Arthurian Literature Quiz

So far, everything I’ve written has an Arthurian connections. I’ve read a lot of fiction (virtually everything I’ve been able to find), a fair amount of non-fiction, and taken a directed studies in Grad School. But by now it’s pretty much mixed up in my head, so I don’t really consider myself an expert.

How much do you know? Today, I offer you a fascinating quiz. The answers are at the bottom, so no peaking.

1.  Who was King Arthur’s mother?

  • a.  Yvaine
  • b.  Igraine
  • c.  Elaine
  • d.  Oraine

2.  Who was Arthur’s foster father from infancy until he pulled the sword from the stone?

  • a.  King Pelinore
  • b.  Woody, a simple woodcutter
  • c.  Sir Ector
  • d.  Merlin

3.  Who wrote the first major work that featured King Arthur as a major figure?

  • a.  Chretien de Troyes, Arthurian Romances
  • b.  Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur
  • c.  Geoffery of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain
  • d.  Henry of Huntington, Historia Anglorum

4.  sword in the stoneThe sword that King Arthur pulled from the stone was named:

  • a.  Caliburn
  • b.  Excalibur
  • c.  Guinevere
  • d.  It didn’t have a name

5.  Where did the Round Table come from?

  • a.  Arthur stole it from the dwarves
  • b.  It was a wedding gift from Guinevere’s father
  • c.  Morgan le Fay fashioned it out of a single piece of oak
  • d.  Merlin had it built by Irish stonecutters

6.  One of the seats at the round table had to remain unoccupied until the Grail knight came to claim it. That seat was called:

  • a.  The Hot Seat
  • b.  Siege Perilous
  • c.  Place de Grail
  • d.  The Empty Chair

7.  If Arthur was a historical figure, he would most likely have lived during the:

  • a.  12th Century
  • b.  Late 10th – early 11th Century
  • c.  Late 5th – early 6th Century
  • d.  7th Century

8.  According to different traditions, 2 different knights were names as the Grail knight.  Those knights were:

  • a.  Tristan and Galahad
  • b.  Gawain and Percival
  • c.  Galahad and Percival
  • d.  Percival and Lionel

9.  Which knight did Arthur command to return his sword to the lake as he was dying?

  • a. Sir Bedivere
  • b. Sir Lancelot
  • c. Sir Gawain
  • d. Sir Lucan

10. According to Malory, the severely (mortally, perhaps? Ah, it is not certain) wounded Arthur was taken away in a boat that contained 3 Queens and a lady.  Which of these were NOT in the boat?

  • a. Queen of the Wastelands
  • b. Nimue
  • c. Lady of Astolot
  • d. Morgan le Fay

How comfortable do you feel with your answers? Any pure guesses? Like the SAT’s (boy howdy, was that a long time ago), I’d say most of you know enough to have been able to eliminate an answer or two. So here goes.


1.  King Arthur’s mother was b. Igraine. She was married to Duke Garlois, one of Uther’s allies. Uther became so besotted with her that he went to war with her husband. Then he pleaded with Merlin for help. Merlin disguised Uther as the duke, so Igraine received him into her bed. Garlois was killed in battle hours later and Uther married Igraine, but Arthur was illegitimate because of the circumstances of his birth.

2.  In exchange for this deed, Uther promised Merlin any child born of that affair. Merlin took the young Arthur to the home of c. Sir Ector, to be raised in foster.

3.  Arthur had been mentioned in passing in a number of histories, poems, and chronicles. But the first time he played a major part in a work was in c. Geoffery of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain. This was not a history as we would consider it, but part history part legend. And the book that launched Arthur as a major literary figure.

4.  The sword that King Arthur pulled from the stone was d. it didn’t have a name. After he broke it in battle, the Lady of the Lake gave him Excalibur (or Caliburn, as it is known in some traditions).

5.  The Round Table, along with 100 knights, was given to Arthur as a wedding present from his father in law, King Leodegrance.

6.  b. The Siege Perilous, as named by Merlin, had to remain unoccupied until the one destined to find the Holy Grail came to claim it.

7. If Arthur was a historical figure–and there is only the faintest of evidence that he was–he would have fought the Saxons in c. the late 5th – early 6th Century.

8.  Galahad, Lancelot’s son, is the Grail knight in English/Welsh traditions. Percival is the grail knight in German and some French tellings. So the correct answer is c.  Galahad and Percival

9.  Arthur command his lifelong friend, a. Sir Bedivere, to return Excalibur to the lake, where the hand of a lady reached up and grasped it.

10. In addition to Queen of Northgalis, the boat contained all listed except c. The Lady of Astolat.  The Lady of Shalott, as she was later known, died of a broken heart because Lancelot rejected her love, long before Arthur’s last battle. She is shown below in a famous John Waterhouse painting (1888).

shalott6It is permissible to brag about your score.


8 thoughts on “Arthurian Literature Quiz

  1. 7, or maybe 7-1/2 — I knew Percival was a Grail knight but couldn’t remember between Galahad & Gawain. Between your stories & Marion Zimmer Bradley, I’ve gotten a partial education in things Arthurian

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