King Arthur Legends For Kids
The Arthurian Legend (for Kids)The Sword in the Stone
The Kingdom of Britain was without a High King. There were many petty kings and dukes all over the island, but the land needed a king who could lead them all together in a fight against the Saxons.
It was agreed among the great lords of Britain that a tournament would be held, and the knight who won the tournament would be the next High King.
Sir Kay, a brand-new knight and the son of Sir Ector, was preparing to fight in the tournament. He was convinced that he would win it, and he would be the next High King. He told this to Arthur, his adopted brother, over and over. "When I am the High King, you can be my steward," he told the young boy.
Arthur was also excited about the tournament, because he would be allowed to act as Kay's squire during the combat, which meant he would get to take care of his armor and weapons.
Arthur was so excited, that one morning when they left for the tournament, he forgot to bring Kay's sword with him. When Kay found out, he was very angry, and ordered Arthur to go fetch a sword. Without a sword, he could not fight. Arthur was worried that he would miss seeing many matches while he had to run the long distance back to fetch the sword.
On his way back to their lodgings, though, Arthur saw a sword, sticking out of a stone, just sitting in the middle of a courtyard. He looked around. He couldn't see anyone watching him, and it didn't seem like the sword belonged to anyone. He vowed to put the sword back when Kay was done using it, and hurried forward and pulled the sword out of the stone.
He ran back to Kay and gave it to him. Kay's father, Sir Ector, saw the sword that Kay had in his hands and said, "Son, where did you get that sword?"
Kay said, "Arthur brought it to me, father."
Sir Ector said, "Arthur, where did you get this sword?"
And Arthur said, "I found it in a stone in a courtyard. It didn't look like it belonged to anyone."
Sir Ector said, "Oh, but it does belong to someone. It belongs to the King of Britain." And he turned the sword to the side and showed Arthur the inscription: "Whosoever draws this sword shall be the King of Britain."
Sir Ector called together the men of the tournament and showed them Arthur and the sword he had pulled from the stone. And they had no choice, but to make Arthur the King of Britain, for Merlin the enchanter had placed the sword in the stone many years ago, and until then, and though many men had tried, no one else had been able to draw the sword from the stone.
The Young King
Young King Arthur was faced with many problems right from the beginning. Mostly, though, he needed to fight against the Saxons, who had invaded Britain before he was born, and were constantly trying to get new land.
He had to make the many petty kings and lords fight together with him instead of against each other. To solve this problem, he was given the great Round TTable, where all the men in his service could sit together without thinking that anyone was more important than anyone else. A round table has no head, so no one could be said to be sitting at the head of the table.
The man who gave King Arthur the Round Table also gave him a wife. King Leodegrance promised King Arthur his daughter Guinevere to be his queen. They were married during a big celebration.
After his wedding, King Arthur went on a long campaign to subdue the Saxons. He fought twelve great battles, the last one called the Battle of Badon, in which he beat the Saxons so badly that they did not make a peep for twenty years.
Also during this time, Arthur was given another sword by the Lady of the Lake, called Excalibur.
A time of peace settled on the land.
With no Saxons to fight and a lot of knights sitting every day at his Round Table, King Arthur was afraid that his men would start to get bored and fight amongst themselves. He asked Merlin to come visit and give his knights some quests, to keep them busy. Over the years, Merlin made up some very creative quests: he had the men hunt a white stag, he brought forward the Green Knight, and finally, he suggested the pursuit of the Holy Grail.
King Arthur's knights were kept busy for many years following these quests, until Merlin was imprisoned in a cave by his girlfriend. Without Merlin to keep them busy, trouble eventually found them.
King Arthur's nephew, Mordred, came to Camelot and seemed to fit in well there as a knight. But he secretly hated King Arthur, and began to plot so that he could become the King of Britain. As King Arthur didn't have any sons, the throne would surely go to a nephew. And Mordred intended to be that nephew.
When the Saxons started to attack King Arthur's lands again, he rode off to battle with them. And while King Arthur was gone, Mordred made his move, and raised an army to make him King instead. After King Arthur fought the Saxons, he had no choice but to march out and fight Mordred. During the battle, they struck each other with mortal blows. Mordred died quickly.
Bedivere, Arthur's most loyal knight, came upon the dying King Arthur and asked, "My lord, what can I do?"
Arthur said, "Take my sword, Excalibur, and go to the water's edge. Throw it in, and then return to tell me what you saw."
Bedivere agreed to do his bidding, and took Excalibur and walked down to the water's edge. But when he lifted his hand to throw the sword into the water, he found he could not. This was the sword of a great king; this was the sword that should be passed on to the next king. If the next king were a boy, as Arthur had been, or if there were some doubt amongst the people, this sword could give them confidence that there was a worthy successor to Arthur on the throne.
Bedivere hid the sword under a bush, and marked the spot, intending to retrieve it later.
Bedivere returned to his king. Arthur said, "Tell me what you saw."
"I saw nothing but the ripple of the water as the sword fell into it, and heard the crying of the water birds."
At this, Arthur grew angry, and said, "Friend, you have not done what I asked. Go you forth and throw my sword Excalibur into the lake!"
Troubled, Bedivere rose to his feet and returned to the place where he had left the sword, and intending to do his liege's bidding, lifted the sword over his head to throw it forth.
But his eyes were caught by the gleam of the setting sun on the blade, and he thought how faithful the sword had been to the King in battle; surely the blade deserved better than to be cast into the water, to rust and rot. So Bedivere took the sword and hid it under a bush again, and marked the spot so he might retrieve it later.
"I have done your bidding, my lord," Bedivere said, when he returned to Arthur's side.
"And what did you see?" the king asked.
"I saw the splash when the sword hit the water, and the dying sun's rays bright on the waves."
"You have not done what I asked!" the king said angrily. "Go forth, Bedivere, and if you love me, throw my sword Excalibur into the lake!"
Bedivere, even more troubled, left his king, took the sword from its hiding place, and went to the water's edge. Then he lifted it high over his head, and hurled it out over the lake.
The sword did not have a chance to hit the water; for a hand rose from the deep center of the lake, and caught the sword neatly. It saluted Bedivere three times, and then sank beneath the surface, until all that was left were the waves lapping at the bank, and the wind in the reeds.
Bedivere returned to his king, and said, "I have done your bidding."
"What did you see?"
"I saw a hand rise from the lake and catch the sword; they saluted three times, and disappeared beneath the water, and left nothing more than the lapping of the water at the bank, and the sound of the wind in the reeds."
"Thank you, my friend," Arthur said, and closed his eyes.
And Bedivere stayed with his mortally wounded friend, as the sun set, and the stars came out. And from the darkness came nine women dressed like queens. Bedivere was frozen at the sight of them. The tenderly lifted the dying king from his rough bed on the ground, and bore him off. Bedivere was anxious to see where they were going, so he followed as quickly as he could. But it was as though lead weighted his feet, and he did not catch up with them until the nine queens had loaded Arthur onto a barge and had sailed half-way across the lake.