By Daniel Mersey
King Arthur, the most well known of British kings and one whose identify is synonymous with braveness, chivalry and romanticism. Arthur, King of the Britons, Arthur the medieval legend, Arthur the Celtic warlord, Arthur of the Pre-Raphaelites and Arthur of the movies...would the true King Arthur please rise up? Daniel Mersey explores the various faces, myths and theories surrounding this recognized king.
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Extra info for Arthur, King of Britons: From Celtic hero to cinema icon
The British defeat at Dyrham in 577 cut the South-West off from the Midlands and North, and the defeat at Chester in 616 split the Midlands and Wales from the northern British kings. Whether the Britons’ decline was as a result of a series of crushing military defeats, whether the defeats came about as the result of economic decline, or whether the fall of a historical Arthur’s united kingdom had pushed the Britons back into civil war from which recovery would be near impossible, the driving force in political power swiftly shifted to the Saxon kingdoms.
The date, if more reliable than those shown in native British sources, would suggest an earlier date for Saxon intervention than the traditional 449, possibly pushing us back to 429 or a date in the 430s or early 440s. It is even possible – probable even – that several such mercenary Saxon warlords were employed, and the differing dates may reflect rebellion by various bands in diverse areas. Nevertheless, Saxon warlords were making inroads into British territory. Civil wars between the newly founded British kingdoms, combined with external pressures from the Irish, Picts and, to an ever increasing degree, the Saxons, probably caused Britain to descend to the edge of anarchy.
Certainly, by the eighth century, many of the ‘heroic’ elements of Saxon culture had crept into that of the Britons, ending their memory of Romano-British life for good. The areas still ruled by Britons in the fringe areas of the South-West, Wales, Cumbria and lowland Scotland were subdued by the AngloSaxons after they achieved dominance in the lowlands of England. A later source noted that the Welsh were held under the thumb of punitive Anglo-Saxon raids so much so that they could not even ‘pisseth’ without incurring Anglo-Saxon wrath; things had definitely gone downhill for the descendants of Arthur.
Arthur, King of Britons: From Celtic hero to cinema icon by Daniel Mersey