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The sparse historical background of Arthur is gleaned from various sources, including the Annales Cambriae, the Historia Brittonum, and the writings of Gildas.

Arthur's name also occurs in early poetic sources such as Y Gododdin.

This lack of convincing early evidence is the reason many recent historians exclude Arthur from their accounts of sub-Roman Britain.

In the view of historian Thomas Charles-Edwards, "at this stage of the enquiry, one can only say that there may well have been an historical Arthur [but ...] the historian can as yet say nothing of value about him".

Even so, he found little to say about a historical Arthur.

Partly in reaction to such theories, another school of thought emerged which argued that Arthur had no historical existence at all.

In the 21st century, the legend lives on, not only in literature but also in adaptations for theatre, film, television, comics and other media.

The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and his historical existence is debated and disputed by modern historians.They cite parallels with figures such as the Kentish Hengist and Horsa, who may be totemic horse-gods that later became historicised.Bede ascribed to these legendary figures a historical role in the 5th-century Anglo-Saxon conquest of eastern Britain.These details have often been used to bolster confidence in the Historia's account and to confirm that Arthur really did fight at Badon.Problems have been identified, however, with using this source to support the Historia Brittonum's account.

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