The new TV show King Arthur presents a devastating twist on the legendary origins of Excalibur


  • The Winter King episode offers a new, grounded look at the origin of Arthur’s sword Excalibur, eschewing fantastical elements.
  • Arthur finds Excalibur at his mother’s grave and makes it his own, sharpening it and using it in battle.
  • The Winter King’s Excalibur is not depicted as magical, as it lacks the special abilities found in other legends, but it is a finely crafted sword with a unique hilt.

Warning: There are major spoilers for episode 4 of season 1 of The Winter King below!The Winter King The episode offers a devastating new look at the origins of Arthur’s sword Excalibur. There are many iconic elements from the legend of King Arthur, and his sword Excalibur is one of the most well-known. From Disney Sword within a sword to the fantasy epic from 1981 Excalibur, The story of how Arthur obtained his trademark weapon has been widely told. However, there are so many interpretations of the myth that some offer completely different perspectives on Excalibur’s origins.

A typical example would be The Winter King fourth episode. MGM+’s new fantasy series is based on the novel of the same name by Bernard Cornwell, who attempted to establish the Arthurian legend by fusing it with historical facts. As such, the show offers a stripped-back, darker approach that foregoes the more fantastical elements. However, most of the key characters and storylines still play a role, and it would be difficult to make a King Arthur series without him receiving his signature weapon.

Related: The Winter King Cast & Character Guide: Who’s Who on the MGM+ King Arthur Show

Arthur finds Excalibur at his mother’s grave

Winter King Poster Excalibur

In the fourth episode, Arthur (Iain De Caestecker) and his sister Morgan (Valene Kane) visit their mother’s grave. Her mother worked as a blacksmith and Arthur fondly remembers how clever and beautiful she was and how she told them stories. This includes the myth of Excalibur, and when Arthur looks through a pile of rusty swords, he discovers one with a distinctive hilt. There’s something about this blade that appeals to him, so he takes it back to the castle and sharpens it. He later decides to make it his primary weapon, and during a fight, its blade splits an opponent’s sword in two.

Essentially, this sword becomes its very own Excalibur. This is a much more down-to-earth origin of the weapon. In the Arthurian myth there are various stories about how he acquired the sword. In the stone myth there is the sword, in which warriors from all over the island gathered to try to pull out the mythical weapon. Whoever manages to pull out the weapon is crowned king, and young Arthur – unaware of his Pendragon ancestry – is the one who completely pulls it off.

The other version of Excalibur’s origin states that Merlin takes Arthur to a lake when the original sword breaks. Here Nimue/Lady of the Lake gives him Excalibur, which is said to have magical properties. Some versions of the legend make the sword that Arthur draws from the stone and the Lady of the Lake’s sword one and the same, the latter being essentially an improved version. However, most scholars tend to agree that they are two different weapons, namely the Sword in the Stone not Be Excalibur.

Who made Excalibur in the Winter King?

Valene Kane as Morgan in Winter King

As Arthur talks to Morgan about her mother and the history of Excalibur, she finally interrupts him and reveals something she was the one who told him this story. Morgan states that their mother never told them stories and the version of her in his memory did not exist. Morgan tells Arthur that her mother used to blame him for everything and that his birth caused King Uther (Eddie Marsan) to reject her because, although he didn’t mind being a “bastard“Daughter, Uther didn’t want her mother to give birth to a son. Despite this, Arthur tried to be the best at everything, including riding and fighting, to win her approval.

Related: The Winter King Season 1 Episode 3 Recap: The 6 Biggest Story Reveals

Aside from the somewhat devastating revelation that his mother never truly loved him, Arthur still thinks of her fondly. He also talks about how his mother promised to make him a sword one day, as he picks up the cool-handled blade from the pile of discarded swords near his mother’s grave. Arthur’s mother did it Winter King version of Excalibur, and he didn’t have to pull it out of a sword or travel into the middle of a lake to get it.

Is the Winter King’s Excalibur magical?

A warrior holding a sword

As mentioned before, The Winter King draws on the fantastic elements. Still, Nathaniel Martello-White’s Merlin or the priestess Nimue (Ellie James), who worship the “Old Gods,” are shown to have limited magical powers, including foresight. Some legends about Excalibur also give the weapon special powers, such as being so bright that it could literally blind Arthur’s enemies.

Winter King However, Excalibur does not appear to have any special abilities. The weapon is impressively sharp for one that’s been rusting on some rocks for years, but aside from that and its unique handle, there’s nothing to suggest it’s anything other than a finely crafted sword. Despite the different takes on the myth, almost every version of the story ends with Excalibur being thrown back into the lake – where the Lady of the Lake waits to retrieve him – so if the series makes it to the end of Arthur’s life, then that too It will be interesting to see if the show addresses this as well. The new TV show King Arthur presents a devastating twist on the legendary origins of Excalibur

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