A yankee at the court of King Arthur

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Book cover of the US original edition from 1889

A Yankee at the court of King Arthur (Original: A Yankee in King Arthur's Court , today mostly: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court ; other German translations: A Yankee at King Arthur's court ; A Yankee from Connecticut at King Arthur's court ) is a 1889 novel by Mark Twain . The earliest German translation was published in 1923 by Stein-Verlag (Vienna). The story is a satirical science fiction novel, which through the element of time travel offered Mark Twain the opportunity to dispel the glorified ideas of noble chivalry .


The story is about the "real Yankee " Hank Morgan, who - after being hit on the head - finds himself at the court of King Arthur . It is said to be June 19th of the year 528. He is first arrested and sentenced to death. But since he knows that his day of execution is the day of a solar eclipse, he pretends to be a magician and simulates the summoning of the solar eclipse. As a result, he becomes Arthur's deputy and de facto ruler in England and takes on the title of Sir Boss. Equipped with modern knowledge, a practical attitude and little understanding of the nobility, monarchy and church, the protagonist decides to transform medieval England into an enlightened, democratic and technologically advanced society. a. Education, telegraphy, a newspaper and bicycles.

To maintain his power, he gives further samples of his power as a magician through the use of firearms, explosives and fireworks.

During his reign he made two major trips through Britain, the first in armor with his future wife Sandy, during which he also visited Morgan le Fay in their castle and cleared out their torture chamber, the second incognito with King Arthur, during which both enslaved and only to be saved from the gallows at the last minute - by Arthur’s knights on bicycles under the leadership of Sir Lancelot , who have been alerted by telegram.

At the end, Sir Boss goes on a trip abroad. At that time a civil war breaks out among the Knights of Britain, in which Arthur perishes. While Sir Boss proclaims the Republic, the Church turns against him and ultimately wins due to the intervention of Merlin, who puts Sir Boss into a deep sleep.

Hank Morgan only wakes up centuries later, whereupon he passes his notes on to the first-person narrator of the framework.

Social criticism

The book thrives on the contrast between the modern and the Middle Ages. Arthur and his subjects are shaped by numerous grievances: superstition, e.g. B. religion, magic and miracles, torture and public executions, absurd legal system, slave trade, extreme differences in class between the nobility and peasants, passivity of the subjugated population, technical backwardness, illiteracy, inability to analyze economic issues, epidemics. Hank Morgan, on the other hand, represents the progressive, republican American who has shaken off the backwardness of the European monarchies. Twain refers to numerous circumstances that actually existed in the European monarchies in the Middle Ages and the early modern period, but hardly any more in 1889. On the other hand, he also paints a haunting picture of the destructive power that contemporary weapons can develop Then use Sir Boss' men in battle; here Twain anticipates the trench warfare of the First World War.

Mark Twain wrote the book against contemporary literature that glorified chivalry and the Middle Ages , e.g. B. by Sir Walter Scott .


With his book, Mark Twain inspired a subgenre of SciFi literature, in which a time traveler travels into a society of the past and turns it inside out with modern technology.

Examples are Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp , the Conrad Stargard series by Leo Frankowski , The Man Who Came Early by Poul Anderson , Ladies Whose Bright Eyes by Ford Madox Ford , and the like. a.


The League of Crafty Guitarists released two albums, A Show of Hands and Intergalactic Boogie Express , on which the song A Connecticut Yankee is in King Arthur's Court .


Furthermore found individual scenes (eg. As the invocation of the eclipse) their way into other films, such as Tintin and the Temple of the Sun .


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