Arthur in Baghdad

King Arthur in Baghdad:

Though not a Paladin, King Arthur was Charlemagne's chief competitor as a legendary symbol around whose court chivalric tales were told. I mention this because I was over at Camp Slayer today, and in the light of our discussion, I happened to notice their sign:

The flag is a detail from this tapestry of Arthur.

Of course, the Arthurian romances were just that -- "romances," by which Medievals meant, 'stories about adventures and times that were as great as Rome.' One mark of High Medieval civilization was that it self-consciously looked back to Rome, and tried to be like the Romans: you saw it in Charlemagne himself, and the "Holy Roman Empire," and the symbolism of the Church, and in kings like Edward I of England, and the popularity of Vegetius as a guide to how to run an army. In Arthur's case, he was given the Latin title Dux Bellorum very early.

In that sense, even a reference to Arthur is a reference to Rome; and one of the additions to the old Celtic Arthurian tales in the High Middle Ages was an Italian expedition to Rome itself. It's only in the 19th century that you begin to see Medievals as a rejection of Rome. You might say that the thing that made you a Medieval, rather than a barbarian, was the reference to Rome.

Here we see Arthur with pre-14th century Medieval heraldry, although the tapestry is modern.


In reading the page on Arthurian heraldry, I noticed this picture of Lancelot, whose arms -- argent three bends gules -- "have been stable since the 13th century" in the romances.

Here's the heraldry I see on every wall and every soldier:

I was given one of the "right sleeve" SSI patches recently by a Major here: a purely honorary gift, as I am not in the Army, but he said I'd been here more than long enough, and under (indirect, and poorly-aimed) fire often enough, to merit it in his opinion. I will certainly treasure it, and the sentiment that came with it. The Third Division heraldy is azure three bends sinister chief to dexter base argent.

Now if we could just get some round tables into the DFAC, everything would be in order.

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