I talked a little bit on Tuesday about “where” Rusty’s realm of King Arthur is located (more about that later). An equally important factor is “when.”
The French Romance writers, notably including the 12th century Chrétien de Troyes, place Arthur and his knights in contemporary times. Thomas Malory, writing in the 15th century, follows that practice. Of course, we know for a fact that if King Arthur really did live, it couldn’t have been during these times. The history of the Middle Ages is too well known. We know every king of England and surrounding territories during that period, and Arthur is not one of them.
Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain) places Arthur in the late 5th and early 6th centuries. That tradition is much more popular with modern Arthurian writers, although using literary license to move it around a century or two is not uncommon. Geoffrey traces the legend back to a British king named Vortigern; there is reasonable historical evidence that Vortigern was a real person. According to Geoffrey, Vortigern invited the Saxon brothers Hengest and his brother Horsa to Britain and gave them land in exchange for their sister is marriage and fighting to defend his kingdom–an early historical case of hiring the fox to guard the hen house. Vortigern’s rule is thought to have begun around 455.
Vortigern also instigated the murder of one of King Constantine’s three sons, Constans (Constantine was apparently a rival for the position of high king, which didn’t really exist at the time). The other two sons, Ambrosius Aurelianus and Uther Pendragon, escaped to Brittany. They later returned to take vengeance on Vortigern. Ambrosius ruled as high king until his death, and was then succeeded by his brother Uther. And as we all know by know from my Arthurian quizzes, Uther was the father of Arthur.
So here, then, are some key dates from Rusty’s Arthurian Timeline.
457AD: Vortigern is killed, beginning the reign of Ambrosius and then Uther 9 years later (Uther would have been 28 when he became high king).
459: Igrane married Gorlois. In the next 3 years they have three daughters: Elaine, Morgause, and Morgan le Fay.
467: Sir Kay is born (there were no stars in the east to mark the event).
469: Arthur conceived; Uther marries Igrane 13 days later. 9 months after that, Arthur is secretly taken away by Merlin and left with Sir Kay’s father, Sir Ector, to foster.
475: Elaine and Morgause are married off because of Uther’s inability to keep his prick in his pants around his step daughters. Morgan is sent to a nunnery. 4 years later, she escapes and ends up in Fairie for 17 years (as told in Strange Bedfellows).
480: Merlin returns from the Middle East and begins the education of Arthur in the art of kingsmanship, and Sir Kay in mathematics (as told in The Adventures of Sir Kay). He is also carrying with him the Holy Grail (as told in Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail).
485: Uther dies; chaos reigns until . . .
487: Arthur draws the sword from the stone and begins his reign. It takes him 3 years to finally put down the warring kings who refuse to accept him and assume the role as well as the title of High King.
491: Arthur begins the Saxon Wars. This lasts until the Battle of Mount Baden in 498. The battle may have been a real battle; if so, the date 498 is accepted by some scholars as the best estimate of when it took place.
496: Morgan finally escapes Fairie and comes to live with the Lady of the Lake. 4 years later she finally makes it to Camelot. Within a year, a jealous Guinevere has engineered for her to be married to the brutal King Uriens (story told in Strange Bedfellows).
504: Nimue uses her necromancy skills to place the dying Merlin in suspended animation. George Foster sees the pregnant Nimue for the first time.
505: Monsignor Dagrezia, along with Fathers Gascon and Ignatius, introduce Christianity to the Court of Arthur. NOTE: this is very ahistorical–the Christianization of Britain didn’t begin until the 7th century. But religion plays a huge part in the Arthurian legend, so I applied some of that literary license.
508: The first Grail Quest begins, but is unsuccessful.
509: George successfully makes the permanent transition to Avalon and becomes Nimue’s mate.
512: The Adventures of Sir Kay begins.
516: JD is left on Avalon as a potential sacrifice for the following year.
516??: The Battle of Camlann, in which Arthur is critically wounded and Mordred is killed. But maybe not? Perhaps the sacrifice of JD puts this off for a while. Not likely, but I haven’t made the final decision yet.
A notable and commonplace activity of the Knights of the Round Table in all of the stories stories from Chrétien de Troyes to Malory is jousting. Jousting was a sport that began around the 11th century and flourished through the 16th century. But it could NOT have been a sport during Rusty’s Arthurian timeline. Why, you ask? Because the armor of the times simply wasn’t good enough. People would die regularly if you jousted in chain mail. Plate mail, followed by full plate armor, was still several centuries away. To keep the fun, I have invented an early forerunner of jousting for our knights. You should be reading about it a couple of weeks from now.
Knights in plate armor–as well as their horses–were well protected against harm in the joust.