Uther Pendragon

Uther Pendragon, by Howard Pyle from The Story of King Arthur and His Knights (1903)
Uther Pendragon in a crude illustration from a 15th-century Welsh version of Historia Regum Britanniae
Uther, on horseback and disguised as Pelleas, watches Igraine picking flowers in Uther and Igraine by Warwick Deeping, illustrated by Wladyslaw T. Benda

Legendary king of sub-Roman Britain (c.

- Uther Pendragon

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Mother of King Arthur.

King Uther and Igraine after Gorlois's death, from Uther and Igraine by Warwick Deeping, illustration by Władysław T. Benda, 1903
Merlin taking away the infant Arthur from Igraine. An illustration by N. C. Wyeth for The Boy's King Arthur (1880): "So the child was delivered unto Merlin, and so he bare it forth."

She becomes the wife of Uther Pendragon, after the death of her first husband, Gorlois.

Historia Regum Britanniae

Pseudohistorical account of British history, written around 1136 by Geoffrey of Monmouth.

Illumination from a 15th-century manuscript of Historia regum Britanniae showing Vortigern and Ambros watching the fight between two dragons.

Constantine's remaining sons Aurelius Ambrosius and Uther are too young to rule and are taken to safety in Armorica.

Ambrosius Aurelianus

War leader of the Romano-British who won an important battle against the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th century, according to Gildas.

Emrys Wledig. A crude illustration from a 15th-century Welsh language version of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae

Eventually, he was transformed by Geoffrey of Monmouth into the uncle of King Arthur, the brother of Arthur's father Uther Pendragon, as a ruler who precedes and predeceases them both.


Mythical figure prominently featured in the legend of King Arthur and best known as an enchanter or wizard, among his various other roles.

The Enchanter Merlin, Howard Pyle's illustration for The Story of King Arthur and His Knights (1903)
Merlinus (Merlin) in the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493)
Giants help the young Merlin build Stonehenge in a manuscript of Wace's Roman de Brut (c. 1325-1350)
An illustration of Merlin as druid in The Rose (1848)
Jean Colombe's illumination of the story of Merlin's unholy birth as told in the Prose Merlin (c. 1480)
Merlin, the Enchanter by Louis Rhead (1923)
Merlin and Nimue in Romance of King Arthur (1917) abridged from Le Morte d'Arthur by Alfred W. Pollard, illustrated by Arthur Rackham: "How by her subtle working she made Merlin to go under the stone to let wit of the marvels there and she wrought so there for him that he came never out for all the craft he could do."

In the second, Merlin's magic enables the new British king Uther Pendragon to enter into Tintagel Castle in disguise and to father his son Arthur with his enemy's wife, Igerna (Igraine).

Duke of Cornwall

Title in the Peerage of England, traditionally held by the eldest son of the reigning British monarch, previously the English monarch.

Arms of the Duke of Cornwall
Coat of arms of the Duchy of Cornwall, granted in 1968.

Notably in this tale, Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall under King Uther Pendragon, rebelled when the king became obsessed with Gorlois' wife Igraine.


Igraine and Gorlois in Władysław T. Benda's illustration for Uther and Igraine by Warwick Deeping (1903)

In Arthurian legend, Gorlois (Gwrlais) of Tintagel, Duke of Cornwall, is the first husband of Igraine, whose second husband is Uther Pendragon.


Character in later Arthurian traditions.

Young Gareth appealing to his mother Morgause (Queen Bellicent) to let him go serve King Arthur in Tales from Tennyson, 1902

The corresponding character of Arthur's sister in Geoffrey of Monmouth's 12th-century Latin chronicle Historia Regum Britanniae is named Anna, and is depicted as a daughter of Uther Pendragon and Igraine.

King Arthur

Legendary British leader who, according to medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the late 5th and early 6th centuries.

Tapestry showing Arthur as one of the Nine Worthies, wearing a coat of arms often attributed to him
Arthur defeats the Saxons in a 19th-century picture by John Cassell
"Arturus rex" (King Arthur), a 1493 illustration from the Nuremberg Chronicle
A facsimile page of Y Gododdin, one of the most famous early Welsh texts featuring Arthur
Culhwch entering Arthur's court in the Welsh tale Culhwch and Olwen. An illustration by Alfred Fredericks for a 1881 edition of the Mabinogion
King Arthur in a crude illustration from a 15th-century Welsh version of Historia Regum Britanniae
The Death of Arthur by John Garrick (1862), depicting a boat arriving to take the dying Arthur to Avalon after the Battle of Camlann
During the 12th century, Arthur's character began to be marginalised by the accretion of "Arthurian" side-stories such as that of Tristan and Iseult, here pictured in a painting by John William Waterhouse (1916)
The story of Arthur drawing the sword from a stone appeared in Robert de Boron's 13th-century Merlin. By Howard Pyle (1903)
The Round Table experiences a vision of the Holy Grail, an illumination by Évrard d'Espinques
Arthur receiving the later tradition's sword Excalibur in N. C. Wyeth's illustration for The Boy's King Arthur (1922), a modern edition of Thomas Malory's 1485 Le Morte d'Arthur
Merlin and Viviane in Gustave Doré's 1868 illustration for Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King
King Arthur (holding Excalibur) and Patsy in Spamalot, a stage musical adaptation of the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Many elements and incidents that are now an integral part of the Arthurian story appear in Geoffrey's Historia, including Arthur's father Uther Pendragon, the magician Merlin, Arthur's wife Guinevere, the sword Excalibur, Arthur's conception at Tintagel, his final battle against Mordred at Camlann, and final rest in Avalon.

Round Table

King Arthur's famed table in the Arthurian legend, around which he and his knights congregate.

A reproduction of Évrard d'Espinques' illumination of the Prose Lancelot, showing King Arthur presiding at the Round Table with his Knights (1470)
King Arthur's knights, gathered at the Round Table, see a vision of the Holy Grail. From a manuscript of Lancelot and the Holy Grail (c. 1406)
"Sir Galahad is brought to the court of King Arthur", Walter Crane's illustration for King Arthur's Knights, abridged from Le Morte d'Arthur by Henry Gilbert (1911)

This version of the Round Table, here made for Arthur's father Uther Pendragon rather than Arthur himself, has twelve seats and one empty place to mark the betrayal of Judas; this seat, must remain empty until the coming of the knight who will achieve the Grail.


Legendary sword of King Arthur, sometimes also attributed with magical powers or associated with the rightful sovereignty of Britain.

Excalibur the Sword by Howard Pyle (1903)
"Queen Morgana Loses Excalibur His Sheath." Howard Pyle's illustration for The Story of King Arthur and His Knights (1903)
"How Galahad drew out the sword from the floating stone at Camelot." Arthur Rackham's illustration for Alfred W. Pollard's The Romance of King Arthur (1917)

In this account, as foretold by Merlin, the act could not be performed except by "the true king", meaning the divinely appointed king or true heir of Uther Pendragon.