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Character Name Variants: Bedevere, Bedwyr, Bedver, Bedyvere, Bedwere, Beduier, BedoerBackground Essay Author: Pamela M. Yee

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Sir Bedivere is best known to readers of the English Arthurian tradition as the knight charged with returning Excalibur to its lake of origin, as King Arthur lies mortally wounded from his final battle. Thrice Bedivere tries to follow his lord’s orders to throw the sword into the lake, but the first two times he is unable to part with Excalibur and keeps it as the last remaining symbol of Arthur’s glorious reign. He only musters the will to discard Excalibur on his third attempt, and is then rewarded with a marvelous sight: the Lady of the Lake’s hand rising from the water to catch the sword and draw it into the water, signaling the end of Arthur’s reign. Readers may associate Bedivere’s importance solely with this scene, but he in fact plays a larger role within the Arthurian tradition. Bedivere holds the curious distinction of bookending Arthur’s story: at the beginning of the tradition, he is named one of...

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