Arthur and his Knights at the Round Table. Arthur, who is son of King Uther Pendragon but was raised by another family, takes his rightful place as king when, as a boy, he is able to pull the sword called Excalibur from the stone. Although he rules wisely and is counseled by Merlin the magician, Arthur makes enemies of other kings and is often at war.

When Arthur marries Genevere, her father gives Arthur the Round Table, at which 150 men can sit. Genevere, who is often present at the convening of the Round Table, acts as a moral compass for the knights, rewarding knights who behave well and chastising those who choose poorly. Malory specifically relates the stories of Sir Gawain, Sir Tor, and Sir Pellanor as a means of introducing the concept of chivalry.