Made by Merlin at Carduel for Uter Pendragon. Uter gave it to King Leodegraunce, of Camelyard, and King Leodegraunce gave it to Arthur when the latter married Guinever, his daughter. It seated 150 knights, and a place was left in it for the San Graal.
What is usually meant by Arthur's Round Table is a smaller one for the accommodation of twelve favourite knights. Henry VIII. showed Francois I. the table at Winchester, which he said was the one used by the British king.
The Round Table, says Dr. Percy, was not peculiar to the reign of King Arthur, but was common in all the ages of chivalry. Thus the King of Ireland, father of the fair Christabelle, says in the ballad-
Is there never a knighte of my round table This matter will undergo?
Round Table. In the eighth year of Edward I., Roger de Mortimer established a Round Table at Kenilworth for “the encouragement of military pastimes.” At this foundation 100 knights and as many ladies were entertained at the founder's expense. About seventy years later, Edward III. erected a splendid table at Windsor. It was 200 feet in diameter, and the expense of entertaining the knights thereof amounted to 100 a week.
A round table. A tournament. “So called by reason that the place wherein they practised those feats was environed with a strong wall made in a round form” (Dugdale). We still talk of tableland.
Holding a round table. Proclaiming or holding a grand tournament. Matthew of Paris frequently calls justs and tournaments Hastilndia Mensae Rotundae (lance games of the Round Table).
Knights of the Round Table. There were 150 knights who had “sieges” at the table. King Leodegraunce brought over 100 when, at the wedding of his daughter Guinever, he gave the table to King Arthur; Merlin filled up twentyeight of the vacant seats, and the king elected Gawaine and Tor; the remaining twenty were left for those who might prove worthy. (History of Prince Arthur, 45, 46.)
Knights of the Round Table. The most celebrated are Sirs Acolon,* Agravain, Amoral of Wales, Ballamore,* Banier, Beaumans,* Beleobus,* Bevidere, Belvour,* Bersunt,* Bliomberis, Borro or Bors* (Arthur's natural son), Brandiles, Brunor, Caradoc the Chaste (the only knight who could quaff the golden cup), Colgrevance, Dinadam, Driam, Dodynas the Savage, Eric, Floll,* Galahad or Galaad the Modest,* Gareth,* Gaheris,* Galohalt,* Gawain or Gauwin the Gentle* (Arthur's nephew), Grislet,* Hector of Mares (1 syl.) or Ector of Marys,* Iwein or Ewaine* (also written Yvain), Kay,* Ladynas, Lamereck or Lamerock,* Lancelot or Launcelot du Lac* (the seducer of Arthur's wife), Lanval of the Fairy Lance, Lavain, Lionell,* Lucan, Marhaus,* Meliadus, Mordred the Traitor (Arthur's nephew), Morolt or Norhault of the Iron Mace, Paginet,* Palamede or Palamede,* Pharamond, Pelleas,* Pellinore, Persuant of Inde (meaning of the indigo or blue armour), Percivall,* Peredur, Ryence, Sagramour le Desirus, Sagris,* Superbilis,* Tor or Torres* (repurted son of Arie the cowherd), Tristram or Tristran the Love-lorn,* Turquine,* Wigalois, Wigamor, Ywain (see Iwein).
The thirty marked with a star (*) are seated with Prince Arthur at the Round Table, in the frontispiece of the Famour History of the Renowned Prince Arthur.
There Galaad sat with manly grace, Yet maiden meekness in his face; There Morolt of the iron mace, And love-lorn Tristrem there; And Dinadam with lively glance, And Lanval with the fairy lance, And Mordred with his looks askance, Brunor and Bevidere. Why should I tell of numbers more? Sir Cay, Sir Banier, and Sir Bore, Sir Caradoc the keen, The gentle Gawain's courteous lore, Hector de Mares, and Pellinore, And Lancelot, that evermore Looked stol'n-wise on the queen.
SirWalterScott: Bridal of Triermain, ii. 13.
Knights of the Round Table. Their chief exploits occurred in quest of the San Graal or Holy Cup, brought to Britain by Joseph of Arimathe'a.
Harcourt's Round Table. (See Harcourt's ...)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894