Arthurian Authorities: Ideology in the Legend of King Arthur


  • Stephen Knight


King Arthur, Arthurian legend


fhis paper will not discuss the origin of the legend of King Arthur, nor its historical development, nor the ways in which Arthurian writers have used their sources, nor the beauties and literary qualities of the legend. Especially not the last. In fact this paper will not discuss the Arthurian legend as a closed literary entity, a pleasant pasture for critical play. Rather, it will treat the legend in the context of social and political forces: the central topic here is the ideological function of the many versions of the Arthurian legend in their periods. The analysis is limited to the legend in Britain and in the associated culture of medieval France. Much of the evidence for what is said here and some developments of these arguments will be found in a forthcoming book (Knight, 1983).