Arthurian Literature and Its Legacy
French variant of Arthurian literature (a part of Armorica) had received the fullest evolution in rhymed chronicle of Wace and Chrétien de Troyes’ poetic novels. Plot building of different cycles is basically alike. In general, it comes to the next.
According to the legend, Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall under King Uther Pendragon, rebelled against the rule when the king became obsessed with Gorlois’ wife Igraine. After their union the future King Arthur was born, but Gorlois was killed by Uther. Arthur lived in the Camelot castle in Wales with 150 knights. They were the examples of bravery all around the world and 12 of them were the elite of society (Knights of the Round Table). His out of wedlock nephew Mordred has seduced Arthur’s wife. After this King killed him, but was gotten a mortal hurt. He didn’t die and was sent to the Avalon Island. All the Knights of the Round Table were killed in that fight (Pastoureau, 2001).
The Holy Grail legend is close to the King Arthur legend. The Holy Grail is a communion cup, in which Joseph of Arimathea gathered the Jesus’ blood after his crucifixion and sent it to Great Britain (Pastoureau, 2001). It’s Holy relic which has become a symbol of high perfection and the Christianity’s world empire emblem. In consequence of this not King Arthur’s Camelot, but Holy Grail became the centre of Arthurian literature. The knights changed into justice fighters, protectors of children and widows. Arthurian kingdom turned to be a mystical abstraction without any real content and borders.
Parallel to this mystical-heroic line of Arthurian literature another courtesy-romantic one continued to develop. It came from Wace and Chrétien de Troyes. Together with transversion many prosaic variants started to appear. In XIII century a lot of different translations and imitations were arisen in the Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia, Spain and Italy. It finished in XV century, when the famous Le Morte d’Arthur was written by Sir Thomas Malory. Combining all types of plot this story made it final in centuries-old literary history of King Arthur and Knights of the Round Table.