King Arthur's Relationship With Religion

Great Essays
Religion, in many forms, has been a prominent aspect of different cultures since the beginning of documented time, dating all the way back to ancient civilizations. One of the most familiar religions to the western world is Christianity. During the times of both Geoffrey of Monmouth (twelfth century) and Sir Thomas Malory (fifteenth century), it was the most practiced religion of their regions. The two authors were quick and clever to take advantage of this religious presence in their missions to legitimize the presence and power of the infamous King Arthur. While both authors used Christianity to drive their stories, their motives behind the use of the religion vary. Geoffrey of Monmouth uses Christianity to provide a stronger connection to …show more content…
Naturally, Arthur spends a pretty decent amount of time at war in both The History of the Kings of Britain and Le Morte Darthur; what is a successful kingdom without a strong military presence? Geoffrey describes the termination of the Saxons as a necessity: “…attack these traitors with all your strength!” (Geoffrey, 216). This is a war that has been in the works since the times of Arthur’s earlier kin. As a testament to the power of Arthur’s Christian faith, these enemies of the Lord fell at the hands of Arthur and his powerful army. This is a major victory for the sake of religion. As quickly as this conflict is resolved, another is developed. After receiving a threat from the Roman State, Arthur deems it necessary to go to war against Rome (Geoffrey, 233). Rome is an incredibly powerful force at this point in time and its defeat would higher Arthur’s status drastically; however, Arthur does not pursue the war long enough to reveal whether or not his army is actually capable of such success. After some unpleasant and unexpected news, Arthur quickly returns home to attend to the betrayal by his nephew, Mordred (Geoffrey, 257). Geoffrey makes sure to depict Arthur as successful in the case of a war driven by religion that would relate to his audience but makes little effort in dwelling on a power move. Unlike Geoffrey, Malory cannot declare the Saxons as enemies of …show more content…
For further proof of Arthur’s dedication to his Christian faith he is also associated with many religious symbols and objects. In Geoffrey’s description of the war against the Saxons Arthur is shown as having the “likeness of the Blessed Mary” (Geoffrey, 217), painted across his shield to protect him and guide him through battle. This undeniably helps to express the amount of trust that Arthur puts into the strength of his faith. Further into the story Arthur comes into contact with an evil giant. Arthur is able to defeat this monster by delivering a “lethal blow by driving the whole length of the blade into his head” (Geoffrey, 240). This story is similar to the biblical story of young David and Goliath in which David delivers a lethal blow to an evil giant in the form of a rock to the head. This similarity is another symbol of Arthur’s link to Christianity. By connecting Arthur to biblical references that the audience is familiar with, Geoffrey is able to continuously relate to them. Geoffrey is not the only author to draw this type of connection, for Malory follows suit. Not only does Malory portray Arthur as lustful like David (McGerr, 28 October 2016), during the conception of his incest, bastard son Mordred (Malory, 21), but he also draws a connection to King Herod when Arthur attempts to kill all of the babies born on May Day in order to eradicate Mordred

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