A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court

by Mark Twain

A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court

A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court is a satirical novel that depicts a contemporary American, Hank Morgan, who is transported to medieval England. In the court of the legendary King Arthur, Morgan uses his modern knowledge to face the trials and tribulations of the middle ages. 

Source: Twain, M. (1890). A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court. New York, NY: Charles L. Webster and Co.

Preface and Introduction
The preface is a disclaimer signed by the author. In the introduction/explanation, the stranger tells the narrator his story of being a yankee in Connecticut.
Chapter 1: “Camelot”
The Yankee and Clarence come upon a town of poorly-dressed peasants and a huge procession. They follow the procession to the castle. The Yankee assumes that the castle is an asylum.
Chapter 2: “King Arthur’s Court”
The Yankee meets Clarence. The Yankee tells Clarence about an eclipse that will occur within a few days. Clarence waits to see if it’s true. Clarence tells him about being a prisoner.
Chapter 3: “Knights of the Table Round”
The Yankee is brought to the Round Table. Prisoners present themselves to Guenever. Sir Kay tells about Launcelot stealing his armor, and Merlin puts everyone to sleep.
Chapter 4: “Sir Dinadan the Humorist”
Sir Dinidan is the first to awaken after Merlin’s tale and plays a joke to waken everyone. Sir Kay tells of how he captured the Yankee and they discuss how to kill him with his magic clothes. Merlin suggests that they strip him and throw him in the dungeon.
Chapter 5: “An Inspiration”
Clarens tells the Yankee that he is to be burned at the stake. He asks Clarence to help him escape. Clarence denies him. The Yankee tells Clarence to tell the king that he’s a magician himself and he will ravage the kingdom if he is not let go. He makes it known that if he is put to death, he will block out the sun forever starting at the hour of his execution. Clarence moves the Yankee’s execution date up.
Chapter 6: “The Eclipse”
The Yankee resigns himself to die at the stake. As the monk chants over him, the eclipse begins. The king begs the Yankee to spare the sun. The Yankee gets the king to promise to make him his chief minister and executive and pay him a salary in return for the sun.
Chapter 7: “Merlin’s Tower”
The Yankee is dressed in fine clothes, but the people want another miracle. After Merlin speaks ill of the Yankee, he has Merlin banished to the dungeon. With Clarence to assist him, the Yankee attaches gunpower to the turrets. During a thunderstorm, the tower explodes.
Chapter 8: “The Boss”
The Yankee is comfortable in his new position, but has no title. He gains a title from the people, but is angered at the slavery and rule of the king. He likes the king, but does not respect him.
Chapter 9: “The Tournament”
The Yankee makes plans to start a newspaper. Because of a mix-up, Sir Sagramor challenges the Yankee to a battle. The king suggests to the Yankee that he should go out adventuring to gain reknown in order to make himself more worthy to fight Sir Sagamor.
Chapter 10: “Beginnings of Civilization”
The yankee declines the king’s suggestion. He starts a school system. He improves the mining system and begins to make the kingdom better and more functional. The Yankee trains Clarence to start a newspaper. the Yankee quadruples revenues and revamps tax methods, but the time comes for him to go questing.
Chapter 11: “The Yankee in Search of Adventures”
A maiden comes to the castle needing help rescuing 45 other women from three giant brothers. The king assigns it to the Yankee. The woman agrees to personally show him the way. He is dressed in his suit of armor and is on his way.
Chapter 12: “Slow Torture”
The Yankee is bothered by his armor and becomes irritable. The woman, Sandy, is annoying him with her constant inane babble.
Chapter 13: “Freemen”
The Yankee and his companions agree to stop for the night. They have no matches and no food. A storm comes and vermin crawl into the Yankee’s armor. He vows never to wear armor again. The Yankee invites some freemans to breakfast and chats with them on the subject of democracy.
Chapter 14: “‘Defend Thee, Lord’”
Seven men rush toward the Yankee, but are frightened away at the puffs of smoke coming from his pipe. Sandy makes the men swear to appear before the king and submit to the Yankee’s commands.
Chapter 15: “Sandy’s Tale”
Sandy speakes of Sir Gawain. The Yankee is bored and critcizes her storytelling.
Chapter 16: “Morgan Le Fay”
They reach a large castle and meet a knight who is depressed because he couldn’t convince anyone in the castle to take soap. They meet Morgan Le Fay. She sends the Yankee to the dungeon for complimenting King Arthur, her brother whom she hates. When Sandy reminds the court who the Yankee is, Morgan Le Fay passes it off as a joke.
Chapter 17: “A Royal Banquet”
Morgan Le Fay begs the Yankee to give them an exhibition of his powers. After prayer, a large dinner reception is held. An old woman interrupts the banquet to curse Le Fay for killing her grandson. Le Fay takes the Yankee to the dungeon to see a man being tortured on a rack. The Yankee asks to speak to the prisoner.
Chapter 18: “In the Queen’s Dungeons”
The prisoner confesses to the Yankee, but will not make it known to Le fay for fear of having his property taken away from his wife and child. the Yankee promises to send the prisoner to his colony for training. He promises to make Le Fay hang one day for her acts of violence. The Yankee reunites an imprisoned couple.
Chapter 19: “Knight-Erranty as a Trade”
Sandy continues her story.
Chapter 20: “The Ogre’s Castle”
They continue on their way and come to an ogre’s castle. He discovers that the castle is nothing but a pigsty watched over by swineherds. He buys the hogs and sets them free. Sandy insists that they are enchanted ladies. When the pigs are brought home, the Yankee begins to believe her.
Chapter 21: “The Pilgrims”
The Yankee and Sandy leave the house together. They join a procession of pilgrims going to the Valley of Holiness. The Yankee sees a procession of slaves and a young mother beaten. He vows to end slavery as soon as he can. They meet Sir Ozana Le Cure Hardy. The Yankee sends a message in Sir Ozana’s hat to Clarence.
Chapter 22: “The Holy Fountain”
The abbot is relieved to see the Yankee and insists he start at once. The Yankee declines saying that he is waiting for Merlin to finish. However, it’s a front as he is waiting for supplies from Camelot. The Yankee sees Merlin at the Holy Fountain (an ordinary well) trying spells. The Yankee goes down into the well and discovers the simple problem.
Chapter 23: “Restoration of the Fountain”
The Yankee has the area around the well cleared. He and his experts patch the well and put fireworks inside the well and prepare for a flashy miracle the next day. Merlin faints at the spectacle. The Yankee shows the monks how to work the pump.
Chapter 24: “A Rival Magician”
The abbot and the monks were eager to bathe. The Yankee finds a telephone office in an abandoned hermit’s cave. He calls Arthur and tells him that he will travel to Camelot. When he arrives, the Yankee is disappointed at the king’s choices for his army. The Yankee goes back to the monks and proves another magician a fraud. The Yankee checks on the progress of the king and makes arrangements for a large welcome.
Chapter 25: “A Competitive Examination”
The Yankee meets with the king’s officer examination board and helps the king choose his army. He makes a valid suggestion that the king readily accepts.
Chapter 26: “The First Newspaper”
The Yankee reads the first newspaper and is pleased, except for the tone of flippany of the writing. The monks are impressed with the paper and the Yankee is pleased.
Chapter 27: “The Yankee and the King Travel Incognito”
The Yankee and Arthur decide to wander through the countryside disguised as peasants. The king has a hard time acclimating to being a peasant.
Chapter 28: “Drilling the King”
The Yankee must constantly make up for the king’s blunders if they are to keep their disguises. The king tells the Yankee that he an even greater wizard than Merlin and the Yankee tells him that he can see into the future. The king quizzes him on the future of the world. The Yankee drills the king on how to act in a peasant dwelling and the king has a hard time adjusting to it, but finally catches on.
Chapter 29: “The Smallpox Hut”
The two come upon a hut with a woman dying of smallpox. The Yankee tries to convince the king to leave, but the king will not have it. Arthur brings the dying daughter to her mother and she proceeds to tell them about the cruelty of the church and the king and how they were excommunicated.
Chapter 30: “The Tragedy of the Manor-House”
The woman and her family members die at midnight. They hear the sons knocking and escape before they are spotted. They come upon people hanging from trees and see a mob of people. A storm comes and they escape. They find the manor of the house has been hanged and the family burned. The Yankee leads the mob to the three sons who escaped and killed the manor.
Chapter 31: “Marco”
The Yankee convinces the mob not to kill the men. They meet Marco. They run into a group of children who have strung up someone in imitating the adults. The Yankee invites the blacksmith to dinner.
Chapter 32: “Dowley’s Humiliation”
Dowley boasts of his success in financial matters and once the shop clerk has produced the bill (for the banquet) to the Yankee, the Yankee pays him in full and includes a sizeable tip. Dowley’s pride is wounded.
Chapter 33: “Sixth Century Political Economy”
The Yankee compares Dowley’s wages in his kingdom to those in Arthur’s kingdom. The guests are confused at the concept of real wages and the Yankee talks of trade unions. The Yankee talks about the cruelty of stoning and warns them that they may be stoned for breaking the law.
Chapter 34: “The Yankee and the King Sold as Slaves”
The Yankee and the king are taken for madmen and are chased by a mob of angry townspeople. When a nobleman saves them, they believe that they are free. They are taken to the square and, when they cannot provide proof that they are freemen, are sold as slaves.
Chapter 35: “A Pitiful Incident”
The slave dealer sees the king’s bravado and plans to beat the pride out of him. The king changes his mind and plans to abolish slavery. The Yankee hatches a plan of escape. They meet a young woman burned at the stake for being a witch and a young woman hanged. A priest promises to raise her baby as his own.
Chapter 36: “An Encounter in the Dark”
The Yankee sees Sandy who does not recognize him and he is relieved to see a newspaper. The dealer plans to sell the king and the Yankee to an old gentleman, but the Yankee plans an escape. When the escape goes terribly wrong, the Yankee is sent to prison.
Chapter 37: “An Awful Predicament”
The Yankee explains his situation as being and Earl’s property sent on an errand. The Yankee is immediately set free. He goes to the slave quarters and finds the master has been killed by the slaves. The slaves have all been condemned to death. The Yankee contacts Clarence and tells him to call Sir Launcelot to come and bring some knights. The Yankee is arrested as the missing slave and the hanging is arranged.
Chapter 38: “Sir Launcelot and Knights to the Rescue”
At the hanging, Arthur declares himself as king and he is met with jeers and ridicule. When the executioner comes to hang the king, the Yankee leaps up to save him and at that time, Launcelot rides in with his knights and Clarence, who has taught the knights to ride bicycles. The crowd makes their apologies to the king.
Chapter 39: “The Yankee’s Fight with the Knights”
The Yankee prepares for his battle with Sir Sagramor. They battle and the Yankee shoots him.
Chapter 40: “Three Years Later”
Three years later, the country is happy and prosperous. The Yankee plans to overthrow the Catholic Church and start universal suffrage after Arthur dies. The Yankee marries Sandy and they have a daughter who falls ill. They nurse her back to health. The Yankee introduces baseball to Camelot.
Chapter 41: “The Interdict”
When the Yankee and Sandy’s daughter, Hello, falls ill again, they spend weeks nursing her to health in France. The Yankee decides to travel back to England leaving his family in France. The Yankee arrives in Camelot to find it desolate.
Chapter 42: “WAR!”
Clarence reveals to the Yankee about Guenever’s affair with Launcelot, the war between Arthur and Launcelot, and the temporary rule of Mordred (who placed an interdict of the church placed on Camelot). Launcelot and Mordred killed each other in battle and the Church reversed the entire kingdom and brought it back to the way it was. The Yankee decrees that all of the old institutions of the church will be null. Clarence gathers boys for an army.
Chapter 43: “The Battle of the Sand Belt”
The Yankee sends word to all factories to evacuate all personnel for he plans to bomb the factories with secret mines. All of England is against the Yankee and plans to fight against him. When the boys are unsure, the Yankee reassures the boys that they will only have to fight the hated nobility.
Chapter 44: “A Postscript by Clarence”
The Yankee is stabbed and Clarence falls sick. Merlin casts a spell on the Yankee and is electrocutred. Clarence and the boy hide the Yankee’s body and agree to write more in the manuscript.
Final P.S. by M.T.
The narrator finishes the manuscript at dawn and goes to see the stranger who is awakening from a dream. He talks of a king and modern inventions and being sent backward in time. The stranger dies.
  • Year Published: 1890
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States of America
  • Readability:
    • Flesch–Kincaid Level: 9.0
  • Word Count: 123,728
  • Genre: Satire
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