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Fact and Opinion Can we learn about History from Myths and Legends?

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Presentation on theme: "Fact and Opinion Can we learn about History from Myths and Legends?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Fact and Opinion Can we learn about History from Myths and Legends?

2 Facts and Opinions Fact – something that really happened - something that can be proven e.g. Troy was a city in Turkey Opinion – something that you think or believe - may or may not be based on facts e.g. The Greeks fought against the Trojans because Paris abducted Helen

3 Myths and Legends Myths and legends are popular stories that may have been based on an actual event or around actual people They are generally stories that have been made up Legends are stories about people and what they did They are passed down through the years and gradually change in the process

4 The Legend of the Trojan Horse Troy and the wooden horse were though to be a legend Homer wrote it down many years after the supposed event Schliemann used Homer’s book to find Troy and Mycenae Historians learned that sometimes there can be some facts in a legend, even if some of the story is made up

5 The Legend of King Arthur In the Middle Ages, legends were very popular The legends about King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table were and still are enjoyed by many people Was Arthur real? Was there a Round Table? What is Fact and what is opinion?

6 WHAT IS THE REAL STORY? The most well known story is from 1485. It was written down by Thomas Malory. It was called the Death of Arthur. He included many stories about Arthur in a book. Now there are many versions of King Arthur, including film, books, poems, songs

7 THE SWORD IN THE STONE Britain had no king The barbarians were destroying the country The land needed a just ruler This leader would be able to draw out a sword from a stone (Excalibur) Many tried and eventually Arthur succeeded and became King of Britain

8 Camelot and the Round Table Arthur built a castle that he called Camelot He established an Order of Knights who met at a Round Table, where everyone would be equal Arthur brought peace to Britain and ruled justly He married Guinevere He had an adviser called Merlin

9 Arthur’s Downfall A perfect society can’t last Guinevere has an affair with Lancelot Civil War breaks out Arthur is betrayed by his illegitimate son, Mordred Arthur is mortally wounded He has his sword thrown into a lake where a lady’s hand rises out of the water and takes the sword Arthur sails to the mystical island of Avalon

10 When did Arthur Live? We are not exactly sure We are not even sure if he actually existed If King Arthur was a Roman Briton, then he probably lived in the last half of the 5 th Century AD – this is where most of the early evidence places him If King Arthur was a Welsh warlord, then he probably lived in the 14 th Century AD – this is the common modern setting for most stories about Arthur

11 Arthur’s Timeline 426 emergence of local leaders in Britain, such as Vortigern 428 Saxon warships off east coast of Britain 429 Picts and Scots expelled from Southern England by Saxon mercenaries; Saints Germanus and Lupus are sent to Britain to conquer Pelagianism 441 c. beginning of Saxon incursion 450 Anglo-Saxon warships attack Britain's east coast 456 Britons suffer a defeat by the Saxons at Crayford, Kent, and flee to London 495 Kingdom of Wessex founded; King Cerdic dies; reign of Illan, Irish king who conducted raids on Britain (c. 495-511) 518 account in the Annales Cambrai states for this year: "the Battle of Badon, in which Arthur and the Britons were the victors" 519 death of Arthur?? 539 Annales Cambrai state for this year: "the strife of Camlann in which Arthur and Mordred perished" 540 Gildas writes his book recounting the twelve great battles later attributed to Arthur; Ida is king of Bernicia 600 first reference to Arthur by name in the "Goddodin" (poem) 731 Bede writes History of the English Church and People. It does not mention Arthur 830 Nennius writes History of the Britons. The oldest known copy is from 1120. It mentions Arthur and gives a list of his battles 871 – 890 The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles are composed. Arthur is not mentioned, but his battles are 995 The Annals of Cumbria were written. They mention Arthur’s death 1125 Malmesbury writes the History of the English Kings. Arthur is mentioned 1130 Monmouth writes a book on Merlin 1135 Monmouth writes History of the British Kings. This is the most important book for information on King Arthur


13 ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE Many of the people who have set out to “prove” the legend of King Arthur have used various pieces of archaeological evidence Cadbury Castle – Hill Fort Arthur’s Seat Glastonbury Abbey and Tor Tintagel Castle The Round Table Merlin’s Cave

14 CADBURY CASTLE This is actually a hill fort near Glastonbury It has been suggested that it is the site of Camelot It was excavated in the 1960s There was no evidence that connected King Arthur to the site It had been reused about 500 AD

15 This is a huge hill – nearly 280 metres above sea level It was probably named after a local hero who was called Arthur Some people suggest that it was a military base for Arthur There is no evidence, apart from the name to connect it with King Arthur ARTHUR’S SEAT

16 GLASTONBURY ABBEY Glastonbury Abbey was a very important religious centre in the Middle Ages It was badly damaged by fire in 1184 AD When it was being rebuilt in 1190 the monks said they found the grave of a very large man There was also the bones of a smaller person and some yellow hair The monks also claimed they had found a cross with ‘Here lies the renowned King Arthur in the isle of Avalon with his second wife Guinevere

17 Fact or Fiction? The style of the writing belonged to the 12 th Century AD Later excavations did not reveal any evidence of an ancient grave Neither the cross or the bones exist today The monks also claimed to have discovered the grave of Archbishop Dunstan, another important person. However, he was actually buried 200 years earlier in Canterbury The Abbey needed a lot of money to rebuild How reliable is this evidence? What do you think the motives of the monks might have been?

18 GLASTONBURY TOR This hill was claimed to be the most holy place on earth It was where people came looking for the Holy Grail Underneath the Tor is said to be a secret kingdom Today St Michaels Church Tower stands on it There is no actual evidence of any connection with King Arthur

19 TINTAGEL CASTLE This is the legendary birthplace of King Arthur This is where Merlin took him from to be brought up with foster parents in secret The castle ruins date from the 12 th or 13 th Centuries AD and are too late to actually be connected with Arthur

20 THE ROUND TABLE There are many different stories about the Round Table It was first mentioned in 1155 by the Norman chronicler, Wace It was supposed to seat 1600 men The design in this photo is on the wall of Winchester Round Table was made in 1552 to impress a visiting emperor

21 MERLIN’S CAVE The importance of this cave came from a poem by Tennyson that told of Merlin saving the baby Arthur This cave has long been connected to the legend of Merlin It is gloomy and fills with Water at high tide There is no archaeological evidence that connects this with King Arthur or Merlin

22 WRITTEN EVIDENCE There a many sources of written evidence that people use in their investigation of the story of King Arthur historical records stories handed down over time Poems Reports of investigations

23 HISTORICAL RECORDS Nennius’ Historia Brittonum – 830 AD ‘In that time the Saxons strengthen in multitude and grew in Britain. On the death of Hengist, Octha his son passed from the northern part of Britain to the kingdom of the Kentishmen and from him arise the kings of the Kentishmen.’ ‘Then Arthur fought against them in those days with the kings of the Britons, but he himself was leader of battles.’ From Historia Brittonum, translated by John Morris, in History from the Sources Vol. 8. Phillimore, Chichester, 1980

24 HISTORICAL RECORDS Annals of Cambrai – 995 AD ‘518: The Battle of Badon in which Arthur carried the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for three days and three nights, on his shoulders, and the Britons were victors.’ ‘539: The Battle of Camlan in which Arthur and Medraut were slain.’ From M.V. Lyons, Medieval Britain, Macmillan, London, 1989, p.13

25 HISTORICAL RECORDS Malmesbury’s HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH KINGS – 1125 AD ‘This is that Arthur of whom the Britons talk so much nonsense even today; a man clearly worthy not to be dreamed of in false stories, but to be proclaimed in true histories, as one who long supported his trembling country, and gave the shattered minds of his fellow citizens an edge for war.’ This is the first account that shows Arthur as a great leader of the Britons. From M.V. Lyons, Medieval Britain, Macmillan, London, 1989 p.13

26 HISTORICAL RECORDS Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain – 1130 AD This history provides us with the most information about Arthur Arthur’s birthplace is Tintagel Castle Arthur’s father was Uther Pendragon He became king as young man and married Ganhumara He had a magical sword – Caliburn, which was made in Avalon He defeated the Saxons, the Scots, and the Irish to unify Britain He lives in Caerlon He later conquers Norway, Denmark, and France While he is a way Mordred, his nephew leads a revolt Arthur fights against Mordred and wins, but dies from his wounds and is taken away to Avalon

27 HISTORICAL RECORDS How can we tell which ones are right? Look at the dates Look at the author’s purpose Look at the information provided Look at the language

28 TIME TO DECIDE After looking at all the evidence an historian needs to form an opinion This opinion should be based on the facts It should be objective It should be able to be proven

29 Writing an Information Report Introduction In this section you make a clear statement about your topic There are many stories about King Arthur and they are not all the same. We need to look carefully at all the stories and see if we can find evidence that will tell us if there really was a King Arthur. Then we need to try to find out when he lived and what he did.

30 Writing an Information Report Body of Report In this section you need to write a number of paragraphs describing what you have found out. You need a separate paragraph for each main idea. Each paragraph should have a Topic Sentence which states your main idea.

31 Writing an Information Report Paragraph 1: Myth or Reality Topic Sentence There are a number of historical figures who could be King Arthur but it is not possible to say for sure if one of them is the “Real” Arthur. Supporting Sentences There is some evidence that Arthur was a Roman Briton because he was supposed to have been killed at the Battle of Camlann in 540 AD. This was just after the Romans had left Britain and when the British Romans were defending themselves from invasions from the Saxons and the Scots. Other historians, such as Alan Wilson, think that there were two Arthurs and one was a Roman Briton and later another one was a Welsh warlord. Many of the later stories tell about Arthur’s life in Wales. Also Merlin was Welsh. Most of this is based on the work of Geoffrey of Monmouth and written over 400 years after Arthur lived.

32 Writing an Information Report Paragraph 2: Written Evidence Topic Sentence There are several written sources that mention Arthur, however they appear to add more information over the years. Supporting Sentences The first book that mentions anything to do with Arthur is by Gildas in 540 AD. He told of twelve battles in which later writers say Arthur fought. Nennius wrote a History of the Britons in 830, but the only copy we have dates from 1120. It does talk about Arthur and gives a list of his battles. In 995 The Annals of Cumbria were written and tell of Arthur’s battle with Mordred and his death in 539. This is now nearly four hundred years after it happened. In 1125 Malmesbuty wrote a History of the English Kings and Arthur is talked about as a great leader in it. Five year later, in 1130 Monmouth wrote a History of the Kings of Britain. This is the story that has the most information about King Arthur. Monmouth was a Norman. He was writing about things that happened about six hundred years before he was born.

33 Writing an Information Report Paragraph 3: Archaeological Evidence Topic Sentence Although there are many places that are mentioned in the stories about King Arthur, none of them had actual evidence that related to King Arthur. Supporting Sentences Some people think that Cadbury Castle, which is really a hill fort is Camelot. Although it was reused about 500 AD there is no clear evidence that it was Arthur and his knights who used it. Glastonbury Abbey was where Arthur was supposed to have been buried. The grave, bones, and cross which the monks say they found in 1190 AD no longer exist. Arthur’s Seat was actually named after a local hero of the same name. There is a Tintagel Castle, the place where Arthur was supposedly born, but the date of the ruins are about six or seven hundred years after he was supposed to have lived. The Winchester Round Table was made in 1552 to impress an emperor. There is no evidence, except in stories of an earlier table which was supposed to seat 1600 people.

34 Writing an Information Report Paragraph 4: Conclusion Topic Sentence While there are many stories about King Arthur there is no real proof that he existed. Supporting Sentences The written evidence suggests that perhaps there were many men who could have been Arthur. But they come from different time periods. There is no real archaeological evidence for Arthur, Camelot or the Round Table. It is possible that the stories about Arthur grew over a period of time and while they might have been based on things real people did they have been changed and now form a legend about an heroic leader and a time when men believed in a noble way of life.

35 CONCLUSION While we should not just dismiss legends it is important that we do not just accept them as true. We must look carefully at the available evidence and form an opinion based on it. This is an informed opinion and can be proven. Some people will still believe in these stories because they would like to think that it true. This is also an opinion, but one that cannot be proven.

36 End of Presentation

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