Taştaki Kılıç: Excalibur
Excalibur, efsanevi Britanya Kralı Arthur'un taşıdığı, Glaston Gölü ve Avalon Adası'nın Ladysi Vivien tarafından kendisine verilmiş olan kılıcın ismidir.
Excalibur hakkında iki efsane bulunur. İlkinde Robert de Boron'un Merlin adlı şiirinde "Sword in the Stone" (Taştaki Kılıç) olarak geçer. Kral Arthur, kılıcı saplandığı taştan çekip çıkarır ve bu sayede gücünü ve hâkimiyetini ispatlar. Sir Thomas Malory'nin kaleme aldığı Kral Arthur efsanesine göre ise Kral Arthur Kral Pellinore'la dövüşürken kılıcı kırılır. Gölün Hanımı tarafından Kral Arthur'a başka bir kılıç, yani Excalibur verilir. Kral Arthur'un ölümüyle Sir Bedivere kılıcı göle atmış, gölden yükselen bir el de kılıcı kaparak kaybolmuştur.
Kral Arthur'un büyülü güçlere sahip kılıcı Excalibur Büyük Britanya'nın haklı egemenliğiyle de iliştirilir. Bu iki kılıç kimi yerde aynı kılıç olarak geçse de bazı kaynaklarda birbirlerinden farklı olduğu söylenir. Söylenenlere göre bu kılıç, yeryüzüne düşen bir meteorun madeninden yapılmıştır. Çekilir çekilmez otuz meşale yakılmış gibi düşmanların gözünü kamaştırması, güçlü kını sayesinde sahibinin ölümcül yaralar almasını önlemesi ve yaralanan yerin kanamaması gibi özellikleri vardır.
Sword in the Stone: Excalibur
"You look at the sword in the stone from all angles.
How did it get there? What does it symbolize?
You feel your quest is to pull the sword free.
You place one hand on the sword.
Energy surges through your body.
Your mind fills with images of your
connection to this sword.
You place both hands on the sword and hold it firmly.
[Close your eyes and feel the sword in your hands
...the metal... the stones...the energies from within]
With all your strength, you pull it out."
Excalibur is the mythical sword of King Arthur, sometimes attributed with magical powers or associated with the rightful sovereignty of Great Britain. Sometimes Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone (the proof of Arthur's lineage) are said to be the same weapon, but in most versions they are considered separate. The sword was associated with the Arthurian legend very early; in Welsh, the sword was called Caledfwlch.
In surviving accounts of Arthur, there are two originally separate legends about the sword's origin. The first is the "Sword in the Stone" legend, originally appearing in Robert de Boron's poem Merlin, in which Excalibur can only be drawn from the stone by Arthur, the rightful king. The second comes from the later Post-Vulgate Suite du Merlin, which was taken up by Sir Thomas Malory. Here, Arthur receives Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake after breaking his first sword, called Caliburn, in a fight with King Pellinore. The Lady of the Lake calls the sword "Excalibur, that is as to say as Cut-steel," and Arthur takes it from a hand rising out of the lake.
As Arthur lay dying, he tells a reluctant Sir Bedivere (Sir Griflet in some versions) to return the sword to the lake by throwing it into the water. Bedivere thinks the sword too precious to throw away, so twice only pretends to do so. Each time, Arthur asks him to describe what he saw. When Bedivere tells him the sword simply vanished underwater, Arthur scolds him harshly. Finally, Bedivere throws Excalibur into the lake. Before the sword strikes the water's surface, the hand reaches up to grasp it and pull it under. Arthur leaves on a death barge with the three queens to Avalon, where as his legend says, he will one day return to save Britain from a threat. Malory records both versions of the legend in his Le Morte d'Arthur, and confusingly calls both swords Excalibur. The film Excalibur attempts to rectify this by having the Lady of the Lake only repair the sword after it is broken.
The Green Stone
During the opening years of the seventeenth century, Europe was gripped by Reformation and Counter-Reformation, when Catholics and Protestants persecuted one another with equal fervour. England was ruled by a Protestant regime, and in 1605 a group of oppressed Catholic landowners hatched a plot to kill the king, James I, during the state opening of parliament on 5 November. The plan, conceived by the Midland Catholics Robert Catesby and Thomas Wyntour, was to blow up the Houses of Parliament with dozens of barrels of gunpowder. Known as the Gunpowder Plot, it was thwarted at the last moment when conspirator Guy Fawkes was discovered nervously waiting to light the fuse. When Fawkes was tortured into revealing the names of the other plotters, the small band of conspirators fled to the Wyntour family home at Huddington Court in Worcestershire. Here they spent their last night, fleeing only a few miles the next day before being surrounded by the militia.
But this was not the end of the affair. The king's chief minister, Robert Cecil, had given strict instructions that Robert Catesby should be taken alive. The reason being, that he possessed a sacred relic - a green, jade gemstone called the Meonia Stone. Tradition held that it had once been set in King Arthur's sword Excalibur. Historically, it had belonged to Mary Queen of Scots, the last legitimate Catholic heir to the English throne. Following her death in 1587, a legend had developed that the Catholic who would finally secure the English throne would need to possess the sacred stone. Fearing that the Meonia Stone would act as a rallying symbol for the English Catholics, Cecil was determined that it should be destroyed. He was furious, however, to discover that Robert Catesby had been shot dead and the knowledge of the stone's whereabouts had died with him. Despite months of frantic searching and intense interrogation of the surviving conspirators, the stone was never found. Three centuries later, in 1979, Graham Phillip's and fellow researcher Andrew Collins decided to go in search of the lost Meonia Stone. The Green Stone, co-authored by Martin Keatman, is the remarkable true story of this fascinating quest.
Following a trail of historical clues, Graham and Andrew finally discovered the identity of the person to whom the stone was given. During their interrogation, the surviving Gunpowder Plotters had stated that Robert Catesby still had the stone with him the night before his death. As he no longer had it when he died, it seemed that the only place he could have secured the relic's safety was at Huddington Court. As the other plotters appear to have had no knowledge of its whereabouts, there seemed only one person to whom it could have been passed - Thomas Wyntour's sister-in-law Lady Gertude. The servants having been dismissed when the conspirators arrived, Gertrude was the only person to have spent that last fated night with the Gunpowder Plotters. Cecil himself had suspected that she may have been given the relic, but he had been unable to properly interrogate her because the king had forbidden the torture of titled women. Instead, she was placed under house arrest for many years.
The passage of time was to reveal something that Cecil could not have known. According to Lady Wyntour's own secret writings made during her imprisonment, which still survive with her descendants, a few hours before her arrest she had received a visitor - one Humphrey Packington of nearby Harvington Hall. Although they found no reference anywhere to the Meonia Stone, Graham and Andrew could not help but wonder if Packington had been the one for whom the stone was intended. Although he was never implicated in the Gunpowder Plot, Packington had been a devout Catholic. Moreover, he was distantly related to the late Mary Queen of Scots and his bloodline may have been considered fitting for a future Catholic monarchy.
The Elizabethan manor house of Harvington Hall still survives and is open to the public. When they heard of Graham and Andrew's suspicion that Packington may have hidden the Meonia Stone somewhere in the building, the property's trustees where keen to assist. No stone had ever been found in the building, they said, but something very strange had. During renovations to the property in the 1950s, the paneling had been removed from one of the upstairs corridors. Behind it, secretly sealed up for over 350 years, was an old painted mural, faded with age. After restoration, it was found to include an image of a young King Arthur wielding Excalibur, standing before a hill upon which his knights were rallied. Intriguingly, it dated from the very time of the Gunpowder Plot. It seemed that only Packington himself could have commissioned the mysterious picture.
Graham and Andrew were excited by the discovery. As the Meonia Stone was associated with Excalibur, it seemed very possible that this was a cryptic clue to its secret location. After searching the surrounding countryside, Graham and Andrew finally discovered a landmark that linked with the mural - a place called Knights Hill. In the painting, Arthur had been depicted standing before a hill on which his knights were gathered. The only structure in the area dating from Packington's time was an Elizabethan bridge crossing a stream that fed a lake at the bottom of the hill. It was here that they made an astonishing find. Secreted behind its foundation stones was a short sword heavily encrusted with years of sediment. When it was cleaned it was found to bear the coat of arms of Mary Queen of Scots, and a further coded message - three enigmatic words: "Meonia fore Marye".
In The Green Stone, Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman tell the full story of how the cryptic message on the mysterious sword leads eventually to the stone's discovery. In a grassy mound on the banks of the River Avon, a few miles from the bridge, a buried brass casket is uncovered containing a small green stone. Half-egg shaped and some two centimetres long, it is fashioned from simple jade. The casket is taken for analysis to the Chester Museum where it is dated to the early seventeenth century - precisely the time of the Gunpowder Plot. But this is not the end of this remarkable story. Strange and inexplicable things begin to happen to those who now possess the Meonia Stone.
Discovery News - March 1, 2004
The sword in the stone, in the chapel next to the Gothic Abbey of Saint Galgano at Montesiepi. Archaeological digging may soon unveil its origins, Italian research announced.
Known as the "sword in the stone," the Tuscan "Excalibur" is said to have been plunged into a rock in 1180 by Galgano Guidotti, a medieval knight who renounced war and worldly goods to become a hermit. Built in Galgano's memory, the evocative Gothic abbey at Montesiepi, near the city of Siena, still preserves the sword in a little chapel. Only the hilt and a few centimeters of the blade protrude from the rock in the shape of a Cross. "The sword has been considered a fake for many years, but our metal dating research in 2001 has indicated it has medieval origins. The composition of the metal doesn't show the use of modern alloys, and the style is compatible with that one of a 12th century sword," Luigi Garlaschelli, a research scientist at University of Pavia, told Discovery News.
By the summer, Garlaschelli hopes to excavate the area around the stone, in search of the knight's body. Indeed, ground penetrating radar analysis revealed the presence of a 6 1/2-foot by 3-foot room beneath the sword. "It could well be Galgano's tomb, [sought] for about 800 years," Garlaschelli said. The figure of Galgano Guidotti, who is said to have be born in 1148 in Chiusdino, near Siena, is shrouded in mystery and legend. Evidence of his historical identity has never been found and no records exist in documents from his time. Galgano Guidotti was said to have been an arrogant and lustful knight who isolated himself in a cave and became a hermit after seeing a vision of the Archangel Michael.
Legend has it that, Galgano was lured out by his mother who convinced him to meet with his former beautiful fiancée; on the way to her house, Galgano was thrown by his horse while passing Montesiepi, a hill near Chiusdino. There, another vision told him to renounce material things. Galgano objected that it would be as difficult as splitting a rock with a sword. To prove his point, he struck a stone with his sword. Instead of breaking, the sword slid like butter into the rock. Galgano once again became a recluse, isolating himself by the sword's side. There he remained until he died in 1181. Garlaschelli admitted that the excavation would not unveil another mystery over the sword: the one of the Tuscan "Excalibur" predating the legend of King Arthur. If the sword really dates to 1180, decades before the first literary reference to the "sword in the stone," it would support the theory that the Celtic myth of King Arthur and his sword Excalibur developed in Italy after the death of Galgano. "Further evidence may lie underneath the rock, but the Arthurian link is almost impossible to prove. It will remain one of the many mysteries that surround St. Galgano. More multidisciplinary studies are needed to understand what the hill of Montesiepi hides. Meanwhile, we are all anxious to see what results this excavation will bring," Maurizio Cali, president of the "Project Galgano" association, told Discovery News.
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