Thursday, 10 October 2019
Olden Englande History
I'm not sure how many of my readers have studied the history of Olde Englande, at the times of Knights, and round tables, and chivalry. Here are a few things you may not have known.
The Knights of the Round Table were characters in the leg end of King Arthur in England. It is not quite clear which leg end it was, the right or left; but it doesn't seem to matter anyway.
Of course, originally, King Arthur did not have many Knights. He had just three and they sat round a triangular table. They argued as to whether they should sit at the pointy end of the table or the flat surface of the triangle. This is because one of them, Sir Tiny Bottom, was so short that when he sat forwards at the pointy end the table leg would strike his privates. It struck his other soldiers too as a matter of fact. Anyway, eventually as the number of Knights increased the King decided to have a round table; having tried a square one, a hexagonal one and every other shape depending on the number of Knights he had at the time.
In those days of Olde Englande they had many restless Knights. This is because people used to eat cheese and drink mead just before going to bed, and the Knights' wives and girl-friends were too busy watching Downton Abbey instead. (Instead of what?).
Also, it was very difficult to get to sleep with all that metal armour on. It was like asking a sardine to go to sleep inside its tin can. It must have been somewhat cumbersome when having to get up in the night to go to the toilet. Especially since in those days of Merry Olde Englande toilets were outside in the garden and not part of the house. By the time they reached the toilet most Knights had water on the knee. A common ailment at the time.
They had many restless days too when the womenfolks the next morning told off their husbands for staying up all night drinking and wassailing.
"What time did you get up to bed?" they would ask, "I heard you get up the stairs making quite a racket with your rusty armour. Why don't you put some oil on the joints? And whilst you're at it put some oil on your other creaky parts as well!"
No body seems to know what wassailing is but it seems to be something to do with saying "cheers" before drinking, or it may refer to the festival itself of drinking alcoholic beverages. Anyway, they did a lot of it in the times of King Arthur and his restless Knights ... or is it nights?
King Arthur had a lot of restless Knights each thinking he was more important than the other. They had names like Lancelot and Runalot, and Laughalot and so on, depending on what they did the most. There was a knight who ate a lot of beans ... can't remember his name!
In order to prove that none of them was more important than the other King Arthur asked a carpenter to make him a large Round Table. It had to be large enough to enable twelve knights as well as the King himself to sit around it. And it had to be made of one piece of wood so that none of them would complain they sat where two pieces were joined together and thus mean he was less important than the other knights.
Some records say that King Arthur had as many as twenty-five knights, others say fifty or perhaps even more; as many as 150!!! Which leads one to wonder how big the Round Table must have been.
Also, how difficult it must have been to call a meeting and have all of them attending on the same day. Believe me, I've tried at work to set up a meeting of just six people and there's always one person who can't attend when the others can.
Eventually a very large round table was made by a carpenter named Ivor Woodenheade. The problem was, having made the Round Table, how do we get it into the big Round Room which is at the top of the Castle in Camelot? (Presumably they had a lot of camels there!).
Remember those were the days after the wheel had been invented many years previously; so making a round table was in itself easy. Some historians believe that the wheel is the greatest invention of mankind after laxative. Being an eminent historian myself; I disagree. I think the second wheel was the greatest invention of mankind because then we had the bicycle.
So the carpenter and his crew decided to stand the Round Table upright and roll it up the hill like a wheel all the way to the castle, into the big hall, up the stairs and into the Round Room which was right at the top of the castle. Problem !!!
Once they reached the Round Room at the top of the castle they found that the door is too low for the table to get through.
The carpenter was fired and another carpenter hired to build a new Round Table INSIDE the Round Room. Clever, don't you think?
So the second carpenter, Ivan Idea, brought all the wood he needed and his tools and made the table inside the Round Room to save having to roll it up the hill and through the small door. Another problem !!!
Once the table was built there was not enough room in the Round Room for 150 chairs to be put around the Round Table in the Round Room. The second carpenter was fired.
A third carpenter, known as Aye Fearalot, was very reluctant to take on the job and be fired like his predecessors. In order to avoid such dire fate he convinced King Arthur to build a smaller Round Table, inside the Round Room, around which he put enough chairs for just thirteen people. The other Knights could stay outside the castle and listen to the proceeding on the loudspeakers - reasoned the carpenter. King Arthur agreed.
Contrary to popular opinion, all these Knights did not speak in different accents depending on which part of Olde Englande they came from. They all spoke in perfect English as you can see in the various films which have been made over the years about King Arthur and Camelot. Not in any of these films do you find a Knight speaking in a London cockney accent or a Liverpudlian tone.
Once Knighted a Knight had to promise not to commit murder, treason or be cruel. He had to be nice to ladies, "gentlewomen", (presumably he could be nasty to those not gentle), and widows, (not windows), and to help them cross the road whether they wanted to or not.
In those days many women spent time crossing the road for no apparent reason.
Just for the record, and to prove I do research my History Lessons, here are some names of the Knights of the Round Table:
King Arthur, Sir Galahad, Sir Lancelot du Lac, Sir Gawain, Sir Percivale, Sir Lionell, Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir Kay, Sir Tristram de Lyones, Sir Gareth, Sir Bedivere, Sir Bleoberis, La Cote Male Taile, Sir Lucan, Sir Palomedes, Sir Lamorak, Sir Safer, Sir Pelleas, Sir Ector de Maris, Sir Dagonet, Sir Degore, Sir Brunor le Noir, Le Bel Desconneu, Sir Alymere, and Sir Mordred.
There was also one called Sir Ywain the Bastard. I bet he wasn't very happy about that !!!