Many of us are fascinated by wizards, immortals or demons - or at least must have been in our childhood. While most would dismiss these as the stuff of folklore and fantasy, there are a few tales that actually walk the fine line between legend and reality.
According to Arthurian legends, Sir Galahad, the purest an noblest of King Arthur's knights was raised by nuns, and later became the only one ever to see the fabled Holy Grail. Galahad's origins are quite uncertain. While some believe he was linked to welsh characters such as St Illtud and Gwalhafed, others say his personality and the tale of the Holy Grail was inspired by the mystical teachings of St Bernard of Clairvaux.
Spawning numerous folk tales and even modern day stories and movies, the man in the iron mask was an actual prisoner held in a number of prisons across France during the reign of King Louis XIV, including the famed Bastille. The prisoner wore a black velvet mask to hide his face at all times – which later became remembered in legends as an iron mask. He allegedly died in 1703, and to this day his identity remains a puzzling enigma.
Probably one of the most popular mythical personalities is the enchanter Merlin. Depicted in numerous legends and first believed to emerge in Geoffrey of Manmouth's Historia (around 1135 AD) and Robert de Boron's poem entitled “Merlin”, the magician is claimed to have been conceived by a demon and a young girl which led to his extraordinary supernatural powers. He is said to have helped King Arthur, and that he had also directed the construction of the legendary round table.
The Wandering Jew is one of the most curious mythical medieval characters, his story having caught on especially after the Reformation, being claimed to have made several appearances during a period between 1547 and 1868. Known as a shoemaker who taunted Jesus on his way to crucifixion, he was admittedly cursed to walk the Earth until the Second Coming.
While his fame grew to an increasing extent since the publishing of Harry Potter, many don't know the fact that Nicholas Flamel was an actual scribe and scholar who lived in the 1300s. Legend says he discovered and eventually decoded a book that contained instructions to creating the elixir of life and the philosopher's stone. There were claims that he had become extremely rich in his later years and that he even became immortal, having simply staged his own death.
One of the lesser known, but most unusual medieval personalities associated with any types of myths and legends was Gil Perez, a Spanish soldier who inexplicably found himself in Mexico City just moments after having been stationed in the Philippines and being witness to the assassination of the local governor. Two months later, news arrived by ship of the incident, with all the details fitting in precisely with the soldier's account.
Woolpit in Suffolk, Britain, was the host of an incredible tale in the 12th century. Apparently, two young children appeared one day with strange green skin. They appeared to be brother and sister, and they spoke a strange language, claiming to have been from the “Land of St Martin” and that they found their way to Woolpit following a river of light.
Which of these mythical medieval personalities do you find the most fascinating and is there one in particular you would like to meet in real life? What would be the first thing you would ask them?
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