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Distributed for University of Wales Press

Arthur in Medieval Welsh Literature

New Updated Edition

Although the legends of Arthur have been popular throughout Europe from the Middle Ages on, the earliest references to Arthur are actually found in Welsh literature, beginning with the Welsh-Latin Historia Brittonum, which dates from the ninth century. In Arthur in Medieval Welsh Literature, O. J. Padel provides a survey of medieval Welsh literary references to Arthur and emphasizes their importance to Arthurian studies as a whole. Padel considers texts from different genres alongside one another, from the folk legends associated with magic and animals to those portraying Arthur as literary hero, soldier, and defender of country and faith. Other figures associated with Arthur, such as Cai, Bedwyr, and Gwenhwyfar, are also discussed.

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“This thought-provoking study of Arthurian literature will ensure that we return to read the Welsh poems and stories with a more open mind than familiarity with them might sometimes tempt us to do.”

Studia Celtica

“ Learned and entertaining. . . . Any scholar not already familiar with the Welsh material will find it an admirable introduction; it is to be hoped that the edition is large enough to make it as widely accessible as it deserves.”

Notes and Queries

“Although the title indicates that this is a book on Arthurian literature, any book on Arthur will have something to interest folklorists. This one, unlike so much which is published on this famous hero, is an excellent survey-cum-study, written with authority and assurance.”


“Few scholars could have undertaken the present work with more success. The volume has the distinction of imposing order on enormously diverse texts, genres, and periods and is additionally controlled by Padel’s judgement and fluid prose. It is never an entirely easy task for an expert in any field to change tone and level in order to write a book for non-experts. Padel has done so admirably in a work that is assured, accurate and eminently readable”

Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie

“Fills a major gap by providing a concise and easily digested introduction to Arthur as he appears in medieval Welsh literature . . . . If this elegantly written and intelligent guide may be primarily intended for tyros, the freshness and perceptiveness with which the author approaches his subject is also sure to please the old salts.”

Table of Contents

Preface to the new edition



The Earliest Texts

Arthur’s World: Culhwch and ‘Pa ŵr yw’r porthor?’

Other Texts of the Central Middle Ages

Three Dialogue Poems

The Matter of Britain

The Continuing Tradition

Some Arthurian Characters

Was There an Arthur of the Welsh?

Select Bibliography

Supplementary Bibliography (2013)



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