In Arthurian legends, Excalibur was King Arthur's magic sword. There are two accounts of how Arthur obtained Excalibur. According to one version, the sword had been plunged into a stone and remained firmly fixed there. It was said that whoever pulled the sword from the stone would be the next king of England. Some of the strongest men in the land attempted to pull the sword out, but none succeeded until the young Arthur pulled it out with ease. In the other story, Arthur received Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake, a mysterious figure who lived in an enchanted underwater realm.

King Arthur kept Excalibur for many years, and it served him well. In time, however, Arthur was mortally wounded during a rebellion led by his nephew Mordred. As he lay dying, the king ordered a companion, Sir Bedivere, to cast Excalibur into a nearby lake. Reluctant to throw away such a valuable weapon, Sir Bedivere twice failed to follow Arthur's order and hid the sword instead. However, Arthur knew that his friend had disobeyed his wishes and ordered him again to cast away the sword. Sir Bedivere finally threw Excalibur far out over the water. An arm clothed in white rose from the water, grasped the sword, waved it in the air, and disappeared beneath the water. The Lady of the Lake had taken back Excalibur.

See also Arthur, King ; Arthurian Legends ; Camelot ; Celtic Mythology ; Lady of the Lake .

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