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Who were they?

The Round Table - first mentioned by Wace (1155) in his "Roman de Brut" - was not only a physical table, but the highest Order of Chivalry at the Court of King Arthur. Its members were supposedly the cream of the British military who followed a strict code of honour and service. Sir Thomas Malory outlines this as:

  • To never do outrage nor murder

  • Always to flee treason

  • To by no means be cruel but to give mercy unto him who asks for mercy

  • To always do ladies, gentlewomen and widows succor

  • To never force ladies, gentlewomen or widows

  • Not to take up battles in wrongful quarrels for love or worldly goods

Giovanni Boccaccio in his "De Casibus Virorum Illustrium" further says that the twelve basic rules of the Knights of the Round Table were:

  • To never lay down arms

  • To seek after wonders

  • When called upon, to defend the rights of the weak with all one's strength

  • To injure no one

  • Not to attack one another

  • To fight for the safety of one's country

  • To give one's life for one's country

  • To seek nothing before honour

  • Never to break faith for any reason

  • To practice religion most diligently

  • To grant hospitality to anyone, each according to his ability

  • Whether in honour or disgrace, to make a report with the greatest fidelity to truth to those who keep the annals

Lesser Orders of Chivalry established by King Arthur apparently included the Queen's Knights, the Knights of the Watch, the Table of Errant Companions and the, unfortunately named, Table of Less-Valued Knights. Perhaps these additional orders led to the confusion which exists over the the number of knights admitted to the Round Table. This varies dramatically, depending one which literary source one examines:

  • 13 in the "Didot-Perceval" (c.1225)
  • 50 in Robert De Boron's "Merlin" (c.1195)
  • 60 in Jean D'Ouremeuse's "Ly Myreur des Histors" (c.1350)
  • 130 in the English ballad, "The Legend of King Arthur" (16th century)
  • 140 in Hartmann Von Aue's "Erec" and "Iwein" (late 12th century)
  • 150 in the Vulgate "Lancelot" (c.1220)
  • 150 in Sir Thomas Malory's "Le Morte D'Arthur" (1470) where he names most of them
  • 250 in the Vulgate "Merlin" (c.1225)
  • 1,600 in Layamon's "Brut" (late 12th century)

The names of the 25 knights inscribed on the Winchester Round Table are given as:

Kyng Arthur King Arthur
Sir Galahallt Sir Galahad
Sir Launcelot Deulake Sir Lancelot du Lac
Sir Gauen Sir Gawain
Sir Percyvale Sir Percivale
Sir Lyonell Sir Lionel
Sir Trystram Delyens Sir Tristram de Lyones
Sir Garethe Sir Gareth
Sir Bedwere Sir Bedivere
Sir Blubrys Sir Bleoberis
Sir Lacotemale Tayle La Cote Male Taile
Sir Lucane Sir Lucan
Sir Plomyde Sir Palomides
Sir Lamorak Sir Lamorak
Sir Bors De Ganys Sir Bors de Ganis
Sir Safer Sir Safir
Sir Pelleus Sir Pelleas
Sir Kay Sir Kay
Sir Ectorde Marys Sir Ector de Maris
Sir Dagonet Sir Dagonet
Sir Degore Sir Tegyr
Sir Brumear Sir Brunor le Noir
Sir Lybyus Dysconyus Le Bel Desconneu
Sir Alynore Sir Alymere
Sir Mordrede Sir Mordred

Long lists of Arthur's warriors may also be found in the Mabinogion tale of "Culhwch and Olwen" (pre 11th C.) and Chrétien de Troyes' tale of "Erec and Enid" (1160), but we are not told specifically that they were Knights of the Round Table. The Twenty-Four Knights at Arthur's Court listed in the "Pedwar Marchog ar Hugain Llys Arthur" (15th C.) may have been an order which pre-dated the Round Table.


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