The Arthurian Legend’s are very interesting, so this weeks post is all about the origins and history of the most famous of swords – Excalibur.
Described as being clad in shimmering white robes made from the purest samite, The Lady of the Lake appears in several of the stories that are told about the reign of King Arthur. She resided in a castle beneath a lake, surrounded by a magical place. The exact location of this lake is unknown but many people believe that it was in France, instead of England. She became crucial to the king’s successful rule because of the part she played in the outcome of certain events. Also known as Viviane and Nimue, The Lady of the Lake was the ruler of Avalon where Excalibur, Arthur’s legendary sword, was forged. Immune to aging and disease, she maintained possession of the sword for centuries only bestowing it upon the worthiest of men.
In addition to the king, she also played a great part in the lives of some of those closest to him including Sir Lancelot, who she rescued and raised in her magical kingdom. When Merlin, Arthur’s magician fell in love with her, Nimue promised that she would return his affection after he shared his extensive knowledge of magic with her. Even though he foresaw her betrayal, Merlin was unable to prevent it, and during their travels she used his teachings against him by imprisoning him. After this, The Lady of the Lake became known as ‘a creature to bewitch a sorcerer.’
Even though she didn’t return Merlin’s love, Nimue became enchanted by Sir Pelleas, and was his source of comfort after he was rejected by Ettarde. In addition, she used her magic to punish the woman and was rewarded when Pelleas returned her feelings.
The Lady of the Lake presented Arthur with Excalibur, after his sword had been damaged. She also gave him The Mystic Scabbard, which would protect the wearer from death by ensuring that he lost no blood regardless of how seriously he might be wounded. To cause Arthur’s demise, Morgan-le-Fay stole Excalibur and the scabbard and replaced them with non-magical replicas. She gave both to her lover, Sir Accolon, and tricked him into attacking the king. Using her magic, Nimue forced Accolon to release the sword and Arthur seized it and defeated the knight, revealing Morgan-le-Fay’s deceit.
When King Arthur was critically injured in his final battle, he commanded Sir Bedivere to throw Excalibur into a near-by lake. Reluctantly, the knight obeyed and watched in astonishment as a hand appeared from the water and caught it. The Lady of the Lake brandished it in the air three times, before pulling it under water for safekeeping. Legend has it that she also saved Arthur’s life by taking him to Avalon, where its enchantment would keep him alive.