Worlds of Arthur: Facts and Fictions of the Dark Ages

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Oxford University Press, Feb 14, 2013 - History - 357 pages
9 Reviews
King Arthur is probably the most famous and certainly the most legendary medieval king. From the early ninth century through the middle ages, to the Arthurian romances of Victorian times, the tales of this legendary figure have blossomed and multiplied. And in more recent times, there has been a continuous stream of books claiming to have discovered the 'facts' about, or to unlock the secret or truth behind, the 'once and future king'. Broadly speaking, there are two Arthurs. On the one hand is the traditional 'historical' Arthur, waging a doomed struggle to save Roman civilization against the relentless Anglo-Saxon tide during the darkest years of the Dark Ages. On the other is the Arthur of myth and legend - accompanied by a host of equally legendary people, places, and stories: Lancelot, Guinevere, Galahad and Gawain, Merlin, Excalibur, the Lady in the Lake, the Sword in the Stone, Camelot, the Round Table. The big problem with all this is that 'King Arthur' might well never have existed. And if he did exist, it is next to impossible to say anything at all about him. As this challenging new look at the Arthur legend makes clear, all books claiming to reveal 'the truth' behind King Arthur can safely be ignored. Not only the 'red herrings' in the abundant pseudo-historical accounts, even the 'historical' Arthur is largely a figment of the imagination: the evidence that we have - whether written or archaeological - is simply incapable of telling us anything detailed about the Britain in which he is supposed to have lived, fought, and died. The truth, as Guy Halsall reveals in this fascinating investigation, is both radically different - and also a good deal more intriguing.

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Review: Worlds of Arthur

User Review  - Liam Guilar - Goodreads

It's a pity he didn't write the book he claims he set out to write. But he can't be the first Historian to realise "My personal slightly dodgy theory about Dark Age Migration" wasn't going to make the book stands, and shoe horned his pet theory into the covers with 'Arthur' on the title. Read full review

Review: Worlds of Arthur

User Review  - Diane - Goodreads

This book talks about the politics and culture of Britain in the late Roman period and slightly thereafter; the time of the legendary King Arthur. I found the book to be a bit too academic, and the ... Read full review


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About the author (2013)

Guy Halsall has taught at the universities of London and York, where he has been a professor of history since 2003. His early specialism was in the history and archaeology of the Merovingian period (c.450-c.750), and he has since published widely on a broad range of subjects: death and burial, age and gender, violence and warfare, barbarian migrations, and humour. This investigation into the 'worlds of Arthur' brings him back to the study of early medieval British history and archaeology with which his scholarly training began.

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