Arthurian Legend in the Seventeenth Century

Arthurian Legend in the Seventeenth Century

Arthurian Legend in the Seventeenth Century

Arthurian Legend in the Seventeenth Century

Excerpt

The study of the Arthurian legend in the seventeenth century has revealed almost no romance. It is the truth of the existence of Arthur and the reality of his great exploits with which those who defend the legend are concerned, for it is the political bearing of the story which is of primary importance. The Stuarts, tracing their descent from Arthur through their Tudor derivation and from the British prince, Llewelin, through their Stuart lineage, continue the Tudor tradition of the use of British material to strengthen and popularize their claims to the throne. When James I antagonized the nation by his insistence upon the Divine Right of Kings, Parliament sought to defend its rights by the support of the ancient Saxon laws. Knowledge of the Saxon language had been lost, however, and the stupendous task of restoring the language called forth the services of the greatest scholars of the age. The study of Saxon resulted in many valuable discoveries. None was of greater importance than the disclosure that the true origin of the nation was Saxon rather than British.

The Tudor emphasis upon the founding of the nation by Brutus and upon the historicity of Arthur made it especially difficult for the political leaders and the historians to overcome belief in these legends. The argument has two phases: the discussion of the Brutus myth, which is acknowledged to be so remote in time that its . . .

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