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Round Table, King Arthur's

The old English legends, derived from the celebrated chronicle of the twelfth century known as the Brut of England, say that the mythical King Arthur, who died in 542, of a wound received in battle, instituted a company of twenty-four, or, according to some, twelve, of his principal knights, bound to appear at his court on certain solemn days, and meet around a circular table, whence they were called Knights of the Round Table. Arthur is said to have been the institutor of those military and religious orders of chivalry which afterward became so common in the Middle Ages. Into the Order which he established none were admitted but those who had given proofs of their valor; and the knights were bound to defend widows, maidens, and children; to relieve the distressed, maintain the Christian religion, contribute to the support of the church, protect pilgrims, advance honor, and suppress vice.

They were to administer to the care of soldiers wounded in the service of their country, and bury those who died, to ransom captives, deliver prisoners, and record all noble enterprises for the honor and renown of the noble Order. King Arthur and his knights have been very generally considered by scholars as mythical; notwithstanding that, many years ago Whittaker, in his History of Manchester, attempted to establish the fact of his existence, and to separate the true from the fabulous in his history. The legend has been used by some of the fabricators of irregular Degrees in Freemasonry.

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