Michael Barry: ABSTRACT: "King Arthur's Round Table and the Thousand and One Nights"

The famous Round Table of knightly lore was first attributed to King Arthur in 12th- and early 13th-century Norman-French romances, but the motif's origin remains unknown. This discussion focuses on the rich cycle of romances (including tales that found their way into the Thousand and One Nights) that developed in Islamic civilization around the Arab conquest of Spain in AD 711, featuring the magic table of King Solomon's world rule supposedly found by the Muslim conquerors in the palace of the Visigothic kings of Toledo.

From the ultimate Germanic, Byzantine and Rabbinical origins of the Spanish-Islamic mythic cycle, to its attested impact on 11th- and 12th-century Latin and Romance literatures, reasons become clear why, to quote Sir Thomas Malory's celebrated 15th-century English summary of the Old French Queste del Saint-Graal: "Also Merlin made the Round Table in tokening of the roundness of the world, for by the Round Table is the world signified by right, for all the world, Christian and paynim, repair unto the Round Table ("apres cele table fu la Table Reonde par le conseil Merlin, qui ne fu pas establie sanz grant senefiance. Car en ce qu'ele est appelee Table Reonde est entendue la reondece del monde et la circonstance des planetes et des elemenz el firmament; et es circonstances dou firmament voit len les estoiles et mainte autre chose; dont len puet dire en la Table Reonde est li monde senefiez a droit. Car vos poez veoir que de toutes terres ou chevaleries repere, soit de crestienté ou paiennie, viennent à la Table Reonde li chevalier").