King Arthur and Camelot King Arthur and Camelot The Arthurian Legends are a cycle of stories that has been shaped and passed down through over fourteen hundred years of English history. The legend of King Arthur tells of the adventures of an early king of Britain and the knights and ladies who made up his royal court at Camelot. It tells of a world filled with warriors armed with lance, sword, and armor. It speaks of jousts, tournaments, wizards, falconry, enchantresses, damsels in distress, wars, quests, and the code of chivalry. It is a legend that talks of a great king who came to throne from what seemed to be nowhere and of a noble idea that ends in tragedy. I suppose, the version we know best is the one that was composed in the 15th century.
This is the great English version of the story, compiled out of earlier versions by the creative genius of a rather mysterious and cryptic figure, the knight, Sir Thomas Malory. The main characters in romance literature are larger than life. Romance literature is concerned with the feats of kings, queens, and knights—not with common, ordinary people. They follow a code of chivalry. A main character in romance literature is braver, nobler, and more honorable than an ordinary human. Oftentimes, the medieval period in general, and King Arthur in particular, have an air of mystery, romance, fantasy, and adventure that are popular themes in all times and cultures.
We see King Arthur’s magical powers when Sir Bedivere throws Excalibur into the lake, causing lightning to strike in the splendor of the moon. Main characters in romance literature are god-like characters that have no fear, retain their youthful qualities as they age, and never become a victim of sickness. Sometimes a main character in a romance is motivated by love. Morte d Arthur is a mysterious, magical and perhaps realistic view of the medieval period. If the name of King Arthur is mentioned, I suppose what comes to mind is not so much one person as a whole array of characters and themes, a montage so to speak.
Of course we do think first of the King, the magnificent monarch of a glorified or idealized medieval realm. But we think also of his Queen, of the fair and wayward Geneviere, we think of his enchanter, Merlin, who presided over his birth, who set him on the throne, who established him there in the early and traveled days of his reign. There were the Knights of the Round Table, vowed to the highest ideals of chivalry, and the greatest of them, Sir Lancelot, who, of course, has a tragic love affair with the Queen. We think of the place where these people assembled, Camelot, Arthur’s magnificent, personal castle and capital and then, there are stranger things; the story of the quest for the Holy Grail, giving a spiritual dimension to the whole story. There is magic, not only the magic of Merlin but also the magic of his strange, ambiguous student, the women, and the enchantress, Morgan LaFay. And at the end is the tragedy of Arthur’s downfall, his passing away at the isle of Avalon, which has been shrouded in secrecy.
In Arthurian literature, Mordred turns the Knights against each other, which destroys the Round Table and brings King Arthur’s entire world crashing down. One cannot help but wonder about the part that fate played in the society where the legends of King Arthur were created. Case in point, had Lancelot not decided to come to Camelot to join in the Round Table, and Mordred had never been told that Arthur was his father, Camelot may have never been destroyed. A law was made a distant moon ago here, July and August cannot be too hot. And there’s a legal limit to the snow here in Camelot ..
In that legendary story, a few key events transformed Camelot from a utopian kingdom into a wasteland. King Arthur is nothing but a naive idealist. His dream, or should I say fantasy of Camelot is nothing but an illusion. Arthurs leadership is based on emotional seduction not on power. “I have loste mygh forty knyghtes and also the noblefelyshyp of sir Launcelot and hys blood, for now I may nevermore holde hem togydirs with my worshyp.” It is power and fear that make a kingdom great not dreamy words of idealism. Arthur is a sinner just like Geneviere by having a son that he never loved and neglecting his queen-wife-adulteress Geneviere. And he knows of her affair, it is the gossip of all Camelot and yet he does nothing.
“for the kynge had a demyng of hit, but he wold nat here thereoff, for sir Launcelot had done so much for hym and for the quene so many tymes that wyte you well the kynge loved hym passyngly well.” His kingdom is dying because of his jealousy and hate of the love that Sir Lancelot and Geneviere share. This hate will destroy his kingdom and yet he loves them both and does nothing because he loves them. Love destroys as does hate and all dreams must end when one awakens. God made an individual – and then he made a pair. The pair formed a group, together they begot others and thus the group grew.
One person can destroy the group just as effectively as if the entire group was unable to function together. Too often, the leader is unprepared for the multitude of expectations that is put on him as the leader of the group. ” And all we wote that ye shulde be above sir Launcelot, and ye ar the kynge that made hym knyght.” As with any person in any leadership position, the amount of control they retain is the measure of the quality of their management. In Camelot, Arthur was the Manager and he failed to keep his subjects in control. Many times when one of the knights would ask to fight in a tournament or rescue a damsel he would give his consent readily, perhaps without fully considering the consequences. There are many variables that can cause a group to fail — personalities, misunderstandings, and ineffective leaders.
It seems to make more sense, as well as the fact that the organization can simply run more smoothly, that the standard and traditional procedures of having everyone assigned to a given job, working on his own, is the best method to use. Not only just the Knights but let us also consider the other factors which are accused to be contributors to the downfall of Camelot. Lancelot and Geneviere would have been investigated and disciplined had Arthur retained the control a Manager should. Business experts in todays world have realized that they have to work together to achieve their goals, and discord in one area can inconvenience many people. The discords caused by letting the affair continue between Lancelot and Geneviere proved to be more than just a mere inconvenience.
I am sure that the dissention caused in the ranks of not only the Knights but of the people in general was one of the main factors, which allowed Mordred to turn the knights against one another. “Here yis I and my brothir sir Mordred brake unto my brother sir Gawayne, sir Gaherys and to sir Gareth for thys ys all, to make hit shorte we know all that sir Launcelot holdith youre quene, and hath done longe; and we be your syster sunnes, we may suffir hit no lenger.” Arthur also, to put it in simple terms, ignored Mordreds actions of turning the Knights against one another. Had he been the leader he was made out to be, he would have held a Round Table gathering after discovering this travesty and done what was necessary to resolve this situation instead of letting it escalate into the fiasco it turned out to be. Now also we must consider Merlin the magician, his meddling in the life of Uther of Pendragon could be blamed as the start of this whole mess. “This nyght ye shalle lye with Igrayne in the castel of Tyntigayll.
And ye shalle be lyke the duke her husband.” After all he was the one with more wisdom and knowledge about what was going to happen if Uthers passions could reach fulfillment. And with his futuristic view, he could have prevented this whole traumatic fiasco. “this is my desyre: the first nyght that ye shal lye by Igrayne ye shal gete a chld on her; and whan that is borne, that it shall be delyverd to me for to mourisshe thereas I will have it.” I guess one could say that Merlin tried to make the best out of a bad situation. To not let it happen at all would have been an even better answer than taking the child and putting him to be raised by regular folks. Merlin may have been trying to create a better kind of King by teaching him the value of hard work and the middle class attitude, from his birth to his Kingship, instead of trying to teach these values to him after he had attained Kingship. After Uthers insistence, to be allowed to sleep with the other kings wife, he may have seen his chance to turn the leadership of England around.
We have examined here every possible reason for the downfall of Camelot. All the guilty parties have been mentioned and each reason for the fault being theirs displayed. Unfortunately we can only accuse and try one of these people. I contend that, as I have stated earlier, Arthur is the most responsible party for the downfall of this utopia called Camelot. Arthur created this city on dreams and desires but as we have heard, dreams and desires are not the only ingredients one must have to operate a city.
He as the ruler needed to uphold all the laws he had made and applied them to all the citizens of that city not just everyone except his favorites. This kind of leadership does not work any better today than it didnt work then. We might be tempted to make excuses for Arthur saying that since he took the throne at such a young age he was not able to learn lifes lessons to the fullest before having to carry them out upon a kingdom. Poppycock! We can only assume, but it is probably safe to say that Arthur was given the best training and instruction available to man, after his appointment to king as a child. Therefore the ultimate responsibility falls on Arthurs shoulders and he alone is responsible for the downfall of Camelot.
Much like our President Clinton of today, the example set by Arthur is all we should expect out of his subjects. He allowed Lancelot and Geneviere to continue in an adulterous relationship. Even after suspecting their relationship he did nothing. He allowed Mordreds plan to turn all the knights against one another to come to war and destruction. He accepted and participated in the magic of Merlin and Morgan LaFay.
Magic, good feelings, wishes and dreams are not the qualities that a good leader participates in if he expects the kingdom to be successful. Therefore, we must recognize that Arthur having the final say so, as king of Camelot must also bear the final guilt for its downfall.