There are numerous variations of the Arthurian legend and most historians agree that King Arthur’s kingdom of Camelot was a legendary utopia where peace and justice ruled, quite the opposite of the harsh reality of life in the Middle Ages.
Arthur was the illegitimate son of the King of Britain who succeeded his throne by showing his worth in an unusual feat of strength, and later successfully fought many powerful enemies to secure his kingdom’s place in the world.
Others suggest that Arthur should be identified as one Lucius Artorius Castus, a historical Roman of the 2nd century, whose military exploits in Britain may have been remembered for years afterward.
Another school of thought believes that Arthur is at best a half-forgotten Celtic deity devolved into a personage (citing sometimes a supposed change of the sea-god Lir into King Lear) or a possibly fictive person like Beowulf.
Subscribers to this school of thought argue that another Roman Briton of this period, for example Ambrosius Aurelianus, led the forces battling the Saxons at the battle of Mons Badonicus. More on the Arthurian romance
Riothamus (also spelled Riutimus or Riotimus) was a Romano-British military leader, who was active circa AD 470. He fought against the Goths in alliance with the declining Roman Empire. He is called “King of the Britons” by the 6th-century historian Jordanes, but the extent of his realm is unclear. Riothamus is a Latinization of the Brythonic personal name *Rigotamos, meaning ‘king-most’, ‘supreme king’ or ‘highest king’. Though it is still a matter of debate, several scholars consider his life to have been one of the possible sources for the King Arthur legend.