Why Is King Arthur Famous?

Owing to a lack of reliable documentary evidence, it is widely thought among contemporary academics that King Arthur became famous as a legendary or folk character more than an historical figure. During the Renaissance, however, it was common for British monarchs to claim King Arthur as their historical ancestor as a means of giving legitimacy to their rule. It is possible that he once served as a British warrior against the Saxons between the 5th and 6th centuries.

Whether or not the king ever lived, the stories of his life have been passed down, popularized and embellished for generations, from ancient Celtic myths and Latin chronicles to the works of Tennyson and T.H. White. The character has been brought to life more recently in popular culture on stage, television and the big screen, with movies about King Arthur including "Camelot," "Excalibur" and "King Arthur."

His purported exploits have included the slaying of giants and witches, the unification of Britain and his quest for the Holy Grail.

As the story goes, Arthur was born to Igraine, the Duchess of Cornwall, and Uther Pendragon, who had disguised himself as Igraine's husband in order to trick her into having sex with him. Arthur was then raised by the wizard Merlin, who served under Uther Pendragon and constructed for him the famous 150-man Round Table. Following his father's death, Arthur proved his right to rule by pulling a sword from a stone.