Having commanded his knights to multiple victories, King Arthur felt that now was the time to ask for Guinevere’s hand. He could not stop thinking of the beautiful woman since he first laid eyes on her and the idea that with her as his queen, he could regain peace in England. Surely her father, Leodogran, could not find a fault in the prospect.
“I will send three knights as my messengers and patiently await the answer,” he thought to himself.
Leodogran had heard of the newly crowned king and asked for his help with the oncoming attacks his kingdom Cameliard had endured. The people had suffered enough and needed assistance. Though Arthur had come through fighting on his side in his time of need, Leodogran had heard the rumors of this new king as well. A baseborn son of Gorloïs, a rival to King Uther Pendragon, or one of Uther’s knights Anton could not be king. Arthur had to be descended from Uther himself. Leodogran wondered how to find out if Arthur was truly a king for he could not let his daughter marry him otherwise. When the messengers arrived with their proposal from Arthur, he decided he could ask them, since they must know him well.
Bedivere, the first of Arthur’s knights and unknowingly to be his last as well, took it upon himself to explain the rise of his king. Bedivere had been there at the crowning and knew of Arthur’s parentage and his tale. Bedivere relayed the story of King Uther Pendragon and his worries of not having an heir due to his wife only giving him daughters.
“Uther defeated Gorloïs, his rival, in battle and took his wife, Ygerne for his own. Uther then died still crying for an heir on his deathbed. After Ygerne had the baby, a boy, she turned him over to Merlin the wizard for his safety could not be ensured,” Bedivere explained to the King. Merlin had taken Arthur to safety and placed him in the care of Anton.
“Between Gorloïs’s wife the mother and being raised in Uther’s loyal knight, Anton’s family, of course, the rumors would be that Arthur was baseborn of one of them but that is not the situation,” Bedivere stated. The king still had trouble deciding if this was the truth, until, by chance, Bellicent, daughter of Gorloïs and Ygerne, half-sister of Arthur happened to visit. Bellicent, knowing him personally, had come to care for Arthur as her brother and though could not guarantee his lineage she spoke of his honor and deeds. She explained to the king that she had seen his crowning when Merlin brought him back to court.
“The Lady of the Lake in her clothes of white was there. This is how she came to present Arthur his sword, wonderfully white, with incense flowing all around her. The sword was presented to him of the lake where she is from. She spoke as if singing, and brought forth Excalibur. The cross-hilted sword was large and jeweled and she carried it as she walked”
At this, King Leodogran was more subdued and in thought. Surely a peculiar woman who lives in water would not be the way that the country would have a king chosen… However, this plus the knight’s story of his birth must be something to put stock into. Surely his daughter could be well cared for by such a man. One who was chosen.
Author’s Note: I was inspired by the poem The Coming of Arthur in the works of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King about King Arthur and Camelot. King Leodogrance’s view is mostly the one that is focused on but I wanted to focus on this Lady of the Lake because she is the one who gave Arthur his sword, Excalibur. This version is older than the one that says he pulled it from a stone and these earlier versions have the Lady of the Lake giving him the sword and being present for Arthur becoming the king. All of my story happens before Arthur marries Guinevere which happens at the end of Tennyson’s poem The Coming of Arthur. This specific poem looks at Arthur’s life from birth to his marrying of Guinevire. At the end of my story, there is a slight call to Monty Python and their take on the Lady of the Lake as well. In the movie when Arthur is going out and people are questioning his birth just as in this poem, he retorts that the Lady of the Lake giving him his sword should be proof enough. The commoner’s joke that a kingdom shouldn’t have their king decided by a strange woman living in a pond giving out swords.
The Coming of Arthur | Alfred, Lord Tennyson | University of Rochester
The image is by Walter F. Enright and from the University of Rochester