After defeating the rebels, Arthur took the field against the Saxons. As they were too strong for him unaided, he sent an embassy to Armorica, beseeching the assistance of Hoel, who soon after brought over an army to his aid. The two kings joined their forces, and sought the enemy, whom they met, and both sides prepared for a decisive engagement. “Arthur himself,” as Geoffrey of Monmouth relates, “dressed in a breastplate worthy of so great a king, places on his head a golden helmet engraved with the semblance of a dragon. Over his shoulders he throws his shield called Priwen, on which a picture of the Holy Virgin constantly recalled her to his memory. Girt with Caliburn, a most excellent sword, and fabricated in the isle of Avalon, he graces his right hand with the lance named Ron. This was a long and broad spear, well contrived for slaughter.” After a severe conflict, Arthur, calling on the name of the Virgin, rushes into the midst of his enemies, and destroys multitudes of them with the formidable Caliburn, and puts the rest to flight. Hoel, being detained by sickness, took no part in this battle.
This is called the victory of Mount Badon, and, however disguised by fable, it is regarded by historians as a real event.
The feats performed by Arthur at the battle of Badon Mount are thus celebrated in Drayton’s verse:
“They sung how he himself
at Badon bore, that day,
When at the glorious goal his British sceptre lay;
Two daies together how the battel stronglie stood;
Pendragon’s worthie son, who waded there in blood,
Three hundred Saxons slew with his owne valiant hand.”
Merlin had planned for Arthur a marriage with the daughter of King Laodegan of Carmalide. By his advice Arthur paid a visit to the court of that sovereign, attended only by Merlin and by thirty-nine knights whom the magician had selected for that service. On their arrival they found Laodegan and his peers sitting in council, endeavoring, but with small prospect of success, to devise means of resisting the impending attack of Ryence, king of Ireland, who, with fifteen tributary kings and an almost innumerable army, had nearly surrounded the city. Merlin, who acted as leader of the band of British knights, announced them as strangers, who came to offer the king their services in his wars; but under the express condition that they should be at liberty to conceal their names and quality until they should think proper to divulge them. These terms were thought very strange, but were thankfully accepted, and the strangers, after taking the usual oath to the king, retired to the lodging which Merlin had prepared for them.