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Knights of the Round Table

Round Table

Who were they?

by David Nash Ford

The Round Table - first mentioned by Wace in his "Roman de Brut" - was not only a physical table, but the highest Order of Chivalry at the Court of King Arthur. Its members were supposedly the cream of the British military who followed a strict code of honour and service. Sir Thomas Malory outlines this as:

  • To never do outrage nor murder
  • Always to flee treason
  • To by no means be cruel but to give mercy unto him who asks for mercy
  • To always do ladies, gentlewomen and widows succor
  • To never force ladies, gentlewomen or widows
  • Not to take up battles in wrongful quarrels for love or worldly goods

Giovanni Boccaccio in his "De Casibus Virorum Illustrium" further says that the twelve basic rules of the Knights of the Round Table were:

  • To never lay down arms
  • To seek after wonders
  • When called upon, to defend the rights of the weak with all one's strength
  • To never lay down arms
  • To seek after wonders
  • When called upon, to defend the rights of the weak with all one's strength
  • To injure no one
  • Not to attack one another
  • To fight for the safety of one's country
  • To give one's life for one's country
  • To seek nothing before honour
  • Never to break faith for any reason
  • To practice religion most diligently
  • To grant hospitality to anyone, each according to his ability
  • Whether in honour or disgrace, to make a report with the greatest fidelity to truth to those who keep the annals

knights_at_the_round_tableLesser Orders of Chivalry established by King Arthur apparently included the Queen's Knights, the Knights of the Watch, the Table of Errant Companions and the, unfortunately named, Table of Less-Valued Knights. Perhaps these additional orders led to the confusion which exists over the the number of knights admitted to the Round Table. This varies dramatically, depending one which literary source one examines:

  • 13 in the "Didot-Perceval" (c.1225)
  • 50 in Robert De Boron's "Merlin" (c.1195)
  • 60 in Jean D'Ouremeuse's "Ly Myreur des Histors" (c.1350)
  • 130 in the English ballad, "The Legend of King Arthur" (16th century)
  • 140 in Hartmann Von Aue's "Erec" and "Iwein" (late 12th century)
  • 150 in the Vulgate "Lancelot" (c.1220)
  • 250 in the Vulgate "Merlin" (c.1225)
  • 1,600 in Layamon's "Brut" (late 12th century)

The names of the 25 knights inscribed on the Winchester Round Table are given as:

tor_at_glastonbury

glastonbury_tor

Kyng Arthur

King Arthur

Sir Galahallt

Sir Galahad

Sir Launcelot Deulake

Sir Lancelot du Lac

Sir Gauen

Sir Gawain

Sir Percyvale

Sir Percivale

Sir Lyonell

Sir Lionell

Sir Trystram Delyens

Sir Tristram de Lyones

Sir Garethe

Sir Gareth

Sir Bedwere

Sir Bedivere

Sir Blubrys

Sir Bleoberis

Sir Lacotemale Tayle

La Cote Male Taile

Sir Lucane

Sir Lucan

Sir Plomyde

Sir Palomedes

Sir Lamorak

Sir Lamorak

Sir Bors De Ganys

Sir Bors de Ganis

Sir Safer

Sir Safer

Sir Pelleus

Sir Pelleas

Sir Kay

Sir Kay

Sir Ectorde Marys

Sir Ector de Maris

Sir Dagonet

Sir Dagonet

Sir Degore

Sir Degore

Sir Brumear

Sir Brunor le Noir

Sir Lybyus Dysconyus

Le Bel Desconneu

Sir Alynore

Sir Alymere

Sir Mordrede

Sir Mordred

http://www.britannia.com/history/arthur/knights.html

 

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