Although the legends of Arthur have been popular throughout Europe
from the middle ages onwards, the earliest references to Arthur are
to be found in Welsh literature, starting with the Welsh-Latin
Historia Brittonum which dates from the ninth century. By the
twelfth century Arthur was a renowned figure wherever Welsh and its
sister languages were spoken. O. J. Padel provides an overall
survey of medieval Welsh literary references to Arthur and
emphasizes the importance of understanding the character and
purpose of the texts in which allusions to Arthur occur. Texts from
different genres are considered together and shed new light on the
use which different authors make of the multifaceted figure of
Arthur, from the folk legend associated with magic and animals to
the literary hero, soldier and defender of country and faith. Other
figures associated with Arthur, such as Cai, Bedwyr and Gwenhwyfar,
are also discussed. Arthur in Medieval Welsh Literature is an
important and revealing contribution to Arthurian studies and will
appeal to anyone interested in understanding more about the legends
of Arthur and their sources in medieval Welsh tradition.
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