Placing in time

The need for a messiah is not something typical British. The Roman empire was falling apart and a lot of Romans dreamt of a new emperor, a Restitutor who could rebuild the empire. The idea of Arthur as the new king of Britain, fits the idea of a Restitutor. So it is likely that the Arthurian legend has sources in the Roman history.

Beside knowing that the people needed a messiah/Restitutor it is also important to know the time in the Arthurian legend is set. We can explain the Athurian legends in many ways, but only if we know when it happened we can tell who he was. There are a lot of sources who have dates inside them, but the more solid sources don't give many dates. And even if they do, the dates do not seem that likely.

We know now that the Arthurian legend has become famous, because of the need for a messiah. We also know that we need to place the Arthurian legend in time before we can start discussing about the theories who he was. So lets take a look at Britain at the 5 th or 6 th century.

The Arthurian legend took place in a time when Britain was invaded by the Saxons. The Romans had left the Island and there was no central regime. This must have been around the 5 th and 6 th century. So we can put the idea of a medieval knight behind us. If Arthur did exist he must have been a Celtic warlord1. He would have fought in the old Roman armor, instead of the shinning medieval armor. This places the Arthurian legend in a total different perspective. The most Arthurian stories we know are from the Middle Ages and are not really reliable as a source for our search to the true identity of King Arthur.

So we need to look at the sources before the Medieval stories. The first writer who wrote about King Arthur was Geoffrey Monmouth with the History of the Kings of Britain , however he did not invented Arthur. Arthur was mentioned in the works of Nennius, a monk who lived in the 9 th century. But even before that his name appears in the Welsh literature, written before Nennius. And there we can start our search for the real king Arthur.