Excalibur: The Legendary Sword And Scabbard Of King Arthur
Excalibur was the magical sword of King Arthur, and it was said to have many interesting qualities. In battle, he who wielded it would smite down all enemies, while he who held its scabbard could suffer no harm. It should not be confused with the Sword in the Stone, which unlike Excalibur, could be broken or destroyed in battle, and in fact was - which was why Excalibur was forged in the first place. It was said that the sword was made especially for King Arthur, and that no other could wield it. The sword was forged in the realm of Avalon, and enchanted water was fused into the blade.
Of the sword's finding, the book The Story of King Arthur, retold by Robin Lister says, "Arthur was standing at the water's edge, transfixed. He was staring out at the lake. I followed his gaze and saw, through the mirror-smooth surface, a slender arm, holding a gleaming sword, which reached up to the sky. An old boat lay hidden in the reeds, where I remembered it. We waded to it and clambered in, soaked to the waist, then we paddled out towards the sword. As we approached we saw a woman smiling up at us through the gently rippled surface. Her hair floated around her and her body shimmered in the water's dancing light. In her left hand was a silver scabbard, studded with precious stones."
The Lady of the Lake presenting Arthur with Excalibur. (Image Source)
All in all, King Arthur fought twelve terrible battles against the Saxons, and Excalibur remained ever faithful by his hand. These battles were all proven historically accurate, that is to say that they were "real", by the Historia Regum Britanniae, the History of the Kings of Britain, the Historia Brittonum, the Y Gododdin, and the Annales Cambriae.
King Arthur at the head of his army. (Image Source)
Of Arthur's use of the sword Excalibur during his first battle, north of the River Trent, Thomas Mallory writes, "thenne he drewe his swerd Excalibur, but it was so breyght in his enemyes eyen that it gaf light lyke thirty torchys." Winning this battle, Arthur re-enforced his position as King of Britain, and this would only be the first time that Excalibur would serve him well.
At the Battle of Mons Badonicus, or Mount Badon, it is said that King Arthur slew 960 Saxons by his own hand. This victory halted the Saxon invasion of the British Isles, and led to a period of relative peace, until Arthur's bastard son Mordred began a rebellion some years later.
When Arthur faced Mordred at the Battle of Camlann in AD 537, he had only Excalibur to protect him. In the ensuing battle, hundreds of knights were slain, leaving only King Arthur and two Knights of the Round Table, as well as their enemy Prince Mordred. In anger at the loss of his Knights, which had numbered over 200, Arthur rushed at Mordred. While he ran, his scabbard with Excalibur came loose, and grabbing Sir Lucan's spear, he drove it through Mordred's heart. As he died, Mordred lashed out at Arthur, and struck him a mortal blow on the head.
King Arthur slaying Prince Mordred. (Image Source)
The remaining knights, Sir Lucan and Sir Bedivere carried their King to the shore, where they set him down. There Sir Lucan collapsed dead of his injuries, which he had sustained earlier, while Sir Bedivere, upon Arthur's command, went and found Excalibur and its scabbard. Returning to his King's side, Sir Bedivere was bade to throw the sword into the sea. Sir Bedivere twice failed to comply, but on the third attempt threw it as hard as he could into the sea, where a hand emerged from the water to catch it. A lone White Ship soon appeared over the horizon and took King Arthur away to Avalon, and it is said by some, and believed by many, that King Arthur will one day return to Britain and restore the chivalry of the Round Table.
Sir Bedivere holding King Arthur as the White Ship appears over the horizon. (Image Source)
© 2010 Gregory Markov
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