Excalibur

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Excalibur is the legendary 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 is called Caledfwlch.

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Forms and etymologies

The name Excalibur apparently derives from the Welsh Caledfwlch which combines the elements caled ("battle, hard"), and bwlch ("breach, gap, notch").[1] Geoffrey of Monmouth Latinised this to Caliburnus (likely influenced by the medieval Latin spelling calibs of Classical Latin chalybs "steel"), the name of Arthur's sword in his 12th-century work Historia Regum Britanniae. Caliburnus or Caliburn became Excalibur, Escalibor, and other variations when the Arthurian legend entered into French literature.

Caledfwlch appears in several early Welsh works, including the poem Preiddeu Annwfn and the prose tale Culhwch and Olwen, a work associated with the Mabinogion and written perhaps around 1100. The name was later used in Welsh adaptations of foreign material such as the Bruts, which were based on Geoffrey. It is often considered to be related to the phonetically similar Caladbolg, a sword borne by several figures from Irish mythology, although a borrowing of Caledfwlch from Irish Caladbolg has been considered unlikely by Rachel Bromwich and D. Simon Evans. They suggest instead that both names "may have similarly arisen at a very early date as generic names for a sword"; this sword then became exclusively the property of Arthur in the British tradition.[2] Most Celticists consider Geoffrey's Caliburnus to be derivative of a lost Old Welsh text in which bwlch had not yet been lenited to fwlch.[3] In Old French sources this then became Escalibor, Excalibor and finally the familiar Excalibur.

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