Here begins the tale of the Wedding of Arthur and Guenivere. It is an ancient tale, and I pray my telling of it be pleasing to all.
Long ago, after Arthur had defeated the rebel Dukes at the Battle of Badon Hill and had taken the Crown in London, the King set about building his castle, which men name Camelot. It was a glorious palace, assembled around a grand central court, and here it was that Arthur gathered his Knights together, including those Dukes who had rebelled against him, and the ones who had been loyal from the start.
To ensure their loyalty, he took the eldest son of each Duke to be a squire in his court. Duke Lot of Lothian and Orkney sent his son, Gawain, who was Arthur's own nephew by his sister Morgause. Duke Mark of Cornwall had no son, and so he sent his nephew Tristain. Duke Uriens of Gorre was not married, and so to seal the treaty, Arthur arranged a marriage between his youngest sister Morgana and the Duke. At this time, Morgana was still unaware that she was an incarnation of the Lady, but she bore her marriage to Uriens with grace and dignity.
It was at this time that Lancelot, who was to become Arthur's best knight, and also would be blamed one day for the fall of Camelot, first came to Arthur's Court, as I shall relate a little later.
Duke Leodegrance of Camelliard had no son to send. But he had a daughter, Guenivere, the most beautiful woman Arthur had ever seen. When he first laid eyes upon her, the King fell at once in love with her. Calling Merlin to him, Arthur bade him journey to the castle of Duke Leodegrance of Cameliarde. "For," he said, "I love his daughter, Guenivere, and since I must take a wife to help maintain the kingdom, I will have none but she."
Now Merlin was troubled by this, for being able to see into the mists of time, he foresaw the secret love which would arise between Lancelot and Arthur's bride. Therefore he begged Arthur to choose another lady. But in his youth and strength, Arthur would have none of it, but he sent Merlin to Camelliard to make a settlement. Guenivere's father was well pleased with so high a match for his daughter, but it seemed to Guenivere herself that Arthur's counsellor, the Mage with his all-seeing mind, looked upon her with long, mournful eyes which filled her days with disquiet and her nights with confused dreams.
At last all was set in readiness. To do honor to his intended wife, Arthur sent the best of his knights, Lancelot of the Lake, to lead the wedding party which would escort her to Camelot. He sent messages of love and tokens of future affection be means of his friend and companion-at-arms.
Clothed in beauty like the Queen of May, Guenivere received her escort and listened to his courtly messages. But on the tongue of Lancelot, Arthur's messages took on a fresh meaning. The King's friend and the King's bride looked upon each other with love. "Lady," said Lancelot, speaking for himself now, "I pledge myself your champion from this day forward." And the promises that husbands and wives give to one another in the sacrament of love were exchanged between them in their hearts. And though each accepted all that duty would demand Ñ that Guenivere be faithful to Arthur, and Lancelot his faithful knight Ñ the day would come when love itself would master duty.
The wedding of Arthur and Guenivere was the most splendid occasion that had been seen in the Island of Britain for many years. Nothing like it could be remembered by any man or woman then living, and all knew that it issued in a new era of peace and prosperity.
On the day, Arthur had constructed a huge table with no head or foot, which he placed in the central hall of Camelot. This was the Round Table of which so much has been told, and Arthur instituted a new Order of Chivalry centered about this Table. Many adventures began on that day, including the Quest of the White Hart, as I will relate at the proper time.
Here ends the Tale of the Marriage of Arthur and Guenivere. May their Blessed Spirits be pleased with my telling of the tale, and may my ancestors smile upon me, now and ever.