Arthurian Literature Timeline

This Timeline is a work in progress. You might also find the Arthurian Bibliography and Arthurian Resources pages of interest.

W = Welsh | F = French | L = Latin | E = English
Date Historical Event Text Note
3000 BC. Circular mounds built at Stonehenge
2500 BC Central stones set up at Stonehenge, then rearranged c. 200–300 years later
c. 450–525 Anglo-Saxon Conquest The Anglo-Saxon Conquest was not, exactly, what most people think of as a conquest. Successive waves of peoples speaking Germanic languages emigrate, raid, and settle in Celtic-speaking Britain.
c. 600 Y Goddodin (W) Earliest Reference to Arthur
c. 800 Nennius, Historia Brittonum | History of the Britons (L) Nennius is the earliest source regarding King Vortigern, the “fatherless” Ambrosius, the fortress at Dinas Emrys, and the dragons beneath which prevented the successful construction of the fortress. Arthur is identified not as a king but as dux bellorum (war leader) who united the kings of Britain against the Saxons.
c. 950 Annals of Wales (L)
1066 Norman Conquest William the Conquer of Normandy invades England, and brings Norman culture and Norman French with him.
c. 1136 Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum Britanniae | History of the Kings of the Britons (L)
1139 Outbreak of English Civil War between Stephen and Matilda
1154–89 Reign of Henry II
1155 Wace, Roman de Brut (F) Wace’s Roman de Brut is derived from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of the Britons, though Wace’s work is in French, and poetry. Wace introduced the first mention of the Round Table.
c. 1160–80 Romances of Chretien de Troyes (F) Chretien is responsible for introducing the concept of the Holy Grail (though not clarifying what it looks like), for Lancelot, and for the Lancelot-Guinevere-Arthur love triangle.
c. 1190 Arthur’s grave found Monks at Glastonbury Abbey claim to have found the body of a gigantic man, wounded several times in the head and buried with the bones of his wife. A lock of gold hair and a lead cross were also described as lying within an oak coffin. There are multiple versions of the discovery and the inscription on the cross.
c. 1205 Composition; c. 1250 BL Cotton Caligula A Laȝamon’s Brut (E) Laȝamon, a cleric in Worcestershire, specifically acknowledges his debt to Wace, and via Wace, to Geoffrey of Monmouth. He also used Bede, and oral traditions; Welsh influences. Laȝamon is less interested in British history than his predecessors; his primary interest is Arthur.
1215–35 Arthurian vulgate prose romances (F) These are a bit like Arthurian fan fiction; they are convuluted, lengthy and numerous.
1327–77 Reign of Edward III
1337 Outbreak of Hundred Years’ War
c. 1380 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (E)
1400 Death of Chaucer
1454–85 Wars of the Roses between the Houses of York and Lancaster
c. 1469–70 Malory completes Morte Darthur in prison
1485 Henry VII crowned as first Tudor king after defeating Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Caxton prints Malory’s Morte Darthur