Study Guide

The Once and Future King Book 2, Chapter 12

By T.H. White

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Book 2, Chapter 12

  • The Battle of Bedegraine (Arthur's battle against King Lot and his Eleven Kings) is finally fought.
  • Too bad that the Eleven Kings think this is going to go as usual: with knights sporting with each other, while the peasants are fair game to be killed. To these guys, it's just a game, with rules and a certain etiquette to it.
  • It's not gonna happen like that this time, though.
  • Arthur orders his men to fight against the other knights—and not against the serfs. No ransoms will be accepted for knights. This is a huge breach of the expected etiquette of war.
  • Of course, he has no problem if the serfs of each side fight against each other. He recognizes they have a legitimate beef with each other.
  • He's going to confront Lot and his men with the true reality of war.
  • Arthur has a huge realization: that it will be his duty from that time onward to deal with abuses of power.
  • To start with, Arthur attacks at night, which was unheard of in customary battle.
  • Secondly, Arthur didn't pay any attention to his serfs. He knew they had a racial score to settle, and left them to it, under the direction of Merlyn.
  • Taken by surprise, Lot divides his army up, thinking he could prepare for another cavalry charge in this way.
  • This was the moment Arthur had been waiting for. His secret weapon—two French kings who had been hidden up until now—come out of the forest and trap King Lot.
  • If the sun had not set right about then, the rebellion could have been handily putdown.
  • By noon the next day, the rebellious army has been vanquished.
  • King Lot surrenders.

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