The Legendary Sword of Kings: Excalibur
As you’d expect, an Excalibur sword replica would have to be of singular quality to represent such a legendary blade. Whether you’re looking for something to act as a centrepiece to your collection, or you want to stand out from the crowd as a legendary fantasy king, this King Arthur Excalibur sword will suit your purposes handsomely.
Even contained within the distinctive red leather sheath, this sword screams nobility. The sturdy steel hilt is beautifully detailed from the pommel to the guard, all of which are visible when the sword is sheathed. The pommel and guard are both finished with a regal gold colour, which complements the black and red of the rest of this sword.
The pommel depicts a finely wrought crown, removing any doubt that this is a sword meant for a king. The grip itself is a textured black, studded with red ruby-like gems. This gives way to the stunning golden guard, which features two dragons facing away from a central black shield, along with other fine detailing. The guard is also studded with more red gems.
The sheath that protects the blade is hand-tooled and is perfectly designed for such a fine sword. It has an adjustable shoulder strap so that you can carry it comfortably, and the sword is further secured by a small strap wrapped around the handle. It would not do to lose such a noble blade.
Speaking of the blade, the beauty of this sword continues here. The blade itself is made with carefully worked Damascus steel, a process that involves folding different alloys of steel together. This results in a stronger blade, as well as a beautiful and distinctive rippled effect on the metal.
The length of the blade is that of a longsword, typically wielded with both hands. The shape of the blade is also that of a typical longsword, being a long, straight, double edged blade. It features three partial fullers, with the central longest fuller being about a third of the length of the blade.
So, if you were to use this Excalibur sword replica as part of a fantasy LARP or Cosplay outfit, who would wield it? The obvious choice would be King Arthur, as Excalibur was most famously his weapon. However, the design would be fitting for any kingly character, perhaps as an heirloom of some sort.
As a display piece, this would work in pretty much any sword collection. A fantasy sword collection in particular cries out for this piece, but there may be a place for Excalibur in a medieval collection. While the existence of this sword and King Arthur is shrouded in myth and legend, the story itself did crop up in medieval times.
The Legend of King Arthur and His Place in History
Whether or not King Arthur actually existed, his legend and the many stories surrounding him and his legendary Excalibur sword have cast a long shadow over both European medieval history and fantasy alike.
Even in modern times, these legends capture our attention and imaginations. Some of us read of King Arthur’s exploits as children, others fell in love with the story as we studied both literature and history.
But when we consider history, we may wonder whether such a man actually existed. If so, who could he have been and what evidence is there to support or deny his existence?
Reliable Sources in History: The Many Pitfalls
Before we look specifically at the case of King Arthur, let’s look at history in general. One primary difficulty with history is that everyone who lived it is dead.
It seems obvious, but it is a genuine issue when it comes to finding out what actually happened. The most reliable source is archaeological evidence, but even that doesn’t tell the whole story. Anything made with decomposable materials has likely rotted away, meaning that we only have comparatively few artifacts.
The most common sources that we have to rely on are literature and artwork, which obviously has its problems. This is assuming that these works are intact after centuries, of course. Artwork that depicts events that actually happened is usually subject to artistic license and these events are drawn with the artist’s biases and the fashions of the time in mind.
If we consider literature, sometimes it’s hard to tell whether an event is depicted as fact or fiction, as what we read is translated from long dead or evolved languages. The difficulty that this presents is obvious when you pick up one of Geoffrey Chaucer’s works and find yourself faced with Middle English for the first time. Even Shakespeare can present a problem, and that was comparatively recent (it helps to read it aloud).
Even when we figure out what a text says, we still don’t always know how reliable the source is. The author may have had certain biases, so presents a character in a way that doesn’t represent what actually happened. Maybe they didn’t know all the facts and filled in the gaps, or just lied to suit their own purposes.
The historical lambasting of King Richard 3rd is a perfect example of this. He’s known as a wicked king who murdered his two nephews to secure the throne for himself. But that is mostly based on a historical play penned by Shakespeare, who had a vested interest in presenting him as evil.
So, let’s say that our source is reliable and has been translated completely and correctly, surviving centuries without bastardisation by later writers and copyists. Even if we have this perfect source, we still have the issue that some things just weren’t mentioned in writing.
A famous example of this phenomenon is the land of Punt, which was a trading partner of Ancient Egypt. Punt was mentioned many times in Egyptian literature, as it was a huge part of Egyptian life. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to say where Punt actually was, leading to an ongoing search for this ancient city.
The job of a historian is not an easy one. They can hazard some good guesses and fill in the gaps with common sense, but until someone invents a time machine, it will be impossible to know everything that happened. Some people are doomed to be forever lost in the sands of time, and some lies will have been sold as truth.
The Historicity of King Arthur: Man, or Myth?
So, bearing the difficulties of historical sources in mind, let’s look at the historic background behind this legendary king. While there are many aspects of the legend of King Arthur that are almost certainly fantastical, such as his magical wizard adviser and his mystical sword, there are some who argue that there are kernels of fact to be found in all this fantasy.
As far as we know, the first concrete mention of King Arthur first crops up in the year 829. The work that mentions him describes him as a military leader battling the Saxons in the 5th-6th century period. We’re already at a disadvantage here, as even this very first text is written centuries after King Arthur supposedly lived.
There was, however, mention of a momentous battle in a book penned during the 6th century when the British were victorious over the Saxons. This victory led to a new generation of relative peace and has been named the Battle of Badon. However, the text that mentions this battle doesn’t name the British leader. Many people who believe King Arthur was a real man suggest that he was this unnamed army leader.
In the 12th century, this military leader grew to legendary proportions. This was thanks to a text called Historia Regum Britanniae (The History of the Kings of Britain), which was written in 1136. This text was apparently an account of British history over the course of two thousand years, but much of it was fiction.
While it only occasionally mentioned actual historical events, this pseudo-historical account was (and still is) incredibly influential. Today, much of this book has been discounted by modern scholars and historians. However, it was taken quite seriously for a long while and accepted at face value.
Many myths and lore in the British Isles find their roots here. The most famous legend popularised by this book was that of King Arthur, but we also see other famous stories, such as that of King Lear. If nothing else, this text is a glimpse into medieval literature and beliefs.
Back to King Arthur. While he was mentioned in this Historia, it’s obvious that that wasn’t exactly an ironclad source for reliable historical information. Since then, Arthur was also mentioned in other British medieval works. His name can be found in several Welsh and Breton biographies and poetry, with his exploits being common fodder for bards.
For a long time, it was accepted that there was likely a real person who inspired all of these tales. However, the modern belief among scholars is that King Arthur did not exist and that the legends are entirely fictitious. This is due to the lack of actual proof supporting his existence, other than conjecture, legends, and guesswork. Still, even if many of his exploits are likely a fiction, there is no concrete evidence for or against the theory that the man himself existed.
Possible Inspirations for King Arthur
While the common consensus in academic circles is that these legends are just that, fictitious legends, there are some potential candidates in history who could have been the original King Arthur. Some of these draw from the aforementioned Battle of Badon and the theory that Arthur led the British forces to victory.
The linguistic background of the name “Arthur” potentially comes from the Latin name “Artorius”. This suggestion allows for a theory that a Roman military commander called Lucius Artorius Castus, who served in Britain during the 2nd or 3rd century.
Obviously, this period is centuries before the time period when King Arthur was supposed to have existed, but there are some parallels between the two figures. One aspect was that Artorius had a group of cavalry under his command who fought under a red dragon banner, much like the knights of the round table.
The other suggestions for the inspiration of King Arthur suited the time period better, being active in the 5th or 6th century. Two of these men were Romano-Britains who battled the Saxons, much like the first mention of Arthur found in the 8th century and could potentially fit the Battle of Badon. The first of these, Riothamus, has been described as a king of the Britons, while Aurelianus, the second candidate was named as a scourge of the Saxons.
The third man was of Irish descent, who acted as a king and military leader without officially taking the title. However, he would have been born too late to have fought in this Battle of Badon. His name, Artuir mac Aedan, does fit that of King Arthur very well.
It’s also entirely possible that there was another historical figure who was the inspiration for the legend of King Arthur. After all, some records were lost or simply didn’t mention names of major historical players. It’s also possible that King Arthur was an amalgamation of several different figures, or even a complete fiction as many scholars attest.
Unfortunately, we’ll probably never know for certain. Still, it gives historians something to argue about at least.
The Legend of King Arthur and Fantasy
For those of us who prefer the magical world of fantasy, the effect of King Arthur on so many of our favourite fantasy stories can’t be denied. Magical swords, powerful wizards, rightful kings, and epic battles crop up over and over again. Much of this can be attributed to the Legend of King Arthur and Excalibur.
So, let’s have a quick look at the most famous tales regarding Arthur and Excalibur, before seeing the effect this has had on modern and classical fantasy.
The Sword in The Stone or the Lady of the Lake: The Origin of Excalibur
Before we look at the story behind how Arthur got his magical sword, maybe it would do to look at the background of the sword and what it represented. The name “Excalibur” has roots stemming from both Welsh and Breton, which are languages that share a Celtic origin.
Literally, these words (Caledfwlch, Kaledvoulc’h, and Calesvol. Try saying those ten times fast.) mean “hard” and “breach, or cleft”. Any fans of Irish mythology may notice some similarities to the Irish sword Caladbolg. Whether this was deliberate or not, we don’t know for certain. You may have spotted a theme here.
Anyway, this name suffered the abuses of repeated translations to better fit the audience as time went on. First it was latinised, then translated into French to eventually become Excalibur, along with other variations. Standardised spelling wasn’t popular in medieval times, because translating wasn’t hard enough, apparently. Even the meaning of the name came to mean “cut steel”, because story-tellers like things to be as on the nose as possible.
So, now that we’ve done the scholarly language bit, let’s talk about stories. There are two major stories behind how Arthur was revealed to be the true heir to Uther Pendragon (his father) and to the British throne.
The first story, and the one that had been adapted into a Disney film in 1963, is that of the Sword in the Stone. In this tale, Excalibur had been driven into an anvil that sat atop a stone. The heir to the throne was unknown, but it was foretold that “Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil, is rightwise king born.”
Arthur at this point actually thought that he was the son of Sir Ector, and was acting as a squire to Sir Kay, his older foster brother. Many knights and nobles attempted to draw the sword from the stone, and each one failed. Eventually, the young Arthur gave it a go and accidently achieved this feat, proving himself to be the true King.
There are a couple of variations to the Lady in the Lake story. One suggested that King Arthur somehow managed to break the legendary Sword in the Stone during combat. He then was given Excalibur by a Lady of the Lake to replace it.
However, some tales blend these two events. They attest that Excalibur was in fact the Sword in the Stone, and it remained with Arthur until his death. At this point, Arthur asks one of his knights to throw the sword into the lake. When the knight finally does so, the hand of a woman emerges from the lake and catches the sword.
How the Legend of King Arthur Lived on
There are a couple of ways that this legend has lived on today. Most obviously, people today still know of King Arthur and his knights of the round table. Yes, the stories have changed enormously over the years, becoming more and more extravagant as time went on, but they are still iconic.
When people think of medieval knights and chivalry, they often think of the knights of the round table. The tales surrounding them have been adapted even in modern times, into both books and films that are aimed at people of all ages.
Simply put, these tales are timeless. Yes, they are clearly set centuries ago, and feature values of times long past, but they still have a hold on our imaginations. It seems that there is always room for King Arthur, his beautiful queen, his wise wizard friend and mentor, his brave knights, and his iconic Excalibur sword.
However, King Arthur also lives on in other ways. If you look at a fantasy work that features a medieval-like setting, you may well find some parallels with King Arthur. Here are a few famous examples.
J.R.R. Tolkien, often considered the grandfather of modern fantasy, seems to draw from these tales in his famous novel The Lord of the Rings. This is most notable when we look at Aragorn, the heir to the throne of Gondor.
Like Arthur, Aragorn did not start off being the king of Gondor. Rather, he was a semi-lost heir to the throne. He knew who he was, and many others did, but he wasn’t ruling quite yet. While Aragorn didn’t pull his iconic sword, Anduril, from a stone, it did still serve to demonstrate that he was the rightful king of Gondor. Much like Excalibur showed that Arthur was the rightful king of Camelot.
A more explicit example of King Arthur’s influence can be found in Robert Jordan’s series of The Wheel of Time. Among other things, there was a legendary hero called Artur Pendragon who was most famous for being a great warrior king. This is obviously a deliberate choice. However, there are other nods to King Arthur in the Wheel of Time series, including a magical sword that can only be retrieved by a prophesied ruler.
Finally, the David Eddings Belgariad series features a long lost heir to a throne, who eventually discovers his birth right along with, you guessed it, a magical sword that only he can wield. As you can probably tell by now, King Arthur has touched too many stories to reasonably list. Maybe you could see if you can spot any similarities in your favourite fantasy works.
The technical specifications for the Excalibur sword for sale here at Medieval Ware are as follows:
- Blade Material: Damascus steel
- Steel Layers: 400-520; HRC: 58-60; 1095/15N20 Steel
- Blade Thickness: 3.55 mm
- Overall Length: 45 inches or 114.3 cm
- Blade Length: 34.25 inches or 87 cm
- Handle Length: 9.25 inches or 23.46 cm
- Sheath: Red hand tooled leather, with shoulder strap
- Handle Colour: Black steel grip with red gems, guard and pommel have golden finish.