Publication Date: November 17, 2000
9.9 in x 7.8 in x 0.9 inHistory
King Arthur, Camelot, Excalibur, Merlin, the Holy Grail, Lancelot, and Guinevere–these names are some of the most recognizable and evocative in the cultural heritage of the West. They conjure up vibrant images of medieval Europe, of chivalry, and of romance. But did Arthur really exist, or is Camelot only a dream? In this marvelously illustrated survey, Christopher Snyder examines the realities and the impact of the Arthurian legends on history and the arts. Following a discussion of the Celtic and Roman legacies in Europe, medieval texts and archaeological discoveries are used to piece together a picture of the fifth and sixth centuries, when Arthur was believed to have reigned as champion of the Britons. Welsh and Breton bards sang the exploits of Arthur and his knights, in turn inspiring French poets like Chretien de Troyes to compose the first chivalric romances of the Middle Ages. Snyder traces the development of Arthurian literature in medieval Europe, moving from Britain and France to Germany where writers brought the stories of the Grail and Tristan into association with Arthur. The nineteenth-century revival of interest in Arthur reached its height in the operas of Richard Wagner, while twentieth-century Camelot has found new adherents through novels, movies, and Arthurian Internet sites. With its spread-by-spread layout, sidebars, timeline, and gazetteer of Arthurian sites, this is the most thorough exploration of King Arthur’s world ever published. 250 illustrations, 50 in color.