Imagine a time of darkness, chaos, poverty, war and confusion. No, not the past three years, but England at the end of the 5th century and beginning of the 6th.
The Roman Empire had controlled Britain for a few centuries but in the end they figured that the food was just too bad to make keeping it worthwhile. Also, they had a few hundred thousand godless barbarians at their doorsteps….okay, so the barbarians weren’t godless. They were actually Christianized and many of them were even Romanized by this point, but “Godless” sounds much cooler. So, the Empire, being invaded by illegal aliens with large axes decided to sped their limited resources on protecting territory that actually mattered.
Well, the Britons had a bit of problem. You see, the Saxons were just waiting for the Romans to pull out and when they did, they started a little peacekeeping action to stabilize the British Isles. Now, you must understand that at this time, the Germanic Saxons weren’t your typical fun loving peaceful Germans like the Teutonic knights…oh wait….like the Prussians…um, maybe…like Germany during the 1930’s and 40’s. Crap. Nevermind. Either way, these guys weren’t nice.
So, the Saxons start their “Kenitc Military Action” and invaded Briton. Well, after the Romans pulled out, England was divided what was probably the old Roman provinces ruled by old Roman aristocracy. We’re not really sure because Anarchy kinda plays havoc on the record keeping. Well, some of the Romans stayed behind because they liked the place, maybe even the food. One of these Romano-Britons was named Arturius. He was first mentioned in the “Historium Brittonum,” a Latin text detailing the history of England. Scholarship wasn’t known for its accuracy and we have reason to doubt if everything in the chronicles was accurate. But, the records to mention an Arturius that fought with the kings of England against the Saxon invasion.
So, what were Arthur’s forces like? Basically you have a few crusty old Roman soldiers with a local peasants that unlike the rest of the Roman Empire, had a tradition of civilian owned weapons. So, Roman soldiers gone native and militia against 8ft tall, axe wielding 20th level barbarians.
The Romans at the end of the Empire had learned the value of heavy cavalry and were in the early stages of the dark ages. (that’s a topic for later.)
But, they had heavily armored cavalry often taken from different parts of the Empire. So, perhaps they had some cavalry as well.
And there was most likely a real Battle of Badon Hill. That was where the united Britons and Romans fought off the Saxons and delayed their take over of England for another 70 years. So, what about Merlin and Guinevere?
Didn’t exist. With the exception of a hard core crusty Roman Veterans leading a bunch of bearded Britons into battle, there is not much else we really know about this Arturius…or was it Ambrosius Aurelianus? Maybe we really don’t know much, but we know he was awesome.