Le Morte D’Arthur, book 1, parts 5 and 6

These two chapters are fairly short, so I decided to combine them both into one blog post. We’ll see how that works.

It would have been really nice if I could have done all the editing for this post the day before rather than the day of, and it would have been even nicer if I could have gotten a drawing done, but I’ve been having a pretty stressful week, so I don’t really blame myself. Oh well. It happens.


And at the feast of Pentecost, all manner of men tried to pull out the sword, but none prevailed except Arthur. [le gasp! Because he hasn’t pulled it out thirty times already!] Wherefore all the commons cried at once, ‘We will have Arthur as our king and we will delay him no more, for we all see it is God’s will that he be our king. And we will slay whoever holds against him.’ [Help! Help! I’m being repressed!] And everyone kneeled at once, both rich and poor, and begged forgiveness for having delayed him so long [yeah, you’d better], and Arthur forgave them. He took the sword between his hands and offered it upon the altar where the Archbishop was, and so he was made knight by the best man that was there. And so soon the coronation was held.

And there he was sworn unto his lords and the commons to be a true king and to stand with true justice from thenceforth the days of this life. Then he made all the lords that held of the crown to come in and do service as they ought. And many complaints were made to Arthur of great wrongs that were done since the death of King Uther, of many lands that were stolen from lords, knights, ladies, and gentlemen. So King Arthur had the lands given again to the people that owned them.

When the king had established all the countries around London, he made Sir Kay seneschal of England, Sir Baldwin constable, and Sir Ulfius chamberlain. [Gah that man gets so much he doesn’t deserve] [Middle English Dictionary gives the definition for country as ‘Any politically organized area, whatever its size: realm, domain, country, province, county, town, etc.’] And Sir Brastias was made warden to wait upon the north from Trent forwards, for at that time the area held the most of the king’s enemies. [Look! Another winner! Why do Ulfius and Brastias keep showing up, I don’t like them.] But within a few years, Arthur conquered all of north Scotland and all that was under Scotland’s obeisance. A part of Wales also held against Arthur, but he overcame them all, as he did the remnant of his enemies, through the noble prowess of himself and the knights of the Round Table. [But he doesn’t get the Round Table until after he marries Guinevere, though? Wait, I think this is talking about what he does later in the story, nvm] [Also, wow that was the shortest chapter of ever]


Then the king removed to Wales and let cry a great feast that would be held at Pentecost after his coronation at Caerleon. [Total side note, but from what I remember, wasn’t Arthur’s main castle at Caerleon earlier in the legends? Then it shifted to Camelot? I always just thought it was interesting that the iconic castle wasn’t really mentioned until the twelfth century.] Unto this feast came King Lot of Lothian and of Orkney with five hundred knights. Also came King Uriens of Gore with four hundred knights. And there came King Nentres of Garlot with seven hundred knights. [*gasp* Elaine makes a sighting! Vicariously. Does she even show up in this book? She is Arthur’s sister? Did  you never get along with her or something, Arthur? Maybe she just likes to stay the hell away from this mess of a family? (Can’t blame her)] The king of Scotland came to the feast with six hundred knights, and he was but a young man. And also there came to the feast a king that was called the King with the Hundred Knights, but he and his men were passing well-equipped. Also there came the king of Carados with five hundred knights. [I swear, if I have to type ‘and also came this king to the feast’ one more time…Malory!]

And King Arthur was glad of their coming, for he thought that the kings and knights had come for love of him and to honor him at his feast, wherefore the king was joyful and sent the kings and knights great presents. But the kings would not receive them, but rebuked the messengers shamefully and told them they had no joy in receiving gifts from a beardless boy that was of low blood, and they sent Arthur word that they would have none of his gifts. [Aww, so Arthur’s going, ‘Yay, new friends! Presents?’] But they said they were come to give him gifts of hard swords between the neck and shoulders. [I kind of like that quote. It has impact (no pun intended). I may steal that one of these days. Even if it doesn’t show up in my current retelling, I may just use it for something.]

And they came hither and told the messengers plainly that it was a great shame to them all to see such a boy have rule of so noble a realm as this land was. With this answer the messengers departed and told King Arthur this answer, wherefore by the advice of his barons he took himself to a strong tower with five hundred good men.

Within fifteen days Merlin came among them to the city of Caerleon. All the kings were passing glad of Merlin and asked him, ‘for what cause is that boy Arthur your king?’

‘Sires,’ said Merlin, ‘I shall tell you the cause, for he is King Uther Pendragon’s son born in wedlock, gotten on Igraine, the duke’s wife of Tintagel.’

‘Then he is a bastard,’ they all said. [I have no idea how exactly this works, but I think technically he might be? I remember reading that the church accepted children out of wedlock as legitimate as long as the parents married before the child was born, but legally it was much more messy. *shrugs* But I don’t know if there’s a loophole for this specific situation or if what Merlin’s saying is all rhetoric. I tried to google whether Arthur was illegitimate and all I got were results for Mordred, lol. I need to learn more about medieval law.]

‘No,’ said Merlin. ‘Arthur was begotten more than three hours after the death of the duke, and King Uther wedded Igraine thirteen days after. And therefore I prove him no bastard. And no matter what you may say, he shall be king and overcome all his enemies, and before he dies he shall be king of all England and have under his obeisance Wales, Ireland, and Scotland, and more realms than I will now rehearse.’

Some of the kings marveled at Merlin’s words and deemed it should be as he said, and some of them laughed him to scorn, like King Lot, and more others called him a witch. But they agreed with Merlin that King Arthur should come out and speak with the kings, and he would come safely and go safely. So Merlin went unto King Arthur and told him what he had done, and bade him, ‘fear not, but come out boldly and speak with them, and spare them not, but answer them as their king and chieftain, for you shall overcome them all whether they will or no.’


I have been having a pretty stressful week–a pretty stressful year, actually–and this book has been great. Reading this has been giving me something to do that is also useful, and that helps so much when I have depression and anxiety. Sometimes not doing anything feeds into those feelings, but when I have those feelings, I can’t do anything, so it’s a vicious cycle. Reading and analyzing a text just gives me a simple task to complete, and sometimes that’s what I need to get me through my day.

I really need to learn more about medieval law. Studying medieval society is so fascinating to me, because it’s so different. You (or at least I) tend to go in on the assumption that everything will work as a mix of Shakespeare and Victorian England, and then you get confused when it’s not like that at all. (Or, if you’re like me, you go in expecting a mix of Song dynasty China and Victorian England for…some reason. I have no idea what is up with me, and I’m sorry.) Women had agency in ways you wouldn’t expect, and they had agency taken away from them in ways you wouldn’t expect. And then there are the bits that are just weird, like the fact that you didn’t actually have to get married before a priest–you could have a private ceremony with no one there to witness it, and you were married. I love researching this time period. I went in thinking, ‘bah! It can’t be that different!’, and I realized how little I actually knew, and just…history is amazing.

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