying a new fairy tale book and wading through the chaff that is the YA section. (And yes, you can find lots of gold in the YA section. But you have to wade through so. Much. Chaff.) I quickly went to the folklore section, deceptively titled ‘Metaphysics’ for some reason. I associate metaphysics with guys like Descartes and Aristotle, okay? Not Scottish fairies. And I like both books so far, although I haven’t had as much time to look through the African one yet. Will any of the fairy tales be coming to this site? Who knows!

Anyway. We pick up where the previous chapter left off, where Arthur has just explained to his (foster) father how he pulled the sword out of the stone.


‘Now try,’ said Sir Ector to Sir Kay. And Sir Kay pulled at the sword with all his might, but it would not move. ‘Now you shall try,’ said Sir Ector to Arthur.

‘I will,’ said Arthur, and pulled it out easily. And Sir Ector and Sir Kay knelt down to the earth. ‘Alas,’ said Arthur, ‘my own father and brother, why do you kneel before me?’

‘No, no, my lord Arthur, it is not so. I was never your father nor of your blood, but I know well you are of a higher blood than I thought you were.’ [Wait, Ector, do you not even know who Arthur’s dad is? Did you never ask? I am confused?] And then Sir Ector told him how he took Arthur to raise him, and by whose commandment, and by Merlin’s deliverance. Then Arthur was greatly sorrowful when he understood that Sir Ector was not his father. ‘Then, sir,’ said Ector, ‘will you be my good and gracious lord when you are king?’

‘I would be to blame if I were not,’ said Arthur. ‘You are the man in the world that I am most beholden to, besides my good lady and mother your wife, who has fostered and kept me as well as her own child. And if ever it be God’s will that I be king as you say, you shall ask me what I shall do, and I will not fail you. God forbid that I should fail you.’

‘Sir,’ said Sir Ector, ‘I will ask no more of you but that you will make my son and your foster brother Sir Kay seneschal of all your lands.’ [So, I’m kind of imagining Arthur going, ‘…wait, I’m going to have to work with my annoying older brother forever?] [Also, looking at this from a completely modern perspective, this is such blatant nepotism.]

‘That shall be done,’ said Arthur. ‘And by the faith of my body, no man shall have that office but him while he and I live.’

Then they went to the Archbishop and told him how the sword was enchanted [he knows, guys], and by whom, and on the twelfth day all the barons came hither to try and take the sword. But none might take it out but Arthur.   […wait. I just caught that. Wait a second, someone enchanted the sword? I thought this was supposed to be a miracle. You’re telling me MERLIN SET THIS WHOLE THING UP? I lowkey love the idea of this whole thing being Merlin’s PR stunt, though.] [Although honestly this English is so confusing, maybe it is supposed to be a miracle. Who even knows. *throws hands up in the air*]

Because of this, many of the lords were wroth, and they said it was a great shame unto them and the realm to be governed by a boy who was not highborn. And so they agreed that it be put off till Candlemas, and then all the barons should meet there again. [Seriously? He already pulled it out!] But always ten knights were ordered to watch the sword and the stone day and night, and they set a pavilion over the sword and stone, and five men always watched. And as Arthur did at Christmas, he did at Candlemas and pulled out the sword easily, wherefore the barons were sore aggrieved and put it off in delay until the high feast of Easter. […You’ve got to be kidding me!] And as Arthur did before, he did at Easter. But some of the great lords were indignant that Arthur should be king, and put it off in delay until the feast of Pentecost. [Insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, guys.]

And the Archbishop of Canterbury, by Merlin’s providence, searched for the best knights they might get, knights such as Uther Pendragon loved best and were most trusted in his days. […Hopefully not knights like Sir Ulfius, though…] And such knights were put about Arthur as Sir Baldwin of Breton, Sir Kay, Sir Ulfius, [WELL, LOOK WHO IT IS] and Sir Brastias. [Also, I have no idea if that’s supposed to be Breton or Britain *shrugs*] All these knights, and many others, were always about Arthur day and night until the feast of Pentecost. [That’s so interesting that the Archbishop supported Arthur from the beginning, because later on (minor spoilers I guess), Mordred kills the Archbishop. This kind of throws that into a different light, where it’s not just about, ‘DoN’t QuEsTiOn My ViEwS oN bIgAmY.’ (It was still very much about not questioning his views on bigamy, but there might have been a political motivation, too? Sometimes things in this book do connect to earlier events.)]


Fun fact: I actually forgot that Arthur was adopted and that that was kind of low-key important, and I made his backstory for my retelling, and…Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to scrap those five hours of work. That’s kind of what writing’s about, anyway. Back to the drawing board!

Have you ever forgotten a sort of important part of a story you were retelling? Do you kind of like the positive relationship Arthur has with his parents? (It’s bad for me, though, I can only write characters with tragic pasts.) Is the sword and the stone Merlin’s PR stunt or a miracle, because I cannot tell with the way this is written!

2 thoughts on “Le Morte D’Arthur, book 1, part 4

  1. When we read this in college we kind of all came to the conclusion that Arthur pulling the sword was sort of both: miracle + Merlin’s PR stunt. Merlin supposedly enchanted the sword so that only the true king could pull it out, but as years and years went by, people sort of forgot about that part of the story and only remembered the “true king will pull the sword out” part. So from those who didn’t remember’s perspective, it was a “miracle.” But from those who remembered, it was a, “Oh yeah, Merlin basically told us this would happen someday” sort of thing. (I could be remembering wrong, it’s been a while since I read this!)

    Loved reading your commentary!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my goodness, thank you for commenting!

      And ooh, that’s an interesting theory. So more of a prophecy than a divine miracle, than? I do love how much room there is to interpret with this book. It’s a little like Star Wars in that there are all these huge plot holes, but the story still holds together somehow, so you can just put hours into theorizing how it might actually have happened. (And I think I read somewhere that Star Wars was very influenced by Arthurian legend?) Of course, the plot holes in Le Morte D’Arthur also make it very hard for those of us actually trying to retell the thing, so it’s a two-way street, lol.

      Aww, thanks! Sometimes I get worried I’m completely unfunny, but I make ME laugh, and that’s what counts. XD

      Liked by 1 person

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