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The twelfth century chronicler Wace first introduces the notion of the Round Table, which he says Arthur had made so that all of the noble barons whom he attracted to his court would be equally placed and Served and none could boast that he had a higher position at the table than the others. Layamon expands on this notion, describing a riot at which many nobles vie for place and precedence at Arthur's table. A skilled craftsman then offers to make Arthur a table that will seat more than sixteen hundred and at which high and low will be on an equal footing because the table is round. 

According to the prose rendition of Robert de Boron's Merlin and the thirteenth century Vulgate Cycle, Uther Pendragon, instructed by Merlin, established the Round Table to symbolise the table of the Last Supper and the Grail Table established by Joseph of Arimathea at the command of the Holy Spirit. Uther gives the Round Table to Guinevere’s father Leodegan, who in turn gives it to Arthur when he weds Guinevere. The number of seats at the Round Table varies in different sources, sometimes being said to seat twelve knights and the king, sometimes as many as 150. 

The Round Table has come to stand not only for the physical object at which Arthur and his knights sat but also for the order of knighthood and the code to which the knights committed themselves. The symbolic nature of the Round Table survives even into the youth groups of the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century. The founders of one of those clubs, the Knights of King Arthur, saw the roundness of Arthur's table and the equality it implied as representing ‘democracy under leadership and thus an ideal structure for a club for boys.


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