By Matt Schwoebel (an amateur historical Arthur scholar/enthusiast)

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Friday, July 16, 2004

1. Arthur’s Knights

The greatest legend in the Western world is based on Arthur leading six, count them, six knights against the barbarian Anglo-Saxon horde thousands strong!  Arthur would have led a cavalry force at least the size of one Roman Ala, which is comprised of 300 men.  Every knight but Arthur himself is a Sarmatian (see point 2) in this film, not a Briton.  The movie knights include Bors, Dagonet, Galahad, Gawaine, Lancelot, and Tristan. 

Gawaine (Gwain) and Tristan (Tristam or Drustan) are good Celtic names, not Sarmatian Iranian, and are probable historical companions of Arthur.  Tristan has a stone in Cornwall listing him as a son of King Mark (Cunomorus).  This is the same Tristan of the famous romantic tragedy of Tristam and Isolde, which has been added to the Arthurian legends.  

Bors in legend is from Brittany or Armorica, the Briton part of western France.  According to legend, he led Armorican Bretons loyal to Arthur along with his brother Ban.  Dagonet may be from the medieval legends, I have not heard of him in historical works. 

Galahad and Lancelot may be based on real knights or are legendary additions.  I personally like the idea of Lancel ap Lot (my theory, as far as I know) as Lancelot’s real name (ap or map is the Welsh word for ‘son of’, like Mac in Gaelic).  Lot was a king of the Votandi (Gododdin) thought to have fought against Arthur in the north of Britain (Lothian in Scotland may be named after Lot).  Galahad may have originally been Welsh Gwalchmai (hawk of May?). 

Most egregious of all, they left out two of the most important companions of Arthur – Bedwyr (Sir Bedivere) and Caius (Sir Kay, Kei, or Cay).  Like Gawaine, they are the most likely knights of legend to be true companions of Arthur.  Caius (a Roman name) and Bedwyr (Celtic) were his trusted lieutenants.  Actually the best term for Arthur’s companions is not knight, but the Latin equivalent – equite (it does not have the heavily armored, medieval jousting connotation).  Arthur’s equites were similar to the Peers of Charlemagne and the late Roman cavalry that were their antecedents.

Go To 2. Sarmatians


Anonymous AxeGoddess said...

A slight correction:

Gwalchmai was Gawain in the Welsh tales. Galahad was the son of Lancelot by Elaine.

Otherwise, great work! Insightful and well researched.

April 13, 2006 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger BethL said...

I have heard Dagonet called Arthur's jester, not his knight. No idea why they would choose him over Caius or Bedwyr.

April 23, 2006 at 3:22 PM  

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