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King Arthur's family grew throughout the centuries with King Arthur's legend. Several of the legendary members of this mythical king's family became leading characters of mythical tales in their own right.
In Welsh Arthurian literature from before the time of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain), Arthur was granted numerous relations and family members. Several early Welsh sources are usually taken as indicative of Uther Pendragon being known as Arthur's father before Geoffrey wrote, with Arthur also being granted a brother (Madog) and a nephew (Eliwlod) in these texts. Arthur also appears to have been assigned a sister in this material – Gwalchmei is named as his sister-son (nephew) in Culhwch and Olwen, his mother being one Gwyar. Rachel Bromwich and D. Simon Evans have observed that Culhwch and Olwen, the Vita Iltuti and the Brut Dingestow combine to suggest that Arthur had a mother too, named Eigyr.
In addition to this immediate family, Arthur was said to have had a great variety of more distant relatives, including maternal aunts, uncles, cousins and a grandfather named Anlawd (or Amlawdd) Wledig ("Prince Anlawd"). The latter is the common link between many of these figures and Arthur: thus the relationship of first cousins that is implied or stated between Arthur, Culhwch, Illtud, and Goreu mab Custenhin depends upon all of their mothers being daughters of this Anlawd, who appears to be ultimately a genealogical construct designed to allow such inter-relationships between characters to be postulated by medieval Welsh authors. Arthur's maternal uncles in Culhwch and Olwen, including Llygatrud Emys, Gwrbothu Hen, Gweir Gwrhyt Ennwir and Gweir Baladir Hir, similarly appear to derive from this relationship.
The genealogies from the thirteenth century Mostyn MS. 117 claim that Arthur is the son of Uthyr, the son of Custennin, the son of Cynfawr, the son of Tudwal, the son of Morfawr, the son of Eudaf, the son of Cadwr the son of Cynan, the son of Caradoc, the son of Bran, the son of Llŷr.
Turning to Arthur's own family, his wife is consistently stated to be Gwenhwyfar, usually the daughter of King Ogrfan Gawr (variation: 'Gogrfan Gawr', "[G]Ogrfan the Giant") and sister to Gwenhwyach, although Culhwch and Bonedd yr Arwyr do indicate that Arthur also had some sort of relationship with Eleirch daughter of Iaen, which produced a son named Kyduan (Cydfan). Kyduan was not the only child of Arthur according to Welsh Arthurian tradition – he is also ascribed sons called Amr (Anir), Gwydre, Llacheu and Duran.
Relatively few members of Arthur's family in the Welsh materials are carried over to the works of Geoffrey and the romancers. His grandfather Anlawd Wledic and his maternal uncles, aunts and cousins do not appear there, and neither do any of his sons or his paternal relatives. Only the core family seem to have made the journey: his wife Gwenhwyfar (who became Guinevere), his father Uther, his mother (Igerna) and his sister-son Gwalchmei (Gawain). As Roberts has noted, Gwalchmei's mother – Arthur's sister – failed to make the journey, Gwyar's place being taken by Anna, the wife of Loth, in Geoffrey's account, whilst Medraut (Mordred) is made into a second sister-son for Arthur (a status he does not have in the Welsh material). In addition, new family members enter the Arthurian tradition from this point onwards. Uther is given a new family, including two brothers and a father, while Arthur gains a sister, Morgan le Fay (first named as Arthur's sister by Chrétien de Troyes), and a new son, Loholt, in Chrétien's Eric and Enide, the Perlesvaus and the Vulgate Cycle.
Another significant new family-member is Arthur's half-sister Morgause, the daughter of Gorlois and Igerna and mother of Gawain and Mordred in the French romances (replacing Geoffrey of Monmouth's Anna in this role). In the Vulgate Mort Artu we find Mordred's relationship with Arthur once more reinterpreted, as he is made the issue of an unwitting incestuous liaison between Arthur and this Morgause, with Arthur dreaming that Mordred would grow up to kill him. This tale is preserved in all the romances based on the Mort Artu, and by the time we reach Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur Arthur has started to plot, Herod-like, to kill all children born on the same day as Mordred in order to save himself from this fate. A third half-sister, Elaine, is also added at this time. Through his sisters, Arthur is given further nephews (Gareth, Gaheris, Agravain, Ywain, and Galeschin) who become Knights of the Round Table.
Although Arthur is given sons in both early and late Arthurian tales, he is rarely granted significant further generations of descendants; this is at least partly because of the premature deaths of his sons in these legends. Amr is the first to be mentioned in Arthurian literature, appearing in the 9th century Historia Brittonum:
Why Arthur chose to kill his son is never made clear. The only other reference to Amr comes in the post-Galfridian Welsh romance Geraint, where "Amhar son of Arthur" is one of Arthur’s four chamberlains along with Bedwyr’s son, Amhren. Gwydre is similarly unlucky, being slaughtered by the giant boar Twrch Trwyth in Culhwch and Olwen, along with two of Arthur's maternal uncles – no other references to either Gwydre or Arthur's uncles survive. More is known of Arthur's son Llacheu. He is one of the "Three Well-Endowed Men of the Island of Britain", according to Triad number 4, and he fights alongside Cei in the early Arthurian poem Pa gur yv y porthaur?. Like his father is in Y Gododdin, Llacheu appears in 12th century and later Welsh poetry as a standard of heroic comparison and he also seems to have been similarly a figure of local topographic folklore too. Taken together, it is generally agreed that all these references indicate that Llacheu was a figure of considerable importance in the early Arthurian cycle. Nonetheless, Llacheu too dies, with the speaker in the pre-Galfridian poem Ymddiddan Gwayddno Garanhir ac Gwyn fab Nudd remembering that he had "been where Llacheu was slain / the son of Arthur, awful in songs / when ravens croaked over blood". Finally, Loholt is treacherously killed by Sir Kay so that the latter can take credit for the defeat of the giant Logrin in the Perlesvaus, while another son, known only from a possibly 15th century Welsh text, is said to have died on the field of Camlann:
Medraut/Mordred is an exception to this tradition of a childless death for Arthur's sons. Mordred, like Amr, is killed by Arthur – at Camlann – according to Geoffrey of Monmouth and the post-Galfridian tradition but, unlike the others, he is ascribed two sons, both of whom rose against Arthur's successor and cousin Constantine with the help of the Saxons. However, in Geoffrey's Historia (when Arthur's killing of Mordred and Mordred's sons first appear), Mordred was not yet actually Arthur's son.
Later literature has expanded Arthur's family further. Richard Johnson's 16th century romance Tom a Lincoln adds another illegitimate son, the eponymous Tom. Through Tom, Arthur is also given grandsons referred to only as the Black Knight and Faerie Knight. Other works, such as Henry Fielding's Tom Thumb and modern film and television adaptations of Arthurian legend, have occasionally given Arthur daughters, diverging from the earlier legends.
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