This is the ninth-part of our discussion of Britain in the so-called Age of Arthur: the 5th though the mid-6th Century A.D. It is a fascinating period, with the Classical civilization of Greece and Rome giving way to the Germanic “Dark Ages”. It was the sunset of Celtic-Roman culture in Britain; it was the Age of Arthur!
But who was Arthur?
Before we answer that question, it is necessary we understand the world in which he lived.
ORIGINS OF ARTHUR
If King Arthur was indeed an historical character, we must place his life somewhere between the last decades of the 5th century, and the first decades of the 6th. He is roughly contemporaneous with Fergus Mór, the first Scot-King of Scotland; and with the Scandinavian heroes Beowulf and Hrolf Kraki (whose saga enjoys many points of similarity with the legends of Arthur). He occupies a place as leader of the British resistance against the Anglo-Saxon invaders following Ambrosius Aurelianus (mid-to-late 5th century) and before Gildas’ De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae (“On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain”), in the 540s.
The name “Arthur”, itself, is the subject of some debate.
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