King Arthur's knights, gathered at the Round Table, see a vision of the Holy Grail. From a manuscript of Lancelot and the Holy Grail (c. 1406). The Knights of the Round Table were the knightly members of the legendary fellowship of the King Arthur in the literary cycle of the Matter of Britain, in which the first written record of them appears in the Roman de Brut written by the Norman poet Wace in 1155. In the legend, the Knights are an order in the service of Arthur, tasked with ensuring the peace of the kingdom and sometimes also charged with leading the quest for the Holy Grail. The Round Table at which they met was created to have no head or foot, representing the equality of all the members. Different stories had different numbers of Knights, ranging from only 12 to 150 or more.
Their number (always symbolic) and the names vary depending of the text. The first sources state 24, 36 or 72. For Robert de Boron, at whom the Round Table is a replica of the table of the Last Supper, they are fifty. In some versions, including Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory, they are 150 ("three times fifty" is a phrase that is often found in Welsh or Irish texts, which means "a large number" or even "immeasurable"). Bedivere, Gawain and Kay are the oldest characters associated with Arthur.
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