Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book V Chapter III
Now, back in Britain, Arthur gathers all his knights together, and all his barons, and all his vassals, and all the knights and barons and vassals of his vassals. He brings everyone together for a new thing he’s just invented, which he calls Parliament.
Parliament! It’s Funkadelic! posters get put up all across the land, and people, by which I mean men, by which I mean aristocrats, collect. On January 21st of no particular year, they’re all collected and Arthur makes a speech.
“Okay, everyone! Can you hear me in the back? Good? Good! Welcome to Parliament!”
“You all know why I called you together — we’re going to invade Rome! I’ve decided I’m the rightful Emperor of Rome, and it’s time to reassert my claim from those pretenders who have been ruling it for centuries! We’re going to start at Normandy and not quit until we’re resting comfortably in the Parthenon!”
Cheers. Sir Bedivere whispers something into Arthur’s ear.
“Okay, I’ve just been told, the Parthenon is in Athens. We’ll take in some gladiatorial combat at the Colosseum, how about that?”
Laughter, rowdy cheers!
“Right, so, write this date down: the fifth of February! That’s the day we’re setting out to cross the channel! I want everyone prepped and ready at Sandwich, you got that?”
“Now in the meantime — settle down, this is important — in the meantime, a couple of announcements! First off, I can’t be leading an army across Rome while also ruling England like a king! That would be spreading myself too thin! So, my wife — Guenever, will you come up here, please?”
Cheers and applause as Guenever mounts the stage.
“My wife, Guenever, and my country, England, two of the most important, heck, they are the two most important things in my life! I can’t say I’m thrilled to be leaving Britain, but I know it’ll be in capable hands…”
Guenever smiles, nods, gets ready to make a speech about how good an interim ruler she’ll be.
“…Because I’m asking Sir Baudwin, who’s been with me since the beginning, and Sir Constantine, whose father once lost a fight to Gawaine, to jointly rule England in my stead while I’m away!”
Applause, cheers, some kind of commotion in the ranks of Round Table knights behind Arthur. Guenever looks pissed! This is not how she was expecting the speech to go!
“Hold on!” Arthur puts a hand over his microphone, confers with some of his other knights. “Okay! It’s okay, ladies and gentlmen! My knight Sir Launcelot here was just asking me if, since Sir Tristam is getting to stay behind and protect Lady Yseult, he could be permitted to stay behind and comfort Guenever.”
Nods, murmurs of understanding.
“Of course I had to tell him no —“
A crashing sound as Guenever faints and falls off the stage. Her ladies-in-waiting get her into her bedchamber.
“Had to tell him no,” Arthur explains once Guenever is taken care of. “Since he’s one of our best young knightly fighters. Now, one last thing, and then I’ll let you get back to your mistresses and wives and husbands and children, I’m sure everybody has someone they want to see… How about you, Launcelot? You have a mistress or wife yet?”
Arthur covers his microphone with his hand while he and Launcelot briefly converse. Launcelot seems upset about something, but it’s unclear just what. Arthur laughs it off.
“That Launcelot, he’s such a kidder. Anyway. One last thing, I’m sure I’m going to win and win handily, because we’re on page 123 out of 737, but in the extremely unlikely event of my death, Interim Acting Co-King Sir Constantine will be your new king. I don’t think it’ll come up, but just in case, be aware, that’s my preference.”
So Arthur and Launcelot and almost everybody else head down to Sandwich (which is just up the coast from Dover) and fill the sea with their boats, and Baudwin and Constantine and Guenever are left behind to rule, co-rule, and continue to act as a valuable member of the team, respectively. This chapter is not Arthur’s finest hour with respect to his treatment of Guenever, I must say. That Guenever presumed she’d be interim king, that’s my interpolation, but it seems reasonable from context.
Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book V Chapter III — No Comments
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