Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- This article is about the mythical sword of King Arthur. For other meanings, see Excalibur (disambiguation)
In surviving accounts of Arthur, two originally separate legends of his sword's origin have been retained. The sword that Arthur alone was able to draw from the stone, (The Sword in the Stone), thus denoting his kingship, was later broken. The true sword "Excalibur" with its scabbard, was given to Arthur by the Lady of the Lake. On his death, it was eventually returned to the Lady of the Lake by Sir Bedivere.
- "The sword was called 'Excalibur', which means, 'cut steel'. Early tradition (by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Wace and Layamon), called the sword 'Caliburn'; a magical sword from Avalon. The tale of Arthur drawing the sword out of the rock first appeared in Robert de Boron's French verse tale, called Merlin. But the English author, named Sir Thomas Malory (and in the French Suite du Merlin ('Prose Merlin'), c. 1240), wrote that the sword that Arthur had pulled out of stone was not Excalibur; in fact, Arthur broke his first sword in the fight against King Pellinor . Shortly after, Arthur then received a new sword from the Lady of the Lake, which was explicitly called Excalibur. Malory distinguished the sword Arthur pulled out of a rock from the sword he received from the Lady of the Lake, and it was the second sword that was the true Excalibur." (Timeless Myths, "Legend of Excalibur" see link).
In early Welsh legend, Arthur's sword is known as Caledfwlch, thought to derive from the legendary Irish sword Caladbolg. Caladbolg, or Calad Bolg is a Welsh word meaning "Hard Lightning." Geoffrey of Monmouth calls Arthur's sword Caliburn or Caliburnus in his History of the Kings of Britain, and in later texts it came to be known as Excalibur.
The legend of Excalibur was expanded upon in the "Vulgate (i.e. vernacular, in this case Old French) Cycle," an Arthurian cycle written ca.1230 - 1250, that was very influential in the development of the Arthurian romances. The Vulgate Prose Merlin and the later continuation called Suite du Merlin provide fresh details of the early life of Arthur. There the sword is called "Escalibor." The Lady of the Lake in Sir Thomas Malory's Book of Balin calls the sword "Excalibur, that is as to say, as Cut-steel."
Excalibur's scabbard has the magical power to protect its bearer from harm (and to prevent the bearer from suffering further harm from wounds he might already have received). It is the theft of the scabbard by Morgan Le Fay that leads to Arthur's eventual death.
Note that in 'Morte Arthure' (ca. 1400), Arthur is said to have two legendary swords, the second one being Clarent , stolen by the evil Mordred. It is from that sword that Arthur receive his fatal blow.
Other legendary swords
Other legendary weapons
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