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■'^W^^WMrf'' T '' '"•-" %-\K^^nrffW^y''^^T^' 




Qass of 1872 
Professor of Romance Philology 




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Vol. X 

The Arthurian Material in the Chronicles 

especially those of 

Great Britain and France 





By GINN & COMPANY, 29 Beacon Street, Boston 



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7-^ 1 






NOV. 11, 1925 


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i i 



The general object of this book, as the title indicates, is to show 
what Arthurian material is contained in the European chronicles, 
especially in those of Great Britain and France. Somewhat more 
than two hundred chronicles (including those mentioned on page 
177) are here treated, and they range in date from the middle of 
the sixth to the end of the sixteenth century. No one would claim 
for the chronicles an importance in Arthurian literature proportion- 
ate to their number and the length of the period to which they 
belong ; nevertheless, their contribution seems to me well worth 
considering, even apart from the fact that the Historia of Geoffrey 
of Monmouth is to be reckoned among them. Some of my friends 
tell me also that the study may be of interest to historians for the 
side-light which it throws on the methods of the chroniclers. 

I have interpreted the term " Arthurian material " as including 
everything that appears in the pseudo-history of Britain from the 
accession of Constans, whom Geoffrey introduces as the son of 
the second Constantine and elder brother of Aurelius and Uther, 
to the death (or disappearance) of Arthur. At first thought this 
may seem to be beginning too early, but the discussion will make it 
clear, I think, that the stories of Arthur's immediate predecessors 
are too intimately connected with his own to be separated from it. 

I have meant to make my investigations complete, as nearly as 
circumstances allowed, for the chronicles of Great Britain and 
France.^ I do not claim to have treated those of other countries 
adequately, though I doubt if anything further of real importance to 
the subject is to be found in them. 

^ I have mentioned in the notes the unpublished manuscripts known to me 
.which, to judge by the descriptions of them, may contain Arthurian material, but 
which, for one reason or another, I have not been able to consult ; and for the 
benefit of possible future investigators I have listed them all together under one 
<entry in the index. 



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In the case of each chronicle I have aimed, first, to give a correct 
general idea of what it says of the subject, and second, to mention all 
particular features which are in any way important. As regards this 
second aim, however, entire evenness and consistency of treatment 
were scarcely to be hoped for. It must sometimes have happened 
that I have failed to take note, in connection with one chronicle, of 
some point (generally, I hope, a minor one) to which I have called 
attention in speaking of another. Perhaps it is only fair to ask readers 
to remember, apropos of this and some other aspects of the book, 
that in work involving considerable minute detail it is even harder 
than in other cases to avoid, in manuscript, imperfections which 
become apparent enough in print. 

From the nature of the case, in some parts of the study, especially 
in the whole of the earlier portion, my work has consisted chiefly in 
summing up and combining the conclusions of previous writers. 
In the later sections, however, this has not been true, and the sub- 
ject as a whole has never before received systematic treatment. I 
have meant to give credit in the notes for suggestions which I have 
adopted from others, but, as all students know, this is not always 
possible. For help received from two standard works, namely Pott- 
hast's Bibliotheca Historica Medii Aevi and the Dictionary of National 
Biography^ a single general acknowledgment here must suffice, for 
the most part. 

The book was originally prepared as a doctoral dissertation, and 
was submitted to the Faculty of Harvard University in May, 190 1. 
In the following academic year it was corrected and enlarged by 
research in London, Oxford, and Paris, and was entirely rewritten. 
It was substantially complete in its present form and was put into 
the hands of the publishers early in 1903. The subsequent delay in 
bringing it out has been unavoidable. Certain relevant articles which 
have appeared in the meantime are noticed in an appendix. Mr. 
W. W. NewelPs important paper Doubts concerning Nennius {Publi- 
cations of the Modern Language Association^ iQ^S* XX, 622 ff.), how- 
ever, reached me too late to be considered. 

The abbreviations which I have employed are, I believe, generally 
conventional and easily understood. In references large Roman 
numerals designate volumes, small Roman numerals books (Jibri), 


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" Ward " means the Catalogue of Romances in the British Museum 
by H. L. D. Ward ; " Hardy," Sir Thomas Duffus Hardy's Descrip- 
tive Catalogue of Materials relative to the History of Great Britain 
and Ireland (Rolls Series) ; " Geoffrey," without further descrip- 
tion, is always Geoffrey of Monmouth. In making citations from 
his Historia I have ordinarily used three sets of numerals, which 
refer respectively to book, chapter, and line of San-Marte's 

In regard to the names of characters in the Arthurian story, my 
general principle has been to reproduce in all cases the spellings 
used by the writer under discussion ; but the printed proof shows 
me that I have often failed to do so. In the index all variant spell- 
ings, except those sure to be recognized at first glance, are entered 
and referred to a normal form, generally the one most widely current 
in the literature of the subject. For the names of the chroniclers I 
have used sometimes Latin, sometimes vernacular forms, because 
I am sure that in this case familiar usage is a better guide than 
theoretical consistency. 

I am under the greatest obligations to three of my teachers and 
friends at Harvard. Professor Kittredge and Professor Schofield 
have given me most generous assistance at all stages of my work, 
and Professor Sheldon during the process of publication. I owe to 
them all very many suggestions and emendations which cannot be 
separately specified. Indeed, I could hardly explain the nature and 
extent of my indebtedness to Professor Kittredge, in particular, un- 
less possibly to some of those who have had the same privilege of 
writing and publishing a book under his supervision. Professor 
Schofield, besides, first suggested the subject to me, and parts of 
the book were written in connection with his Arthurian seminary. 
It is hardly necessary to add, however, that for all errors and faults 
I alone am responsible. I am glad also to acknowledge great kind- 
nesses received from Alfred Nutt, Esq., and special help from Pro- 
fessor Robinson of Harvard. Other obligations are mentioned in 
the notes. Of course I am indebted in the usual but very real 
way to the authorities of the libraries where I have worked, chiefly 
the Harvard University Library, the British Museum, and the 
Bibliothfeque Nationale. 


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My first preface would be incomplete without mention of the 
name of Professor Richardson of Dartmouth College. Professor 
Richardson has had no direct connection with this book, but it is 
to him that I owe the beginning of my permanent interest in Eng- 
lish studies, and he has been to me for years a constant friend and 
helper in matters professional as well as nonprofessional. I am 
very glad to have the opportunity of making him even this slight 

R. H. F. 
Hanover, N.H. 
November 28, 1905 


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Chaptbr Page 

I. The Beginnings of the Story i 

I. The Undoubted Historical Facts ...... i 

II. GUdas 3 

III. The HUtoria Britonum of Nennius 8 

II. The Intermediate Stage 31 

I. The Annales Cambriae and Annals of St, MichaePs Mount 31 

II. iEthelweard 35 

III. William of Malmesbury . . ^ 37 

IV. Henry of Huntingdon 41 

III. Geoffrey of Monmouth • ... 43 

I. life of Geoffrey 43 

II. Outline of Geoffrey's Historia 46 

III. Geoffrey's Sources: (A) The "Liber Vetustissimus." Geof- 

frey's purpose in writing the Historia 49 

IV. Geoffrey's Sources : (B) Nennius, Bede, and Gildas . . 57 
V. Geoffrey's Sources : (C ) William of Malmesbury and Henry of 

Huntingdon 66 

VI. Geoffrey's Sources : (D) Celtic Records 75 

VII. Geoffrey's Sources : (E) General History . . .80 

VIII. Geoffrey's Sources : (F) Myths and Popular Stories. The Idea 

of Arthur before Geoffrey 85 

IX. Geoffrey's Sources: (G) Contemporary Manners and the Ro- 
mantic Idea 108 

X. Final Words on the Liber Vetustissimus 115 

IV. The Arthurian Story after Geoffrey: Certain Early Prose 

Versions 116 

I. The Welsh Translations of Geoffrey and the Welsh Chronicles 117 
II. Henry of Huntingdon's Abridgment of Geoffrey's History in 

his Letter to Warinus 119 

III. Benedict of Gloucester 121 

IV. The Liber de Constructions Aliquorum Oppidorum TUronicae 

Regionis in the Gesta Comitum Andegavensium of Thomas 

de Loches 121 



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viii Contents 

Chapter Pagb 

V. The Arthurian Story after Geoffrey : Poetical Versions of 

THE FIRST One Hundred and Fifty Years 125 

I. Geoffrey Gaimar 125 

II. Wace's Brut^ and other French Versions 127 

III. Draco NormannicuSy and Gottfried of Viterbo's Pantheon . 145 

IV. Layamon's Brut . * 147 

V. The Latin Metrical Versions of Geoffrey's History . . .166 

VI. The Story after Geoffrey : The Latin Prose Chronicles of 

THE Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Centuries . 169 

VII. The Story after Geoffrey: The Midple English and Con- 
temporary Anglo-French Metrical Chronicles .193 

I. Robert of Gloucester 193 

II. The Anonymous Short Chronicle 198 

III. Peter Langtoft, and Other French Chronicles 199 

IV. Thomas Castelford 202 

V. Robert Mannyng of Brunne 204 

VIII. The Story after Geoffrey: The French Prose Chronicles 
and their more Direct Derivatives (with other Vernac- 
ular Continental Chronicles) 209 

I. Minor Early French Chronicles 209 

II. The Large Brut and its English Translation (with th6 French 

and English Literal Translations of Geoffrey's Historia) . 214 

III. Philippe Mousket 221 

IV. Jean des Preis 222 

V. The Scalacronica of Sir Thomas Gray 224 

VI. The Version of Geoffrey's Story included in the Recueil of 

Sire Jehan de Wavrin 225 

VII. Pierre Le Baud's Histoire de Bretagne . . . . . 230 

VIII. Alain Bouchart's Grandes Croniques de Bretaigne . . .231 
IX. The Cronica Cronicarunt ........ 233 

X. Jehan de Bourdign^'s Chroniques d^Anjou et du Maine . . 233 
XL Vernacular Spanish Chronicles 235 

IX. The Story after Geoffrey: Continental Latin Chronicles 

OF the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries .... 237 


X. The Story after Geoffrey : The Scottish Versions . .241 v 

I. Wyntown and Fordun 242 

II. John Major 243 | 

III. Hector Boece and his Translators 245 \ 

IV. Other Versions (including Leslie and Buchanan) . 248 ^ 


Digitized t 

Contents ix 

Chapter Page 

XI. The Story after Geoffrey : The English and Latin Chroni- 
cles OF England in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Cen- 
turies .... 250 

I. John Capgrave . 250 

II. John Hardyng's Chronicle, and an Anonymous Chronicle in 

Metre 251 

III. The Metrical Version of the Story of Arthur's Reign in the 

Marquis of Bath's Manuscript 253 

IV. The Short English Chronicle of ms. Lambeth 306 . . .254 
V. John Ross, and Nicholaus Cantaloupus 254 

VI. Robert Fabyan 255 

VII. John Rastell 259 

VIII. Polydore Virgil 259 

IX. Arthur Kelton 262 

X. George Lily 262 

XI. Bishop Cooper 263 

XII. Richard Grafton and John Stow 264 

XIII. Raphael Holinshed and William Harrison .... 267 

XIV. William Warner, Michael Drayton, and the End of the 

Chronicles 270 

XII. Conclusion 272 

Additional Notes 277 

Index 285 


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I. The Undoubted Historical Facts 

THE Arthurian stories, like the other great romance cycles of 
the Middle Ages, rest, however slightly, upon the unquestioned 
facts of a genuine historical period. With these facts, accordingly, 
the present discussion must commence. They are exceedingly few, 
because very little that could well be forgotten, especially as regards 
the British interests, with which alone we are directly concerned, 
has escaped the confusion and darkness of the time.^ 

Scarcely more than this, then, is certain. Even long before the 
departure of the Roman legions from Britain in the beginning of 
the fifth century, the Scots and Picts from the north, and the Ger- 
manic pirates from the east, had begun to make persistent incur- 
sions upon the people of the island. When the military forces of 
the empire were finally withdrawn, the power of resistance seemed 
to go with them; and, though the Britons recovered themselves 
and fought with determination, they were unable to keep off the 
invaders. Not many decades passed before the Germans perma- 
nently established themselves, first in the southeast, and then all 
along the eastern and southern coasts ; and from that time on they 

1 A notable article on the period is that of Thumeysen in Englische Siudien^ 
1895, XXII, 163-179, "Wann sind die Germanen nach England gekommen?" 
References will there be found to contemporary authorities. 


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2 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

fought their way steadily forward, occasionally meeting with a 
serious check, but seldom losing anything that they had won. In 
comparison with this settled policy of conquest, the ravages of the 
Scots and Picts soon ceased to have importance. It is to the cen- 
tury of the struggle which began with the first actual Germanic 
settlement that the Arthurian stories historically belong. 

Some further details about the period may be accepted without 
much hesitation, but they are only to be inferred from the chronicles 
here to be considered, which may now be allowed to speak for 

1 It will be convenient to give here a brief bibliography of the special books and 
articles which deal with the history of the period and with its historians. Many 
of these are thoroughly scientific, but others present most ridiculous theories. 
G. and N. stand respectively for Gildas and Nennius. When these initials are 
not followed by page numbers, the index of the book in question will indicate 
where the relevant discussion is to be found. No additional bibliography will 
hiereafter be necessary for Gildas, but for the special controversy about Nennius 
references will be given later (pp. 8-9). 

Anscombe, St. Gildas of Ruys^ 1893, pp. 29-67. — Anscombe, Stevenson, and 
Nicholson, letters in London Academy y 1895, Sept. 14-Dec. 14. G. — d'Arbois de 
Jubainville, Merlin est-il un personnage riel? {Rev. des Questions Hist.^ 1868, V, 
559-568). G. — W. H. Babcock, Two Lost Centuries of Britain^ Philadelphia, 
1890. — Beddoe, Races of Britain y Bristol and London, 1885. G. 35-36. — W. 
Edwards, The Settlement of Brittany {Y Cymmrodory 1890, XI, 74-82). G. — 
Elton, Origins of English History y 1882. — Freeman, Norman Conquesty I, 1 1, note, 
etc. — Green, Making of Englandy New York, 1882. G. 19-25, etc., and in general, 
chaps. 1-3. — Guest, Origines CelticcUy 1883, II, 154-157, 165-166, etc. — Haigh, 
The Conquest of Britain by the Saxons ; a Harmony of the Historia Britonum^ 
etc., 1 861. — Algernon Herbert, Britannia after the RomanSy 1836. G. xiv-xx, 
40 ff., etc.; N. xx-xxii, 21, etc.; id., Cyclops Christianusy 1849, 212-216. — A. 
Holtzmann, in Germaniay 1867, XII, 268-274. — Kemble, Saxons in Englandy 
1849, I, 10, II, 14 (another ed., 1876). — A. de La 'Qordeney VHistorien et le 
ProphHe des Bretonsy Gildasy etc., Paris and Nantes, 1884; id.. La Date de la 
Naissance de Gildas {Rev. Celt.y 1883, VI, 1-13) ; id.. Hist, de BretagnCy Rennes, 
1896, 1, 230 ff., 384-390, 409-414. G. — Lappenberg, Anglo-Saxon Kings y English 
translation, ed. 1845, PP- 100-104 (ed. 1881, I, 57-58) ; id., Geschichte Englandsy 
ed. 1834, I, xxxviii. G. — Lipsius, in Ersch und Gruber's Encyclopddiey Sec. I, 
Bd. 67, pp. 231 ff., Leipzig, 1858. G. — J. Loth, V Emigration bretonne en Armo- 
riquey Rennes, 1883. G. 27, note, 44. — Abb^ Luco, Histoire de St. Gildas de Rhuysy 
Galles, 1869. — P. Paris, MSmoire sur Vancienne chronique dite de NenniuSy Paris, 
1865. — Petrie and Sharp, Monumenta Historiae BritanniaCy 1848, Introd. to G. and 


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II. Gildas 

The first elements of the Arthurian story, scarcely recognizable 
as such, appear in the earliest of the chronicles of Great Britain, 
the De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae of Arthur's contemporary, 
the almost legendary Gildas.^ 

Our absolute knowledge of Gildas is limited to what we can 
gather from his own book. He was born in the year of the battle 
of Mount Badjon, probably very soon after the beginning of the sixth 
century;* was an ecclesiastic, probably a monk; crossed the sea to 
Armorica, like other Welsh saints of the time ; and in Armorica, at 
the earnest request of his friends, composed his treatise. It seems 
quite safe to add that he was not only a thoroughly Romanized 
Roman citizen, but a vehement partisan in the struggle for supremacy 
which the conditions of the time, and a few hints of his own, justify 
us in supposing to have taken place, among the Britons of the period, 
between a Roman and a native faction. Some additional details 
may also be accepted with various degrees of confidence. The 
reverence which not only led to Gildas's canonization and has 

N., pp. 59-68, 1 06-1 14. — Beale Poste, Britannia Antigua^ 1857. G. 5, 19 ff., 48-80 ; 
N. 6, 17-48. — Rhys, Celtic Britain, London, 1882. — Rhys and Jones, The Welsh 
People, 1900, p. 105. — P. Roberts, The Chronicle of the Kings of Britain (trans- 
lation of Brut Tysilio) with Dissertations on the History attributed to Gildas, 181 1. 
— San-Marte (A. Schulz), Die Arthur Sagen, 1842. G. 4-5; N. 5-6. — K.W. 
Schoell, De Ecclesiasticae Britonum Scotorumque Historiae Fontibus, Berlin and 
London, 1851. G. 1-20; N. 29-37. — Skene, Four Ancient Books of Wales, 1868. 
G. 44 ff., 77 ff.; N. 37-40; id., Celtic Scotland, 1876. G. i, 117, I44> ISC^^SI* etc. ; 
N. 146-148. — Stephens, Literature of the Kymry, 2d ed. G. 9. — Stubbs, Consti- 
tutional History, I, 67, note. G. — Sharon Turner, History of the Anglo-Saxons, 
1797; ed. of 1840, Paris, I, 99, 107, 117-119. G. — Thos. Wright, Biographia 
Britannica Literaria, Anglo-Saxon Period, 1842. G. n 5-135' N. 135-142; id.. 
Essays on Archaological Subjects, 1 861, pp. 202 ff . ; id., Celt, Roman, and Saxon, 
1852. G. 389. — Zimmer, Nennius Vindicatus, Berlin, 1893, pp. 287 ff. 

1 The standard edition is that of Mommsen, in Mon. Germ. Hist., Auct. 
AnHquissimi, XIII, Chron. Min., Ill, Berlin, 1898, pp. i-iio. The existing frag- 
ments of Qildas*s other writings are also given there. For m?inuscripts, see also 
Yi2j[&y, Descriptive Catalogue, I, 132-137,318. The most accessible English trans- 
lation is that of Giles in his Six Old English Chronicles (Bohn Library). 

2 The date of this battle is a much-disputed point. 


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4 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

associated his name with scores of localities in Brittany, but desig- 
nated him during the greater part of the Middle Ages as " Sapiens " 
and ascribed to him the authorship of various books which, whether 
real or imaginary, were certainly not written by him, is part of a 
very ancient tradition. This tradition appears at its fullest in two 
characteristic mediaeval "Lives," belonging respectively to the 
eleventh and twelfth centuries; and their agreement in certain 
points allows us, in spite of their generally extravagant tone, to 
draw upon them to some extent for information. There are also a 
few plausible entries in Welsh and Irish annals.^ On these authori- 
ties we may hold it as quite possible that Gildas was the son of 
some petty British king, perhaps of the lord of Alclud (Dumbarton) ; 
that he was, for his time, a great scholar; that he preached elo- 
quently in Ireland as well as in Britain and Armorica; that he 
wrote his De Excidio not long before 547, went to Ireland about 
565, and died about 570. 

Gildas's main theme is the denunciation of the British people (and 
especially the reigning princes) for their sins, — which, he declares, 
have brought upon them all their past and present misfortunes, — 
and the exhortation to repentance, which alone may restore to them 
the favor of God. But he begins, by way of introduction, with a 
brief sketch of the history of the island from the earliest period to 
the "last victory," which has occurred in his own time. His frag- 
mentary summary of events before the Saxon invasion is notable 
chiefly for his excessive laudation of the Romans as the protectors 
and benefactors of the Britons, and his equally unvarying deprecia- 
tion of the Britons as destitute of any praiseworthy qualities. He 
arrives at the Arthurian period after writing at length of the 
intolerable devastations of the Scots and Picts. 

At last, he says,^ in the midst of a brief interval of prosperity, came the 
sudden report that these northern enemies were to make a new and more 

1 These " Lives " are edited by Mommsen together with the De Excidio ; see 
also F. Lot, Rom.y XXVII, 564-573 ; and for the manuscript of the life ascribed 
to Caradoc, Hardy, I, 153, Nos. 437 ff. ; Annales Cambriae (see pp. 31 ff., below), 
ann. 565 and 570; Annals of Ulster^ ed. Hennessy, Dublin, 1887, I, 62, ann. 569 
(which is really equivalent to 570). ^ Chaps. 22 ff. 


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Gildas 5 

formidable invasion. At the same time a terrible pestilence devastated the 
country. Then all the counsellors were blinded, together with the haughty 
tyrant [whom he does not name], and they called in the abominable Saxons 
[whom he has not previously mentioned]. [Here, and throughout the whole 
of this part of the narrative, Gildas exhausts the superlatives of vituperation 
in characterizing the invaders, both old and new, who are to him only fero- 
cious beasts.] The Saxons came in three ships, answering the call, and 
first established themselves, at the command of the ill-starred tyrant, in the 
eastern part of the island. Their successful settlement brought others after 
them. On the pretense that they were to engage in dangerous battles for 
the Britons, they demanded rations. The granting of these stopped their 
mouths for some time; but at last they complained that enough was not 
given them, and threatened, unless they should be treated with more liber- 
ality, to devastate the whole land. This, in fine, increased by fresh acces- 
sions, they proceeded to do, laying waste the country almost everywhere, 
from sea to sea. Some of the inhabitants were killed; some surrendered 
themselves to slavery ; some fled to lands across the sea ; some hid in the 
recesses of the mountains. 

After an interval, when the spoilers had returned home, the remnants of 
those who had not been brought under the yoke rallied, were joined by 
many of the others,^ and, seeking the help of God, successfully attacked 
the victors. This was under the leadership of Ambrosius Aurelianus, a 
discreet (modestus) man, who alone of the Roman race had escaped the 
disasters of that epoch. His parents, who had been rulers,^ had been slain. 
His descendants, says Gildas, have greatly degenerated at the present time. 

After this the struggle went on with varying success until the year of 
the siege of Mount Badon. Here occurred the last slaughter of the barba- 
rians, and one of the greatest of all. In spite of the cessation of the con- 
flict with the foreigners, civil wars still continue. 

Hereupon he turns to the main part of his subject. 

In determining what facts may be accepted on Gildas's authority, 
it is first necessary to form an opinion as to his trustworthiness. 
Now certainly the general impression which he makes is not such 
as to inspire confidence. No reasonable person can question his 
sincerity, or fail to sympathize with him in his grief at the folly and 

1 Such seems to be the meaning of Gildas*s reliquiae^ quibus confugiunt undique 
de diver sis locis miserrimi cives (chap. 25). 
^ Purpura nimirum indutis. 


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6 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

iniquity of his people, who, as he believes, are madly and wantonly 
wrecking their national existence and their eternal salvation. Even 
his violent, chaotic style may be viewed with leniency as the fittest 
expression of his despair. Yet it is impossible not to see that his 
attitude is absolutely uncritical. His historical sketch is merely 
used to point the moral of his argument, and his injustice to the 
Britons is carried to the last extreme. It is even possible that he 
was taking part in a controversy between the regular and the 
irregular clergy. 

In those details, too, where personal feeling plays no appreciable 
part, Gildas is grossly inaccurate. This appears in several of his 
statements about the Roman period. It also appears in his account 
of subsequent events, especially in three points: — (i) speaking of 
the first part of the struggle with the Saxons, he implies that the 
latter had not appeared in Britain until they were summoned by the 
native leaders ; (2) he asserts that very soon after their arrival they 
overran the whole island ; and (3) he says that somewhat later they 
returned home. Indeed, his observation that the battle of Mount 
Badon, the last special event which he records, 0(^|»ri*irin the year 
of his birth, is equivalent to tl^j^|fe^fion that he was not strictly 
contemporary with any part ofSTne period included in his historical 
sketch. He takes pains to note at the outset that his authority is 
not written records, since all such have been destroyed, but oral 
tradition as it exists across the sea, the insufficiency of which he 
himself allows. Clearly he refers here to the reports, necessarily 
very unjudicial, of the Britons who had fled to Armorica. 

Yet, notwithstanding all this, no competent scholar has ever held 
that Gildas's narrative is to be thrown aside as devoid of historical 
value. For it is evident that the definite facts which he mentions 
are only those of prime importance, which, however much they may 
have been distorted, could scarcely have been wholly falsified ; and 
even his obvious misstatements can be explained on the ground 
that he is speaking in very general terms, with an exaggeration 
inevitable to a despondent man of ardent temperament. Even 
when he says that the Saxons returned home, he may very possibly 
mean only that they retired to the eastern part of the island, after 
pillaging more territory than they could then hold. It seems safe, 


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Gildas 7 

on the whole, to accept as true from Gildas's account as much as 
this : that sometime toward the middle of the fifth century a king 
of the Britons enlisted the German pirates as auxiliaries against the 
Scots and Picts ; that, after the alliance was broken (as it was sure 
to be before long) and the Germans had begun to appear in greater 
numbers, the first notably successful stand against them brought 
into prominence, perhaps as chief leader of the Britons, an able 
general of Roman birth (or at least belonging to the Roman party), 
Ambrosius Aurelianus ; ^ that after this the war went on with varying 
fortunes for a considerable period, until a decisive British victory 
at the siege of Mount Badon checked the progress of the invaders 
for more than forty years ; and that, in the interval of relief, the 
Britons, according to their former habits, carried on civil wars and 
made no serious effort toward reform. 

Gildas's characterization of Ambrosius is too laudatory to be 
taken at its face value, especially in view of the fact that he is the 
only leader of the Britons whom Gildas anywhere mentions with- 
out dispraise. It seems almost certain that Gildas is repeating an 
exaggerated tradition of the Roman party, which would naturally 
ascribe to its leader more credit than was his due. 

It is now time to consider a point of great importance, — namely 
the fact that, although Gildas covers the whole period of the 
Arthurian story, he does not even mention the one figure which 
later became of overshadowing importance. That he does not 
ascribe to Arthur anything of the fame and characteristics which 
are afterward associated with him, need occasion no surprise ; but 
the entire omission of his name raises a more vital question : Had 
Arthur actually no historical existence ? 

That such a conclusion is not necessary appears from various 
considerations. Gildas is not attempting to write a complete his- 
tory and he systematically omits almost all names. In any event, 
Arthur, if he was an actual person, is to be connected, as appears 
from N«nnius, with the period ending with the battle of Badon, and 

1 As Professor Rhys thinks, he may very likely have held oAe of the chief 
military offices in Britain as established by the Romans, which offices may very 
well have continued in existence down to this time (see p. 29, below, with note i). 


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8 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

that battle (to judge from Gildas's own words) was so well known in 
his time that the specification of its hero would have been super- 
fluous. Moreover, it was contrary to Gildas's declared purpose to 
praise any distinctively British leader, since every sentence of that 
sort would detract from the force of his relentless arraignment of 
the entire nation. 

As to whether or not there was an historical Arthur, then, Gildas 
affords absolutely no evidence, and his whole record of the period 
of the Arthurian story may be summed up as follows. He tells of 
the calling in of the Germans by a tyrant whom he does not name, 
very briefly indicates the general course of events during the entire 
period, and supplies the figure of Ambrosius Aurelianus (his most 
important contribution) and the fact of the victory at Mount Badon. 
Even in this meagre list we almost ought to disregard the first 
incident ; since in most later versions of the story it was Nennius's 
account of that episode which was adopted, and Nennius says that 
the Germans came by chance, not by invitation. Indeed, Gildas's 
whole relation to the Arthurian story is purely accidental, due to 
the fact that as the only contemporary historian of the epoch he 
necessarily mentions incidents which were sure to be incorporated 
in later accounts. 

III. The His tori a Britonum of Nennius 

Far more contributive than the work of Gildas to the Arthurian 
tradition, and for the chronicles the real foundation of the whole, 
is the second of the extant sources, — that strange compilation, the 
Historia Britonum which goes under the name of Nennius.^ 

1 The standard edition is the critical one of Mommsen in the same volume with 
his Gildas, pp. 1 13-219, which is noticed in Rev. Celt.^ XVI, 106-108, and in 
other periodicals mentioned below. Other important editions are : that of 
W. Gunn from the Vatican MS., London, 1819; that of Jos. Stevenson from the 
Harl. MS., London, 1838; that of San-Marte in his Nennius und Gildas^ Berlin, 
1844; J. H. Todd's Leabhar^ etc.. The Irish Version with English Translation^ 
Dublin, 1848; Hogan's Irish version from the L. na Huidre^ Todd Lect. Ser., 
Dublin, 1895. There is an English translation by Giles in Six Old English 
Chronicles. For manuscripts, see Mommsen, and Hardy, I, 3i8£f. The following 


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Nennius 9 

The problems of authorship and composition raised by the 
numerous and inconsistent manuscripts of this disordered collec- 
tion of annals, chronicle, and tradition can never be fully solved ; 
but a great deal of light has been shed upon them by the prolonged 
discussion begun some years ago by Professor Zimmer. What may 
now be considered as probably proved, so far as the present subject 
is concerned, may be briefly stated. 

Sometime in the seventh or eighth century, a Briton (of what 
region cannot be certainly known), the son of a certain Urbgen, or 
Urbgehen, put together extracts from a Life of St. Germanus (which 
had apparently been composed in the south of Britain) and matter 
relating to the genealogy and history of the Britons. He wrote 
very briefly up to the period of the Saxon Conquest, when he entered 
into details. In the year 679 there was compiled in the North 
(whether or not by the same author, and whether or not as a part 
of this same work) a genealogy of the English kings of the island, 
especially those of the North, and a history of affairs there,^ which, 
as it began, apparently, at about the year 540, may have been 
intended as a supplement to the historical sketch of Gildas. If 
not originally, at any rate as early as the seventh or eighth century, 
these two documents were joined together, making a version of 
which, if it ever existed by itself, no copy now remains. By 796, 
or not long thereafter, a manuscript of this version ^ was taken, 
together with supplementary sources, by some one (apparently 
Nennius) who was a native of South Wales, on the borders of 
Hereford and Brecknock-Radnor, as the basis of a new edition.* 

are the most significant discussions: K. W. Schoell, De Ecciesiasticae Bri- 
tonum Scotorumque Historiae Fontibus^ Berlin and London, pp. 29-37 ; A. de La 
Borderie, VHist. Brit, attribute h Nennius, Paris, 1883 (see later, bibliography, 
p. 51); HeegeVy l/der die Trojanersa^e der Britten, Munich, 1SS6; Zimmer, JVennius 
Vindicatus, Berlin, 1893 ; d'Arbois de Jubainville, Rev. Celt., XV, 126-129 ; Momm- 
sen, Neues Archrv, XIX, 285; Duchesne, Nennius Retractatus, Rev. Celt., XV, 
174-197 ; Zimmer, Neues Archiv, XIX, 436-443, 667-669 ; Heeger, Gbtt. Gel. Anz., 
1894, 399-406 ; Thumeysen, Ztsch. f. deutsche Phil., XXVIII, 80-1 13 ; J. Loth, 
Rev. Celt., XVI, 267-268 ; Duchesne, Rev. Celt., XVII, 1-5 ; Thumeysen, Ztsch. f. 
celt. Phil., I, 158-168 ; F. Lot, Rom., XXVIII, 337-342. ^ Nennius, chaps. 57-66. 

^ Perhaps, however, the two documents had not at that time been combintd. 

8 Of which the Harl. MS. 3859 is the type. 


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lO Arthurian Material in Chronic ks 

Either by Nennius or by some predecessor of his in South Wales, 
there was added to the book a list of mirabilia (or wonderful natural 
phenomena) of the South Country, on the model of two which evi- 
dently came with the manuscript from the North. Nennius was a 
disciple of St. Elbodug, Bishop of Bangor, who was the great repre- 
sentative of that party among the Britons which upheld the Roman 
views in the bitter ecclesiastical controversy over the Easter cele- 
bration and the tonsure. Some person (perhaps Nennius himself) 
who lived in Anglesey and was under the spiritual direction of a 
priest named Beulan, prepared an abridged version^ of Nennius's 
work, at the desire or for the use of Beulan, or more likely for his 
son, in the first half of the ninth century. From these Nennian 
versions are derived all existing manuscripts of the Historia Britonum 
(including those of the Irish translation) with the very important 
exception of the incomplete Chartres manuscript, which in origin 
antedates the time of Nennius. 

The following is an outline (in the important parts, almost a full 
translation) of the relevant sections of Nennius's story,^ — that is^ 
of the work which Mommsen has entitled Historia Brittonum cum 
additamentis Nennii, 

In the prologue, after alluding to the neglect of the Britons to 
preserve records of their history, and after mentioning the Roman 
authorities who evidently supplied part of the facts of universal 
chronology and of the history of Britain to the end of the Roman 
period with which the work begins, Nennius names, as his other 
sources, the annals of the Scots and Saxons (which probably did not 
furnish information about anything here to be considered) and 
British tradition^ which must evidently refer largely to the Historia 
itself in the form which it bore before his expansions. 

His account of the Arthurian period commences baldly^ with the 
statement that Guorthigirnus reigned in Britain and was in con- 
stant fear of the Picts and Scots, of the Romans, and of Ambrosius 
(whom, like Guorthigirnus, he has not before mentioned). 

1 Called by Zimmer " the version of North Wales." 

2 The comparatively small interpolations made after Nennius*s day are here 
omitted. 8 Chap. 31. 


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Nennius 1 1 

Meanwhile, there arrived from Germany three ships filled with men 
driven into exile, among them the brothers Hors and Hengist. Guorthi- 
^rimus received them kindly and gave them the island of Tanet. [Here is 
inserted a long narrative of the missionary visit and miracles of St. Ger- 
manus. Resuming the main story, Nennius says^ that] Guorthigirnus 
promised to give the Saxons [here first specified by that name] food and 
clothing as they should need it, and in return they agreed to fight his 
-enemies valiantly. But when the barbarians had multiplied, the Britons 
were not able to feed them, and asked them to depart, "since we do not 
need your aid." They took counsel also with their elders to break the 
peace. Hengist, however, was a politic man. Seeing the inefficiency of 
Guorthigirnus and the weakness of the Britons, he offered to send to his 
countrymen in Germany for more men to fight for the Britons. Guorthi- 
^mus assented, and there came sixteen ships filled with picked warriors, 
who were accompanied by the beautiful daughter of Hengist. Hereupon 
Hengist made a feast for Guorthigirnus and his men and his interpreter, 
who was named ^ Ceretic, and bade the girl serve them with wine, and they 
became drunk. Then Satan entered into Guorthigirnus's heart, and he 
loved the girl and by his interpreter asked her from her father, saying, 
** All that you demand I will grant, to the half of my kingdom." ^ Hengist 
took counsel with his followers, and they all thought it best to ask in 
exchange for the girl the region which " in their language is called Cantur- 
^oralen, in ours Ghent." This the king granted them, though Guoyranc- 
^onus'' was then reigning in Cantia and did not know that his kingdom 
was being given to the pagans. Here Nennius leaves the incident with a 
"bare " and so the girl was given to him in marriage and he slept with her 
and loved her greatly." 

After this [how soon Nennius does not state] Hengist said to Guorthi- 
girnus:* " I am thy father and counsellor; and, that thou mayest not fear 
any man or race, I, since my race is strong, will invite my son with my 
brother's son,® to fight against the Scots. Give them the regions, in the 
North, near the wall." Guorthigirnus assented, and Octha and Ebissa 
J] who, of course, by direct implication are respectively Hengist's son and 

1 Chap. 36. 

2 Vacatur ; all the other verbs here are in the past tense. 

* Evidently the writer had in mind Herod and Salome. 

* Probably this is merely a title, meaning " governor " or " sub-king " ; but the 
later chroniclers took it for a man*s name. 

* Chap. 38. ^ Cum fratrueli sua. 


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12 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

nephew] came with forty ships; and, when they had sailed round the 
country of the Picts, they devastated the Orkneys and came and occupied 
many regions beyond the Firth of Forth,^ up to the boundaries of the Picts. 
And Hengist kept constantly summoning more ships to him, a few at a 
time ; and when his race had grown strong they took possession of the 
city of the Kentishmen.* 

Now Guorthigirnus added to all his sins by marrying his own daughter, 
who bore him a son. St. Germanus, hearing of this, called a great synod 
to consider appropriate measures. Guorthigirnus [as Nennius tells at some 
length] tried to face the matter out ; but he was put to shame, fled before 
the face of Germanus, and was condemned by him and by all the council 
of the Britons. 

Afterwards' the king called to him his magi and asked what he should 
do. They bade him go to the extreme limits of his kingdom and build* 
a strong tower (arcem)^ " because," they said, " the race which you have 
received into your kingdom will hate you and kill you by treachery and 
seize the whole country after your death." So, with the magi, he sought 
through many provinces, and at last in the region of North Wales {Guined)^ 
on one of the mountains of Snowdon (Herert), they selected the place for 
the tower, which, they said, would be forever safe from the barbarians. 
But when he had assembled masons and got together the wood and stone, 
in one night all the material was carried off, and this happened three times. 
Then the magi replied to the king's inquiries, that the work could never be 
done unless he should find a child without a father, kill him, and sprinkle 
the ground about the tower with his blood. So Guorthigirnus sent some of 
the magi throughout all Britain, and after long journeying they came to the 
field Elleti,* in the region Gleguissing.® Here boys were playing at ball. 

1 Mare Frenessicum. 

2 Venerunt ad supra dictam civitatem Cantorum, 
. 8 Chap. 40. 

* The Latin word is invenies. 

5 Supposed by Roberts {Cambrian Popular Antiquities ^ pp. 58-59) to be the 
village formerly called in Welsh Maeseleg, now Bassalig, in Monmouthshire, 
mentioned by Geoffrey of Monmouth, viii, 4, 11. 

6 Stevenson, dd loc.y says, the tract between the Usk and Rumney, named from 
Glivisus, father of the Welsh saint Gundlxus. Lot, Rom., XXVIII, 338, says, 
the region between the Teivi [Teifi] and the Usk; and he refers to J. Loth, 
Mab., II, 212, note. Phillimore (Y Cymmrodor, XI, 47) says only that Gleguissing 
certainly comprehended no region north of the Towy. 


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Nennius 1 3 

and one in anger at another addressed him ^ as a fellow (homo) without a 
father. Then the messengers sought out the boy's mother and asked if he 
had a father. She assured them with an oath that he had not ; that she 
did not know how he had been conceived; and that she had never had 
intercourse with any man. When the boy had been taken to the king and 
was about to be killed, he inquired of Guorthigirnus why he had been 
brought On mention of the magi, he asked that they be summoned ; and 
when they came, he demanded who had revealed to them that his blood 
jvas necessary for the tower. " I, O king," he said, " will tell you the truth." 
Then he challenged the magi to say what was under the surface of the 
ground. They answered, "We do not know." "There is," he said, "a 
pond {stagnuni) in the midst of the place. Dig, and you will find it." 
Men dug and came to water. Then successively, and each time after draw- 
ing from the magi an acknowledgment of ignorance, the boy revealed that 
the pond contained two vessels, the vessels a folded tent,^ and the tent two 
sleeping snakes {vermes)^ one white and one red. Being uncovered, the 
snakes began to fight. At last the red seemed weaker, but again he became 
stronger and drove his adversary out of the tent ; then the one followed the 
other across the pond,* and the tent vanished.* Hereupon the boy pro- 
ceeded to interpret. " This mystery," he said, " is revealed to me. The 
tent signifies thy kingdom ; the pond is this world ; the red snake is thy 
dragon, and the white is the dragon of that race which has seized many 
parts of Britain. It will hold almost all the island from sea to sea, but 
afterwards our race will rise in might and manfully drive the race of the 
Angles across the sea. Do thou nevertheless depart from this tower, because 
thou art not able to build it, and seek through many provinces to find a 
safe tower, and I will remain here." * And the king asked the youth * his 

1 Here the narrative passes into direct discourse, and so it continues to the 
end of the incident. ^ Tentorium complicatum. 

' Alter alterum secutus. This clause evidently has no significance as to the 
result of the fight ; it merely nieans that the snakes disappeared. 

* For a closely related dragon story, which reappears also in the Bn^ Tysilio 
(Roberts's translation, pp. 68-70), see the tale of Lludd and Llevelys, in the Mabi- 
nogion (Loth, I, 178-182; Lady Guest, lU, 311-313). 

* On the preservation of the name Dinas Emreis (Fortress of Ambrosius) in the 
mountains of Snowdon, see Lady Guest, Mabinogion^ III, 317; F. Lot, Rom.^ 
XXVIII, 338; cf. also Rhys, Celtic Folklore, Oxford, 1901, pp. 218, 469 ff., 
487, 507. 

* Adolescentetn. Puer is the word applied to him up to this point, except in the 
single case already noted. 


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14 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

name, and he replied, " I am called Ambrosius." " That is," interprets 
Nennius, "he meant that he was Embreis the supreme prince."^ The 
king inquired of his ancestry, and he replied, ** My father is one of the 
consuls of the Roman race." Guorthigirnus.gave him the tower, with all 
the kingdoms of the western part of Britain, and he himself with his magi 
went to the northern part, to the region called Guunnessi,* and built there 
the city which is called by his name Caer Guorthigim. 

Meanwhile,* Guorthemir, the son of Guorthigimus, fought fiercely with 
Hengist and Horsus (sic) and their race and drove them from the isle of 
Tanet, and there three times reduced them to extremities.* They sent 
messengers to Germany and called in many shiploads of warriors, and after- 
wards they fought against the kings of ** our race," sometimes extending 
their territories, sometimes having them circumscribed. Guorthemir fought 
valorously against them in four battles, the first by the river Derguentid ; * 
the second at the ford " which is called in their language Episford, in ours 
Rithergabail," and there fell Hors with the son of Guorthigimus, whose 
name was Categirnus. The third battle was in a place near the " lapidem 
tituli''' which is by the Gallic sea, and there the barbarians were completely 
defeated and fled to their ships. But after a short time, Guorthemir died. 
He had bidden his servants bury him in the port from which the barbarians 
had gone forth, on the shore of the sea, because, he said, " though they hold 
elsewhere a port in this region they will forever be unable to establish 
themselves." But his servants did not obey his command. And the 
barbarians came back in force, since Guorthigimus was their friend because 
of his wife ; and no one dared to oppose them, since they seized Britain not 
by their valor, but by the will of God. " And who," asks Nennius, " can 
resist that?" 

After the return of Hengist, the barbarians made a plot, and sent legates 
to Guorthigimus to propose perpetual peace. When Guorthigimus and his 
counsellors assented, a conference was arranged, to which both .parties were 
to come without arms. But Hengist instructed his men to bring each a 
knife concealed under his garment, and at his word of command (eu Saxones 
eniminit sax as) they killed all the counsellors of Guorthigimus to the 

1 Id esty Embreis Guletic ipse videbatur. 

2 Lot (Rom., XXVIII, 339, note) says that the place is unknown. 
8 Chap. 43. 

* Conclusit, obsedit, percussity comminuity terruit. 

s There is no agreement as to the exact location of the places here named ; 
but certainly they were all in the South. 


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Nennius 1 5 

number of three hundred. The king himself was allowed to redeem his life 
with the lands of the East Saxons, South Saxons, and Middle Saxons.^ 

Now 2 St. Germanus preached to Guorthigirnus that he should repent 
and abandon his incestuous life. Guorthigirnus fled to the region named 
from him Guorthigirniaun,* to hide himself there with his wives, and from 
there to the tower of Guorthigirnus in the region of the Demeti near the 
river Teibi.* St. Germanus with all the clergy of Britain followed, praying ; 
and in the night fire from heaven destroyed the tower with Guorthigirnus 
and his wives. " This," says Nennius, " is the end of him, as I found it in 
the book of St. Germanus. But others report differently"; some that, as he 
wandered about, hated by all for his crime, his heart burst; others, that 
the earth opened and swallowed him in the night in which his tower was 
burned. He had three sons, Guorthemir and Categimus ; and a third, 
Pascent, who ruled in the two regions of Buelt^ and Guorthigirniaun after 
the death of his father, under the favor of Ambrosius, who was king among 
all the kings of the British race. By his daughter also Guorthigirnus was 
the father of St. Faustus. 

Here follow the genealogy of the " present " ruler of the regions 
named, back to and beyond Guorthigirnus, a mention of the return 
of St. Germanus to the continent, and a long account of the ministry 
of St. Patrick in Ireland, inserted as belonging chronologically at 
this point. Then the narrative resumes : ® 

At that time, the Saxons increased and grew strong in Britain. After 
the death of Hengist, Octha his son came from the northern part of the 
island to the kingdom of the men of Cantia, and from him are descended 
its kings. Then Arthur fought against them in those days, together with 
the kings of the Britons, but he himself was leader in the battles.^ The 
first battle was at the mouth of the river Glein ; the second, third, fourth, 
and fifth, on the river Dubglas, in the region Linnuis; the sixth on the 

1 1 have supplied this last name from the Irish version. It is also given by 
some of the later chroniclers who follow Nennius, and evidently belongs to the 
authentic text. ^ Chap. 47. ^ Powis. 

* The names Demeti (i.e., Demetians) and Teibi (i.e., Teifi) belong to the South ; 
so the passage is in flat contradiction to the previous one which (correctly, accord- 
ing to Lot) located the city of Guorthigim in the Nofth. 

* Brecknock-Radnor. * Chap. 56. 

'^ Dux belloi-um. The Vatican manuscript, which represents a late recension, 
of ^bout 946, adds " although many were nobler by birth {nobiliores) than he." 


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1 6 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

river Bassas; the seventh in the wood of Celidon; the eighth at the 
fortress Guinnion, when Arthur bore the image of the Virgin Mary on his 
shoulders ^ and a great slaughter was made of the pagans; the ninth at Urbs 
Legionis ; the tenth on the shore of the river which is called Tribuit ; the 
eleventh on the mountain Agned; the twelfth on Mount Badon, when 
Arthur alone in one day killed nine hundred and sixty men ; ^ and in all the 
battles he was victor. But the enemy continually received aid from Ger- 
many, whence they brought kings to rule over those of them who were in 
Britain up to the time of Ida, who was the first king in Beomicia. 

Next'* comes the section containing genealogies of the kings of 
the invaders and dealing with wars and other affairs in the North 
from the middle of the fifth to the end of the seventh century.* In 
a chronological computation at the end of this passage, mention is 
made of a quarrel between Guitolinus and Ambrosius, said to have 
occurred twelve years after the rule of Guorthigirnus. Next comes 
a list of the twenty-eight cities of Britain, and then the account of 
its tnirabilia. Of these the tenth or eleventh® (according as one 
reckons) is said to be in the region of Buelt. In that province is a 
heap of stones, and on the top is one stone bearing the print of a 
dog's foot. This mark was made by Cabal, who was the dog of 
Arthur the warrior,* when he hunted the boar Troynt. Arthur 
afterwards collected the pile of stones under this one, and it was 
called Ca:rn Cabal. Then the account adds that whenever the 
stone is carried off, it reappears upon the heap the next day.' 

There follows immediately the description of another wonder in 
the region of Ercing.® This is a tomb situated beside the stream 

1 Super humeros sues. 

2 The manuscripts, needless to say, do not agree exactly as to this number. 
« Chaps. 57-66. 

* And for Mercia to the end of the eighth. This is the section which has 
already been mentioned as constituting one of the originally distinct documents 
at the basis of the whole composition. 

6 Chap. 73. 

* Arthuri militis. 

7 This story contains the germ of that of the hunt of Twrch Trwyth, which 
appears very fully in the tale of Kulhwch and Olwen (Loth, Mabinogion^ I, 185- 
285 ; see also especially Lady Guest, II, 360, and Rhys, Celtic Folklore^ 1901, 
p. 538). 8 Hereford. 


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Nennius 17 

called "the Source of the Anir," and Anir was the name of the 
man who was buried there. He was the son of Arthur the warrior, 
who himself killed him there and buried him. After this we are 
told of the wonderful property of the tomb.^ With the mirabilia 
the work of Nennius ends. 

The Historia Britonum^ then, not only contains the earliest known 
mention of Arthur, but presents a detailed story of the whole 
Arthurian period. It is natural, in the first place, to compare this 
story with that of Gildas. 

In very general outline the two do not greatly differ, — that is, 
Gildas's narrative, apart from his expressions of personal feeling, 
might serve as a vague outline for the equally anti-Saxon narrative 
of Nennius.^ Although Nennius, who lived some centuries later than 
Gildas, does not, like Gildas, exaggerate the Saxons* conquests and 
dwell upon their cruelty, he nevertheless substantially agrees with 
his predecessor in making it appear that the barbarians furnished 
no real aid against the Picts and Scots. The statement of Nennius 
that the Saxons conquered only by the will of God, corresponds to 
Gildas's prevailing idea that the invasion was a punishment for the 
sins of the Britons. Again, Nennius makes Ambrosius, in his role 
of magus^ express the impassioned belief of the Britons that their 
overthrow was not final, while Gildas* had mentioned, doubtless 
in accordance with a popular tradition, a limited time — three hun- 
dred years — as the period assigned by prophecy to the Saxon 
occupation. At the beginning of his account and elsewhere, Nennius 
preserves, however vaguely, reminiscences of the civil wars between 
various factions for which Gildas so bitterly blames his countrymen. 
Indeed, it can be proved from resemblances in phraseology* that 
one of the pre-Nennian authors of the Historia Britonum had Gildas's 
work at hand when he wrote, and utilized it in some of his earlier 

1 For remaining local traces of this story, see Rees, Liber Landavensis^ cited 
also by Zimmer, Nennius Vindicatus^ p. 114. 

2 Their agreement as to the number of ships which brought the first invaders 
(three) can hardly be regarded as significant. 

• Chap. 23. 

* Almost all of these are cited by Mommsen, pp. 21 ff. 


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1 8 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

But the differences between the two accounts are far more impor- 
tant than the agreements. The most obvious is the general one 
caused by the greater fullness of Nennius. He seems to include all 
the statements of fact that appear in Gildas, except that of the 
pestilence concomitant with the last invasion of the Picts, and 
he adds all the following material: the name of Guorthigirnus ; 
entirely new characters and roles in Hengist's daughter (whom he 
does not name) and in St. Germ anus, Hors, Hengist, Guorthigirnus's 
interpreter Ceretic (who is of very little importance), Octha, Ebissa, 
Guorthemir, Pascent, and above all Arthur, as well as his son Anir 
and his dog Cabal ; the specification of Tanet, and later of Kent, 
as the first abode of the Saxons ; the dissatisfaction of the Britons 
with the Saxons before the latter had performed any overt acts of 
hostility ; all the stories of Hengist*s plots (including the details of 
his manner of securing reenforcements), the incidents of his feast 
and the marriage of his daughter to Guorthigirnus and his treach- 
erous slaughter of the Britons; the whole tale of Guorthigirnus's 
tower, with all its incidentals ; the wars of Guorthemir, which take 
the place, with much more detail, of what Gildas says of those of 
Ambrosius; the legend about Guorthemir's burial; the legends of 
Guorthigirnus's death ; the account of Arthur's wars in toto, except 
for Gildas's mention of the siege of Mount Badon ; and, finally, the 
mirabilia relating to Arthur. Nennius also differs from Gildas in 
making no allusion to Ambrosius's descendants and in saying that 
the Saxons came to Britain by chance. 

There is a very notable divergence in the fact that, with Nennius, 
Guorthemir practically replaces the Ambrosius of Gildas. To be 
sure, Nennius speaks of Ambrosius also, but in subordinate and 
inconsistent notices. Three times Ambrosius appears dimly in the 
story as a powerful leader : where it is said that Guorthigirnus was 
in fear of him ; where he is called chief king of the Britons after 
the death of Guorthigirnus ; and where his strife with Guitolinus is 
mentioned. Evidently the conception of the child of supernatural 
attainments in the tower episode was originally a very different one ; 
and confusion appears in that episode in that the child's mother 
declares that he has no father, while he himself (agreeably, be it 
observed, to Gildas's account) claims to be the son of a Roman 


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Nennius 19 

consul. From these facts it seems not unreasonable to surmise 
that Nennius's story is that of the British faction in the island, as 
opposed to the Roman faction of Gildas, — that Guorthemir crowds 
out Ambrosius because he was the hero of this British faction, but 
that Ambrosius's fame was too great to allow him to be passed over 
without mention. The character of magician assigned to Ambro- 
sius in Nennius is in harmony with this theory ; for it is an expla- 
nation of a great chief's successes very natural to the minds of a 
hostile party, especially after the lapse of time has afforded oppor- 
tunity for legends to arise. ^ Evidence will soon be given that this 
whole incident of the tower is one of the later additions to the 

It is clear, therefore, that the entire section of Nennius's work 
with which we are concerned is independent of Gildas in origin ; or, 
if not, that in the process of expansion and alteration it has been 
completely transformed in substance and largely in spirit. 

The contributions of the Historia to the Arthurian story being 
thus indicated, the next step is to consider their sources. Unfortu- 
nately, nothing more definite can be determined than that they rest 
upon British traditions of uncertain age. 

Nennius's own mention of British traditions may refer chiefly or 
altogether to the version of the Historia which came down to him, 
and the starting point of our investigation must therefore be the 
unique Chartres manuscript, which alone represents the work at 
a pre-Nennian stage of its development. The Chartres version is 
unfortunately a fragment, ending at the point where Guorthigirnus 
is falling in love with Hengist's daughter. As far as it goes, it 
agrees closely, for our period, with Nennius's redaction^ so that we 
cannot assume that it lacked anything which appeared in the latter. 
Its heading, however, is important for our present purpose : ^ Inci- 
piunt excerpta filii Urbgen de libro Sancti Germani inventa et origine et 
genealogia Britonum, 

1 Rh^s, it may be observed, thinks that a mythical Ambrosius was already 
known (Hibbert Lectures on Celtic Heathendom^ pp. 1 51-152). 

2 I have adopted a number of corrections and have omitted De aetatibus mundi 
(which is really the title of chap. i). For the original, see Rev. Celt, XV, 174 ff. 


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20 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

The sources indicated in the latter part of this heading evidently 
refer, not to the portion of the Historia which deals with our period, 
but to other portions of the work. It seems, therefore, as if the 
"son of Urbgen" meant to say that he took his account of our 
period from a Life of St. Germanus. Now only two or three of the 
incidents with which we are concerned have anything to do with 
St. Germanus. . It follows, therefore, that the original " liber Sancti 
Germani " did not contain most of them, and that they were either 
inserted in the Historia by the son of Urbgen or had been added 
to the Germanus book before it came into his hands. The whole 
episode of Guorthigirnus's tower was either a specially late addition 
or else had an origin quite different from that of the other incidents 
in question.^ The mirabilia^ also, are pretty certainly accretions to 
the original. 

This is all we know of the development of the text, and it does 
not really show that any part of the work is necessarily much older 
than any of the others: for (i) we cannot tell the date of the son 
of Urbgen, or of any version of the Historia previous to Nennius ; 

(2) all additions (except for a clause or two) were made at least as 
early as the time of the latter, that is, by about the year 800 ; 

(3) even if the additions were made by Nennius himself, as seems 
unlikely in the case of most of them, they may have been taken 
from independent written records ; and (4) the age of an oral tra- 
dition cannot be determined by the date at which that tradition 
happens to be committed to writing. 

What is to be said, therefore, of Nennius's material is that it 
represents more or less inconsistent British traditions of uncertain 
age, some of which ^ had probably been written down about a cen- 
tury after the time of Gildas, and that the work was completed 

^ This is evident from the following considerations : (i) the episode represents 
Ambrosius in a character different from that in which he appears in the rest of 
the narrative ; (2) it locates Caer Guorthigim differently ; (3) it is loosely con- 
nected with what precedes ; (4) it calls the Saxons Angliy — a name which occurs 
nowhere else in Nennius except in the account of Northern affairs, which, as we 
have seen, may easily have come from a source different from that of the rest of 
the work. 

2 But not necessarily any of the portions with which we are here concerned. 


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Nennius 2 1 

about the year 800. The next question is, How far is the narrative 
historical ? 

It is not surprising that some writers have denied to Nennius 
any credibility whatever. The story of Germanus^s miracles, of 
Guorthigirnus's tower, and of Guorthemir's burial, the mirabilia^ and 
many other sections, are clearly altogether fabulous; the account 
of the Saxons* treachery in killing the British chiefs is a bit of 
continental tradition ; ^ and the requirement of a boy's blood to mix 
with the mortar is only a motive from Celtic (or, indeed, from uni- 
versal) folklore." Then, again, Nennius is too much of a partisan. 
There is also external evidence which counts strongly against him, 
for we have in the Saxon Chronicle a very different and much more 
straightforward account of this same period. This testimony from 
the opposite party we must now briefly consider. 

The early portion of the Chronicle^ which here concerns us, though 
probably not written down before the eighth or ninth century, 
doubtless represents traditions which go back to a time not far 
removed from the events to which they refer. After mention of 
the coming of the Germans and of their establishment in the island 
(taken from Bede's account, which will soon be discussed), the suc- 
ceeding entries of the Chronicle^ as far as they relate to the present 
subject, are as follows : 

455. In this year Hengest* and Horsa' fought against Wyrtgeorn* the 
king, in the place called Agaelsthrep (and his brother Horsa was killed*), 
and after that, Hengest succeeded to the kingdom, and J^z ^ his son. 

457. Hengest and vEsc fought against the Britons at Crecganford, killed 
four thousand of them, drove them to London, and won Kent. 

465. In a fight of Hengest and Nj&z with the Welsh near Wippedsfleet, 
the Welsh lost twelve leaders and the Saxons one, Wipped. 

473. Hengest and M&z conquered the Welsh. 

1 Widukind (Mon. Germ. Nist.y Script, III, ed. 1839, p. 419) recounts it as 
having been practised by the Saxons against the Thuringians. 

2 See Dr. Jamieson's History of the Culdees, pp. 20 ff., and Tylor, Primitive 
Culture J 3d ed., 1891, I, 104-108. 

* These names may have been taken from Bede, though I do not think they 
were ; see below, pp. 24, 25. 

* Probably from Bede. 


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22 ' Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

This is the last that is said of Hengest, and the next entry, at 
477, tells of the arrival of -^lle and his three sons in three ships. 
Under 508 it is stated that Cerdic and Cynric (historically the 
founders of the kingdom of the West Saxons,^ and represented as 
having come to Britain thirteen years before) slew a British king 
called Natanleod ^ with five thousand of his men, from whom that 
region was named Natan leaga. Except for the statement of a fight* 
of Cerdic and Cynric in 527, and the conquest of the Isle of Wight 
in 530, there is no mention of any further warfare with the Britons 
until 552, after the end of our period. 

Now while this narrative agrees substantially, or at least does 
not disagree, with the much vaguer outline of Gildas, except that 
it does not speak of Ambrosius, it does stand in striking contrast 
to the story of Nennius. And we can have no hesitation which to 
prefer. The authors of the Chronicle were probably biased ; they 
must be expected to omit British names and victories, and they 
have probably recorded here and there a purely legendary detail. 
Still, it is manifest that they tried to set down only what they sup- 
posed to be the plain truth. On their testimony, as well as on a 
priori grounds, we are justified in rejecting Nennius's story of the 
alliance of Vortigern with the Saxons against his own people (which 
involves much of the narrative of Hengest's machinations), though 
we need not necessarily refuse to believe that Vortigern was at first 
very friendly to the Saxons and that he married a Saxon woman. 

There is, however, in the outline of the Chronicle (apart from those 
details which it may have taken from Bede) one point of apparent 
contact with Nennius, — it specifies four battles as fought by Hen- 
gist against the Britons, which may perhaps correspond to the four 
assigned by Nennius to Guorthemir. Even here, however, there is 
striking disagreement. There is no certainty that the places men- 
tioned in the Chronicle are to be identified with those of Nennius. 
Further, though the Chronicle, by not claiming a Saxon victory in 
the first fight, seems to admit a defeat,* it substantially contradicts 

* As recorded in the Chronicle, ann. 519, in an interpolation. 

2 Leod = Welsh llwyd, " prince." 

« In this part of the Chronicle a defeat is never recorded in plain terms. 


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Nenniiis 23 

Nennius as to the result of the others, giving very definite, though 
perhaps untrustworthy, details. Certainly the inherent probability 
is that the Saxons rather than the Britons were victorious. It looks, 
therefore, as if in Nennius the real facts had been inverted, and as 
if his laudation of Guorthemir (like Gildas's praise of Ambrosius) 
were, as we should expect, greatly exaggerated. 

But it may reasonably be maintained that the Chronicle gives 
indirect confirmation of the most important of all Nennius's 
stories, that of the career of Arthur; for, during a long period 
beginning with the year 527 it records no advance of the Saxons. 
The most natural explanation, in which all historians agree, and 
which is in harmony with Gildas's account, is that the power of 
the invaders had been weakened by British successes. Even here 
there is a discrepancy, however, in that Nennius makes Arthur's 
victories end with the siege of Mount Badon, which must have 
occurred long before 527. Still, this variation is not a very serious 
matter, since both accounts are admitted to be highly inaccurate 
in details. 

While, then, the Saxon Chronicle indicates that the narrative of 
Nennius is greatly distorted, it admits the conclusion that parts of 
his main outline may have a basis in fact. There are other con- 
siderations of like tendency. In the first place, it must be remem- 
bered that, even though the Historia Britonum is only a record of 
popular traditions, the popular traditions of an unlettered time do 
not create something out of nothing, and are very tenacious of 
striking facts. One may reasonably hold that Vortimer never thor- 
oughly subdued the Saxons, and question whether Vortigern married 
Hengist's daughter ; but it does not seem very reasonable to doubt 
that Vortigern, Vortimer, Ambrosius, and Arthur were real men who 
fought against the invaders. 

In one point, indeed, — the remark that the Saxons first came 
to Britain by chance, — Nennius's story seems to be more nearly 
correct than that of Gildas ; though Nennius is evidently wrong, 
like Gildas, in implying that none of them had ever come before 
the time of Vortigern. The Historia also appears to receive some 
confirmation in certain details from the Ecclesiastical History of 
Bede. Of this latter, therefore, something must now be said. 


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24 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Bede composed his great work in his Northumbrian monastery 
in the year 731. He draws his brief account ^ of the period of the 
Saxon invasion chiefly from Gildas. For the most part he copies 
the latter's very words, making only slight alterations to improve 
the style. All that is here necessary, therefore, is to specify those 
points in which he departs from Gildas. In all of these which are 
really important,^ he agrees with Nennius.' He gives to the king 
who called in the Germans the name Vurtigernus ; says that the 
leaders of the first comers are reported to have been two brothers, 
Hengist and Horsa; gives their genealogy, and adds that Horsa 
was afterwards killed by the Britons. Obviously, unless Bede was 
drawing from that form of the Historia Britonum which existed in 
his day, his evidence goes to substantiate at least these details of 
Nennius's narrative. 

Now while, in the absence of proof to the contrary, the possibility 
that Bede used the Historia ^ must always be admitted, — and while 
it is perhaps still less improbable that he may have got information 
from the British population near his home,* — it is more natural to 
suppose that he drew wholly from Saxon tradition. From that 
source must have come his remark that a monument in the eastern 

1 Bk. i, chaps. 14-23. 

2 The less significant ones are the following: (i) Bede states directly, in 
marked divergence from Gildas, that the Saxons actually fought and conquered 
the Scots. This may have come to him from Saxon tradition, but it is an almost 
necessary inference from the general course of events as described by Gildas 
(and Nennius), though they themselves may deny it. (2) Bede*s statement that, 
upon their break with the Britons, the Saxons allied themselves directly with the 
Picts (see the discussion of Fordun, p. 243, below), he takes from a Life of St. 
Germanus {Acta Sanctorum^ July, VII, 213; see Thumeysen, Englische Studietiy 
XXII, 166) upon which he is drawing for an account of the saint (as appears 
from an excerpt which he makes from it later, chap. 28). (3) Bede is the first of 
the historians to mention the fact that Lupus was associated with Germanus, — 
a detail which was taken into the story by Geoffrey of Monmouth. (4) Still 
more remote from the present subject is Bede's statement as to what parts of 
the country were occupied by the respective German tribes. 

2 Mommsen's argument to this effect (N'eues Archiv^ 1894, XIX, 291 ff.) from 
Bede's error in dating the fabulous story of King Lucius*s conversion, has not 
been generally accepted. 

* See Zimmer, Nennius Vindicatus^ p. 61. 


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Nennius 2 5 

part of Kent still bears Horsa's name;^ nor is it likely that the 
authors of the detailed notices of the early battles in the Chronicle 
were indebted to Bede for the names of Hengest and Horsa, the 
leaders in those battles. 

A little later,2 Bede gives, evidently from Saxon sources, informa- 
tion which seems to reappear, in an incomplete and greatly altered 
form, in Nennius. This consists of the genealogical table of the 
^arly kings of Kent, who are thus named in succession : Hengist, 
who with his son Oisc was first to come to Britain, invited by 
Vurtigernus ; CEric, called Oisc, from whom the Kentish kings are 
called Oiscings; Octa; Irminric ; ^dilberct. Now there can be 
no doubt that Nennius's Octha is identical with Bedels Octa, and it 
looks as if Nennius's Ebissa were really Bede's Oisc* This sugges- 
tion assumes considerable corruption of the name, but Bede him- 
self, it will be observed, gives an alternate form, CEric^ and the 
Saxon Chronicle has ^sc. But if the supposition is correct, the 
authors of the Historia Britonum made Hengist's son into his 
nephew, and his grandson into his son ; for it must certainly be 
assumed that, in a point relating so directly to the Saxons, their 
^wn record is the more correct.* It follows that everything that 
Nennius says of Octha and Ebissa is distorted and fabulous. The 
narrative, indeed, is self-condemnatory when it states that these 
early Saxon leaders not only conquered the North but settled there.* 

So far, therefore, Nennius seems to have preserved, amid a great 
deal of pure legend, some reminiscences of truth. It is now time 

1 Cf. on the French Bruty p. 218, below. * Bk. ii, chap. 5. 

8 So far as I know, this suggestion has not been made before. 

* Among the genealogies of North British origin which make up the last part 
of Nennius*s work, that of the Kentish kings gives the succession as Hengist, 
Octha, Ossa, Eormoric (chap. 57). 

* Why it does so is explained if we suppose that it was itself composed in that 
region. For each section of the British population might naturally tend to asso- 
ciate with its own locality the ravages of some of the first invaders of whom they 
had recollection ; and while the connection of the first settlement, under Hengist, 
with Kent, may easily have been too firmly established ^in every one's memory to 
be broken, the same need not have been true of all the exploits of succeeding 
kings. Nennius seems to return to the facts when he says that, upon the death 
of Hengist, Octha came back to Kent • 


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26 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

to consider directly that part of his story which is most vital to the 
present subject, namely, his account of Arthur. On this small sec- 
tion is based practically our whole actual knowledge, real or supposed, 
of the facts about this hero, and an immense amount of ingenuity, 
mostly misdirected, has been devoted to its interpretation. One 
must certainly reject, at the start, all such unsupported suggestions 
as that, for instance, which makes Arthur the son of Ambrosius, — 
an attractive idea which has been adopted by more than one writer. 

Nennius's accoimt of Arthur, with his similar catalogue of Guor- 
themir's battles, differs notably from most of the rest of his narra- 
tive in being concise and straightforward. It has every appearance 
of having been originally set down by a man who was far more of 
an historian and less of a fabulist than the author of the stories 
about Guorthigirnus and Hengist. Of course, in the statement that 
Arthur with his owA hand in a single battle killed more than nine 
hundred men, a bit of legend has crept in; but the only other 
notably suspicious features are the specification of the number of 
the engagements as twelve, and the statement that Arthur was 
always victorious. While, therefore, we cannot accept the passage 
as absolute truth, we may reasonably conclude that it representis 
what was believed to be true by a Briton of a rather judicial mind 
some time before the end of the eighth century, and we may try to 
interpret it on that basis. In the absence of evidence to the con- 
trary, it must be allowed to indicate, in the first place, that Arthur 
was the hero of the battle of Badon, of the historicity of which 
Gildas's mention leaves no doubt. 

The central point in the discussion of this account, — and that 
which has evoked most controversy, — is the attempt to fix the 
locality, or localities, in which Arthur performed his exploits. This 
attempt is based, necessarily, on the identification of the names 
which Nennius connects with his twelve battles. Now, as regards 
these, the whole debate has not brought us any nearer to actual cer- 
tainty than were the students in the time of Henry of Huntingdon, 
who tells us,^ summarily, that "all the places are now unknown," 
though we need not?, perhaps, agree with the indolent archdeacon 

1 £d. Arnold, Rolls Series, p. 49. 


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Nennius 27 

that this is due to the providence of God, who wished to show the 
worthlessness of earthly glory. This being the state of the case 
as regards the individual places, one must refuse assent to any of 
the efforts which have been made (many of them very elaborate) 
to trace strategically the course of Arthur's campaigns.^ It may 
suffice here to say that there are two main theories, each supported 
by certain unconvincing arguments independent of Nennius. One 
of these theories is that Arthur belonged to the South and fought 
most of his battles in that region, though this does not necessarily 
imply that he may not have penetrated sometimes to other parts 
of the country. The other theory, which has been especially 
championed by Skene and Stuart-Glennie, is that his activity was 
limited chiefly or altogether to the neighborhood of the Roman 
walls in the North. Two facts are thought to favor this latter con- 
tention : (i) the names of Guinevere, Modred, stnd other personages 
of Arthurian story, and certain stories about them, are localized by 
popular tradition and the old romances, in southern Scotland exclu- 
sively, or almost exclusively^; and (2) the places mentioned in the 
Welsh Arthurian poetry likewise belong to the North.* But these 

1 The first of these attempts, as far as I know, was that of John Whitaker in 
his History of Manchester, 1771-1775, II, 35-58. After his time, minute recon- 
structions of the whole history of the Arthurian period, based often on an accept- 
ance of ever3rthing said not only by Nennius, but by Geoffrey of Monmouth, and 
nearly every other of the mediaeval English, Scottish, and French historical 
romancers, were not uncommon for fifty years, and they have not altogether 
ceased yet ; see, for example, John Milner, Antiquities of Winchester, 1839, I, 
chap. 5, especially pp. 55 ff. ; Gentleman^ s Magazine, 1842, a series of articles begin- 
ning Vol. XVII, p. 385, and continuing into XVIII (see index) ; Poste, especially 
pp. 103-108; Haigh, especially pp. 279-295; Babcock, pp. 142-177; W. H. Dick- 
inson, King Arthur in Cornwall, London, etc., 1900. As less fanciful or otherwise 
more important, may be mentioned : Carte, History of England, I747»"I» 205 ; Gunn, 
Historia Britonum, pp. 173-183; Stevenson, Nennius, pp. 48-49; Todd, L^abhar, 
etc., pp. 109-111 ; Skene, Four Ancient Books, I, 50-60, and Celtic Scotland, I, 
153-154; C. H. Pearson, in Bishop Percy's Folio MS.,ed. Hales andFumivall, 
I, 403; Stuart-Glennie, Arthurian Localities in Merlin, ed. E.E.T.S., Part III, 
1869 (also published separately, Edinburgh, 1869, with an argument by Pearson) ; 
Guest, Origines Celticae, II, 187-189. 

2 The fame of Arthur himself has of course left its traces also in the south of 
England and elsewhere. » Cf. pp. 95 (note i), 203, 242 ff., below. 


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28 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

arguments are by no means conclusive. The localization of names 
does not prove that they may not have been imported from else- 
where.^ Moreover, if Arthur's victories were confined to the North, 
we can hardly understand the cessation of the Saxon advance after 
the battle of Badon. The mirabilia of Nennius prove that Arthur 
was already a traditional figure in the Southwest considerably before 
800. And, finally, if Arthur were already famous in the North in 
the eighth century, it might perhaps be expected that Bede should 
at least allude to him. The matter is one which every studqnt 
must decide for himself, and in any case it is of no great importance 
to the present subject 

That the author of the list of Arthur's battles knew nothing more 
about them than he records, is very probable. That he, or ante- 
cedent tradition, has obscured some of the facts, hardly needs ta 
be stated. Either he has omitted the names of some engagements, 
or else he is quite wrong in saying that Arthur was victorious in all 
of those that he mentions. It is certainly possible that he does 
not name the battles in their proper order. There is nothing ta 
show that he meant to represent them as following in rapid succes- 
sion ; they may very well have stood in his mind for a whole life- 
time of fighting. 

The most important point of all, if we could only decide it, is 
perhaps that of Arthur's rank and office. Nennius says that he 
fought, together with the kings of the Britons, as dux bellorum. 
Now this is manifestly not equivalent to stating that Arthur was 
himself by birth one of the kings and was recognized by the others 
as overlord. Certainly the writer of the first of the Arthurian 
mirabilia cannot have had any such conception when he called 
Arthur simply miles. That Arthur was not of royal blood is directly 
asserted by the tenth-century Vatican version of the Historia ; but 
that is too late to have much authority. Taking everything together, 
it certainly looks as if Arthur owed his position of leader chiefly to 
his preeminent ability. It may be that his relation to the kings 

1 If we should choose to accept Professor Rhys*s Arthur- Airem theory (Studies 
in the Arthurian Legend., pp. 45-47), we should have a sufficient explanation for 
the occurrence of some of the names in the North. 


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Nennitis 29 

was simply something like that ascribed to Miltiades among the 
Athenian generals: they may all have given place to him volun- 
tarily, as to the man most capable to command. It seems more 
likely, however, that there is truth in the theory advanced by Pro- 
fessor Rhys ^ and others, that Arthur owed some of his authority 
to the fact of holding the office which had belonged to one of the 
military chiefs under the Roman system of administration in the 
island. These offices may well have been kept up by the Britons, 
at least by the Romanizing party, after the departure of the Romans. 

The idea of Arthur's position thus suggested is in harmony with 
the opinion of those writers who conclude that Nennius's record of 
Arthur's battles is not that of a series of campaigns systematically 
planned, but that he went from one place to another, wherever he 
was most needed for the help of his people. This would fit very 
well with the theory ^ (inherently reasonable and suggested by what 
Nennius says, though apparently by anticipation, of Octha and 
Ebissa) that the Saxons, during their conquest, made use of their 
fleets, as did the Danes later, in reaching points easy of attack, and 
did not always march overland through the enemy's country. 

The picture of Arthur which we get from such considerations 
as these, is very different from that which was developed in later 
romance and which has passed from romance into modern literature. 
But if it has less splendor, it is at least as worthy of admiration. 
For it represents Arthur as a bold warrior and an energetic general, 
to whose preeminent abilities even jealous petty chieftains were 
obliged to bow, and who, standing firm in the midst of a period of 
distress and danger, for a long time, as William of Malmesbury was , 
to observe,* sustained the falling fortunes of his country. 

Yet, even after so reserved a concession as this to romance and 
enthusiasm, it is safer to end with a word of critical caution. There 
is always the possibility that Arthur never existed at all, and that 
even Nennius's comparatively modest eulogy has no firmer founda- 
tion than the persistent stories of ancient Celtic myth* or the 
patriotic figments of the ardent Celtic imagination. 

1 Studies in the Arthurian Legend^ p. 7 ; Welsh People^ p. 105. 

2 Advanced by Babcock. * Cf. p. 40, below. * Cf. pp. 96-97, below. 


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30 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

From all that has been said, it has appeared that the elements of 
probable definite fact which Nennius has added to Gildas's very 
meagre outline of the Arthurian period are scarcely more than 
these : (i) that the king^ in whose territory the Saxons began their 
permanent conquest was Guorthigimus (Vortigem),' and that his 
resistance to them, whether or not it was patriotic and determined, 
was unsuccessful ; (2) that the earliest Saxon leaders were Hengist 
and Hors (Horsa), among whose contemporaries and immediate 
successors were Octa and Ebissa ; • (3) that among the various 
British kings and leaders who fought against the invaders in the 
following decades, there was a certain Guorthemir (Vortimer), who 
may, or may not, have been the son of Vortigern;* (4) that the 
most important of these leaders, and one of the most efficient, was 
Arthur, the hero of the battle of Mount Badon, whose position as 
general (and perhaps as successor of one of the Roman officials) 
was probably due more to merit than to birth. These facts, with 
those which Gildas furnishes, are apparently the real historical 
basis for the whole Arthurian story as it appears in the chronicles. 

But for that story Nennius\s fables have equal importance with 
his facts. Geoffrey of Monmouth, as he was bound to do, adopted 
both without discrimination as the basis of his version, and it was 
Geoffrey who determined the form of the tradition. While it is 
true, therefore, that the subsequent magnification of the figure 
of Arthur vastly exceeds anything that was to be expected from 
Nennius's account, that it is chiefly due to other sources, and that 
it has thrown into the background, and in the romances has almost 
crowded out, the bulk of what he records, — nevertheless, in the 
works with which the present discussion is concerned, the Historia 
of Nennius is the chief source of Arthurian story in its main out- 
lines. This will come out with sufficient clearness as we proceed. 

1 Perhaps only a tribal chief, though apparently the overlord of at least a con- 
siderable part of the country. 

2 Though some of the elements in his story may well enough be mythical, as 
Professor Rh^s supposes {Arthurian Legendy p. 354). 

* More properly, perhaps, Oisc. 

* The resemblance between the names of the two is somewhat suspicious. 


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I. The Annales Cambriae and Annals of St. Michaevs 


Nennius, in his prologue, blames his countrymen for their failure 
to preserve the historical records of their race, and this reproach 
applies as well to the later Britons as to Nennius's predecessors. 
The only historical record of Welsh authorship which remains to 
us from a period of several centuries after Nennius is the brief series 
of annals known as the Annales Cambriae^ jotted down in Latin by 
an anonymous writer in the second half of the tenth century.^ 
This is the last important chronicle of British authorship with which 
we shall have to deal. 

The entries of the Annales Cambriae are few and scattering, and 
there are only two which in any way concern the Arthurian tradition. 

1 The part of the Annales relating to the period before the Norman Conquest 
is printed in Petrie and Sharpe*s Mon. Hist. Brit.^ pp. 830 ff. (actually edited 
by Aneurin Owen ; see Phillimore in Y Cymtnrodor, XI, 140), with remarks by 
Hardy, pp. 92-95. The whole work is printed in a composite version from the 
three manuscripts, in the edition by J. Williams ab Ithel, Rolls Series, i860. 
A review of this edition by L. Jones in Archceologia Cambrensis^ 1861, p. 331, 
points out very serious blunders. The oldest (uninterpolated) version was prop- 
erly printed by E. Phillimore, with discussion, in Y Cymmrodor^ 1888, IX, 141-183. 
This is reproduced by J. Loth, MaHnogionyWy 345-357. For further discussions, 
see Ward, 1, 431 ; J. Loth, V Emigration bretonne^ pp. 30-31 ; Schoell, De Ecclesiae 
Briionum Scotarumque Historiae Fontibus^ pp. 37-39 ; and especially Phillimore in 
IVelsh Hist. Records^ Y CymmrodoTy XI, 134-148. There is a wrong argument by 
Franz Piitz in Ztsch.f. franz. Spr., 1892, XIV, 186-192. The two later thirteenth- 
century versions of the Annates have more Arthurian material than the original 
version, but it is drawn from Geoffrey of Monmouth and therefore of no independ- 
ent value. 



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32 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Probably the writer had little or no more knowledge of the subject 
than he shows, since he begins his records with a.d. 444, and reckons 
all subsequent years from that date, as if he recognized the Saxon 
invasion as the commencement of a new era. 

The two entries which concern us are the following : ^ 

516. Battle of Badon, in which Arthur carried the cross of our Lord 
Jesus Christ for three days and three nights on his shoulders, and the 
Britons were victors. 

537. Battle of Camlann, in which Arthur and Medraut fell. 

The mention of the battle of Badon, and of Arthur as its hero, 
adds nothing to the information furnished by Gildas and Nennius. 
The statement about the cross is more significant. Its mere inser- 
tion in this connection can be explained, as will soon appear, from 
Nenhius, but it points to a legendary conception which we have not 
yet encountered in so clear a form. 

Nennius says that in Arthur's eighth battle he bore the image of 
the Virgin upon his shoulders. This looks like a clumsy or unin- 
telligent repetition of a statement that Arthur bore the image as a 
device upon his armor. Geoffrey of Monmouth, in taking over this 
section of Nennius, changes (or restores) the sentence. He writes * 
that in the battle of Badon Arthur fastened to his shoulders his 
shield Pridwen,* on which was represented the image of the Holy 
Mary. William of Malmesbury also states * that Arthur had sewed 
the image on his arms.^ Very much to the point, then, is the fact* 
that the Welsh word for ** shield " {ysgwydd) differs only in a single 
letter from that for shoulder {ysgwyd). If the story was originally 
recorded or told in Welsh, as was doubtless the case, and contained 

1 Besides translating, I have given the dates according to our own system. 

2 ix, 4, 17-19. Possibly Geoffrey here preserves the genuine reading, which 
may have stood in his copy of Nennius. 

^ Cf. p. 95, below. 

* See p. 40, below. Henry of Huntingdon (see p. 42, below), merely repeats 

^ " Fretus imagine Dominicae matris, quam armis suis insuerat" (Gesta Regunty 
Rolls Series, I, 12). 

^ Pointed out by Williams (or rather, I suppose, by Aneurin Owen), p. xxiv ; 
also by Skene, Four Ancient Books^ I, 55. 


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Annales Cambriae 33 

the word for "shield," a later transcriber or narrator, whosfe influ- 
ence manifests itself in the existing versions of Nennius, may easily 
have substituted "shoulder" by mistake. The theory is so prob- 
able that it may be accepted as a fact, and evidently it is equally 
good for the entry in the Annales^ though there the mention is of 
the cross, not of the image. 

Now clearly the statements of Nennius and of the Annales are 
so similar that we must assume that they are both derived from a 
common source, if we can only explain the differences : namely, — 
the substitution in the Annales of the cross for the image of the 
Virgin ; the addition of the mention of the three days and nights ; 
and the transference of the episode from the eighth battle of Arthur 
to that of Badon. An explanation is not hard to find. The Cam- 
bridge MS. of Nennius ^ adds at the end of the account of Arthur a 
legend which has been incorporated into the other manuscripts: 
" For Arthur went to Jerusalem, and there made a cross of the size 
of the true cross, and there it was consecrated, and for three whole 
days he fasted, watched, and prayed before the cross of the Lord that 
the Lord would give him victory over the pagans through this rood ; 
which was granted. And he took away with him the image of the 
Holy Mary, whose fragments are still kept at Wedel in great venera- 
tion."* The Cambridge MS. is of the thirteenth century, but, while 
the legend which it records may be developed from the very passage 
of the genuine Nennius which we are considering, it may, on the 
other hand, be older than the time of Nennius.^ In any case, it 
seems probable that the compiler of the Annales^ or some prede- 
cessor of his, finding, or thinking that he found, in his source 
(whether or not' that source was Nennius) that Arthur carried the 
image of the Virgin on his shoulders, and finding also in the legend 
that victory over the pagans was granted him by virtue of the cross, 
concluded — perhaps with a suggestion from a Christian figure of 
speech — that it was more probable that what Arthur really carried 

^ See Mommsen, p. 200. 

2 Largely on the strength of this passage, Nennius's battle of the castle Guinnion 
has been located by Skene and others at Wedale (in Stow). 

^ There is no reason to suppose that the legend originated with the scribe of 
the Cambridge MS., or that it does not antedate the compilation of the Annales. 


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34 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

was th*e cross,^ and wrote it so in his jottings. Then the mention 
of three days and nights might easily get in from the rest of 
the Jerusalem legend. The transference of the episode from the 
eighth battle to that of Badon, whenever it may have been made, 
is explained on the general principle by which all the details of 
lesser events tend to be attracted to greater ones. 

There is no difficulty, then, in concluding that the statement in 
the Annales is merely an amplified version of that given by Nennius. 
The chief importance, in fine, of this first entry consists, as has 
already been hinted, in showing that at least as early as the tenth 
century Arthur had become for the Welsh an heroic legendary 
figure. With the whole subject hereby suggested it will be more 
convenient to deal later. ^ 

For the same reason we may here pass over the second entry 
also, with the mere observation that it shows, already developed, 
the tradition of a battle at " Camlann " in which Arthur was killed, 
and together with him a warrior named Medraut. But special 
notice should be taken that this is absolutely all the information 
which it gives. Whatever the author may have had in mind, he 
does not say that Medraut was Arthur's nephew, or a traitor, or 
even that he fought on the opposite side. 

This seems the natural place to mention a brief Chronicle of St. 
Michael's Mount ^ (similar in form to the Annales Cambriae), which 
was evidently composed by a Breton or some one with Breton sympa- 
thies, and (since it ends in 1056) possibly in the eleventh century. 
Its first entry, and that alone, relates to the Arthurian material : 

CCCCXXI. Natus est S. Gildas. His diebus fuit Artus Rex Britan- 
norum fortis, & facetus.* 

1 How the legend of Nennius and Geoffrey was later expanded is shown by 
Giraldus Cambrensis, who says (De Prin. Instr., Rolls Series, VIH, 126-127) that 
Arthur had Mary's image painted on the inside of his shield, and that he used to 
kiss its feet in battle. 2 gge pp. 96 ff., below. 

8 Ed. Labbe, Nova Bibliotheca Manuscriptorum Libroruniy Paris, 1657, I, 349. 
Delisle, in his edition of the Chronique de Robert de Torigni (Soc. de PHist, de 
Normandie, Rouen, 1872, II, 208, note), says that the manuscript is 213 of the 
library of Avranches. Migne reprints the chronicle. Patrol. Lat„ CCII, 1323. 

* The two following entries are similar to statements in Geoffrey's history, but 
disagree with it in date and otherwise : 

Digitized byCjOOQlC 

^thelweard 35 

If this really precedes Geoffrey, it merely affords another bit of 
testimony, only slightly different in character from others that we 
possess^ and less important than those already considered, of the 
fame of Arthur before Geoffrey's day. 


From the Britons, the task of preserving the historical records 
of what was thenceforth to be England, was destined to pass, with 
the possession of the island, to the Teutonic conquerors ; but with 
the exception of the authors of the Saxon Chronicle and of one com- 
paratively insignificant Latin writer, the very few and unimportant 
English chroniclers of the first three hundred years after the death 
of Bede were silent about the Arthurian material. The same is 
true of the more ambitious annalists in whom the spirit of his- 
torical composition began to revive at the end of the eleventh 
and the beginning of the twelfth century, — Marianus Scotus, 
Florence of Worcester, Simeon of Durham, and the latter's authori- 
ties. It was not until the twelfth century was well under way that 
the tradition received any real enlargement. So to the twelfth cen- 
tury we may soon pass on. But some attention must first be given 
to ^thelweard, the exceptional writer to whom reference has just 
been made.^ 

Of -^thelweard's life we know with certainty nothing except that 
he was descended from King ^thelred, brother of Alfred the Great. 
It seems probable that he is identical with the powerful ealdorman 
of the end of the tenth century,* whose relations with the well- 
known ecclesiastic -^Ifric were so close. 

DXIII. Venerunt transmarini Britanni in Armoricam, id est minorem 

D XX XIV. Occisus est Cauallonus Rex fortissimus majoris Britanniae. 

1 See pp. 98 ff. below. 

2 The text of i^thelweard is contained in Mon. Hist. Brit.^ pp. 499-521, with 
discussions by Hardy, pp. 81-83, 122-123; see also Hardy, Cat., I, 571-574. 
No. 1 160. 

8 T. Wright {Biog. Brit. Lit., A.-S. Period) follows Nicolson in putting iEthel- 
weard a century later. 


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36 Arthurian Material in Chronic ks 

In ^thelweard's very brief outline of the history of England 
from the creation to the year 975, he twice summarizes the story of 
the Saxon conquest. In the second instance he merely translates 
from the Saxon Chronicle^ with an occasional insignificant explana- 
tion or divergence. In the first, he follows Bede, but with varia- 
tions. He says that the Britons, hard pressed by the northern 
invaders, sent vast presents to the Saxons, of whose valor in piracy 
they had heard, and asked their aid. This was done especially by 
the advice of Vurthem, who was then held as king over all, and 
whose authority all the nobility allowed. Two youths, Hengist and 
Horsa, descendants of Woddan, came in three ships, were sent 
against the Scots, and conquered them. Honored by the king, 
they secretly sent home for their friends, informing them of the 
fertility of the land and the sluggishness of the people. The Saxons 
who came in answer to their summons were enthusiastically received 
by the Britons, who rewarded their services against the northern 
foes with gifts and honors. But at length the Britons, recognizing 
the ability of these allies, partly feared and partly despised them, 
broke the peace, and tried to drive them out. In the first battle 
which ensued, the Saxons were victorious, and now they sent openly 
to Germany for reinforcements, which came in great numbers. At 
length they entirely conquered the Britons.^ 

It seems probable that ^thelweard wrote with knowledge of the 
Historia Britonum, Bede does not say that the Britons were the 
first to break the peace, but Nennius distinctly asserts that they 
took counsel to do so. Very likely ^thelweard's remark that Hen- 
gist's first message to Germany for reenforcements was kept secret,* 
is an inference from Nennius's language, and there are also two 
minor coincidences of phraseology.* If it is asked why ^thelweard 

1 Here iEthelweaxd evidently notices that he has omitted a part of Bede*s 
material which he meant to use, and so returns to it, thus interrupting the conti- 
nuity of his narrative. In so doing he adds nothing to his original. 

2 Cf. p. 217, below. 

8 (i) iEthelweard says that the Saxons possessed astutiam^ and Nennius (37) 
that Hengist was " doctus atque astutus et callidus " ; w^hile Bede does not 
characterize leader or people at all. (2) Nennius says (37) that Hengist found 
Guorthigimus to be a regent inertenty and iEthelweard makes the message sent 


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William of Malmesbury 37 

should have taken so much from Nennius and no more, the answer 
must be that evidently, like many later writers, he regarded Nen- 
nius's narrative as fabulous, and preferred to draw, when possible, 
from Bede and the Saxon Chronicle, 

We may infer, then, that ^thelweard took these details from 
Nennius. It remains to explain the others not traceable to Bede, 
— the mention of the vast presents which the Britons sent to Ger- 
many, and the conception of the relations between Vurthern and 
the nobility. Apparently these were due to ^thelweard's fancy, 
which, we may conclude, applied to the period of the conquest con- 
ditions with which he was familiar in his own time. This supposi- 
tion is in harmony with the whole tone of his narrative and with 
the practice of later English chroniclers. It is possible, however, 
that -^thelweard found and used independent traditions, which may 
have been either vague or detailed, floating or written. This is a 
possibility which will have to be mentioned later in the discussion 
of Henry of Huntingdon and William of Malmesbury. But in any 
case ^thelweard adds nothing really significant to the Arthurian 
story, nothing at all which seems to have perpetuated itself in later 
versions ; and he does not even mention Arthur. His importance 
lies wholly in the fact that he serves as a kind of link between Bede 
and William of Malmesbury. 

III. William of Malmesbury 

We have now almost arrived at the period when the Arthurian 
story was to emerge, through the history of Geoffrey of Monmouth, 
from obscurity into world-wide popularity, which (increased by 
other influences) was to remove it in large measure from the field 
of history, real or supposed, to that of romance. This change, 
however, was not to be accomplished without intermediate steps, 
and we have still to consider the work of two chroniclers who, 
while allowing themselves a freedom of imagination and a very 
eclectic method in the choice of sources which dimly foreshadow, 

to Germany speak of the inertiam populi as well 2& fecundiam terrae^ while Bede's 
words are " insulae fertilitas ac segnitia Britonum." ' 


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38 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

and very likely actually suggested, the licentious procedure of 
Geoffrey, yet tried in the main to reconstruct the story of the 
Saxon invasion by judicial study of the existing authorities. One 
of these men was the writer who not unreasoniably claimed ^ to be 
the first worthy successor of Bede in the line of English historians, 

— William of Malmesbury. 

William of Malmesbury was born about 1095, probably in the 
south of England, from a marriage between members of the Norman 
and Saxon races. Brought up from childhood in Malmesbury Abbey, 
he soon rose to a prominent position among the monks. He was 
under the patronage of Earl Robert of Gloucester, brother of the 
Empress Matilda, and was acquainted with other powerful nobles. 
He had a special interest in Glastonbury Abbey, as is shown by 
his compilation De Antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae^ but he never 
permanently removed from Malmesbury, where he died about 1143. 
The first version of his Gesta Regum Anglorum^ — the only one 
among many works from his pen which concerns us at this point • 

— was finished in 11 25, and the later recensions exhibit no changes 
in the Arthurian material.* 

William's account of the Saxon Conquest * is based primarily on 
Bede, but he also uses the Saxon Chronicle and Nennius, and he 
has a touch or two which can be traced to Gildas. His general 
method, which is the most significant feature of his narrative, is to 
weave together as much as he finds convenient of the information 
which these writers afford. He aims to follow them closely, but it 
is evident that his compounded story must differ materially from 
that of any one of the originals. When they are contradictory, he 
is generally obliged to exclude the versions of all but one. Thus, 
he agrees with the Chronicle against Nennius in stating that the 
Angles had the advantage in the last three battles with Vortimer 

1 Gesta Regum, ed. Stubbs, II, 518, 567. 

2 The standard edition is that of Bishop Stubbs, Rolls Series, 2 vols., 1887- 
1889. For further discussion, see Morley, English Writers, III, 38-42. 

8 For the discussion of other evidence furnished by William, see pp. 98-99, 
103-104, 191, below. 

* As far as appears from the account given by Stubbs. 
6 Bk. i, §§ 4-8, pp. 7-12. 


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William of Malmesbury ' 39 

and in making Vortigern fight on the side of the Britons. These 
particular instances show that he writes with some critical discrimi- 
nation, and this appears again in his omission of Nennius's fabulous 
story about Vortigern's tower and all the details of his marriage 
with his daughter. 

Sometimes, however, William uses his sources carelessly and incon- 
sistently. Their disagreement causes him to fall into complete con- 
fusion in regard to Octa and Ebissa and their relation to Hengist.^ 
Moreover, he constantly adds, evidently from his own imagination, 
vivifying details, like the cavalry charge in the first fight of the 
Saxons with the Scots. Very likely it is on no other authority 
that he gives an entirely new version of the massacre of the British 
chiefs, according to which Hengist makes them drunk and then 
brings on a quarrel by taunting them. In the manner of Livy he 
introduces an account of the reasons which influenced the British 
council to call in the Saxons. Certain definite statements which he 
makes of the length of periods may be based on the Saxon Chronicle^ 
but some other variations from Bede and Nennius are deliberate 
changes made, as Stubbs says, in accordance with his " own impres- 
sion about the fitness of things." Thus, in describing the resist- 
ance of the Britons, William, though he adds no new information, 
alters completely the order of events as given in his sources. He 
represents Ambrosius and Arthur as fighting in conjunction during 
the reign of Vortigern * and before the massacre of the chiefs, and 
he says that Ambrosius was king after Vortigern's death.* Clearly 

1 Cf. bk. i, chaps. 7, 8, and 44, and bk. iii, § 287 (II, 342) ; cf. below, p. 158, 
p. 214, note 4. 

^ This explanation involves the assumption of error or inaccuracy somewhere. 
Between the coming of the Saxons and their first battle with the Britons Wil- 
liam makes an interval of seven years, and in this Henry of Huntingdon (bk. ii, 
chap. 3) agrees with him. Now the Chronicle says, six years ; but it is altogether 
possible that both William and Henry may have had copies which varied from 
those which have come down to us. Such errors as writing VI for V or vice 
versa (the dates are 455 and 456) are very common in manuscripts. Or, both 
William and Henry may have preferred to speak in round numbers, as William 
seems again to do when he assigns twenty years as the length of the war thus 
begun, though the Chronicle indicates eighteen (455-473). Cf. below, p. 159, 
with note 12. ' i, § 8. * Here he is doubtless trying to follow Nennius. 


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40 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

William is attempting to construct a continuous, reasonable, and 
interesting narrative out of the fragmentary and inconsistent mate- 
rials furnished by Bede and Nennius, and in so doing allows himself 
the utmost freedom.^ 

William does not add anything new to the definite substance of 
the Arthurian story, but certain points in his history of the period 
challenge our attention. At his first mention of Vortigern he lays 
such emphasis on the wickedness and worthlessness of that tyrant 
as to make it seem probable that this conception was current in 
his time, apart from the works of Nennius and Bede.^ We shall 
later find evidence to the same effect in other chronicles.' He also 
makes a very important statem^it in characterizing " the warlike 
Arthur": "This is the Arthur," he says, "concerning whom the 
idle tales of the Britons rave wildly even to-day, — a man certainly 
worthy to be celebrated, not in the foolish dreams of deceitful 
fables, but in truthful histories ; since for a long time he sustained 
the declining fortunes of his native land and incited the uncrushed 
courage of the people to war" (p. ii). He then goes on to speak 
of the battle of Badon, following the account of Nennius. The 
passage just quoted is specially noteworthy. It is one of several 
pieces of evidence, which will be discussed later,* that, before the 
time of Geoffrey of Monmouth, Arthur had attained in popular 
estimation (chiefly, it seems, among the Britons) a much greater 
importance than Nennius appears to ascribe to him. 

William's significance, then, in the development of the Arthurian 
material in the chronicles, with reserve of certain contributions 
which remain to be mentioned,^ comes from his characterizations 
of Vortigern and Arthur and especially from his method of using 
his sources. 

1 Cf. pp. 41, 261, 266, below. 

2 This current conception, however, may have originated from the accounts of 
these writers, at least in part. 

» Cf. below, pp. 167, 183, 184, 200, 206, 213, 228, 251, 254. Contrast pp. 232, 
note I, 234, 257, 258, 261. 

* See pp. 98 ff ., below. 

* See below, pp. 66 ff., 98-99, 103-104, 191. 


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Henry of Huntingdon 41 

IV. Henry of Huntingdon 

The second of Geoffrey's more immediate predecessors, Henry of 
Huntingdon, was probably born about 1084 in Cambridgeshire or 
Huntingdonshire. His father was an ecclesiastic, apparently a 
Norman, and Henry seems^ to have been brought up in the house- 
hold of Bishop Robert Bloet of Lincoln. About 11 09 the bishop 
appointed him Archdeacon of Huntingdon, and he held this office 
till his death in (or about) 1155. The first edition of his Historia 
Anglorum^ almost certainly appeared before 1133, and, though 
there were later recensions, these make no change in his account of 
the Arthurian period.^ It will appear later * that, when Henry dis- 
covered in Geoffrey's History new material for the early part of his 
work, he preferred to put it into an appendix rather than to incor- 
porate it into his original text. 

Fo^r purposes of genuine history, Henry's work is far inferior to 
William's. He had good ability, but was too much of a worldling, 
too indolent and too careless, to be thoroughly well-informed or 
trustworthy, and he often involves himself in contradictions. He 
doubtless thought that his lack of scholarly method (if he was con- 
scious of it) was compensated for by the rhetorical moralizing in 
which he often indulges. 

In his account of the Arthurian period* Henry takes his material 
wholly from Nennius, Bede, and the Saxon Chronicle, sometimes 
adopting their very words, and (like William) often piecing together 
fragments from several of them in such a way as to produce a very 
complicated mosaic. He often enlarges upon his sources, and with 
more freedom than William, partly or chiefly, it is evident, from his 
own invention. His narrative is much longer than William's, and 
he utilizes far more of the material which his sources afforded ^ ; 
but his general method is exactly the same, and it will therefore 
suffice to specify the most notable features of his version. 

1 Ed. Arnold, Rolls Series, 1879. 

2 See Arnold, p. xi. 

' See pp. 119 ff., below. 

* At the end of bk. i and beginning of bk. ii, pp. 36-49. 

* Henry makes particular use of version E of the Chronicle. 


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42 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Henry describes two of the battles with as much of vivid detail 
as if he himself had been an eyewitness. In this he is doubtless 
merely giving his imagination free play;* but it is just possible 
that he is following ancient Saxon tradition when he locates the 
fight of the Saxons against the Picts at Stamford. In one place he 
is more critical (or should we say less ingenious?) than William, 
since he rejects not only the tower story, but also the massacre of 
the British chiefs. Like William, when he comes to that part of 
the narrative which follows the death of Vortigem, he falls into 
hopeless confusion ; but his rearrangement of the material is alto- 
gether different from that of William, — a fact which might have 
been enlightening to those modem enthusiasts who have thought 
it possible to reconcile the accounts of Gildas, Nennius, and the 
Chronicle. He inserts his mention of Arthur between two entries 
from the Chronicle of the dates of 527 and 530 respectively, while 
William, by introducing Arthur before the death of Hengist, seems 
to put him forty years earlier. In recounting Arthur's exploits, 
Henry follows Nennius almost word for word; but he calls him 
" dux militum et regum Britanniae," while Nennius said only dux 
bellorum. It is quite possible that Henry had, no reason for making 
the change; but it is equally possible that he was influenced by 
popular tradition. If so, the case is interesting and significant, as 
showing that, before the time of Geoffrey, an Englishman could adopt 
an idea of Arthur which made him not only preeminent among 
Britons in his epoch, but actually supreme over the British kings. 

1 Guest (Orig. Celt.., II, 164) thinks that he may have drawn from old English 
war songs. But cf. Arnold, p. Iz. 


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An endless succession of chroniclers like William of Malmesbury 
and Henry of Huntingdon would hardly have sufficed to give to 
the British story of the Saxon Conquest any real literary interest. 
But William and Henry had not ceased to work upon the revision 
of their histories when the subject was taken up by Geoffrey of 
Monmouthy who imparted to it a vastly greater popularity, and, for 
literature, a vastly greater importance.^ 

I. Life of Geoffrey 

Little is known of Geoffrey of Monmouth except what can be 
gathered from a few incidental hints in his own writings.* He 

1 The standard edition of Geoffrey, though the text is poor, and the discussion, 
albeit of great merit, now largely out of date, is that of San-Marte (A. Schulz) : 
GottfrucTs von Monmouth Historia Regum Britanniae mit lit.-hist. Einleitung und 
Brut Tysylio in deutscher Uebersetzung, Halle, 1854. The text is merely reprinted 
from Giles, Historia Britonum ex novem codd. MSS,, Caxton Society, 1844. 
The editio princeps was by Ivo Cavellatus, Britannie utriusque Regum^ etc., Paris, 
1508 (here the text is divided into nine books instead of twelve); again, more 
accurately, Paris, 1517. Another edition by H. Commelinus in Rerum Britan- 
nicarum ScHptores^ Heidelberg, 1587, pp. 1-92. An English translation by 
A. Thompson, The British History ^ etc., 17 18; revised by Giles, 1842; also in 
Giles, Six Old English Chronicles^ Bohn*s Library, pp. 89-292. Lists of the 
manuscripts in Hardy, I, 341-350 ; and Ward, I, 222-250. I m^y note that I 
have found that the following manuscripts in the British Museum are mere 
abstracts or abbreviations of Geoffrey : Domit. A.x., No. 5 ; Nero, D.v., No. 3, 
^o^* 393-395 (Hardy, I, 43, No. 108) ; Harl. 6069, No. 3. 

2 The latest and fullest dis<;ussion of Geoffrey's life, and of the general ques- 
tions connected with his history, is that of Professor W. Lewis Jones, Trans, of 
the Hon. Soc. of Cymmrodorion, 1899, PP- 52-95 J also reprinted in a separate 
pamphlet, 1899. ^^^ ^^^ known documents are here cited. Other important 



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44 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

was born, probably, not far from iioo, and doubtless the Arturus 
which he himself joins to his name means that his father was 
so called. The Monumetensis which he also adds must signify that, 
as Welsh tradition asserts, he was either born or bred at Monmouth. 
Undoubtedly Geoffrey was by race a Welshman. Yet it has been 
held^ that his writings show only a superficial acquaintance with 
the Welsh language and that his education was chiefly in Latin and 
French. This, it is maintained, is only what we should expect ; for 
Urban (who was made Bishop of Llandaff in 1107) and his arch- 
deacon Uchtryd, Geoffrey's uncle and foster father,^ must have 
relied mainly upon Robert Earl of Gloucester and the Norman 
interest, to which they owed their places. Perhaps Geoffrey was 
actually brought up in the Benedictine priory founded by William I • 
at Monmouth. Here he might well have come under the influence 
of men who were specially versed in Breton traditions, since the 
first head of the institution was a certain Wihenoc, evidently a 
Breton, who brought over the monks from St. Florence, near Samur 
in Anjou. Whether these suggestions are true or not, the mention 
of a foster father shows, if the Gwentian Brut is to be trusted, that 
Geoffrey lost his own father in his infancy.* 

articles are those of Ward, I, 203-222, 278-286, and Madden (Archaological 
Journal, 1858, XV, 299-312). Not now significant are those of Morley in English 
Writers, III, 44 ff. ; Ebeling, Englands Geschichtschreiber, p. 12 ; Fabricius, BibL 
med. et inf. Latinitatis, VII, 28-33 » ^- Paris, Mimoire sur Pane. Chron., etc., et sur 
mist, des Bretons de Gau/reij etc., V^iis, 1865 ; Quarterly Review, June, 1826, No. 67, 
pp. 285 ff. ; San-Marte, Zur Kritik der Hist. Reg. Brit., in Neue Mittheilungen 
aus dent Gebiet hist.-antiquar., etc., Halle, 1857, IX, 49-75 ; T. Wright, Biog. Brit. 
Lit., Anglo-Norman Period. Many of the books included in the general bibliog- 
raphy, pp. 2-3, above, speak of Geoffrey more or less directly. A bibliography of 
more special books and articles will be given later (pp. 50-51). 

1 Ward, p. 205. 

2 According to the Welsh Gwentian Brut (Brut y Tywysogion, the Gwentian 
Chronicle of Caradoc of Llancarvan, with a translation by the late AneuHn Owen^ 
printed for the Cambrian Archaeological Association, 1863). 

8 As Jones guesses (p. 10). 

* The supposition that Geoffrey was brought «p in Normandy, though it has 
been adopted by high authorities, rests on an almost certainly erroneous identifi- 
cation of the " William son of Robert " to whom the Gwentian Brut says that 
Geoffrey was chaplain. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 45 

Geoffrey was an archdeacon, not at Monmouth, but probably at 
Llandaff. It is a necessary inference that he did not receive the 
appointment before 1140, the year in which his uncle Uchtryd was 
promoted to the bishopric. Geoffrey's advancement was probably 
due in part to the special favor of Earl Robert of Gloucester, to ^ 
whom he dedicated his Historia Regum Briianniae^ written about 
1136.^ This work soon attained immense popularity and doubtless 
brought Geoffrey considerable personal reputation. The Gwentian 
Brut (never to be greatly trusted) says that many scholars and 
chieftains sought his tuition. According to the same document, 
William, son of Earl Robert, appointed Geoffrey his family priest 

Geoffrey's real interest, as appears from the character of his writ- 
ings, was in his own promotion rather than in the church. It was 
doubtless for this reason that he dedicated to Bishop Alexander of 
Lincoln his Prophecy of Merlin^ published shortly before the Historia 
(in which it is also included); and it was probably about 1148, 
after the death of both the bishop and Earl Robert, that he put 
forth his poem the Vita Merlini^ with a dedication addressed appar- 
ently to Alexander's successor. Bishop Robert, who had influence at 
the court of Stephen. At last, after long waiting, he was appointed 
bishop of the unimportant see of St. Asaph's. It is significant of 
Geoffrey's aims, again, that he was consecrated as a priest only 
eight days before receiving this office, and that (according to the 
Gwentian Brut) he did not even visit St. Asaph's before his death, 
which occurred in 11 54. 

As a writer, Geoffrey was highly endowed. The ingenuity and 
boldness, and in a very true sense the striking originality, with 
which he handled the materials of his Historia, will soon be made 
plain. As a master of elegant and rhetorical Latin style he had 
few superiors in the Middle Ages. It is a decided proof of his versa- 
tility that, in addition to his prose work, he should have composed 

1 All the indications go to show that it was not published, nor written, before 
1 135, and the latest date which can be assigned is 1137, or possibly the early part 
of 1 138. See an article in Publications of the Mod. Lang. Assoc, of America, 1901, 
XVI, 461-469, where I have given my reasons for rejecting the opinion that 
Geoffrey ever made any regular revision of the Historia. 



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46 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

2l poem like the Vita Merlini, which, whatever faults, according 
to modern taste, are entailed by its thoroughly mediaeval plan, is 
nevertheless characterized by vigor, grace, and poetic feeling. It 
is no mere accident which has given Geoffrey his distinguished 
position as father of the real Arthurian tradition in English his- 
tory and literature. 

II. Outline of Geoffrey's Historia 

In Geoffrey's Historia^ as in the chronicles which we have 
already considered, and indeed in all that we shall deal with later, 
the Arthurian story is only . one of many constituent elements. 
Geoffrey's book is so important, however, that even those portions 
which do not relate to the Saxon invasion must be considered in 

After a description of Britain, Geoffrey begins with the story of 
Brutus, the so-called eponymous founder of the British race. He 
tells of Brutus's wanderings, of his wars in Greece, and of his trans- 
portation to Britain of a colony of Trojans whom he finds in cap- 
tivity among the Greeks, and to whom, as they are on th^ way, 
he joins another, with its leader Corineus. From Brutus, Geoffrey 
passes to an account of Brutus's descendants and later successors 
who ruled the island down to the Roman period. This account 
consists partly of mere lists of names ; and, indeed, of most of the 
successive kings very little is said. The bulk of the narrative is 
made up of romantic tales of war, love, and adventure. It contains, 
for instance, the story of Sabrina (ii, 4-5), to which Milton alludes ; 
of Bladud (ii, 10), magician as well as king; of Leir (ii, 11 ff.), 
immortalized by Shakspere; of Ferrex and Porrex (ii, 16); of 
Belinus and Brennius (iii, i-io), who conquered Rome; and of 
Gorbonianus and his four brothers, who ruled in long-continuing 
succession (iii, 16-18). 

Coming to the invasion of Caesar (iv), Geoffrey recounts at length 
the campaigns against King Cassibellaunus (i-io). He mentions 
several kings of the next period, including Arviragus, who first, 
fought against and then made alliance with the invading Emperor 
Claudius (13-16) ; Marius, in whose time the Picts came to Britain 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 47 

(i 7) ; and Lucius, under whom the island was converted to Chris- 
tianity (19 ff.). Then he tells of various Roman rulers of Britain, 
emperors and others, known to genuine history, including Constan- 
tine the Great (v, 6-8) and Maximianus. The latter, he tells us, 
invaded the continent, and gave the conquered province of Armorica 
to a British prince, Conan Meriadoc, who peopled it with Britons 
(v, 9-16). 

This brings the story to the time of the Pictish invasions, which 
Geoffrey describes at length (vi, 1-3). 

Relief from the barbarians is afforded to the Britons by the coming of 
Constantine (a descendant of Conan and brother of Aldroenus, King of 
Brittany) to rule over the island (vi, 4-5). Upon his death, Vortigern, 
Earl of the Gewissae, raises Constantine's son Constans from a monastery 
to the throne, has him assassinated by a Pictish body-guard which he 
has established ostensibly for Constans*s defence and usurps the kingdom 
(vi, 6-9). Aurelius Ambrosius, and Utherpendragon, the brothers of Con- 
stans, are taken for safety by their friends to Brittany. Now Geoffrey 
proceeds to give the story of the reign of Vortigern and the coming of the 
Saxons, practically in accordance with the account of Nennius, but with a 
great many additional details (vi, lo-viii, 2). Among the divergencies 
from Nennius need here be noted only the fact that the supernatural boy of 
the tower episode is called Ambrosius Merlinus, or simply Merlinus, and 
that book vii is made up of prophecies which Merlinus utters about -events 
destined to happen in Britain from the then present moment to a period of 
indefinite futurity. 

After this, Aurelius and Uther come from Brittany, and bum Vortigern in 
his last refuge, Aurelius having been crowned king by the nobles (viii, 1-2). 
Aurelius makes war on Hengist, who is captured in single combat by Eldol, 
Duke of Gloucester, the sole survivor (except Vortigern) of Hengist's 
massacre of the British chiefs, and executed by him in accordance with 
the sentence of EldoPs brother Eldadus, Bishop of Gloucester (viii, 3-7). 
Aurelius compels Octa and **Eosa" to surrender; restores churches; and, 
by the advice and with the indispensable aid of Merlin, has Uther bring 
from Ireland the circle of stones which Merlin sets up at Stonehenge for a 
sepulchral monument to the victims of Hengist's treachery (viii, 8-12). In 
another war Aurelius conquers Pascentius, son of Vortigern; and when 
Aurelius falls sick, Pascentius and Gillomanius, King of Ireland, are over- 
come by Uther (viii, 13-14). Before the battle, Uther sees a wonderful 
comet, which Merlin interprets as portending the rule of his descendants. 


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48 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Aurelius is poisoned by a treacherous Saxon, Eopa, an emissary of Pas- 
centius and Gillomanius. Uther then becomes king. He conquers the 
Saxons under Octa and Eosa; strengthens the realm; falls in love with 
Igerna, wife of Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall ; makes war on Gorlois ; by the 
devices of Merlin gains admission to Igerna's castle in the form of Gorlois, 
and begets Arthur. After the death of Gorlois in a sally from his castle, 
Uther marries Igerna. He once more conquers Octa and Eosa, and is 
finally, poisoned by the Saxons (viii, 1 5-24). 

With book ix begins the reign of Arthur : 

Anointed king at fifteen years of age, Arthur makes war on the Saxon 
leaders, Colgrin, Cheldrich, and Baldulph, and, with the help of Britons 
from Armorica led by his nephew Hoel, subdues them after several battles 
(not twelve), of which the last is that of pagus Badonis (1-4). Cador, 
Duke of Cornwall, destroys those of the enemy who escape from this final 
conflict, while Arthur marches north and crushes the Picts and Scots 
(5-7). After restoring his kingdom and dividing Scotland among its 
rightful monarchs (Lot, who has married Arthur's sister Anna, and Lot's 
brothers, Auguselus and Urianus), Arthur subdues Ireland and Iceland, 
and accepts the submission of Gothland and the Orkneys (8-10). To his 
court repair knights from all quarters of the world. All Europe fears him, 
and he resolves to conquer it. On behalf of Lot, rightful king of Norway, 
he invades that country, one of his young knights being Walvanus, son of 
Lot. He subdues Norway and Dacia (Denmark). Then he sails to Gaul, 
slays its tribune FloUo in single combat, is occupied for nine years in 
subduing it, and divides it among his lords (11). Returning to Britain, he 
assembles all his vassals on Pentecost at Urbs Legionum on the Usk, where 
he is crowned for the second time, amid scenes of the greatest splendor 
(12-14). On this occasion messengers come from Lucius of Rome, threat- 
ening Arthur (somewhat tardily, it should seem) for his invasion of the 
Empire. By the advice of his knights, he replies that he will come and 
conquer Rome (15-20). 

He sails with his army to Brittany, where in single combat with a giant 
on Mont St. Michel he avenges the death of Helena, the niece of Hoel 
(x, 2-3). Walgainus and two other envoys whom Arthur sends to Lucius 
bring on a desperate partial engagement, in which Petreius Cotta, the 
Roman leader, is captured. Next day the convoy in whose charge Arthur 
is sending the prisoners to Paris, is attacked by a force of Romans, who are 
at last defeated. Lucius tries to retreat in order to get reinforcements. 
Arthur blocks his way, and in a last great conflict (in which Walgainus, 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 49 

Hoel, and others of Arthur's knights, but especially Arthur himself, greatly 
distinguish themselves) Lucius is overthrown and killed. In this battle are 
slain Beduerus, Arthur's steward, and Cajus, his seneschal (4-13). Arthur 
is preparing to march to Rome when he learns that Modred, son of Lot, to 
whom he had entrusted Britain, has usurped the throne and made Ganhu- 
mara, Arthur's wife, his queen (13). Taking only his British and insular 
warriors, Arthur returns home. Modred has collected an army of Saxons, 
Scots, Picts, and Irish, and meets him as soon as he lands. In the battle 
that follows, Walgainus and many others are killed ; but Modred is driven 
back, and Ganhumara, despairing of safety, becomes a nun. Arthur follows 
Modred into Cornwall, and in a great battle Modred and most of the leaders 
on both sides are killed. Arthur himself is wounded "letaliter," and is 
carried to the isle of Avallon to be healed (xi, 1-2). 

To Arthur succeeds his kinsman Constantine, who conquers the sons of 
Modred and the Saxons (xi, 2-4). He is followed by Aurelius Conanus, 
Wortiporius, and Malgo. Malgo subdues the islands and countries of 
northern Europe {^-^)'^ In the reign of his successor, Careticus, the land 
is devastated by Gormund, King of Africa. There is a glorious revival of 
British power under Caduanus of North Wales, and especially under Cad- 
uanus's son Caduallo, who, after extreme reverses, conquers the Saxon kings 
and long rules at London as overlord of the whole island. Yet the recovery 
is only temporary. Caduallo's son, Cadualladrus, having fled to Armorica 
with many of the people, is forbidden by an angelic voice to return to the 
island, becomes a monk at Rome, and dies in the odor of sanctity. It is 
only the rule of Wales which he can delegate to his son Ivor and his nephew 
Iny. So ends the supremacy of the Britons. 

III. Geoffrey's Sources: (A) The "Liber Vetustissimus." 
Geoffrey's Purpose in writing the Historia 

Geoffrey's Historia was the first work in chronicle form to exalt 
the figure of Arthur above the other British leaders whom Nennius 
and Gildas had connected with the story of the Saxon invasion. 
It was the first to introduce into chronicle, from popular tradition 
and other sources, all those romantic features of the story of 
Arthur's reign which, in literature, have entirely superseded the 

1 " Sex comprovinciales Oceani insulas, Hybemiam videlicet, atque Islandiam, 
Gbdlandiam, Orcades, Norwegiam, Daciam, adjecit . . . potestati suae." 


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50 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

actual historic?il elements. As far as can be made out, Geoffrey 
was also the first story-teller, whether popular or learned, to picture 
Arthur in the light of a great world conqueror. It is abundantly 
evident, therefore, why in a study of the Arthurian material in the 
chronicles Geoffrey's work must occupy the most conspicuous place. 

Geoffrey's creative genius manifested itself rather in development 
than in sheer invention. Most of the raw materials already existed, 
and his distinction lay in gathering them together from all quarters 
and welding and transforming them into a unified whole whose total 
effect was very different from that of any of its parts. The study 
of Geoffrey's sources, therefore, is a far more complicated matter 
than the mere demonstration of the details which he added to the 
accounts of Gildas and Nennius. 

The investigation must begin with the much-debated problem 
raised by Geoffrey's own statements about his source.^ 

1 For the questions of the existence of the liber^ the credibility of Geoffre3r*s 
History^ and his own attitude in writing it, reference may be made to the books 
and articles in the following list, which is intended to be complete as regards 
important modem discussions (I have purposely omitted the chroniclers who 
are to be treated later) : John Price, Historiae Brytonum DefensiOy 1573; Leland, 
Codrus sive Laus et Defensio Gallofridi Ariurii^ published in his Collectaneay 
ed. 1774, V, 2 ; John Caius, De Antiquitate Cantabrigiensis Academiaey 1574, p. 53 
(cf. Howes, Historical Preface to Stow's Annates y ed. 1631, and Stow*s own 
Brief Proof pp. 6, 7) ; Camden, Britannia^ ed. 1 586, p. 360 (cf. Holland's trans- 
lation, ed. 1637, pp. 632-6^3) ; 'Ussher, Britannicae Ecclesiae Antiquitates^ 1687, 
Epist. Dedic. ; Sheringham, De Anglorum Gentis OriginCy Cambridge, 1670, pp. 8, 
124-134; Stillingfleet, Origines Britannicacy 1685, especially pp. 7, 77-78, 269, 
278, 318, 329, 334-344; W. Nicolson, The English Historical Library y 1696, 
pp. 94 ff., ed. 1 7 14, Part I, pp. 36 ff. ; Aaron Thompson, The British History of 
Geoffrey of Monmouthy 17 18, especially pp. vi-cxi; Wm. Wynne, Introduction to 
the History of Wales written originally in British by Caradoc of Llancarvan^ 
Englished by Dr. Powelly \'j''l^\ Warton, History of English Poetry, 1774, ed. 
Hazlitt, 1 87 1, I, 98 ff. ; Sharon Turner, History of the Anglo-Saxons y 1799, I, ed. 
of 1840, pp. 168-176; Ritson, Three Ancient English Metrical Romances, 1803, 
I, c ; W. Owen, Cambrian Biography y London, 1803, p. 145 ; de la Rue, Recherches 
sur les Ouvrages des BardeSy Caen, 181 5 (cf. Athenaumy No. 425), and Essais 
Historiques sur les Bardesy Caen, 1834, II, 155-158; Price, in Preface to 1824 ed. 
of Warton (Hazlitt's ed., I, 69 ff.) ; Herbert, Britannia after the Romansy 1836, 
pp. xxiv-xxxii ; P. Paris, Romans de la Table Rondey Paris, 1838. Cf. Ward, I, 
215-216; Wright, On the Literary History of Geoffrey of Monmouthy in Essays on 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 51 

Geoffrey begins his History by saying that, when he had happened 
to turn his attention to the history of the British kings, he was led 
to wonder that Gildas and Bede had said nothing of the kings who 
held Britain before the incarnation of Christ, and nothing of Arthur 
and very many more who succeeded after that time, although their 
deeds were worthy of eternal fame and were celebrated by many 
peoples "just as if they had been written."^ "While I was in this 
frame of mind," he goes on, " Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford, brought 
to me a certain very ancient book in the British tongue * which set 
forth, in unbroken order and in elegant style, the acts of all the 
kings from Brutus, the first king of the Britons, down to Cadwala- 
drus the son of Cadwalo. So, induced by his request, although I 
had not made a study of elegant language, nevertheless in my rude 
style I translated the book into Latin." Then he continues with 
his dedication to Robert of Gloucester. 

Again, in the letter to Bishop Alexander with which he introduces 
the seventh book (Merlin's prophecies), he says that Alexander has 
caused him to translate the prophecies from British {de Britannicd) 
into Latin. 

After he has mentioned the treason of Modred and Ganhumara, 
he begins book xi thus: "About this, illustrious Earl (i.e. Robert 

Archaological Subjects^ 1861, I, 206-209; Stephens, Literature of the Kymry^ 
1849, 2d ed. by D. S. Evans, 1876, pp. 296-308; San-Marte, pp. xiii £f. ; Hardy's 
edition of Jehan de Wavrin, Rolls Series, 1864, 1, lix; de La Borderie, VHistoria 
Britonum attribute d Nennius et VHistoriay etc., 1883, pp. 87 ff. (reviewed by 
Loth, Rev. Celt.y VI, 118-121 ; G. Paris, Rom.y XII, 367 ; Reynolds, Y Cymmrodor^ 
VII, 155-165; y\}^<tm2,XQ^^^ Br etagne et de Vendie^ January, 1884, pp. 23 ff.); 
Ward, I, 214-217, 425; Heeger, Uber die Troj aner sage der Britten, Munich, 1886, 
pp. 72-79 ; W. L. Jones, pp. 19-39. The following articles are concerned primarily 
with the significance of the words Breton, etc., but that discussion often involves 
Geoffrey's liber : G. Paris, Hist. Litt. de la France, XXX, 3-7 ; Zimmer, Gott. Gel. 
Anz., 1890, pp. 785-832 ; id., Ztsch. f. franz. Spr. u. Litt., 1890, XII, 231-256, 
especially pp. 255-256; and 1891, XIII, 1-117; Loth, Rev. Celt, 1892, XIII, 
488 ff.; Franz Piitz, Ztsch. f. franz. Spr. u. Litt., 1892, XIV, 161-210, especially 
pp. 161-162, 208-209; Lot, Rom., 1895, XXIV, 497-528, especially pp. 497-513; 
and 1896, XXV, 1-32 ; E. Brugger, Ztsch. f. franz. Spr. u. Litt., 1898, XX, 79-162 ; 
Lot, Rom., 1899, XXVIII, 1-48. 

1 "A multis populis quasi inscripta jucunde et memoriter praedicentur." 

2 " Quendam Britannici sermonis librum vetustissimum." 


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52 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

of Gloucester), Gaufridus Monemutensis will be silent. But as he 
found in the before-mentioned British work ^ and as he heard from 
Walter of Oxford, he will briefly narrate in his humble style what 
battles Arthur fought with his nephew." 

Finally, he ends his work with this chapter : " I leave the history 
of the kings of the people of Wales from that time (i.e. the time of 
Ivor and Iny) to Caradoc of Llancarvan ; and that of the kings of 
the Saxons to William of Malmesbury and Henry of Huntingdon. 
But I advise them to be silent about the kings of the Britons, since 
they have not that book in the British tongue which Walter, Arch- 
deacon of Oxford, brought out of Britain,^ and which, as a history 
truthfully written in honor of those princes, I have translated into 
the present Latin version." 

When these four passages are compared, the third seems to be 
not entirely consistent with Aie others; for, while they give no 
indication that Geoffrey drew from any source except the liber 
vetustissimusy this one mentions further information, apparently 
oral, derived from Archdeacon Walter. Still, the discrepancy is 
not serious. As a matter of fact, if there is any truth at all in 
what Geoffrey says about his sources, it is by no means the whole 
truth, as will s^oi;i appear, ajid perhaps he did not notice that his 
statements do not quite taUy.* On the whole, Geoffrey gives us 
to understand that he translated his work from a British original, 
supplemented by oral communications from Walter. His language 
as it stands, however, does not indicate that Walter told him about 
anything previous to the last battles of Arthur. 

Now, to say nothing of the fact that the form and tone and con- 
ception of Geoffrey's Historia are altogether different from anything 
that we have any reason to suppose would have been written by a 
thorough Welshman or Breton either before his time or long after, 
his account of his sources is so incomplete, to say the least, as to 
be absolutely misleading.^ Unless we are to assume that Walter 
had independent knowledge about widely separated facts of the 

1 Ut in Britannico praefato sermone invenit. 

2 Ex Britannia advexit. 

* This has been pointed out by many different scholars. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 53 

story (a very improbable assumption), it is evident that Geoffrey's 
libery if that was his only other source, could not have been very 
old, as he says it was ; for the Historia contains elements that could 
not have been put into any book very long before Geoffrey's own 
time. Such, for instance, is the mention of siege machines and 
Greek fire,^ which were not known in Western Europe before the 
time of the Crusades; and such are certain apparent borrowings 
from William of Malmesbury and Henry of Huntingdon, which will 
here be discussed later. Again, if the liber had been very old, it 
could not have been written in an elegant style,^ while Geoffrey 
protests emphatically that he has added nothing to the diction. 
It has been shown also, and will soon be pointed out here, that not 
only are the framework of the Historia and part of its substance 
taken from Nennius and Bede, but that in many places their words, 
and those of Gil das, reappear, sometimes with no change whatever. 
If, therefore, Geoffrey were following another original in these places, 
that original, which according to Geoffrey was in the British tongue, 
must have drawn from these sources; Geoffrey must have recog- 
nized the fact, and in translating from British into Latin he must 
have turned back to them and taken their language into his text. 
In that case he would have seen that the manner in which their 
accounts are combined in his own is absolutely destructive of the 
authority of any one of them and entirely incompatible with any 
consistent view of history. In short, it is impossible to doubt that 
Nennius, Bede, and Gildas were direct and important sources of 
Geoffrey's narrative. It is clear, then, th^t Geoffrey was guilty of 
what seems to be rather gross misrepresentation, whether inten- 
tional or not (a matter which must be considered later by itself), 
and the question arises whether there is any element of truth in his 
assertion, — whether he really had any British liber at all. 

In the first place, if such a work ever existed, no investigator has 
been able to find it, or if he himself thinks that he has done so, to 
convince others that he is right.^ Ever since the publication of 

1 i, 7. 2 Perpulcris orationibus (i, i, 14). 

* De La Borderie*s claim that he had discovered the source cannot be said to 
have been absolutely disproved, but it has gained very little credence. If estab- 
lished, it would have shown that Geoffrey's liber gave him, besides details not 


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54 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

the Historiay Geoffrey's statements have been the subject of much 
controversy. Some of the earlier critics, however, betray a not 
unnatural confusion of thought They ask not so m\ich whether 
Geoffrey could have had such a book^ as whether his narrative is his- 
torically true, believing that an affirmative answer would establish, 
and a negative disprove, the existence of the liber. The more 
intelligent investigations of modern scholars have merely confirmed 
the opinion of Geoffrey's first outspoken opponent, William of New- 
burgh,^ that the Historia consists largely of amplified British popu- 
lar traditions and myths. Now there is no evidence that Geoffrey 
may not have taken these elements, and possibly some others, from 
some sort of book in the British tongue, to which his statements, 
however misleading, may refer. This question can be more easily 
decided after a detailed examination of the contents of the Historia.^ 
Such an examination will make clear that the liber could not in any 
case have been a complete history, similar to that of Geoffrey in 
plan and conception ; or that, if it was, GeoflFrey did not follow it 
closely. Accordingly, the question of the liber is not of supreme 
moment in the study of Geoffrey's material, because the liber^ if it 
ever existed, was only one of many sources from which he drew.* 

Still, the question of the liber is of great importance in any con- 
sideration of Geoffrey's professional honesty and of the purpose 
with which he wrote. For we must either explain why he should 
have used such misleading statements, or look upon him as guilty 
of deliberate fraud. The latter view, which was that of William of 
Newburgh, has been very often held. As to the motives which 
might have actuated Geoffrey in addition to the ordinary desire for 
literary fame, it is quite possible, in the first place, that he was 

belonging to the Arthurian part of his narrative, the idea of Arthur's conquests 
in France ; how much more does not appear. I omit all discussion of Geoffrey 
Gaimar's obscure reference to " the good book of Oxford " of Walter the Arch- 
deacon (VEstorie des Englesy etc., ed. Hardy and Martin, Rolls Series, I, 275) ; 
for it is generally supposed that that really refers to Geoffrey's History^ and in 
any case the reference affords no tangible proof. 

1 See pp. 101-102, below. 

2 See p. 115, below. 

8 Most modem scholars deny the existence of the British liber. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth S 5 

directly stimulated to envy by the success of William of Malmes- 
bury and Henry of Huntingdon,^ who were also prottgks of Earl n 
Robert and Bishop Alexander, and whose histories certainly had 
some influence on his work. William of Newburgh proposed as 
efficient causes for Geoffrey's procedure, an inordinate love of lying 
and a desire to please the Britons. This latter motive is intelli- 
gible enough in a born Welshman, who may have wished to make 
other nations believe that the annals of his race were glorious. \i 
GeoflFrey wrote particularly for Robert of Gloucester ^ and the Nor- 
mans, he may well have counted on their credulity about the past 
history of their new home. 

All these suggestions, however, are only explanations of a pre- 
formed theory, and Geoffrey has never lacked defenders ; though in 
the present state of our knowledge most of their arguments must be 
abandoned, and it can at most be held that in making false or incor- 
rect statements Geoffrey was innocent of evil intent. This excuse 
is more forcible than might at first appear. In the first place, if 
we conclude that Geoffrey had access to a British book of some 
kind, his assertions were no more careless or unfounded than those 
which have been made by many other writers, — for instance, by the 
certainly well-meaning Bishop Percy. The argument is somewhat 
strengthened by the improbability that two ecclesiastics would 
stoop to unqualified mendacity in a matter not involving substan- 
tial benefit to themselves. Moreover, it is perhaps fair to say that 
if there was deliberate deceit. Earl Robert, as the patron of the 
book, must have been implicated, and that this is not likely to have 
been the case. If we assume, on the other hand, that there was no 
British liber at all, it may be urged * that in the twelfth century the 

iLot,^^., XXVII, 571. 

2 Cf. Lot, Rom.y XXVII, 570. See also p. 1 14, below. The idea seems perhaps 
substantiated by a phrase in the part of the dedication addressed to Gloucester 
in the peculiar Bern MS., " codicemque ad tuum oblectamentum editum." But 
Ward seems to me right in rejecting Madden's suggestion that Gloucester com- 
missioned the history, though I do not see adequate grounds for Ward's own 
conclusion that Archdeacon Walter made a rough cast of the whole work and 
handed it over to Geoffrey for elaboration. 

* As Stephens suggests and Jones argues. 


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56 Arthurian Materialin Chronicles 

fiction of drawing from a non-existent source was a mere conven- 
tion, and was so understood. To be sure, GeoflFrey lays reiterated 
emphasis upon his assertion, and for a long time it was very gener- 
ally believed ; but he is not to be blamed for being unusually clever 
or successful in a warrantable literary artifice. 

There is still another line of defense, more recent than the others, 
and not necessarily inconsistent with either, — namely, that Geof- 
frey's appeal to his liber is chiefly a joke.^ This would mean that his 
whole attitude, at times, was far from serious, and that he was willing 
that readers of penetration should understand that his so-called 
history was really a romance. Once or twice, indeed, a humorous vein 
seems to appear through the polished surface of Geoffrey's rhetorical 
Latin; especially in the first book, where he particularizes the 
number of Corineus's ribs broken in the wrestling match, — two on 
the right side and one on the left.* In such humor there must have 
been a touch of irony, and Geoffrey may have intended to satirize 
other books which laid ridiculous claim to ancient sources. If so, 
the mood was only temporary, and, indeed, almost everywhere it is 
evident that Geoffrey's artistic and patriotic instincts have crowded 
all others out of his mind. 

Whatever we may think, then, Geoffrey cannot be actually con- 
victed of intentional fraud, and his character must have the benefit 
of the doubt. We cannot assert positively that unworthy motives 
mingled, at the inception of his history, with the natural and laud- 
able ambition to produce a good piece of literature. The moment 
was opportune and the plan and method were well adapted to their 
end. For in his History Geoffrey did nothing less than to create 
the historical romance of Arthur for the mediaeval world. Indeed, 
considering the brilliancy of his idea and the immense success 
which he achieved, one might almost hold that, even had his inten- 
tions been other than honest, the result would excuse the means. 

^ Suggested by Ward and developed at greater length by Jones. 

2 i, 1 6, 34. Just possibly also in the places where he mentions a lord from 
Oxford whom he calls Boso^ which may be formed from the Latin word bos — ox 
(ix, 12; X, 4, etc.) ; very probably where he speaks of the liber as veraciter editus 
(xU, 20, 7). 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 57 

From this digression, and from the whole doubtful question of 
the libery we now pass naturally to the investigation of those sources 
of the History which can be definitely traced. 

IV. Geoffrey's Sources : (B) Nennius, Bede, and Gildas 

The outline already given indicates in a general way that ^ 
GeoflFrey's work is closely related to those of Nennius, Bede, and 
Gildas. Ever since San-Marte published his edition of the Historia, 
it has been evident that these are Geoffrey's chief extant written 
sources, though he uses them very much less after the beginning of 
the Arthurian period (or, more exactly, after the end of book vi) 
than before. A systematic examination will show more definitely 
the nature and the great extent of his indebtedness. It will show 
that, starting with their accounts before him, Geoffrey either delib- 
erately or unconsciously determined to follow the plan and order 
which, roughly speaking, is common to them all (at least in the 
Arthurian period) ; and furthermore, that he determined to make 
every possible use of the material which they offered, even to the 
most insignificant phrases.^ He begins, as they do, with a descrip- 
tion of Britain, borrowed from them, and he practically ends with 
Cadualladrus, who is the last king mentioned by Nennius ^ as ruling 
over all the Britons. That he should so have followed them is not 
strange ; for (whatever his object in writing) he must have wished 
to make his book appear as much like truth as possible, and they 
were the most widely recognized authorities. Besides, to invent the 
history of a race for several centuries is a task of no little diffi- 
oul'ty.® That Geoffrey did not draw in the same way from the 
later chroniclers (especially from William of Malmesbury and Henry 

1 As to the phrases, cf. especially i, 2. The most striking case of Geoffrey*s 
audacity in adopting his material is that in xii, 18, where, as has often been 
pointed out, he applies to his own wonderfully magnified Cadualladrus what Bede 
(v, 7) says of the death of the West Saxon Cadualla. 

2 Chap. 64. 

* This idea, I observe, has already been expressed by C. H. Pearson in his 
excellent running summary of the probable sources of Geoffrey's narrative 
{History of England during the Middle Ages^ London, 1867, pp. 619-625). 


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58 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

of Huntingdon) is equally natural, not only because they were his 
contemporaries and perhaps his rivals, but also because of their 
dependence upon Nennius, Bede, and Gildas in the Arthurian part 
of their histories, where alone their material would generally have 
been suited to his purpose. 

Closely as Geoffrey followed these three authors, there were both 
small details and great sections of their histories which, from the 
nature of the case, he was obliged to omit, though chiefly in the 
non- Arthurian portion. When they were inconsistent, too, he had to 
choose among them, — for instance, in his inevitable adoption of 
Nennius's patriotic partisanship of the Britons as against Gildas's 
violent denunciation of them,^ an attitude which with Geoffrey is 
exaggerated into a monstrous falsification of history. He intended, 
also, to produce a work of a very different character from that of 
Nennius, Bede, or Gildas, and he turned elsewhere for the great 
bulk of his material, which he proceeded to dovetail closely to the 
excerpts taken from them. The result is that such excerpts appear 
only occasionally in his completed fabric. This must be borne in 
mind in connection with what is now to be said of Geoffrey's manner 
in drawing from Bede, Gildas, and Nennius.^ 

Most often he takes from one of the three the general idea of an 
incident and expands it into a more vivid and minute account. In 
such cases, sooner or later, he is pretty sure to bring in a sentence 
or two almost verbatim, and sometimes, as in vi, lo (the story of 
the first coming of the Saxons, from Nennius, 31), he scatters such 
sentences all through the episode. He very seldom copies a sec- 
tion without noticeable change, at least in phraseology, for he gen- 
erally aims to improve the style; but a few such instances do 
occur, especially^ when he is drawing from Gildas's lamentations.* 

1 But Geoffrey shows traces of Gildas's influence in his last two books. 

2 Illustrations of many of the following points are best found in the non- 
Arthurian portions of the Historian because they are based so much more largely 
on these three authors. But it is important to make Geoffrey's method as a 
literary workman as clear as possible. 

8 Not, however, in the Arthurian portion of the narrative. 
* The fact that Geoffrey ever copied verbatim, or nearly so, may seem at first 
sight somewhat strange, since such a course might then (as now) have laid the 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 59 

Emphasis should be laid on the reconstructive skill and the capacity 
for selection which Geoffrey often displays in adapting and combining 
the statements of his sources. Sometimes, in particular, he recolors 
or rearranges for the sake of better motivation. Sometimes, also, 
he adds an explanation for an action which Bede, for instance, not 
having any more real knowledge on the subject than he, has felt 
obliged to leave in doubt. 

This brief general description of Geoffrey's method in utilizing 
these three narratives prepares the way for a detailed exposition of 
his indebtedness to them in the Arthurian part of the story. 

After drawing largely from Gildas's very words for an account 
of the Pictish invasions, Geoffrey (book vi) makes over from Bede 
(i, 11) the story of the reigns of Constantinus and Constans. Bede 
says that Constantinus (whose origin he does not indicate) was 
chosen emperor for the sake of his name; that he took his son 
Constans from the monastic life and gave him the title of Caesar ; 
that he made war in Europe and was killed there, and that his 
lieutenant Gerontius put Constans to death. Geoffrey introduces 
a new character. Archbishop Guethelinus, and gives an elaborate 
account of his mission to Brittany to fetch Constantinus, now rep- 
resented as the brother of Aldroenus, king of Armorica. He also 
describes the coronation of Constantinus at Silchester, his victory, 
and his reign, and makes Aurelius Ambrosius and Uther ^ his sons, 
as well as Constans. He describes Vortigern as raising Constans 
from a monastery to the throne,* and adds the account of Vorti- 
gern's usurpation, with the flight of Aurelius and Uther to Brittany. 

existence of his liber open to doubt. But if his attitude toward the liber was not 
one of dreadful seriousness, he may not have noticed (or may have been amused 
by) the inconsistency ; or he may have counted on the fact that most of those 
whom his Historia reached would not have at hand copies of Nennius, Bede, or 
Gildas, or at any rate might not think of consulting them ; or, finally, he may 
have been shrewd enough to see that verbal similarities to the standard authori- 
ties would excite respectful wonder rather than suspicion. 

1 Another new character. 

2 In representing Constans as crowned by Vortigern and not by an ecclesiastic, 
Geoffrey perhaps got a hint from the remark of Gildas (chap. 21) that kings were 
then anointed not per deum but for their crimes. 


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6o Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

This latter detail explains the statement which Geoffrey now takes 
from Nennius (in whose narrative it was entirely enigmatical), that 
Vortigern was in fear of Ambrosius. 

It is to Nennius that Geoffrey turns for the main ideas, many of 
the particulars, and even some of the language, in his account of 
the reign of Vortigern ; and in all the rest of the Arthurian period^ 
apart from the general idea of the reign of Aurelius, he has only 
comparatively insignificant touches from Bede and Gildas, namely : 
(i) the name Aurelius, which they (in the form Aureli?inus), but 
not Nennius, apply to Ambrosius; (2) the mention (vi, 10, 54-56) 
of the Saxons' actual victory over the Picts,. which seems to come 
from Bede (i, 5) ; (3) the statement that the Saxons were sent away 
from Germany by lot, which looks as if it might be suggested by 
Gildas (secundo omine auguriisque)^ but with which Geoffrey com- 
bines Nennius's idea that they were driven out as exiles ; (4) pos- 
sibly the statement that, immediately upon the arrival of the Saxons,. 
Vortigern agreed with them that they should fight against the 
northern barbarians in return for their living (Bede) ; ^ (5) the 
notice (chap. 13) of the mission of St. Germ anus (Bede) ; (6) prob- 
ably, in part, the suggestion of the animal figures in the prophecy 
of Merlin, from those which abound in the latter part of Gildas's 
work.^ One particular detail in the prophecy also comes from 
Gildas. The latter said obscurely (chap. 23) that the Saxons came 
to Britain under a prediction that they should possess it three hun- 
dred years and devastate it for one hundred and fifty. Geoffrey 
drags this in inappropriately (vii, 3, 48 ff.) by stating in that part 
of the prophecy which immediately precedes the reference to the 
Norman invasion that the German snake shall be in trouble for a 
hundred and fifty years and bear sway for three hundred. In ix,. 
12, 12, also, Geoffrey uses language not unlike that which he copied 
from Gildas in i, 2, 16-17.' 

To Nennius's story of the first part of Vortigern's reign, up to 
the wars of Vortimer (Geoffrey, vi, 10-13 ; Nennius, 31-38), Geoffrey 

1 This is Geoffrey's account, although he agrees with Nennius in saying that 
the Saxons came by chance, not by invitation. 

2 But cf. below, p. 87. 

8 For a possible further suggestion from Gildas, see below, p. 81. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 6i 

adds: (i) the conversation of Vortigern and Hengist about the 
Saxons* gods ; ^ (2) Hengist 's pretence that he wished to send for 
more Germans because Vortigern's enemies were actually threat- 
ening Vortigern ; (3) Hengist's stratagem of getting ground for 
a castle by the bull's hide trick; (4) The drinc heil! episode 
at Hengist's feast ; (5) the name of Hengist's daughter, Rowen ; 
(6) the figure of Childrich, with Geoffrey a subordinate Saxon 
leader.^ He omits (i) the miracles of Germanus ; (2) the mention 
of the Britons* requesting the Saxons to depart before any trouble 
had actually broken out ; (3) the statement that Hengist perceived 
the cowardice of the British race ; (4) the account, though not the 
suggestion (vi, 13, 15), of the expedition of Oct a and Ebyssa 
against the Scots ; and (5) all allusions to Vortigern's incest. 
Many of these variations are merely accidental, but that is not 
true of the omission of the Scottish expedition and of the reduction 
of the role of Germanus to one of absolute unimportance. These 
changes are evidently due to Geoffrey's desire to unify, and to 
produce a vivid and dramatic narrative. He takes pains also to 
develop the character of Vortigern and to bring out the craftiness 
of Hengist. He would have gained in unity if, for instance, he 
had left out St. Germanus altogether; but that was too material 
an alteration to be expected of a mediaeval writer. 

Geoffrey now changes the order of events, with excellent judg- 
ment, by postponing the story of Vortigern's tower.^ He says that 
the Britons, in disgust at Vortigern's infatuation with his wife's 
kindred, chose Vortimer for king. He naturally omits the sugges- 
tion that there were other kings at this time. His atcount of Vor- 
timer's four battles differs only in insignificant details from that of 
Nennius; but he adds a lively touch by saying that the Saxons, 
after their last defeat, sent Vortigern to Vortimer, asking permis- 
sion to depart, and that, while the negotiations were going on, they 

1 Suggested by a passage in William of Malmesbury ; see pp. 69-70, below. 

2 From the version in the Saxon Chronicle^ probably through Henry of 

8 Perhaps taking the suggestion from William of Malmesbury's postponement 
of the slaughter of the British chiefs. 


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62 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

made of! and went to Germany. In this he affirms unmistakably 
(as neither Bede nor Nennius had done, though Gildas had said 
the same thing unplausibly) that the invaders were actually driven 
from the country. He inserts also a description of the prosperity 
of Vortimer's reign ^ and the story of his being poisoned by his 
stepmother. To the legend of his burial he adds that he was actu- 
ally entombed in Trinovantum^ (chap. 14). In the episode of the 
massacre of the British chiefs (chaps. 15-16) he enlarges greatly 
on Nennius (chaps. 45-46). He inserts at this place the statement 
which he had before omitted, that the Britons planned to expel the 
Saxons ; specifies the number of the Saxons as 300,000 ; and adds 
the pretence of Hengist that he brought so many men because he 
thought that Vortimer was still alive. He inserts also the figure 
and the exploits of the valiant Eldol, who, before escaping, kills 
many Saxons with a stake which he happens to find. Geoffrey sets 
the number of Britons killed at ** about 460,** instead of 300, and 
does not indicate just what regions Vortigern gave up, though he 
does name some cities which the Saxons took. 

Now comes the narrative of Vortigern's tower, with the finding 
of Merlin (whom Geoffrey substitutes for Nennius's Ambrosius 
Guletic) and the fight of the dragons (vi, 17-19; vii, 3). This 
follows the source much more closely than any other passage of 
considerable length in the whole Historia, But Geoffrey adds the 
name of the boy who was disputing with Merlin (Dinabutius),' and 
an account of how Merlin was conceived, with the philosophical 
explanation (suggested by a certain Maugantius) that the father 
might have been an incubus.* Geoffrey, more consistent than 

1 Nennius does not say definitely that Vortimer was king. 2 i g. London. 

• The printed texts have Dabutius, but, though this name, like almost all the 
others, was much and variously corrupted in the various manuscripts and versions 
of Geoffrey, their forms leave no doubt that he wrote Dinabutius. Dinabutius 
appears, for example, in MSS. Tit, CXVII; Bibl. Reg. 13, D. v, and 14, C. i.; 
Arund. 10; Bodl. Rawl. 150. Inevitably, some manuscripts have Dinabucius^ as 
BibL Reg. 4, C. xi ; Cleop. A. i. ; the metrical Gesta Reg. Brit, (see below, 
pp. 166 £f.). Wace reads Dinabus (nominative). 

* This (San-Marte, p. 331) may have been drawn from Bede {JDe Element. Philos.y 
bk. i), who is drawing in turn from Plato and St. Augustine ; or Geoffrey may 
have taken it from current superstition. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 63 

Nennius, is careful to omit the boy's claim to be the son of a 
Roman consul (which, however, he has taken pains to use before 
in speaking of the parentage of Ambrosius, vi, 5, 7). In general 
he heightens the reality and effectiveness of the scene, though in 
this passage Nennius is notably vivid. The rest of book vii con- 
sists of the prophecies of Merlin, which are entirely independent 
of Nennius. The account of the death of Vortigem (viii, 2) is 
suggested by Nennius's first version (chap. 47), since fire is the 
agent in both cases ; but Geoffrey takes the incident out of the 
realm of the supernatural and speaks only of fire used by the men 
of Aurelius and Uther. For the story of the reigns of these two 
kings and the accession of Arthur (viii; ix, i) Geoffrey is inde- 
pendent of Nennius as well as of Gildas and Bede, except for 
the mere names Aurelius, Pascentius (as Vortigern's son), Octa, 
Ebyssa, and Arthur. It is especially to be noted also that, in order 
to make a continuous narrative, he follows a single vague hint 
from Nennius instead of the more explicit indications of Gildas 
and Bede, and makes Aurelius succeed Vortigem. His transfer- 
ence of the activity of Octa and Ebyssa into the reigns of Aurelius 
and Uther is also a decided innovation. 

Geoffrey utilizes Nennius's list of Arthur's battles as a basis, but 
merely as a basis, for his greatly expanded account of the first 
part of Arthur's reign, which is occupied with exploits against the 
Saxons. He introduces Colgrinus as leader of the Saxons, and, 
soon after, Baldulphus and Cheldricus, all of whom are unknown to 
Nennius. He omits Nennius's first battle, that of the Glein, and 
condenses into one (ix, i) the four which Nennius put at the 
Duglas. Evidently he takes the river for the Duglas in Lancashire, 
for he makes Colgrinus flee from the battle into Eboracum. Then 
Geoffrey inserts many details, including a retreat of Arthur to 
London. For Nennius's sixth battle, at the river Bassas, he substi- 
tutes (ix, 3) one at Lincoln, after which he introduces Nennius's 
seventh, that of the Caledonian forest. In connection with this, 
he inserts an account of the Saxons' surrender ; and then, passing 
by four of Nennius's battles, he comes (ix, 4) to that of Badon, 
which he identifies with Bath. Like William of Malmesbury, 
Geoffrey connects with the battle of Badon the mention of Arthur's 


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64 Arthurian Material in Chr0nicles 

wearing the image of the Virgin, which Nennius brought in earlier. 
Here Nennius terminates Arthur's campaigns, but with Geoffrey all 
this is only the beginning. He takes Arthur at once into Scotland, 
and there (ix, 6, 7) he brings in from Nennius's tnirabilia the account 
of the two wonderful lakes and of the phenomena at the mouth of 
the Severn, which he represents as a lake. This is the last use which 
he makes of Nennius. 

Just after the death of Arthur, in a section of which the first part 
is closely connected with the Arthurian story, Geoffrey returns to 
Gildas. Here we have a remarkable illustration of his freedom in 
treating his sources. Gildas, as has been said, utters violent diatribes 
against five Welsh chiefs(chaps. 28-30), whom he represents, evidently 
in deadly earnest, as being alive at the time when he writes, and there- 
fore as all contemporaneous and mere tribal leaders. Geoffrey intro- 
duces four of these chiefs, but makes them successive rulers of the 
whole British population. The first of them, Constantinus, he calls 
the son of Cador, Duke of Cornwall, and has it that he owed his 
elevation to the throne to Arthur's appointment. He transforms 
(xi, 4) the two boys of royal blood whose sacrilegious slaughter (by 
Constantinus) Gildas denounces, into the sons of Modred, and says 
that they had continued the war against the Britons.^ 

Mention must be made also of the possibility that it was from 
Nennius's and Bede*s inclusion of St. Germanus that Geoffrey took 
the idea of introducing into his story the figures of Welsh saints, 
some of whom appear in the Arthurian period.^ For this procedure 
Nennius's use of biblical characters to fix the dates of some of his 
events may have been supplementarily suggestive. It is possible, 
moreover, that the name of Geoffrey's Archbishop Guethelinus, 
who goes to Brittany to get aid and brings back Constantinus, the 
father of Aurelius, was suggested by the Guitolinus whom Nennius 
mentions as an enemy of Ambrosius. 

From what has been said it is evident that Geoffrey was far 
more deeply indebted for material to Nennius than to Gildas. If 
we consider the Historia as a whole, his obligation to Bede, also, 
was much greater than to Gildas; though this is not true of the 

1 Cf. below, p. 158. 2 See below, pp. 77 ff. 


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Ge0ffrey 0/ M^nm^utk 65 

Arthurian period, where he could not have taken from Bede, with 
a very few slight exceptions, anything that is not also given by 
Gildas. This limitation in the use of Gildas was to be expected. 
What was available in Gildas, except for occasional phrases and a 
hint of the kings after Arthur, was almost entirely general descrip- 
tion, which, though it lends itself especially well to verbatim 
adaptation, is comparatively unimportant in the development of 
the narrative. Probably that part of his Historia for which Geoffrey 
is indebted to Bede is about the same in. bulk as that which he 
takes direct from Nennius ; but this is by no means true of the 
Arthurian period. Further, he does not transfer nearly so much 
directly from Bede, while the significance of what he does take is far 
less than in the case of Nennius. To Bede Geoffrey owes little but 
the story of the Roman rulers from Caesar to Constans, perhaps the 
suggestion of the story of Aurelius Ambrosius (which Bede copied 
from Gildas), and the accounts of the battles in the reign of Cad- 
uallo. From Nennius he takes the main data in the story of 
Brutus ; the settlement of Brittany by Britons, which opened the 
way for all that he says about the Armoricans after the time of 
Constans ; the outline of the whole account of the reign of Vorti- 
gern, with the tower and the supernatural boy; the basis for his 
narrative of Arthur's campaigns against the Saxons ; and the 
description of the wonderful lakes.^ In another sense Nennius 
must be called Geoffrey's chief ascertainable authority; for in 
every possible case except that of the Roman rulers, Geoffrey 
follows his story in preference to any other. 

Besides showing just how much Arthurian material Geoffrey 
(and through him the later chroniclers) derived from Bede, Gildas, 
and Nennius, the examination just concluded makes it clear what 
processes — dismemberment, transference, adorning, and interpola- 
tion — we must suppose Geoffrey to have used in dealing with his 
other sources, many of which, if they were ever written, we no 
longer possess in the form in which he had them.^ 

1 Possibly, also, the hint for Uther (see p. 89, below). 

2 Before leaving this subject, something must be said of the cases in which 
Geoffrey mentions Gildas by name. Besides three citations of Gildas as his 


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66 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

V. Geoffrey's Sources: (C) William of Malmesbury and 
Henry of Huntingdon 

It has already been said that Geoffrey did not draw material from 
the works of William of Malmesbury and Henry of Huntingdon 
in any such way as he borrowed from Nennius and Gildas; but 
also that it may have been their histories which first gave him the 
idea of writing his own. This latter hypothesis is extremely prob- 
able on a priori grounds, since the works of William and Henry 
appeared only a few years before Geoffrey's, and he himself directly 
mentions them as historians,^ — to say nothing of the possibility 
that William's remark about Arthur's being worthy of celebration 
in truthful histories may have struck Geoffrey's fancy.^ But there 
are more definite arguments to the same effect. 

In the first place, apart from the general resemblance which was 
sure to exist between any two twelfth-century chronicles, the literary 

authority (i, i, 3; vi, 13, 9; and xii, 6, 12: in the last two cases he probably 
means Nennius), Geoffrey asserts: (i) that Gildas wrote at length of the quarrel 
between Lud and Nennius about the change in the name of Trinovantum (i, 17, 
14); (2) that he translated the Molmutian laws from British into Latin (ii, 17, 29; 
iii, 5, 20), adding that King Alfred translated them into Anglo-Saxon ;'and (3) that 
he wrote a book on the victory of Aurelius Ambrosius, which contained the 
names and acts of the holy men who came back to Britain with Faganus and 
Duvianus (iv, 20, 5) — a statement which passed current for centuries. Now, while 
it is impossible that Gildas wrote anything about the missionary legend (which 
did not exist in his day), and while it is unreasonable to suppose that he was the 
author of the other works mentioned, it is possible that such works were extant 
in Geoffrey's time and went under the name of Gildas. On the other hand, no 
previous author is known to have referred to them, and there is no evidence that 
any one before the etymologizing Geoffrey ever heard of a quarrel between Lud 
and Nennius, or even of this Nennius himself. In making two of these allusions 
Geoffrey adds a self -depreciatory remark about his own rude style (i, 17, 15-16; 
iv, 20, 6-7), which at once suggests that his mood is humorous. It seems most 
probable, then, that the works are creations of Geoffrey's playful imagination, 
and the same is probably true of a certain book on the exile of the Welsh saints 
(author unnamed) which he signifies his intention of translating (xi, 10, 12). 
Geoffrey names Bede in i, i, 3 and xii, 14, 2, where he makes a very careless 
mistake (cf. Bede, iv, 15). 1 In his last chapter. 

2 Suggested by Wright, Essays on Archaological Subjects, I, 224. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 67 

manner of Geoffrey's history as a whole is especially similar to that 
of William. The latter often digresses from the straight path of 
narrative to describe picturesque scenes, to quote letters and 
speeches, or to give information about famous cities and persons. 
Geoffrey does all of these things. He indulges his imagination to 
the utmost in writing of the coronation of Arthur, pauses to describe 
the city of Usk, repeats many speeches of the leaders in various 
battles, and gives at length the letters of Lucius, Caesar, and Cassi- 
bellaunus. Even Geoffrey's bare lists of kings are only a little 
barer than some which William introduces,^ and Geoffrey's super- 
natural incidents (such as Arthur's dream ^ and the appearance of 
Uther's comet) are of a piece with the dreams and celestial portents 
of which William's pages are full. 

Moreover, there is one large section of Geoffrey's Work which 
may be imitated more directly from both William and Henry. This 
is the account of the Saxon wars of Aurelius, Uther, and Arthur. 
Here some things are taken from Nennius, but the general character 
of the narrative is quite different from anything in his work, and 
exactly like that of the story of the Danish invasions as told by 
William and Henry.' The barbarians, driven off once, reappear at 
another time and place, now in the North, now in the South; the 
use of fleets is made especially prominent ; the British kings have 
to march hastily from one part of the island to another to oppose 
the foe, and are forced to carry on continuous campaigns, now 
advancing and now retreating ; the sieges of cities are mentioned, 
and the faithlessness of the invaders, which Henry emphasizes, 
is sometimes indicated. These wars are somewhat differently 
described, it is to be noted, from the later aggressive ones of 
Arthur, in which little is said of the strategic conduct of the cam- 
paigns, and which bear some resemblance to the wars of the Nor- 
man period, as related by William and Henry. Thus, consciously 
or unconsciously, Geoffrey seems to have divided his history into 

1 For example, i, 72. ^ x, 2. 

8 Though the possibility ought to be mentioned that Geoffrey may have known 
the accounts of the Danish invasions in Asser, iEthelweard, Florence of Worces- 
ter, and Simeon of Durham. 


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68 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

periods which correspond to those described by his two immediate 

The influence exerted upon Geoffrey by William of Malmesbury 
and Henry of Huntingdon was not confined to the general features 
just mentioned. Certain particular episodes in their histories 
appear to have given him suggestions of method or to have fur- 
nished him with serviceable details. Especially important among 
these episodes is Caesar's invasion, as described by Henry.^ In 
the first place, Henry, so far as we know, is the only writer, before 
Geoffrey, who introduces Lud (or, as he calls him, Liud) as a rela- 
tive of Cassibellaunus. Nennius, through a series of clumsy errors,^ 
stated that Belinus, whom he puts in the place of the historical Cassi- 
bellaunus, was the son of Minnocaunus. Henry makes Belinus and 
Cassibella[u]nus brothers and substitutes Liud for Minnocaunus.' 
It is impossible to maintain that Geoffrey knew Lud first or chiefly 
from Henry, partly because Geoffrey makes Lud Cassibellaunus*s 
brother instead of his father, but especially because, in introducing 
him, Henry must have been drawing, in some way or other, from 
a popular tradition which was equally accessible to Geoffrey. Lud 
is undoubtedly an ancient mythological figure,* identical with 
"Ludd of the Silver Hand" of Welsh literature. Henry may or 
may not have been following tradition when he substituted Lud for 
Minnocaunus. In either case, he had taken into his history a figure 
which Geoffrey, when he found it there, must have recognized as 
belonging to Welsh popular stories and very likely to fabulous 
Welsh historical traditions, — and Geoffrey introduced this same 
figure at the same point in his narrative. 

More than this, Geoffrey's whole account of Caesar's invasion 
resembles that of Henry in several respects. Henry indulges his 
fancy for expanding the dry data of his authorities into an animated 
narrative. He says that Caesar saw that the Britons must be con- 
quered by stratagem rather than by valor ; he inserts a speech by 

1 i, 12-14. ^ See Zimmer, Nennius Vindicatus^ pp. 271-274. 

8 He gets the figure of Cassibellaunus from Bede, i, 2. 

* This is certain, whether all Professor Rhy s's speculations about him are correct 
or not {Hibbert Lectures^ pp. 1 19-130 ; cf. Loth, Mabinogion, I, 252, note 2, 265). 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 69 

Caesar ; and he quotes a line from Lucan. Geoffrey also expands 
greatly, gives a speech of Caesar,^ makes the Britons succumb only 
to treason,^ and quotes a line from Lucan. This last point is 
especially significant. There is only one other place in which 
Geoffrey quotes* poetry, and that is only a few chapters farther 
on.* The parallel is prettily completed by the fact that the only 
other bit of poetry quoted in Henry^s first book (the only other 
bit, indeed, which he quotes from any classical writer in books i-iv) 
comes in directly after this episode. ** It looks very much as if 
Geoffrey saw Henry's account and was seized with the idea of 
bettering it, — as if he said to himself that he too could make a 
romance out of a few bald facts, could invent a Livian speech, and 
could quote Latin poetry. 

Now there is certainly nothing impossible in the hypothesis that 
it was when Geoffrey first read this particular passage — the only 
very prominent one so imaginatively embellished in all Henry's 
work before the end of the Saxon Conquest — that he conceived 
the idea of writing a history of all the British kings in romantic 
form and with material from popular stories. The argument is 
strengthened by the fact that Geoffrey, though he adds details, 
agrees with Henry in introducing ® King Coel of Colchester as the 
father of Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great. Here, as 
well as in the other case, he was doubtless acquainted with the 
same traditions which Henry utilized, but it is still true that to 
Henry belongs the priority, both in general method and in the use 
of these particular traditions. 

We come now to cases where Geoffrey took over some more 
specific detail directly from William or Henry. The most certain 
instance of all is a borrowing from William. In his account of the 
coming of the Saxons, William, after mentioning Woden, says that 
to him the Angles " quartum diem septimanae, et sextum uxori suae 

* Though, to be sure, the circumstances are different. 

* Though this idea doubtless belonged to British tradition. 

* He has also some lines (apparently original with himself) in the first book. 

* iv, 16 (a line and a half from Juvenal). 

* Chap. 16 (a line from Virgil). * v, 6. 


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Freae, perpetuo ad hoc tempus consecraverunt sacrilegio." GeofiFrey 
makes Hengist say to Vortigern that to Woden our ancestors " dica- 
verunt quartam septimanae feriam, quae usque in hodiernum diem 
nomen Wodensdai . . . sortita est. Post ilium colimus deam inter 
caeteras potentissimam, nomine Fream, cui etiam dedicaverunt 
sextam feriam, quam de nomine ejus Fridai vocamus." Apart from 
the mention of continuity, the fact that both authors select the 
same two days, and those only, out of a possible six, seems a con- 
clusive indication that Geoffrey drew from William.^ Layamon 
later ^ took the very natural step of adding the names of the other 
days also. 

A less certain case of apparent borrowing from William is this : 
Both in the Gesta Regum^ and in the Gesta Pontificum^^ William 
quotes a letter from Albinus (Alcuin) to* king "Eielredus," in which 
he refers to a heavenly warning in the shape of a shower of blood 
{pluvia sanguinis) which has fallen at York. Geoffrey twice men- 
tions such a shower. He says ^ that a pluvia sanguitiea fell in the 
time of King Rivallo, and he includes a sanguineus imber^ among 
Merlin's prophecies. Alcuin also mentions the change of a foun- 
tain from water into blood, — an idea which Geoffrey uses twice in 
the ProphecyJ But it is theoretically possible that Geoffrey may 
have drawn direct from Alcuin's letter ; or the episode may have 
been preserved in popular tradition and apocalyptic writings; or 
Geoffrey may have known similar but not directly related stories. 

It is possible that Geoffrey took from Henry the suggestion for 
his statement ^ that when Uther was sick he made Lot commander 
against the Saxons, and that Lot, after much fighting, was unsuc- 
cessful. For, while Henry has nothing of Lot, he does say (drawing 
from the Saxon Chronicle) at a point about corresponding,* that the 
British King Nazaleod was killed by the Saxons in a great battle. 

^ Geoffrey, vi, lo; William, i, 5. 

2 See p. 151, below. 

8 i, 70, ed. Stubbs, Rolls Series, I, 73. 

* Prologue to bk. iii, p. 209, of Hamilton's edition, Rolls Series, 1870. The 
whole letter is given in Mon. Germ. Hist.^ Epistolae, IV, ed. Diimmler, 1895, 
pp. 42-43- ^ vii, 3, 29. 8 viii, 21. 

^ ii, 16. "^ vii, 3, 116, 140. ® ii, 13. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 7 1 

No other source of any kind for Geoffrey's episode is known,^ and 
the resemblance between the last syllable in "Nazaleod" and "Lot" 
was quite enough to strike his active imagination. 

In the other instances which can be mentioned, Geoffrey's debt 
to Henry consisted, if it is really a fact, in merely taking a hint 
for a phrase or episode and applying it at a different place, wher- 
ever it would prove most useful. In such cases it is not necessarily 
to be supposed that the borrowing was conscious. 

One of the resemblances of this kind is between a particular 
sentence in Henry's account of Caesar's invasion and something 
which Geoffrey says of the first battle between Arthur's men and 
those of Lucius.^ Henry's words are : " Apparuitque virtus Romana, 
dum sagacius ordinati cautius pugnant, obstinatius perseverant. 
Fatigatis ergo Brittannis pericutiendo, Romanisque studentibus in 
se protegendo, cum diu proelium durasset, fessis insulanis, Caesarei 
recentes videntur." Cf. Geoffrey: "At Britones toto affectu deside- 
rabant militiam : sed nee multum curabant in quem eventum inci- 
derent, dum eam incipiebant. Romalni autem sapient ius agebant, 
quos Petrejus Gotta, more boni ducis, nunc ad invadendum, nunc 
ad diffugiendum, sapienter edocebat: et ita maximum damnum 
caeteris impendebat." 

Henry dates the death of Gortimerus in the reign of the emperor 
Leo (457-474), while Geoffrey later speaks of the same emperor^ 
as ruling in Arthur's day, but has apparently the vaguest possible 
ideas about him and his role in the history.* Geoffrey may have 
taken the name from Henry and have known nothing else about 
the man. This seems the more likely since Henry has no other 
mention of Leo.** 

It is possible also that Geoffrey^ was influenced by Henry in 
reducing the number of men whom Arthur killed at the battle of 
Badon. For Henry says 440, and Geoffrey 460, while the manu- 
scripts of Nennius (which vary) have about double those figures. 

1 There is no indication that he used or knew the Saxon Chronicle, 

2 Henry, i, 14; Geoffrey, x, 4, 60-65. 

* Or at least of an emperor of the same name. 

* Henry, ii, 4; Geoffrey, ix, 11 ; x, 6; xi, i. 

* Cf. below, pp. 82, 83. * ix, 4. 


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T2 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

But the idea of reducing their originals by half may have come to 
both Henry and Geoffrey independently. 

There is a slight possibility that in telling how Vortimer's step- 
mother Rowen had him poisoned with a drink (vi, 14) Geoffrey has 
in mind Henry's story (v, 27, p. 167) of how St. Edward was stabbed 
by his stepmother as she gave him a cup of wine.^ Again, while 
the idea of a dragon standard must have been familiar to Geoffrey 
as a Welshman, one may compare with the golden dragon which he 
assigns to Uther (viii, 17) that which Henry gives to the West 
Saxons (iv, 19). Henry speaks again of a dragon standard in vi, 
1 3, without describing it. It may not be wrong to connect Cador's 
occupation of the ships of the Saxons (ix, 5, 7 ff.) with a naval fight 
of the time of Alfred described by Henry (p. 151). 

Similar doubtful resemblances to episodes of William's history 
are as follows: Geoffrey says (vi, 8, 10-13) ^^^^ Aurelius and 
Uther were taken across the Channel (to Brittany) on the assassi- 
nation of their brother Constans, and William tells (ii, 179) how the 
English sent to Normandy for Ethelred on the death of Sweyn. 
Geoffrey describes (vi, 4) how at an earlier period Constantinus 
was summoned from Brittany, and William speaks (ii, 106) of 
Egbert's being recalled home by messengers. William says (v, 41 1 ) 
that when Henry I learned that the sellers refused to take broken 
pieces of good money, he ordered all to be broken ; and Geoffrey 
includes the following sentence in that part of Merlin's prophecy 
which refers to the time of the same monarch (vii, 3, 67) : " Findetur 
forma commercii : dimidium rotundum erit." But of course in a 
case like this Geoffrey may have learned the fact from some other 
source than William. William says (iii, 229) that before the birth 
of William the Conqueror his mother dreamed that ** intestina sua 
per totam Normanniam et Angliam extendi et dilatari viderat," — 
which is much like what Geoffrey says (viii, 14, 48) of the comet 
which portended to Uther the career of Arthur: "Unus [radius] 
longitudinem suam ultra Gallicanum clima videbatur extendere." 
There is some resemblance also between William's account (iii, 281) 
of how the king of France jested at the Conqueror in his sickness 

1 William's account is more detailed (ii, 162). 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 73 

and of the latter's threat in reply, which he fulfilled upon his recov- 
ery, and Geoffrey's story (viii, 21-23) o^ ^^w Uther was sick for a 
long time, how the Saxons therefore regarded him as a contemptible 
opponent, and how he exulted over them when he had conquered 
them. But the parallel is slight, especially since it does not include 
the litter in which, according to Geoffrey, Uther had to be carried. 
For the sake of completeness, another case, not belonging to the 
Arthurian period, is to be recorded. William describes Normandy 
(v, 397) as a country troublesome to the neighboring provinces in 
something the same way in which Geoffrey speaks of Scotland (vi, 
I, 18, etc.). 

The most interesting of all these instances (also in the non- 
Arthurian portion) demands more extended discussion. One of the 
most surprising of Geoffrey's kings is Marius, who comes in (iv, 17) 
just after Arviragus, whom Geoffrey takes from ascertainable sources,^ 
and before the Lucius who was famed in popular legend anterior to 
Geoffrey as the first Christian monarch of the island. What Geoffrey 
says of Marius is this : A certain king of the Picts, named Rodric, 
came from Scythia and devastated Albania ; Marius met, defeated, 
and killed him, and in honor of the victory set up a stone (lapidem) 
in the province which was afterward called from his name Westi- 
maria ; afterwards the surviving Picts asked wives from the Britons, 
and, being scorned by them, went to Ireland, and brought wives from 
there. Geoffrey has taken the general idea of the Pictish immigration 
from Bede, altering the marriage feature so as to glorify the Britons, 
and adding the name of the leader, Rodric. Both these modifica- 
tions are so much in his usual manner that they need no other 
explanation. The question is, where he got his king Marius, the 
triumphal monument, and the idea of connecting with both the 
Pictish immigration story, which properly belongs a good many 
hundred years earlier. Now in the Gesta Pontificum ^ William says, 
speaking of the desolate condition of the northern prdvinces of 
England,' that among the Roman ruins at Carlisle is a banquet 

1 See p. 86, below. 2 Prologue to bk. iii, p. 208. 

« It is perhaps from this passage of William that Geoffrey took his description 
of the devastated condition of northern England after the Saxon wars (ix, 8). 


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74 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

hall, — triclinium lapideis fomicibus concameratum^ — over whose por- 
tal is inscribed Marii Victoriae. William observes that the region is 
called Cumbreland and the people Cumbri, and that he does not 
know the significance of the inscription unless it be that a part of 
the Cimbri came hither when they were driven by Marius from Italy. 

It is within the range of possibility that a tradition about this 
stone, though unknown to William, was in existence in Geoffrey's 
time. But there is no evidence to that effect,^ and no evidence 
that Geoffrey had ever seen the structure. He certainly character- 
izes it very differently from William, who, to judge from the minute- 
ness of all his description in this section, had seen it. It is possible, 
then, that GeofiFrey may have taken his whole idea from William, 
and the possibility becomes a strong probability when one consid- 
ers that there is no apparent reason, except in William's silly guess, 
why Geoffrey, or any one before him, should connect the Pictish 
immigration story with the remains of a banquet hall in the midst 
of city ruins, with the Roman period, or with any Marius. It is 
true that the Cimbri had nothing to do with the Picts ; but, given 
the mere idea of any immigration, Geoffrey's imagination was quite 
sufficient for all the rest. The material came very opportunely to 
his hand, for he wanted a king to fill, however inadequately, half 
the time (after Arviragus) between the historical Claudius and the 
supposedly historical Lucius, and he had not yet made any use of 
Bede's and Nennius's accounts of the coming of the Picts. When 
everything else fitted together so well, the chance to etymologize 
the name Westmoreland was an additional piece of good luck for 
Geoffrey, and the transformation of a banqueting room into a tri- 
umphal stele a mere bagatelle. 

To sum up, the natural presumption that Geoffrey derived the 
impulse to write his history, in part at least, from the histories of 
William and Henry, finds plausible confirmation in the following 
facts : (i) he imitates pretty closely the general manner of William ; 
(2) the general character of different parts of his narrative repro- 
duces the varying tones of what may be called corresponding parts 

1 The expanded versions found in later chroniclers who drew from Geoffrey 
are of course not evidence. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 7 5 

of William's aud Henry's ; (3) he might well have got from Henry 
the suggestion for using two of the most important kinds of mate- 
rial which he employs, — namely, popular traditions and romantic 
fictions of his own based on the data of his written sources ; and 
(4) he almost certainly took from William at least one or two 
definite details, and, it is very likely, adapted several more from 
both William and Henry. That both these historians are to be 
counted in some not insignificant degree as among his sources 
is therefore practically certain. 

VI. Geoffrey's Sources : (D) Celtic Records 

Since Geoffrey's work purports to be a history of Britain, we 
may expect to find that his sources include not merely the works 
of Gildas and Nennius, but also British documents and historical 
traditions. Examination shows that this is really the case. It 
shows, however, that here also Geoffrey followed his audaciously 
eclectic method, using whatever he found as raw material, and 
taking only a bit here and a bit there as he saw occasion. 

We may first consider British historical and pseudo-historical 
tradition outside of Gildas and Nennius. From this source it is 
almost certain that Geoffrey drew much of what he says of the first 
few kings of the Roman epoch. ^ There can also be no doubt that 
he owes to such material something of his account of such a ruler 
as Dunvallo Molmutius,^ the famous lawgiver, and, in the Arthurian 
period, his mention of Budecius of Brittany, to whom Aurelius and 
Uther are sent.' Again, though Geoffrey's ascription* of the 
death of both Aurelius and Uther to poison is one of a large num- 
ber of parallelisms which constitute something of a literary fault 
in his work, and is of a piece also with the fact that in its most 
important part, that of the warfare against the Saxons, Uther's 
reign is necessarily only a doublet of Aurelius's, — nevertheless it is 

^ iv, 1 1 -1 6; see Loth, Mabinogiotiy II, 283, note 2. 
« ii, 17. 

• vi, 8, 14; see San-Marte, p. 308. 

* viii, 14 and 24. 


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^6 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

quite possible that Geoffrey may have had in mind such a case as 
the poisoning, at a brief interval, of two Welsh chiefs, which is 
recorded in the Annates Cambriae : 

943. Catel, son of Artmail, was poisoned, and Judgual and his son Elized 
were killed by the Saxons. 

946. Cincenn, son of Elized, was poisoned. 

It can be shown also that Geoffrey took from Welsh records the 
names of many of the less important personages which occur in 
certain of his bare lists,^ — in spite of the constant corruption of 
names in manuscripts and although the only basis for comparison 
now accessible is found in the series of royal genealogies attached 
to the Annates Cambriae,^ It should be distinctly understood in 
what follows that the genealogies of the Annates are to be regarded 
merely as representative of many similar ones which doubtless 
existed. There is no reason to suppose that Geoffrey ever saw 
these particular records, and, indeed, he disagrees with them else- 
where in dates and other respects. 

Most of Geoffrey's lists above referred to pretend to record suc- 
cessive kings. The only list which refers to the Arthurian period * 
pretends instead to enumerate the persons attending Arthur's coro- 
nation feast, but it is evidently made up in large part in the same 
way. It includes among those who came Beduerus and Cajus 
(the famous Bedver and Kei of Welsh tradition), of whom Geoffrey 
has already spoken, and the three brother kings, also before men- 
tioned,* Auguselus, Urianus, and Lot, who are regularly given in 
Welsh mythological genealogies^ as sons of Cynvarch.^ One of 
the British kings is Stater,"' and in one of the genealogies ® appears 

1 Especially ii, 8; ii, 16; iii, 19; xii, 6. 

2 Printed by Phillimore, Y Cymmrodory IX, 176 ff., and thence by Loth, Mabi- 
nogion^ II, 302-324. ^ jx, 12. * ix, 9. 

* See, for example, Lady Guest, Mabinogiofty I, 1 23 ; San-Marte, pp. 379-380. 

^ I have no hesitation in assuming that Auguselus is merely Geoffrey's Latin- 
ized form for Arawn^ which Brut Tysilio restores. On Urien, see Thumeysen, 
Ztsch.f. deutsche Phil., XXVIII, 83; and Rh^s, Arthurian Legend, pp. 238 ff. 

■^ Our printed texts read Sater, but Stater was evidently Geoffrey's spelling. 
It is so given in MSS. Bibl. Reg., 4. C. xi; Harl. 225 and 3773; Arund. 10; 
by Wace and Layamon ; the French chronicle of MS. Harl. 636 ; etc. 

8 No. 2, Loth, II, 305-307. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth yy 

2l person of the same name. One of Geoffrey's heroes is Regin 
map Claut, and the same genealogy has Regin with Cloten as his 
great-grandfather. Kincar figures in both lists, and the genealogy 
has an Arthur.^ Geoffrey names among the heroes Kimbelim map 
Trunat, Chatleus map Catel, and Kinlich map Neton ; and another 
of the genealogies ^ has Cinbelin map Teuhant,' Catlen map Catel, 
and Run map Neithon. A few of the other names which Geoffrey 
includes — distinctive names that could hardly have belonged to 
more than one person — reappear in the genealogies, and therefore 
were certainly figures of ancient tradition. This is the case, at 
least, with Danaut map Papo.* It is interesting to notice that 
Geoffrey has brought in Samuil-penissel, who, according to another 
genealogy, was a son of this same Danaut, as a king several hundred 
years before.^ Not from these genealogies but evidently from some 
previous tradition, Geoffrey must have taken his Peredur, son of 
Eridur, since he has already (much earlier)* introduced these two 
names together, though in that case as those of brothers.'^ 

A feature of Geoffrey's account of the Arthurian period which 
aids much in lending to it an appearance of historical fact is the 
introduction of the names of certain Welsh saints, some of whom 
without doubt, and all of them probably, were well known in Celtic 
legend in his time and long before. 

Of these saints by far the most important is Dubricius. . He is 
first mentioned as being made Bishop of Urbs Legionum, at the 

1 This Arthur is called the son of Petr, which is also the case in some of the 
lists of the Liber Landavensis (Book of Llan Ddv^ ed. G. Evans, 1890) and in a 
quite different form of the genealogy in a Jesus Coll. MS. (Vaughan, Y Cymm- 
rodor, X, iii). It is an interesting hypothesis that this Petr may be the original 
of Geoffrey's enigmatical Petreius Cotta, whom he puts in the time of his Arthur, 
although making him a commander of the hostile Roman army (x, 4). 

2 No. 16 (Loth, p. 313). 

' The Tenuantius and Kymbelinus of Geoffrey (iv, 11 and 12). 

* Genealogy No. 11 (Loth, p. 312). He appears also in the Annates at 595 
(Loth, p. 236, note 4). 

^ Geoffrey, iii, 19, 24; genealogy No. 19 (Loth, p. 317). 

• iii, 18 (Peredurus and Elidurus). 

' For a theory about another of these names, see Phillimore, in Y Cymmrodor, 
IX, 176. 


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78 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

time when Aurelius is restoring the churches.^ Geoffrey adds that 
divine providence had chosen him for the office. Later,' Geoffrey 
represents him as Primate of the island, and as most directly 
responsible for the elevation of Arthur to the kingship.* It is he, 
again, who exhorts the army before the battle of Badon.* He is 
also called Legate of the Pope,^ and it is stated that he was so 
holy that his prayer would heal any sick person. The last act in 
his career is the second coronation of Arthur,* after which he volun- 
tarily resigns his see and becomes a hermit.* 

All this is directly taken or imitated from the Welsh traditions 
about Dubricius. They appear to be consistent in calling him the 
head (as a matter of fact, the first known head) of the British 
Church,^ and the Lives of most of the saints of the fifth and sixth 
centuries ^ (some of which certainly antedate Geoffrey) are full of 
allusions to him. In especially close relation with Geoffrey's state- 
ments are those of the Book of Llandqffi^ -which, was put together at 
about the time of Geoffrey, but in materials belongs very much 
earlier. Besides continual references to Dubricius, this document 
asserts ^° (falsely) that he was made archbishop, and gives a brief 
account of his life," which includes the statements that he became 
a hermit and that the sick were healed by the laying on of his 
hands. ^^ To what he learned from legend, therefore, Geoffrey has 
merely added, inevitably, the connection of Dubricius with Arthur. 
He has also, apparently, introduced one change which seems sur- 
prising at first sight, — namely, the transference of Dubricius from 
Llandaff, where the legends locate him, and which is said to have 
been Geoffrey's own town,*' to Urbs Legionum. But this was a 
necessary consequence of Geoffrey's selection of Urbs Legionum as 
the capital of Arthurian Britain. 

1 viii, 12, 43. « ix, I. « ix, 13, 3. 

2ix, 12, 33. *ix, 4. «ix, 15. 

^ It is interesting, however, to note the chronological divergence from Geoffrey 
of the Annates Cambriae^ which place the death of Dubricius at 612. On 
Dubricius, see Hardy, I, 40-44 ; and Diet. Nat. Biog., XVI, 82. 

* E.g. almost all those that are soon to be mentioned here. 

' See Haddan and Stubbs, Councils^ etc., I, 146-147, note. 

10 Ed. Evans, pp. 79, 81. " p, gi. 

11 Pp. 78-86. " Though possibly not at this time. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 79 

Another very famous saint whom Geoffrey mentions, though much 
more briefly, is Samson. He is characterized as being renowned 
for the greatest piety, and is said ^ to have been made by Aurelius 
Bishop of Eboracum, whence he is afterwards driven away by the 
devastations of the Picts.^ Still later,' he is alluded to as having 
been archbishop of Dol (in Brittany). It is only the first and last 
of these statements that agree with the usual legends about Samson, 
as represented, for instance, in the sixth-century Life.* It seems 
most probable that Geoffrey took the association of the saint with 
York from some less common stories, since Giraldus Cambrensis,* 
at the end of the twelfth century, alludes to it as an erroneous 
opinion of the people of that city.* 

Samson's successor at Dol, says Geoffrey, ^ was Thelianus,® — evi- 
dently the name of the famous St. Teilo in a Latinized form. The 
origin of this statement appears in the life of Teilo in the Book of 
Llan Ddv^ where it is said that when the Saxons were devastating the 
island Teilo went to Armorica and was joyfully received by Samson. 

In the prophecies of Merlin, Geoffrey makes use of another legend 
about Samson, as is shown by an explanation of Alanus de Insulis. 
Geoffrey says,^^ "The pastor of Eboracum shall dwell with six 
others in the kingdom of Armorica." Alanus states ^^ directly that 
this means Samson and that the reference is to the legend of the 
seven saints of Brittany, — whose popularity is shown by plenty of 
monumental testimonies still existing in that country. 

2ix, 8, 3. 8ix, 15,4. 

* Mabillon, A A. SS. Ord. S. Bened., Venice, 1733, I, 154-173; see de La 
Borderie, HisU de la Brttagne^ I, 415 ff. ; Rev. Celt.y VI, 4, note 3 ; Evans, Book 
cfLlan DdVi p. xxii ; Haddan and Stubbs, Councils^ 1, 149 ; YCymmrodor^ XI, 127. 

* De Invect^ iv, 2, Rolls Series, III, 77. 

* Of course, on the other hand, they may have taken it from Geoffrey. 

7 Ik, 15, 5. 

8 The printed texts have Chelianus, but this is certainly incprrect. The corrup- 
tion of T into C in the manuscripts is very easy, and forms with T appear, for 
instance, in MSS. Bibl. Reg. 4. C. xi, and 13. D. v. ; Harl. 225 and 3773 ; and 
Arund. 10. * Pp. 97-117. ^^ vii, 3, 26. 

11 Prophetia Anglicaha^ Frankfort, 1603, pp. 28-30 (pointed out by San-Marte, 
pp. 339-341 ; see San-Marte*s discussion and his references ; add, also, among 
others, Vincent de Beauvais, Spec. Hist.^ xx, 30). 


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8o Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Similarly, a couple of lines later, Geoffrey makes use of a miracu- 
lous incident included in the Life of Gildas ascribed to Caradoc. 
Geoffrey says, "Praedicator Hyberniae propter infantem in utero 
crescentem obmutescet." The Life of Gildas^ has it that one day 
when that saint attempted to preach, he found himself unable to 
speak, and that subsequently the impediment, as revealed by an 
angel, was discovered (the modern mind can hardly understand 
just why) to be the presence of Nonnita, the mother of St. David, 
with whom she was then pregnant. 

Later,^ Geoffrey introduces St. David by name, calling him the 
uncle of Arthur, an idea which seems to come from the state- 
ment of the legend^ that David was of royal race. The Pyramus 
whom Geoffrey calls* Arthur's chaplain and Samson's successor 
at Eboracum, is perhaps the person of whose chapel at Cardiff 
Giraldus speaks.^ Attention has already been drawn to the possi- 
bly significant similarity between the names of Geoffrey's important 
archbishop Guethelinus ® and Nennius's Guitolinus, the opponent of 

It may be mentioned that the Pope Sulpicius to whom, says 
Geoffrey,^ Walwanus was sent by Arthur, is perhaps an historical 
personage, — Simplicius (a.d. 468-483). 

VII. Geoffrey's Sources: (E) General History 

Geoffrey, as his works show, was a true student. It is not sur- 
prising, therefore, that he did not confine his borrowings to Welsh 
material, but utilized the history of other peoples as well.* 

1 Mommsen, p. 107. 2 ix, 15, 2 ; xi, 3, 8. 

8 See Acta Sanctorum^ March, II, 38. The manuscripts of the Life of St. 
David are catalogued by Hardy, I, 1 18-124. 

* ix, 8; cf. p. 187, below. 

5 Itin. KambriaCy i, 6, Rolls Series, VI, 64. • vi, 2-6. 

^ I have not been able to trace the names of the other ecclesiastics whom 
Geoffrey introduces: Tremorinus (so MSS. Bibl. Reg. 4. C. xi; 13. D. v. ; Arund. 
10), viii, 10, 4 ; Eldadus, vi, 15, 44 ; viii, 9, 16; three other bishops, ix, 15, 8-9. 

8 ix, II, 21. 

' In connection with this source may also be consulted Section IX, pp. 108 ff., 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 8 1 

The most unmistakable instance of such borrowing is perhaps 
his enlargement of Nennius's account of the parricide of Brutus from 
the actual facts of the death of William Rufus.^ The most compli- 
cated and composite instance is his long narrative of the reigns of 
Belinus and Brennius.* But other cases occur in the Arthurian 

Reference has already been made' to the fact that Geoffrey 
adopted from Bede the story of the death of Constantinus and Con- 
stans, assigning the part of the historical Gerontius to Vortigern. 
The combination is cleverly made. It not only produces a continu- 
ous narrative out of unrelated materials, but it accounts for Vorti- 
gern's succeeding to the throne, — a feature of the story which none 
of Geoffrey's predecessors had explained. 

Perhaps the name Flollo, which Geoffrey gives to the prefect of 
Gaul,* comes in some way from the historical Rollo. 

If the idea that Modred was Arthur's nephew and traitor to him 
had not been developed before the time of Geoffrey,* it may have 
been suggested to him* by the accusation which Gildas^ brings 
against Maglocunus of oppressing the king his uncle with sword, 
spear, and fire. Possibly Geoffrey may also have had in mind one 
or two cases from the history of Roman Britain, — that of Constan- 
tinus and Gerontius, or that of Carausius. Concerning the latter, 
Geoffrey knew at least the bare statement of Bede® that he was 
killed by the treachery of his friend Allectus. In his own version of 
these two events * Geoffrey has misrepresented the facts, but he may 
nevertheless have been perfectly aware what they really were. 
Still another possible hint for the treason of Modred may have 
been taken from the conduct of Bishop Odo, brother of William the 
Conqueror. Odo, being left in charge of England, made all his 

1 i, 3, 19-21. 

^ See Publ. of Mod, Lang. Assoc, of Amer,, 1901, XVI, 469-474. 

• Above, p. 59. 

* ix, II. See San-Marte, p. 386. 

* A question which cannot be decided. 

• Or to some less conscious maker of tradition who came before. 
' 33. See Sayce in London Academy ^ 1884, XXVI, 139. 

H 6. 9 V, 4, 1-5. 


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82 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

preparations to set out for Italy with a great retinue, to secure the 
papacy for himself, so that the king had to return hastily and 
arrest him.^ 

Again, the part which Geoffrey assigns to the Armorican Britons 
under Hoel in Arthur's wars may have been suggested by the 
participation of many subjects of the historical Count Hoel of Brit- 
tany in William's conquest of England.^ The argument, however, is 
weakened by the fact that Geoffrey makes the military alliance of 
the Armoricans with the insular Britons go back to the beginning 
of the reign of Aurelius.' Indeed, the point can hardly be deter- 
mined without considering the other Breton elements in Geoffrey's 
history, — the emphasis which he lays on the usefulness of the 
Breton auxiliaries, who turn the tide in favor of Aurelius in an 
important battle ; the Breton ancestry of Arthur's line ; the bring- 
ing up of Aurelius and Uther in Brittany ; the glorification of Hoel, 
especially in the battle with Lucius,* as equalled in prowess by 
Gawain only ; the introduction of such a distinctly Breton tale as 
the battle with the giant on Mont St. Michel. This problem of 
Geoffrey's Breton material is a very difficult one. It is essentially 
connected with the question whether the Britannia which he names as 
the source of his liber means Wales or Brittany, and this in turn 
involves the whole controversy over the matikre de Bretagne, Per- 
haps, after all, in view of the close relations which had always existed 
between the Welsh and their Armorican kindred, it was only to be 
expected that Geoffrey would take pains to praise the latter. 

For Arthur's invasions of France, whether or not they existed in 
tradition before Geoffrey, a source has been suggested in actual 
British history. About 470, while Leo the Great was Emperor of 
the East, the Visigoths invaded Gaul, and the Emperor Anthemius 
sent for aid to Riothimir, " king of the Britons," as Jordanes calls 
him. Riothimir with twelve thousand men sailed from some place 

1 See Ordericus Vitalis, vii, 8 (ed. Le Provost, III, 188-192). 

2 Argued by Zimmer, GoU. Gel. Anz., 1892, p. 824. He goes into details which 
are not very convincing and have been partly refuted by Loth, Rev, Celt, 1892, 
XIII, 491-493, and Mabinogion, I, 151, note i ; II, 241-242. 

" viii, 2. 

* X, 10, 10, etc. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 83 

not specified, and marched against the barbarians. The latter, 
however, surprised and defeated him.^ Though the best recent 
opinion holds that Riothimir was probably settled in Gaul, not in 
Great Britain, so that his expedition does not make a real parallel 
with Arthur's, nevertheless the most natural prima facie interpreta- 
tion of Jordanes's account ^ would be to the contrary, and several 
of the later chroniclers were puzzled by the apparent parallelism.* 
That Geoffrey did take an idea from this source is an attractive 
hypothesis, because it might help to explain why he so indefinitely 
introduces an Emperor Leo at the time of Arthur.* 

But it is impossible to argue with any assurance for any single 
source for the episode of Arthur's attack on the Romans, or for the 
whole conception of him as a foreign conqueror, — whether or not 
it was original with Geoffrey, — because very likely several different 
influences may have contributed to it. Now that the subject is 
broached, it will be convenient to indicate these influences all 

As the earliest, it appears most reasonable to count a mythical 
one.^ A common incident in ancient Irish and Welsh tales is the 
visit of a (culture) hero to some country, sometimes, and probably 
originally. Hades, whence he brings back something which is of 
great benefit to his people. Taliessin's Spoils of Anwynn^ tells how 
Arthur secured the cauldron of the monarch of Hades. Later, '^ 
Ireland, either because it was thought of as a land of mystery, or 

1 Jordanes, De Rebus Geiicis^ chap. 45 (ed. Closs, 1888, pp. 160-161). For 
discussions, see Lappenberg, Geschichte Englands^ I, 106; Herbert, Britannia after 
the Romans^ p. 20 ; San-Marte, pp. 398-400 ; de La Borderie, Hist, de la Bretagne^ 
I, 251 ff. ; Loth, VEmigration Bretonne, p. 55, and Rev. Celt., 1892, XIII, 482. 

2 Jordanes is our only authority here. 
« Cf. p. 185, below. 

* But cf. p. 71, above. Perhaps, also, if Geoffrey knew or remembered that it 
was really Justinian who was (Eastern) Emperor at the time when he placed 
Arthur (killed 542), he saw the diflftculty of claiming European conquests for 
Arthur, and so substituted almost at random another name for the Emperor. 

^ For this theory, see Rh^s, Arthurian Legend, pp. lo-ii. 

• Skene, Four Ancient Books, I, 265. 

7 As in the stories of Kulhwch and Olwen, and Branwen, daughter of Llyr 
(Lady Guest, Mabinogion, III, 123-124; II, 307-308). 

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84 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

because of the desire to rationalize the myth, takes the place of 
Hades in the stories. When such expeditions came to be associ- 
ated with Arthur, they might naturally give the suggestion for a 
definite conquest of Ireland, which, actually, in Geoffrey's account 
does precede all Arthur's other conquests outside of Great Britain. 
Then from one foreign land to others was an almost inevitable step. 

For the conquests of the northern countries, however, there may 
possibly have been ^ a special traditional suggestion in the applica- 
tion to Norway by the Welsh of their name for the other world ; * 
or more probably in the history of the Northern wars in the British 
Isles, particularly those of the ninth century, between the Vikings on 
the one hand and the British or Irish on the other.' 

The attacks upon Rome, in turn, almost followed as a matter of 
course from the elevation of Arthur to the position of the great 
British national hero, whose exploits were to be compared with 
those of the greatest monarchs of history. For Rome was the only 
world power in the time when he lived, and the supreme test of 
his greatness was necessarily its overthrow. And in the speeches of 
Arthur and his knights in books nine and ten, Geoffrey shows that 
he has in mind the idea of retaliation for the earlier subjugation of 
the Britons by the Romans. But more than this, attacks upon 
Rome had formed a considerable part of the staple of history for 
several centuries of the Christian era. Geoffrey (or the previous 
tradition maker) had the examples not only of all the barbarian 
chiefs like Attila and Alaric and a dozen others, but of the British 
Maximus and the first and second Constantinus, of whose exploits 
he knew from Bede, and whom he had himself mentioned. He 
had also the examples of Pepin and Charlemagne, about whom 
William of Malmesbury, as well as other chroniclers, had written. 
Also he may have had in mind the Norman kings of England, who, 
if they did not actually engage in vast foreign conquests, at least 

1 As Rhys suggests, Arthurian Legend^ p. ii. 

2 For possible arguments that the tradition of conquests by Arthur in Scandi- 
navia existed before Geoffrey, see below, pp. 126-127, 141-142. 

' Zimmer argues for this theory, with much definiteness, in Gott. Gel. Anz.^ 
1890, pp. 820-821. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 85 

sometimes thought of doing so,* and were constantly making war 
in France.^ For one incident of the campaign against Flollo he 
may have drawn upon the history of one of these kings. At all 
events, his remark* that Arthur's generosity (largitas) caused the 
greater part of the Gallic army to go over to him, reminds one 
of Roger of Hoveden's statement* that, when Henry I invaded 
Normandy in 11 05, "almost all the chief men deserted. their lord 
the duke and ran after the king's gold and silver." 

VIII. Geoffrey's Sources: (F) Myths and Popular Stories. 
The Idea of Arthur before Geoffrey 

The sources which have so far been mentioned account for much 
of Geoffrey's History^ both in outline and in details; but other 
important sources remain to be considered. Among these the 
most significant are the myths and popular stories, chiefly of the 
Celts, but partly also of other races, from which Geoffrey drew. 
To illustrate from the non- Arthurian part of the History: it has 
been demonstrated with certainty, or with a very high degree of 
probability, that Geoffrey must have found in Celtic myth or tra- 
dition the characters, and at least in part the outlines, for his 

1 Cf. Freeman, Reign of William Rufus^ I, 7. 

2 It is not possible to explain satisfactorily where Geoffrey got the name 
Lucius Hiberius (all seven of the manuscripts of Geoffrey which I examined have 
Hiberius or Hiberus ; the printed texts read Tiberius) for the (Western) Roman 
Emperor whom he actually opposes to Arthur. Geoffrey speaks somewhat 
inconsistently of his oflftce; for he not only calls him sometimes Reipublicae pro- 
curator (ix, 15, 14) and sometimes imperator (x, 4, 2, etc.), but sometimes implies 
or states that he acts under the orders of the senate (x, i, i ; x, 13, 17), and 
sometimes says that he is a colleague of the Emperor Leo (ix, 20, 5 ; x, 6, 4), who 
is also stated (ix, 11, 33) to have been the superior of Flollo, procurator of Gaul. 
Probably this is a case of carelessness on Geoffrey's part, or of vagueness in his 
knowledge of history. Certainly his mention of two emperors at this time shows 
that he supposed, or assumed, that the Western Empire was still in existence. 
Cf. above, p. 83, note i; and below, pp. 122, 133, note 10; 167, note 19; 156, 196, 
200, 229, 231, note 4. 

8ix, II, 39-40. 

* I, 162, Rolls Series. 


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86 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

stories of King Bladud,^ Marganus,^ Arviragus,' and Guanius and 
Melga,* as well as the figures of Caradocus and Conanus Meria- 
docus,* to say nothing of the eagle which he represents as having 
spoken at the foundation of Shaftesbury.® 

At this point a cautionary observation may not be out of place. 
Our knowledge of the traditions current in Geoffrey's time is so 
slight that it is seldom possible to determine with certainty whether 
he found, already developed, stories which he took into his history 
without any great change, except that of adjusting them to his 
narrative ; or whether he merely got the names and a few hints 
from popular tradition, fabricated the connection between the 
names and the episodes, and invented a large part of the detail. 
There is no clear evidence to show, for instance, whether he was 
the first to represent the Celtic gods Melwas and Gwynwas in the 
role of the foreign ravagers Melga and Guanius, though extant 
stories about Melwas prove that he had long before been made into 
a man. On the other hand, the tale of Bladud doubtless came to 
Geoffrey pretty straight from local tradition, and the question is 
chiefly whether he was the first to put Bladud into a definite line 
of kings. On the whole, considering what we know from other 
sources about Geoffrey's methods, it is safe to ascribe to him a 
very large share in the construction of his stories. 

Again, from tradition not merely Celtic (or not Celtic at all) 
Geoffrey takes the Leir episode;^ the eleven thousand virgins;' 

1 ii, 10. See Sayce, Y Cymmrodor^ X, 207-221. It may be noted here that 
Sayce was certainly right in suggesting that Geoffrey's real form for the name 
of the king who appears in the printed texts as Hudibras was Rudhudibras. It 
is so written in all the MSS. of Geoffrey which I have examined and in many 
chronicles which draw from him. Many chronicles also have Ludhudibras, 

2 ii, 15. See Rhjs, Celtic Britain, p. 118. 

8 iv, 13-16. See Schofield, Publ. of the Mod. Lang, Assoc, 1901, XVI, 405 ff. 

* V, 16; vi, 3. See Rh^s, Arthurian Legend, pp. 342-347; Lot, Rotn.^ 1895, 
XXIV, 327-335 ; Paris, Rom., XII, 502. 

^ V, 9-15. See San Marte, pp. 292 £f. ; Edwards, Y Cymmrodor, XI, 72, note 3 ; 
Paris, Hist. Litt., XXX, 245 ; Bruce, Publ. Mod. Lang. Assoc, XV, 326 ff. 

• ii, 9, 15 ; xii, 18, i. See San Marte, p. 463. 

^ Gesta Romanorum, ed. Oesterley, No. 273, p. 672 (with references, p. 748) ; 
San Marte, pp. 221 ff . ; Wright, Essays on Archaological Subjects, I, 216. 
^ V, 16. Cf. Rh^s*s peculiar theory {Celtic Heathendom, pp. 165-166). 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 87 

Gormundus, king of the Africans ; ^ and probably occasional hints 
of Teutonic saga.^ His giant Goemagot comes ultimately from the 
Bible, through the medium of widespread popular tradition.' 

Elements from this miscellaneous body of tradition and story 
appear in a subordinate way in Geoffrey's account of the Arthurian 
period. There are apparently several reminiscences of the Bible. 
Besides Eldadus's citation of examples from the Books of Samuel 
and Joshua,* the valorous conduct of Eldol, who slew seventy Saxons 
with a stake and escaped from the massacre of the other British 
chiefs,* seems to be suggested by the exploit of Samson. We may 
compare also the insistence, in the narrative of Job's disasters, upon 
the escape of a single man from each company. The aninftil figures 
in Merlin's prophecy^ have at least a resemblance to those in the 
Book of Daniel.'' It is possible that the account of the murder of 
Constantinus by a Pift* reflects that of Eglon in Judges, iii, 15-22. 

Geoffrey includes the twelve peers of France among Arthur's 
lords.' His long list of heathen kings who belong to the army of 
Lucius ^^ is suggested by similar lists in mediaeval poetry." The age 
of fifteen years which he ascribes to Arthur at the time of his 
coronation ^^ is the conventional one for the beginning of a hero's 
exploits in mediaeval tales. The duel of Arthur and Flollo in an 
island reminds one strongly of the Norse custom of hdlm-ganga}^ 
The mention in the prophecy of Merlin of a snake encircling a 

1 xi, 8-10; San-Marte, pp. 439-443; Lot, J^om.^ 1898, XXVII, 1-54; Zimmer, 
Gott. Gel. Anz.y 1890, p. 823. 

2 San-Marte, Arthur-Sage^ pp. 17-18. The theory is carried to a still greater 
extent by F. Liebrecht, Gervasius von Tilbury^ p. 96. 

3 i, 16. Cf. Bieling, Zu den Sagen von Gog und Magogs Berlin, 1882 (espe- 
cially pp. 5, 21) ; Herrig's Arckivy LII, 89. 

* viii, 7-8. ^ vi, 16. ® vii, 3-4. 

■^ But cf . p. 60, above. 8 vi, 5, 1 5. 

' ix, 12, 52 ; ix, 19, II. He had already introduced them in i, 13, 18. On the 
peers, cf. Warton-Hazlitt, History of English Poetry, I, 108, and note i. See also 
p. 187, below. ^0 X, I. 

11 For example, in the Chanson de Roland^ vv. 32 15-3261. 

^ ix, I, 10. 

i« ix, II, 54 ff. We need not infer that Geoffrey was directly affected by Scan- 
dinavian tradition or custom at this point. The whole account of the duel is in 
the usual style of mediaeval romance. 


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88 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

city^ is evidently tak^n from the story motive which appears in 
the Saga of Ragnar Lddbrbk, Another conventional literary episode 
is the prophetic dream which Geoffrey represents Arthur as having 
when he is on the voyage to France to fight Lucius.^ It naturally 
reminds one of the ominous dream which the prose Lancelot (and 
from it Malory) assigns to Arthur at a later point in the story. 
The incident of Hengist tricking Vortigern into giving him for a 
castle as much land as he could enclose with a though is a very 
widespread folk tale, elsewhere applied to Dido and to Ragnar LotS- 
brdk ; but Geoffrey does not lay emphasis on the deception, because 
he is interested in an etymology which he is developing. From 
another folk tale, attached to both King Alfred and the Danish 
Anlaf, comes the story of Baldulph's getting access to his besieged 
brother in the guise of a harper.* Very hypothetical is Bugge's 
equation of Arthur's campaign against the Saxons, beginning at the 
siege of York and ending at the Battle of Badon,* with a story told 
by Saxo Grammaticus (ca, 1200), — an equation which would identify 
Cheldricus with Gelderus, Baldulphus with Balderus, and Cador 
with Hotherus.* But, in any case, Bugge's conclusion that Geoffrey 
invented the tale and that it reached Saxo very much distorted by 
oral repetition, seems less probable than that both Geoffrey and 
Saxo drew from a more ancient tradition. 

The most important of all those among Geoffrey's characters 
for whom he did not certainly derive either the name or the role 
from Nennius or Bede — and one of the most important figures in 
his whole History — is Uther Pendragon, whom he makes the father 
of Arthur. An ingenious and attractive theory has been developed 

1 vii, 4, 69. 

2 X, 2, 9 ff. It has some resemblance to the dream of King Ivar in the Norse 
Sogubroti chap. 3. Cf. R. Mentz, Die Trdutnc in den Karls- u. Artus-Epen^ Ausg. 
«. Abh.y LXXIII ; W. Henzen, t/ber die Trdume in der altnord. Sagalitteratur^ 
Leipzig, 1890. * ix, i, 43 ff. 

* vi, II, 25 ff. ^ ix, 1-4. 

6 Bugge, Studier (wer de Nordiske Gude- og Heltesagens Oprindelse, I, 185-188 
(Brenner's translation, Studien, etc., pp. 192-196). See Holder's ed. of Saxo, 
Strassburg, 1886, pp. 71-74; Elton and Powell, The First Nine Books of Saxo 
Grammaticus,, 1894, pp. 86-89. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 89 

by Rhys, that Uther was originally a god of death or a corpse god.^ 
If so, he belongs to the mythical element in the History, It still 
remains to explain, however, why Geoffrey inserted Uther at this 
particular point and connected him with Arthur. Here also there 
is an enticing hypothesis.^ Some texts of Nennius have at the 
mention of Arthur (chap. 56) an interpolation which states that he 
"was called mab Uter because he was cruel from his boyhood." 
The proper interpretation of mab Uter^ as the following clause 
shows, is " terrible warrior " ; but it might also be translated " son 
of Uter." It is possible, then, that Geoffrey (or some one before 
him) had a copy of the interpolated text, made the mistranslation, 
whether by error or because it suited his purpose, and then equated 
Uter with Uthr Ben. This procedure would have been just what 
ivas needed to fiimish Arthur with a father and to fill the gap which 
Nennius's narrative implies between Arthur and the Aurelius Ambro- 
sius of Gildas. The expansion of the name into Uther Pendragon' 
presents no difficulty, since Ben and Pen are linguistically identical, 
and Fendragon means "Head Leader."* 

1 Arthurian Legend^ pp. 255-256; cf. Celtic Heathendom ^ pp. 93-94, 269, 567. 
Taliessin has a poem (Skene, Four Ancient Books^ II, 203-204) on Uthr Ben, 
whose name means " the Wondrous Head." Rh^s therefore equates Uthr with 
Bran of the Venerable Head, and ultimately with Urien, whose head seems to 
have been cut off ; while the idea of a god whose head was the important or 
only part of him was certainly common in European mythology. Taliessin*s 
poem applies to Uthr the adjective ar&u^ "black," "dusky," or "livid." Equally 
ingenious, though still more doubtful, is Rhjs*s identification (pp. 161 -162) of 
Uther and Aurelius with the kings Ban and Bors of the romances ; but it is true 
that both Uther and Ban are represented as djdng in consequence of drinking 
from a poisoned well. 

2 Which has been several times advanced ; for example, by Guest, Origines 
Celticacy II, 159. 

* Which occurs also in the twelfth-century Black Book of Caermarthen in 
Arthur's dialogue with Glewlwyd Gavaelvawr. 

* Rh^s, Celtic Britain, p. 133; Celtic Heathendom, p. 568; Welsh People, 
p. 106. Cf. Gildas, chap. 33. Similar is the story of the begetting of Sigmund, 
father of Siegfried, and Professor Schofield has pointed out (Publ, Mod, Lang, 
Assoc, 1902, XVII, 284 ff.) striking similarities between the tales of Sigmund and 
his sons and the career of Arthur as narrated in the prose romances. 


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90 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

The most important episode which Geoffrey assigns to Uther, 
his amour with Igerna, is certainly based upon a widespread folk 
tale, which appears in the classic story of Jupiter and Alcmena, and 
for which there is a close parallel in the Kathdsaritsdgara.^ 
ytja, passing to the more decidedly Celtic elements, mythical and 
/jti^ditional, in Geoffrey's Arthurian story, it is important to remem- 
ber that all the recent studies ^ concerning the mythical and Celtic 
traditional elements of the Arthurian cycle, have a real, though 
indirect, bearing on the argument. For, by showing that many 
parts of the very diverse Arthurian stories are of mythical or tradi- 
tional origin, they establish a strong antecedent probability that 
the same is true of many other parts also. Apart from elements 
which can be traced to their sources, it is self-evident that very 
many of the details which appear, for instance, in the French Arthu- 
rian Romances, are not pure literary invention, but go back to 
popular traditions, so that Geoffrey, writing toward the middle of 
the twelfth century, must have had plenty of that sort of thing to 
draw from.* 

The figure of Anna, whom Geoffrey represents as Arthur's sister 
and Gawain's motfifer, was certainly traditional, and perhaps origi- 
nally mythological. She is prominently mentioned in the geneal- 
ogies of the Annales Catnbriae and elsewhere, though sometimes in 
very different relations from those in which Geoffrey puts her.* 

It is especially unfortunate that we cannot tell whether or not 
Geoffrey was the first to connect with Arthur the very dramatic 
incident of the duel with the giant, Helena's ravisher, on Mont 
St. Michel. But the story is certainly much older than Geoffrey's 
time, and it is hard to see why any one should doubt that, with 
Helena in it, it goes back to very remote mythical antiquity; or 
that Arthur as hero has taken the place formerly occupied by the 

1 Tawney*s translation, I, 300 ff. I owe this reference to Professor Kittredge. 

2 Such as Nutt*s Legend of the Holy Grail, and Rhjs*s Arthurian Legend, so 
far as one cares to accept their conclusions. 

* This is a safe proposition, whatever may be the outcome of the current dis- 
cussions as to the matiire de Bretagne. 

* Loth, Mabinogion, II, 305 ; Rh^s, Arthurian Legend, pp. 19, 336-337. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 91 

more early-famed Kei and Bedver, who are here retained in sub- 
ordinate roles and are still represented as principals in the similar 
affair with Dillus Varvawc in the tale of Kulhwch and Olwen.^ 

Just at the close of the duel, Geoffrey alludes to the story of 
another single combat between Arthur and the giant Ritho, — a 
personage whom, with his very peculiar characteristics, Welsh and 
Romance literature shows to have belonged to ancient tradition.^ 
The most significant thing to note here is the decisive evidence 
which Geoffrey thus gives (though in fact we do not need it) that 
he knew popular tales of which he made no extended use. 

One of the most remarkable figures in Geoffrey's History is Mer- 
lin, and, while no conclusion seems likely to be reached as to his 
real existence, or as to the origin of his name,' there is no doubt that 
he was known in Celtic tradition before Geoffrey's time.* Though 
this tradition (as it has come down to us) represents Merlin as a 
great bard, and Geoffrey, on the other hand, makes him a prophet 
and magician, it seems likely that the prophetic character, at least, 
had already been associated with him before Geoffrey wrote.* 

1 For the whole incident, with parallels, see San-Marte, pp. 401-402 ; Rh^s, 
Celtic Heathendom y p. 161, with references; Rhys, Arthurian Legend^ pp. 339 ff. ; 
Branscheid, Quellen des Morte Arthure, Anglia^ 1885, VIII, Anzeiger, pp. 189-191, 
etc. ; Le Roux de Lincy, Livre des Ligendes, 1836, p. 104, with references; Frey- 
mond, Artus* Kampf tnit dem Katzenungetum (in the Festgabe fur Grdber^ 1899) 5 
Guil. de St. Paier, Roman du Mt. St. Michel, vv. 455 ff. (ed. Redlich and Stengel, 
Ausg. u. Abhandl.y 1894, XCII). P. Paris has pointed out, probably with too 
much emphasis, resemblances to the story of Hercules and Cacus (Ovid, Fasti^ i, 
545-580; Virgil, ^neidy viii, 185-279; Livy, i, 7). Cf. also p. 163, below. 

2 See San-Marte, p. 40^ ; Rhys, Celtic Folklore, pp. 560-562 ; Triads, Nos. 54, 
55, in Loth, Mabinogion, II, Nos. 1 31-132, pp. 289-290; Malory, i, 24; Li Cheva- 
liers as Deus Espees, ed. Foerster, 1877, vv. 199-312, 2081 ff. Cf. Orvar-Odds 
Saga, chap. 23. 

* For one theory, see d*Arbois de Jubainville, Rev. des Questions Historiques, 
1868, V, 559-568 ; Phillimore, Y Cymmrodor, XI, 47. 

* On Merlin in general, see Lot, Les Sources de la Vita Merlini, 1900, reprinted 
from Annales de Bretagne, XV. 

* Note also that Wace, only twenty years after Geoffrey, knew Taliessin as a 
prophet, ascribing to him a prediction of the birth of Christ (Brut, ed. Le Roux 
de Lincy, vv. 4972-4993). In Welsh tradition Taliessin and Merlin are exactly 
similar figures. 



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92 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

That prophecies similar to these given by Geoffrey, to whomever 
they may have been ascribed, were current at an earlier day, Geof- 
frey himself indicates by twice referring^ to the prophecy of the 
eagle at Shaftesbury ; while Giraldus Cambrensis, who wrote only 
fifty or seventy-five years after Geoffrey, in mentioning prophecies 
of Merlin Silvestris, several times couples with them those of an 
Irishman called Melingus.^ The previous connection of the idea 
with Merlin is suggested by the fact that Geoffrey himself men- 
tions,* without reciting it, a prophecy of Merlin to Arthur, while 
William of Newburgh, in attacking Geoffrey's History^^ especially 
includes the prophecies of Merlin among the things which Geoffrey - 
took from the Britons and enlarged by additions of his own. 
Moreover, Giraldus Cambrensis quotes many prophecies of Merlin^ 
taking it for granted that they are very old, and the majority of 
these do not correspond to anything which Geoffrey gives.* 

Merlin's first appearance in Geoffrey is as the supernatural boy 
in the story of Vortigern's tower, which Geoffrey took from Nennius. 
In Nennius, however, the boy is called Ambrosius, The change^ 
which does away with a confusing doublet of the warrior Aurelius 
Ambrosius^ is a very happy one. There are at least two indications 
that it was made by Geoffrey himself: (i) in the book of prophe- 
cies and once in the last part of the preceding book Geoffrey calls 
Merlin Ambrosius Merlinus ;^ (2) Giraldus Cambrensis, who falls 
into the error of supposing that there were two different Merlins,^ 
ascribes to Merlin Ambrosius only prophecies which he takes from 
Geoffrey, and to Merlin Silvestris (or Celidonius) only those which 

1 ii, 9, 15; xii, 18, I. • 

3 Expug. Hib.^ i, 16, Works, Rolls Series, V, 254 ; i, 30, p. 276; i, 33, p. 279. 

* xii, 17, 7. * See pp. 1 01-102, below. ^ See p. 93, note i, below. 

• vi, 19, 18 (in the passage that introduces the book of prophecies) ; vii, 3, 8. la 
all other places (vi, 17 and 18 and 19 ; vii, i and 2 and 3 and thenceforth) Geoffrey 
uses the form Merlinus. But in vi, 19, 13-14 he takes pains to explain : MerlinuSy 
qui et Ambrosius dicebatur. It looks as if Geoffrey were making the identifica- 
tion precisely in order to appropriate the tower episode to his Merlin. Cf. G. 
Paris, Rom., 1883, XII, 370, n. 5. 

■^ Itin. Kambriae, ii, 8, Works, VI, 133 ; Descr. Kambriae, i, 16, p." 196. This error 
has been common ever since. It is a natural result of the great difference between 
Geoffrey's portrayal of Merlin in the Historia and that in his Vita Merlini. 

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Geoffrey of Monmouth 93 

do not appear in Geoffrey's work.^ Giraldiis says that (with diffi- 
culty, in a remote place) he found a copy of the predictions of 
"Celidonius" in the British tongue.* But Geoffrey's Merlin is a 
magician as well as a seer : he transports Stonehenge from Ireland,' 
and he changes the shapes of Uther and his companions. It is 
doubtful if this character had been ascribed to Merlin before Geof- 
frey wrote. Probably the exploits just mentioned (and other sim- 
ilar ones) belonged to Welsh tradition,* but there is no evidence 
that Merlin had been associated with them. 

On the whole, Geoffrey's extension of the role of Merlin beyond 
that of the boy Ambrosius is not very considerable. Nennius 
associates Ambrosius with Vortigern only ; Geoffrey carries Merlin 

1 The passages taken from Geoffrey are as follows : De Invectt i, 4, p. 27 
(Geoffrey, vii, 3, 58-59); id., ii, i, p. 46, De JurCy ii, p. 171, and Itin. Kambriaet 
i» 5» P- 56 (Geoffrey, vii, 3, 27) ; De Prin. Inst.y ii, p. 216, and Expug. Hib.y ii, 31, 
p. 374 (Geoffrey, vii, 3, 84); Top. Hib^y iii, 52, p. 201, and Expug, Hib.y ii, 28, 
p. 366 (Geoffrey, vii, 3, 89-90) ; Expug. Hib.y i, -i^^y P- 279 (Geoffrey, vii, 3, 87-88). 
Cf. Descr. Kambriaey i, 16, p. 197, and ii, 7, p. 216. Ward (I, 293-294) speaks of 
the passages ascribed to Silvestris, which are as follows: Expug. Hib.y i, 3, 
p. 230; i, 16, p. 254; i, 20, pp. 261-262; i, 30, p. 276; i, 2iZ> P- 279; i» 45» P- 300; 
ii» I7» p. 339; ii» 3i» P- 374? ii. 3i» PP- 377-378; ii, 32, P- 381 ; Itin. Kambriaey 
i, 6, p. 62 ; cf. Expug. Hib.y i, 38, p. 287. For instances not connected with the 
Arthurian material, see p. 181, note 7, below. 

2 Itin. Kambriaey ii, 6, p. 124 ; ii, 8, p. 133 ; Expug. Hib.y iii, praef., pp. 401-403. 
' viii, IO-T2. That Geoffrey had any definite basis for most of the details 

included in this episode no one has ever shown, though Rh^s has a theory to 
account for some of them (Celtic Heathendom y pp. 187-194). But evidently tradi- 
tions about the origin of the stones must have been current from the time when 
people first ceased to know the facts. The mention of Ireland as the place from 
which they came is very likely due in part to the supernatural character attributed 
to them ; but it is perhaps connected with an actual fact of Irish topography, which 
may have been known to Geoffrey or some predecessor. Geoffrey says that the 
stones stood originally on Mount Killaraus in Ireland, and Giraldus Cambrensis 
(Tb/. Hib.y ii, 18, Works y V, 100) notes that similar stones are still to be seen in 
Kildare, near Naas. Rhys ( Text of the B ruts from the Red Booky p. xxxi) remarks 
that Irish literature corroborates the supposition of the existence of a circle like 
Stonehenge in Ireland. 

* Cf. Schofield, Publ. Mod. Language Assoc, 1901, XVI, 417 ff. The rational- 
izing Geoffrey suppresses the magic in this particular episode and represents Merlin 
as employing special machinery. 


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94 Arthurian Material in Chronic ks 

on into the two following reigns, but does not have him appear after 
the time of Uther. Yet, here, as elsewhere, Geoffrey gives evidence 
of genuine literary skill. For some such figure, a being (whether 
supernatural or not) Endowed with extraordinary wisdom, comes into 
prominence in most epic stories, — Nestor, for example, by the side 
of Agamemnon, and Naime de Bavi^re by the side of Charlemagne.^ 
As the Arthurian legend* developed, Aurelius and Uther sank into 
comparative insignificance, and Merlin was intimately associated 
with Arthur. In the prose romances especially he is constantly 
brought into the foreground, so that his importance to the tradition 
becomes as great as that of any character except the king himself. 

Antecedent stories, originally mythic, may safely be inferred as 
the sources from which Geoffrey took the names of some of Arthur's 
knights who are celebrated in the later romances: Gawain;^ 
Cador, whom he makes Duke of Cornwall,'^ a personage prominent 
in the triads and romances;* Eyentus^ (son of Urien), the Owain, O','^^^'^^^ 
or Yvain, of Welsh and French tales; Hiderus, son of Nu,' who is .^^^ 
Yder, son of the god Nudd of the Celtic pantheon ; and Er, son of 
Hiderus,'' less well known to us. Geoffrey's very incidental manner 
of mentioning these heroes indicates that he knew more about them 
than the plan of his book allowed him to state, and took for granted 
the same knowledge in his readers. This is doubtless especially true in 
the case of Gawain, whose exploits as a warrior in Arthur's battles he 
magnifies as much as the romances exalt his prowess as knight-errant. 

Certainly mythical in origin is the idea of Modred's abduction 
of Guenevere. In the romances, the abductor is generally Melwas, 
originally an infernal divinity, and there is no proof that any one 
before Geoffrey had substituted Modred for him. The antiquity 

1 Cf. Maugis as helper of Renaut in Renaut de Montauban^ and cf. also the 
angels in Chanson de Roland^ vv, 2452, 2525 ff., 2847-8, 3610 ff. 

2 Cf. pp. 104-105, below. See Miss Weston's Legend of Sir Gawain, 1897. 
8 ix, I, 34, etc. 

* Cf. Lot, Rom., 1 90 1, XXX, 11-12, and see p. 106, below. ^ xi, i, 28. 

^ X, 4, 56. The printed texts omit filius Nu, but it occurs in all the manuscripts 
of Geoffrey that I have examined (though the spelling of the latter name varies) 
and also in several chronicles which draw from Geoffrey. Cf. pp. 99, 103, below. 

■^ X, 5, 32. The printed texts, but not the manuscripts, omit the proper name 
Er^ which also occurs in various derivatives of Geoffrey's narrative. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 95 

of the episode as connected with Melwas is evidenced not only by 
its frequent occurrence but by its inclusion in the Life of Gildas 
ascribed to Caradoc.^ 

It is clear, then, that plenty of popular traditions (many of them, 
at least, of mythic origin) are worked into the Arthurian part of 
Geoffrey's History, It is equally evident that in their first stage 
these stories must have been entirely disconnected, and altogether 
possible that before the time of Geoffrey they had not been asso- 
ciated with Arthur at all. In other words, Geoffrey, unless he 
really had a comprehensive liber^ must have brought together and 
combined names and incidents from many diverse quarters. It 
remains to point out the mythical and folklore elements in Geof- 
frey's conception of Arthur as an individual. It will be most con- 
venient to present the facts first, and afterwards to discuss the 
theories as to their significance. 

That Geoffrey removes Arthur from the story not by death ^ hut 
by transportation to the isle of Avallon for the healing of his 
wounds, is manifestly the result of a mythical story which he knew, 
and of which more will soon be said.* Nor is any argument nec- 
essary to prove that Arthur's possession of weapons with special 
names,* — the shield Pridwen,* the sword Caliburnus, and the 

1 See p. 105, below. Cf. Lot, Rom., XXIV, 327 ff., XXVII, 568 ; Rhys, Arthu- 
rian Legend, pp. 25-38. Here is to be mentioned what seems to be an uninten- 
tional preservation by Geoffrey of a fragment of an old story. He says (xi, i, 
39 ff.) that when Arthur won his first victory over Modred, Guenevere fled from 
Eboracum to Urbs Legionum, where she became a nun. He has not previously 
mentioned Eboracum in connection with Guenevere or the war, and there is 
nothing in his previous narrative to show why he thought of her being there. 
Supporters of the Northern theory of the Arthurian cycle certainly have a right to 
note this fact. 

2 He leaves this point doubtful, perhaps for political reasons. 
' See pp. 1 00-101, below. 

* ix," 4. Cf . Arthur's list of his treasured possessions in the tale of Kulhwch and 
Olwen (Lady Guest, Mabinogion, II, 258) ; what is said of the mantle in the Dream 
ofRhonabwy (II, 406) ; the sword of Leite in Irish story (Rom., XXVII, 563) ; Talies- 
sin's poem on the Spoils of Hades (Skene, Fottr Ancient Books, I, 264). See Brown, 
The Round Table before Wace, in Studies and Notes, 1900, VII, 199, note. 

* The printed texts read Priwen, but all the manuscripts of Geoffrey that I 
have consulted have the d. 


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96 Arthurian Material in Chronic ks 

lance Ron, — is a remnant of mythical Celtic stories. In Geof- 
frey's narrative these arms are a mere traditional survival, in which 
he does. not take much interest. In this same place he mentions 
Arthur's coat-of-mail and helmet without distinguishing them other- 
wise than by saying of the former that it was worthy of so great 
a king, and of the latter that it was adorned with the figure of a 
dragon ; and later, in the fight with FloUo,^ when he has special 
occasion to speak of Arthur's lance, he does not care or does not 
remember to name it. The name of the sword, however, was more 
thoroughly impressed upon him; for he gives it twice in other 

The theory of the mythical origin of Arthur as a foreign conqueror 
has already been stated.* 

That Geoffrey's picture of Arthur, then, contains mythical and 
folklore elements, is certain. On the other hand, as has been 
shown, it has a definite historical or pseudo-historical basis. The 
discussion is brought, therefore, to this question : Were the myth- 
ical features added by Geoffrey, or by .popular tradition before his 
time ? 

This question must be answered in accordance with one of two 
theories. The first holds that the mythical characteristics are only 
the dibris of stories told originally about other figures, whether they 
were transferred to Arthur by Geoffrey, or were attracted to him by 
earlier and less deliberate development, after tradition had magni- 
fied his exploits. The second assumes that, besides the historical 
Arthur, there was an old Celtic god or " culture-hero " of the same 
name, who, in the breakdown of Celtic mythology, became con- 
fused with the famous warrior. This latter theory is by no means 
new. It was set forth or taken for granted in several works a cen- 
tury or more ago, and has since been upheld in various others.* 

1 ix, II, 60. 

2 ix, II, 75; X, 11, 16. On Arthur's arms, cf. p. 162, below. 
8 See p. 83, above. 

* For example, the Rev. Edward Davies's fantastic Mythology of the Druids ; 
Owen, Cambrian Biography^ 1803, PP- ^3-i8- Cf. also Poste, p. 129; Babcock, 
p. 135 ; Nicholson, Academy, 1895, XLVIII, 297 ; Herbert, Britannia after the 
Romans y II, 21. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 97 

Its chief exponent, however, is Professor Rhys, who has stated a 
general principle which is the foundation of the whole hypothesis : 
" In Irish and Welsh literature, the great figures of Celtic mythol- 
ogy usually assume the character of kings of Britain and the sister- 
island . . . and most of the myths of the modern Celts are to be 
found manipulated so as to form the opening chapters of what has 
been usually regarded as the early history of the British Isles." ^ 
This principle, in its general form, may pass without challenge, and 
its application has been illustrated more than once in the present 
investigation. The question is whether it applies to Arthur^ for whose 
figure there is really an historical or pseudo-historical basis. 

Professor Rhys's argument is somewhat extended.^ It is based 
chiefly on an etymology of Arthur's name, and on the fact that 
the tasks which he gets performed for Kulhwch in the Welsh tale 
are largely such as would be suitable for a "culture-hero." But 
Professor Rhys himself admits that very likely Arthur ought to be 
regarded rather as a Celtic Zeus, and his theory certainly cannot 
be regarded as proved for either character. Fortunately its truth 
or falsity is of no great consequence in the present discussion. For 
the later development of the story it makes no difference whether the 
mythical characteristics were simply transferred to Arthur en masse 
from some other personage, or slowly grouped about his nai||e one 
by one. Yet it is safer on the whole to proceed in accordance 
with the other theory, which is more in harmony with the facts in 
parallel cases. We may assume, then, that these characteristics of 
Arthur do not constitute the torso of a single colossal figure rescued 
from the wreck of the Celtic pantheon,* but rather that they are 
fragments of other figures brought together from many quarters 
and combined into a whole to which Arthur's name was given. 
The question remains, therefore, — Had they been assigned to 
Arthur before the time of Geoffrey ? And with this is closely asso- 
ciated another question, — Had Arthur already been represented 
as the great national hero of the British race ? The answer in both 
cases must certainly be in the affirmative. 

^ Celtic Heathendom y pp. 11 9-1 20. * Arthurian Legend^ pp. 23, 25-38. 

8 As Rh^s expresses it (Arthurian Legend^ p. 48). 


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98 Arthurian Material in Chronic ks 

That legends had begun to gather about the figure of Arthur 
long before Geoffrey, is shown by the mirabilia of Nennius and by 
entries in the Annales Cambriae and in the Vatican and Cambridge 
manuscripts of Nennius.^ But there is other evidence of equal or 
even greater importance. 

Not without significance, in the first place, is the space which 
Geoffrey allots to Arthur. The Historia covers a period, presum- 
ably, of over fifteen hundred years, but more than a fifth part of 
it ^ is devoted to Arthur's reign,* — more than twice as much as is 
given to the eponymous Brutus, who comes next to Arthur in this 
respect. Would Geoffrey ever have thought of exalting so highly 
a character no better known than Arthur would have been from 
the meagre account of Nennius t 

Again, Geoffrey himself says flatly in his preface that the deeds 
of Arthur were celebrated in the memory of many peoples.* The 
force of this statement is decreased, not only because it is Geoffrey 
who makes it, but because he couples with Arthur "other kings 
after his time." Still, we have seen* that the language of Henry 
of Huntingdon allows the inference that he knew Arthur as a king 
supreme over the other kings of the island ; and that William of 
Malmesbury, likewise writing before Geoffrey, testifies explicitly to 
the extravagance of the British ideas about him.^ Still more 
striking evidence appears in the picture of Arthur as a king and 
knight-errant which William gives in his De Antiquitate Glastoni- 
ensis Ecclesiae^ though the authenticity of this episode has been 
questioned by high authority.* In the section De lUustri ArturOy 
William says : 

1 See pp. 15, note 7, 16, 28, 32-34, above. 2 ^g printed pages out of 174. 

8 As much more to the period before the accession of Arthur, which I have 
here treated as belonging to the Arthurian story. 

* See p. 51, above. ^ See p. 42, above. ® See p. 40, above. 

7 Migne, Patrol Lat, CLXXIX, col. 1701 ; also in Gale, I, 307. The passage 
reappears in the enlarged version of William's work by John of Glastonbury (who 
flourished about 1400), ed. Hearne, 1726, I, 76. 

8 G. Paris, Hist Litt. de la France, XXX, 199; cf. Holtzmann, Germania, XII, 
276-277. On the date of the De Antiquitate, see Stubbs, Introduction to the Gesta 
Regum, pp. xxvii-xxviii. On the story in general, see Lot, Rom.,, XXVII, 568. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 99 

It is narrated in the deeds of the most illustrious king Arthur ^ that when, 
at a celebration of the birthday of our Lord at Karlium, he had adorned a 
valiant youth, the son of King Nuth, called Ider, with military insignia, and, 
for the sake of proving him, had brought him to the mountain of the Ranae 
(now called Brentenol), where, as he had learned, there were three giants 
most distinguished for their misdeeds, to fight against them, — this same 
youth went ahead of Arthur and his companions without their knowledge, 
boldly attacked the giants, and killed them in a marvellous fight. When 
they had been slain, Arthur came up, found Ider overcome with the exces- 
sive exertion, and fallen into a swoon, and together with his attendants 
mourned him for dead. Therefore, returning home in the greatest sorrow, 
he left there the body which he supposed to be lifeless until he could send 
a vehicle to bring it away. 

William (or the interpolator) then goes on to say that Arthur, 
thinking himself the cause of Ider's death, made an endowment at 
Glastonbury, when he arrived there, for twenty-four monks to pray 
for the youth's soul. Later on, Arthur is mentioned^ at the head 
of the benefactors of Glastonbury Abbey.* 

Besides these references previous to Geoffrey's time, quite as much 
importance ought to be assigned to a large number of passages in 
various works, written not long after his History^ which represent 
Arthur as a great hero or king or refer to traditional stories so 
representing him. 

Any one not blinded by preconceived contrary theories must admit 
the force of the fact that in all the French romances, like those of 
Crestien, which began to be written, to our knowledge, within less 
than thirty years after Geoffrey's History (and in fact probably 
earlier), Arthur appears in the characteristic romance position as 
the mere centre of a great court of knights-errant. In any romance 
cycle such a development requires a long time. It could not have 
come so soon from Geoffrey's story alone. 

More direct is the evidence of Wace in observations which he 
inserts in his paraphrase of Geoffrey, observations which, though 
made about twenty years later than the Historian clearly refer to 

1 Cf. p. 231, below. 

2 Migne, col. 1723 ; Gale, p. 326. 

8 For another somewhat similar story told by William, see pp. 103-104, below. 


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lOO Artkurian Material in Chronicles 

conditions which had long existed. After telling of Arthur's con- 
quests in the North, he says^ that, because his barons quarrelled 
about precedence at feasts he "made the Round Table, of which 
* Bretons* tell many a fable." Here Wace introduces a popular 
tradition about Arthur as a great king, of which Geoffrey gives no 
hint whatever, and says that with the " Bretons " (whether Armor- 
icans or Welsh) it is a subject of many fabulous stories. Later ^ 
he indicates that Arthur was in his time, and apparently had long 
been, the central figure of a whole cycle of romantic adventures : 
" In this great peace that I mention — I don't know whether you 
have heard of it — the marvels were proved and the adventures 
performed which are so much told about Arthur that they have 

Ms been turned into fables. Not all of them are false and not all true ; 

I' not all foolishness and not all sense ; but the story-tellers have told 

so much and the writers of fables fabled so much to embellish their 
tales, that they have made the whole seem fables." Evidently 
Wace makes this remark because, knowing the stories, he thinks 
they should be mentioned in any complete account of Arthur's 
reign, and he is evidently relieved to find a period in Geoffrey's 
narrative to which they can plausibly and consistently be assigned. 
Again, in speaking of the coming of Arthur to Avalon,' Wace pre- 
serves the essential feature of the story, which Geoffrey omitted ; * 
namely, that not only was his recovery there taken for granted by 
the " Bretons," but that they believed he would return td them at 
some later time. " He is still there ; the * Bretons ' await him ; 
they say that he will come back and live again." 

The idea that Avalon as the refuge of Arthur was something 
more than an abode of mortals was fully expressed by Geoffrey 
himself in the Vita Merlini^ some years after the publication of his 
Historia, His description, though written in a conventionally 

1 Ed. Le Roux de Lincy, vv. 9994 ff. ; cf. p. 142, below. 

2 Vv. 10,032 ff. 

* V. 13,685. For Layamon*s paraphrases of these statements of Wace, see 
w. 22,955 ff., 23,053 ff., 28,610 ff. 

* Perhaps, as we have seen, for political reasons (see p. 95, note 2, above). 
• * Vv. 912 ff., ed. Michel and Wright, pp. 36-37. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth loi 

poetical style, shows clearly enough the direct descent of the story / 
from the general Celtic conception of the Happy Other World. ( 

Even earlier, probably, than in Wace's Brut^ the belief among 
the Britons that Arthur would return to vindicate their rights was 
alluded to by Geoffrey Gaimar,^ and indeed by Henry of Huntingdon 
in his letter to Warinus (1139).^ About 1190 Joseph of Exeter 
refers to it in his Troy poem.* It is also mentioned by Giraldus 
Cambrensis.* How strongly it was held among the Armoricans by 
1 1 75 appears in the often-quoted passage in which Alanus de Insulis 
says that denial of it in the country districts of Brittany would be 
likely to .cost a man his life.^ Most significant of all is the account 
of the begging journey of the monks of Laon to Cornwall, appended 
to the autobiography of Guibertus of Novigentum. This proves 
that as early as fl 146 the Bretons (of Armorica) used to quarrel 
with the French ^bout Arthur, and that as early as 11 13 a belief 
in his return was a more sacred thing to the men of Cornwall and 
Devon than church, monks, or miracles.* 

Evidence of the same general nature is furnished by William of 
Newburgb in the long and violent attack which he makes upon 
Geoffrey in the Frooemium to his own history of England, written 
about 1 198.'' Geoffrey, he says, "disguised under the honorable 
name of history, thanks to his Latinity, the fables about Arthur 
which he took from the ancient fictions of the Britons and increased 
out of his own head.^ ... I pass by all the things about the 
Britons before the time of Julius Caesar which this fellow invented, 
or adopted after they had been invented by others, and wrote down 
for true. ... It is manifest that everything which this person 
wrote about Arthur and his successors, and his predecessors after 

^ See pp. 125 ff., below. ^ See p. 120, below. » '^^ 472-473. 

* De Prin, Instruct.^ i, Worksy Rolls Series, VIII, 127 ; Spec. Eccles., ii, 9, IV, 
48 ff. * Prophetia Anglicana^ etc., Frankfort, 1603, bk. i, p. 17. 

• For the fullest discussion of the affair, with references, see Zimmer, Ztsch. f. 
franz. Spr.y 1891, XIII, 106-112. On the expectation of Arthur's return to earth, 
cf. also below, pp. 145, 165, 167, 188, 190, 197, 202, 207, 230. 

■^ The latest edition is that of Howlett, Vols. I and II of Chronicles of Stephetiy 
etc., Rolls Series, 1 884-1 885. See his Introduction. 

8 Fabulas de Arturo, ex priscis Britonum fignientis sumptas et ex proprio auctas. 


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I02 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Vortigern, was made up partly by himself and partly by others; 
whether from an inordinate love of lying or for the sake of pleasing 
the Britons, of whom the majority are said to be so brutishly stupid 
that, according to report, they still look for Arthur as if he would 
return, and will not listen to any one who says that he is dead. . . ." 
He afterward says that the same Arthur, after he was mortally 
wounded in battle,^ " disposed of his kingdom and went away to that 
island of Avallon which the British fables create ; not daring, for 
fear of the Britons, to say that he is dead whose return the stupid 
Britons expect." 

Even before the time of Geoffrey the fame of Arthur and some 
of his knights had made its way to Italy, as is pretty conclusively 
shown by the facts about Italian names brought forward by Rajna^ 
and by the sculpture on the cathedral of Modena discussed by 

Since, then, there can be no doubt that Geoffrey found the figure 
of Arthur already endowed by popular tradition with mythical 
attributes and exalted in some respects, at least, to the position of 
the national hero of the British race, it becomes important to deter- 
mine how much of his conception he may have taken from this 
traditional source. 

Now the evidence on this point is dubious. Almost none of the 
extant mediaeval Welsh literature is free from the suspicion (often 
a certainty) of having been composed later than Geoffrey's time, 
and therefore, if it pretends to treat of Welsh historical figures, of 
having been influenced by him. Nevertheless, we may reason back- 
ward from this literature, much as we do from the French romances. 
All its indications point to the conclusion that Geoffrey's work- 
manship consisted in refining and magnifying the figure of Arthur 
which previously existed in the popular imagination. Though 
Skene's defense of the great antiquity of the poetry ascribed to 

^ Letaliter vulneratum, Geoffrey's jown expression (xi, 2, 56). 

2 Gli Eroi brettoni nelV Onomastica italiana, etc. (Rom.y 1887, XVII, 161-185, 

355 «•)• 

8 Ztsch.f. Rom. Phil., 1898, XXII, 243 ff., 526-529. Villemarqu^, Romans de la 
Table Ronde, i860, pp. 23-24, mentions a bas-relief in a Breton church which may 
possibly give evidence for an Arthurian "cult" in Brittany about iioo. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 1 03 

bards of the sixth century has been disproved for most of the 
poems, ^ yet it seems to be agreed that some of them antedate 
Geoffrey ; and in all of these which mention Arthur and his knights 
the pictures are chiefly those of brave warriors not distinguished 
above many other Celtic heroes, nor is Arthur himself always made 
to appear the superior of the rest.^ We have already seen that the 
ninth- or tenth-century mirabilia of Nennius represent Arthur simply 
- as a miles. Among the tales, only that of Kulhwch and Olwen can 
be used for evidence, and the Red Book of Hergest, the manuscript 
in which it occurs, is three or four centuries later than Geoffrey, so 
that the story may contain many late features, even if, as Rh^s 
supposes,* it was mainly composed as early as the tenth century. 
Now, while it makes Arthur the head of an immense concourse 
and court of knights — comprising nearly all the figures of Welsh 
mythology — and speaks of his having conquered lands that seem 
to include the greater part of the known world, the very compre^- 
hensiveness of the lists of knights and countries indicates that 
many of them, at least, may have been added very late ; and, in 
spite of Arthur's glory, the tale still represents him as performing 
(though generally by deputy) such trivial tasks as the collection of 
scattered grain or the winning of certain dogs, — f olkloi:e common- 
places which go back to the primitive condition of society reflected 
in all the Welsh mythology. It is doubtless easy to lay too much 
stress on the idea of primitiveness, because the Welsh imagination 
as revealed in its stories always continued so naive, but the impor- 
tant point is that the stories which Geoffrey knew must have been 
pervaded with this element of what seems uncouthness to the mod- 
ern Teutonic mind. Very similar is the evidence of the triads,* 
but their age is so doubtful that they must be left out of account. 

The story of Ider in William of Malmesbury,^ if it be authentic, 
shows that even before Geoffrey wrote, Arthur had been represented 
as the centre of a court of knights-errant. Elsewhere, in a passage 

^ See, for example, Lot, Sources de la Vita Merlini. 

2 See Skene, Four Ancient Books ; Rhjs, preface to the Dent edition of 
Malory, I (1893), xx-xxiv. * Ed. Loth, Mabinogion^ II. 

* Dent Malory, p. xxxv. ^ See p. 99, above. 


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r04 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

of the Gesta Regum which is generally considered authentic,^ William 
speaks of Gawain, giving various interesting details. In the prov- 
ince of Wales called Ros,^ he says (some time not far from the year 
1090, we must infer), was discovered the tomb of " Walwen, who, 
being the son of Arthur's sister, was not unworthy of him. He 
ruled in that part of Britain which is still called Walweitha,* — 
a very valiant knight, but he was driven from his kingdom by the 
brother and nephew of Hengist ; first getting satisfaction, however, 
by inflicting great harm upon them. He shared deservedly in the 
glory of his uncle, because they deferred for many years the ruin of 
their falling country. The sepulchre of Arthur is nowhere known,* 
whence ancient songs ^ fable that he will come again. But the 
tomb of the other, as I have just said, was discovered in the time 
of King William upon the shore of the sea, fourteen feet in length ; • 
where it is said by some that he was wounded by enemies, and 
shipwrecked ; by others, that he was killed by his countrymen at a 
public feast. The truth, therefore, remains in doubt, but neither of 
them was unworthy of his fame." 

Geoffrey, then, did not invent the tradition that Gawain was the 
son of Arthur's sister ; he found it already in existence. He found 
also various tales about Gawain's death, — tales agreeing with his 
account in locating the event on the seashore, but differing widely 
as to the other circumstances."' Geoffrey's own version may very 
likely have been made over by him to suit his ^immediate purpose. 
William's account probably show^ a trace of the earlier Welsh 

1 iii, 287, ed. Stubbs, II, 342. 

2 In Pembroke (see G. Paris, Hist. Litt., XXX, 29). 
8 Galloway, according to Paris. 

* Nusquatn visitur. 

^ Antiquitas naeniarum. 

^ Probably this story rests on the actual fact of the discovery of some real 
tomb which either William or common popular opinion* may have assumed (per- 
haps on the basis of the stories which he mentions) to be that of Gawain. Pos- 
sibly, however, as Holtzmann suggested (Germania^ 1867, XII, 277-278), the 
grave may really have been, or have been thought to be, that of the Welsh king 
Maelgwyn (Gildas's Maglocunus^ Geoffrey's Mdlgo\ and William may have con- 
fused the names. 

■^ This is certainly true of one class of these tales. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 105 

conception in representing Gawain as an independent king.^ And 
evidently the Welsh fancy before Geoffrey had associated Gawain 
with the pseudo-historical account of the Saxon invasion.^ 

In certain Latin lives of Welsh saints, written not much later 
than the time of Geoffrey, and based upon material which must 
have been current in his day and earlier, appear the same primitive 
or less exalted Welsh conceptions of Arthur and his knights which 
have been already remarked upon. One of the most important of 
these stories occurs in the Lifeof Gildas ascribed to Caradoc of Llan- 
carvan, and therefore was recorded at just about the date of Geoffrey's 
History^ whether before or after cannot be certainly determined.* 
Here it is said * that Gildas was contemporary with Arturus, King 
of all Great Britain, whom he loved as Arthur deserved, and tried 
to obey. But his twenty-three brothers resisted "this rebel king," 
being unwilling to acknowledge a master, and made war upon him, 
especially the eldest, Hueil, who often engaged in successful raids 
from Scotland, and who was looked upon with favor by the people 
as destined to be their future king. Arthur, however, met him in 
battle in the isle of Minau and killed him. Gildas, who was then 
in Ireland, heard of this, but he obeyed the scriptural precept and 
prayed for Arthur. On his return to Britain he granted Arthur the 
pardon which he sought.^ 

Here it is to be especially noted that, though Arthur is king of 
the whole island, he is so only by usurpation. Properly he has 
equals. He is not acceptable to all the people and appears, on 
the whole, in a rather unfavorable light. A little later the writer 
gives the Arthur-Melwas story : ^ When Gildas was driven from 
the island on which he had been living, he went to the abbey of 
Glastonia. This was at that time besieged by "Arturus tyrannus," 

1 Cf. pp. 187, 251, below. 

2 For evidences of independent stories about Gawain or special praise of him, 
see pp. 139, 144, 163, 187, 197, 201, 207, 213, 218, 229, 258, below; contrast p. 123. 

8 Lot (Rom.y 1895, XXIV, 330) says about 1160. Cf. his remarks in Rom.^ 
XXVII, 565-566. * Mommsen's edition of Gildas, p. 108. 

^ The cause of Arthur's quarrel with Hueil is stated in Kulhwch and Olwen 
(Lady Guest, Mabinogion^ II, 263), where Hueil is briefly characterized (p. 260). 

• Cf. p. 95, above. 


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io6 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

because the "wicked king Melvas" of "the summer region,"^ after 
violating and carrying away Arthur's wife Guennvvar, had transported 
her thither for safer keeping. Arthur had searched a year before 
discovering her place of concealment, and now he had collected the 
whole army of Cornubia and Dibnenia. As the two kings are about 
to engage in battle, the abbot of Glastonia, with all the monks and 
Gildas, comes upon the field and advises Melwas to restore Arthur's 
wife. This he does, with an apparent tameness which quite spoils the 
story. Thus it seems that other kings were left in the island after all,, 
and that in the mind of some one through whose hands the tale passed, 
Arthur was king only of a small region in the southwest of England. 

Again, in the life of St. Carannog (preserved in a manuscript of 
about 1200)^ Arthur appears, as in Kulhwch and Olwetiy in the 
light of a destroyer of monsters. Arthur and Cato (Cador) hold 
sway in the region of the Severn, and reside at Dindrarthon. 
Arthur, who is engaged in hunting a terrible serpent, gives infor- 
mation as to the whereabouts of a supernatural altar belonging ta 
St. Carannog. In return, he requires the saint to fetch the serpent,, 
and the saint complies and tames him.* 

A life of St. Iltutus in the same manuscript * gives a rather dif- 
ferent picture of Arthur as a great conqueror and the centre of a 
rich court. Iltutus, then a soldier, hearing of the magnificence of 
Arthur, his relative, visits his court, where he finds a great num- 
ber of warriors {militum) and receives gifts to his heart's content. 

Still other lives of saints, which, though now preserved only in 
later manuscripts, may go back in origin to a time anterior to 
Geoffrey, represent Arthur in homely, undignified, and unworthy 

1 Somerset. 

2 MS. Cott. Vesp. A. xiv. 4, fols. 90-91 b\ Hardy, I, 46-47. Printed by 
W. J. Rees, Lives of Cambro British Saints^ pp. 97-101. The date is given on the 
authority of Lot, Nouvelles £tudes sur la provenance du cycle Arthurien^ Rom.^ 
1901, XXX, I. He says, following Phillimore, Y Cymmrodor^ XI, 128, that the 
lives of this manuscript were composed about Tioa 

8 It is interesting to note that this life represents Arthur as wishing to make 
the altar into a table and as being miraculously prevented, —^ an idea which looks 
as if it might be connected with the Round Table. Lot thinks this passage 
"clearly interpolated." 

* Fols. 42 b-t^2 ; Hardy, I, 92, No. 282 ; printed by Rees, pp. 158 ff. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 107 

•situations, — as punished like a naughty child for interfering with 
the saints ; ^ as taking the part of a ravisher,* or even as wrangling 
over the color of cows.® 

It is quite possible on the basis of the evidence to form an idea 
of the conception of Arthur which Geoffrey found current among 
the Welsh (and to a much less degree among the other peoples of 
his day) and which he took for the foundation of his own. The 
historical (or supposedly historical) tradition (partly represented by 
Nennius) had undergone considerable changes. In the popular 
estimation Arthur had become first a great king, and then a great 
conqueror, though foreign conquests* may not yet have been 
ascribed to him. He had been idealized as the national hero of 
the British race, and his destined return for the deliverance of his 
people was a matter of passionate faith both in Wales and in 
Brittany. Mythical traits and bits of folklore had become attached 
to him, and some at least of the earlier mythological figures of Cel- 
tic belief had been subordinated to him.* Further, he was some- 
times regarded as the centre of a group of distinguished heroes, a 
comitaius or court,^ and this court doubtless had some of those 
characteristics of knight-errantry"' which appear in the French 
romances. Of course there was no firm consistency in such a body 
of miscellaneous popular material. Current stories differed widely, 
not only in details but in their general conception of Arthur. 
Some traditions survived which were only compatible with the idea 

1 Life of St. Paternus, published, for instance, by Rees, pp. 188-197 ; Hardy, I, 
129, No. 387 (a misleading description). Cf., for the character of the story, MS. 
Cott. Cleop. D. viii. No. 2, fol. 2 a. 

2 Prologue to Life of St. Cadoc (Rees, pp. 23-24). 
8 Life of St. Cadoc (Rees, pp. 48-49). 

* Particularly the conquest of Gaul and Rome. 

6 It is possible, but only possible, that these mythological traits were trans- 
ferred to him (as Rh Js thinks) en masse from some ancient divinity with whom he 
was identified. 

« This is probable, whatever may be thought of the date of the Ider story in 
William of Malmesbury. Compare Conchobar and his court in the epic tradition 
of Ireland. 

' In a rudimentary way, of course, without chivalric manners and French or 
Norman costuming. Here again the Irish epic sagas should be borne in mind. 


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io8 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

of a petty prince, and the Welsh imagination, following its inerad- 
icable tendency, had no doubt connected the king with many 
anecdotes of an undignified or trivial character.^ 

We can form some opinion of the change which Geoffrey intro- 
duced into the story of Arthur's reign, as well as into all parts of 
his narrative, from the astonishment with which his History was 
received. It was doubtless Geoffrey who associated with Arthur 
some of the traditional episodes and figures that were originally 
unconnected with him. He may well have been the first to polish 
away the naivete of the Welsh conceptions, to draw Arthur in the 
colors of a king of his own day, and to add the wars of conquest in 
Gaul and against the Romans.^ Certainly it was he who introduced 
Arthur to the world as an important figure in universal history. 

IX. Geoffrey's Sources : (G) Contemporary Manners and 
THE Romantic Idea 

The general tone which Geoffrey substitutes in his History for 
that of the earlier British tales about Arthur is the tone, some- 
what idealized, of the chivalrous society of the Middle Ages. The 
change is not only important in itself, but it differentiates this part 
of Geoffrey's narrative from all the others. Wherever, indeed, he 
writes with much detail (of Brutus, Belinus, Cassibellaunus, or Cad- 
wallo), he draws to some extent, like all mediaeval authors, from the 
life of his own time ; but it is only here that he fully portrays a 
knightly court and knightly manners. 

It would not be true to say that Geoffrey completely transformed 
Arthur and his warriors into a Norman king with a Norman court 
of nobles.' Not even the latest romances went quite so far as that. 

1 For further indications of independent stories about Arthur, see pp. 138, 145, 

2 As already observed (p. 53, note 3), if De La Borderie's claim to have discov- 
ered Geoffrey's source should be admitted, the idea of conquests in France by 
Arthur was long antecedent to Geoffrey. Zimmer gives a full statement of his 
idea of the conception of Arthur before Geoffrey in Gdtt. Gel. Anz.^ 1890, pp. 521 ff. 

3 For instance, the first seven chapters of bk. ix, besides being largely based 
on Nennius, reflect mostly, as I have already said, the spirit of the period of the 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 1 09 

Nevertheless, the strong influence of Anglo-Norman life on Geof- 
frey's story is sufficiently evident. When Arthur has established 
himself in his kingdom ^ he is represented as doing the things most 
characteristic of the Anglo-Norman kings ; as ruling on a magnifi- 
cent scale in the same general manner and in the same state as 
they. His first act is to hold a Christmas feast at York.^ He is 
especially affected by the sight of the havoc that has been made of 
religion, and he calls together the clergy and people, appoints an 
archbishop,' and restores the churches. He also reinstates the 
nobles who have been expelled from their possessions ; in particular,* 
the three brother kings of Scotland, who are thus represented as 
his feudal vassals. At a later period ^ he distributes to the deserv- 
ing, lands and castles in Britain, and makes very important eccle- 
siastical changes. After conquering France he divides it * among 
various nobles. All this is exactly the sort of thing which William 
the Conqueror did when he had brought the country under control. 
Ordericus Vitalis tells ^ how in 1070 William convened a great 
assembly at Winchester and deposed unworthy churchmen ; and 
earlier,' how he confirmed the chief Saxon nobles in their posses- 
sions after they had taken the oath of allegiance. He says also ^ 
that when order was restored the princes and bishops began to 
reestablish the monasteries, whose monks had all been driven away. 
The division of a great part of the English lands among his own 
followers was one of William's chief actions. 

In expanding the Celtic conception of Arthur's household and 
stating* that the bravest warriors from far-distant lands were 
invited to join it, Geoffrey is not copying exactly from what he 

Danish and perhaps the historical Saxon invasions ; the conquests of Northern 
lands in chap. 10 are unexampled in Anglo-Norman history (the conquest of Eng- 
land itself is not a real parallel) ; the list of heathen kings in x, i, is from mediae- 
val poetry ; and the stories of the fights with the giants in x, 3, have lost little of 
their originally mythical-traditional character. 

1 Beginning with ix, 8. 2 jx, 8, 1-2. 

* Geoffrey has previously (viii, 12, 39 ff.) represented Aurelius as bestowing 
ecclesiastical honors, but Aurelius's reign as a whole is not greatly Normanized. 

* Chap. 9. 8 ix, II, 90-94. ® iv, i. 

5 ix, 14, 10 ff. ; ix, 15, 1-9. "^ iv, 6. ® ix, 11, i ff. 


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knew of the Norman courts, but he is doubtless giving an idealized 
and magnified picture of them, influenced somewhat by the roman- 
tic stories. One is reminded also of the host which William the 
Conqueror got together from all possible quarters in preparation for 
his invasion of England. The parallel is the more direct because 
Geoffrey makes Arthur set out on his foreign expeditions forthwith. 
The account of the great Pentecostal feast and of Arthur's second 
coronation ^ could not have been written in England until after the 
time of the Norman conquest.^ All the kings and lords of Arthur's 
realms are present, and the whole picture is one of extravagant 
courtly and chivalrous splendor and elegance, such as was unknown 
among the Saxons and Britons.® The idea of having Arthur 
crowned a second time * may have been suggested by the custom 
which the Norman kings followed, of having the diadem placed on 
their heads in the minster on the occasion of a great feast ; though 
perhaps Geoffrey intended rather to indicate that the second coro- 
nation was imperial, — a consequence of Arthur's conquests, — and 
the first, while his position was doubtful and far less glorious, only 
regal. But at any rate the ceremony in question used, with the 
Normans, to precede the passage to the banqueting hall, just as it 
does in Geoffrey's account.^ Since Arthur has just returned from 

1 ix, 12-14. 

2 Although it also contains elements of a very different character : the mention 
of the gymnasium of two hundred philosophers who by means of the stars foretold 
to Arthur coming prodigies (chap. 12, 11. 20 ff.) ; the mention of the twelve peers 
of France (1. 52) ; the strange assertion that the Britons followed the Trojan cus- 
tom of having men and women eat separately at feasts (chap. 13, 1. 24) ; the intro- 
duction of games, including hurling of stones (chap. 14, 1. 5). This last feature, 
though doubtless true to the habits of the lower classes, is hardly characteristic 
of Norman knights. It reminds one a good deal of the sports described by Virgil 
and other classic authors. 

8 Here Geoffrey may have been influenced as much by what he had seen at the 
castle of Robert of Gloucester or some other noble as by any particular ceremony 
at the royal court. 

* Cf. p. 167, below. 

* See Freeman's picture of a great festival of William Rufus (Reign of William 
Rufus^ II, 264). It may be noted that Geoffrey also represents Aurelius as crown- 
ing himself a second time (viii, 12, 35). 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 1 1 1 

his foreign conquests, there may be also a reminiscence of the cor- 
onation of William I as king of England. Certain definite histor- 
ical events of the Anglo-Norman period which Geoffrey seems to 
have imitated in his History have been already noted. ^ 

The most interesting adaptation of Norman history in Geoffrey's 
work is the process by which he makes over the old Celtic heroes* 
Kei and Bedver into great Norman nobles.^ After conquering 
France Arthur gives to Bedver his steward the province of "Neus- 
' tria, now called Normandy," and to Cajus his seneschal the 
province of Anjou. Bedver is buried ^ at Bajocae (Bayeux), which 
Bedver the first, his great-grandfather,* had founded, and Cajus ^ at 
Camus oppidunty which he himself had built. 

The chief historical facts to be here taken into account are as 
follows. The commonest Latin form of the name of the city Camus 
(now Caen) was Cadofnus,^ sometimes written "^ Kaii Domus, After 
1 1 32 the office of seneschal was one of the very highest at the 
Anglo-Norman court ; and the seat of the Norman exchequer, prob- 
ably as early as the time of Henry I, was at Caen. In France, the 
office of seneschal was at least equally important, and was hered- 
itary in the house of Anjou. Norman documents not much later 
than Geoffrey's History identify the praepositus of Bayeux with the 
steward of the Anglo-Norman court ; and, since all the great court 
offices were hereditary, there is no reason to doubt that the connec- 
tion went back to a still earlier period. William the Conqueror was 
buried at Caen, a city which he had so extensively rebuilt that he 
might almost be called its founder. 

1 See pp. 81-82, 85, above. 

2 ix, II, 90-92. The whole theory which follows was elaborated by Professor 
G. W. Benedict in his dissertation on Sir Kay^ not yet published. 

8 X, 13, 4-12. * Proavus. 

^ Geoffrey has here Cheudo (so all the manuscripts which I have examined 
except a poor one, Harl. 225, which reads Kaius), This may most satisfactorily 
be explained as a scribal error due to the fact that Eudo was the name of the 
seneschal of William the Conqueror (and also of William II) and that another 
Eudo, abbot of Caen, died in 1 140. 

* For earlier Catomagus. See Joret, Bulletin de la Soc, des Antiquaires de 
Normandie, 1895, XVII, as cited in Rom.y XXIV, 632. 

^ At least, after Geoffrey's day. 


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1 12 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

These facts in themselves, without comment, almost furnish 
the whole explanation. When Geoffrey wished, as in the develop- 
ment of his picture he naturally must have wished, to find some of 
Arthur's men to identify with the great lordships of his own time, 
he naturally thought first of Kei and Bedver, who were especially 
prominent in the old Celtic stories. The name AV/, or Kai^ in 
Geoffrey's Latinized form Cajus, inevitably suggested Cadomus ; 
Cadomus suggested the seneschalship, and the seneschalship (by 
an easy natural transition from the Anglo-Norman to the French 
court) suggested Anjou. This explains why Kei, the duke of 
Anjou, is connected with Caen, a city in Normandy. Kei being 
thus made a court officer, no other position more prominent than 
the stewardship remained^ for Bedver, and the alliterative resem- 
blance between Bedver and Bajocae was enough to clinch the asso- 
ciation. Besides, it was almost a matter of course that either 
Kei or Bedver should be made duke of Normandy, the most 
important Anglo-Norman possession in France. 

As to the burial of Cajus and Bedver, some other facts need 
to be brought out. Geoffrey says that Cajus was carried severely 
wounded ad Camum oppidum^ where he soon died, and that he was 
buried in a cemetery of monks not far from the town.^ William 
the Conqueror, after being fatally hurt, was carried to Rouen, and 
it soon became necessary, because of the noise of the city, to remove 
him to a monastery outside the walls. When he died he was buried 
at Caen in a church which he had founded.* The circumstances 
of his burial were so tragic as to fix the event firmly in people's 
minds. All this is in rather close parallel with what Geoffrey says 
of the death of Cajus. As for Bedver, his association with Cajus 
throughout the story involved, almost as a matter of course, their 
union in death. Geoffrey's gratuitous and rather surprising state- 
ment that one of Bedver's ancestors* had founded Bayeux is 
explained when we recall that, in contrast to Caen, Bayeux was 
an ancient city. 

1 Though the two identifications were more likely simultaneous. 

2 " In quodam nemore, in coenobio eremitarum . . . humatus est" (x, 13, 10-12). 
8 Cf. Ordericus Vitalis, vii, 16 (ed. Le Prevost, III, 250). 

* It may be noted that in the Mabinogion Bedver*s grandfather is named Bedrag. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 113 

Geoffrey has not only Norman ized the story of Arthur's reign ; 
he has also surrounded it with an atmosphere of romance.^ In the 
first place he has made of Arthur something not very different, in 
view of the great difference of his position, from the hero of a 
French Arthurian poem. Arthur's very existence, after a fashion 
very similar to that of the most approved knights of chivalrous 
stories, is due to the amour of a hero, using magic devices, with a 
noble lady.^ In the romances, also, fifteen years is the usual age 
for the commencement of the hero's exploits. Whether by inten- 
tion or by accident, Geoffrey has so treated the whole Nennian 
account of Arthur as to include it wholly at the very beginning of 
his career and thus to make it seem like the enfances of a biograph- 
ical romance. After this, Arthur in all his wars is rather the valiant 
knight than the skilful general. He engages in a duel, fought in 
conventional romantic style, and is gloriously victorious only after 
having been almost overcome. His. most romantic adventure, that 
of Mont St. Michel, may be a purely mythical survival, but it is 
none the less significant in this connection ; for the same is trud 
of many episodes in the romances, and Arthur's spirit in under- 
taking and prosecuting it is thoroughly characteristic of a knight- 

Geoffrey's Gawain, too, resembles a knight-errant (the Gawain 
of the romances) far more than he resembles a great feudal duke. 
His fame, like Arthur's, is measured by the slaughter he makes 
with his own hand in battle. The same is true of all the other 
lords. In the spirit of romance, also, is the requirement imposed 
by ladies of the court, that the warriors shall prove themselves 
valiant before they are esteemed worthy of love.^ So is the descrip- 
tion of the inspiration which the ladies give to youths who contend 
for honor in the sports.* The sports themselves, though seemingly 
reflecting other influences,* take the place of a regular tournament. 

1 Cf. also pp. 87-88, above. 

2 The whole idea goes back to older stories where the father was not a mortal, 
as in the lay of Tydorel. Cf. Bugge-Schofield, The Home of the Eddie Poems^ pp. 
74 ff., where are discussed the stories of Cormac, Wolfdietrich, Helgi, and others. 
Contrast p. 182, and note i, below. * ix, 14, 4. 

8 ix, 13, 40 ff. * Cf. p. no, note 2, above. 


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114 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

And Geoffrey stops to note that Guenevere was the most beautiful 
woman of the island.^ Altogether, then, Geoffrey has brought an 
undeniably romantic element into his narrative, though in general 
he is, in form and style, rather a chronicler than a romancer. 
Here, again, it is not impossible that Geoffrey was only following 
an idea already prevalent in Arthurian stories. It is certain that 
his procedure was wholly in accord with the tendency of the times. 
We cannot tell how far the Breton or Welsh minstrels had gone in 
bringing the Arthurian story into harmony with the life and con- 
ceptions of mediaeval chivalry. We cannot be sure that the French 
had not already adopted Arthur from them, and even begun to 
write metrical romances about his knights. But, however this may 
be, at least Geoffrey was the first to introduce the romantic atmos- 
phere into the chronicles, and the first to connect it with Arthur 
in a work which won widespread and lasting popularity. 

One important detail in Geoffrey's narrative of Arthur's reign is 
not to, be explained in connection with any of the above categories. 
This is his choice of Caerleon-upon-Usk ( Urbs Legionum) as Arthur's 
capital. There is no particular evidence that this association existed 
before Geoffrey's time, and it is generally assumed to be original 
with him.^ There is some force in the argument tJ^at he may have 
been glad to connect Arthur with a city very near to the domain 
of his patron, Robert of Gloucester.^ Further, the description which 
Giraldus Cambrensis gives of the Roman ruins of the city * shows 
that these may well have made a great impression on Geoffrey, or, 
for that matter, on any one who may have interested himself in 
Arthur before Geoffrey wrote. ^ 

1 ix, 9, 12; 2 cf. p. 163, below. 

8 Ward notes also {Catalogue^ I, 206) that the daughter of Geoffrey's foster- 
father Uchtryd was married to the lord of Caerleon. 

* Itin. Kambriae, i, 5 ( Works, VI, 55). 

s There is an article, still of some interest, on Caerleon, by T. Wakeman in 
Archaologia Cambrensis, 1848, III, 328-344. Wakeman states that, except for the 
legend of the martyrdom of Aaron and Julius, the local history of the city during 
the Roman period is a complete blank. 


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Geoffrey of Monmouth 115 

X. Final Words on the liber vetustissimus 

Having now completed our survey of the constituent elements of 
Geoffrey's Historia^ we may give a final word, to the liber vetus- 
tissimus. It is clear that any such work as Geoffrey describes, an 
"old book in the British tongue," cannot have included material 
from all the different categories which we have discussed. Such a 
book is not likely to have contained all Geoffrey's excerpts from 
Nennius, Bede, and Gildas ; it certainly would not contain the ideas 
suggested by William of Malmesbury and Henry of Huntingdon, 
nor those taken from late Saxon and Norman history and Norman- 
English life. If there was any liber at all, these things must have 
be^n added by Geoffrey. On the other hand, such a book might 
conceivably have included pretty much all the Celtic material 
(except, perhaps, legends local in England) ; that from mediaeval 
folklore and saga ; the incidents suggested by ancient history ; and 
— if we admit (what is possible enough) that the book may have 
existed even if Geoffrey's characterization of it as " very old " be 
false — it might have included the chivalrous and romantic ideas, 
so far as they were true to the life of France ^nd Normandy before, 
say, the twelfth century. 

But all this is merely conceivable, not probable or even reason- 
able. We cannot suppose that any such book recounted, as Geoffrey 
says of the liber^ all the acts of the British kings consecutively from 
Brutus to Cadwaladrus. And if there is no evidence that before 
the twelfth century any Welshman or Breton had had the idea of 
writing a connected history of his race from its origin, there is 
scarcely a possibility that any Celt before Geoffrey had dreamed of 
using materials in any such audacious way as the Historia exhibits. 
If, then, the liber existed, Geoffrey has certainly exaggerated his 
obligations to it. It could not well have contained much more than 
a number of Celtic traditional stories, perhaps somewhat embel- 
lished in a manner suggestive of Geoffrey's, and it can hardly have 
been of greater importance to Geoffrey than his other chief sources. 
But as a matter of fact, there probably was no liber at all. 


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The history of the Arthurian material in the chronicles after 
Geoffrey is the history of the treatment to which Geoffrey's version 
of the story was subjected by later writers. However much these 
chroniclers have changed or curtailed his account, the Historia 
stood alone in purporting to treat the whole period (in fact, the 
entire history of Britain) at length, and it was almost universally 
accepted as true or partly true. Hence any author who did not 
choose to ignore the Arthurian tradition was almost compelled to 
consider Geoffrey's narrative first of all. 

On its appearance the Historia naturally caused great astonish- 
ment, — how great may be judged from Henry of Huntingdon's 
often-quoted letter to his friend Warinus,^ in which he says that he 
was amazed when he came across the work.* The immense popu- 
larity which it almost immediately achieved is shown by a passage, 
also frequently quoted, in the preface which Alfred of Beverley, 
writing apparently about 1150, prefixed to his History} Alfred 
says that the hystoria Britonum (he never names Geoffrey) was such 
a universal subject for conversation that any one who did not know 
its stories was regarded as a clown. 

1 Printed in the chronicle of Robert de Torigni {Chronicles of Stephen and 
Henry II, ed. Howlett, Rolls Series, IV, 65 £f.), 

2 Stupens invent. 

8 Alfred's history is, in the earlier part, practically a mere condensation of 
Geoffrey (see p. 171, below). The only edition is that of Heame, Aluredi Bever- 
lacensis Annates, etc., Oxford, 17 16. For date, etc., see Ward, I, 211 ; Madden, 
Archaological Journal y 1858, XV, 305-308; Wright, Biog. Brit., Anglo-Norman 
Period, ^^. 155-158; letter of Bp. Lloyd in GutcVs Collectanea Curiosa, 1781, I, 
263-269; Hardy, II, 169-174. 



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We/sA Translations of Geoffrey 117 

I.. The Welsh Translations of Geoffrey and the Welsh 


First among all the chronicles after Geoffrey it is natural to con- 
sider the Welsh translations of the Historia} The date of these, 
indeed, is doubtful,^ and their very misleading statements about 
their authorship afford no information as to the real facts ; but 
by their language they stand in complete isolation from all other 
forms of the narrative, while in substance their agreement with the 
original is unusually close. Of the two classes into which the exist- 
ing manuscripts are roughly divided, the so-called Brut Gruffydd ab 
Arthur may be dismissed at once, since, as its title indicates, it is a 
literal rendering of Geoffrey's work. The other, the Brut Tysilioy^ 
follows Geoffrey rather closely, but with considerable condensation, 
with the addition of two or three distinct incidents in the non- 
Arthurian portion, and with some minor divergences. The follow- 
ing points deserve notice : 

Eigr (Geoffrey's Igema) is called the daughter of Amlawdd the 
Great;* Gwenhwyfar (Geoffrey's Guanhamara) is called the 
daughter of Gogfran the hero;^ and Cador, father of the Constan- 
tine to whom Arthur leaves the kingdom, is said to be the son of 

1 The text of Gruffydd ab Arthur is given in The Text of the B ruts from the Red 
Book of Hergesty ed. Rh^s and J. Gwenogvryn Evans, Oxford, 1890, pp. 40-256. 
The text of both is included in the Myvyrian Archaiology of fVa/es, 1 801-1807 
(later ed., 1870), II, 81-390. Of Tysilio there is an English translation by the 
Rev. Peter Roberts, The Chronicle of the Kings of Britain^ in Collectanea Cambrica^ 
181 1, republished by M. Pope as A History of the Kings of Ancient Britain^ 1862 ; 
there is also a German translation (from Roberts) by San-Marte in his edition of 
Geoffrey, pp. 475-619. See Ward, I, 254, 258; F. Zamcke, yb^r^. /. rom. u. 
engl. Lit., 1864, V, 249-264; ten Brink, id., 1868, IX, 241-270, especially pp. 262- 
270, arguing against the hypothesis of du Meril (id., I, 1-43, reprinted in his 
Etudes, 1862, pp. 214-272); Skene, Four Ancient Books, I, 23-24; Heeger, Tro- 
janersage, pp. 79-80. 

2 It can only be said that there is a manuscript of the Tysilio form written at 
the beginning of the thirteenth century (Rh^s and Evans, Text of the B ruts from 
the Red Book of Hergest, p. xiii). 

' So called from the legendary personage to whom its authorship was long ago 
erroneously attributed * San-Marte, p. 541. * P. 549. 


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1 1 8 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Gorlois.^ All these statements may possibly be details of the old 
British tradition from which Geoffrey drew, but it is quite as likely 
that they are elaborations on his text. 

It is stated that Arthur himself killed Medrod.^ This is inter- 
esting because it coincides with what Henry of Huntingdon says in 
an account to which we shall presently come ; * but it is so natural 
an enlargement of Geoffrey's account that no argument can be 
based on it Indeed, it may very likely be taken from Henry. 
Otherwise the Welsh version of the last battle agrees substantially 
with Geoffrey's, except that it gives the number of Medrod's 
divisions as nine instead of three.* 

A characteristic Welsh conception appears when Vortigern's 
magi are made into the twelve chief bards.* It is also said that, 
being ignorant of the real cause of the difficulty at the tower, 
they decided to prescribe an impossible remedy ; * and Maygan, to 
explain Merlin's birth, mentions not Apuleius and Socrates, but 
the fall of man and the instrumentality of Lucifer and the devils.'^ 
These are points of agreement with the prose Merlin, They can be 
explained on various hypotheses. They may be, and most prob- 
ably are, due to influence from the Merlin, Or they may be details 
of popular tradition which Geoffrey failed to insert, in which case 
they would be from the same source as the statement in the Merlin, 
Finally, since they are quite in the spirit of the Middle Ages, the 
coincidences may be due to independent elaboration of Geoffrey's 
narrative on the part of the Welsh author and of Robert de Borron. 

Some of Geoffrey's rationalization disappears in the story of how 
the Great Circle was moved. Myrddin by his [magic] art alone 
draws the stones to the ships after the warriors have failed.^ 

It is said® that in Uther's battle with Octa and Eosa^° the Saxons, 
not the Britons, were driven to a hill." This again is noteworthy 

1 So Roberts ; San-Marte (p. 567) omits. 

2 P. 567. 4 p. 566; Geoffrey, xi, 2, 19. 
8 See p. 120, below. * Pp. 532-533. 

* Cf. p. 146, below, on Gottfried of Viterbo. 
' Cf. pp. 144, 189, 195, note 4, below. 

® Pp- 538-539. Cf. p. 140, below. 

* P. 541. 10 Geoffrey, viii, 18. 

11 Here called Dannet ; Geoffrey has Damen (so MSS.). 


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Henry of Huntingdon 119 

as a correspondence with one or two later versions ; ^ but it is also 
a natural alteration in the story, and may even be a rather stupid 
misunderstanding of Geoffrey. 

Other changes probably due to the author himself are the state* 
ments that the Britons made Vortigern king the second time 
because they knew no other capable person ; ^ that, in besieging 
Gorlois, Uther lost most of his men and divided the rest into three 
parts;* and that Lucius's final decision to retreat before Arthur 
was by the advice of his council.* 

A bit of moralizing is introduced in the remark that Dubricius 
gave up his see because, after considering how long a preparation 
had been made for a three days' festival, he was struck with the 
perishable nature of worldly enjoyments.^ Further, the barbarity 
of which Geoffrey makes Hirelgas guilty in cutting to pieces the 
body of Boccus, in revenge for the death of Bedver,^ is qualified into 
a statement that Hirelgas (Hirlas) dragged Boccus to the body of 
Bedver and killed him there.'' 

Besides the Brut Gruffydd ab Arthur and the Brut Tysilio^ there 
are various Welsh chronicle compilations, which, however, are brief 
and of no importance in this investigation.^ « 

II. Henry of Huntingdon's Abridgment of Geoffrey's 
History in his Letter to Warinus 

The letter of Henry of Huntingdon to Warinus® was written 
some time after January, 11 39, when Henry, then on a journey to 
Rome, found a copy of Geoffrey's History at the monastery of Bee 

1 At least Robert of Gloucester ; see p. 196, below. 

2 P. 530. 3 Omitted by San-Marte, p. 542: 

* P. 562. 6 p. 354. 

^ X, 9, 39. 

^ P. 564. Cf. p. 139, note I, below (Wace) ; p. 160, note 6 (Layamon). 

8 One of these, extending from Vortigern to King John, is printed by Rh^s and 
Evans, Text of the Bruts from the Red Book of Hergest^ pp. 104-106 (see p. xxiv). 
Another, coming down to 1639, is printed by Rees, Lives of the Catnbro British 
Saints^ pp. 612-622. It includes a brief summary of Geoffrey's narrative, but 
makes Modred Arthur's grandson, unless nepos is meant for " nephew." 

• See p. 41, above. 


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I20 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

in Normandy.^ As Geoffrey's work seemed to convict his own 
chronicle of a serious omission, he made a summary of the Historia 
to serve as a supplement to his narrative and sent it to his 
otherwise unknown friend Warinus. 

The summary has many minor divergences from Geoffrey's nar- 
rative, such as calling liter Aurelius's son instead of his brother, 
and omitting the story of Vortigern's tower ; but they are all to be 
explained on the ground of condensation, Henry's general inexact- 
ness of method, his (much rarer) exercise of critical judgment, or 
the freedom of imagination which was characteristic of him. One 
of Henry's episodes, however, is important, — namely, his account 
of Arthur's last battle. 

Henry disposes of the events just preceding, and of the begin- 
ning of the conflict itself, by saying that Arthur with a few men 
came upon Modred with many. [This is quite contrary to Geoffrey's 
account] He then continues : 

When Arthur saw that he could not retreat, he said, " Friends, let us 
avenge our dead. I will now smite off the head of that traitor my nephew ; 
after which, death will be welcome." So saying, he hewed a way through 
the host, seized Modred In the midst of his men by the helmet, and sev- 
ered his armored neck as if it had been a straw. In the act he himself 
received so many wounds that he fell ; although his ^ kinsmen the Britons 
deny that he was mortally wounded, and seriously expect that he will yet 
come.^ He was a hero surpassing all the men of his time in valor, 
generosity, and facetiae 

Geoffrey's own picture of this, the culminating scene of his whole 
work, is surprisingly bare and inartistic, especially after the spirited 
accounts of battles which he has just given at great length. It is 
easy to understand, therefore, why some of the chroniclers, even 
among those who otherwise followed Geoffrey closely, turned at 
this point to Henry's version in order to fill out their stories.^ 

1 Cf. Fletcher, Publ. of the Mod. Lang. Assoc, 1901, XVI, 461-463, and 
references there given. 

2 Henry, writing to Warinus, says tui. Robert de Torigni, in copying Henry, 
has sui. . 8 Cf. p. loi, above. * P. 74. 

5 Cf. p. 118, above; pp. 121, 175, below (MS. Cott. Cleop. A. i. i), 188, 198, 
202, 213, 230, 252. The prose Lancelot and the romances based upon it also have 


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Liber de Constnictione 12 1 

There is, however, no reason to suppose that they knew the episode 
from any other source than Henry's work ; and that Henry took 
the details merely from his own imagination is made altogether 
probable both by the great liberty of composition which he always 
allowed himself and by the fact that he had not inserted the scene 
in his own chronicle. 

It appears, therefore, that to Henry belongs the distinction of 
making the first considerable addition to Geoffrey's Arthurian nar- 
rative, — or, at least, the first which was taken into later versions. 

III. Benedict of Gloucester 

Apparently the earliest writer to accept Henry's alteration in 
Geoffrey's narrative was Benedict, a monk of Gloucester. Some- 
time in the twelfth century he wrote a life of St. Dubricius,^ in/ 
which he included (very briefly) what Geoffrey says of that saint, 
and an outline of Geoffrey's account of the whole Arthurian period, 
beginning with Aurelius. The borrowing from Henry is his only 
noticeable deviation from Geoffrey. He says: "After three 
battles ... at last Arthur, measuring swords with Modred, was by 
him fatally wounded. But forthwith rushing more vigorously on 
Modred, he laid him low, and sent him with many of his men to 
Cocytus. Thus they perished with mutual wounds." 

IV. The Liber de Constructione Aliquorum Oppidorum 


Andegavensium of Thomas de Loches^ 

The Arthurian portion of Geoffrey's History seems to be utilized 
to a certain extent, and his method seems to be imitated, by a certain 

the incident of the personal conflict with Modred, though the account is much 
more elaborate. Derived from, or otherwise connected with that one, is the version 
in MS. Coll. Magd. Oxford, No. 72 (see p. 188, below) ; cf. Publ. Mod. Lang. Assoc, 
1903, XVIII, 85, note 3. Contrast p. 137, note i, below. 

1 Ed. Wharton, Anglia Sacra, II, xxvi, 654 ff. Benedict begins to use Geoffrey 
with chap. 3. Cf. Hardy, I, 42, No. 105. 

2 I am under obligations to M. Ferdinand Lot for his kind assistance in this 
section, though he is in nowise responsible for any statements here made. 


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122 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

French author in the little book entitled De Constructions AH- 
quorum Oppidorum seu Castrorum Turonicae Regionis^ which has been 
incorporated into the Gesta Comitum Andegavensium of Thomas de 
Loches.^ The date of the original version of this little book is 
1 147, or not much later.^ 

After earlier fabulous material, mostly concerned with the foun- 
dation of Amboise but including also a short account, quite in har- 
mony with Geoffrey, of the British conquest of Armorica, the 
author gives a brief narrative of Arthur's invasion of Normandy, 
with the foundation of " Chainon " by Cheudo (Kay),' the great 
battle with Lucius, and the campaign against Modred. The nar- 
rative, though very summary and exhibiting some additions, has 
every appearance of being based directly upon Geoffrey's History,^ 
The points of divergence are as follows : 

There is incidental mention of the fact that in Arthur's time 
Clodius was king in northern Germany, and he, it is added, " gladly 
became very friendly with Arthur." Apropos of the division of 
France, it is said that Oldinus was Arthur's standard bearer 
(signifer) and Golfarius his sword bearer {ensifer)} Cheudo (Kay) 
is made the founder, not of Caen, with which this work could not 
concern itself, but of Chinon/ Like several later chroniclers, the 
author combines Arthur's two invasions of France ; "^ at least, he 
says nothing of any movements between the feast at Paris arid 
the final battle against Lucius. The latter appears as a general of 
the Emperor Honorius.® Arthur's losses in this conflict are said to 

1 Last published by Marchegay and Salmon, Chroniques d*Anjou, I, 1856 
(Introduction^ by £mile Mabille, Paris, 1871), Soc. de I'Hist. de France. I have 
consulted also the earlier MS. mentioned by Mabille, Vol. XLVI of the Melanges 
de Colbert^ in Bibl. Nat., fol. 165 ff., especially 200 ff. 

2 As shown by the mention (at the end) of the departure of King Louis for the 
[Second] Crusade. Mabille (p. xliv) puts the work about ten years earlier, because 
the MS. reads 1 137, and he did not notice that this is an error, as appears from the 
actual date of the Crusade. * See p. 1 1 1, note 5, above. 

* Geoffrey's History is referred to, and was evidently consulted, by the reviser 
whose version is the one included in the composition printed by Marchegay and 
Salmon. * Cf. p. 184, below (Ralph de Diceto). 

• Cf. p. 206, below. ^ See p. 183, and note 11, below. 
8 Cf. pp. 83, 85, note 2, above. 


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Liber de Constructione 123 

have been due to the impetus et stultitia of Gawain.^ The name of 
Cheudo's nephew is given not as Hirelgas but as Billeius. Arthur 
is said to have died in Avalon " in a certain wood." 

Into this story are inserted several anecdotes which help to 
justify the title of the work by explaining the names of various 
towns in Touraine. It was for the same purpose, indeed, or at 
least on the same pretext, that the author brought in the story of 
Arthur, which is headed in the older manuscripts, De Arturo Rege 
Britanniae 6- Castro Caynonis, The first of these anecdotes informs 
us that Bliriacus {.Blkre) was built by Billeius, to whom Cheudo had 
given Amboise, and who had married Fausta, daughter of Placidia, 
who in turn was daughter of Avicianus, a person later spoken of as 
Count of Tours. Another of the anecdotes explains the name 
Blesis {Blots) from the deceitful (blesis) words by means of which 
a certain British youth named Commodus (or Ivomadus) persuaded 
Boso Carnotensis ^ to give him the ground on which it was built. 
Later it is said that Billeius had a daughter, Lupa, who lived in 
Villa Lupa, and further details are given about her and her sons. 

None of these above-mentioned characters can be proved to have 
been known before the composition of the chronicle,' though it is 
quite possible that they have their origin in ancient Celtic topo- 
graphical heroes and divinities.* However that may be, it seems 
most reasonable to suppose that the author of the chronicle was 
stimulated by Geoffrey's success to follow his example in exploiting 
in a history (largely at least of his own invention) etymologies 
connected with his native region. After he had succeeded, by 
mistake^ or by deliberate alteration, in connecting Kay with his 
narrative, the popularity of Geoffrey's story was reason enough for 
him to make as much use of it as he could. Neither the substitution 

1 Contrast p. 105, note 2, above. ^ Cf. Geoffrey, ix, 12 ; x, 4, etc. 

' So far as I have been able to find. 

* As is argued by Alonso P^an in Notice sur le ChAteau d" Amboise^ Blois, i860. 
He gives legendary details about Avicien that I have not discovered elsewhere, 
but does not mention his authorities. 

* In the manuscript of Geoffrey that he used, the substitution of Chinon for 
Caen may already have been made by a scribe who thought that the Duke of 
Anjou would have resided more suitably there. 

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124 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

of the name Billeius for Hirelgas (even if it was not occasioned by 
corruption in the manuscript) nor any of his other alterations or 
additions need surprise us in a French author who was pursuing 
such a method, perhaps understood the fictitious nature of his 
original, and had an eye to the actual facts of history. 

This chronicle is interesting, therefore, as an early and almost a 
unique case, not of direct copying of Geoffrey but of imitation of 
his method.^ 

1 The readiness of local historians to accept Geoffrey as historical is illustrated 
by a chronicle preserved in a thirteenth-century manuscript at .Arras. Here 
" Ligerus " comes first in the genealogy of the Counts of Boulogne-sur-Mer and 
he is said to have been appointed by Arthur (see Mone, At^zeiger f, Kunde der 
teutschen Vorzeit, IV, 346 ; Reiffenberg, Philippe Mouskes^ II, Ixii). " Ligerus " 
is probably the "Leodegafius" whom Geoffrey (ix, 12, 50) calls "consul Boloniae.'* 


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I. Geoffrey Gaimar 

At about the same time when Alfred of Beverleviuaugurated the 
custom of inserting Geoffrey's narrative in serious prose chronicles,^ 
the example was set for the metrical chronicles by an Anglo-Norman 
writer in the North of England, Geoffrey Gaimar.* The exact date 
of his work is uncertain, but it was probably a little before 1150.' 

Gaimar's chronicle was in two parts : (i) a History of the Britons, 
which, as appears from statements at the beginning and at the end 
of the part preserved,* was a translation of Geoffrey's work ; and 
(2) the History of the Engles. The History of the Britons, how- 
ever, has been lost, crowded out of existence, probably, by the far 
superior version of Wace, which is substituted for it in all the manu- 
scripts ; and we can judge of its character as a translation only by 
the connecting introductory lines of the second part, which sum up 
its contents in a few clauses.^ These lines are very meagre, but 
they perhaps indicate that Gaimar (as was certainly the case in 

1 See p. 116, note 3, above. 

2 VEstorie des Engles, etc., ed. by Sir T. D. Hardy and T. C. Martin, Rolls 
Series, London, 1888-1889. See Ward, I, 423-446; Martin, in Diet, Nat Biog.f 
XX, 360-361 ; P. Meyer, Rom., XVIII, 314-318. 

' See Vising, £tude sur le DiaUcte Anglo-normand du xii' SihUy pp. 33, 34 ; 
Meyer, loc. cit. ; G. Paris, La LUtirature Fran^aise au Moyen Age, ed. 1890, p. 133 ; 
Grober, Grundriss, II, i, 472; Suchier und Birch-Hirschfeld, Geschichte der fran- 
zosischen Litteratur, p. 113. 

* Cf. p. 53, note 3, above. 

* See the first 45 verses. Cf. also v. 3573, and the epilogue (according to MSS. 
LD), vv. 23, 125. 



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1 26 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

the second part) treated his original freely, at least to the extent 
of making additions. The History of the English itself, however, 
has a place in the present discussion. In this part of his work 
Gaimar has included a version of the Havelok story* which con- 
tains certain incidental statements about King Arthur. 

Gaimar says that Arthur came to Den mark,, conquered it, and 
killed the king, Gunter, because he withheld tribute.^ This does 
not coincide exactly with anything which Geoffrey of Monmouth 
relates ; but is akin to his bare statement that after the conquest 
of Norway, Denmark submitted to Arthur.' Gaimar's details are 
also practically identical with the brief account which Geoffrey gives 
of a much earlier conquest of Denmark by Gurgiunt Brabtruc,* — 
a conquest due to the refusal of tribute which had been paid to 
Gurgiunt's predecessor. Again, Gaimar, speaking ^ of the reigning 
monarch of Denmark, Odulf, who had treasonably become king by 
sending for Arthur and so bringing about the death of Gunter,^ says 
that he was the brother of King Aschis, who " met his death for 
Arthur when Modret did him such wrong." ^ This latter statement 
agrees with Geoffrey's mention of Aschillius, king of Denmark, as 
among those killed on Arthur's side in his last battle.^ 

If we were to conclude that all these details are borrowed by the 
Havelok story from Geoffrey's Historia^ we should have another strik- 
ing testimony to the immediate vogue of the latter. It seems per- 
haps more probable, however, that the idea of Arthur's conquest 
formed a part of the Havelok tale before the time of Geoffrey.* 
For both the independent Anglo-Norman version of Havelok and 
the short version inserted in the Lambeth manuscript of Robert of 
Brunne's Chronicle^^ (both of which go back to a common original 
with Gaimar's form) agree with Gaimar in mentioning Arthur's 
interference in Denmark; though the Lambeth interpolation has 
it that Arthur had previously taken tribute, and that it was another 

1 On the versions of the Havelok story, see Max Kupferschmidt, Die Havelok- 
sage bei Gaimar y etc., Bonn, 1880; E. K. Putnam, Publ. Mod. Lang. Assoc. ^ 1900, 
XV, 1-16. * iii, II. 7 Vv. 524-526. 

2 Vv. 410 ff. 6 V. 527. 8 xi, 2, 53. 

* ix, II. « Vv. 513-516. ® Cf. p. 84, above. 

"^^ Printed by Madden, Havelok^ pp. xvii-xix. 


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Waces Brut 127 

British king who attacked and killed "Counter." Evidently the 
original of these two versions must have contained the idea of 
Arthur's interference, and one certainly cannot assume without 
further evidence that this original was of later date than Geoffrey's 
History, In any case, it is altogether probable that the mentions 
of Modred and Aschis are due to Gaimar and taken from Geoffrey 
of Monmouth, in which case, if Arthur already appeared in the 
story, they are quite insignificant. Gaimar's order of events can- 
not in any way be interpreted as consistent with Geoffrey's. He 
seems to have borrowed the names without considering whether 
his use of them was in accord with any rational system of chro- 
nology. It must be added that neither Aschis, Modred, nor Arthur 
is named in the English metrical romance of Havelok^ which is sup- 
posed to be derived from a form of the story anterior to that from 
which the other extant versions come; but this English metrical 
romance is widely divergent from the others throughout. 

II. Wage's Brut and other French Versions 

One of the most interesting of all the reproductions of Geoffrey's 
History is the Brut of the Norman poet Wace.^ 

Wace's poem, with some of those which follow it in this chapter, 
differs from nearly all the chronicles in one important respect. 
These poems are only paraphrases of Geoffrey's Historia^ and the 
authors, while doubtless supposing their original to be, at least in 
general, authentic, were in spirit poAs rather than historians.^ 

1 The only edition is that of Le Roux de Lincy, 2 vols., Rouen, 1 836-1 838. 

2 This is no less true because of a suggestion or two which Wace gives of a 
wish to have a good authority (vv. 4932, 10,038) ; or because of a trick of manner 
by which he occasionally expresses ignorance about the causes or means of things 
which he mentions, as when he says that he does not know where Eldol got the 
stake with which he defended himself against the Saxons (v. 7446) ; that he does 
not know where Merlin's fountain of Labenes (the Galabes of Geoffrey, viii, 10) 
was, and has never been there (v. 8219) ; or that he is not informed of the nature 
of Hoel's sickness (v. 9501). Cf. also vv. 8356, 9196, 9464, 10,572, 11,395, 11,438, 
i2,S95» I3'i5i» 13.484- 


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128 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

The biography of Wace must be chiefly reconstructed from the 
information which he himself gives us in his poems. ^ He was born, 
apparently, about the same time as Geoffrey of Monmouth (not far 
from hoc), in the island of Jersey, whether of noble or of common 
parentage is uncertaiij. Educated partly at Paris, but chiefly at 
Caen, he lived for a long time in the latter city, studying and writ- 
ing. He was clerc lisant (an office the exact nature of which remains 
unexplained) before 1135. ^^ ^^55 ^^ finished the work which he 
called Geste des Bretons^ but to which the scribes give the name 
Brut, Layamon says^ that a dedication (lacking in the extant 
manuscripts) was addressed to Queen Eleanor, wife of Henry II. 
At any rate, Wace later had a regular position at the court while 
it remained in Normandy; and the composition of his Roman de 
jRoUj begun in 1160, seems to have been due to the king's commis- 
sion, the later withdrawal of which caus.fid^him to stop before the 
work was finished. He died, probably, not jlong after 11 74. 

In general Wace*s Brut is merely a free paraphrase of Geoffrey's 
History, It follows exactly the same order and observes practically 
the same proportion ; in brief, it closely reproduces, in the main, 
the substance of its original. But Wace was very far from being a 
servile translator, and the great differences which distinguish his 
race, character, occupation, aim, language, and literary form from 
those of Geoffrey reappear as fully as was to be expected in his 
work. They are manifested partly in certain general character- 
istics, partly in an infinitude of .minutiae- which Wace adds merely 
as a poet and a literary artist. For any light upon the origins of 

1 On Wace's biography and the Brut, see Wace's Roman de Ron, ed. H. Andre- 
sen, 1877-1879, I, Einleitung ; ed. Pluquet, Rouen, 1827, Notice, I, vii-xxii; Miss 
Kate Norgate, Diet. Nat, Biog., LVIII, 404; G. Paris, Rom., 1880, IX, 592 ff., 
especially 592-597, reviewing Andresen ; Ward, I, 260 ; Grober, Grundriss, II, i, 
635; Morley, English Writers, III, 55; Br^quigny, Notices et Extraits, V, 21-78; 
De La Rue, An Epistolary Dissertation upon the Life and Writings of Robert Wace 
(Archaologia, 1796, XII, 50-79); id., Essais Hist, sur les Bar des, Caen, 1834, II, 
158-165; E. du 'iAivCi, Jahrb. /. rom. u. engl. Lit., 1859, I, 1-43, reprinted in his 
Etudes, 1862, pp. 214-272 ; Wace the Trouv^re, Retrospective Rev., 1853, II, 92-99 ; 
L. Abrahams, De Roberti Wacii Carmine, etc., Copenhagen, 1828 ; G. A. Kloppe, 
Recherches sur le Dialecte de Guace, Magdeburg, 1853. 

2 Ed. Madden, vv. 42-43 ("he^a«/^ it to ^Elienor"), 


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Waces Brut 129 

the organic material of the Arthurian tradition, such characteristics^!^ 
and details are of no consequence ; but in the literary study of the 
development of the tradition they assume significance. It is desir- 
able, therefore, before taking up Wace's important changes and 
additions, to give attention to these others.^ 

In the first place, Geoffrey's History and Wace's Brut stand for 
very different literary styles. Geoffrey put his romance into the 
form of an ostensibly truthful Latin chronicle. Thus he had to 
preserve an appearance of veracity, to maintain dignity of style, 
and to cultivate rhetorical elegance. Wace, though he took the 
story seriously enough, and was doubtless willing to be believed, 
employs the form of the French metrical romance. Geoffrey's 
sympathy with his subject was not less keen than that of Wace, 
and his humor was probably greater ; yet the form of his work was 
sometimes a hindrance to him, while Wace had adopted a style and 
manner that were peculiarly well adapted to the material. ^^_ 

The most pervasive general contrast between the two styles is in \ 
viyidness of narrative. Geoffrey had plenty of imagination, both V 
dramatic and romantic, but Latin periods were not the aptest instru- ' 
ments for its expression. Besides, if his work was to have the air / 
of truthful history, he could not, in general, lay claim to the detailed 
personal knowledge of an eyewitness or a contemporary. He could 
not venture to vivify and visualize the whole story. Perhaps a 
personal limitation entered into the case. What little we know of 
Geoffrey indicates that, while he was by no means a pedant, he was 
rather a student than a man of action ; he got his ideas rather 
from reading than from experience. Except for a case or two like 
his minute description of Arthur's second coronation (which may 
well be taken in large part from life), and even in his accounts of 
battles, where he most warms to the subject and seems to wish to 
be thoroughly dramatic, he writes almost always, not of details but 
in general terms. And he is not always convincingly practical. 

^ The discussion here, as in other cases, is chiefly based on that part of the 
narrative with which this study is directly concerned, — Geoffrey, vi, 6-xi, 2, and 
Wace, vv. 6615-13,706 ; but here, as elsewhere, the general results are true of the 
other portions as well. 


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130 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

His battle speeches, too, even when they are delivered in the thick 
of the fight, are ornate orations, which no general could really have 
delivered and no soldier would have stopped to listen to. 

With Wace, on the other hand, the quick-moving conversational 
octosyllabic couplet scarcely allows the effect of dullness, even in 
the least interesting parts of the narrative. And Wace himself is 
never afraid of seeming to know too much, — rather of not seeming 
to know everything. He sees whatever he writes about, and for the 
most part makes his readers see it too. He does not content him- 
self, for instance, with describing the course of a battle from the 
point of view of a pseudo-scientific strategist : he names the various 
parts of the equipments of the knights and soldiers, pictures how 
they crashed together in the shock of the charge, how they struck 
and fell. He gives the impression that he is not merely imitating 
other metrical romances, but is reproducing what he has himself 
witnessed and been fired by.^ 

One might illustrate this increase of vividness on the part of 
Wace by citing a large proportion of the fifteen thousand lines 
of his poem ; but a few instances must suffice. As to the more 
particular details of warfare, — he speaks of foragers ; ^ describes 
Arthur's smallest movements in the fight with the giant ; * and tells 
how Arthur had his men advance to battle slowly, not allowing 
them to straggle at all.* In beginning his account of Hengist's 
first treacherous proposals to Vortigern,^ he gives a lifelike setting 
by observing that one day Hengist found the king disposed to listen. 
In the same passage he makes Hengist say that he will send to Ger- 
many for his wife and children. Geoffrey spoke only of the warriors 
who were important for the immediate purposes of his narrative and 
whose deeds were dignified enough for the pages of history; but 
Wace's imagination was, or could afford to be, more practical. In 
telling of the escape of " Elduf '* from the Saxons after his valiant 

1 For example, vv. 1 2,946 ff . But the difference is probably partly due to the 
difference of sources. Geoffrey presumably drew chiefly from comparatively crude 
Celtic stories, while Wace had the advantage of starting with Geoffrey's 0¥m far 
more suggestive narrative. 

2 V. 12,611. * Vv. 9538-9539- 

8 Vv. 11,921 ff. 6 V. 7009 (Geoffrey, vi, 11, 10). 


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Wace's Brut 131 

defense, he takes pains to explain how it was possible : Elduf got 
away on his horse, which was very good.^ When Merlin's mother 
was asked about her son, says Wace,^ she held her head down and 
thought a little before answering. In describing the duel between 
Arthur and Flollo,' Wace expands Geoffrey's vague remark that the 
people were watching, by telling how the Parisians stood upon 
the walls and both sides prayed for the success of their respective 
champions. Longer passages of the same character occur. Thus 
in the account of the flight of the Saxons before Cador,* we are 
told how they went two by two or three by three as best they could, 
how they had thrown down their arms, and how Cador followed, 
shouting his battle cry. Most prominent, though not necessarily 
most important, in this connection, are certain notably extended 
passages of original details added by Wace. When Arthur's host 
is embarking for the campaign against the Romans, Wace inserts a 
splendid picture of the scene, with plenty of nautical terms,^ — the 
memories of his boyhood serving him well. Not less spirited, though 
shorter, is the account ^ of the joy with which Arthur's soldiers are 
received on returning from their long sojourn in France.^ A similar 
addition is the description of the bustling activity of the servants 
at Arthur's second coronation.® 

Equally original, though perhaps with rather more direct sugges- 
tion from Geoffrey, is the account of the coming of Gawain and 
the other envoys to the army of the Emperor ; ® or again, that of 

^ Vv. 7455-7456 (Geoffrey, vi, 16, 8). 
2 Vv. 7598-7599; cf. vv. 11,056-11,057. 

* Vv. 10,281 ff. (Geoffrey, ix, 11, 55). 

* Vv. 9616-9627 (Geoffrey, ix, 5). 

* Vv. 11,472-11,521. 

* Vv. 10,431-10,452. 

' Cf. p. 203, below. The interpolation of the statement that aunts kissed their 
nephews (as well as wives their husbands, etc.) in one of the manuscripts is surely 
due not to Wace but to some jocose cynic after him, and reminds one very much 
of the " world of kisses " which the First Folio makes Desdemona give to Othello. 

8 Vv. 10,610-10,634. The much longer addition (vv. 10,823-10,900) about the 
jugglers, music and musical instruments, dice playing, and the presents given by 
Arthur, is perhaps an interpolation in Wace's text. 

® Vv. 12,092-12,109. 


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132 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

the pursuit of the envoys by the Romans after Gawain has killed 
Lucius's nephew,^ beginning as it does with the extremely effective 
es vousy so useful to the mediaeval French romancers.^ 

Another feature of Wace's style which contributes greatly to its 
vividness is his largely increased use of direct discourse. Some- 
times he merely inserts an ejaculation or brief cry, as in Gawain's 
apposite exhortation to his companions when they have got into 
trouble in the Emperor's camp, — " ales monter ! " ' Such an undig- 
nified kind of naturalness was entirely out of the range of Geoffrey's 
aristocratic chronicle style. More often, however, Wace gives a 
whole speech in the very words of the speaker. Sometimes he 
enlarges a speech of Geoffrey's, as in Lucius's message to Arthur ; * 
sometimes he changes a piece of narrative into this form, as in the 
plea of the Scots for mercy ; ^ occasionally, as in Gawain's address 
after the message of Lucius, he invents the whole passage.' 

Wace also manifests personal feeling about the events and char- 
acters of his story. Sometimes he expresses sorrow or disgust, as 
at Vortigern's desire to marry Roven ; "^ he stops to curse the slayer 
of Bedver ; ^ he occasionally applies abusive epithets to the enemies 
of the Britons. He makes appeals to the reader, not only by the 
device of employing the second person of the verb (especially veissiks) 
to introduce a description,* but more directly, as when he asks, speak- 
ing of Hengist's treachery, " Who would have feared a traitor ? " ^° or 
observes, "You never saw such a fight ! " " or, of the death of Ambro- 
sius,^^ "The gentle king wished to recover, as any of you would." 

1 Vv. 12,168-12,188; cf. also vv. 1111-1178, 6178 ff., 13,887-13,926. 

2 I have noticed only two or three cases in which Wace omits some of the 
details given by Geoffrey, with a consequent loss of vividness. An example may 
be seen in p. 137, note i, below. Another is the account of the poisoning of 
Vortimer by Roven (Geoffrey, vi, 14, 5-7 ; Wace, v. 7340). On the other hand, 
his version of the poisoning of Aurelius (Geoffrey, viii, 14; Wace, vv. 8459-8485), 
while it omits one or two of Geoffrey's statements, is on the whole rather more vivid 
than the corresponding passage in Geoffrey ; and perhaps the same may be said of 
his narrative of the poisoning of Uther (Geoffrey, viii, 24 ; Wace, vv. 9195-9232). 

8 V. 12,161. "^ V. 7163. 11 V. 13,192. 

* Vv. 10,919-10,988. 8 V. 13,034. 12 Vv. 8475-8476. 

fi Vv. 9712-9758. ® V. 7953. 

« Vv. 11,043 ff- ^° V. 7401 ; Geoffrey, vi, 15. 


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Wace's Brut I33 ^ 

( How thoroughly representative Wace is of his environment appears ' 

, in the fact that he applies to the narrative almost universally (while 
' Geoffrey did so only partially and in the more vivid portions) the 
I manners and customs of his own time. This is true, for instance, 
of his descriptions of battles and warlike operations. He makes 
Vortigern's fortress a feudal castle, which Aurelius destroys by 
filling the moat with wood and setting this on fire.^ He says that 
Uter, on going away, intrusts the care of his army to a baron. ^ He 
speaks of particular duels in the course of a main battle.^ He calls*! 
even the pagans "chevaliers." Mediaeval customs which he inserts 
or emphasizes are the feudal submission of one man to another ; the 
pledging of his land by a lord ; the appointment of viscounts and 
provosts ; the use of the dais for king and barons at a feast. He 
omits Geoffrey's statements about other chiefs than the principal 
one in Ireland,* evidently because he was familiar only with the 
idea of one king for one country. 'He calls Petreius a rich baron, 
instead of a senator,^ and he regularly retranslates Geoffrey's archaic 
consul by quens or conte. When he does retain the antique customs 
mentioned by Geoffrey, he explains that manners were different in 
those days. Wace has also the mediaeval bigotry towards pagans,^ 
something which scarcely appears in Geoffrey. He introduces a 
few touches of the descriptions of love which are so pronounced a 
feature in a. writer like Crestien de Troyes."^ In one case he shows 
ttat his taste is less reserved (more Gallic, perhaps) than Geoffrey's.* 
Once or twice he manifests the disregard for thd fact of time char- ^ 
acteristic of romances.® His omissions or assumptions sometimes 
make it clear that he is less of a scholar than Geoffrey, or is writing 
for a less learned audience. 

Wace was not destitute of the critical instinct. He amends cer- 
tain vague or inconsistent statements ; ^° he modifies his original 

iVv. 7837ff. 2 V. 8953. 8 V. 13,133. 

* V. 9938; Geoffrey, ix, 10, 8. * V. 12,310; Geoffrey, x, 4. 

* But he seldom expresses it, and then in a conventional way. 

' Vv. 8882 ff., 11,050. Geoffrey just mentions the customs of chiyalric love 
(ix, 13, 40). 8 Vv. 11,690 ff., 11,814 ff. ; Geoffrey, x, 3, 34 and 38. 

* V. 10,439 (the army has been gone nine years). 

"^^ As follows : (i) He does away with all Geoffrey's confusion about the Roman 
commander Lucius (cf. p. 85, note 2, above) by calling him always "emperor" 


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1 34 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

for the sake of naturalness or probability;^ and in one or two 
details he contradicts Geoffrey flatly, merely to give variety to the 
narrative.^ Not infrequently Wace adds an explanation for some^ 
action or fact which he thinks Geoffrey has not made perfectly.^ 

and omitting all mention of the superfluous Leo. (2) At the time of the message 
from Lucius, Cador, according to Geoffrey (ix, 15, 45) states that five years have 
now passed since the Britons have engaged in war ; but from his previous narra- 
tive it appears that this is the very summer in which they have returned from 
Gaul, where they have apparently been fighting all the time. Wace (v. 11,031) 
makes Cador's remark altogether indefinite as to the length of the period 
(cf. p. 231, note 4, below). {3) Wace drops out of the story Bedver's unplausible 
ancestor, Bedver the first (x, 13, 5). Some other possible incidents might be 
cited, but perhaps they are due to scribal errors in manuscripts of Geoffrey. 
Wace fails to correct one of Geoffrey's inconsistencies in v. 10,729, and is guilty 
of one of his own in vv. 9994 ff. (compared with w. 10,739 ff.). 

^ (i) Geoffrey implies (vi, 10, 55) that the Saxons defeated the Picts with- 
out difficulty; Wace (vv. 6983-6994) describes the battle as hotly contested. 
(2) Geoffrey seems to mean (vi, 17, 14) that the messengers sent for Merlin went 
all together; Wace says (v. 7543) they " vunt ensamble doi et doi." (3) Geoffrey 
says (viii, 20, 4) that Gorlois went out of his castle to fight the superior attacking 
force ; Wace says (v. 8979) that he defended himself, but mentions no sortie. 
(4) Geoffrey says (ix, 5, 9) that Cador filled the captured ships of the Saxons 
with some of his best soldiers; Wace substitutes (v. 9614) archers and peasants. 
Geoffrey makes no use of the stratagem, but with Wace it bears good fruit in the 
result. To this end Wace omits all suggestion that the Saxons fled in any other 
direction than toward Totness, where the ships really were, while Geoffrey, for- 
getful of the actual situation, says that their last stand was in Tanet. (5) In giving 
the lament of Helena's nurse, Geoffrey (x, 3) forgets that he is not pronouncing 
a funeral oration and has the woman pour forth her eloquence at great length ; 
Wace (v. 11,672) makes her speak more simply. (6) Geoffrey says (x, 4) that the 
six thousand knights who came to the rescue of the envoys had heard of their 
flight. This would have been impossible, for the envoys had been getting away 
from Lucius's camp as fast as their horses would carry them. Wace says (v. 1 2,286) 
that Arthur had sent the six thousand to reconnoitre, so that their arrival was 
altogether accidental (cf. p. 144, below). It is possible also that Wace aimed in 
general to reduce the extravagant numbers, whether vaguely or definitely stated, 
which Geoffrey employs in reporting the strength of his armies. But Wace's usage 
is not uniform in this respect. 

2 He says (vv. 8397-8398) that Aurelius quickly chased away the marauding 
Pascent. Geoffrey (viii, 13, 10) settles the matter by the stock device of a battle. 
Similar cases are Geoffrey, ii, 15, 22; Wace, vv. 2138 ff. ; and Geoffrey ix, 6; 
Wace, vv. 9650-9659. 


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Waces Brut 135 

clear.^ Sometimes, to be sure, no such explanation is needed, 
but more often it is desirable or suggestive. Thus; (i) Arthur 
retreated to London because there he could get the help of his 
commons.* (2) The Norwegians were unwilling to receive Lot as 
their king because they thought thatj being a foreigner, he would 
give their lands to others.* (3) A reason is given for the fact that 
Helaine's nurse remained on the giant's mountain when the giant 
was not there.* (4) A reason is given (perhaps unnecessarily) for 
the warlike advice of the youths to Gawain.* (5) Arthur sent 
his prisoners to Paris because he was afraid that he might lose 
them if he kept them in the camp. (6) The disappearance of 
Roven from the narrative (which Geoffrey had taken as a matter 
of course) Wace explains by saying that she, as well as all the 
other women, was burned with Vortigern in his fortress.^ (7) Wace 
tells us that Yvain, AguisePs nephew, to whom, on AguisePs death, 
Arthur gave the kingdom of Scotland, was AguisePs rightful heir.'' 
This satisfies Wace's sense of feudal propriety and follows nat- 
urally from the fact that no son of Aguisel is named in the 
narrative. (8) The statement that those Saxons of the army of 
Octa and Ebissa who escaped to York chose for their king Colgrin, 
a friend of Octa and his cousin,^ is introduced to explain the 
appearance of Colgrin as king soon after, which Geoffrey not 
unreasonably leaves his readers to account for as they choose. 

1 Cf. pp. 183, 213, below. 

2 V. 9368. 

' V. 10,070. 

* Vv. 11,802 ff. 

* Vv. 12,086-12,090. 

« For similar explanations in other chronicles, see p. 183, below. Since Nennius 
also says the same thing (see p. 15, above), it is just possible that it appeared also 
in Geoffrey's original text. It does not appear in the manuscripts of Geoffrey 
which I have examined. There are two or three other instances where one is 
inclined to wonder at first if Wace may not have used Nennius ; but the coinci- 
dences can easily be explained as due to chance, corruption, or something of the 
sort, and are not enough to overthrow a strong antecedent probability to the 

' Vv. 13,597 ff. ; Geoffrey, xi, i, 28. 

8 Vv. 9151-9152. 



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136 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Occasionally Wace makes changes merely in order to improve 
the literary effect,^ Some of his additions are mere incidental bits 
of " general information " : for example, the mention of Febus as 
one of the Saxons' gods ; ^ the bizarre etymology of the name Essex 
and the other -sexes ; ' the remark that Crete (or Egypt ?) had power 
over one. hundred cities.* 

Wace occasionally omits things which he does not understand 
or does not care for. This is true of certain legendary elements 
which in Geoffrey's narrative have lost their significance.^ Thus, 
in repeating Vortimer's directions about his burial, Wace says 
nothing of the copper pyramid.* He omits the details of the fight 
of the dragons (which give Geoffrey an opportunity for mystical 
interpretation), and also the prophecies of Merlin (except those 
about Vortigern), since, he says, he does not comprehend them."' 
In telling of Arthur's dream of the fight between the dragon and 
the bear, Wace drops out some less important details.^ He also 
omits Geoffrey's statement that Arthur imposed silence on all those 
who looked on the head of the giant® 

Geoffrey sometimes tries to describe the order of armies in 
battle, but he never succeeds in giving a consistent or compre- 
hensible account. Wace leaves out these statements ^° or greatly 

1 (i) Geoffrey says (viii, 2, 5) that after the election of Aurelius his men wished 
to attack the Saxons first, and he dissuaded them. This is a natural mcident, but 
Wace (v. 7792) preserves the continuity of the narrative by omitting it. {2) To 
the account of the Battle of Badon, Geoffrey (ix, 3) prefixes a short speech of 
Arthur. Wace (vv. 9552 ff.) reserves this until the critical moment of the fight, 
and then inserts it with many expansions but without representing Arthur as stop- 
ping in order to make it. (3) In the episode of the Battle of the Convoy, Geoffrey 
(x, 5, 24-36) does not proceed in direct chronological sequence; but Wace 
(vv. 12,584-12,633) gains a great deal in vividness and force by so rearranging. 

2 V. 6931. * Vv. 7477 ff. ■*¥. 11,377. 

s For similar instances, cf. pp. 140, 155, 160, 196, 201, 216, 218, 227, below. 

6 Geoffrey, vi, 14 ; Wace, v. 7355. 

■^ Geoffrey, vii, 3 ff. ; Wace, vv. 7719 ff. Cf. pp. 189, 194, 200, 208, 218, 225, 
251, note 2, below. ^ Vv. 1 1,528 ff. 

® Geoffrey, x, 3, 73; Wace, v. 11,951. 

10 Geoffrey, xi, i, 34-36; Wace, vv. 13,513 ff. Geoffrey, xi, 2, 18-26; Wace, 
V. i3»659. 


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IVaces Brut 137 

changes them. He omits also various names or other geographical 
details relating to England, especially Welsh names, though he 
sometimes changes his method by explaining where a place is, his 
object being, of course, to be intelligible to his French-speaking 
readers. He regularly translates the Latin names, — almost always 
into French, but sometimes, in the case of a well-known town in 
the south of England, into English. This method, together with 
corruptions which have got into the manuscripts, often makes 
his lists of lands and countries look quite different from those of 
Geoffrey. On the other hand, he frequently inserts names where 
continental geography is concerned.^ ^ 

We come now to Wace's more important alterations of Geoffrey's 

In the first place, it is evident that he knew — and to some 
extent he introduces into his poem — a conception of Arthur, and 
in a less degree of his knights, which is essentially that of the 
chivalric romances, and which Geoffrey, while he felt or fore- 
shadowed its influence, did not by any means fully represent.^ 
Wace says nothing to necessitate the conclusion that he got from 
any other source than Geoffrey the idea of Arthur as a world 
conqueror and a great emperor ; but he makes it as plain as pos- 
sible that he knew plenty of other stories about the hero and his 
knights. He refers directly to these stories as having already 
assumed in his own time very extravagant proportions at the hands 
of conteurs^^ and he refers to their substance again when he says 
that while Arthur was in France many marvels happened, and he 
overthrew many a proud man and kept in restraint many a felon.* 
This is added to Geoffrey's statement that Arthur spent nine years 

1 It ought to be mentioned that Wace omits Geoffrey's account of Aurelius's 
reputation in Gaul (Geoffrey, viii, 3, i-ii; Wace, vv. 7849 ff. ; contrast p. 166, 
below); and more strangely, even the meagre details which give some color to 
Geoffrey's description of Arthur's last battle, saying, for instance, that he does 
not know the names of those who fell. As a result, Wace's account of the battle 
is exceedingly inadequate (Geoffrey, xi, 2; Wace, vv. 13,662-13,682). Contrast 
p. 120 (and note 5), above, and cf. pp. 180, 216, 232, 233, 247, below. 

2 Cf. for the general subject, pp. 108-114, above. 

* Vv. 10,032 ff. See p. 100, above. * Vv. 10,402-10,404. 


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138 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

in conquering France.^ Reference has already been made to Wace*s 
allusion to the Breton expectation of Arthur's second coming,^ on 
the probability of which he refuses to pronounce. 

The spirit of these independent stories has influenced the tone 
of some of Wace's statements,® though for the most part he follows 
Geoffrey's representation of Arthur closely enough. It sounds, for 
instance, like the romances when Wace calls Arthur // tons rois^^ 
or says that his men remarked enthusiastically that never before 
was there so valiant a king in Britain.^ In almost every case 
he takes pains to expunge from the story certain suggestions of 
barbarity or lack of chivalrousness on the part of Arthur or his 
knights which occur (survive ?) in Geoffrey's version. Thus Geof- 
frey says that, after driving back to Ireland the Irish invaders sine 
pietate laceratos^ Arthur turned again to destroying the Scots and 
Picts, incomparabili saevitiae indulgens ; Wace says merely that he con- 
quered the Irish quickly and drove them back to Ireland.^ Geof- 
frey states that after vanquishing the Norwe^gians in battle, Arthur's 
army destroyed cities and did not cease to " indulge its cruelty '^ 
till the country was subdued ; Wace uses not much milder terms, 
but only in connection with what happened before the battle, when 
such conduct might be excused as a necessity of war."' Geoffrey, 
who, in his quiet study, thinks of war only as a scene of pomp, and 
of conquest only as a thing of glory, delights in observing that 
Hoel devastated Gascony with sword and flame; Wace, indeed, 
suggests the same thing, but indirectly.^ Geoffrey says that, in the 
battle with Lucius, Arthur killed a man or a horse at every stroke ; 
Wace omits all mention of injuring horses, which was not strictly 
in accordance with the ideas of chivalry.* Wace says that Arthur 

1 ix, II. 

2 Vv. 13,685-13,697. See p. 1 01 (and note 6), above. 

8 Cf. pp. 105, 107, above; pp. 163 £f., 167, 186 ff., 196, 199, 201, 206, below. 

* V. 13,301. 

* V. 9833. 

6 Geoffrey, ix, 6, 20-22 ; Wace, vv. 9695 ff. 
'7 Geoffrey, ix, 11, 27; Wace, vv. 10,083-10,085. 
8 Geoffrey, ix, 11, 86; Wace, vv. 10,371 and 10,384-10,386. 
^ Geoffrey, x, 11, 26; Wace, v. 13,298. 

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Waces Brut 139 

had the body of the dead emperor cared for with great honor ; 
Geoffrey merely mentions his scornful sending of it to Rome.^ 

That Wace knew Gawain from other sources than Geoffrey ^ is 
shown by the praise of him which he adds at the first mention of 
his name.* In one striking instance Wace introduces the charac- 
teristic romance conception of Gawain.* When, in the council of 
Arthur's lords, Cador has made his speech in favor of war, Gawain 
(according to Wace) replies, praising peace. The pleasures of love, 
he says, are good, and for the sake of his amie a young man performs 
feats of chivalry. Geoffrey mentions no speech by Gawain.^ 

Wace's idea of Merl in^ is more like that of the later romancers 
than is Geoffrey's.* Wace represents Merlin as a great magician 
of unique power and position, which are recognized as a matter of 
-course by the other characters. He has no suggestion of Geoffrey's 
remark that, when Aurelius was advised to send for Merlin, he did 
not already know of him ; and states that the king at once sought 
him at his fountain. Geoffrey represents messengers as dispatched 
to all parts of the country in quest of him.'' According to Geoffrey, 
when Uther was perplexed at the appearance of the comet, he sent 
for wise men, among them Merlin ; but Wace mentions Merlin 
alone, implying that, with him to rely on, no others were needed.® 
So much for Merlin's position. As to his power, Geoffrey hesitates 
to admit into his narrative a wholly supernatural figure 5 but Wace 
has no scruples of the sort. So when Geoffrey, doubtless following 
some old magical tale, tells how Merlin transformed his own appear- 
ance and that of Uther and Ulfin, he makes Merlin observe that 

1 Wace, V. 13,395; Geoffrey, x, 13, 17. The single exception which I have 
noted to this procedure of Wace, is that he follows Geoffrey in saymg that, in 
revenge for the death of Bedver, Hirelgas mutilated the body of Bocu, king of 
the Medes (Geoffrey, x, 9, 39; Wace, v. 13,114). Contrast p. 119, above (Brut 

7ysilio)y and p. 160, note 6, below (Layamon). 

2 Cf. p. 105 and note 2, above. 

* Vv. 10,106-10,109. ^ Cf. p. 161, below. 

* Vv. 11,043 ff- * C^- PP- "8» i67» i8o- 

■^ With Geoffrey this means not mystery, as the same statement does later with 
Layamon, but merely that Merlin has relapsed into insignificance since his last 
exploit. 8 Geoffrey, viii, 15, 4-5; Wace, V. 8515. 


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140 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

his arts are unknown to that time, — meaning, apparently, that 
they belong to the mysterious past. But Wace merely takes up the 
expression " new arts " (by which Geoffrey seems to intend, new to 
Uther) and employs it in a non-significant way, omitting all sugges- 
tion that it was strange that Merlin should have such power.^ 
Again, when Merlin moves the great stones from Ireland, after all 
Uther's army have failed in the attempt, Geoffrey rationalizes the 
scene and makes Merlin a sixth-century Edison, who merely has 
far more ingenious mechanical devices than any one else. Wace, 
however, says that Merlin mutters something which enables the 
youths to handle the stones: "I do not know," observes Wace, 
"whether he said a prayer 6r not." ^ 

It is quite possible that Wace developed these ideas from the 
material in Geoffrey alone, — that the conception of a thoroughly 
supernatural wizard was perhaps for any twelfth-century French 
romancer a necessary substitute for the anomalous Merlin of Geof- 
frey. If so, Wace's change is merely another instance of the 
natural development of Geoffrey's story in the hands of a man of 
Wace's race and time. But it is also possible that, as in the case 
of Arthur, Wace knew independent stories about Merlin. 

In the second place, there are certain definite details added by 
Wace which either are, or may seem to be, derived from something 
else than Geoffrey's narrative. On closer consideration, however, 
most of them prove to be merely elaborations due to Wace himself. 
Such are several statements that one person was cousin to another ; * 
the remark that the Emperor Lucius was born in Spain,* which is 
evidently an inference from his surname Hiberius ; the statement 
that Arthur and Genievre could not have an heir,^ which, indeed, is 
scarcely an enlargement on the mere fact that according to Geoffrey 

1 Geoffrey, viii, 19, 60; Wace, v. 8930. 

2 Geoffrey, viii, 12, 23-24; Wace, vv. 8354 ff. 

' The knight Borel to Holdin (v. 10,422) ; Houdin to Gavain (v. 13,220) ; and 
Genievre to Cador, who brought her up (v. 9888). Cf. pp. 159, 218, 225, 251, 
266, below. In the first cases the knights are very closely connected in the 
narrative. * V. 12,852. 

^ V. 9895; cf. pp. 155, 215, below. Wace may have been influenced by similar 
incidents in Breton lays or other popular stories. 


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Waces Brut 141 

they did not have any. It is interesting, however, as showing that 
Wace either did not know, or else disregarded, the Welsh traditions 
which give Arthur a son.^ More important in the history of the 
story is Wace's seemingly superfluous addition,^ in the episode of 
the flight of the envoys from Lucius's camp, of a fifth Roman, a 
cousin of Marcel, who is severely wounded by Gawain. 

Certain other of Wace's additions are somewhat more doubtful. 
Probably, however, his statement that Artliur^s helm was that which 
Uther had formerly worn, is derived from Geoffrey's observation 
that it was adorned with the figure of a dragon.' One cannot be 
at all sure that Wace has any authority for naming the mount of 
Tenedic as the place where Cheldric was killed,^ especially since he 
implies that Cheldric was fleeing toward Totness, and Geoffrey that 
it was toward Tanet. Wace's statement that Modred had already 
loved the queen before he was left in charge of Britain^ may be 
from independent tradition, but may as easily be an inference of 
his own. 

Perhaps traditional (but not due to Wace) are certain interpo- 
lations in one of the early manuscripts : ( i ) the name Dinabuc for 
the giant of Mont St. Michel ; (2) the statement that Modred was 
brother to Genie vre,^ which is interesting in comparison with the 
idea which appears in the romances that Modred was the offspring 
of incest between Arthur and his sister.^ 

But after all scrutiny there still remain a few real additions made 
by Wace to Geoffrey's story, and certainly, or almost certainly, from 
independent traditional sources. 

In speaking of the northern kings who submitted to Arthur when 
he assumed the role of a foreign conqueror, Wace introduces* 
" Romarec de Guenelande " or " Venelande." It seems probable that 
Romarec was a figure of popular saga, more especially because 
Layamon says that it was his son who first began to quell the fight 

^ Sometimes called Llacheu. He appears in the triads (Loth, Mabinogion^ II, 
230) ; the Dream ofRhonabwy (id., 1, 3 1 2); Ulrich's LanzeUt ; the prose Perceval^ etc. 
2 Vv. 12,262-12,279; cf. pp. 144, 156, 213, 229, below. 
^ Geoffrey, ix, 4, 17; Wace, 9523. * V. 11,458. 

* V. 9628 ; Geoffrey, ix, 5, 17. "^ Cf. p. 1 19, note 8, above ; pp. 188, 242, below, 

* V. 11,460. 8 V. 9947. 


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142 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

at Arthur's banquet.^ There is no proof, however, that any one 
before Wace had associated him with the Arthurian story.^ Such 
a previous association, if established, would be an important point, 
as giving another indication* that probably before the time of 
Geoffrey the idea of Arthur's conquest of lands outside the British 
Isles, at least in the North, was in existence. 

Much more significant are Wace's additions about the Round 
Table. Into the passage which tells of the great prestige of Arthur 
he inserts the statement that, because each of the barons thought 
himself better than the others, Arthur made the Round Table, " of 
which the * Bretons ' tell many a fable," so that none could boast 
of sitting higher than any other.* Twice afterwards ^ he speaks of 
the table, saying once that the knights who were in the court and 
formed the king's bodyguard belonged to it, and in the second case 
that the praise of its knights was great throughout the world. This 
certainly indicates that Wace knew previous stories about it, which 
may be considered substantially proved by the nearly certain fact ? 
that round tables were a very ancient pan-Celtic institution. The 
antiquity of the thing being admitted, there is no reason to doubt 
that its close association with Arthur goes back to a stage of the 
tradition anterior to Wace and Geoffrey. 

What has been said of Wace's Brut may be briefly summarized 
as follows. Wace paraphrases Geoffrey, but with all the freedom 
natural to a mediaeval French poet, a freedom which leads to the 
insertion of plenty of mediaeval local color, and the infusion of much 
vividness into the style and the presentation. He almost always 
corrects Geoffrey's inconsistencies and obscurities, and in general 
he tries to make everything clear to his readers. Thus he adds a 
great many minor details of various kinds, which are not substan- 
tially important but which contribute very largely to Wace's entire 
change of the literary form. He introduces something of the 

1 Vv. 22,787 ff. 

2 Dr. A. C. L. Brown thinks that he had been thus associated; see his sugges- 
tions in The Round Table before Wace, Studies and Notes, 1900, VII, 201. 

' Cf. p. 84, above. ^ Vv. 10,555, ^Z^^IS- 

* Vv. 9994-10,007. 6 Demonstrated by Dr. Brown, op. cit. 


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Other French "Rrxits 143 

chivalric idea of Arthur and his knights, and the conception of 
Merlin as a magician. This may be partly (or, in the case of Merlin, 
wholly) his own development from Geoffrey's story; but it is far 
more probable that he drew to some extent from other Celtic 
Arthurian stories. From such he almost or quite certainly took 
some additional touches about Gawain, the mention of the Britons' 
expectation of Arthur's return, and the institution of the Round 
Table. And from some source not traceable he brought in the 
very unimportant figure of Romarec of Guenelande.^ 

To be mentioned in connection with Wace's poem are certain 
other much less important French metrical works of about the 
same date, all of which are preserved only in part. 

First may be mentioned the fragments of an anonymous version 
of Geoffrey in monorhymed laisses of alexandrines, in tfie style of a 
chanson de geste, of which about three quarters (some twenty-five hun- 
dred lines) belong to the Arthurian period.^ Quite in the regular 
chanson de geste manner are its descriptions of battles ; the praise 
given by Bors and Gerins to the stroke by which Gawain kills 
Marcel ; ' the descriptive formulas applied to some of the charac- 
ters — odla chere doree to Aurelius * and Bedver,^ and pleine de cortesie 
to Goneoure ; * and the frequent emphasis of the felonie of the 

^ For the later influence of Wace, see pp. 148, 195 (note 6), 203, 215, 226, 
below. One of the scribes who set out to copy Wace (MS. Bibl. Reg. 13, A. 
xxL, fols. 40 ^113, 13th century; see Hardy, II, 428, No. 584; Ward, I, 264) 
seems very soon to have conceived the idea of emulating or improving his origi- 
nal ; for after the first fifty-two lines he begins to abridge and entirely alters the 
phraseology, making also, apparently, a little independent use of Geoffrey. 
Beginning with the begetting of Arthur, fol. 77b* (Wace, v. 8963), he copies much 
more exactly, but even after this he abridges somewhat and alters the phraseology 
to a slight extent. He does not introduce any notable new features. 

2 MS. Harl. 1605, No. i (see Hardy, I, i, 357, No. 837 ; Ward, I, 272-274). 
149 lines are printed by Michel and Wright, Vita Merlini, pp. Ixxxv-xc. See 
O. Wendeburg, Uber die Bearbeitungvon Gottfried von Monmouth's Historia Regum 
Britanniae in der Hs, Brit. Mus. liar 1. 1605 ; Grober, Grundriss, II, i, 637. Michel 
gives about 115 lines in the Collection des Documents inidits sur VHist. de France^ 
Rapports au Ministre^ Paris, 1839, pp. 195 ff. Cf. also the fragment, likewise in 
alexandrines, published by I. Bekker in Roman von Fierabrasy pp. 182-183, and 
reproduced in Le Roux de Lincy*s edition of the Brut^ I, 392-395. 

« Fol. 40 a. *FoLi3a. '^¥61:^6 a. « Fol. 33 «. 


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144 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Britons* enemies. Not organically significant is the long and appar- 
ently original description of the pictures (biblical scenes) worked 
on the pavilion of the ship which carried Arthur to fight against 
Lucius.^ Of Constantine's assassination the author says only that 
it was committed by one of his knights.^ The characterization* of 
Gauuan as **le hardi . . . meillor cheualer," etc., is probably not 
altogether derived from GeofTrey.* A possible connection with Wace 
is suggested by the fact that in two cases when he enlarges on Geof- 
frey, this version does the same, though what it says is different. 
Where Wace added the episode of the fifth Roman, MarcePs cousin, 
wounded by Arthur^s envoys,^ this version has instead five other 
Romans ; ^ and it explains * the coming of the six thousand Britons 
to the aid of the envoys ' by saying that Arthur reflected that the 
Romans might say things that would provoke Gawain to violence. 
Aside from these points, the fragment follows Geoffrey pretty closely. 

There remain also 258 lines of a French verse rendering of the 
story of Vortigern's tower,* covering only what was intended for 
the introduction, as far as the beginning of the prophecies. Its only 
noteworthy difference from Geoffrey is the statement that Merlin's 
father visited his mother in the form of a bird, which, when inside 
the chamber, became a man.* 

The four thousand and more lines which are left of the so-called 
Munchener Brut,^^ another anonymous paraphrase of Geoffrey, bring 
the story down to a point in Geoffrey's second book, — not, there- 
fore, to the Arthurian period. This Brut is more diffuse than Wace, 
and drawS also from other sources than Geoffrey.^* 


1 Fols. 35-36. 2 Fol. 13 a. 8 Fol. 33 a. * Cf. p. 105 and note 2, above. 

5 Cf. p. 141 and note 2, above. « Fol. 40 b, ^ cf. p. 134, note i, above. 

8 Ed. La Villemarqu^, Archives des Missions Scientifiques et Littirairesy ist Ser., 
V, 90-96, also in his Myrdhinn ou l^Enckanteur, 1861, pp. 422 ff. ; see Ward, I, 384 ; 
Grober, Grundriss, II, i, 913. » Cf. p. 118 and note 7, above. 

I*' Edited by Hofmann and Vollmbller, Halle, 1877. About nine hundred lines 
are printed in Le Roux de Lincy's Wace (I, Ixxxv-cxv). Grober, Grundriss, II, i, 
473, is inclined to identify the Miinchener BrutyAt\i Gaimar's History of the Britons. 

" P. Paris (Hist. Litt. de la France, XXV, 338 ; Romans de la Table Ronde, II, 
36, note) notes that the author of the Roman de Merlin alludes to a translation 
of the story into French verse by " Martin of Roecestre." Of this nothing seems 
to be known. 


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Draco Normanniciis and Pantheon 145 

III. Draco Norman nicvs, and Gottfried or Viterbo's 

Two exceptions, perhaps the most striking of all, to the fidelity 
which generally marks the paraphrases of Geoffrey, are afforded 
by Latin metrical chronicles which appeared within about half a 
century after the Historia, These works may be briefly dismissed, 
because in the Arthurian portions they belong to the domain rather 
of romance than of history, and also because they exercised little 
or no influence upon later authors. 

The first, written about 1170, and reasonably ascribed to the 
rather prolific fitienne, a monk of Bee, is a fragmentary and dis- 
ordered record of Norman and French affairs, bearing the suitably 
fantastic title Draco Normannicus} Apart from many references 
to that portion of Merlin's prophecies which applies to the first 
half of the twelfth century,^ the relevant material concerns Arthur 
himself. The chronicle says* that when Henry II was fighting 
and conquering in Brittany, Count Rollandus * sent to Arthur, then 
staying in the antipodes,-^ a letter, as a result of which Arthur wrote 
to Henry describing himself as fatorum lege perennis^ magnifying 
his own glory beyond measure, outlining his previous career as it 
is told by Geoffrey, and bidding Henry leave the Britons in peace. 
Arthur is already on the way to help them, he says, with his 
immortal and invincible army and fleet, resting, or intending to 
rest, his legions in Cornwall.* Henry is not at all disturbed by 
the message, and nothing ever comes of it. 

fitienne's conception of Arthur is more exalted than would pre- 
sumably follow from Geoffrey's account,"^ and this must apparently 
be set down to his knowledge of other stories of the king, — the 
more so (i) since Arthur is made to belong especially to the 

1 Ed. Hewlett, Chronicles of Stephen, etc., Rolls Series, II. 

2 Chiefly in bk. i, vv. 172-428; others in bk. ii 
« ii, 945 ff. 

* Possibly an historical character. 

6 Cf. pp. 167, 188, below. 

« On Arthur's return to earth, cf. pp. 100 ff., above. 

^ Cf. pp. 98-108 (with note i), above. 

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146 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Armorican Bretons ; (2) since the idea of his future return is not 
only mentioned but greatly emphasized ; and (3) since Avalon is 
equated with the antipodes and becomes a typical Celtic earthly 
paradise, described with much poetic beauty. In this description 
fitienne apparently imitates Geoffrey's Vita Merlini} Either from 
this latter (by misinterpretation of the name "sisters " which Geof- 
frey there applies to the nymphs of the island) or from independent 
tradition, fitienne takes the idea, which later appears regularly in 
the romances, that Morgana, the only one of the ladies whom he 
names, is Arthur's sister. 

The second of the two poems is the no less jumbled Pantheon of 
universal history written about 1186 by the distinguished and con- 
ceited Italian courtier of the Hohenstaufen, Gottfried of Viterbo.^ 
The relevant passage is Particula xviii, entitled De Anglis et Saxo- 
nibusy which gives in 564 lines an astonishing version (or rather 
metamorphosis) of that part of Geoffrey' s story included between 
the beginning of the reign of Constans and the establishment of 
Aurelius and Utherj/Zwi- Uther's amour. The features original with 
Gottfried could be indicated only in a very full summary. It must 
suffice to mention the points which may perhaps be ascribed to 
something else than his imagination, working, whether directly or 
indirectly, upon Geoffrey's narrative. 

The Saxons, according to the German story previously accepted 
by Gottfried,® are identified with the Macedonians. Acquaintance 
with the prose Merlin^ or something akin to it, may possibly be 
implied in the statement^ that the motive of the magicians in 
bidding Vortigern find a boy without a father was to hide their 
ignorance. Interesting in connection with a later version, the 
Petit Brut of Rauf de Bohun,^ is the statement that one of the 

1 Cf. pp. 165, 188, 190, 230, below. 

2 Ed. Migne, PatroL Lat., CXCVIII, 871 ff. For the passage in question, with 
comments, see San-Marte, Beitrdge zur bret. u. celt.-germ. Heldensage^ 1847, 
pp. 189-209. On Gottfried and his works, see Waitz, in Pertz, Mon, Germ, Hist,, 
Script., XXII, I ff. 

8 See his Particula xv (in San-Marte, l.c.). 

* Which is like that in the Brut Tysilio (see p. 118, above). 

* See pp. 2 10-2 1 1, below. 


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Layamotis Brut 147 

dragons of the tower flew away, and Uther fought and killed it. 
And apparently there is a relation to German etymological stories 
as to the name of the region where the Saxons had lived when this 
latter is called Angria,^ though this certainly does not show that 
Gottfried was following any example in transferring this name to 
Geoffrey *s Rowen.^ 

A striking feature of Gottfried's version is the fact that he quite 
loses sight of the distinction of race between the Britons and the 
Saxons. Geoffrey of Monmouth did not inveigh against the Sax- 
ons in anything like the manner of Gildas ; but he did exalt the 
Britons at their expense, and his patriotic feeling was so pro- 
nounced that some critics have supposed that he wrote his History 
in exultation over the conquerors of his race, now themselves 
brought into subjection by the Normans. Gottfried, on the other 
hand, does not seem to realize that the Britons and the Saxons 
were different peoples, and he sometimes uses one name when he 
means the other. 

IV. Layamon's Brut 

This forgetfulness of the historical in the romantic elements of 
the Arthurian story was not confined to foreigners. It is equally 
characteristic of the English chroniclers and chronicler poets who, 
after an interval of about half a century, began in large numbers 
and in various manners to follow the example set by Henry of 
Huntingdon and Alfred of Beverley in copying from Geoffrey or 
Geoffrey's imitators. These chroniclers appropriated Arthur and 
the other British warriors as their own national heroes. 

None of them takes more pride in the glorification of -^thur than 
the most thoroughly Saxon of them all, the priest-poet Layamon.* 

1 San-Marte, Beitrdge, p. 192. 

2 For a coincidence of detail between Gottfried's version and Layamon*s, see 
p. 152, note 13, below. 

8 Indeed, in v. 14,242 Layamon himself uses the name "Bruttes" where he 
seems to mean English, but this case is perhaps unique with him, and probably 
due to carelessness. 


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148 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Of Layamon nothing more is known than the very scanty facts 
which he himself gives in the first ten lines of his Brut} He was 
a priest, the son of Leovenath, and lived at the church of Ern- 
ley, near Radestone (Arley Regis, or Lower Arley, in northern 
Worcestershire), on the banks of the Severn. Here he "read 
books," — that is, the church services, being evidently the parish 
priest. Fortunately his duties left him plenty of time for indulging 
his love of literature. 

The language of Layamon's poem indicates that it was begun 
not long before the end of the twelfth century, and its composition 
may well have occupied him for several years. As to his sources, 
he says that he journeyed widely among the people to find books 
to help in writing of the deeds of the English. He names three 
books which he found and used: (i) Wace*s poem, on which his 
own, in fact, is directly and almost entirely based ; ^ (2) what must 
be the English translation of Bedels Ecclesiastical History ; and (3) 
another which is evidently to be identified with Bede's Latin text. 
Investigation has proved, however, that if Layamon made any use 
at all of Bade, which is doubtful, it was only in a single (non- 
Arthurian) episode. This does not indicate any attempt on his 
part to deceive his readers. He wants them to know that he took 
all possible pains to secure authorities ; but evidently when he got 
to work he found that details from Bede's story would not combine 
well with Wace's, and so fell back upon the latter. The question 
naturally arises whether Layamon made any use of Geoffrey. The 
probability is that if he had done so he would have mentioned him 
among his other sources ; and most of his apparent agreements with 

1 The only edition of the Brut is that of Madden, 3 vols., 1847. Among criti- 
cal articles only a few call for mention here : Wulker, Ueber die Quellen Laya- 
mons, in Paul and Braune's Beitrdge, 1876, III, 524-555 ; Diet, Nat. Biog,, under 
Layamon ; H. Krautwald, Layamon' s Brut vergliehen mit Wace's Roman de Brut 
in Bezug auf die Darstellung der Culturverhdltnisse^ Breslau, 1887; M. Kolbe, 
Schildy Helm^ und Panzer^ zur Zeit Layimons^ Breslau, 1891. Interesting, but 
sometimes over-sentimental, is Morley's appreciation {English Writers^ III, 
206-231). References to earlier notes are given in Madden's Preface. For 
manuscripts, etc., see Hardy, I, 352-354. 

2 Cf. p. 143, note I, above. 


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Lay anions Brut 149 

Geoffrey as against Wace can be explained away.^ However, it is 
possible that Layamon may have thought, or believed that his 
readers would think, that Geoffrey was untrustworthy ; and there 
are some coincidences in details which lend a little support to the 
idea that Layamon did directly or indirectly know Geoffrey's work, 
or parts of it, or else had a manuscript of Wace which had been 
altered by the scribe on comparison with Geoffrey.^ However, 
these agreements are very few and slight and may be due to chance 
or corruption. Of course one is not justified in assuming that he 
knew Gaimar's paraphrase of Geoffrey, or any other. 

Layamon's treatment of Wace's narrative is freer than Wace's 
treatment of Geoffrey's. Indeed, Layamon 's poem is more than 
twice as long as Wace's, — 32,241 lines' against 15,300. Layamon 
is perhaps the greatest English poet between Cynewulf and Chaucer. 
He enters fully into the spirit of the story, and when his imagina- 
tion is fired he is ready enough to compose verses of his own. 
Such are the mocking speech of Arthur on the occasion of the sur- 
render of Childrich, in which he compares Childrich to a fox and 
vividly describes a fox hunt ; * the shorter but equally vivid speeches 
a little later, in which Arthur likens Colgrim on Bath Hill to a goat 
and himself to a wolf, and the Saxon warriors lying dead in the 
Avon to bright-scaled fishes ; ^ and again, his taunts at the bodies 
of Baldulf and Colgrim, whom he has killed.* It is not only in 
speeches, however, that such additions occur. Of the coronation 
of Constans, Wace says substantially only this : ' The people were 
in doubt which of Constantine's sons to make king. Not daring to 
take Constans from his monastery, they would have chosen one of 
the others; but Vortigern leaped forward and said that Constans 
was the rightful heir, and that he would take upon himself the sin 
of his election. Thereupon he went to Winchester, easily persuaded 
Constans to renounce his irksome life and agree to exalt Vortigern, 

1 As Wiilker has shown. 

2 See Fletcher, Publ. Mod. Lang. Assoc, 1903, XVIII, 91-94- 

* To be sure, these are properly half lines, but they average nearly as long as 
those of Wace. 

* Vv. 20,827-20,898. ^ Vv. 21,431-21,456. 
6.Vv. 21,297-21,348. 7 Vv. 6623-6688. 


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1 50 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

took him back to London, and with his own hands crowned him^ 
despite the horror of the other barons. Layamon expands the whole 
passage and adds much lively detail.^ The Britons, he says, had 
already chosen Ambrosius in a hustings at London, when Vortiger 
arose and advised them to wait for a fortnight, after which he 
would have good advice to give. They assented. Vortiger went 
to Winchester, where he got leave of the abbot to speak with Con- 
stans. He persuaded Constans to agree to his plan, disguised him 
in a knight's cape and sent him away, while he himself remained 
behind, talking with a swain whom he had dressed in Constans's 
habit. " Monks went upward, monks went downward," and finally 
came to the abbot and said they believed that Vortiger*s long con- 
versation with Constans meant mischief. The abbot replied that 
Vortiger was advising Constans to continue a monk. At last Vor- 
tiger went away. The monks came up and found only the dis- 
carded clothes. The abbot leaped on his horse, overtook Vortiger, 
and bade him restore Constans. Vortiger threatened to hang the 
abbot if he would not release Constans from his vows. The abbot 
dared not disobey, and he received twenty plow-lands as the price 
of submission. Vortiger enjoined silence on his attendants and 
kept Constans secretly in London. At the day set the council was 
about to choose Ambrosius, when Vortiger sprang to his feet, gave 
his own version of what he had done, produced Constans, and 
crowned him, no one daring to oppose. In contrast to Wace, 
Layamon similarly expands the accounts of the assassination of 
Constans, Vortimer, and Uther.^ 

Perhaps more purely original than any of these latter episodes 
is Layamon's invention of the scene when Arthur is informed of 
the treachery of Modred. Wace, after telling what Modred had 
done, merely states baldly, like Geoffrey, that Arthur heard of it.* 
Layamon begins the whole episode* by saying that a young knight 
came to Arthur from Modred. Arthur welcomed him, thinking 
that he brought good tidings, but all night long could not find out 

1 Vv. 12,972-13,270. 

2 Vv. 13,511 ff., 14,898 ff., 19,660 ff. Cf. p. 132, note 2, above. 
• Vv. 13,437 ff. * Vv. 27,992 ff. 


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Layamons Brut 151 

from him how things were going. The next morning Arthur rose 
from bed as if exceeding sick. The knight asked him how he did, 
and he related a dream which vividly foretells for the reader all 
his subsequent misfortunes.^ When he finished, the knight said, 
" Lord, if it had happened — and may God forbid ! — that Modred 
had taken thy queen and thy land, yet thou mightest avenge thee 
and slay all thine enemies." Arthur replied that he never supposed 
that Modred and Wenhaver would betray him, and then the knight 
stated the fact bluntly. Here Layamon's art fails him, and he 
makes no adequate use of the fine situation which he has prepared ; 
but up to this point his treatment is admirably dramatic. 

Such long original passages are rare, however. The bulk of Laya- 
mon's additions to Wace c6nsists of minor supplementary or modi- 
fying statements here and there throughout the poem.^ Among 
these are the following: 

The observation that Vortiger had half of Wales in his possession ; ^ his 
stipulation that in return for his services Constans should make him his 
steward;* the definition of the "rich garments" in which, according to 
Wace,* Vortiger clothed Constans, as the cloak of one of his knights;^ 
Vortiger's statement to Constans that it is from chapmen that he has learned 
that enemies are going to come, and the mention among them of the kings 
of Rusie and Frise ; ' Constans's reservation of the name of king when he 
puts everything into the hand of Vortiger;*^ a speech of Vortiger to the 
Picts whom he called the king's bodyguard ; * the statement that the Saxons 
of Hengist and Horsa were the fairest men who ever came to Britain ; ^® 
Hengist's assertion that one out of every six is obliged to leave Germany ; ^^ 
the addition,^^ in the account of the Saxon names of the days of the week, 
of those called after ** "[junre," " Satumus," " the Sunne," the moon, and 
" Tidea " ; ^ Hengist's respectful characterization of his wife ; " the remark 
that it was a wise man who cut the bull's hide for Hengist, and that he 
made it as thin as twine ;^ the expansion of Wace's vague remark that 

1 Cf. Arthur's similar dreams in the prose Lancelot and versions derived from it. 

2 Compare Wace*s treatment of Geoffrey in this respect. 

* V. 13,021. ^ Vv. 13,313 ff. ; cf. Wace, vv. 6709 ff. 

* V. 13,067. 8 V. 13,360. " V. 13,861. " V. 14,144. 

6 V. 6678. 9 Vv. 13,382 ff. 12 Vv. 13,929 ff. " Vv. 14,211 ff. 

* V. 13,097. ^^ V. 13,797. ^* Cf. pp. 69-70, above. 


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152 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Wancastre (Layamon, pwong-Chastre) was later called Langcastre by men 
who did not know the etymology, into the explanation that the change was 
due to the Danes ; ^ the invention of another feast, to which the Christians 
did not come, as the scene of Hengist*s suggestion that he send for Octa 
and Ebissa;^ the statement that Vortimer offered twelvepence for the 
head of each heathen ; * the observation that after Vortimer drove out the 
Saxons, Vortiger wandered about the land for five years, reviled by 51II ; * 
Vortimer's invitation to Germain and Leois to come to Britain ; ^ details in 
the account of Rowenne*s poisoning of Vortimer ; ^ of Vortiger's message to 
Hengist upon the death of Vortimer ; ^ a very vivid expansion of Wace's 
observation ^ that at the Stonehenge slaughter Hengist seized Vortiger by 
the mantle (apparently only to hold him), into a description of how Hengist 
pulled on the mantle with his ** grim grip " until the strings broke, and how 
the Saxons set on the unhappy king and wished to kill him, but Hengist 
defended him and would not allow it ; ^ the substitution (for Wace's profes- 
sion of ignorance as to who brought Elduf his club) ^^ of the statement that 
it had been brought by a sturdy churl of Salisbury ; " the entirely new idea 
that after the massacre, Vortiger, by means of his treasure, got together 
sixty thousand Britons and Scots, who brought all West Wales under his 
sway ; ^^ Vortiger's agreement with Merlin that, if the story of the magi is 
proved false, they shall be killed, which, Layamon says, was carried out ; 1* 
Merlin's explanation that the immediate cause of the fall of the tower was 
that the dragons attacked each other at midnight ; 1* great improvement in 

1 Vv. 14,241 ff. « V. 14,684. * Vv. 14,806 £f. 

3 Vv. 14,423 ff. * Vv. 14,792 ff. 

• How she sent frequent messengers with presents, asking to be allowed to live 
with Vortiger, which Vortimer granted at Vortiger's request; how she came to 
Vortimer, pretending to be about to fulfill his condition and become a Christian ; 
how he made a feast ; how Rowenne got a cup of wine, drank half of it, wished him 
health, and put in the poison while he was laughing merrily at her strange Saxon 
speech (vv. 14,898 ff.) ; how at night she and her men had their horses saddled and 
stole away to Thwongchester. 

7 V. 15,082. 10 V. 7446. 

8 Vv. 7430-7431. 11 V. 15,290. 

9 Vv. 15,272 ff. 12 Vv. 15,402 ff. 

1^ The death of the magi is mentioned also by Gottfried of Viterbo, but by no 
other witness before Layamon. It is so natural an idea that it may easily be due 
to chance. Certainly no direct connection between Layamon and Gottfried is to 
be supposed. See vv. 15,858 ff., 1 5,988 ff. 1* V. 15,942. 


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Layamons Brut 153 

the description of the investigation at the tower ; ^ the change to direct dis- 
course (as a speech of Aurelius) * of Wace's account of how order and 
religion were restored after the victory over the Saxons;* great gain in 
vividness in the description of the Irish king's blustering and mocking rage, 
emphasized with an oath by St. Brandan, when he hears that Aurelius wants 
to take stones out of Ireland ; * additional details in the story of the poison- 
ing of Aurelius * (such, for instance, as Appas's assertion that Uther sent 
him) ; the mention of the Irishmen's custom (at which Layamon cannot 
refrain from expressing his wonder) of taking off their breeches before a 
battle;* the statement that Uther put his spear, as well as the dragon 
standard, in the church at Winchester ; "^ the specification of churls among 
those whom Uther summoned to his great feast at London;^ the bold 
defiance of Gorlois when Uther bids him return to court ; ^ the characteri- 
zation of Ulfin as an old man ; ^^ the substitution, for Wace's brief statement 
that Uther's men attacked Gorlois's castle because he was not there to 
restrain them,^^ of an account of how the king's barons took counsel and 
planned the assault ; ^ a change in the conclusion of the Ygerne episode ; ^* 
the transformation into effective direct discourse ^* of Wace's statement that 
Octa and Eosa bribed their guards to let them escape ; ^ the statement that 
they went to Saxony ^^ before making Uther trouble in Scotland ; great expan- 
sion of the story of the elevation of Arthur to the throne ^^ (including the 
mention of Brittany as the place from which he was brought; the descrip- 
tion of the effect of the summons upon Arthur, who becomes alternately 
red and white; an assurance to the reader that his years had been well 
employed ; an account of the journey to Britain, with geographical names) ; 
similar expansion in the first battle of Arthur (at the Duglas), with a speech 
by Arthur and a simile comparing him with the howling wolf who comes 
from the wood behung with snow and thinks to bite whatever beasts he 
will ; ^* the vivifying of the pictiu*e of Baldulf disguised as a harper, telling 

^ Layamon makes it clear that the whole episode occupied some time. He 
also says that Vortiger took Merlin to his house to ask about the meaning of the 
event, instead of their sitting down beside the pond (as in Wace, v. 7725). 

2 Vv. 16,916 ff. » Wace, vv. 8168 ff. * Vv. 17,307 ff. « Vv. 17,662 ff. 

• Vv. 18,028, 18,059. For the custom, see Madden, III, 367, and his references. 
7 V. 18,220. 8 V. 18,503. 9 V. 18,584. 10 V. 18,707. 

" Wace, vv. 8969 ff. 12 Vv. 19,082 ff. 

1' Vv. 19,220 ff. Uther sends tokens to Ygerne of what they had said to each 
other. She still refuses to believe, and the knights surrender the castle without 
her consent. 1* V. 19,306. ^^ Wace, vv. 9065 ff. 

w V. 19,355. ^^ Vv. 19,826 ff. 18 Vv. 20,072 ff. 


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154 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

how all the Britons took him for a fool and struck him with wands ; ^ the 
mention of Childrich's castle at Lincoln ; ^ the very harrowing increase in 
definiteness in the description of the ravages committed by the perjured 
Saxons when they landed at Totness, with their boastful song of how, if 
Arthur dared to fight, they would make a door mat of his bones, binding 
them together with golden ties ; * further details in the account of the battle 
of " Bath " (especially the remark that the Saxons fled across the Avon in 
, getting to the hill) ; * a minute account of the bats or " clubben swilJe graete " 
with which Cador armed the churls whom he put in ambush in the Saxons' 
ships and of his directions to them how to lay on when the enemy should 
come ; ^ the statement that Arthur held a hustings at Exeter before his 
invasion of Ireland;* the description of how the warriors got ready for 
the expedition, preparing their bumies, rubbing their -horses, and making 
ready darts and shields and spears ; the description of how Arthur enter- 
tained the captured Gillomar at a feast, with the specification of the amount 
of tribute which the latter agreed to pay, including the relics of St. Colum- 
kille, St. Brandan, and St. Bride ; ^ the description of the tribute which the 
king of the Orkneys was to give, — sixty ship-loads of good fish brought 
every year at his own cost to London ; ® details about the surrender of 
Aeschil of Denmark and the tribute exacted from him ; • a note of the 
number of warriors whom Arthur took to France from his various subject 
realms ; " a detailed description of the first battle of Arthur against FroUe, 
with a speech by Arthur ; " the statement of FroUe that he has lost fifty 
thousand men ; ^* the observation that if FroUe had supposed Arthur would 
accept his challenge to a duel, he would not have made it for a ship full of 
gold ; the statement that Arthur's shield was made of elephant's bone ; the 
vivid description of how Arthur and Frolle came to the island in their 
boats ; ^ emphasis on the great fear of Frolle throughout the episode ; the 
envy of the women at Arthur's coronation feast ; " the remark that when 
the king was at the banquet it was Dubriz who, for his convenience, changed 
his heavy state crown for a lighter one ; ^ the alteration of Wace's statement 
that Arthur's knights reviled the ambassadors who brought the message 
from Lucius,^* into a description of how the knights would have torn them 

1 Vv. 20,303 ff. 7 Vv. 22,357 fif. w Vv. 23,845 fif. 

a V. 20,679. ® Vv. 22,543 ff. w V. 24,534. 

» Vv. 20,955 ff. • Vv. 23,291 ff. 16 V. 24,563. 

* Vv. 21,266 fif. w Vv. 23,359 fif. M Wace, vv. 10,989 fif. 

5 Vv. 21,504 fif. " Vv. 23,477 fif. 

« V. 22,255. ^ V. 23,618. 


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Layamons Brut 155 

to pieces if Arthur had not interfered ; ^ the limitation of the men whom 
Arthur called for his council (the boldest and wisest) ; ^ a number of changes 
in the episode of Arthur's fight with the giant on Mont St. Michel ; * the 
statement that Arthur, in pity for the people, challenges Lucius to settle their 
quarrel by a duel ; * the alteration of a good many comparatively insignificant 
details in the campaign against Lucius ; the presence of Arthur's spies in the 
camp of Lucius ; * the statement that Modred promised the people of Win- 
chester " free law " evermore if they would fight for him ; ^ the hanging of 
the citizens by Arthur when Winchester is taken/ 

As was to be expected, Layamon not only adds details to Wace's 
story, but very often omits details which Wace mentions. Of these 
omitted features, which are generally of no importance to the sub- 
stance of the narrative, the following are typical : 

Aurelius's speech to Eldof, as he is going to attack Vortiger ; ® the citation 
of the case of the Gabionites as an analogy for sparing the conquered 
Saxons ; • the statement that Uther had his men rest during the night before 
fighting the Irish ; ^^ the description of Igeme's beauty ; ^^ the statement that 
Gorlois expected help from the king of Ireland ; ^ the observation that 
Arthur and Wenhaver could not have an heir ; 1* the statement that at the 
time of Arthur's second coronation the queen was crowned in her chamber ; ^* 
all description of Lucius ; ^* all mention of Mount Giu in various places ; ^^ 
the statement of the deaths of several of Arthur's knights in the last battles 
(for instance, that of Aguisel on the landing in England)/^ 

For the greater part of these omissions we need not assume any 
deliberate choice by Layamon ; the details naturally fell out as he 

1 Vv. 24,842 ff. 2 V. 24,880. 

' Vv. 25,720 ff. (of. p. 135, above). Layamon adds to Arthur's company the 
knight who brought the tidings, and six swains. The giant bears twelve swine on 
his back. His bestiality is emphasized. The incidents of the combat are alto- 
gether changed. * V. i6,i8o; Wace, vv. 7823 ff. 

* V. 26,263. » Wace, V. 8153. 12 y. 18,620. 

« V. 27,148. w V. 18,005. " V. 22,244. Cf. p. 140, above. 

« V, 28,392. 11 V. 18,530. 1* V. 24,455. 

7 V. 28,407 ; cf. vv. 28,442 ff. " V. 27,338. 

16 Wace, vv. 1 1,152, etc. (cf. p. 137, above). Layamon does name it in v. 25,354. 

17 Wace, V. 13,509. Layamon also fails to make any clear discrimination between 
the Armoricans and the insular Britons: see vv. 16,474 ff.; Wace, vv. 791 5-7916, 
7990. Cf. p. 82, above. 


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1 56 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

made over the narrative. But occasionally the omission improves 
the literary effect. Thus, by dropping the illustration from the 
Gabionites Layamon does away with the repetition of one Biblical 
story immediately after another.^ Again, he leaves out the account 
of Gawain*s killing a second Roman, the cousin of the first, in the 
flight of the envoys from Lucius's capip.^ He seems generally to 
avoid all mention of the Senate in connection with Lucius, appar- 
ently in order to make it clear that the Emperor was the supreme 
power at Rome.* 

It is obviously unnecessary to add any prolonged exposition of 
Layamon's manner as contrasted with that of Wace. 

One of Wace's chief gains over Geoffrey is in realism and vivid- 
ness ; yet it is in precisely the same respects that Layamon most 
improves upon Wace. There is perhaps nothing in Layamon more 
realistic than Wace's description of Arthur's embarkation for 
France *; but Wace seldom has a passage of just that sort. The 
difference is chiefly one of race and position. Wace is a medi- 
aeval French court poet ; Layamon is a direct descendant of the 
men who wrote Bkowulf and the ode on Athelstan's victory. Wace 
calls up clearly before his mind the things which he writes about, 
and describes them in as pleasing a way as possible ; Layamon 
lives among them and takes his readers along with him. Wace is 
elegant and vivacious ; Layamon is intense. 

In all other respects, also, Layamon is a thorough Saxon, and he 
makes the story over into a Saxon epic. He is not afraid of home- 
liness and simplicity, and they appear often enough in his poem, 
but in the Homeric manner. His warriors are not only fearless 
and self-reliant, but of unrestrained impulses, emotional, boastful, 
and cruel. Arthur's grim irony has already been referred to.^ So 

^ Here it may be noted that, in giving his version of the Agag incident, Layamon 
draws independently from his knowledge of Scripture ; but in so doing he makes 
a blunder, calling SauPs city Jerusalem (vv. 16,629 ff.). 

2 Wace, vv. 12,262 ff. ; Layamon, v. 26,591. Cf. p. 141, above. 

8 Cf. p. 85, note 2, above. 

* See p. 131, above. 

*» P. 149, above. Cf. also what Arthur says to the captured Petreius (vv 
26,831 fif.). 


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Layamon s ^xmX. 157 

Aldolf, when he has captured Hengist, cries,* " It is not so merry 
for thee, Hengist, as it was at Amesbury, where thou slewest the 
Britons;"* and then to Aurelius, "Let thy men play with this 
hound, shoot him with their arrows."* Layamon refers not infre- 
quently to the Germanic custom of singing songs in anticipation or 
celebration of a triumph, as in the exultant strains of Uther's men : 
"Her is Vder Pendragun, icume to Verolames tun."* He intro- 
duces the idea of gri^; * defines Vortiger's place with Constans as 
that of steward ;* makes Ebissa Octa's " wed-brother " ;^ says that 
Octa and his men surrendered to Aurelie naked, in order to empha- 
size their humiliation ; * and, in describing one of the wonderful lakes 
in Scotland,*^ invests it with that atmosphere of weird unearthliness 
which marks, for instance, a famous passage in Bkowulf}^ Once Lay- 
amon expresses incidentally a Saxon hatred for the Normans." 

Like Wace, Layamon is often subjective and breaks out into 
exclamations of personal feeling.^* The mediaeval priest in him 
often becomes apparent. All who are not Christians are idolaters, 
and worship Tervagant, Apollo, Mahun, and "the Worse," — all 
devils of essentially the same nature.** With his heroes, he exults 
in the thought that their fallen enemies are doomed to hell.** He 
says that Arthur has his men spend the night in prayer for him 
before his duel with Frolle.** 

• There are certain kinds of detail in which Layamon pretty 
regularly differs from Wace. The forms of his proper names are 
commonly not the same. Sometimes this is merely due to his 
nationality; sometimes he alters them on purpose. When he 
knows the English form he generally substitutes it ; and he often 
brings the spelling nearer the native Welsh (as Wenhaver for 

1 V. 16,527. w Vv. 1357 fif. 

« Cf. V. 21,623 (Cador to Childrich). " Vv. 7115-7116. 

' V. 16,553. ** I^ V. 28,333, for example. 

• V. 19,576; cf. also vv. 22,077, 22,701. i« Vv. 1 140, 5353, 5406, 13,909-13,911, 
« V. 13,803. 13*948, i4»585» 16,790, 27,321. 

• V. 13,067. 1* V. 19,562, and often. 

7 Vv. 14,469* i4»505» 18,236. ^ Vv. 23,730-23,751. 

8 V. 16,759. 

• Vv. 21,739 £f. He peoples it with nickers and elves. 


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1 58 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Genievre)} Occasionally he inserts an English geographical name. 
In numbers, especially the numbers of men in armies, Layamon 
does not feel at all bound to keep to his original: he generally 
alters the numbers given by Wace,^ and often inserts a number 
where Wace has none. In describing orders of battle, again, he 
commonly follows his own invention ; * and he occasionally adds 
such descriptions without any suggestion from Wace.* He is 
equally free in his narratives of battles, as where he speaks of 
streams of blood dyeing the grass,^ and the like. 

Layamon is not infallible, and in one case, at least, he makes a 
mistake which affects the substance of the story. Wace, following 
Geoffrey, gives two forms of the name of Octa's relative — Ebissa 
and Eossa, Layamon takes them for different persons, and often 
introduces them together, — Octa, Ebissa, and "Osa."® 

None of the alterations by Layamon which have so far been 
mentioned appear to be derived from independent traditions. The 
same is true of certain other additions which may seem at first 
sight more significant. His occasional insertion of additional names 
of foreign lands in the lists of kings {Rusie, for instance') was 
easy enough for any independent paraphraser who knew a little 
geography. It is in all probability from his own invention that 
Layamon sometimes gives also the name of the king of such a 
country, — as when among the vassals who came to Arthur's great 
feast he includes ® Kinkailin of Frislonde, The same explanation 
will account for the names which he assigns to characters pre- 
viously nameless, as well as for some entirely new figures. Such 
cases are the following names : — Cadal^ given to Constantin's 
assassin ; ® Eliy to the reeve of Merlin's city ; ^^ Conaan^ to Merlin's 
grandfather ;" Meleon^'^ to one of Modred's sons ; ^^ and Ridwa&elan^ 

1 This comes, of course, from his residence on the Welsh border. 

2 For example, Layamon, v. 15,103; Wace, v. 7380; Layamon, v. 15,270; 
Wace, vv. 7438-7439- ® Cf. p. 39 (and note i), above. 

8 Vv. 16,362 ff., 27,248 ff., etc. ' 7 V. 13,323. 10 V. 15,597. 

* V. 21,710, etc. 8 V. 24,383. 11 V. 15,678. 

6 Vv. 16,411 ff. 9 V. 12,945. 

^2 A character bearing the name Melion is the hero of one of the Old French 
Lays. 18 Vv. 28,742, 28,753 5 ^f. p. 64, above. 


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Lay anions Brut 159 

substituted ^ for Hiresgas as the name of Bedver's nephew.^ New 
personages are Maurin^ represented * as Arthur's relative and his 
informant about Baldolf's plan ; Patrice, a rich Scottish thane, who 
gives news of Childrich's arrival ; * Borel, one of the Saxon war- 
riors;^ and Esscol^ (the son of Aelcus, as Layamon calls ^ Geof- 
frey's Malverus of Iceland). In two instances it is with fine litei^- 
ary effect that Layamon supplies a new role : — when to the Picts 
who assassinated Constans he gives a leader and spokesman, whom 
he calls Gille Callcet;^ and when in the story of Vortigern's tower 
he introduces a chief magus, Joratn,^ 

Similarly without significance is Layamon's expansion of Wace's 
statement that Guinevere was Cador's near cousin into the infor- 
mation that her mother was of Cador's kin.^° So, doubtless, the 
entirely new idea (so easy to infer) that Kaei was Arthur's rela- 
tive.^^ Whether or not the idea, of assigning a definite length 
(twenty-five years) to Vortiger's reign was original with Laya- 
mon,^^ it is certainly of no importance. Most probably Layamon's 
citations of prophecies of Merlin, which, except in one or two cases, 
do not come from Wace, are based, whether directly or indirectly, 
on Geoffrey's version.^* 

The elimination of these minor details clears the way for the 
discussion of certain matters which are organically more important. 

There is a fundamental difference between Wace's general con- 
ception of Arthur and his knights and that of Layamon, — a differ- 
ence, again, dependent on the authors' nationality. For Layamon, 
Arthur is in no sense a hero of romance, the centre of a knight- 
errant court. He is a very real monarch, like the famous conquering 

1 V. 27,593. « V. 22,495. 

2 Cf. pp. 123-124, above. "^ V. 22,471. 

* V. 20,241. 8 Vv. 13,564 ff. 

* V. 20,354. ^ Vv. 15,521 ff. 

* V. 21,233. Borel is the name of a Briton in vv. 26,862 and 27,004. 
^0 Vv. 22,227 f^- ; Wace, v. 9888. Cf. p. 140, above. 

^^ Vv. 25,710, 27,517. It is possible that the foster-brotherhood between Arthur 
and Kay in Malory indicates an old Celtic story of relationship between them. 
^2 Cf. p. 39, above; pp. 195, 217, 232, note i, 233, 251, 254, 258, below. 
13 See Fletcher, Publ. Mod. Lang. Assoc.., 1903* XVIII, 93-94. 


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i6o Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

kings of history, although the greatest and most magnificent of 
them all.^ It is doubtless for this reason that Layamon omits the 
improbable and rather undignified narrative of Arthur's fight with 
the giant Rito, merely alluding to the fact of such a contest.^ On 
the other hand, he greatly emphasizes Arthur's power and glory 
by dwelling on the tribute and the hostages that he receives from 
the kings who suljmit to him.* Layamon felt no more compunction 
than Geoffrey in representing Arthur as cruel to his foes ; as, for 
instance, where * he expands the statement which Wace ^ had put 
into the king's mouth, — that he would go and conquer Ireland, — 
into a description of how he would waste it with fire and steel and 
kill the people.^ An entirely new element, integral to Layamon's 
conception, is that of Arthur's sternness to his own men. When 
the council is called together to consider Lucius's message, the 
nobles sit in great awe, and no one dares to speak, for fear the 
king will punish it.'' When Arthur wishes his men to do anything, 
he issues orders, which sometimes must be obeyed on pain of death.® 
When he appears disturbed after his dream on the Channel, no one 
dares ask him what the trouble is before he speaks himself ; ^ and 
after he has told the dream, no one dares give it other than a good 
interpretation lest he should lose his limbs. ^° The long delay of the 
messenger in reporting the treason of Modred must be due chiefly 
to fear.^^ The most conspicuous instance of Arthur's severity to his 
own subjects is the barbarous punishment which he inflicts on the 
whole kindred of the man who began a bloody brawl at one of his 
feasts : the men are put to death and the women's noses are cut 
off.^^ Likewise, according to Layamon, Arthur's valor is of a more 

1 V. 22,979. 

2 Wace, vv. 11,956-11,987; Layamon, vv. 26,121-26,122. Cf. p. 91, above. 

8 For example, vv. 22,375-22,676. * Vv. 22,267 ff- ^ V. 9901. 

* Cf. vv. 22,615 ff. Layamon does omit (v. 27,660) the single instance of notable 
barbarity which Wace retained from Geoffrey, — namely the account of the muti- 
lation of Boccus's body by Bedver's nephew (cf. p. 139, note i, above) ; but this 
might easily seem to Layamon unworthy of a brave warrior, even though his sturdy 
Saxon nature was not shocked by the conventional cruelties of a campaign. 

^ Vv. 24,891 ff. 9 V. 25,559. " Vv. 27,992 ff. 

8 Vv. 25,461, 26,013. ^^ V. 25,631. 12 Vv. 22,837 ff. 


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Layamofis Brut i6i 

absolute, though a more natural, kind. He never suggests, like 
Geoffrey and Wace,^ that Arthur is afraid in a fight, and he repre- 
sents him as the most formidable of all warriors, the only one 
dreaded by the giant of Mont St. Michel ; ^ but he omits all men- 
tion of Arthur's impossible exploits in the last battle with Lucius.* 
Wace, like Geoffrey, says that Arthur tried to take the giant of 
Mont St. Michel unawares, before he could get his club ; * but Lay- 
amon says that Arthur woke him and gave him warning, lest he 
should afterwards be upbraided.^ To Wace the giant was a mon- 
ster outside the pale of chivalrous laws ; but Layamon will not 
admit that his hero needed to take unfair advantage. 

Layamon also changes the character of Arthur's reign completely. 
Wace, in a well-known passage already quoted,® speaks of the mar- 
vels and adventures performed during the peace which preceded 
Arthur's expedition to Norway and France. Layamon says noth- 
ing of marvels, and entirely rationalizes the passage. Arthur, he 
says,'' lived in peace ; no man fought with him ; and greater pros- 
perity cannot be imagined than that which he and his people 
enjoyed. Layamon omits also the romantic element in the pic- 
tures of Arthur's knights. He leaves out of Gawain's speech in 
answer to Cador ® all the suggestion of romantic love which Wace 
had put into it. Similarly, in paraphrasing the account of the cus- 
toms of Arthur's court which Wace, following Geoffrey, inserts in 
the description of the coronation feast, he speaks,® not of amies^ 
but of brides, as the reward of approved prowess. In two or three 
places Layamon omits the names of knights who are more or less 
celebrated in the Arthurian cycle.^° He alludes only incidentally 
to the death of Aguisel " and does not mention Ywain, his succes- 
sor ; ^* he leaves out Yder ; " and while he records the death, in the 

1 Wace, V. 11,956; Layamon, vv. 26,025, 26,119. Cf. p. 232, below. 

2 Vv. 26,075 ff- * V. 11,874. • Vv. 10,032 £f. ; see p. 100, above. 
' Vv. 27,802 ff. 5 V. 26,033. "^ V. 22,723. 

8 Vv. 24,955 ff- 5 cf- above, p. 139. 
^ W., V. 10,791 ; L., V. 24,674. Cf. p. 205, below, 
w Cf. p. 136, above, with note 5. ^^ V. 28,342. 

12 Contrast below, pp. 199, 201, 207, 225; cf. 219. 
w W., V. 12,336; L., V. 26,655. 


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1 62 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

battle of the convoys, of the Borel insignificant in romance, he 
omits the names of the other knights killed with him (Er, son 
of Ider; Hiresgas, and Aliduc), merely referring to them as three 
other highborn Britons.^ 

Layamon's Saxonizing of the story does not, of course, imply its 
complete rationalization. To the picture of Arthur, especially, 
Layamon has added certain characteristically Teutonic touches of 
supernaturalism. As soon as Arthur was born, he says, elves 
took him and enchanted him with powerful magic. They gave 
him gifts, to be the best of all knights, to be a rich king, to live 
long, and to be the most generous of all men.^ This naturally 
reminds one of the coming of the Norns at the birth of Helgi. 
Again Layamon says that elves dug one of the wonderful lakes in 
Scotland.^ To Wace's statement that Arthur's sword Calibeorne 
was made in Avalun,* Layamon adds that his burnie was the work 
of Wygar, an elfish smith,^ and his spear of the smith Griffin and 
made in Kairme[r]^in * (Merlin's city). The similarity of these 
passages to what is told of the legendary Wayland is obvious.'' 
Besides mentioning Pridwen and Ron, Layamon gives a name, 
Goswhity to Arthur's helm,^ whether he is here translating a British 
name or borrowing from Teutonic saga. 

Layamon has a thoroughly supernatural conception of Merlin ® 
which is at least as romantic ^° as it is Saxon and more pronouncedly 
so than Wace's. When Aurelius's messengers seek Merlin, he tells 
them ^^ that on the preceding day he foreknew their coming, and 
that against his will they could not have found him. When Uther 
wishes to get Merlin's help in his affair with Ygerne, it is not merely, 
as with Wace,^2 a question of summoning him. ^ No one knows 
where Merlin is except a hermit, whom Ulfin has to find. Then the 
hermit goes to a wilderness in the West, where he has long dwelt, 
and where he often receives visits from Merlin. There he finds 

1 W., V. 12,588; L., V. 27,008. 9 Cf. p. 139, above. 

2 Vv. 19,254 ff. Cf. p. 195, note 4, below. 10 Cf. p. 140, above. 
8 V. 21,998. 6 V. 23,783. 11 Vv. 17,051 ff. 

* V. 21,137. 7 Cf. also p. 213, below. 

6 V. 21,133. ^ V. 21,147. ^2 V. 8908. 


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Layamons Brut 163 

Merlin, who tells by his miraculous power everything about the 
king's movements.^ The mention of Merlin's life in the forest is 
altogether coincident with the idea in Geoffrey's Vita Merlini^ and 
it is impossible not to suppose that Layamon was influenced by 
Welsh tales about Merlin Silvestris. 

There are other instances (some of them certain, others highly 
probable) in which Layamon drew from traditional lore, Celtic in 
origin and romantic in nature. This is probably true of his exalta- 
tion of Gawain as the truest man on earth,^ and may be of his 
observation * that Modred and Wenhaver became hateful in every 
land, so that no one would offer a good prayer for their souls.* It 
may be that in representing the giant on Mont St. Michel as having 
fallen asleep, Layamon is thinking of some mythical tale of the 
general type of that in Kulhwch and Olwen where Bedver and Kai 
take Dillus Varvawc.^ Perhaps also his observation that some 
books say that Karlium was bewitched points back to popular 
stories (whether or not based on Geoffrey's*). The battle between 
Arthur and Lucius, he says, was the third greatest that ever was 
fought, as all the writings say that wise men made."' The mention 
of writings and of the number three suggests a Welsh triad. This 
impression is rather strengthened by the extravagant tone of the 
remark immediately following, — that at length no warrior knew 
where to strike, because of the quantity of blood, so that they 
moved the armies to another place. But as there is no evidence 
that the battle with Lucius was ever heard of before Geoffrey, no 
ultimate source earlier than his History can be assumed. Laya- 
mon 's statement that Arthur was called from Brittany to be made 
king ^ implies (as nothing in Geoffrey or Wace does) that he was 
brought up there. But probably Layamon is here merely following 
the analogy of the cases of Constantine, Aurelius, and Uther ; 
especially since he may well have wished to make good Wace's 

1 Vv. 18,762 £f. « Cf. p. 1 14, above. 

2 V. 25,487. "^ V. 27,481. 
«V. 25,511. »V. 19,834. 

* Cf. pp. 175, 197, 198, 201, 207, 210, 219, 229, 252, 270, below, 
s Cf. p. 91 (with note i), above. 


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164 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

omission in failing, like Geoffrey, to say anything of Arthur from 
his birth to his accession. 

Much the largest of all Layamon's additions is his account of 
how the Round Table was initiated : ^ At a Yule-tide feast of 
Arthur there were present seven kings' sons with seven hundred 
knights ; and when the banquet was served, they began to quarrel 
about precedence. From words they passed to blows, until finally 
the son of Rumareth of Winetland, who was there as a hostage, 
advised Arthur to take his native knights and arm. Meanwhile 
he himself seized three knives and killed seven men, including the 
knight who began the disturbance. At. this, bloodshed became 
general till Arthur returned with his knights and quelled the 
tumult, inflicting the punishment already referred to. After this, 
according to Layamon, " it says in the tale " that the king went to 
Cornwall. Here there came to him a carpenter, who stated that, 
having heard of the fight, he had come from beyond the sea and 
would make a table at which sixteen hundred men and more could 
sit without one being higher than another, but which Arthur could 
carry with him wherever he went. Timber was brought and the 
man completed the work in four weeks. 

The thoroughly Celtic character of this episode is evident, and 
Dr. A. C. L. Brown has demonstrated that it must have had its 
origin in an ancient Celtic tale.^ Very likely the story was not 
connected with Arthur at first, but there is no reason to suppose 
that it had not been associated with him long before Layamon. 

Layamon localizes more definitely than either Geoffrey or Wace 
the scene of Arthur's overthrow ; for while they merely said that it 
was on the Tambre,' he specifies Camel ford as the particular spot.* 
The most natural inference is that he is following a local tradition. 

Still more important is the fact that points of unquestionable 
contact in details with the Morte Arthur of the prose Lancelot 
occur in Layamon's version of the last battle, especially with 
regard to the disappearance of Arthur. When the conflict is over, 
says Layamon,, Arthur has fifteen fearful wounds, into the least of 

1 Vv. 22,737 £f. 2 studies and Notes, VII, 184 £f. « Cambula (Geoffrey, 

xi, 2); Camblan, var. Tanbre, Tamble (Wace, v. 13,659). * V. 28,534. 


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Layamofis Brut 165 

which two gloves might have been thrust.^ Of all his two thousand 
men, only two knights are left alive. Probably in consequence of 
this last statement, Layamon represents Constantine, Arthur's suc- 
cessor, as a boy who comes to him after the battle.^ Earlier in the 
poem, in speaking of the " Bruttes' " belief in Arthur's return, Lay- 
amon has remarked by anticipation that Arthur himself said when 
he was wounded in Cornwall that he should go to Avalon to 
Argante the courteous,* doubtless the Morgan te, queen of Avalon, of 
Geoffrey's Vita Merlini; * that she would heal his wounds with herbs ; 
and that when he should be well he would come again. Layamon 
repeats the statement,^ putting it again into Arthur's mouth, and 
adding to Argante the epithet "queen " and " elf." "And upon the 
word,*' he continues, " there came from the sea a little boat, driven 
with the waves, and two women in it, wondrously fair, who took 
Arthur and put him quickly in the boat and departed. No man 
born has ever been able to speak truthfully any more of Arthur, 
though Merlin prophesied that he should return."* 

The exact origin of the detailed story of Arthur's end, and the 
precise relation which Layamon's version of it bears to those found 
in the Prose Lancelot and cognate romances,'' we shall never know. 
We can say only this : — Shortly after Geoffrey's History was pub- 
lished (if not before) the story, sadly beautiful with the passionate, 
hopeless aspiration of a conquered race, was widely current, with 
constantly increasing variations, and Layamon drew his material 
from one of its forms. 

We may now sum up our examination of Layamon's Brut, It 
is for the most part a paraphrase of Wace's Brut^ with possibly a 
few insignificant touches from Geoffrey. But Layamon treated 
his original with the greatest freedom. He doubled its bulk by 
additions, mostly literary and original with himself. These rarely 

1 V. 28,578. 2 V. 28,590. 8 V. 23,061. 

* Cf. p. 167, below; L. A. Paton, Studies in the Fairy Mythology of Arthurian 
Romance (Radcliffe Monographs), Boston, 1903, pp. 26 ff. ^ V. 28,610. 

® Cf. pp. loi, above, 188, below. 

7 Cf. Vita Merlini, ed. Michel and Wright, p. 37. See p. 146, above ; pp. 188, 
230, below. See also Fletcher, Fubl. Mod. Lang. Assoc, 1903, XVIII, 84 ff. 


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1 66 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

consist of entire episodes ; they are almost always details. In his 
whole treatment he shows that he was a real poet of vivid imagina- 
tion, and a thorough mediaeval Saxon. For the courtly French 
tone of Wace's poem he substitutes the less elegant but more 
sturdy Saxon tone. To this general atmosphere corresponds his 
conception of Arthur and his warriors, from which is altogether 
eliminated the romantic knight-errant idea of Wace. Yet Laya- 
mon's Merlin is really more supernatural. than Wace's, and he shows 
some other signs of slight influence from current romance or Welsh 
stories, besides certainly taking from them his important accounts 
of the institution of the Round Table and of Arthur's disappearance. 
From the general stock of Teutonic saga he adds the connection of 
Arthur and his arms with the elves. 

Layamon's Saxon nationality, language, and conceptions pre- 
vented his work from attaining to any contemporary fame. Unlike 
. Wace's it exercised little if any influence on the development of the 
Arthurian stories, whether in chronicle or in romance. But it is 
beyond question one of the most admirable members, ancient or 
modern, of the whole Arthurian cycle. 

V. The Latin Metrical Versions of Geoffrey's History 

The Latin metrical translations of Geoffrey's History are chiefly 
important as evidence of its popularity. The best known of these 
is the Gesta Regum Britanniae^ formerly ascribed to Gildas. The 
author, who may have been a certain William of Rennes, wrote 
about the middle of the thirteenth century, for Cadiocus, Bishop of 
Vannes in Brittany,^ and was certainly a loyal Briton (whether Breton 
or Welshman) with a very pronounced antipathy to the English.* 

The poem has considerable literary merit. The author treats his 
original with some freedom,* understands the value of direct discourse, 

1 Edited by Michel for the Cambrian Archaeological Association, 1862 (see 
Hardy, I, 177). 2 Vv. 16, 4923; see pp. viii ff. 

* He sometimes speaks of the Britons as "our" side. See also vv. 4912 ff., 

* See, for example, his expansion on Aurelius (vv. 2536 ff.) ; contrast Wace 
(p. 137, note I, above). 


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Latin Metrical Versions of Geoffrey 167 

and shows real dramatic instinct. For example, he makes effective use 
of the device of a reproachful personal address to one of his charac- 
ters, — as to Vortigern on the occasion of his marriage with Rowen.^ 

He pictures strikingly the grief of the women and children as the 
Roman warriors set out against Arthur,^ and gives an original 
description of the battle with Modred by the river "Cambula."^ 

Like Layamon the author is influenced by versions of the story 
more developed than that of Geoffrey.* He exalts Arthur to a 
loftier position, above all other earthly heroes ; ^ Caliburn and Prid- 
wen seem ^ to be more prominent in his mind than they were in 
Qeoffrey's; he distinctly alludes to the belief that Arthur is not 
dead.'' He follows romance ideas when he says ^ that it was accord- 
ing to his custom that Arthur assumed the crown at his feast in 
York,® and he mentions the mass as a regular part of the cere- 
monies. He has also a thoroughly supernatural conception of 
Merlin.^^ It is by magic songs that the bard makes the stones of the 
Great Circle manageable ^^ and changes Uther's form.^^ Moreover, 
when Arthur is getting the worst of it in his duel with FroUo, 
Merlin inspires him with strength.^* The author's mention^* of the 
antipodes in connection with Arthur seems to point to the Draco 
Normannicus or something similar ; ^^ and he describes the earthly 
paradise, the memorabilis insula^ to which Arthur passes, with its 
regia virgo^ ^* in terms which correspond closely with the Vita Mer- 
liniy^ Apparently, from an entirely non-Celtic tradition (one which 
is best known, at any rate, in connection with Hercules) he adds ^^ 
the idea that for the begetting of Arthur it was necessary that his 
father should remain with Ygerna three days and nights.^® 

1 Vv. 2244 ff. Cf. p. 40, above. ^^ cf. p. 139, above. 

2 Vv. 3561-3587. 8 Vv. 4188 ff. 11 Vv. 2746, 2772. 12 V. 2918. 
* Cf. p. 137, above. ^ Vv. 2976 ff. ^^ V. 3339. Cf. p. 161, above. 

« Vv. 3664-3665. " V. 4155. 16 Cf. p. 145, above. 

■^ V. 4209. Cf. p. 1 01, above. i^ Vv. 4213-4234. ^^ Cf. p. 165, above. 

8 Vv. 3249-3255. ® Cf. p. no, above. ^^ Vv. 2923 ff. 

1® The author transfers the name of Brutus *s soothsayer (Geoffrey, i, 11) to 
Arthur's (v. 3599; Geoffrey, x, 2). He calls Leo princeps (v. 3882; cf. p. 85, 
above). He inserts (v. 3928) a mention of an historical comet which is recorded 
in some of the Latin chronicles. Minor differences from Geoffrey occur in 
vv. 3354 and 3376 ff. 


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1 68 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

There is an anonymous unpublished Epitome Historiae Britannieae 
from Brutus through the reign of Henry III, in Latin rhythmic 
hexameter verses, arranged in couplets with feminine rhymes.^ It 
follows Geoffrey as far as he goes, is very brief in the Arthurian 
period, and nowhere makes any changes in Geoffrey's story.* 

1 MSS. Harl. 1808, fols. 3itf-44a and Cott. Claud. D. viL 11, fols. Y^a-zoa, 
Hardy, III, 197, No. 322. 

2 There is a fragment of another twelfth-century rendering of Geoffrey into 
Latin hexameters in MS. Cott. Vesp. A. x, fols. 45^52^5 (Hardy, I, 357, No. 836). 
But although it enlarges on Geoffrey, the six hundred and fifty lines which 
remain extend only to Ebraucus (bk. ii). MS. Harl. 1808, fols. 46^-55, contains 
an insignificant series of extracts from various Latin authors about the city of 
York (cf. p. 278, below), especially its ecclesiastical interests. The greater part 
is in heroic verses, and includes an adaptation from Geoffrey on the restorations 
of York by Aurelius and Arthur. 


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The impulse toward the study and composition of chronicles 
which began to manifest itself in England early in the twelfth cen- 
tury was in full accord with the conditions which then prevailed in the 
scholastic portion of society; and when it had once got under way, 
it developed into one of the most important features in the literary 
history of the epoch. Many of the monasteries adopted before long 
the custom of collecting and preserving annals, and in course 
of time no small number of these compilations were put into defi- 
nite shape and regularly published. Some individual writers, also, 
unconnected with monastic institutions, though in almost every 
case holding an ecclesiastical position, engaged in the same work. 
From the end of the twelfth century until well into the fourteenth, 
the number of Latin chronicles was very large, and they continued 
to be written after 1400.^ These chronicles differ very considerably 
in character and in extent. Though almost all are arranged in the 
same annalistic form, some consist of a brief series of bare entries, 
while others narrate events in much detail and are of great bulk. 
Some make no pretence to originali4y, but merely copy from pre- 
vious authorities ; others are the productions of real historians, 
capable of weighing evidence and pronouncing shrewd judgments. 

By the nature or limitation of their contents, some of these works 
have nothing to say of the Arthurian story, either because they 
treat only of a particular monastery, or because they begin with the 
Saxon kingdoms. Most of them, however, aim to trace either the 

1 For the more important of these chronicles reference may be made to 
Morley*s English Writers^ Vols. Ill £f., and for mention of more to Gross's 
Sources and Literature of English History y London, 1900. 



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170 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

history of the world from the Creation, or the history of England 
from the earliest times (one or two from the beginning of the 
Arthurian period) down to the date at which they were composed ; 
and of these there are few that do not include something, at least 
a sentence or two, relating to the Arthurian tradition. As a rule^ 
they take their Arthurian material, and often their whole account 
of the Arthurian period, directly or indirectly, from Geoffrey. 
Those which have nothing to say of the Arthurian period (or draw 
what they say wholly from the Saxon, non-Arthurian account of it) 
must here be left out of account. The others may be roughly 
divided into the following classes : ^ 

1. Those which have only a few (sometimes but one or two) 
brief or comparatively brief entries relating to the Arthurian 
material, inserted at what the author takes to be the proper chrono- 
logical point, in the midst of his other notices, or brought in inci- 
dentally. Because of the very general character of these entries, it 
is not always evident whether the authors are drawing direct from 
Geoffrey or not ; but what they say is almost invariably in harmony 
with his account except for dates. This, the most numerous class, 
is represented by Ralph de Diceto. 

2. Those which, while they break up the stofy and combine it 
with other material, include most of its essential substance as 
related by Geoffrey either : 

a. In summary (represented by Sigebert of Gembloux, as inter- 
polated by the monk of Ursicampum) ; 

b. For the most part in rather full detail. (This is a small class. 
It is represented by the various versions of the Flores Ilistoriarum, 
which, indeed, greatly condense and alter Geoffrey in the last part 
of the story, and to a less extent throughout.) 

3. Those which take from Geoffrey everything (or almost every- 
thing) that they say about the whole period covered by his History^ — 

a. Giving a summary, long or short, of his narrative (a numer- 
ous class, represented by the Memoriale of Walter of Coventry) ; 

^ This classification (at best only approximately exact) relates merely to the 
treatment of. the Arthurian material. On almost any other basis a very different 
classification would have to be made. 


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Latin Prose Chronicles 171 

b. Copying Geoffrey's narrative almost or quite verbatim (repre- 
sented by Bartholomew de Cotton). 

4. Those which draw from Geoffrey in much the same way as 
Class 3a, but make use also of other sources of comparison, sub- 
stantiation, slight additions, or altogether new material. (A rather 
numerous class, represented by Alfred of Beverley.) 

It should be distinctly stated that some writers in almost all 
these classes occasionally depart from Geoffrey, at least in slight 
details. We shall also meet with instances of omission and expan- 
sion, and even with some noteworthy additions. 

For convenience, a list is here given of the chronicles which con- 
cern us in the present study, with an indication of the group to 
which each belongs according to the classification above.^ When 
a chronicle can be dismissed with a brief note, such a note is 
appended. In other cases a reference is given to the page of this 
volume at which further treatment will be found. 

Ca. 1 1 3 5 . Ordericus Vitalis (monk of St. Evroult in Normandy), Historia 
Ecclesiastica. Class i . Ed. Le Prdvost, 1838-55. Bk. xii, chap. 47 (IV, 486). 
An excerpt from the story of Vortigern's tower and the prophecies, taken 
probably from Geoffrey's earlier independent edition of the prophecies.^ 

Ca. 1 1 50. Alfred of Beverley (treasurer of St. John's Church), Annates 
sive Historia. Class 4. Ed. Hearne, Oxford, 1716 (see Ward, I, 211). 
Alfred distrusts Geoffrey, prefers when he can to follow the authority of 
Bede and Gildas, and abandons Geoffrey altogether at the invasion of Gor- 
mund (Geoffrey, xi, 10). He often pauses (as at p. 'jd) to discuss the credi- 
bility of the account, and he omits things which, to use his own words (p. 2), 
exceed belief, — especially, the fight of the dragons, most of the prophecies, 
and the account of Arthur's coronation feast. See p. 183, below. 

1 162. Richardus Cluniacensis, in the second and third redactions of 
his Latin universal Chronic te^ includes the prophecies of Merlin, which he 
had omitted in his first redaction. The first redaction ends with 1 1 53, the 
second with 1162, the third with 1171. A fourth redaction, extending to 
1 1 74, is thought not to be Richard's own. See E. Berger, Richard le 
Poitevin, Paris, 1879, PP- S^j ^o {Bibl. des Ecoles franq. d'Athlnes et de 

1 The list includes also the few continental chroniclers who mention the 
Arthurian story. 

2 See Fletcher, Publ. Mod. Lang. Assoc, 1901, XVI, 465-468. 


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172 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Rome, VI). Portions of Richard's Chronicle, not including the portion 
in question, may be found in Mart^ne et Durand, Amplissima Collectio, 
V, 1 159 ff. ; Muratori, Antiquitates Italicae, IV, 1080 ff. ; Bouquet, Recueil, 
VII, 258-259; IX, 22-24; X, 263-264; XI, 285-286; XII, 411-417. 

Ca, 1 175 (between 11 55 and 1200). The interpolated version of Sige- 
bert of Gembloux's Chronicon of about 11 11, made by a monk of Ursi- 
campum. Class 2a. Ed. Gul. Parvus, Paris, 1513.^ The genuine work of 
Sigebert, which naturally contains no Arthurian material, was soon and 
frequently altered and continued. The monk of Ursicampum used a text 
which had already been slightly interpolated (between 1138 and 1147) by 
a monk of Beauvais. His form became the standard, and hence ** Sige- 
bert " is sometimes quoted by later chroniclers as an authority for the 
Arthurian tradition. See L. C. Bethmann's edition in Pertz, Mon, Germ. 
Hist,, Scriptores, VI, 282, and especially 292, 461-3, 469-70. Cf. pp. 179, 
182, 183 (note 11), 185, below. 

Ca, 1 1 75 (between 11 60 and 1200). Ralph Niger. Chronica, Class 

I. Ed. Robert Anstruther, Caxton Soc, 185 1.^ In the second Chronicon, 
p. 137, in an addition perhaps by a later hand : — a mere reference to the 
Historia Britonum and Merlin's transportation of the Stones. 

Ca. 1 187. Chronicle of the Abbey of Coggeshall, arranged by Abbot 
Ralph. Class I. Ed. Joseph Stevenson (Rolls Series), 1875, p. 146. See 
pp. 189 (note 3), 190, below. 

Ca. 1 190. Ralph de Diceto (Dean of St. Paul's), Opera Historica, 
especially Abbreviationes Chronicorum. Class i . Ed. Stubbs (Rolls Series), 
2 vols., 1876. Also, Opuscula (Class 3a), II, 222-31. Cf. pp. 184, 187, 

Ca. 1 192. Gesta Regis Henrici II, which goes under the name of Bene- 
dict, Abbot of Peterborough. Class i. Ed. Stubbs (Rolls Series), 1867, 

II, 159. Cf. p. 192, below. 

Ca. 1 1 87-1 220. Giraldus Cambrensis, Archdeacon of Brecknock, courtier, 
and man of affairs. Class i. Works (Rolls Series), 8 vols., 1861-91 (I- 
IV, ed. by J. S. Brewer; V-VII, by J. F. Dimock; VIII, by G. F. 
Warner). See pp. 92-93, above ; pp. 180-181, 185, 189-190, below. 

Ca. 1 195. Roger of Hoveden (courtier of Henry II), Chronica, Class 
I. Ed. Stubbs (Rolls Series), I, 64. Cf. pp. 186, 192, note 2, below. 

Ca. 1 195. A monk of Winchester, perhaps Richard of Devizes, Chron- 
icle in MS. Corpus Christi, Cambridge, 339, partly embodied in Annates 
de Wintonia oi ca. 1295, ed. Luard in Annates Monastici (Rolls Series), 

1 See sig. c iii to fol. 27b. 2 See £>ici. Nat. Biog., XLI, 63-64. 


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Latin Prose Chronicles 173 

II (1865). Class I. See pp. xiff. ; also Diet. Nat. Biog., XLVIII, 197; 
Stevenson, Chronicon Ric. DivisiensiSy 1838, Preface; Wright, Biog, 
Brit. Lit., Anglo-Norman Period, pp. 360-2. Cf. pp. 183, 185, below. 

Ca. 1200. Gervase of Canterbury (monk), Gesta Regum Britanniae. 
Classes 4 and i. Ed. Stubbs (Rolls Series), 2 vols., 1879-80. See II, 106. 

Ca. 1205. The same, Actus Pontificum, Class i. See II, 334. 

The same, Mappa Mundi. Class i. See II, 414. See p. 191, note 2, 

Ca. \2oo, Plores Historiarum, complied Sit St, Albsins. Class 2b. Ed. 
Luard, Matthaei Parisiensis Chronica Majora (Rolls Series), I (1872). 
This edition reproduces Matthew Paris's form (ca. 1253), indicating also 
the readings of the almost identical older form. Practically identical (except 
as noted below) for the Arthurian period is the Flores Historiarum (the 
"Matthew of Westminster" version), ed. Luard (Rolls Series), 1890. 
For discussions of the complicated questions of the composition of this 
work, see Matth. Par., Historia Anglorum, ed. Madden (Rolls Series), 
1866-69, ^» xii ; m> xiii ff.; Hardy, III, xxxvi-lxxxv, 79-82, 11 4-1 16, 317- 
326, 399-445 ; Matth. Par., Chron, Maj., ed. Luard, I, xxx-lxxxiv, espe- 
cially xxxiii ; The Flowers of History, by Roger de Wendover {ca, 1 236), 
ed. H. G. Hewlett, 1886-89, III, Introduction ; Flores Histi, ed. Luard, 

I, x-xi ; Coxe, Roger de Wendover, Chronica, etc., 1841-44, I, Preface; 
Mon. Hist. Brit., ed. Petrie and Sharpe, 1848, General Introd., p. 7 ; Diet. 
Nat. Biog., under the names ; English Writers, III, 340-1, 346. Cf. pp. 183, 
184, 185, 187, 189, 191 (note 2), below. 

Ca. 121 o. Annates Prior atus de Dunstaplia, compiled by Prior Richard 
de Morins. Class i. Ed. Luard, Annates Monastici (Rolls Series), III 
(1866). Draws from Diceto ; see 392, 523, 535 (Diceto, 393, 523, 542). 

Ca. 121 1. Gervase of Tilbury (courtier of the Emperor Otto IV, 
though English by birth), Otia Imperialia (in strictness not to be called a 
chronicle). Classes i and 3a. Ed. (incompletely) by Leibnitz, Scriptores 
Rerum Brunsvicensium, Hanover, 1707: I, 916-17, 921, 931-8. Also in 
Stevenson, Radulphus de Coggeshall, etc., pp. 419-441 ; see pp. xxiii-v.. 
Selections, ed. Liebrecht, 1856. In the summary of Geoffrey, Gervase 
often inserts observations of his own about contemporary conditions or 
similar matters. See pp. 186-187, 188-189, below. 

Ca. 1235. Annals of Margan. Class i. Ed. Q2Xe,Hist. Angl. Script., 

II, 1-19, especially lo-ii. See p. 191, below. 

Ca. 1250. Albericus Trium Fontium. Qassi. Ed. P. Scheffer-Boichorst, 
in VexXz, Mon. Hist. Germ., Scriptores, XXIII, 674-950 : see p. 669. See 
p. 191, below. 


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1 74 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Ca. 1256. Vincent of Beauvais (courtier of Louis IX), Speculum His- 
toriale (part of his immense Speculum Majus). Class 2a, as regards Mer- 
lin, Ambrosius, Uther, and Arthur ; merely copying the Arthurian entries 
from the version of Sigebert interpolated by the monk of Ursicampum. Ed. 
1474 ; also Venice, 1494 (the edition here referred to). Bk. xvi, chaps. 5, 
6; XX, 30, 55, 56; xxi, 74, covering Geoffrey vi, 17; xi, 2. See John 
Ferguson, Account of a Copy of Speculum Majus ^ Glasgow, 1885, espe- 
cially notes, pp. 1-6 ; Daunou, Hist. Litt, de la France^ XVIII, 449- 


Ca, 1258 (?). Thomas Albus, Chronicon (MS. Harl. 3723). Class i. 
See fol. 45. Cf. Hardy, III, 149, No. 253. 

Ca, 1270. Henricus de Silegrave (perhaps Abbot of Ramsay), Chroni- 
con. Class I, with comparison of William of Malmesbury. Ed. C. Hook, 
Caxton Soc, 1849; seep. 11. 

Ca. 1275. Martinus Polonus, Bishop of Gnesen, Cronica Summorum 
Pontificum Imperatorumque^ etc. Class i. Ed. Taurini, 1477. A single 
entry under Emperor Leo, fol. 32b : " Per hec tempora fuerunt viri famosi 
milites tabule rotunde ut dicitur." Cf. p. 142, above. 

Ca. 1290. Adam de Domerham. Historia de Rebus gestis Glastoniensi- 
bus. Class I. Ed. Hearne, 2 vols., 1727. See p. 191, note 4, below. 

Ca, 1290 (?). Peter Ickham (?), Chronicon de Regibus Angliae, Class 
3a. See Diet, Nat. Biog,, XXVIII, 411, and Hardy, III, 271-2, No. 488, 
with notes. Makes a littie use also of William of Malmesbury. Also, in 
the Saxon part of the story, inserts from Geoffrey a brief outline of Hen- 
gist's career. Cf. pp. 183, 185, 187, 188, below. 

Ca, 1 29 1. Annals of Waver ley. Class i. Ed. Luard (Rolls Series), 
Annates Monastici, II, 129 ff. (see II, xxix ff.). Entries under the years 
543, 1278, 1283. See pp. 191, note 4, 192, note 3, below. 

Ca, 1292. [" Martinus "] Minorita, a monk of Suabia, Flores Temporum, 
Class I. Edited in Eccard, Corpus Hist. Medii Aevi, 1723. Ann. 458, 
col. 1590. 

Ca, 1293. Chronica ascribed to John of Oxnead. Class i. Edited by 
Sir Henry Ellis (Rolls Series), 1859 5 see p. 2. 

Ca. 1293. Brother Walter of Coventry, Memoriale, Class 3a. Ed. 
Stubbs (Rolls Series), 1872-3; see I, Preface, especially pp. xix-xx. See 
pp. 183, 187, 192, note 2, below. 

Ca, 1298. Bartholomew de Cotton, monk of Norwich, Historia Angli- 
cana. Class 3b. Ed. Luard (Rolls Series), 1859. Luard does not include 
the part dealing with the Arthurian period, but his statements (pp. xix, 


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Latin Prose Chronicles 1 7 5 

xxvi-vii) indicate that it does not deviate from GeofiErey. See also ann. 
1294, p. 239. 

Ca. 1298. Chronicle of MS. Cott. Cleop. A. i. i, fols. 3-207. Class 4. 
Hardy, III, 258, No. 466. Gives Geoffrey's story very fully, sometimes 
almost verbatim^ but sometimes substitutes and sometimes draws from 
Henry of Huntingdon (for example, the account of Arthur's last battle : cf . 
p. 120, above), Bede, Gildas, Nennius, and even Paulus Diaconus (who 
used Bede). See pp. 183, 186, note 5, below. 

Ca. 1306. Johannes Beverus, monk of Westminster, Chronica (MSS. 
Harl. 641, no. 4, fols. 8a ff., and Cott Titus D. xii., fols. 3 ff.). Class 3a. 
Hardy, III, 281, No. 507 ; II, 473, No. 621 ; I, 359, No. 842. The author 
sometimes employs his own judgment in making trivial additions, and he 
sometimes inserts Latin verses, especially on the faithlessness of women, 
apropos of Guenuara (Titus D. xii., fol. 21b). Cf. p. 163, above. 

Ca. 1307. William Rishanger, Annales Regum Angliae (fragmentary). 
Class I . See ann. 449, 516. Edited (together with the form of the Chronica 
Monasterii S. Albani ascnbed to Rishanger, which also is of Class i ; 
see p. 107) by H. T. Riley (Rolls Series), 1865 ; see pp. xxv, xxxiv. Cf. 
pp. 182, 191, note 2, 192, note 4, below. 

Ca, 1308 (originally). Annales of the Priory of Worcester. Class i. 
Ed. Luard, Annales Monasticij IV, 353 ff. (see pp. xxxv ff.). Consult ann. 
468, 1 216, 1285. See p. 192, note 3, below. 

Ca, 13 14. Chronicon Monasterii de Hales (MS. Cott. Cleop. D. iii., 
fols. 1-56). Class 4. Hardy, III, 352, No. 580. Cf. pp. 182, 185, note 8, 
187, note 8, 191, note 2, below. 

Ca. 1352. Ralph Higden (monk of the Benedictine Abbey of St 
Werburg's at Chester), Poly chronicon. Class 4, chiefly. Edited (with 
Trevisa's English translation of 1387) in the Rolls Series, 1865-86 (I, II, 
by C. Babington, III-IX, by J. R. Lumby). Cf. pp. 1 81-182, 185-186, 
191, note 2, below. 

14th or 15th century (?). John Brompton (?), Chronicon. Class i, but 
drawing wholly from Higden. Ed. Twysden, Scriptores Xy 1652, I, cols. 
1 1 53, 1 195. See Diet. Nat. Biog.^ VI, 405 ; Oxo^&y Sources and Literature 
of English History ^ p. 270, No. 1727. 

Ca. 1350. Johannes Historiographus, Chronicon. Class i. Ed. J. P. 
de Ludewig, Reliquiae Manuscriptorum omnis Aevi, Halae Salicae, 1741, 
vol. XII ; see chap. 38, p. 134. 

Ca. 1350 (?). Canon of Lanercost in Northumberland, Larga Angliae 
Historia (MS. Cott Claud. D. vii., no. 14). Class 4, making some 


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176 Arthurian Material in Chronicler 

use of William of Malmesbury and Henry of Huntingdon. Cf. pp. 180, 
183, note 3, below. 

Ca. 1350 (?). Nicolaus Gloucestriae, Chronicon^ MS. Cott Calig. A. 
iii., fols. 1 2-1 45b. Class 3b. Hardy, I, 512, No. 838. Cf. pp. 180, 189, 
note 5, below. 

Ca, 1350. Entries, of uncertain authorship, in MSS. of Robert of Aves- 
bury, Historiae Edwardi III, Class i. Ed. Heame, 1720; see p. 259. 
Cf. p. 189, below. 

Ca. 1366. Thomas, monk at Malmesbury (?), Eulogium Historiarum, 
Classes 3a and 3b. Ed. F. S. Haydon (Rolls Series), 1858-63 ; see book v. 
Up to the beginning of the story of Vortigern's tower it follows substantially 
the version of the French Brut (cf. pp. 187, 191, note 2, below). The same 
author's Chronicon brevius is of Class i. 

Ca, 1395. Thomas Sprott, monk of St. Augustine's, Canterbury. Ed. 
Hearne, Oxford, 17 19. The first, or annalistic, part is of Class i ; see ann. 
469, 488, 1 195. The second part is of Class 3a, but omits much of the 
important sections of the story. Cf. pp. 183, note 8, 187, 191, note 2, 

Ca, 1400. Henry Knighton, Chronicon, Class i, but drawing from 
Higden. Ed. Lumby (Rolls Series), 2 vols., 1889-95 ; see I, 149-50, 314. 
See p. 191, note 2, below. 

Ca. 1400. Richard of Cirencester, Speculum Historiale de Gestis Regum 
Angliae, Class 4, but drawing chiefly from " Matthew of Westminster." 
Ed. J. E. B. Mayor (Rolls Series), 2 vols., 1863-9; see Preface^ II, viiiflE. 
Cf. pp. 179, note 3, 183, 184, below. 

Ca. 1400. Thomas Otterboume (?), Chronica Regum Angliae. Class 
3a, but using also Higden to a slight extent. Ed. Hearne, Duo Rerum 
Anglicarum Scrip tores ^ Oxford, 1732 ; see Diet. Nat, Biog.^ XLII, 341. 

Ca, 1400 Q). Chronicon de Origine et Rebus Gestis Britanniae et 
Angliae (MS. Coll. Magdalen, Oxford, No. 72). Class. 4, drawing largely 
from Higden. Hardy, II, 472, No. 620. Cf. p. 187, below. 

Ca. 1 4 14. Thomas of Elmham, monk and treasurer of the monastery (?), 
Historia Monasterii S. Augustini Cantuariensis. Class i. Ed. Hardwick 
(Rolls Series), 1858 ; see pp. xix-xxiv. Consult ann. 1288, sec. 81, p. 265. 
See p. 191, note 4, below. 

Ca. 1420. Thomas Walsingham, monk, Historia Anglicana, ed. H. T. 
Riley (Rolls Series), 1863-64. Class i. Copying Rishanger. Also 
Ypodigma Neustriae^ in Camden's Anglica^ etc., 1603, p. 492; ed. Riley 
(Rolls Series), 1876, pp. 176, 220-221. 


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Latin Prose Chronicles 177 

Ca, 1460. Thomas Rudborne (monk of St. Swithun's, Winchester), His- 
toria Major Wintonensis. Class i . Ed. Wharton, Anglia Sacra^ I» 1 87 ; see 
book ii, chap, i ; cf. DicL Nat. Biog., XLIX, 378. See p. 1 85, note 9, below.^ 

1 The following is a list, arranged in classes, of the less important (generally 
anonymous and altogether unimportant) unpubUshed chronicles which I have 
consulted : — 

Class I 

Cotton MSS. : Jul A. L, no. i, fols. 2-42 (Hardy, III, 167, No. 287 ; III, 363, 
No. 599) : see fol. 20a. — Jul. A. xi., fol. 23 (Hardy, III, 41, No. 67). — Cleop. D. 
ix., no. 3, fol. 35. — Galba E. iii., fols. 2-3ib (Hardy, II, 533, No. 698) : see fol. 2, 
ann. 524. — Vesp. B. xi., no. 4, fols. 72a-79a, Chronica S. Martini de Dover 
(Hardy, II, 263, No. 362). This does not contain the brief mention of Arthur 
which Leland {Collectanea^ Heame, 2d ed.. Ill, 50) says that he took "ex chronico 
Dovarensis monasteriL" — Dom. A. i., no. 10, fols. 138-15$ (Hardy, III, 226, No. 
397) : see fol. 139b 2. 

Brit. Mus. Bibl. Reg. MS. 13 D. i. (Hardy, III, 25, No. 33) ; see ann. 454. 

Harl. MSS. — 1808, no. i, fols. i-8a (Hardy, II, 148, No. 213) ; also fols. loa- 
17b, 98-105. — 37,251 : see fol. 6b. — 7571, no. i : see fol. 12b. 

Class 2b 
MS. Bodl. Rawl. B. 177, no. i. 

Class ja 

Cotton MSS. — Tib. A. ix., fols. 42-51. — Nero A. iv., no. i. — Nero A. viii., 
no. 3. — Nero A. ix., fols. 25-73. — Faust. B. vL, fols. 38b-4ob (Hardy, I, 575, 
No. 1 161 ; see Ward, I, 374). — Vesp. E. iv., no. 5, fols. I04-I07b (Hardy, I, 560, 
No. 1 1 38). 

Harl. MSS. — 902, fols. 14-46. — 1808, fols. 59-65 (Hardy, II, 264, No. 365). — 
3860, no. I (Hardy, III, 196, No. 321). — 5418, fols. 1-77 (Hardy, II, 495, No. 647) : 
see fols. I ff. Fols. 1 7 £f . are of class 2a. 

Bodl. MS. 355, no. 3, fols. 32b ff. ; but see fol. 45b. 

Bodl. Rawl. MSS. — B. 150, no. 4, fols. 8 ff. (Hardy, III, 164, No. 281). Seems 
to resemble the chronicle of Johannes Beverus, and has Latin verses at intervals, 
some of them, at least, the same as his. — B. 167, no. i (Hardy, II, 38, No. 51). 

Class j3 
Cott. MS. Dom. A. iv., no. 2, fols. 58--241. 

Class 4 

Cotton MSS. — Jul. D. iv., fols. 2-124 (Hardy, III, 387, No. 649). — Claud. D. 
vii., no. II, fols. 9a-i3b. — Titus D. iv., fols. 15-75 (Hardy, I, 674, No. 1275). 
A late composite account, making use of several chroniclers. — Dom. A. iv., 
no. I, fols. 2-56. 

Brit. Mus. Bibl. Reg. MS. 13. C. i., fols. 147-152. 


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178 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

In discussing more at large the works thus briefly catalogued, we 
may begin with the attitude of the chroniclers toward Geoffrey's 

Manuscripts not belonging to the above classes: Harl. 6148, no. 18, fols. 67b- 
68a. Statements about Arthur from William of Malmesbury and others. — Harl. 
7571, no. 2, fols. 85-89. A history of King Arthur, consisting of quotations 
from Gildas and Geoffrey, with interpolations. 

My investigations have shown that the following do not contain Arthurian 
material : — 

Cotton MSS. — Jul. A. i., no. i (Hardy, III, 167, No. 287); also fols. 44-50 
(Hardy, HI, 293, No. 526). — Jul. D. ii., fols. 3-20 (Hardy, III, 74, No. 142). — 
Jul. D. v., no. 2 (see Hardy, III, 351, No. 576). — Jul. D. vii., fol. 61 (Hardy, II, 84, 
No. 121). — Cleop. D. ix., no. i, fols. 1-21 (Hardy, III, 233, No. 414). — Tiber. 
E. i., fols. 2i7-2i8b (Hardy, I, 84, No. 265). — Claud. C. ix., no. i, fols. i-i4b 
{Hardy, II, 397, No. 538). — Claud. D. vii., nos. 2 and 13, fols. 2ob-2ib. — Nero 
A. iv., fols. 77-11 1 (Hardy, III, 199, No. 331). — Nero A. vi. — Nero A. viii., fols. 
1-37 (Hardy, II, 280, No. 376). — Nero C. vii., fol. 215 (Hardy, II, 213, No. 295). 

— Vesp. A. xxii. — Vesp. D. iv., fol. 126 (Hardy, I, 667, No. 1265). — Vesp. D. 
xiii., fols. i-58b (Hardy, II, 199, No. 271). — Vesp. D. xix., no. 6, fol. 53 (Hardy, III, 
57, No. no). — Vesp. E. iv., no. 8, fol. I39a-i4ib. — Domit. A. ii., fols. 130-143 
(Hardy, III, 293, No. 527). — Domit. A. xv., fols. 1-7 (Hardy, II, 189, No. 252). 

Harl. MSS. — 64, fol. 123. — 902, fols. 48-68 (Hardy, I, 674, No. 1273). 

Brit. Mus. Bibl. Reg. MSS.— 4, B. vii., fols. 200-218 (Hardy, II, 448, No. 592). 

— Bibl. du Roi, 4932, no. 2, fols. 24 £f. (Hardy, III, 217, No. 375). — 4936, no. i 
(Hardy, III, 102, No. 199). — 6041. A, no. 2 (Hardy, II, 528, No. 687, and III, 
124, No. 222). 

Sloane MS. 289, no. i (Hardy, III, 61, No. 115). 

Bodl. Rawl. MS. B. 177, fols. 192 ff. (Hardy, III, 277, No. 497). 

Coll. Magd. Oxon. MS. 53, no. 10 (Hardy, III, 221, No. 385). 

I have not consulted the following MSS. Perhaps of some importance are : — 
Marquis of Bath's MS., mentioned by Furnivall in his ed. of Arthur, etc., 
E.E.T.S., No. 2. — Marquis of Salisbury's MS., Hatfield House, B. d. 15 (Hardy, 

II, 167, No. 224). Probably of little or no importance are: — Cotton MSS.: 
Galba A. vii. 4, fols. 47-87 (Hardy, II, 64, No. 88); Faust. A. viii., fols. 1 19-21 2 
(Hardy, III, 84, No. 157); Vitell. A. viii., fols. Ii3-i32b (Hardy, II, 286, No. 389); 
Vitell. A. X., fols. 1-17 (Hardy, III, 382, No. 643); Vitell. A. xvii., fols. 1-16 
(Hardy, II, 397, No. 539); Vitell. C. viii., fols. 1-17- (Hardy, II, 88, No. 124); 
Vitell. E. xvii., no. 4, fol. 189 (Hardy, III, 282, No. 508) ; Titus A. xiii., no. i.— 
Titus D. xix., fols. 105-108 (Hardy, I, 623, No. 1225). — Harl. MS. 3775 (Hardy, 

III, 17, No. 19). — Arund. MSS.: 310, fol. 188 (Hardy, III, 200, No. 333); 326, 
fols. 10-22 (Hardy, III, 62, No. 118). — Sloane MS. 289, fols. 110-134 (Hardy, II, 
474, No. 622). — Addit. MS. Bodl. II. D. 11 (Hardy, III, 150, No. 257). — Brit. 
Mus. Bibl. du Roi MSS. : 4861, no. 8 (Hardy, III, 223, No. 392) ; 4893 (Hardy, 


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Latin Prose Chronicles 179 

narrative. We have seen that Henry of Huntingdon accepted it 
almost without question, at least to the extent of copying it in 
abstract, and that Alfred of Beverley, more judicially minded in a 
timid way, regarded it as in great part true but as much exagger- 
ated and needing to be checked by other authorities. By the year 
1200, practically the whole substance of Geoffrey's story, in out- 
line, had been adopted by one or two important writers ; and from 
that time until the Latin chronicles ceased to be composed, it was 
generally accepted as a basis for British history to the end of the 
Arthurian period. Yet it was seldom accepted without reserve. 
Even the monk of Ursicampum three times remarks that the 
Historia Britonum does not agree with other authorities and is 
perhaps not to be credited.^ The earlier compilers for the most 
part limited themselves* to taking from it a fiew brief notices. The 
same is true of a considerable number of chroniclers to the end. 
And even those who follow Geoffrey closely* often omit his most 
romantic and obviously fabulous episodes and many of his minute 
details. Sometimes a chronicler who makes much use of Geoffrey 
rejects his account of the coming of the Saxons in favor of that of 

II, 402, No. 54$) ; 4934, no. i (Hardy, II, 282, No. 381) ; 4938 (Hardy, III, 161, 
No. 272). — College of Arms, London, MSS.: X, fols. 39-114 (Hardy, III, 344, 
No. 567); Norfolk liii (Hardy, I, 555, No. 1129). — Lambeth MSS.: 371, no. 18 
(Hardy, III, 43, No. 73); 527, fols. 1-43 (Hardy, III, 197, No. 324) ; 371, no. 16, 
fol. 32b (Hardy, III, 201, No. 337). — Pub. Record Office, London, MS. Liber S. 
August. Cant. (Hardy, III, 383, No. 644). — Univ. of Cambridge MSS.: I. i. 6. 24 
(Hardy, III, 145, No. 243); LI. 2. 14 (Hardy, III, 263, No. 471). — Corp. Christ. 
Coll. Cant. MSS.: 59. 14 (Hardy, III, 46, 291, Nos. 85, 520); 138 (Hardy, III, 145, 
No. 246); 194 (Hardy, III, 165, No. 282); 301, 7 (Hardy, III, 361, No. 596); 369, 
3 (Hardy, III, 43, No. 75); 427, 3 (Hardy, III, 161, No. 273); 438, 4 (Hardy, III, 
360, No. 595) ; 469, 4 (Hardy, I, 500, No. 1062). — Trin. Coll. Cant. MS. R. 14. 9. i 
(Hardy, III, 25, No. 34). — Coll. Emman. Cant. MS. serie 2a. 16 (Hardy, III, 207, 
No. 349).— -Trin. Coll. Oxon. MS. X, fols. 1-182 (Hardy, III, 198, No. 326, and 

III, 283, No. 509); Coll. Jesu Oxon. 11 1. 10 (Red Book of Hergest), col. 516 
(Hardy, III, 366, No. 605). — Other chronicles mentioned by Hardy : I, 360, No. 
844; I, 585; III, I49» No. 254; III, 312, No. 555; III, 291, No. 518. 

1 Ann. 470, fol. 1 8a; ann. 491, fol. 21b ; ann. 542, fols. 27b-28a. 

2 This, however, is often a necessary result of their plan and method. 

* For example, Richard of Cirencester, though he happens to draw from 
"Matthew of Westminster" instead of directly from Geoffrey. 


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i8o Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Bede. Sometimes the narrative of Arthur's reign is abbreviated, — 
particularly toward the end,^ or (as in the Chronicon of Nicholas of 
Gloucester*) in the story of the last battle. Sometimes one of the 
chroniclers even speaks contemptuously of Geoffrey with reference 
to these sections, as is the case with the Canon of Lanercost.' 

Moreover, even from the first, there were some writers who formed 
a still juster estimate of the real character of Geoffrey's narrative. 
Mention has already been made of the vehement denunciation of 
Geoffrey by William of Newburgh, who seems to hit the truth very 
nearly when he accuses him of inventing his history on the basis 
of ancient fables. Another outspoken opponent was Giraldus Cam- 
brensis. Once or twice he mentions the Historia^ coupling it with 
Geoffrey's name, as a thing of naught* One of these cases is famous. 
Giraldus says that a certain Meilerius, of the region of Urbs Legi- 
onum, being possessed by devils, was by them endowed with the 
capacity of discovering any falsehood with which he was brought 
into contact. When the Gospel of John was laid on his lap, the 
devils vanished ; but when Geoffrey's History was substituted, they 
returned in greater numbers than ever.^ In other places * Giraldus, 
in referring to statements of his adversaries that the claim of 
St. David's is among the fictions about Arthur, evidently does not 
object to the implication against the Arthurian stories. 

Nevertheless, Giraldus certainly accepts many of Geoffrey's state- 
ments, including: — the story of the begetting of Merlin by an 
incubus and the naming of Kairmerdin from him (with a refer- 
ence to the Britannica historia) ;'' Merlin's removal of the Great 

1 This, indeed, sometimes happens in manuscripts of Geoffrey's History itself. 

2 Fols. 99b, I oca. Cf. p. 137, note i, above, and contrast p. 120. 
8 Fol. 27a, col. I. 

* Cf. Descr. Kambriae, i, 7, Opera^ VI, 179. But here he seems to do 
Geoffrey injustice (cf. Geoffrey, xii, 19; ii, 4-6). 

5 Itin. Kambriae^ i, 5, pp. 57-58. This incident furnishes a parallel to what 
Wace says about Merlin's spirits (cf. also pp. 139-140, above) ; for Giraldus states 
that through the help of the devils the man could predict the future. 

® De Invect.y iv, 2, p. 78 ; De Jure et Statu M, E.., dist. vii, p. 328 ; Spec, 
Eccles.^ dist. iii, p. 149. 

' Itin. Kambriae^ i, 10, p. 80; ii, 8, p. 133. 


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Latin Prose Chronicles i8i 

Circle from Kildare to Salisbury Plain ; ^ Arthur's conquest of 
Ireland;^ the famous court of Arthur at Urbs Legionum, with 
the coming of the Roman legates thither,* and the former eccle- 
siastical supremacy of the city;* Dubricius's transference of the 
primacy to St. David;* the idea that David was Arthur's uncle;* 
some prophecies of Merlin."' Still, there is no certainty how many 
of these incidents Geoffrey had from previous tradition, or, if 
he really invented them, how many had passed into general cur- 
rency before Giraldus's time. In using some of them Giraldus 
may not have been drawing from Geoffrey, or may not have been 
aware that he was doing so. It is unfortunate that in the uncer- 
tain state of the question Giraldus's evidence cannot be certainly 
interpreted. Where, however, he cites the "Britannica historia" 
(namely, in the incident of the birth of Merlin, and in the ac- 
count of the peopling of Ireland), there is no doubt that he is 
using Geoffrey. 

It is not until a hundred and fifty years later, in the middle of 
the fourteenth century, that we find, in Ralph Higden, another his- 
torian who expresses great distrust of Geoffrey. Higden's attitude 
is similar to that which we shall meet in many of the sixteenth-cen- 
tury chroniclers who wrote in English. As he himself says,* it is 
only where Geoffrey's account appears extravagant that he ques- 
tions it, — that is, from the beginning of the Arthurian period. 
That the less romantic earlier portion might be equally false seems 
not to have occurred to him. Accordingly, though he sometimes 
puts Geoffrey's statements side by side with contradictory ones 

1 Top. Hib.y ii, i8, p. loo. * Top. Hib.y iii, 8, p. 148. 

' Itin. Kambriaey i, 5, p. 56; cf. Descr. ICambriae, i, 4, p. 169. 

* Itin. Kambriacy i, 5, p. 56; De Jure^ dist. ii, p. 170. 

5 Itin. Kambriae^ ii, i, p. loi, and places already cited ; also De Invect.^ ii, i, 
p. 46. ^'De Vita Sancti Davidis^ i, p. 378. 

■^ See pp. 92-93, above. For instances not connected with the Arthurian 
material see: Geoffrey, i, 16, 13 and 21 ; Giraldus, De Invect., ii, i, pp. 44-45; 
De/ure^ dist. ii, pp. 169-170 ; Descr, Kambriaey i, i, p. 165 ; i, 7, p. 178. — Geoffrey, 
ii, 5 ; Giraldus, Descr. Kambriae^ i, 5, p. 171. — Geoffrey, iii, 9; Giraldus, Descr. 
Kambriae^ ii, 2, p. 207. — Geoffrey, iv, 17 ; Giraldus, De Prin. Instruct.^ dist. i, 
p. 95. — Geoffrey, iii, 11; Giraldus, Top. Hib.y dist. iii, chap. 8, p. 148; Expug. 
Hib.y ii, 6, p. 319. * VI, 160. 


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1 82 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

from other authors, and often draws from Alfred of Beverley's sum- 
mary rather than directly from Geoffrey, yet he includes almost all 
the substance of Geoffrey's narrative up to the Arthurian period. 
Indeed, he includes an outline of everything as far as the time of 
Arthur himself, — discarding the story of Vortigern's tower as being 
found (he says) only in "the British book," expressing doubts as 
to the removal of the Stonehenge rocks from Ireland, and omitting 
the magic elements from the account of Uther's amour, which he 
converts into a lawful marriage.^ For Arthur's reign,^ however, he 
cites what is said by Henry of Huntingdon of the twelve battles, 
William of Malmesbury's eulogy, and material from other sources ; 
and then remarks that many wonder how the exploits which Geof- 
frey alone ascribes ' to Arthur can be true, since they are not 
mentioned by Roman, French, or Saxon historians. Probably, he 
concludes, the British praise Arthur extravagantly, just as every 
other nation exalts its particular hero. 

Higden was perhaps the most popular of all the mediaeval English 
chroniclers ; but how impossible it was for such views to resist the 
current of uncritical enthusiasm among the majority of his compa- 
triots, is evidenced by the fact that Trevisa (who, after a quarter of 
a century or more, translated his work into the vernacular) makes 
vigorous objections. Arthur is often over-praised, says Trevisa,* 
but so are many others : " Sof sawes bee)> nevere fe wors [jey madde 
men telle magel tales."* 

Of the actual divergences from Geoffrey's story in chronicles 
which for the most part follow it, some are evidently due to inex- 
actness of statement in condensing, to carelessness, or to wilful 
exaggeration. There are a good many minor variations of this sort, 
— such as the statement of the monk of Ursicampum^ that it was 
Constans whom the Romans persuaded to build a wall ; of Rishan- 
ger® that Arthur was crowned at Stonehenge; oi the Hales Chronicon'^ 

1 Cf. pp. 184, 233, 242, 247, below. 2 V, 328-338. 3 V, 339. 

* Stowe, in his " Brief e Proof e of Brute " (Annales, ed. Howes, 1631, pp. 6-7 ; 
repeated by Howes in his Historical Pre/ace)^ says that John of Whethamstede 
opposed Geoffrey, but I cannot find anything to that effect in the editions of 
Whethamstede's Registrum Abbatiae hy Heameandby Riley (Rolls Series, 1872). 

s Fol. 9a. 6 Annales, ann. 516. "^ Fol. 7a. 


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Latin Prose Chronicles 183 

that Hoel was son of Loth and Anna and brother of Walwanus 
and Modredus; of Walter of Coventry^ that from the slaughter of 
the British chiefs Vortigern and Eldolf fled to Kambria, and that 
in one battle Arthur killed two giants and three hundred and seventy 
men.^ MS. Cleop. A. i. i. even confuses Vortimer with Vortigern. 
By a rather stupid blunder FroUo is called " Thomas FuUo," in 
several chronicles,* apparently* by a misreading of Geoffrey's 
^^Flolloni Romae tribuno,^^^ Evidently from Geoffrey's statement® 
that at the death of Constans, Aurelius and Uther were children 
and that Vortigern took the crown because he saw no one equal to 
himself, Richard of Cirencester unjustifiably concludes that Vorti- 
gern easily became king because almost all the other British chiefs 
were youths and children. Whether by error or by inference, the 
writer of one unimportant chronicle says that it was in Ireland that 
Arthur killed one of the giants.'' Alfred of Beverley and others infer 
that, in order to marry Hengist's daughter, Vortigern put away his 
first wife.^ It is a matter of course that some chronicles, like that 
ascribed to Peter Ickham,^ blame Vortigern directly for the death 
of Constantine.^^ 

More important is the confusion, which occurs iii some of the 
early chronicles, between Arthur's two campaigns in France,^^ — a 
confusion which in the Flores Historiarum led to much greater con- 
densation and more omissions than appear in other parts of its 
version of the story. With the compiler of the Flores^ indeed, this 
must have been a deliberate emendation. 

1 Pp. 9, 10. 2 cf, p^ 231, note 4, below. 

* This error occurs in Peter Langtoft, in one of the French compilations (see 
p. 212, below) and in a few of the Latin chronicles (e.g., in that of the Canon of 
Lanercost, fol. 26b 2; also MS. Bodl. Rawl. 150, fol. 22b). 

* As P. Paris pointed out in his discussion of Langtoft (see p. 199, note 8, below). 

* ix, II, 33. « vi, 8 and 9. "^ MS. Harl. 3860, no. i. 

8 Sprott's surprising remark (p. 92 ) that the three ships which first came to 
Britain in the time of Vortigern were manned respectively by Angles, Saxons, 
and Picts^ is doubtless due to a scribal error like that in Trevisa (v, i ; V, 265), 
where Pictes is written for lutes^ which is correctly given later in the same line. 
» MS. Calig. A. X. i, fol. i8b. 10 Cf. p. 40, above. 

11 Monk of Ursicampum ; monk of Winchester (Rich, of Devizes ?), ann. 519 ; 
Flores Hist.y ann. 536-542 (I, 239-242). See also p. 122, above, p. 212, below. 


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184 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

The author of the Flores makes another emendation, seemingly on 
moral grounds,^ when, by omitting all mention of Uther's getting into 
Igerna's castle before the death of Gorlois, he, like Higden later,^ 
makes it appear that Arthur was a legitimate child.* In this, how- 
ever, his example had little influence. 

The desire to make the narrative clearer or supply better motiva- 
tion,* is the cause of occasional slight alterations of Geoffrey's story, 
like that in the Flores where it is said ^ that Vortigern tried to build 
his tower because the Britons had sent for Aurelius and Uther. 

It is interesting to note in one of the earliest of these chroniclers, 
Ralph de Diceto, an extension, already practised by the French 
author of the work on the foundation of the towns in Touraine,® 
of Geoffrey's method of applying to the Arthurian period the con- 
ditions of his own time. Ralph says "^ that Arthur gave Anjou and 
Touraine to Cheuno (Cajus), that he might have the double honor 
of being both seneschal and standard-bearer, an idea on which 
Ralph enlarges. 

Very rarely one of the chroniclers adds a touch which appears 
to go back, whether directly or not, to some tradition older than 
Geoffrey. The character of extreme immorality which the author 
of the Flores gives to Vortigern at considerable length,® while it 
■ does not correspond verbally with the description by William of 
Malmesbury,® is so like it in effect that it seems to come from a 
similar source. The same idea reappears in Richard of Cirencester. 
How rapidly some features of Geoffrey's own story passed into tra- 
dition, appears when the compiler of the Flores observes that some 
identify the fountain by whose means Uther was poisoned with one 
which St. Alban caused to spring out of the ground.^^ The same 
author localizes another episode of the narrative when, in dividing 
the double battle in which Hengist is captured into two conflicts 
fought in different years, he locates the second on the river Don.^^ 

1 Cf. pp. 119, 161, above, pp. 196, 205, 233, 245, 270, below. 

2 See p. 182, above. ^ Cf. p. 122, above. 

8 Ann. 498, pp. 228-229. ^ Opusculay II, 241, based on Geoffrey, ix, 11. 

4 Cf. p. 134, above. 8 \^ jg^. 

* Ann. 464. * Cf. p. 40, above. ^^ Ann. 516, p. 233. 

11 Ann. 487-489, p. 220 ; Geoffrey, viii, 5-6. Cf. p. 261, below. 


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Latin Prose Chronicles 1 8 5 

The localization of Arthur himself, which has left its traces over 
the whole of England, and certainly began before the time of Geof- 
frey,^ is indicated by Giraldus when he mentions * Arthur's Chair 
in a mountain chain in the southeast of Wales. 

It was inevitable that those chroniclers who combine Geoffrey's 
story with the statements of previous historians should modify 
Geoffrey in the process. Higden, recognizing the incompatibility 
of the accounts of Constantine, the father of Constans, as given 
respectively by Bede and by Geoffrey, was led to suppose that they 
referred to different persons, and therefore to make two Constan- 
tines out of one, a procedure which was to be followed by one or 
two of the later English chroniclers.^ The author of the Flares^ in 
introducing " Nathanliot " from the Saxon version of the story 
(through Henry of Huntingdon),* finds himself compelled to repre- 
sent him as leader of Uther's army, taking the suggestion from what 
Geoffrey says of Lot,^ which the Flares^ however, reproduces after 
telling of the death of Nathanliot. The monk of Ursicampum sug- 
gests the possible identity of Arthur with Riothimir.® Geoffrey 
himself in his Cherdicus^ and again apparently in his two Cheidricusts^ 
probably preserves, though in disguise, the figure of the Saxon king 
Gerdic. The monk of Winchester seems to try to explain the suc- 
<:essful establishment of the latter by the fact of Arthur's absence 
on the continent, and he says that during that time the Saxons 
made fortifications on all the high hills.'' The Chronicon called Peter 
Ickham's® states summarily that Arthur made tributaries the Angles 
who remained. Other chronicles, including that of Higden,® make 

1 For example, Arthur's Chair in Cornwall is mentioned in the account of the 
journey of the Laon monks (see p. loi, above). 

2 Itin. Kambriaey i, 2 (Opera, VI, 36). 

' Holinshed (see p. 268, below) ; contrast Stow (see p. 266, below). 

* Ann. 508, p. 230. * viii, 21. 

* Ann. 470, fol. 1 8a; cf. pp. 82-83, above. 
^ Annales de Wintonia^ ann. 519. 

8 MS. Calig. A. X., fol. 20a. Some other chronicles (for example, that of the 
Monastery of Hales, fol. 7b) make the statement, evidently following this 

^ The earliest that I have observed is that of MS. Cleop. A. i. i. For Higden, 
whose version Is a little abbreviated, see v, 6 (V, 330). He refers to previous 


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1 86 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

a more detailed attempt to reconcile the conflicting authorities, — an 
attempt which was later followed by some of the English writers. 
Cerdic, it is said, often fought with Arthur, and though frequently 
defeated, at last wearied him out, so that in the twenty-sixth year^ 
after Cerdic's arrival, Arthur gave him Hampshire and Somerset 
and took his oath of allegiance.^ " It is also said in chronicles of 
the Angles " that Mordred, wishing to reign, but fearing Cerdic 
alone, gave him certain districts, and Cerdic was crowned at Win- 
chester and Mordred at London. This all seems to be suggested 
by Geoffrey's mention of the alliance between Modred and the 
(apparently) second Cheldrich.^ The necessity which the annalis- 
tic form of almost all the chronicles imposed of assigning definite 
dates to every part of Geoffrey's narrative, forced their authors to 
apply to the History a standard to which it was never meant to con- 
form, and naturally the results arrived at were diverse.* Some manu- 
scripts^ date the events by regnal years. Generally, however, this 
treatment was purely incidental ; the Latin chroniclers seldom 
tried to make plain, as most of the English ones did later, how 
many years Arthur and the other kings ruled. 

The chronicles, especially the later ones, show a slight tendency 
at times to enlarge on the romantic element of the story,* though 
this is perhaps less marked than was to be expected in an age 
when the Arthurian romances enjoyed such unbounded popularity. 
Probably the conceptions of the romances are in the mind of Roger 
of Hoveden when he adds "^ the name of Arthur (for the Britons) to 
the list of great national heroes to whom his source had compared 
King Edgar, and in that of Matthew Paris when, in his smaller 
work, the Historia Anglorum^ he says, with reference to the greatness 
of the court of Henry II, that it seemed as if the times of Arthur 
were come again.® Gervase of Tilbury, speaking of Arthur's solemn 
and incomparable court at Caerleon, has it that there were present 

works as his sources, and two of his manuscripts specify " in chronicis Dunensis.* 
Rudbome also includes the account, book ii, chap. i. 

1 Cf. p. 159, above. 6 por example, Cleop. A. i i. 

2 Cf. pp. 251, 258, below. « Cf. p. 138, above. 
8 xi, I, 12. 7 I, 64. 

* Cf. p. 159, above. » Ann. 1176 (I, 397). 


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Latin Prose Chronicles 187 

the Twelve Peers of France,^ who, as he tells us just before, were 
instituted when Arthur was at Paris.^ The natural tendency of tra- 
dition to associate famous names is illustrated when the chronicle 
ascribed to Peter Ickham* states that Gildas was Arthur's chaplain.* 
The scribe of one of the late manuscripts of the Eulogium Historic 
arum has inserted, at the mention of the twelve years' peaceful 
sojourn in Britain, a eulogy of Arthur, exalting him and the knights 
of the Round Table above all the others in the world. It was 
inevitable that some writers ** should represent Arthur as having 
already crossed the Alps when Modred's treason called him home.* 
Gawain is often painted in much the same colors as in the romances. 
Walter of Coventry, for example, speaks of him as without a peer.' 
Not only does the Flares Historiarum copy from William of Malmes- 
bury a mention of the discovery of Gawain's body,^ but Matthew 
Paris adds,^ evidently with reference to the same set of traditions, 
that Arthur gave Gawain his principality. ^° The Round Table 
is not infrequently mentioned, especially in the later chronicles. 
Gervase of Tilbury says ^^ that Arthur established it in insula Fatata, 
More essentially in the spirit of the French romances are the state- 
ment of Sprott that when Arthur was in France he held the Round 
Table for forty days,^^ and the notice in the Magdalen College MS. 
72, which says that Arthur established the Table by the advice of 
Merlin,^' and gives at some length the laws which were prescribed 
for its members. As early as Ralph de Diceto there occurs an 
attempt to etymologize the name of Arthur's sword connecting it 
with a stream of magic properties in Western Britain;^* and the 
name which Ralph gives to the stream, Calibi, suggests Merlin's 

1 ii, 17, Leibnitz, I, 936; cf. p. 87, above. ^ Leibnitz, I, 936. 

* So, at least, Wharton's copy (MS. Harl. 4323), at the end of the account of 
Arthur's reign. 

* Contrast Geoffrey's Pyramus (see p. 80, above). 

6 Like the author of Brit. Mus. MS. Bibl. Reg. 13. D. I 
« Cf. pp. 202, 252, below. ''P. II. Cf. pp. 104-105, above. 

8 Ann. 1087 (II, 23). It is mentioned also in the Chronicon of the Monastery 
of Hales, fol. 8a. « Hist. AngL, I, 33. 

10 Cf. p. 105, above. " P. 936. ^^ p. 9^. is p. 47. 

1* I, 96. See also the entry from the other MS. under the year 516. 


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i88 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

fountain Galabes,^ though possibly it may be connected with the 
Latin chalybs^ because of the association with the sword. The 
chronicle ascribed to Peter Ickham, which devotes but one small 
page to Arthur's reign, gives a considerable part of that page to the 
account of Arthur's fights with the two giants.^ The Magdalen 
College MS. says that Modred was Arthur's son by a concubine.' 
The idea of Arthur's second coming, mentioned not by Geoffrey 
but by Wace and Layamon, is not infrequently alluded to by the 
Latin chroniclers as a foolish British superstition.* A very inter- 
esting and decidedly extended story of Arthur's disappearance,* — 
quite different from anything related elsewhere, though having in 
parts an ultimate connection with versions like those of Layamon 
and the Prose Lancelot^ — is given in the Chronicon of the Monastery 
of Hales, This tells how Arthur, as he sits weary and wounded 
after the battle, is treacherously stabbed with a poisoned spear by 
a warrior, whom he kills ; how he is carried to Venedotia and dies 
there ; and how, in a dark and violent storm which accompanies 
his obsequies, his body is inexplicably lost to sight.® The Hales 
Chronicon quotes also from Henry of Huntingdon's letter in describ- 
ing the last battle and Arthur's personal conflict with Modred."^ 
Seemingly from the version of this latter episode which appears in 
the Prose Lancelot is taken the account in the Magdalen College 
MS.v- As early as wi1;h Gervase ot Tilbury,' and also in Thomas 
Sprott,® occurs that form of the story of Arthur's immortality which 
locates his resting place in the recesses of Mount Etna.^° Gervase 

1 Geoffrey, viii, lo, 14. 

2 These are also made prominent in the brief abstract of Geoffrey in Cotton 
MS. Vesp. E. iv., no. 5, fol. 107b. 

8 Cf. p. 141, above. * Cf. p. loi, above. 

5 Printed in Publications of the Mod. Lang, Assoc. ^ 1903, XVIII, 86-87. 

6 Cf. pp. 164-165, above. "'.Cf. p. 120, above. 

8 Otia Imperialia, ii, 1 2, Leibnitz, I, 92 1 ; Liebrecht, p. 1 2. ^ P. 96. 

1^ Cf. p. 145 (with note 5), above. The story is repeated in a slightly different 
form, a few years after Gervase, by Caesarius' of Heisterbach {Dialogus Miracu- 
loruniy ed. Strange, 1851, xii, 12). Caesarius refers again to Arthur as a subject 
of popular stories (iv, 36). Another fuller thirteenth-century form is found in 
fitienne de Bourbon ; see A. Graf, Mitiy leggende, e super stizioni del medio evo„ 
II, 303 ff., who discusses the story at length. 


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Latin Prose Chronicles 189 

also states that members of what modern scholars call, the Wild 
Hunt had told foresters in Britain and Brittany that they were of 
the household of Arthur.^ The first indication of influence by the 
Grail story ^ appears in the jottings at the end of Robert of Aves- 
bury, which trace Arthur's descent back to Joseph of Arimathea. 
They also carry back to Fetrus, consanguineus Joseph^ the race of 
Loth, husband of Arthur's sister, and name as their sons not only 
Walwanus, but also Agrauains, Gweheres, and Gaheries. 

Skeptical as the chroniclers might show themselves about* attrib- 
uting supernatural exploits to laymen, most of them were credulous 
enough to a certain point when it came to the question of a prophet 
and professional magus. Hence the great majority of them accept 
Merlin, at least in his prophetic role. Many of them insert at the 
proper places mentions of parts of his predictions which they sup- 
pose to have been fulfilled, sometimes ^ predictions which are not 
given by Geoffrey and must probably be counted among the many 
which were composed and ascribed to Merlin after and in conse- 
quence of Geoffrey's History, While few of the chronicles include 
the prophecies as given by Geoffrey in toto^^ the Flores Historiarum 
makes an exception,* and Matthew Paris adds a detailed interpre- 
tation of the first part.^ The compiler of the Flores takes it for 
granted that Merlin is a thoroughly supernatural person ; for he 
says that before giving Ambrosius advice about the Stonehenge 
monument, Merlin went into an ecstasy.^ 

Besides the account of the Arthurian period which they took 
from previous sources, the chroniclers record several interesting 
episodes testifying to the belief of their own contemporaries in the 
Arthurian tradition. Of these, the most important is the sup- 
posed discovery of Arthur's body at Glastonbury. Giraldus Cam- 
brensis gives the longest account of this affair. In his De Frincipis 

1 ii, 12, Leibnitz, I, 921-922; Liebrecht, pp. 12-13. 

2 For later mentions, cf. pp. 211, 230, 252, below. 
' For example, the Coggeshall Chronicle, p. 146. 

* Cf. p. 136, above. 

* I, 198 ff. Also Nicholas of Gloucester, fols. 8oa ff. Cf. p. 220, note 3, below. 
« As far as Geoffrey, vii, 3, 117. Cf. p. 225, below. 

^ Ann. 490, p. 222. 


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190 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Instructioney^ written about 1 194, he tells how the body, which was of 
gigantic size, was found in " our days " at Glastonbury between two 
stone pyramids, buried deep in a hollow oak, with a cross of lead in- 
scribed " Here lies buried the renowned king Arthur with Wenneve- 
reia his second wife ^ in the isle of Avallonia." And in fact, the 
body of a woman lay in the same tomb, with a lock of yellow hair 
still well preserved, which crumbled away when a clumsy monk tried 
to handle it, — a pretty incident which affords plenty of opportunity 
for sentimental symbolistic fancies. The reasons for looking for the 
body, says Giraldus, were partly visions which religious men had 
had, and above all else the fact that Henry the Second had told the 
monks, as he had heard from a British historical poet,* that they 
would find the body there, interred at least sixteen feet deep ; for 
Arthur wished to be safely hidden from the Saxons. In his Speculum 
Ecclesiae,^ written twenty-five years later, Giraldus repeats the story 
with additional details, some of which relate to Modred and may 
have been drawn from Geoffrey. He also emphasizes the fact that 
the search for the body was due to King Henry. It is interesting 
to note how in these passages Giraldus rationalizes the story of 
Arthur's disappearance. In the earlier account, he explains that 
Morganis, a noble matron and the lady of those regions, a blood 
relative of Arthur, took him to Glastonbury for the healing of his 
wounds ; and in the Speculum Ecclesiae he ridicules the Britons for 
considering Morganis as dea quaedam phantastica^ 

Different in important details is the account of the discovery 
given in the Coggeshall Chronicle,^ written at about the same time 
as Giraldus's JDe Principis Instructione. This dates the event in 1191 
(after the death of King Henry), and says that it was caused by 
the burial of the body of a monk who had earnestly desired in his 
lifetime to be placed in that particular spot. In later chronicles 
there appear at least two still different versions, which need not 

1 VIII, 126-129. 

2 The idea that Arthur had two wives corresponds substantially with stories 
which appear in the triads and seem to go back to the mythical part of the tradi- 
tion. See Loth, Mabinogion^ II, 227 ; Rhys, Arthurian Legend^ pp. 35-37. 

^ Ab historico cantor e Britone antiquo. * Cf. pp. lOi, 146, above. 
* ii, 8-10; IV, 47-51. 6 p, 203. 


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Latm Prose Chronicles 191 

be seriously considered, since one (in the Annals of Margan) repre- 
sents that Modred also was buried in the same tomb, and the other 
(included by Albericus Trium Fontium) adds some Latin hexame- 
ters (inspired evidently by Joseph of Exeter) said to have been 
found with the bodies. 

The questions which of the two older accounts is correct and 
how it is to be interpreted, are not important to the present sub- 
ject.^ But certainly, it is less difficult to believe that the whole 
thing was a trick of King Henry, and that he had the bodies 
discovered (and in all probability previously placed) under the 
pyramids in order to persuade the Welsh that Arthur was really 
dead, than to believe that bones buried at so great a depth were 
really found by accident.^ A passage in William of Malmesbury's 
D^ Antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae^ shows that as early as the first 
half of the twelfth century the Glastonbury monks had invented the 
story that Arthur and Guenevere were buried between the pyramids. 

King Henry, Giraldus says, had the bodies magnificently rein- 
terred. According to some of the later chroniclers, that other king 
who found Welsh national sentiment so troublesome, Edward I, had 
still another splendid monument erected for them.* 

Not only was Arthur's body thought to have been found, but it 
also was believed that some of his possessions were still in existence 

1 Cf. Ztsch./.franz. Spr.y XII, 231-256; Rhys, Arthurian Legend^ pp. 328-347 ; 
Y Cymmrodor^ IX, 180, note ; Pearson, in Stuart-Glenhie's Arthurian Localities^ 

pp. 135-136- 

2 See for the whole incident, San-Marte*s Gottfried^ pp. 417-430. Giraldus's 
first version is copied by Higden (vii, 23 ; VIII, 60) and from Higden by Knighton 
(chap. 12, I, 149-150). The Coggeshall version reappears in the Flares (ann. 
1 191 ; II, 379). The discovery, or the fact of the burial, is merely mentioned by 
Matthew Paris (Hist. Angl.^ at 1191 ; II, 27), Gervase of Canterbury (II, 19), Rish- 
anger (Annales^ ann. 516), Higden (V, 332), Chron. Monast. de Hales (fol. 8a), 
Eulogium Historiarum (at mention of Arthur's death, II, 363, and again. III, 90), 
Sprott (first part, inn. 1195), Leland (Assertio Arturii^ fols. 22-23), and various 
others. " Matthew of Westminster," ann. 542, I, 269, expands the statement that 
Arthur wished his body to be hidden from the Saxons. Cf. p. 197, below. 

' Gale, I, 306. 

* Elmham, viii, 81, p. 265 ; Adam de Domerham, II, 588-589. The Annals of 
Waver ley (at 1277) disagree. 


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192 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

in the twelfth and following centuries. His sword Caliburn was 
said to have been given to Tancred by King Richard I when he 
was passing through Sicily on his way to the Holy Land. This 
statement was made by Benedict of Peterborough* only a year or 
two after the event, and is repeated in several of the later chron- 
icles.* Others report® that one of the tokens of the complete con- 
quest of Wales by Edward I was the surrender to him by the Welsh 
of Arthur's crown, which they had long kept in great honor. The 
same king Edward is associated in still a third way with the Arthu- 
rian story; for in 1301, when presenting to the Pope his claim to 
supremacy over Scotland, he cited from Geoffrey's narrative the 
cases of submission of kings of the Scots to those of England, 
prominent among which was that of Auguselus to Arthur.* 

1 Ann. 1 191, II, 159. 

2 Roger of Hoveden, III, 97 ; Walter of Coventry, I, 433. 

* " Matthew of Westminster," ann. 1283, 1, 269 ; Annals of Waverley, ann. 1283 ; 
Annals of Worcester^ ann. 1284. 

* Rishanger's Chrcmica^^. 201, whence it is copied by Walsingham in his Hist, 
Angl. and Ypodigma Neustriae, Edward's whole letter is printed in Rymer's 
Foedera^ ed. 1727, 11,883-884 (wrongly numbered 863-864). 


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Down to the end of the thirteenth century, the knowledge of history 
was practically confined (in England, as elsewhere) to the religious 
and noble or wealthy classes; in England, that is, to those who 
could read works written in Latin or French. But the develop- 
ment of Norman-English nationality, and the reemergence of the 
Saxon population and the English language, if slow were yet con- 
stant, and by the year 1300 there were many persons outside the 
monasteries who were glad to learn in the English tongue some- 
thing about the past of their country and their race. It was per- 
haps a matter of course that the first chronicles written for them 
should be in verse rather than in prose. 

In considering these works, it is necessary to remember always 
that while in form they resemble rather those of Layamon and 
Wace than the Latin prose chronicles, yet as regards substance 
they are to be classed with the latter, since they are complete his- 
tories of England reaching from Brutus down, generally, to the dates 
at which they were severally composed. 

I. Robert of Gloucester 

The earliest of these chronicles was written somewhere in the 
southwest of England probably a little before the end of the thir- 
teenth century, and goes under the name of Robert of Gloucester.^ 

1 Ed. W. A. Wright (Rolls), 2 vols., 1887 ; see Preface, especially pp. xv-xviii 
and xix-xxxiii. See also letters in the Athenaum for 1888 by W. H. Cooke, 
May 12, p. 600; June 30, p. 828; with replies by Wright, May 19, p. 630, and 



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194 Arthurian Material in Chronic ks 

As to the author and authorship, however, only this much is certain, 
that up to the death of Henry I the two recensions represented by 
existing manuscripts are substantially identical, except that there 
are considerable additions in the so-called second version, which, 
after Henry I, is much briefer than the other ; and that the con- 
tinuation in the first recension, from Henry I, was written after 
1297 by a certain Robert, who was probably a monk, but whom 
there is no reason for connecting with Gloucester. 

No one can claim for this first distinctively English chronicle a 
high degree of literary merit. It is composed in irregular doggerel 
couplets, and the author does not try to conceal the fact that he is 
addressing the common and little-lettered people, — as when he 
omits the greater part of the prophecies of Merlin, on the ground 
that they are not easily understood by the unlearned.^ Yet his 
lack of inspiration may easily be exaggerated. He sometimes uses 
his own judgment in changing the order of events as given in his 
sources.^ Once in a while he has a really poetic phrase.* Like 
Layamon, he is deeply interested in his subject, as he shows by 
occasional appeals to his readers* or outbursts of personal feeling.* 
He visualizes many scenes by expanding and vivifying the descrip- 
tion ^ or adding a slight touch, — as when he says that the men of 
Merlin's town dared not refuse to give him to Vortigern's messen- 
gers,'' or that, when Arthur had unhorsed " Fullon," he had to turn 
his own steed before he could begin the attack with the sword.' 
Occasionally he has a suggestion of dramatic power ^ or grim irony *^ 
that reminds one of Layamon. He is thoroughly patriotic, but, like 
Layamon, on the side of the Britons," though he distinctly states 

July 14, p. 64. See also, Hardy, III, 181, and Morley, English Writers^ III, 337 ; 
and especially two German dissertations on Robert, tjber die Quellen^ etc., one by 
W. Ellmer (Halle, 1886, pp. 14-19, 27, 37), the other by K. Brossmann (Striegau, 
1887, bibliography, and pp. 11, 44, 47). 

^ V. 2820; cf. p. 136, above. ^ gee instances noted by Ellmer. 

8 Cf. V. 2783 with Geoffrey, vi, 19, 26. * For example, v. 2308. 

^ For example, on the massacre of the British chiefs, and vv. 2953, 4505. 

« For example, vv. 2281 ff., 4221 ff. '^ V. 2732. 8 y. 3827. 

^ For example, w. 2762 ff., Merlin's trial of skill with the magi. 

10 As vv. 4541-4542, on Guenevere's avoiding Arthur. 

11 Cf. vv. 2578, 3272. 


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Robert of Gloucester 195 

that it is from the Saxons that the English of his own time are 

As far as Geoffrey's History extends, this chronicle is chiefly a 
paraphrase of it. But in the first two thousand lines, before the 
Arthurian period, the author makes some use of the early Latin 
chronicles, of tradition, and of one or two other sources. In the 
Arthurian portion also,^ he introduces similar slight additions from 
Henry of Huntingdon,' or from his own stock of general informa- 
tion.* He adds a few dates, as when he says ^ that Hengist had 
been in the land forty years when he was killed.® In forms of 
proper names,'' slight misinterpretations and other instances of 
carelessness, abbreviations, expansions, and other minor changes 
natural in the recasting of the story, his chronicle exhibits varia- 
tions from Geoffrey quite, similar to those in the other paraphrases.* 

1 Vv. 2696-2697. On all these points cf. vv. 2264-2269, 3217. 

2 Vv. 2259-4596. 

' As, the fight of Constantine with the Picts and Scots (v. 2260 ; cf. p. 42, above) ; 
the list of kings of the Saxons (vv. 3425 £f.) ; the seven years' period (v. 2577 ; cf. 
p. 39, note 2, above). 

* As, the identification of " Frie " with Venus (vv. 2433-2434) ; the statement 
that Europe constitutes one third part of the world (w. 3761-3762) ; or that the 
demons which have intercourse with women are called elves, and that sometimes 
they come to men in the form of women (v. 2753 ; cf. pp. 118, 162, above). 

* V. 2995; cf. p. 159, above. 

* The idea (see ten Brink, Hist, Eng. Lit, Eng. transL, I, 276) that the author 
drew from Wace and Layamon is probably erroneous, as the few coincidences 
(Robert, vv. 3353 ff., Wace, vv. 8995 ff. ; Robert, w. 2522-2528, La3ramon, 
vv. 14,339-14,353 ; Robert, vv. 2671-2672, Layamon, vv. 15,256-15,259) may easily 
be due to chance ; though the author of the second continuation, beginning with 
Henry I, certainly made use of Layamon (see Wright, pp. 783 ff., xxxiii-xxxviii). 

' Cf. EUmer, pp. 23-26. 

* Thus, he says that Vortiger in vain bade the ecclesiastics crown Constans 
(v. 2314) and that Vortiger had planned that all should happen as it did (vv. 
2369 ff.). He inaptly changes Geoffrey's statement (vi, 13, 30) that the pagan 
newcomers had married daughters of the Britons, by saying that some fathers 
were Christian and the mothers heathen (v. 2563). For Maugantius he has 
"clerkes" (v. 2747). He says carelessly (v. 3080) that Ambrose was another 
name for Uther (but cf. the prose Merlin, where, at the beginning of chap. 2, it 
is said that Constans's sons are Moine, Pandragon, and Uter, — a case of com- 
plicated confusion which Paris, in the introduction to the Huth Merlin, says is 


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196 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Worthy of mention as illustrating general tendencies in the history 
of the story are: his change in the account of Uther's fight with 
the Saxons, making it much more advantageous for the Britons;* his 
change, in the interests of morality, of Merlin's sympathy for Uther 
in his love for Ygerna, into regret for the king's folly ;^ his consist- 
ent application to Lucye of the title "senatour of Rome,"® and his 
elimination of Geoffrey's confusion about Leo.* He drops out some 
of the traditional elements of the narrative which for him have lost 
their meaning:^ viz., Geoffrey's emphasis on the special help of the 
Armoricans in the wars; the description of the second and third 
wonderful lakes in Scotland ; ^ the account of Arthur's feast at York, 
and the ecclesiastical promotions then and part* of those at the cor- 
onation feast;"' the statement that the duel with "FuUon " was on 
an island;^ all mention of the fight with Ritho;® the coming of 
Hiderus's force to help the Britons, and the names of other warriors 
in later battles. He substitutes " an vatte barn " *° for the pigs which 
Geoffrey said the giant was roasting — probably in the wish to 
remove a triviality ; and says that it was because Arthur was weary 
that he commanded Bedwer to cut off the giant's head." He calls 
Bedwer and Kay kings.*^ 

Like Layamon and Wace, but to a greater extent, Robert is influ- 
enced by the conceptions of the Arthurian romances.** He thinks 
of Merlin altogether as an enchanter,** and takes pains to say sev- 
eral times that his prophecies were fulfilled.*^ Now and then his 

original with the author of the Merlin). He adds checkers to the games which 
the youths played at Arthur's feast (v. 3965). He changes Geoffrey's account 
of Arthur's dream and the explanations, perhaps partly by misunderstanding 
(vv. 4146 ff.). He says that the German "Chelrik" brought Saxons to Britain 
(v. 4522). 

1 Vv. 3251 £f. ; Geoffrey, viii, 18. Cf. p. 118, above. 

2 V. 3319; Geoffrey, viii, 19, 58-59. Cf. p. 184, above. 
8 V. 3988, etc. 10 V. 4212. 

* Vv. 4146 ff. ; cf. p. 85, note 2, above. 

6 Cf. p. 136, above. ^^ V. 4243. 

* Cf. p. 216, below. 12 Vv. 4403-4405 ; cf. p. 105, above. 

7 V. 3980. 18 Cf. p. 138, above. 

8 V. 3820. 1* Vv. 3109, 3 1 24-3 1 25. 
« V. 4345- ^^ Vv. 2816, 3461, 3849. 


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Robert of Gloucester 197 

phraseology has something of a romance coloring, as when he says 
of Uther's feast,^ "mony was fe vayre leuedi fat icome was ferto." 
He seems to assume that Gawain is well known,^ and calls him 
"flour of corteysye."* He speaks several times of the Round Table.* 
He states directly that Guenevere was guilty and not a victim of 
Modred's violence.^ Geoffrey had perhaps implied this by omitting 
any suggestion that Guenevere resisted Modred, and by speaking of 
her fear of Arthur and her flight from him when he returned to Eng- 
land; but Robert asserts, like a true mediaeval monk, that it was at 
her advice that Modred committed treason.^ Robert also greatly 
magnifies Arthur. He is the "beste bodi fat euere was in J?is 
londe,"^ and never had any peer in prowess^ or in courtesy."® He 
Says^^ of "Calibourne," not that it was made in Avalon (that he 
omits, ^^ doubtless as an incredible falsehood), but " nas nour no such 
ich wene." He even has a decided reverence for the sword, and 
calls it " sire." ^^ It is a personal grief to Robert when Arthur's end 
approaches.^* But he characterizes ^* the hope of Arthur's return," 
which he ascribes to Britons and " Cornwallisse of is kunde," as 
unreasonable, because Arthur's bones have been found at Glaston- 
bury and lie there in a fair tomb. Later, at the proper chrono- 
logical point,^® he mentions the discovery of the bones and assigns 
it, evidently erroneously, to the burning of the abbey. ^"^ 

It is in the account of Arthur's last battle that Robert differs 
most significantly from Geoffrey. He says ^® that, with the possible 
exception of that of Troy, there was never any greater battle in the 
world, for there was scarcely any prince on earth who was not either 
there in person or else sent men. He declares that it was because 
Modred's men outnumbered Arthur's that most of the latter were 

1 V. 3280. 10 V. 3616. 

^ V. 3773 ; cf. p. 104, above. ^^ Contrast p. 162, above. 

8 V. 4351 ; cf. V. 4532. 12 V. 3841. 

• Vv. 3881, 3902, 3916. 1* Vv. 4528, 4552. 
s Cf. p. 163, above. 1* Vv. 4585 ff. 

• V. 4503. 1^ Cf. p. loi, above. 

7 V. 3334. 16 Vv. 9852-9853. 

8 V. 3480. " Cf. pp. 189-191, above. 

• Vv. 3747 ff. 18 Vv. 4491 ff. 


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198 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

killed, and with this turns to the description given by Henry of 
Huntingdon in his letter to Warinus,^ which he follows closely. 
After Arthur has smitten off Modred's head, Robert exclaims: 
"fat was is laste chiualerye fat vaire endede ynou." A great poet 
this simple Englishman is not, but certainly he is genuine and 

II. The Anonymous Short Chronicle 

As popular as possible in tone and method, like the English met- 
rical romances of Horn and Havelok^ is the chronicle, of the time of 
Edward II, which summarizes the history of England from Brutus 
to the death of Gaveston in about five hundred tetrameter couplets.^ 

The narrative down to the death of Arthur goes back ultimately 
to Geoffrey, but the divergences are so considerable as to indicate, 
even when allowance is made for the modifications certain to be 
introduced by a strolling poet, that the direct source is some inter- 
mediate version. Occasionally the author expands an incident which 
was likely to appeal to his audience ; but much more distinguishing 
features of his treatment are curtailment and omission. It is not 
easy to see, however, why he should have left out such an episode 
as Uther's amour, unless it was lacking in his source, as was the 
case in some of the Latin chronicles. He makes very great altera- 
tions in the Arthurian period. He omits Aurelius altogether, and 
dismisses Uther with six lines. He brings in Arthur before the 
British Lucius and "Fortiger,"* evidently because his brief mention 
of the latter makes a good transition to the account of the Saxon 
period which follows. His narrative of Arthur's reign occupies 
only forty-six lines, eight of which are taken up with a per- 
sonal description of the king; and of definite events he merely 
mentions the wars with Luces and Moddred, with the latter's vio- 
lence to Genevre, not specifying whether or not it was against her 

1 Cf. p. 120, above. 

2 Ed. Ritson, Anc. Eng, Met. Rotn.^ 1802, II, 270, from MS. Bibl. Reg. 12. C. 
xii., no. 8. Other manuscripts are Auchinleck, and Univ. of Camb. Ff. v. 20. 
See Hardy, III, 310, 395, and Skeat, Lay of Havelok, E.E.T.S., p. ix. 

8 In this there is a slight resemblance (doubtless accidental) to William of 
Malmesbury*s account (cf. p. 39, above). 

Digitized byCjOOQlC 

Peter Langtoft 199 

will.^ He states that Arthur lived ten years after returning to Eng- 
land ^ and winning it back from Moddred, and that he, like Uther, 
was buried in Glastonbury.* His popularization of the story, then, 
has wrought a complete alteration of some of its most essential 
features, especially in the interest of the common notion that great- 
ness is measured by success. 

It was inevitable that this chronicle should reflect romance ideas.* 
The author's incidental mention of Merlin^ assumes his current 
fame as a prophet, and he takes special pains to mention the 
prowess of Eweyn,* though he does not name Gawain or any of 
the other knights. He alludes also to the great adventures which 
happened, and magnifies Arthur as a king whose equal never has 
been known and never can be. 

III. Peter Langtoft, and Other French Chronicles 

Only a few years after the completion of the "Robert of Glouces- 
ter " Chronicky another one of almost exactly the same plan and 
general character was prepared for the benefit of French-speaking 
people by a man who, like Gaimar, was a resident of the North of 
England, and who calls himself "Peres de Langetoft."® Of his 
personal history nothing is known except for a statement made by 
his paraphraser, Robert Manning,® that he was a canon of (the 
Augustinian priory of) Bridlington, doubtless the village of that 
name not far from Langtoft in the East Riding of Yorkshire. His 
work, like many of the Latin chronicles, ends with the death of 
Edward I, in 1307, which may therefore be accepted as approxi- 
mately the date of its composition. 

As. an historian, Langtoft is scarcely worthy of attention — 
though the number of manuscripts of his work attest its great, if 

1 Cf. p. 163, above. 2 Cf. p. 254, below. 

8 Contrast p. 254, below. * Cf. p. 138, above. 

^ Y. 335. « Contrast p. 161, above. 

•^ Ed. T. Wright (Rolls Series, 2 vols., 1866-68), I, 264. 

8 See especially I, xi-xii, xxi-xxii. Cf. Hardy, III, 298 ff. ; P. Paris, Hist, 
litt de la France^ 1869, XXV, 337-350, especially pp. 339-341, 652-654 ; Morley, 
English Writers^ III, 347. 

® Chronicle^ ed. Fumivall, vv. 16,703-16,704. 


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200 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

short-lived, popularity; every one who has studied him has spe- 
cially remarked on the barbarousness of his language; and for 
the history of the development of the Arthurian story his chronicle 
affords few new facts. Nevertheless, it has some points of real 

It begins with an abbreviated but close paraphrase of Geoffrey's 
History^ which, though commonplace enough, is not altogether des- 
titute of poetical elements, — such as an effective use of direct 
discourse;^ occasional dramatic treatment^ of a good scene; a 
touch of vividness in narration,' or a sarcasm ; * a good simile,^ or 
(rarely) an allusion to nature.^ The only episodes entirely omitted 
in the Arthurian period, are Vortimer's wars'' and Merlin's proph- 
ecy.^ No special notice need be taken of most of the inevitable 
minor modifications and mistakes in the making over of the story;* 
but Langtoft's treatment of details is freer than that of his prede- 
cessors and some of his alterations deserve mention. He says that 
Vortiger was of the "false blood of the Welsh," that he in person 
assassinated Constantine,^*^ and that he recovered his kingdom by 
war. He alters considerably Uther's use of his disguise ^^ and the 
details of the battle at Verolamium, so that Uther is made to have 
a personal encounter with Octa.^^ He specifies " Kardoyl " as 
destroyed by Octa and Eosa.^' He confuses the actions of Arthur 
and Cador ;^* says that Arthur had his dragon carried before him;^® 
changes Leo from an emperor into a pope, in connection with 
which may be noted his constant mistranslation of senatus by " sen- 
atour " and his ascription of senatorial rank to Lucius.^* Some 
of Langtoft's emendations are anachronistic ; as, — his constant 
application of the title " sire " to his heroes ; the invocation of the 
aid of St. George for the Britons ; ^"^ Arthur's appeal to the authority 

1 For instance, pp. ii8, 194-196. 

2 As, Uther's conversation with Ulphin and Merlin, and p. 108. 
8 As pp. 172, 214. * P. 216. ^ Pp. 142, 208. 

* P. 108. "^ P. 106. 8 P. 114; cf. p. 136, above, with note 7. 

* Including the introduction of "Sir Thomas FroUoun" (cf. p. 183, above). 
10 P. 96. Cf. p. 183, above. ^ P. 138. '^Y.i^, 
18 P. 142. 1* P. 154. 16 P. 204. 

!• P. 176. He also calls Lucius Emperor (for example, p. 202). i'^ P. 204. 


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Peter Langtoft 201 

of Solomon for the statement that the Romans are proud and 
treacherous;^ the specification of the arms of the barons and "ras- 
kayle " at the siege of Gorlois's castle;^ the mention of laborers as 
being about their tasks when the Saxons came to Bath,* and of the 
provost of Paris as surrendering the keys;* the substitution for 
Geoffrey's names in the list of nobles at Arthur's feast of the names 
of lordships important in Langtoft's own day.^ Interesting to note 
as a survival of the chanson de geste mannerisms is the characteriza- 
tion of two warriors as having flowing beards. * With Langtoft also 
appears the loss of originally mythic-traditional elements of the 
story in the omission of Ritho and in the statement that Arthur 
himself cut off the giant's head J Possible borrowings from current 
popular versions of Geoffrey's story or its derivatives, are the state- 
ments that the white dragon had the better of the red one ® and that 
Arthur founded the church of St. Aaron at Caerleon,* and, among 
the frequent specifications of the burial places of kings, that of 
Augusele at Wybre in Wales. ^^ 

Needless to say, Langtoft shows the influence of romance ideas." 
He assumes Merlin's character as an enchanter, ^^ although he 
expresses skepticism about the eagle's speaking at Shaftesbury.^* 
He exalts Wawayn^* as being courteous, ^^ and especially well 
acquainted with Latin, ^^ and says^" that, though the history does 
not state who gave Lucius his death wound, it is attributed to 
Wawayn ; he mentions Iwain in a manner which implies fuller 
knowledge of him ; ^* spells the name of Arthur's queen, according 
to northern fashion, "Gaynore," and once pauses to curse her.^® 

1 P. 204. 2 p. J 36. 

8 P. 150. * P. 166. 

5 P. 170; cf. p. 205, below. • Pp. 172, 184; cf. pp. 143-144, above. 

^ P. 192 ; cf. p. 136, above, and note 5. ^ P. 114. 

» P. 168; cf. Geoffrey, ix, 12, 18. ^ P. 220. 

11 Cf. p. 138, above. ^ P. 124. 

18 P. 32. 1* Cf. p. 105, above. 

15 P. 198. * 16 P. 194. 

1'^ P. 216. The same statement is made positively in the prose Merlin^ p. 471 
(ed. Sommer). The Morte Arthur in the Thornton MS. ascribes the deed to 

18 Pp. 218-220; cf. p. 161, above. 1* P. 218; cf. p. 163, above. 


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202 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

While he rationalizes Arthur's exploits at the battle of Badon ^ 
(reducing the number of men whom he kills from four hundred and 
seventy to seventy), he nevertheless thinks of Arthur as the greatest 
of all kings.^ Caleburne, though he omits the reference to Avalon, 
is the best sword that was ever made in Britain.* He exaggerates 
the greatness of Arthur's feast,* and says that when the news of 
Modred's treason comes, he has already got across the Alps, and the 
horns are sounding for dinner in Pavia/ His account of Arthur's 
last battle is not only shorter than Geoffrey's, but very different, 
and evidently influenced by Henry of Huntingdon.® Langtoft says 
directly that Arthur struck Modred, and implies that it was Modred 
who gave him his death wound. He mientions the British belief in 
Arthur's return, and in surprising contrast to his usual rationalistic 
attitude, declares "^ that he does not know whether Arthur is really 
dead or not.* 

IV. Thomas, Castelford 

In the early fourteenth century, the diversity of English dialects 
(to say nothing of other causes) was likely to restrict to a local 
reputation almost any literary work, however successful ; and it is 
only a quarter of a century after Robert of Gloucester that we find 
another writer — from the North, like the French Gaimar and 
Langtoft — undertaking to do for the English-speaking people of 
his region what Robert had done for the South. The resulting 
chronicle exists in a single manuscript, which has never been 
printed, but has been described with considerable fullness.® It 

1 P. 152. ,2 Pp. 188, 240, 246. 8 p. 1^2. * P. 174. 

^ P. 216; cf. p. 187, above. * Cf. p. 120, above. "^ P. 224; cf. p. loi, above. 

8 In connection with Langtoft may be noted the genealogy of the kings of 
England as far as Edward I in French verse which Hardy (III, 328, No. 560) men- 
tions as existing in MS. Trin. Coll. Cant. R. 4. 26. I have not seen it. It may be 
added that the Chronique rimie attributed to Geoffrey of Paris, a writer of the 
early fourteenth century (Bouquet, Recueil des Historians de la France^ XXII), con- 
tains an incidental reference to Arthur as a typical royal hero of romance (v. 6641) ; 
and that several such occur in Guil. Guiart's Branche des Royaus Lingnages^ pub- 
lished in the same volume (vv. 14, 12,386, 15,718). 

^ M. L. Perrin, Ueber T. Castelford"* s Chronik von England (Gottingen disser- 
tation), Boston, 1 89 1. The chronicle is mentioned by Miss L. Toulmin Smith, 
Bibliographer, March, 1882. 


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Thomas Caste If ord 203 

was written in the neighborhood of York, and apparently finished 
in the year 1327. At the beginning is inscribed the name of Thomas 
Castelford, who was probably the author, and who, according to 
Leland and later biographers, was a monk of Pontefract. It is 
more extended, comparatively, than the chronicle of Robert of 
Gloucester, as it consists of nearly forty thousand lines — about 
twenty-eight thousand on the period covered by Geoffrey. 

According to Dr. Perrin, this earlier portion follows Geoffrey 
almost verbally. Yet its bulk is obviously much greater, and in the 
section which precedes the Arthurian period, as well as in that 
which follows it, the author makes various insertions, largely of 
legendary material, taken partly from known sources.^ The same 
is true in the Arthurian period ; but, as far as one can judge from 
Dr. Perrin 's summary, the additions are of little importance for the 
question of traditions independent of Geoffrey. They consist partly 
of expansions of the incidents represented as taking place at York, 
— the sieges of that city by the Saxons^ and by Arthur ;* Arthur's 
feast there,* with a mention of the legend of Samson's going to 
Brittany, and an expanded account of the story of Queen Ginevra 
at York,^ which Geoffrey only suggests.* This greater detail in 
regard to York is characteristic of the chronicle throughout, and 
is evidently due to the author's local interest. Probably, therefore, 
there is no new traditional material in his expansion of the story 
of the exploits of Uther in the North,"^ though several names not given 
by Geoffrey are introduced.^ One may infer from the summary 
that the author knew Wace's Brut^ since he mentions not only 
the Round Table,* but also the rejoicing of the people on Arthur's 
return from France. ^*^ In fact, the only traditional element which 
does not seem to be taken from Geoffrey or Wace is the inevitable 
statement that Arthur was buried at Glastonbury.^^ 

1 Perrin, pp. 36-39. 2 Vv. 18,617-18,665. 

8 Vv. 19,850-19,856. * Vv. 20,621 ff. 

fi Vv. 23,775-23,785. • xi, I, 39; cf. p. 168, note 2, above. ^ Vv. 18,815 ff. 

* Dr. Perrin does not tell what they are. That the order in which Vortimer's 

battles are named (vv. 14,457 ff.) is different from Geoff rey*s may be due to 

Nennius (chap. 44). ^ Vv. 21,125-21,140. 

10 Vv. 21,119-21,124; cf. p. 131, above. ^^ Vv. 24,011-24,012. 


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204 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

V. Robert Mannyng of Brunne 

The third, and perhaps the last, of the more ambitious Middle 
English metrical chronicles is that of Robert Mannyng, often 
designated by the name of his birthplace, the village of Brunne 
in Lincolnshire.^ 

For the facts of his life no source of direct knowledge exists out- 
side of his own writings, but in these he has given more informa- 
tion about himself than was usual with mediaeval authors. In his 
Handlyng Synne he says that in 1303 he had been for fifteen years 
in the priory of [Gilbertine canons at] Sempringham, which was 
only six miles from his birthplace. It is possible that he was not 
himself a canon, but only a lay brother.^ It was at another priory 
of the same order, however, — that of Sixhill in Lincolnshire, — 
that he composed his chronicle, which he wrote during the reign of 
Edward III and finished in 1338.' 

Robert distinctly states that he writes, " not for the learned, but 
for the laymen "; not for story-tellers and harpers, but in as simple 
English as possible, for the love of simple men that cannot under- 
stand any other.* He wishes, he says, to furnish them with a 
means of amusement when they sit together in fellowship.^ This 
human sympathy is the more noteworthy when one considers the 
austerities of the life which he had chosen.* 

In the latter part of his work, Robert chiefly paraphrases Laftg- 
toft ; but for the first part he uses Wace's Brut^ as far as it extends, 

1 The first part of Robertas work, the paraphrase of Wace, has been edited by 
Fumivall, Rolls Series, 2 vols., 1887. It was previously printed as far as the 
birth of Christ by Zetsche in Anglia^ 1886, IX, 43-194. The second part, the 
paraphrase of Langtoft from the end of Wace, was edited by Heame, 2 vols., 1725 
(2d ed., 1810). See Morley, English Writers^ III, 356; Hardy, III, 304. 

2 As Dr. Fumivall thinks. 

8 See Handlyng Synne^ ed. Fumivall, Roxburghe Club, 1862, p. 3, vv. 57-76 
(quoted by Fumivall in his edition of the chronicle, p. iii) ; Chronicle^ I, i, 5, ed. 
Fumivall; II, 341, ed. Heame, 1725; A. W. Zetsche, Uber den I, THl der Bearbei- 
tung des " roman de Brut " durch Robert Mannyng^ Reudnitz- Leipzig, 1887, PP- '""S* 

* Vv. 71-134. • Described by Dr. Fumivall, pp. vi-xii. 

6 Vv. 9-10, 143-144. ' Cf. p. 143, note i, above, and p. 226, below. 


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Robert Manny ng 205 

for the reason, as he himself says,^ that Langtoft leaves out much 
that Wace includes. He follows Wace'very closely, though perhaps 
with a little more freedom than Robert of Gloucester shows in han- 
dling Geoffrey's narrative ; but he obviously had Langtoft's version 
at hand, since he occasionally draws a detail from it. There is no 
evidence that for the Arthurian period he made use of any other 
chronicle than those two, though he remarks that he knows Geof- 
frey's.^ Of his general manner of treating Wace's account, little 
more need be said. He shows himself a compatriot of Layamon 
and Robert of Gloucester. His occasional expansions of Wace's 
lines and his incidental slight additions prove that he clearly 
pictures situations in his own mind, as, for instance, when he 
describes the last fight with Lucius and other battles,* or Arthur's 
armor,* gives verbatim Uther's lament for his brother,^ or pictures 
a game of "chekers."* His occasional touches of Saxon homeli- 
ness'' and of mediaeval bigotry,* and his partisanship for the ancient 
Britons, whom he sometimes designates by first personal pronouns,® 
may be mentioned in passing. There are inevitable additions in 
unimportant details: such as, — the statement that Hengist took 
an amount of land of which each side was equal in length to his 
thong — a change, evidently, in the interest of plausibility;^*^ the 
statement that Merlin was only twelve years old at the time of 
his first appearance ;^^ his giving Arthur a horse at Mount Badon;^^ 
his speaking of a legate distinct from Dubricius;^* the substitution 
of names of nations of his own time for those given by Wace.^* 
Robert shows a moral tendency in making over Wace's statement 
about the love of knights for their amies so as to exclude those who 

1 Vv. 61-64. 

2 V. 10,595. It is evidently Geoffrey to whom he refers in vv. 58-59. On his 
sources in general see Zetsche's dissertation, pp. 1-23; M. Thiimmig, Anglia^ 
1891, XIV, 1-76, especially pp. 1-6; O. Preussner, Robert Mannyng^s tjberset- 
zungy etc., Breslau, 189 1. Zetsche's argument (pp. 10-37) that he used the 
Miinchener Brut scarcely deserves mention. 

8 Vv. 13,541 ff., 8465 ff. * V. 10,027. 6 Vv. 9071-9072. 

• Vv. 1 1,397 ff. ; cf. w. 7018 ff., 8845 ff-» 10,130, 10,291-10,292, 10,866, 1 1,025, etc. 

^ V. 13,182, etc. 8 Vv. 11,971-11,974, etc. • Vv. 9976, 13,581. 

10 Vv. 7510-7512. 11 V. 8232. 13 V. 10,099. 

18 V. 11,083. ^* V- io»S49; cf. p. 201, above. 


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2o6 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

have wives.^ Apparently by confusion, he identifies the castle which 
Arthur built in France with Kay's tower, and calls it Chymoun,^ 

Robert identifies the wood of Calidon, where Arthur fought one of 
his battles, with "ffsykertoun,"* possibly following a current inter- 
pretation of Geoffrey's story. He expands an early mention of Vorti- 
gern,* ascribing to him the same Very bad character that is insisted on 
by several of the chroniclers from William of Malmesbury down.^ 

Robert gives rather more direct evidence of familiarity with the 
romances than any of his predecessors.* In describing the fight 
of the dragons,^ he introduces two alliterative lines in a metre alto- 
gether different from that which he ordinarily uses : 

Wyppyng wyj> wenges, ouer-wepen & went, 
Cracchyng wif clawes, rubbed & brent.** 

This may be taken from some other poem, but if so, there is nothing 
to show that that poem dealt with Arthurian material. But the 
" weye that he wiste gayn " by which Arthur gets ahead of Lucius * 
is a characteristic romance " property." In expressing his exalted 
conception of Arthur he says : 

pan of myrfe most was in halle, 

Glad-chered, louely, & lordlyest of alle . . . 

Ilka day come tydynges newe, 

Gestes of ioye, wyf knyghtes trewe . . . 

Was no f yng so noble of fewes 

As men reden of hym & schewes.^** 

Caliburne, with Robert, has assumed, both literally and figura- 
tively, wonderful proportions. Its blade is ten feet long and more 

' Vv. 11,347 ff. (cf. p. 184, above). 2 Vv. 14,007-14,012 (cf. p. 122, above). 

8 V. 9932. * Vv. 7032-7040. * Cf. p. 40, above. 

8 It is interesting to note in this connection that for " Beus of Oxenford," 
whose name appears in the Petyt MS. (v. 12,536), the scribe of the Lambeth MS. 
has been misled into writing " Beofs of Hamptone " (cf. p. 217, below). The most 
extended cases of use of romances occur in the non-Arthurian parts of Robertas 
poem (cf. p. 138, above). 

^ He says that the sympathy of all the people was with the red dragon, which 
was finally killed, though the white dragon languished on for only four days. 

8 Vv. 8197-8198. » V. 13,309. 10 Vv. 9751 ff. 


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Robert Mannyng 207 

than seven inches broad ;^ it "neuere for armes wolde scurne";^ 
and its name is Irelgas's battle-cry.* But, instead of saying that it 
was made in Avalon, Robert observes: "In Ramesey & ojer stedes 
}>e merke is ymade." ^ He refuses to believe the " Bretons lye " 
that Arthur is not dead and will return.* As a matter of course, his 
skepticism does not extend to Merlin, whose character as a wonder- 
worker he assumes from the outset, remarking, for instance, that it 
is by "coniurisouns" that he transported the Great Stones.^ In say- 
ing of Merlin's fountain, "Baynes hit highte by olde tales, " ® Robert 
may merely be thinking, across a scribal error, of Wace's name ^ for 
it, Labenes, That the Round Table had come to be as thoroughly 
associated with Arthur in his day as it is in ours, Robert shows 
when he says that it was to see the Table that some of the foreign 
barons came to Arthur's feast. ^ 

The explanation that if Arthur had longer delayed following 
Modred into Cornwall the traitor would have been better prepared, 
looks like a reply to the emphasis laid in the prose romance on 
Arthur's refusal to wait for reenforcements. The statement that 
Modred's illicit relations with the queen preceded Arthur's cam- 
paign against Lucius® may easily have been inferred from Wace's 
account. ^^ But the novel remark that when Arthur had been in 
France, Iweyn ^^had opposed Modred's treasonable practices, whether 
or not it is original with Robert, certainly rests on the popular fame 
of Iwain. Robert says that, after the death of Wawayn and Agu- 
sel, Arthur never gladly ate meat,^^ and of Wawayn he observes, 
"Mykel honur of hym euer^ men seys."" In mentioning "Rone- 
wen's " coming he makes an interesting allusion to other popular 
stories about the episode : 

But J?is lewed men sey and singe 
& telle fat bit was mayden Inge. 
Wryten of Inge, no clerk may kenne, 
Bet of Hengiste dough ter, Ronewenne.^* 

1 Vv. 10,035 ff- • V. 8752. » Vv. 12,039 ff. 

2 V. 10,886. "^ V. 8217. 10 Cf. p. 163, above. 

» V. 13,682. 8 V. 11,361. " Vv. 14,205 ff. Cf. p. 161, above. 

* V. 14,301 ; cf. p. loi, note 6, above. 12 Vv. 14,119-14,120. 
s V. 8903 ; cf. vv. 8748 ff. (cf. Wace, vv. 82 15-82 16), 9386. 
1* V. 10,678; cf. p. 105, above. 1* Vv. 7533 ff. 


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2o8 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

When explaining that he leaves out Merlin's prophecies because 
they are not comprehensible before the event,^ he says that they are 
written in the books of Blase, Tolomer, and Sire Amytayn, who 
were Merlin's masters. His knowledge of Blase must have come 
directly or indirectly from the prose Merlin, Twice ^ in praising 
Arthur at length as the greatest of Christian kings,, he expresses 
great dissatisfaction that, while his deeds have been celebrated in 
all foreign lands, especially in French books, little or nothing has 
been written about him in English. 

1 Vv. 8213 ff. ; cf. p. 136, above. 2 Vv. 10,589 if., 10,967 ff. 


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More important than the English metrical chronicles are those 
written in French prose, partly because they are much more numer- 
ous and extend over a much longer period, partly because they 
include the exceedingly popular Brut 

I. Minor Early French Chronicles^ 

The earliest French chronicles that here concern us, all doubtless 
composed in England, were probably for the most part brief and 
insignificant. One,^ written on a roll, which comes down to the 
time of Edward I, begins with an exceedingly concise outline of 
the whole of Geoffrey's History^ accompanying it with an elaborate 

1 Some chronicles which probably or certainly belong here I have not seen. 
One occupies five leaves in Cambridge Univ. MS., Gg. i. i, no. 50, fols. 484b ff. 
It is mentioned by Paul Meyer, in an article entitled De quelques chroniques 
Anglo-Normandes qui ont porti le nom de Brut (Bull, de la Soc. des Anc. Textes 
franfais^ 1878, IV, 104-145). I have not here retained the classification adopted 
in that article because it seems to me that the question whether or not one of 
these chronicles has been called Brut is unimportant. Other manuscripts are 
Heralds' College MS. E. D. N., no. 14 (mentioned by Madden, The Ancient 
English Romance of Havelok, pp. xxiv, liv) ; Barberini 2689 (Hardy, III, 206, 
No. 348) ; Phillipps 1932 and 887 (Hardy, III, 373, No. 623). Neither the French 
chronicle of the Layamon MS. (Calig., A. ix. 3) nor the equally brief outline in 
Vesp. E. iv. 6, fols. I07b-ii2a, contains any account of the Arthurian period. 
Apparently the same is true of MS. Coll. Trin. Cant. R. 14. 7. 6. (Hardy, III, 251, 
No. 454). See also Meyer, Bulletin, 1879, V, 98 ; 1891, XVII, 70 ; Stengel, Ztsch, 
f. rom. Phil., X, 278-285 ; Meyer, Romania, XVI, 154-155. 

2 Brit. MS. Addit. 11713. 



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2IO Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

but still less complete genealogical tree. In the Arthurian period 
it is rather less curtailed than elsewhere. It has eight lines about 
Arthur, including the common inference that "Wenheure" was 
equally guilty with Modred,^ and it states that Arthur was buried 
at Glastonbury. 

About 1300 or 1307, or more likely some twenty or twenty-five 
years earlier,^ was put together another very short chronicle.* The 
first part, Le Livere de Reis de Brittanie^ begins with a series of 
much-abbreviated excerpts from some of the more romantic portions 
of Geoffrey's History} On the Arthurian period it has only a single 
clause, — about Vortigern's "receiving" Horsus and Hengist. The 
second part, Le Livere de Reis de Engleterre^ which originally ended 
with 1274, is concerned only incidentally with the history before 
the Saxon period. Its brief account of the coming of the 3^xons 
partly follows that of Bede, since it represents the Britons as send- 
ing to the Saxons for aid ; but it takes from Geoffrey's form of the 
story a mention of Vortigern's marriage with Hengist's daughter 
and the accompanying " waisseyl " incident. 

The chronicle of MS. Bodl. Tanner, 195, fols. 129-138, is a slight 
list of little more than names, coming down to the accession of 
Edward II. As far as Geoffrey goes, it follows him with practically 
no difference. 

Apparently based originally on the same work as the Livere de 
Reis de Brittanie^ is the very strange compilation^ prepared in 1310 
for Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, by Rauf de Boun, who called 

1 Cf. p. 163, above. 

2 See Meyer's article above (p. 209, note i). 

8 Edited by John Glover, Rolls Series, 1865. The work included in the Char- 
tulary of Malmesbury Abbey (MS. Publ. Record Office, Incen's Records, Miscel- 
laneous Books, no. 24; Hardy, III, 198, No. 325) is, as Meyer inferred, the same 
in substance, though with differences in phraseology (see fol. 37b). The first of 
the two pieces printed by Glover has also been edited by John Koch, Li Rei de 
Engleterre^ Berlin, 1886, on the basis of MS. Cotton Calig. A. ix., which omits 
the portion (regarded by Koch as an interpolation) dealing with the Britons and 
begins at a place corresponding to p. 8, 1. 17 of Glover's text. See also Stengel, 
Deutsche Litteraturzeitungy 1886, p. 994, and Ztsch.f. rom. Phil.y X, 278. 

* Though with considerable differences in the story of Leir. 

^ MS. Harl. 902, fols. i-i ib. 


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Rauf de Boun 2 1 1 

it the Petit Brut, But in its present form it is altogether different 
and, at least in the first part, much fuller than the Livere, It has 
been well described as "a collection of historical notices chiefly 
derived from apocryphal sources, and put together in so confused 
and ignorant a manner, in defiance of chronology, as to baffle all 
ingenuity to reconcile them to each other." ^ Its account of the 
pre-Saxon period is based on Geoffrey's, but with various accretions, 
especially, as in some of the Latin chronicles, with regard to the 
foundation of various cities, and with most remarkable transforma- 
tions ; and it omits the whole of the actual Arthurian epoch. But 
after it has begun the story of the Saxon kings and has spoken of 
two Adelufs, father and son, it states that on the premature death 
of the latter, his younger brother Uter succeeded him.^ Then, after 
telling how Uter fought with " le dragon serpent " in Westmoreland 
(the incident is perhaps suggested by Geoffrey's account of how 
Marius defeated and killed the Pictish Rodric there*), it relates 
at great length his amour with the wife of the Duke of Cornwall, 
calling the latter "Bodemound." Of Arthur it speaks in very gen- 
eral terms, naming Percival and Gawayne among his knights, 
referring to the romance of the Grail,* and mentioning Arthur's 
conquest of Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. It speaks at some length 
of his three sons, Adeluf III, Morgan le Noir, whom Arthur loved 
the best, and Patrike le Rous, and Arthur's division of the island 
among them. It apologizes for not recounting his exploits more 
at length on the ground that he owed them to his love, la dame de 
faierie (an evident allusion to Morgan the Fay or some similar 
lady of romance) and that it is not " amiable de mettre fayere en 
escripture." "But this king Arthur reigned twenty-one years, and 
he died at the castle of Kerlionus, and his body was carried to 

At several points in this unique narrative, the author refers for 
corroboration to "I'autre Brut." But as no other known document 
has anything similar to the stories here given, there seems to be no 
means of telling whether the worthy Rauf, determined to please his 

1 Madden, Haveloky p. xx. ^ qi^ p^ ^-^^ above. 

2 Fol. 4b. * Cf. p. 189, above. 


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212 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

patron at all hazards, amused himself by giving free rein to his 
imagination, or really had some authority now lost. His mention 
of liter's killing the dragon is a point of resemblance to Gottfried 
of Viterbo's version of the story, especially since in both the term 
" serpent " is also applied to the dragon.^ 

Here, for convenience, may be mentioned the short manuals of 
English history which were drawn up during the period under con- 
sideration for many of the noble English families, sometimes in 
French, sometimes in Latin or English. In one of the few pub- 
lished specimens^ the rhumt of the Arthurian period exhibits the 
confusion already mentioned * between the campaigns against Flollo 
and against Lucius. In another,^ which deals only with the rela- 
tions between England and Scotland, is given an outline of Arthur's 
conquest of the latter country. 

A very confused composite account of the Arthurian period with 
practically no new individual features occurs in another chronicle 
which comes down to Edward 11.^ In the early portion it is mostly 
an abbreviated paraphrase of Geoffrey combined with an increasing 
amount of material from other sources. In the Arthurian period, 
while it includes most of the substance of Geoffrey's account, it 
turns aside to speak of the Roman emperors, it draws much 
from Henry of Huntingdon (including some material which he 
took from the Saxon Chronicle), and it has points from Nennius. 
Thus it often repeats itself, and it presents one of the most hope- 
less and inconsistent tnklanges conceivable. It has the "Thomas 
FuUo " absurdity.^ 

Much more interesting and important is the Polistorie del Eglise 
de Christ de Caunterbyre^ which comes down to the year 13 13. For 

1 Cf. p. 147, above. 

2 Edited by Thomas Wright, Feudal Manuals of English History^ 1872, No. 5, 
p. 125 (but Wright omits everything to the beginning of the reign of Arthur). 

\ Cf. p. 183, above. * Wright, No. 6, p. 156. 

6 Brit. Mus. MS. Bibl. Reg. 20. A. xviii., no. i (Hardy, III, 393, No. 666). 

^ Fol. 65a. Cf. p. 183, above. 

"^ Described by G. Paris, Hist. Litt. de la France^ XXVIII, 480-486. It is 
worthy of note that in certain proper names where many copies and paraphrases 
of Geoffrey go astray, this chronicle generally has the correct forms. The MS. is 
Harl. 636 ; see Hardy, III, 350, No. 576. 


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Polistorie del Eglise de Caunterbyre 213 

the most part this chronicle follows Geoffrey, as far as he goes, rather 
closely, sometimes almost in a literal translation, with only an occa- 
sional slight omission or amplification. Points worthy of specifica- 
tion are : the author's animosity against Vortigern ; ^ a conversation 
repeated between Ambrosius and Tremonnus, who is identified with 
St. David ;^ a mention of the Round Table;' the occasional intro- 
duction of a distinctively feudal or chivalrous touch, as when after 
mention of Arthur's distribution of honors it is said: "Mult li 
mercient cum per resun le devoyent disaunt : A teu seignur 
deyt humme biene servir, ke les seons ne veut oblier ; mes avaunt 
requeste avauncer." Interesting is the introduction of a detail 
which seems to have originated with Wace, — the death of the fifth 
Roman, the cousin of Marcel, at the hands of Gawain, in the retreat 
of Arthur's envoys from the camp of Lucius.* The author adds 
that no one could resist Gawain's blows, and gives some verses 
which he says were inscribed on Gawain's sword to the effect 
that it was made by Gaban when Christ was fourteen years old.* 
Gaban is evidently a personage similar in character to Wayland 
the Smith and Layamon's Wygar and Griffin.® Beginning at this 
point, the author departs somewhat more than before from Geoffrey, 
once or twice trying to motivate better the details of the story.'' 
He mentions the Round Table, and his praise of Gawain. is not 
based altogether on Geoffrey.® The same is true of his account of 
the campaign against Modred, which has points of resemblance 
with the version in the famous Brut^ to which w^ are about to 
come, — such, for example, as the mention of the ports Whytsand 
and Sandwych. But it does not agree with that version. It men- 
tions Arthur's banner, and says that he killed Modred with his 
own hand.' 

1 Cf. p. 40, above. * Fol. 21b 2. 

2 Fol. i6a 2. * Fol. 24a 2 ; cf. p. 141, above. 

* Printed in Publications of the Mod. Lang. Assoc.,, 1903, XVIII, 90. 

• Cf. p. 162, above. 8 Cf. p. 105, above. 

^ Cf. p. 134, above. • Cf. p. 120, n. 5, above. 


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214 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

II. The Large Brut and its English Translation (with 

THE French and English Literal Translations 

OF Geoffrey's History) 

One of the books most widely circulated in England in the four- 
teenth and fifteenth centuries was the chronicle which came to be 
known, and still is known, as " the Brut '* ^ par excellence. This 
work seems originally to have been composed about 1272, though 
most of the existing manuscripts continue the history for sixty 
years later. Its authorship is unknown, as some of the manuscripts 
expressly state ; for one cannot take seriously the " Douglas of 
Glastonbury " named in one copy of the English translation ^ and 
by Caxton on the title-page of his edition. The manuscripts fall 
into two general classes,* but their differences occur almost alto- 
gether after the Galfridian section, and in the Arthurian period 
consist chiefly* of the insertion by the second redaction (in the 

1 On the Brut and its very numerous manuscripts should be consulted, besides 
the above-mentioned (p. 209, note i) discussions of Meyer and Madden (the 
latter of which is largely repeated by Skeat in his Lay of Havelok^ E.E.T.S., 
pp. xiii ff.), — the British Museum class catalogue (in the Manuscript Room) of 
works on the History of Great Britain and Ireland, Part II, pp. 505-517; \Vm. 
Hardy, Recueil des Croniques^ Qtc.y par IVaurin, Rolls Series, 1864, 1, Ixii, note 2 ; 
Madden, Notes and Queries^ 1856, 2d Series, I, 1-4; F. S. Haydon, Eulogium 
Historiarum, Rolls Series, II, Ixx-lxxi. Mention may be made of an article by 
the Abbe De La Rue in Essais Historiqlies sur les Bardes^ Caen, 1834, II, 165. 

2 MS. Harl. 4690. 

8 The first redaction is represented, for example, by Harl. 200 ; Domit. A. x. ; 
Addit. 18462, no. 2; Addit. 351 13; Cleop. D. vii. The second, by Cleop. D. 
iii. 3; Addit. 18462, no. i; Bibl. Reg. 20. D. iii. ; Bibl. Reg. 20. A. iiL But 
sometimes manuscripts of the same class differ much in phraseology. Tor 
example, Addit. 18462, no. i, is often curter in expression than Cleop. D. iii. 3. 
On the Eulogium Historiarum, which follows the Brut in the first part of the 
Arthurian story, see p. 176, above. 

* Minor points of difference are the following : — The first redaction, in speak- 
ing of Uter's last victory, enlarges a little upon his joy over it. The second 
redaction has substituted Mont St. Bernard for Mont St. Michel in the adven- 
ture with the giant, — an alteration which may perhaps be due in part to influence 
from the romance story of Arthur's fight with the great cat, localized near a Swiss 
lake (see Freymond, Artus^ Kampf mit dem Katzenungetuni). The second redac- 
tion makes Otta and Ossa brothers (cf. p. 39, above). Some MSS. of the second 


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The Large Brut 2 1 5 

midst of the account of Arthur's expedition into Scotland) of a 
prophecy made to him by Merlin about a lamb, a wolf, and other 
animals, in the usual style of the apocalyptic utterances which were 
popular for centuries after Geoffrey's successful use of them, if not 
before. Similarly, prophecies said to have been made by Merlin 
about Henry III, Edward I, and Edward II are inserted at the 
end of the accounts of their respective reigns. 

To trace the exact pedigree of the Brut is probably impossible. 
Perhaps the work was influenced in some degree by Wace's version,^ 
though I have noted only four or five seemingly or possibly sig- 
nificant cases of agreement: namely, — both mention Anna's mar- 
riage to Loth when she is first named ; ^ both mention definitely 
the choice of Colgrin as leader of the Saxons on the death of Octa 
and Eosa; both observe at the first appearance of Guenevere'' that 
she and Arthur had no heir ; both speak of the institution of the 
Round Table and its cause ;^ and, after the end of the Arthurian 
period, both have the episode of the capture of Cirencester by the 
sparrow stratagem.* These coincidences may not prove much ; but 
on the other hand, the Brut is so much more condensed than Wace's 
poem that many striking parallelisms could not be expected. 

At any rate, after some introductory material, the Brut begins 
to follow the story of Geoffrey's History from the commencement, 
whether or not the writer is drawing directly from Geoffrey, and 
continues to paraphrase the story^ as far as Geoffrey carries it. The 
differences, in a general way, are similar to those which occur in 
other extended paraphrases, like Langtoft's for instance. But the 

redaction (Addit. 18462, no. i, fol. 39a; Bibl. Reg. 20. A. iii., fol. i6ob) insert 
after the mention of Arthur's great feast a passage of considerable length which 
recounts in a manner far from clear how Arthur seated at the Round Table some 
knights for whom there seemed not to be room. By an interesting confusion or 
emendation, one manuscript (Addit. 18462, no. i) says that after the last battle 
Arthur had himself carried to Saleme. 

^ Cf.^p. 143, note I, above. 

2 Geoffrey, viii, 20. The manuscripts of Geoffrey which I have examined agree 
with the printed text in not mentioning the fact here. 

* Geoffrey, ix, 9 ; cf. p. 140, above. 

* At a point corresponding to Geoffrey, ix, 1 1. 

* Wace, w. 14,005 ff. ; cf. Geoffrey, xi, 8. 


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2 1 6 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

narrative is much abridged in several places, — especially in the 
description of the battles of Bath and of those against Lucius, and 
in the actual duel with the giant. ^ Further, many incidents, etc., 
are omitted altogether. The chief omissions are the following : — 
the stratagem of "Bladulf " in getting into York ;^ the account of the 
second and third wonderful lakes in Scotland ; ^ the expedition to 
Norway, and, indeed, all the previous foreign conquests except those 
of "Gutlande" and "Irland"; the account of the coronation fes- 
tivities, except the banquet ; practically all the speeches made by 
Arthur's men apropos of the Emperor's message ; Arthur's dream 
on the Channel ; the whole story of the embassy to the Emperor 
and the two first battles, which result therefrom; the battle with 
Modred at Winchester. 

Constant characteristics of the French mediaeval writers are vivid- 
ness and liveliness of narration and lack of historical perspective. 
These qualities are even more strikingly evident in the author of 
the present chronicle than in Wace. He describes everything in 
terms appropriate to his own time. To him all warriors are feudal 
knights and men-at-arms, and all cities are walled towns of burghers, 
like Winchester and London. He conceives English geography in 
the age of Brutus as identical with that of the time of Edward I or 
Edward III, — regarding the land as divided into Northfolk and 
Southfolk and all the other Saxon counties fifteen hundred years 
before the Saxons set foot on it. To explain Arthur's great feast 
he says that he wished to be crowned king of Glamorgan, — being 
evidently unable to think of Caerleon as anything more than the 
capital of a Welsh county. With delightful naivetd he remarks that 
it was contrary to sacred law for Modred to take his uncle's wife. 
Neither can he adopt any other point of view than that of a 
Catholic Christian, looking for direct judgments of God in every- 
thing that happens, and feeling intense satisfaction when he thinks 
himself justified in declaring that a king was good and of good 
habits, or that the interests of the faith were advanced. He takes 

1 Cf. p. 202, above. 

2 This omission was necessitated by the statement that Colegryne left him in 
charge of the city and himself went to Cheldryk for aid. 


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The Large Brut 2 1 7 

pains to say that when Constantine came from Brittany, all the 
" Saracens " were killed except those who turned to God. He repre- 
sents Arthur as encouraging his men on the ground that the 
Romans are allied with heathen, and that God will help the Britons 
because they have the right ; and he observes that Lucius trusted 
more in his strength than in God Almighty, as appeared afterward.^ 
He gives a prayer of Arthur before the battle. His national preju- 
dices sometimes crop out, as when, after having said that the eagles 
in Loch Lomond gave warning whenever enemies attacked the land, 
he adds that it was because the Scots were great ravagers. 

From the scientific point of view, this bias is disastrous enough, 
but literature and romance as evidently gain by it. For, as has 
already appeared in the case of Wace and others, it enables the 
author to enter with all his heart into his narrative, to call up the 
details to his mind's eye, to explain doubtful points, and to express 
the personal emotions aroused in him by events and characters. 
To this attitude, then, manifesting itself in these ways, are due the 
pervading difference of general effect arid most of the very numerous 
differences in detail between the Brut and the original. But, in 
addition to the particular points already mentioned, certain others^ 
generally explicable from these same considerations, ought to be 

Dates are added, both of the Christian era and of the respective 
reigns.^ As a matter of course, the numbers given, in whatever con- 
nection, generally differ from those in the manuscripts of Geoffrey, 
and proper names, as in almost all versions of the story, are much 
corrupted. Constantine kills "Gowan," the oppressor, and Uter kills 
Pascent with his own hand.'^ Vortigern is called, as in some pre- 
vious versions. Earl of Westsexe, which, however, amounts to the 
same thing as Geoffrey's description of him. It is definitely stated 
that Engist's first message to Germany for more Saxons was secret.^ 
Engist's brother is Horn, — a case of scribal confusion with another 
romantic story.* It is said that he had built a fortress which he 

1 In his defeat. The author does not tell us whether the same reason is to be 
given for Arthur's overthrow. ^ Cf. p. 159, above. * Cf. p. 213, above. 

* Cf. p. 36, above. * Cf. p. 206, note 6, above. 


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2 1 8 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

called Horncastle,^ and that Vortimer, in wrath at the death of 
" Catagren," destroyed it. The scene of Vortigern's infatuation with 
Ronewen is made somewhat more vivid. The now thoroughly in- 
trusive figure of St. Germanus is dropped out. Vortigern's resto- 
ration to the throne is on condition that he shall never allow Engist 
or any of his race to reenter the land.^ When Vortigern is taken 
by the Saxons, some of them wish to burn him alive. Almost the 
whole of Merlin's prophecy is omitted.' It is Engist who divides 
the land into seven kingdoms, for purposes of defence against the 
Britons, it is said, — an idea quite different from that sometimes 
given in the chronicles ; and the name England is derived from 
Engist, Merlin and the other " child " with whom he is quarrelling 
are said to be twenty-four years old. For moving the great stones 
Merlin receives whatever reward he will. "Aurilambros" is killed 
in the second year of his reign. Only one castle of Gorloys is men- 
tioned, — "Tyntagell," — and it is not explained how he and Uter 
could both be in it at the same time and in the same form without 
trouble. Arthur is often said to act by the counsel of his men, — for 
instance, in allowing the Saxons to depart for Germany, in deciding 
to conquer France, and in being crowned king of Glamorgan. In 
the account of Arthur's distribution of fiefs, Auguselus and Urien 
are not mentioned,* but Gawen appears.^ Aloth (Loth) is called 
son of Elyn, a feature which perhaps goes back to ancient Celtic 
mythology.® The Round Table is introduced, inevitably, but the 
reason for its construction is said to have been that all the knights 
were so good that none was worse than another.'' Certain provinces 
of France are specified as given by Arthur to Holdinus, who is 
called his chamberlain, to Dorell his nephew, and to Richard his 
cousin, — the last, at least, a new character for the chronicles. It 
is after the banquet is finished that Arthur takes counsel as to his 
reply to Lucius. Both Key and Bedver are sent to explore the 

1 Presumably this idea was developed from the monument in Kent to which 
Horsa's name had been given, mentioned by Bede (cf. pp. 24-25, above). 

2 Cf. p. 244, below. 8 Cf. p. 136, above. 
♦ Cf. p. 136, above. ^ Cf. p. 105, above. 

^ In Celtic mythology, no doubt, all the Helens, including the one of Mont 
St. Michel, were originally identical. "^ Cf. p. 142, above. 


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The Large Drxxt 219 

mountain where Arthur is to fight the giant, but before Arthur him- 
self leaves the camp. It is specified that the Emperor's departure 
from Rome is in the month of August, — an idea which may be 
developed from his previous demand that Arthur shall present 
himself at Rome before the middle of that month, or may be due 
to a misunderstanding of the name of the town Augustodunum^ 
which Geoffrey meiltions in connection with the campaign. To the 
Emperor his messengers report that Arthur's state is greater than 
his own or that of any other king in the world. In the battle with 
Lucius, Arthur kills five kings, besides a multitude of others. Modred 
is reported as sending to Cheldrik for aid, not as asking him to 
get it. In coming from France, the place of Arthur's embarkation 
is specified as ^yhytsand, and that of his landing as Sandwych. 
Arthur sends the body of Gawen, as well as that of Auguissel, 
into Scotland, — an idea evidently connected with the Northern 
set of stories of which Gawain was the hero. No mention is made 
of Eventus (I wain). ^ Gunnore is blamed by implication, and it 
is said that after her flight to the nunnery (which is effected in 
secret with four men) she was never seen among the people.^ It is 
definitely stated that Arthur died, though mention is made of the 
British hope. The author's vividness of imagination sometimes 
manifests itself in a practical touch, as when he says that on the 
return to England of Childrick and his Saxons after their first de- 
feat by Arthur they took all the armor that they could find, — a pre- 
caution quite necessary at that stage of the ?tory, since they had 
given up all that they had ; or again, when he states that the men 
of Bath defended themselves well. 

In a more striking way, then, than most of the other chronicles, 
the French Brut shows how in those centuries when the journal- 
ist's imagination and the romancer's instinct for situations were 
adjudged by the tacit vote of popular approval as no less valua- 
ble for the historian than the scholar's judgment and conscience 
and devotion, one of the most popular versions of a most popular 
narrative, existing side by side with the original, could exhibit 
variations great and small at every turn. There was no standard 

1 Cf. p. 161, above. * Cf. p. 163, above. 


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220 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

of comparison by which the unfelt complications could be simplified 
and the statements of the anonymous writers subjected to critical 

It was doubtless inevitable that prose chronicles in England 
should be written in French sooner than in English, and it was at 
least natural that what seems to be the earliest prose form should 
be a translation of a work so popular as the French Brut} As to 
the date of this translation, to which frequent original additions 
were made, there is no definite evidence, but it probably belongs 
to the beginning of the fifteenth century.^ It is frequently referred 
to by later writers as "the English Chronicle." It was made from 
the second redaction of the French, and followed its original very 
closely indeed, though various modifications crept into different 
manuscripts." Its vogue and importance were vastly increased by 
the fact that Caxton selected it for publication. His edition^ 
entitled The Cronycles of Englond^^ appeared at Westminster in 
1480. In all the early part (until after the Arthurian period) it 
follows the manuscripts of the usual type, and therefore corresponds 
almost exactly, except for unavoidable divergences in numbers and 
names, with the ordinary form of the second French redaction.* 
Accordingly, though it is a fine example of sturdy English, there is 
no reason to dwell upon it, nor do the later printed editions, as 
regards the Arthurian material, depart from the first in anything 
but trivial details.® 

1 For the MSS. of the English translation see the Brit. Mus. manuscript class 
catalogue, volume concerning the Hist, of Great Brit, and Ireland^ Part II, 
pp. 449, 451. The chronicles from which extracts were printed by Boddeker in 
Herrig's Archiv^ 1873, L^^* 10-29, ^.re merely copies of this English translation. . 

2 So Madden ; otherwise Wm. Hardy, ed. of Wavrin, I, Ixii, note 2. 

8 Thus, MS. Galba E. viii. (fols. 29-148) differs in phraseology from the others 
which I have examined; and Harl. 63 abbreviates throughout and inserts occa- 
sional Latin verses, besides including Merlin's prophecies, in Latin. 

* See Gross, Sources and Literature of English History^ p. 272, No. 1733. 

^ Such as Cleop. D. iii. 3. 

® Nearly an exact reprint is the edition of William de Mechlin, London, 1482, 
and only a little less close is that of Gerard de Leeu, Antwerp, 1493. '^^^ edition 
by the Schoolmaster of St. Albans, 1483, inserts at the beginning a fructus 
temporum^ and, throughout the text, much material about other countries than 


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Philippe Mousket 221 

III. Philippe Mousket 

In the extensive Chronique rimke^ written before 1244^ by the 
Fleming Philippe Mousket, there are occasional mentions of 
«*Artus'* as the type of a great king;* allusions to the Breton 
expectation of his return ; * mention of Gawain ; ^ and a few cita- 
tions of Merlin, not always derived from Geoffrey/ Merlin is said 
to have been buried at " Malebierge." ® 

England ; otherwise it also is very nearly a literal reprint. It was reproduced with 
very slight changes by Wynkyn de Worde at Westminster, 1497-8, by Julyan 
Notary, London, 1504, and by Richard Pynson, London, 1510. 

In this connection may be mentioned two English prose chronicles catalogued 
by Hardy (I, 356-357, Nos. 834, 835), and said by him to be translations of Geof- 
frey. He notes of the first, which is the work of " Maister Gnaor," that it abounds 
in interpolations. 

Reference may here be made, also, to the two known mere translations of 
Geoffrey's History into Old French. One is included in the vast historical com- 
pilation of MS. f. 17177 of the Biblioth^que Nationale, fol. 73a (see P. Meyer in 
Bull, de la Soc. des Anc. Textes franf.^ 1895, PP* ^3 ff-)- This translation occasion- 
ally abbreviates a little (very greatly after the end of Arthur's reign), and it stops 
apparently unfinished, at the coming of St. Augustine. The other is that made in 
1445 ^y ^ certain Wauquelin of Mons, in Hainault, for the Count of Chimay (Hardy, 
I» 358 ; Ward, I, 251-253), which appears to be a very free rendering, padded out in 
the usual French style of the period. The work mentioned by Ernest Langlois 
(Notices et Extraits des MSS. de la Bibl. Nat., etc., 1890, XXXIII, Part II, p. 74) 
and by P. Meyer (as above, p. 90) is really a copy of part of Wavrin, beginning 
with book ii. It was used by Hardy (though he almost overlooked it) in his 
edition of Wavrin (see his Introd., I, ccxvi, note, and Notes and Emendations, 
pp. 505 ff.). 

As far as appears from the account of the Fleur des Hy stories of Jehan Mansel 
de Hesdin (a writer of the end of the fourteenth century) given by P. Paris (Les 
MSS. Francois de la Bibl. du Roi, I, 6i ff.), the authentic manuscripts lack the 
British part, and I have found that the same is true of some, at least, of the copies 
of the work as abridged and rearranged (see II, 314 ff., 322 f. ; V, 314 f., 418). 

1 Ed. Reiffenberg, 2 vols., Brussels, 1836-8, among the Chroniques Beiges of 
the Belgian Royal Academy ; also in part by Tobler (in Pertz, Scriptores, XXVI, 
718 ff.) and in Bouquet, Recueil, XXII, 34 ff. See Grober, Grundrissj II, i, 
762-3; B. C. Du Mortier, Compte-Rendu des Siances de la Commission royale 
d^Histoire, ist Series, IX, Brussels, 1845, PP' 112 ff. 

2 So Grober, II, i, 763. ^ Vv. 19,124 ff., 19,454 ff., 20,543 ff. 
« V. 8862-8877, etc. « Vv. 22,579-22,580. 

* Vv. 24,627-24,628, 25,201-25,204. 


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222 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

IV. Jean des Preis 

A work destined to be frequently referred to by the later Eng- 
lish chroniclers was the immense Mer des Histoires^ more properly 
Ly Myreur des Histors^^ which covers the history of the world from 
the Deluge to 1340. It was composed, apparently near the end of 
the fourteenth century, by the Fleming Jean des Preis (or d'Outre- 
meuse, born 1338), a bourgeois of aristocratic descent, who was 
clerk in the Court of fichevins at Li^ge.^ In this compilation Jean 
reduced into vernacular prose * a great number of chronicles, chan- 
sons de geste,^ and romances. He includes a large amount of roman- 
tic Arthurian material, much of which was never admitted into any 
other extant chronicle.* He inserts it fragmentarily, after the fash- 
ion usual in works like his, wherever the various episodes seem to 
him to belong in his annalistic (though very extended) narrative. 
In substance this material is as follows : — 

Merlin reigned as king in Great Britain, in great honor, about 
the year 478 a.d.* Here the tower episode is mentioned. At the 
same time [apparently] and later, reigned Uter,^ father of Artus. 
The mention of Uteres death introduces a summary outline (pre- 
mature as regards Arthur's exploits) of Geoffrey's whole Historic^ 
with slight variations.^ Here it is said that the Round Table, 
which Merlin had made, had sixty seats,® and that in Artus's last 
battle he killed Mordret with his own hand, Mordret wounded him. 

1 Edited by A. Borgnet and S. Bonnans (among the Chroniques Beiges of the 
Belgian Royal Academy), 6 vols., Brussels, 1864-1880, with an introductory 
volume by Bormans, Chronique et Geste de Jean des Preis, 1887. This chronicle 
was later continued by Jean de Stavelot, but his work does not concern the 
present discussion. See also Grober, Grundriss, II, i, 1080-1081. 

2 See Bonnans, especially pp. xcii-xciii. 

8 Without inventions of his own, according to Bormans. 

* G. Paris, Mediceval French Literature, p. 130. 

s This is not the place for any attempt at a study of his sources. Bormans, 
p. Ivii, mentions as lost sources the early thirteenth-century Chronique des Vavas- 
sours (continued by Bishop Hugues de Pierrepont), the Chronique of Enguerrand 
de Bar, and the Chronique of Jean de Wamant. See his discussion, pp. xcv ff. 

6 Bk. i, vol. II, pp. 165, 171. 8 II, 188 ff. 

7 II, 165, 182, 188. 9 II, 198. 


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Jean des Frets 223 

and every knight of the Round Table was killed except two.^ 
In the later and less incidental Arthurian passages Artus*s con- 
quests are made to extend far and wide. They include * the king 
of Persia, the Emperor Lucidar (Geoffrey's Lucius), the king 
of " Saynes " (who is killed, and his daughter and kingdom given 
to Artus's friend Paris of France), the Vandals, Syria, Jerusalem, 
and Egypt,* the Danes, who were devastating Saxony,* and 
Justin, son of the Emperor Anastaux, when he invades Britain.* 
There is special praise of Tristan, who is called king of Lonnois.* 
Several tournaments are described at some length, — one made by 
Uter at Carlon for knighting Artus and Paris,' and others at 
Lutesse (Paris) and London.® In connection with the tourna- 
ments are named various Arthurian ladies and knights, among the 
latter Ywain, Keux, Blioberis, and Erech. A second account of 
the end of Artus*s reign, inconsistent enough with the first, is as 
follows:® — Tristan is assassinated by King March, who is there- 
fore put to death by Artus's knights. March's natural son Galopes 
incites the Emperor of Rome to invade Britain. The Emperor is 
defeated and flees to Rome. Artus follows, and the Romans accept 
him as Emperor. Then comes the news of Mordrech's treason, and 
the last campaign. Artus, defeated and wounded in the final battle, 
goes with Gawain in a boat to the isle of Avalon, to the castle of 
his sister Morgaine, for the healing of his wounds : " et welt-ons 
dire que c'est feierie, et encors les ratendent les Brutons qui quident 
qu'ilh dole revenir." ^^ AH the knights of the Round Table are 
now dead except Lanchelot del Lac, who, assembling his people, 
and taking with him his vassal king Carados of Little Britain, 
besieges and captures London. He executes the guilty Genevre, 
and also Mordrech by shutting him up with the corpse of 
Genevre, which in his hunger he eats. Lanchelot bestows the 
crown on Constantin, son of Carados, and himself becomes a 
hermit." Later there is mention of his coming to Paris at the 
age of one hundred and seventy-seven years and speaking of his 
former exploits.^' 


1 II, 198-199. * II, 216. 7 II, 182. 10 II, 243. 

211, 203 ff. 611,217-218. 8 II, 210 ff., 236-237. 1111,244. 

811,214-215. «II, i8iff. »II, 24iff. ^211,357. 


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224 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

At much later points in his narrative Jean introduces the story 
of Ogier the Dane, drawing from his own Geste d^Ogier, and there 
he gives occasional Arthurian romance material, with exploits of 

V. The ScALACRomcA of Sir Thomas Gray 

Another French chronicle is the Scalacronica of universal and 
British history put together about 1355 by the warlike Sir Thomas 
Gray while he was a prisoner at Edinburgh. This must here be 
judged from a few extracts only (which include the author's pro- 
logue) given by Stevenson in his edition of its last part ^ (beginning 
after the Arthurian period) and from a few notes included by Leland 
in his Collectanea,^ 

As to his immediate source, Sir Thomas states in his prologue 
that he translated out of rhyme, but this remark need hardly be 
accepted, since the whole prologue is of a fantastic character, and 
since Sir Thomas, as he says himself, based the later books on 
various prose historians. He mentions also Walter of Oxford (he 
says Exeter)^ but this doubtless means only that his source preserved 
Geoffrey's references to Walter. 

Apparently the work follows the general course of Geoffrey's 
narrative, drawing from various versions of it, and with just such 
minor divergences and accretions (partly of a local nature, partly 
taken from romantic ri/acimenti) as have already been so often 
noted here. Thus Leland quotes : " Sum Chroniques say that Uther 
vanquisshid Otta and Oza at Wyndegate by Coquet Ryver"; 
" Arthure was crouned at Wynchestre " ; * " Arthure gave to Loth, 
Anguisel, and Urien (the 3. Sunnes of Kahu) more Landes than 
their Auncetors had ... to Loth Lownes and his eldest Sister." ^ 
(Geoffrey names only one sister of Arthur, though he implies 

1 Bk. ii, IV, 3, 20-21, 36-37, 50-51, 55-58; bk. iii, V, 125 ff. 

2 For the Maitland Club, 1836; Prologue^ pp. 1-4; extracts, pp. 317-319 (on 
the author see pp. xii ff ,). 

8 Ed. Lond., 1770, Part II, pp. 509-51 1 ; reprinted by Stevenson, pp. 259 ff. The 
manuscript of the Scalacronica is in the library of the University of Cambridge. 
* Geoffrey, ix, i, Cflcestria; cf. p. 229, below. ^ Cf. pp. 232, 247, below. 

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Jehan de Wavrin 225 

another.) "Arthure married Genouer, Cosin to Cador of Corne- 
wail,^ and Doughter to the King of Briscay," — a monstrous romance 
or ballad idea.* According to Leland it was Hywain^ who killed 
Mordrede in the last battle, after which Arthur was "deadely 
woundid, and cam to Avalon with Hiwayne." The only narrative 
passage printed by Stevenson, that relating to the battle of Bath 
and Arthur's conquest of the Picts, is more abridged than Geoffrey's 
text.* There is inserted, however, a lively new detail, borrowed 
from the author's acquaintance with actual warfare, of how Arthur 
took archers to fight the Irish, mounting them behind his men-at- 
arms. The account of the wonderful lakes leads to the insertion of 
other marvels, briefly described. But Sir Thomas is not a lover of 
the supernatural. He leaves out Merlin's prophecies, because, he 
says, they are not credible.^ Nevertheless, he defends the histo- 
ricity of Arthur ; to use Leland's words, in " a hole Chapitre spek- 
ing agayne them that beleve not Arthure to have beene King of 
Britaine." Later, he mentions the discovery of Arthur's tomb and 
Richard's gift of Calibourne to Tancred.® 

VI. The Version of Geoffrey's Story included in the 
Recueil of Sire Jehan de Wavrin 

At least as early as the first quarter of the fifteenth century, per- 
haps no later than 1390, there was composed in French and in 
France, by a writer of whom nothing is known except that he may 
have been a Bourbonnais, a version of Geoffrey's narrative which 
was embodied, with only slight verbal changes, by Sire Jehan de 
Wavrin in his voluminous Recueil^ or complete history of Great 
Britain,'^ begun about 1455, just a century after Gray's Scalacronica. 
Of Wavrin himself it is enough to say that he was an illegitimate 
son of a noble house, a brave warrior, who saw much service with 
both the court and the Burgundian parties ; that after the peace of 

1 Cf. p. 140, above. » cf. p. 161, above. * Cf. p. 136, above. 

2 Cf. p. 266, below. * ix, 3, 30-ix, 9, 7. ^ Stevenson, pp. 37, 63. 

■^ Edited by William Hardy, Rolls Series (see I, Ixviii ff., 3). My references 
are all to the first volume of this edition. On Wavrin see also Morley, English 
Writers. VI, 154. 


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226 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Arras in 1435 ^^ settled at Lisle as lord of Forestel and Fontaine, 
and. from that time chiefly devoted his energies to his history. As 
to the version of Geoffrey's story which he appropriates, there are, 
according to Hardy, certain features which clearly distinguish it 
from all others, but of these the only ones relevant to the present 
discussion are frequent allusions to the " Master of Histories " as 
an authority, and a commentary (inserted line by line) on the 
prophecies of Merlin.^ 

Examination proves beyond a doubt that this work is based 
directly upon Wace in the pre-Arthurian portion,^ but that when it 
reaches Const an tine, the father of Constans, it turns to Geoffrey, 
whom it thenceforth follows^ with only occasional touches from 
Wace. The deviations from the sources, however, both in sub- 
stance and in spirit, are decidedly greater than in any other of the 
real paraphrases of Geoffrey's story which have so far been 

In the first place, the whole manner of the narration illustrates in 
a still more marked degree all those characteristic mediaeval French 
tendencies which have already been dwelt upon in the case of Wace 
and of the Brut, The style is that of the French prose romances. 
The author is prolix, vivaciously and delightfully garrulous and 
chatty, like a man who has all the time in the world himself and 
never imagines that his readers may be in a hurry. He abounds 
in figures and imaginative touches. Like a modern novelist, he 
takes us with him into the confidence of his characters, as when he 
says that Aurelien could not rest so long as he knew that there was 
any pagan left in the island ; ^ or describes how Englist reflected 
on the easiest and safest way to deceive the Britons.^ He shows 
great vividness in description, — he speaks of the pity and horror 
caused by the cries of the wounded and dying ; ® of the weeping of the 
women and children abandoned by the departing Saxons ^ and of 

1 Cf. p. 189, above. 

2 Cf. p. 143, above. Cf. also the treatment in the Eulogium Historiarum 
(p. 176, above) and Robert Mannyng (p. 204, above). 

8 Even to the inclusion (though with characteristic expansion) of Geoffrey's 
addresses to Bishop Alexander and Earl Robert (pp. 226, 436-438). 
4 Book iii, p. 305. ^ p, 212. « P. 302. ^ p, 207. 


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Jehan de Wavrin 227 

" Vorcimer's " people when they knew that he must die ;^ he dwells 
on the way in which the valiant knights fight ; ^ he explains the 
stratagem by which the besiegers of Gorlois's castle entice him into 
issuing out ; ' he says that the giant, when mortally wounded by 
Arthur, roared so abominably that it seemed as if all the winds had 
got together into that place,* — and so on ad infinitum. He identi- 
fies the customs of the Arthurian period with those of his own time : 
— it is for artillery that Vortiger ^ and Gorlois ® look when they 
wish to defend -^their castles ; Greek fire is the cause of Vortiger's 
destruction ; "^ " Vorcimer " is buried in St. Paul's at London, with 
his ancestors, the other kings of Britain ; ^ Arthur is the heir of the 
royalty of the fleurs-de-lys ; ® all the battles are fought like those of 
the fourteenth fcentury, with archers, men-at-arms, and knights. ^^ 
Lucius has the men whom he sends out for an ambuscade choose 
their own leaders ;^^ Arthur's war-cry is " Bretaigne";" his men are 
the " royalists " ; ^' and before engaging in any enterprise he takes 
counsel of his barons.^* The speeches of the heroes are altogether 
modern,^*^ and almost universally begin with the colloquial " Hee ! " 
The desire to rationalize an old mythic element no longer under- 
stopd appears when we are told that it was because ** Vorcimer's " 
people respected him so much that they did not obey his direc- 
tions about his burial,^® or that Arthur himself cut off the giant's 

A marked characteristic of the author is his orthodox piety." 
The Britons are always loyal Catholic chevaliers ; Arthur's exalta- 
tion above other kings is especially due to his valiant enterprises in 
behalf of Catholic interests;^® Vortigier's sins seem to be enhanced 
by the fact that they are fallings away from la saintefoy catholicque,^ 
The author is also somewhat given to moralizing. ^^ Altogether, it 
seems very probable that he was a churchman. 

1 p. 208. 

8 P. 211. 

15 Pp. 346, 425, etc . 

2 Pp. 408, 440, 



i« P. 210; cf. p. 136, above. 

^ PP- 339-340. 

10 P. 348, etc. 

" P. 399. 

* P. 399. 

11 P. 410. 

18 Pp. 205, 327, etc. 

6 P. 289. 

12 P. 43,. 

"P. 338. 

« P. 335. 

w P. 445- 

25 P. 220; cf. pp. 207, 324. 

' p. 293. 1* Pp. 386 ff., 401, etc. 21 Pp. 209, 299, 401, 434 ; cf. p. 208. 


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228 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

His personal interest in the story sometimes manifests itself in 
rather prolonged reproachful addresses ^ : — to Vortiger,^ "Englist," 
Pascent, or Mordreth. His abhorrence of the Saxons is extreme,' 
but he is as unconscious as Gottfried of Viterbo of racial differ- 
ences, and even applies to the Britons the name Anglois.^ 

He characteristically introduces an element altogether new to 
the story by often referring to Dame Fortune as the arbiter of the 
affairs of men,^ once or twice almost directly coupling her name 
with that of Jesus. Similarly, he introduces Cupid as the author of 
Uther's love, which he describes with the warmth and in the con- 
ventional language of amatory secular literature.* 

The other points of interest can best be made apparent by run- 
ning hastily through Wavrin's narrative of the Arthurian period and 
noting its chief variations from Geoffrey, so far as they have not 
been already mentioned. 

Wavrin, or rather, his source, greatly expands the. account of the 
first battle of the Saxons and Britons against the Picts, telling 
especially of Englist's valor ; Englist had long coveted the lofty 
rock on which he built his castle ; his feast is described at greater 
length, and we are told that he has Ronixa repeat merry ballads in 
her own language for the entertainment of Vortigier.'' By a strange 
confusion it is said that in the second of Vorcimer's battles. Pas- 
cent, fighting on the side of Vorcimer, and "Kartigern" on that of 
Vortigier, jousted against and pierced each other, but Pascent, it is 
added, recovered, through the excellent medical aid that he had. 
It is definitely stated that the third of these battles was least mem- 
orable. Vorcimer gently rebukes Vortigier before the barons. 
Other Britons besides Eldol are made to escape from the massacre. 
It was the Saxons who had initiated Vortigier into the pernicious 
pagan error of augury to which he finally had recourse^ — "and we 
ourselves," observes the author, "daily see the treachery of the 
Anglois, who are descended from the Saxons." On hearing Merlin's 
prophecy, Vortigier believes that in him is an angel of paradise, and 

1 Pp. 195, 197, 201, 216, 324, 436. 6 Pp. 304, 324, 348, etc. 

2 Cf. p. 40, above. ^ Pp. 334, 336; cf. p. 258, below (Fabyan). 

* Pp. 301, 360. "^ Cf. p. 152, note 6, above (Layamon). 

* P. 204. 8 Pp. 219-220. 

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Jehan de Wavrin 229 

repents that he consulted necromancers; similarly, later, Gavain's 
valor causes the enemy to believe that he is more than a human 
being.^ Eldol asks and is allowed to lead the van in Aurelien's first 
battle against Hengist. It is the master-workman at Stonehenge, 
not Tremorien, who tells Aurelien of Merlin ; Uther, by the advice 
of Merlin, sends messengers to Gillomith before proceeding to the 
Stones. There is great expansion in the narrative of Pascent's 
exploits in Germany, and somewhat less in the account of Uther's 
first battle against the Saxons. When Gorlois's men find Uther 
in the form of their master with Ygerna, they think that the 
real Gorlois, who was killed before their eyes, must have been a 
demon, sent to lead them to destruction.^ Uther has a twelve 
years' interval of peace — apparently borrowed from the account of 
Arthur's reign. The manner in which Uther's well is poisoned is 
described. Misreading Cilcestriaey the author has made Arthur's 
coronation take place at "Cloucestre."* He misunderstands some of 
the details of the battle of Bath. He calls Duke Cador king;* says 
that Caerleon was on the Thames; that Quintilien had been made 
governor of Gaul by the Senate, not that he was the Emperor's 
nephew; makes Boso kill a second one of his pursuers, Cabellus.^ 
Arthur, he says, had sent Gavain to Pope Sulpicius to be made a 
clerk, but the pope, foreseeing in the spirit of prophecy that he 
would be one of the most valorous knights in the world, sent him s 
back. Leo is Lucius's companion, the Emperor of Italy.® There 
was hardly a Briton who was not wounded in the great battle with 

The author's source tries to explain why Geoffrey of Monmouth, 
whom, by a misunderstanding of Geoffrey's address to Earl Robert,^ 
he makes an earl, said nothing (another mistake) about the cam- 
paign against Modred; and suggests that it was because Geoffrey 
himself was of the family of Modred. To this Wavrin adds that 
he thinks the reason was rather the abominable nature of the crime. 
It is especially noteworthy that the author tries to clear Queen 

1 P. 427 ; cf. p. 105, above. ' ^ Cf. p. 141, above. 

2 P. 341. 6 Cf. p. 85, note 2, above. 
* Cf. p. 224, above. ^ Geoffrey, xi, i. 

^ P. 446. 


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230 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Geneviere of all blame.^ Her marriage with Modred, he says, was 
due to his compulsion;^ she hopes for aid from Arthur, and it is 
because she is falsely informed that he was killed in the first battle 
with Modred that she flees to Urbs Legionum to become a nun. 
There she ends her days chastely and in great patience.'* 

In the account of Arthur's last battle and death, the author 
clearly follows some current romance or traditional form. The 
battle was the most terrible ever fought. Arthur himself pierces 
Mordreth with his lance, so that a ray of light is clearly seen to 
pass through the body of the disloyal traitor; but before falling 
dead, Mordreth returns the blow and beats his uncle to the earth. 
So far the resemblance to Henry of Huntingdon's account is obvi- 
ous,* though the piercing, and that with a spear, and the wound by 
Modred, are divergences, and points of similarity with the version 
in the prose Lancelot, The rest of Wavrin's narrative, also, is much 
like the Lancelot, At the end, he says, only Arthur and nine knights 
are left alive. They go to a hermitage, where six of the knights die 
forthwith of their wounds, and the seventh a little later, as Arthur 
embraces him. Making his will, Arthur leaves the kingdom to Con- 
stantine, who is his nephew.^ While the other two knights, Gifflet 
and Constantine, are asleep, he vanishes mysteriously, but some say 
that he was carried to the isle of Avalon. " But the history of the 
Graal speaks otherwise, an4 some say that, Gifflet alone of his com- 
panions remaining, the two went to the sea-shore, where Arthur 
gave Caliburne to Gifflet, entered into a boat which he found ready 
there, and was borne away so rapidly that almost at once he was 
out of Gifflet 's sight."* 

VII. Pierre Le Baud's Histoire de Bretagne 

At about the beginning of the sixteenth century, Pierre Le Baud, 
precentor and canon of Laval, composed, at the express command 
of Anne of Brittany, a history of her native province.' In his 
second chapter,^ Le Baud begins a rather complete summary of 

1 Cf. p. 163, above. * P. 441. ^ cf. p. 140, above, p. 252, below. 

2 P. 436. * Cf. p. 120, above. ^ P. 447. Cf. pp. loi, 146, above. 
7 Edited by the Sieurd' Hazier, Paris, 1638. ^ p. 20. 

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Alain Boucliart 231 

Geoffrey's work, which he follows closely, with occasional additional 
material, unrelated to the present discussion, drawn from other 
authors. The only point which need be noticed is that he often 
names, together with Geoffrey, " the author of the deeds of Artur 
le Freuxy autrement nommk le Grandy'' which evidently must have 
been a work of a romantic nature.^ 

VIII. Alain Bouchart's Grandes Croniques de Bretaigne 

Another history of Brittany, composed at about the same time 
as Le Baud's, but much more notable as regards Arthurian mate- 
rial, is the Grandes Croniques of the Breton noble Alain Bouchart, 
published in 1514.^ This begins with a somewhat condensed ver- 
sion of Geoffrey's whole story, largely interpolated in some places, 
but not in the Arthurian portion. The latter diverges from Geoffrey 
to a greater extent than the other sections, but the parallelism is 
generally very close, and the natural conclusion is that the author 
is chiefly following some work which in the main almost exactly 
reproduced Geoffrey's.'* He occasionally draws (whether directly 
or indirectly) from the monk of Ursicampum's interpolated version 
of Sigebert, and to a slight extent from other authors, whom he 
names, principally, it seems, for ostentation. Many of his minor 
differences from Geoffrey are to be explained as mistakes in read- 
ing or interpretation, or as attempts to furnish an explanation ; * and. 

1 Cf. what William of Malmesbury says of the source of his story about Ider 
(p. 99, above). 

2 Edited by H. Le Meignen, Nantes, 1886 (Soci^t^ des Bibliophiles Bretons). 

8 The printed catalogue of books in the British Museum is certainly wrong in 
saying that Bouchart draws from Caxton. 

* Such are: — the change of Satumus into Neptune (fol. 41 a i) ; the state- 
ment that Chedric was not present at the battle of Badon (49 a 2 ; cf. Geoffrey, 
ix, 4, 44) — doubtless to explain why he seems to appear again later (cf. p. 186, 
above, and p. 234, below) ; that Loth's province was London (49 b 2) ; that Arthur's 
coronation feast occurred five years after his return from France (51 b i), — evi- 
dently to explain Cador's speech later (cf. p. 133, n. 10, above); that Lucius had 
been sent by Leo to reconquer France (52 a i ; cf. p. 85, note 2, above) ; that 
Arthur killed 476 Romans in the last battle with Lucius, — a remark resting evi- 
dently on confusion with the battle of Badon (cf. p. 183, above) ; that it was by 


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232 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

besides, there are the usual insignificant modifications in details.^ 
Perhaps more important is the statement that the white dragon 
conquered the red.^ 

The author mentions the Round Table,* and expresses uncertainty 
as to whether Arthur is really alive or dead.* A decided change in 
the thread of the story appears when for the whole of Geoffrey's 
narrative of events between the duel with the giant and the last 
battle with Lucius is substituted an account of an embassy in 
the person of Guerin de Chart res, sent by Arthur to Lucius.*^ A 
still greater change is that which represents Arthur's victory over 
Flollo — who is called a giant * — as due to the interposition of the 
Virgin,* who blinds Flollo by covering Arthur's shield with her 
mantle.^ As authority for this statement is adduced the Memoriak 
hystoriarum. Since the robe was furred with ermine, says Bouchart, 
Arthur, and after him the other kings of Britain, have worn the 
ermine in their arms.® A local French touch appears in the same 
place : because of this victory Arthur built a chapel to the Virgin 
in Paris on the site where Notre Dame now stands. A distinctly 
Breton twist is seen when we read that it was that one of Arthur's 
sisters whose name is mentioned by Geoffrey and others, namely 
Anna, here called Emine,^*^ who is married to Budic and so becomes 
the mother of Hoel. She is also, very reasonably as regards some 

the valor of Urianus that Modred was defeated in the first battle (55 b i ; cf. 
Geoffrey, xi, i, 28) ; that Modred fled to Cornwall by sea (cf. Geoffrey, xi, 2, 10). 

1 Such are : — the statement that it was what the masons had built in eight 
days that fell down in one night (42 b 2) ; that Eldol wished to kill Hengist on 
the field, but Gorlois opposed (44 b 2) ; that the poisoning of Uther was effected 
by an embassy, which bribed his seneschal (48 a i) ; the supplying of (inconsist- 
ent) dates, — 450 for Arthur's coronation (48 a 2), and 412 for his last war (52 a; 
cf. p. 159, above) ; the statement that it is in the morning that Arthur goes against 
the giant (53 a 2). Not essentially more important is the assertion that at their 
death the assassins of Constans distinctly exonerated "Vortigerus" from hav- 
ing planned the crime (40 a 2 ; cf. p. 40, above). 

2 Fol. 43 b 2. * Fol. 55 b 2. « Fol. 50 b 2. 
8 Fol. 52 a I, etc. ^ Fol. 53 b i. 

■^ To whom also Arthur is made to appeal at Badon for the protection of the 
Catholic faith (fol. 49 a 2 ; contrast p. 161, above). 

8 Fol. 51 a I. ^ Referred to previously (fol. 5 b 2). 

i<^ Fols. 47 b I, 48 a I. Bouchard calls her " Anne ou Emine." 


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Jehan de Bourdigni 233 

aspects of the story, represented as older than Arthur.^ It is made 
to appear, besides, that Uther did not get access to Ygerna until 
after the death of her former husband and her marriage to Uther. 
This in itself might have been due to the great condensation at this 
point, but in effect it represents Arthur as of legitimate birth. ^ 

IX. The Cronica Cronicarum 

The compilation properly described by its title as Cronica Croni- 
carum Abrege was published at Paris in 1 52 1.* Its history of Britain* 
is a very brief and generally unmodified risumS of Geoffrey's. In 
the Arthurian period it is especially abridged. It mentions the 
Round Table, and expresses doubts of the possibility of Arthur's 
expedition against " Flolon." 

X. Jehan de Bourdign6's Chroniques d'Anjou et du Maine 

Brittany was not the only province of France to find a native 
historian in the beginning of the sixteenth century; for in 1529 
Jehan de Bourdign^, an Angevin priest, published the Hystorie agre- 
gative des Annalles et cronicques DanioUy etc.^ The author is said to 
have searched carefully for original documents, but naturally the 
first part of his work, which extends fragmentarily from the Deluge 
to Clovis, is almost entirely fabulous. After having spoken of 
Julius Caesar, he says * that, although he has heard of many notable 
% Angevins whose exploits as recounted seem sufficiently probable, 
from then to the time of " Vortegrinus," king of Great Britain and 
"occupateur du pays d'Anjou," he will omit them, for fear of arous- 
ing incredulity. He then begins with Vortigern and recites the 
Arthurian story, giving dates "^ which he has inferred, as he does 
elsewhere, but otherwise for the most part following Bouchart's 
version ; though he sometimes abbreviates (especially when he omits 
all account of Arthur's first invasion of France)® and sometimes 

1 Cf. p. 224, with note 5, above ; p. 242, below. ^ For Jehan Petit. 

2 Cf. p. 184, above. * Fol. 5 b. 

^ Ed. Angers, 1842, with an introduction by le Comte de Quatrebarbes and notes 
by Godard-Faultrier. "^ Cf. p. 159, above. 

6 Chap. 10, p. 45. 8 Cf, p. 137, note i, above. 


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234 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

inserts a bit of material irrelevant to this discussion, or makes an 
unimportant inference of his own. That he is ready to alter the 
narrative to suit his own ideas, appears^ when, improving on 
Bouchart, he represents Childeric as escaping from the slaughter 
of the Saxons, evidently because he identifies him with the king of 
France of whom he speaks later. ^ He omits the story of Vortigern's 
tower, but he mentions it, with a " livre compost de la vie et faicts 
de Merlin le prophbte anglois " and a prophecy of his which is 
evidently Geoffrey's. On the occasion of Arthur's wedding, he 
mentions ^ a tourney at which were present many knights, including 
"le paragon des hardis chevaliers, le trbs preux Lancelot du Lac, 
angevin, filz adoptif de la dame du Lac pres Beaufort en Anjou, 
lequel y fist des proesses merveilleuses." 

But the most original thing in Bourdign^'s version of the story is 
the manner in which he connects it with Anjou and his own history.* 
It has already been stated that he incidentally speaks of Vortigern 
as " occupateur of Anjou." Where Bouchart says that Vortigern gave 
to Hengist possessions near London, Bourdignd asserts that the 
gift was "la ville d'Angiers et le consulat d' Anjou." An adequate 
reason for this alteration it is impossible to find, but the explanation 
is easy. Bourdign^ was anxious to supply the lack of authentic 
history of his country as well and in as interesting a way as pos- 
sible, and he has chosen to interpret the name Angloys^ which 
Bouchart, like the other chroniclers, sometimes applies to Hengist 's 
people, as meaning that they were Angevins. He has taken pains 
to prepare the way for this ; for, where Bouchart ^ makes Hengist 
say to Vortigern " nous sommes Angloys de la terre de Saxonie, qui 
est une des regions de Germanic," Bourdign^ puts it,® "Saxons de 
la region de Germanie." How Vortigern happened to be suzerain 
of Anjou, Bourdignd does not tell us. 

The association of Hengist with Anjou naturally causes Bour- 
digne to look upon him with more favor than the other chroni- 
clers. Thus, in speaking of Hengist's final treachery, he calls 

1 P. 60; cf. p. 231, note 4, Jlbove. 2 Chap. 15, p. 70. ^ Chap. 13. 

* Of course this connection may have been made by some predecessor of 

5 Fol. 40b 2. « P. 47. 


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Spanish Chronicles 235 

it an act of vengeance for the ingratitude of the British nobles,^ 
though he has previously followed Bouchart in saying that it was 
not seemly for the heathen Saxons to get so much power in a 
Christian land. 

Bourdignd had the authority of the orthodox version of the 
Arthurian story for making Kay, whom he calls "Gayus," count 
— he says, ^rj/ count — of Anjou. But he enlarges greatly the 
role of Gayus. He states, doubtless to establish a connection with 
his previous story, that Gajrus was descended from the Dukes of 
Saxony, which race, however, as a true Christian, he held in great 
abhorrence. Bourdignd declares that he had greatly served Uter ; 
ascribes to his arrival the victory in the battle of " Douglas," where 
he vainly tried to induce Colgrinus to stay and fight with him ; 
associates him with Cador in the latter's ambush for "Badulcus" 
{which is made the direct cause of his elevation to the lordship of 
Anjou); says that he was the messenger whom Arthur sent to 
demand aid from Hoel ; and otherwise magnifies his importance. 

After speaking of Gayus's death, Bourdignd informs us that he 
ivas succeeded by his infant son Paul,^ of whose subsequent brief 
history Bourdign^ goes on to speak in a way which shows that he 
is drawing from a single obscure mention by Gregory of Tours ' of 
a certain Count Paul of that period. Bourdign^ can have no other 
reason for connecting this person with Kay than the desire to 
weave together the few bits of material which he was able to find. 
His whole method of composition is strikingly similar to that fol- 
lowed four hundred years earlier by his anonymous countryman 
who compiled the book on the building of the towns in Touraine.* 

XI. Vernacular Spanish Chronicles 

Of Arthurian material in vernacular chronicles of Europe other 
than those of France, I have found nothing except a single entry in 
a brief series of Spanish annals written at Toledo and extending 

1 Cf. p. 261, below. 2 Chap. 15, p. 70. 

' Book ii, chap. 18 (Recueil des Historiens de la France, II, 170). 

* See p. 123, above. 


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236 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

from the birth of Christ to 1219.^ Here, under the year 542, it 
is recorded: 

Lidid el Rey Zitus con Modret su sobrino en Camblenc, Era DLXXX. 

Men^ndez y Pelayo states ^ that there is a passing allusion to the 
Round Table in the Gran Conquista de Ultramar^ translated by 
order of Sancho IV, and that the prophecies of Merlin are mentioned 
in Ayala's Crbnica del Rey Don Pedro, 

1 Published in the Espaha Sagrada of Henrique Florez, Madrid, 1767, XXIII, 

2 Fitzmaurice-Kelly, Hist, de la Lit. Espahola^ Spanish translation by A. Bonilla 
y San Martin, Madrid, [1901,] p. xxvii. 


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Except for vernacular works in France, the Arthurian material 
seems to have received very little recognition from the Continental 
chronicles. As one looks over the universal histories written in Latin 
in Germany, France, and Italy, one is impressed with the fact that, 
for their compilers, the England of the middle ages was a distant 
corner of the world, whose affairs possessed but slight interest for 
them, — inhabitants as th^y were of those countries where the abro- 
gation of the political system of the Roman Empire was accepted so 
slowly. For all the early part of English history, when they notice 
it at all, they often content themselves with a few brief sentences 
from Bede,^ sometimes supplemented a little, however, from the 
stories, Arthurian or non- Arthurian, of Geoffrey. 

The earliest of these writers ^ have already been included with the 
Englishmen in Chapter VI. And this was fitting, not only for con- 
venience of classification, but also because of the universal and un- 
national character of the Latin culture of the period from the twelfth 
to the fourteenth century. Authors like Vincent of Beauvais, for 
instance, were for a long time well known and influential in England. 
But the decisive awakening of the modern spirit in the fifteenth 
century involved revolutions in literature as well as in all other 
phases of activity, so that while encyclopaedic Latin histories 

1 As early as the eighth century, Paulus Diaconus (bk. xiii [xiv]) took from 
Bede the account of the summoning and the arrival of the Saxons {Mon. Germ. 
Hist.y Auct. Antiquissimi^ II, 200; Migne, Patrol.^ XCV, 961). 

2 Ordericus Vitalis ; Sigebert of Gembloux, as interpolated by the monk of 
Ursicampum ; Gervase of Tilbury ; Vincent of Beauvais ; Albericus Trium Fon- 
tium; Martinus Polonus; "Martin us" Minorita; Johannes Historiographus. 



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238 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

continued to be produced as much as ever on the Continent, in Eng- 
land they almost came to an end, and the Continental ones can 
best be dealt with separately. 

As regards the present subject, there is no particular change in 
the character of these chronicles. The following list, then, contains 
a sufficient account of those among them which I have found to 
contain Arthurian material. 

Ca. 1422. Andreas, Presbyter of St. Magnus at Ratisbon, Chronicon 
Generate, This has merely the entry about Arthur which appears in Mar- 
tinus Minorita (Pez, Thesaurus^ 1 721-1729, IV, iii, 362). 

Ca. 1450. Antoninus (Forciglioni), saint and archbishop of Florence, 
Chronica (an immense universal history). He takes most of the Arthurian 
entries from Vincent of Beauvais, whom he cites. See Ft II, tit 10, chaps. 
I £E. (ed. 1543, Chronica Antonini, II, fols. xxxixa, b, xla, xlib). 

Ca. 1463. Flavius Blondus Forliviensis (antiquary, historian, and sec- 
retary to several popes), Historiae ab Inclinatione Romanorum Imperii, 
From Bede (or Gildas) is derived an entry with regard to the first com- 
ing of the Saxons at the invitation of " Vortigerius " (ist ed., Venice, 1483, 
fol. b. V. a). From the same source, though with free treatment, comes 
an entry of considerable length on the appearance of Ambrosius Aurelius, 
who, it is said, was finally killed, after many batdes. The devastations of 
the Saxons compelled the Britons to emigrate. But Geoffrey, the writer 
continues, differs greatly from this, and he proceeds to give a summary 
of Geoffrey from Vortigern's marriage down to the accession of Arthur 
(fol. cii. b). 

1474. W. Rolewinckius, Fascicutus Temporum^ — an awkwardly com- 
posed summary of general history whose success was enormous. " Merlinus 
de incubo genitus claret in britannia spiritu prophecie, cuius instinctu Wor- 
tigonus rex britonum valde dilatauit fidem Christi. Huic successit Vterpan- 
dragon f rater eius qui fuit pater arthuri" (ed. 1474, Coloniae, fol. [35a]). 
There are also three or four lines about Arthur (fol. [35b]). 

Ca. 1474. Magnum Chronicon Betgicum, by an unknown Augustinian 
monk near Nussia (Pistorius, Rerum Germanicarum Scriptores, Ratisbon, 
1726, vol. Ill ; see preface). This takes (pp. 17-18) from Vincent a brief 
summary of Arthur's reign to the battle of Bath, and another on Merlin and 
his prophecy, but as to Merlin's birth says : " Haec f rater Bemhardus pene 
supra fidem." Bernhardus is unknown to me. 

i486. Jacobus Philippus Foresti, Bergomensis (an Italian chronicler), 
Suppiementum Cronicarum. On Merlin (ist ed., Venice, i486, fol. i8ob) 


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Continental Latin Chroniclers 239 

there is an entry similar to that in the Fasciculus Temporum^ but with more 
Galfridian details than occur in the first edition of the Fasciculus, There 
is also one short entry (fol. 183a) on Arthur, his arms, his aid to the church, 
his conquests, and the British expectation of his return. 

Ca, i486. Joannes Nauclerus (Chancellor of the University of Tiibin- 
gen), Memorabilium omnis Aetatis et omnium Gentium Chronici Commen- 
tarii. After a line or two on the Saxon conquest (ist ed., 15 16, II, 63a), 
the author observes (doubtless following Blondus) that Geoffrey writes 
otherwise, and gives a brief summary of Geoffrey's account from this point 
down to Merlin's prophecy. Under the year 478 (fol. 69a) he copies from 
Blondus the passage about Ambrosius, etc. Then he gives from Geoffrey 
an outline of Arthur's reign, but expresses doubts about the chronology, and 
after more from Geoffrey, and after quoting Foresti on Arthur's arms, etc., 
he ends with another expression of doubt. 

Ca. 1500. Johannes Trithemius (Abbot of Spanheim), Compendium^ 
sive Breviarium . . , de Origine Gentis et Regum Francorum (in his Opera 
Historica^ Frankfort, 160 1). In book i (p. 39) occurs a general entry of 
some length about Arthur and his conquests in the North of Europe, with 
an expression of distrust There is also mention of Merlin and Utherpen- 

1506. Raphael Maffei, Volaterranus (Italian cyclopaedist), Commentarii 
Rerum Urbanicarum libri xxxviii^ Rome, 1506. In the section on Geog- 
raphy (book iii, fol. 29) Maffei gives in two and a half pages an oudine of 
the whole of Geoffrey's History, including the Arthurian period. He men- 
tions the Round Table. 

1 52 1. Frater Laziardus, Epitomata a Prim^va Mundi Origine , Paris, 
152 1. The author takes his Arthurian material chiefly from Vincent of 
Beauvais, but shows independent knowledge. At fol. 103b he gives the 
story of ** Vuertigerius' " tower, and a little about the prophecies, Aureliils, 
and Uter. He names as an authority a certain Ricardus. He omits the 
exploits of Arthur, " quia prolix^ sunt et alibi inveniuntur ad plenum." At 
fol. 1 1 8a he has another brief mention of " Vertigerius." 

1534. The Dutch Amand de Zierickzee in his Chronica compendio- 
sissima ab Exordio Mundi usque ad Annum Domini 1534^ published at 
Antwerp in 1534, gives a brief summary of the Arthurian section of Geof- 
frey's Historia, questioning its reliability.^ 

1 See the extract printed by ReiHenberg, Chronique ritnie de Philippe Mouskesj 
II, Ixiii-lxiv. I am not sure that Reiffenberg is right in saying that Amand 
takes this material from Gervase of Tilbury. 


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240 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

1 548. For Paulus Jovius, Descriptio Britanniae^ see p. 262, below. 

Ca, 1 564. Chronicon Monasterii Mellicensis, in Pez, Scriptores Rerunt 
Austriacarum^ vol. I, Leipzig, 1721. Under the year 464 (p. 191) occurs 
the entry about Arthur which appeared in Martinus Minorita. 

? Robertus, canon of S. Marianus Altissidorensis, Chronologia . . . Histo- 
riam Rerum in Or be Gestarum continens . . . ad 1200, Trecis, 1608. Fol. 61 
mentions Ambrosius Merlinus " sub Vorciguo rege." 

For convenience of classification, mention may here be made of 
the late fifteenth-century rendering of Geoffrey into Latin prose by 
the Italian Ponticus Virunnius.^ This is a mere condensation, with 
no significant variations from its original, up to the beginning of 
the Arthurian period. After this there are only a very few lines of 
incoherent jottings, based upon Geoffrey, except for the statement 
that from Bedver's son is descended the Venetian family of " Bed- 
uara," — for which family the book was written.^ 

1 Edited by Commelinus in Rerum Britannicarum Scriptores^ 1587, pp. 93-112 
(see Hardy, I, 57-58, No. 163). 

2 Examination shows that there is no Arthurian material in the following 
chronicles, which on a priori considerations might be expected to contain some- 
thing of the kind : — 

Aeneas Sylvius, Historia Rerum ubique Gestarum y Venice, 1477. 

Albertus Stadensis, Annates, 1256 (Pertz, XVI, 283 ff.). 

Benedictus, monachus S. Andreae, Chronicon (Migne, CXXXIX). 

Chronicon Incerti Auctoris, 1167 (in Pet. Stevart, Insignes Auctoresy 1616, 

P- 717)- 

Hermannus Comer, Chronica Novella, 1435 (in Eccard, Corpus Hist. Medii 
Aevi, II, 431-1344). 

Joannes Enenkl, or Einenkel, Universal- Chronik (in Pez, Scriptores Rerum 
Austriacarum^ II, 537). 

Theod. Engelhusius, Chronicon, 1420 (ed. J. J. Maderus, 167 1 ; also Leibnitz, 

n, 977 ff.). 

Johannes Marignola, Chronica, 1362. 

Martinus Fuldensis, Chronicon, 1378 (Eccard, I, 1641-1732). 
Otto Frisingensis, Chronicon, 11 46 (Argentorati, 151 5). 

Romualdus II, archiepisc. Salemitanus, Chronicon, 11 78 (in Muratori, Rerum 
Italicarum Scriptores, VII, 8 ff.). 

Hartmann Schedel, Chronicon, 1493. 

Sicardus, episcopus Cremonensis, Chronicon, 1213 (Muratori, VII, 530 ff.). 

Siffridus, presbyter Misnensis, Epitome, 1307 (Pistorius, 3d ed., I, 1022 ff.). 


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An altogether new phase in the history of the Arthurian tradition 
appears in the Scottish chronicles, which, in extant forms, began to 
be composed toward the end of the fourteenth century. Heretofore 
we have been concerned almost altogether with versions of the story 
told by those who in fact or in sympathy were countr)mien of the 
heroes whom the tradition celebrates, and who were usually ready 
to exalt their fame. But in the Scots, we come to the traditional 
enemies of the races among which the Arthurian story arose and 
chiefly flourished, — a nation which, like the Saxons, were repre- 
sented as contributing only by their defeats to the glory of Arthur 
and his predecessors, and which, unlike the Saxons, had not found 
opportunity or desire to forget that the defeats were theirs by going 
over to the side of the victors. We might naturally expect, therefore, 
to find the tone of the Scottish accounts different from that of all the 
others, and we must of course expect to find the record of British 
affairs subordinated to the Scottish history; but we could hardly 
have looked for the striking change in the attitude toward Arthur 
which has actually taken place. 

The change is this : Loth and his son Modred have been regularly 
adopted as Scottish heroes; Arthur's illegitimacy^ is emphasized; 
Modred is declared to have been the lawful heir to the British 
throne, so that in the war with Arthur (when that is not omitted) he 
is in the right, at least by implication, and Arthur, instead of being 
a paragon, is sometimes represented as one of the worst of kings.* 

1 Cf. p. 184, above. 

2 It must be noted that the Brut ascribed to Barbour by W5mtown is not known 
to exist. Cf . J. Nichol in Murray's Minor Poems of Sir David Lyndesay^ E.E.T.S., 
Part v., 187 1, p. xiii; Bradshaw, Trans, of Cambridge Antiquarian Soc.y 1866, 



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242 Arthufian Material in Chronicles 

I. Wyntown and Fordun 

It is true that these ideas do not appear at all in the interminable 
work on universal history entitled The Orygynale Cronykil of Scot- 
land^ which was composed in the Scottish dialect about 1420 by 
Andrew of Wyntown, Prior of St. Serf's Inch. Wyntown, though dis- 
trusting such features as Merlin's prophecies,* takes from Geoffrey 
(immediately, as it seems) his outlining allusion to Arthur's conquests 
and last campaign.' He departs from Geoffrey only in mentioning 
the Round Table and in laying emphasis on the " Dowchsperys." 
But the ideas mentioned had already appeared in germ in the Latin 
narrative of the discriminating father of systematic Scottish history, 
John of Fordun, a work written about 1385, and properly to be 
entitled Chronica Gentis Scotorum} 

Of Arthur's reign Fordun says almost nothing, doubtless because 
it was not directly connected with Scottish affairs. But he does say 
distinctly that the succession to the kingdom belonged by right to 
Anna, the sister of Arthur and the wife of Loth, and to her children, 
because of Arthur's illegitimacy ; ^ and he explains that the Britons 
actually chose Arthur for fear of the Saxons. He also notes the 
obvious but thitherto neglected fact that Geoffrey's statements about 
the relationship between Anna and Arthur are not consistent.' He 
explains Loth's connection with Scotland by saying that he was 
descended from Geoffrey's (pre-Arthurian) Fulgentius.^ He takes 
pains to dispute the romance idea, which he records as existing,' 
that Modred was illegitimate. 

reprinted in his Collected Papers ^ 1889, PP- 5^ ff- The Chronica of Mailrosy ed. 
Stevenson, Bannatyne Club, Edinburgh, 1835, aims primarily to continue Bede, 
and begins only with the year 731. 

1 Ed. by David Laing, 3 vols., Edinburgh, 1872-79; for date, see p. xxxiv. 

2 II, 9. 

' II, 11-13. The direct use of Geoffrey seems to be shown by the occasional 
brief outlines of sections of Geoffrey's story in earlier parts of the work. Wyn- 
town refers his readers for a full account of Arthur to the work of Huchown, now 
lost ; and for the stories of Vortygeme, Utere, and Awrelius, to the Brut. ' 

* Ed. W. F. Skene, Edinburgh, 187 1-2 (vol. I, text; vol. II, translation); for 
date, see p. xiv. It is better known as the Scotichronicon^ from the name given 
to its later (much enlarged) form. « Chap. 25 ; cf. p. 233, above. 

* Bk. iii, chap. 24, p. 109. "^ Cf. p. 141, above. 


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John Major 243 

Fordun*s account of the rest of the Arthurian period shows, like 
the earlier part of his work, that the fabulous stories which he took,^ 
doubtless from current traditions, as the genuine history of Scotland, 
had been largely built up, for the period extending from the time of 
Caesar to that of Arthur, on the basis of those parts of Geoffrey's 
narrative which could be connected wit-h Scotland, or at least that 
those sections of Geoffrey had been intimately combined with Scottish 
stories, with perhaps an occasional hint from Bede. What For dun 
relates (always incidentally to the main thread of his narrative) of 
the British kings from Vortigern to Uther, is simply an often-inter- 
rupted story of wars and alliances entered into between them and 
the Scots. Practically, he represents that during the whole epoch 
the Britons and Scots fought in union against the Saxons and Picts. 
According to him, both Vortimer and Aurelius concluded special 
treaties with the Scottish sovereigns,^ and this was finally true of 
Uther also, though at first he made war on the Scots and tried to 
take Westmeria from them. Evidently this is all based ultimately 
on Geoffrey, — who says nothing (at least explicitly) of any conflict 
carried on by Vortimer or Aurelius against the Scots, while he does 
say that Uther made an expedition against Alclud,' — with a sugges- 
tion, probably, from Bedels statement of a direct alliance between 
the Saxons and the Picts.* 

II. John Major 

The Latin History of Great Britain by John Major, or Mair,* differs 
from the work of Fordun in its treatment of the Arthurian period as 
a result partly of its combination of much material taken direct 
from Geoffrey's story with that of the Scottish version represented 
by Fordun, partly of differences of temperament in the two authors 
and of aim in their books, and partly of changes in judgment which 
the passage of a century and a half had brought about in the Scottish 
scholastic mind. As to form, it should be added also that, instead 

1 While also making as much use as possible of Bede. 

2 Pp. 99, 102, 103. 8 viii, 19, I ff. * See p. 24, note 2, above. 

5 Published in 152 1. It is this first edition to which references are here made. 
On Major, see Diet. Nat. Biog., XXXV, 386; Morley, English Writers, VII, 264. 


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244 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

of combining British with Scottish affairs in one continuous narrative, 
Major separates them, giving for every period, first a section about 
the southern part of the island, then one on the Scots. 

It is Geoffrey whom Major takes as his main authority, and he 
gives in brief outline practically the whole of Geoffrey's story, with 
occasional slight differences suggested by sources which cannot be 
definitely determined : as, for instance, in the details about Ronouen ; ^ 
in saying that Arthur conquered the Germans as well as the Gauls,^ 
and, like the Brut^ that Vortiger's restoration to the throne was made 
conditional on his not recalling Hengist.' The influence of the 
Fordun version is evident in the mention of alliances of the British 
kings with the Scots, and of Arthur's illegitimacy and Modred's right 
to the throne.* Other Scottish elements not adopted by Fordun 
appear in the statement that the alliance included the Christian 
Picts; that Loth was also father of Thametes, who was mother of 
St. Kentigern ; and that Arthur's royal seat was at Edinburgh ; and 
in the account^ of how Arthur returned the body of -the slain 
Anguischel with honor to his country (which, however, is summarily 
stated by Geoffrey). The mention ^ of Arthur's holding the Round 
Table in Cornwall reminds one of the southern elements of the story, 
and the reference to Arthur's inclusion among the Nine Worthies is 
a decidedly popular touch.* But ideas identical or related with some 
which we have already encountered are : — the excuse which Hengist 
gives to Vortiger for coming back ; "^ the statements that after the 
massacre of the British chiefs the Saxons took possession of all the 
kingdom except Wales, that Hengist bade that it be thenceforth 
called by his name, and that he divided it into seven kingdoms, and 
destroyed all the churches and other signs of Christianity. 

The personal element in Major's work consists in his comments 
on the more fabulous portions of Geoffrey's narrative. This learned 
scholar and divine does not reject the magic incidents, but tries 
instead to explain them. He does, indeed, disbelieve the story of 
the moving of the great stones® and Merlin's prophecy;^ but he sug- 
gests two supernatural explanations for the birth of Merlin, besides 

1 Fol. 24. 4 Fol. 28b. 7 Fol. 24b. 

2 Fol. 29a. s Fol. 29b. 8 Fol. 27a. 

8 Fol. 24b; cf. p. 218, above. « Cf. p. 253, below. ^ Fols. 27a and 28a. 


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Hector Boece 245 

the rationalizing one that his mother's account was false; and his 
criticism of Uther's amour takes the moralistic turn of condemning 
Merlin for his part therein.^ Major expresses the opinion ^ that the 
exploits of Arthur, Gawain, and others are mere figments, if not per- 
formed by demoniacal art. But in the case of so great a king, he says, 
" I cannot assent to the belief of Bergomensis ' that he was himself 
a magus.** 

III. Hector Boece and his Translators 

A few years after Major's history, appeared one naturally to be 
grouped with Fordun's, to which it bears in character and effect* 
something the same relation which the work of Geoffrey of Monmouth 
bears to that of Nennius. This is the Scotorum Hisioria of the learned 
Hector Boece, first Principal of the University of Aberdeen, published 
in 1527. To discuss fully its extended treatment of the Arthurian 
material would demand much more space than the importance of 
the result would warrant. The main fact to be noted is that it is 
Boece who carries to an extreme the peculiar tendencies suggested 
by Fordun. 

Boece differs from Fordun in that he makes no direct use of 
Geoffrey's History^ but draws, evidently, from some later and expanded 
form of the story. But in the Arthurian period he approaches more 
closely than elsewhere to Geoffrey, doubtless because the Galfridian 
tradition was fuller at this point than any tales which he could find 
about his own country. In dwelling, like Fordun, on the alliances 
contracted by Aurelius and his successors with the Scottish kings, 
he lays emphasis on the utility of the assistance rendered to the 
former by the latter. He differs from Fordun's version, and to a 
certain extent agrees with Major's, in that during the earlier years 
he represents the Picts as parties to the alliance, not as opposing it. 
He is thoroughly patriotic, in mediaeval fashion, and on almost all 
possible occasions makes it appear that it is the Scots who distinguish 
themselves and the Britons who are cowardly and treacherous. 

1 Fol. 28a; cf. p. 184, above. 2 FoI. 30a. 

' I have not found this idea in Foresti's work, which Major here cites by the 
proper title. 

* I do not know that Boece made any use of Fordun. 


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246 Arthurian Material in Clironieles 

Boece's divergence from all previous recorded versions is scarcely- 
less marked in details than in general spirit, and a rapid enumeration 
of some of the more striking points of divergence from GeoflErey 
seems necessary. 

Vortimer is first introduced as a colleague of Hengist in an expedi- 
tion against the Scots. The first settlement of the Saxons is said to 
have been in tlie North, ^ and Vortigem does not give them Kent 
until he begins to fear an attack from Aurelius. Vodinus, bishop of 
London,^ reproves Vortigem for his marriage with Roxiena, and is 
therefore seized and put to death by Hengist. Hengist's excuses 
for his return after the death of Vortimer are that he wishes to help 
to avenge the latter's death, that he ought to look after Roxiena's 
son, and (as in Major) that he and his men want their lawful posses- 
sions in Kent. When Vortigern has fallen into the hands of the 
Saxons, he and all the Britons are compelled to leave England and 
go to Wales, on pain of death ; and the same is later said of Uther 
when he -has been conquered. The incidents in Aurelius's Saxon 
and Scottish wars, while most of them are included, are utterly dis- 
arranged and recolored, and the same is true of those in the wars of 
Uther and of Arthur. Uther is sick at the beginning of his reign ; 
he makes Nathaliodus, a man without birth or fame, his commander, 
and this leads to the defection of Gothlois of Cornwall and the ces- 
sion of half of the island to the Saxons. Another element from the 
original Saxon Chronicle version is the introduction of Cerdic and 
Cynric in their proper persons. Bedels Hallelujah Victory is asso- 
ciated with Uther.^ 

We come now to those details which touch the heart of the matter. 
Most significant of all is the .treatment of Arthur's reputation. His 
revels in York are described in a most hostile spirit, and the opinion 
is cited that he was the first to celebrate Christmas with disgraceful 
orgies. Nothing whatever is said of any conquests of his outside 
the island. One of the main motives of Boece's narrative is the idea 
which appears so fully in the prose romances, — the hostility of Loth 

1 Cf. p. 25, above. 

2 Cf. p. 266, below. 

8 Cf. pp. 257, 261, 270, below. 


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Hector Boece 247 

to the Britons ; but this is represented by Boece as being due to the 
faithlessness of the latter. Loth is portrayed as king of the Picts. 
His wife is called elder sister of Aurelius, not (as in Fordun and 
Major, and in the orthodox version generally) the [younger] sister 
of Arthur.^ Uther^s refusal to acknowledge Modred as rightful heir 
to the throne leads to wars between the Picts and the Britons, — 
wars which give way to an alliance when Arthur recognizes Modred 
as his future successor. It is because Arthur's barons persuade him 
to annul this agreement that Modred renews hostilities, and the (single) 
battle between the two kings, in which both are killed, is fought on the 
Humber. The Scottish king, Eugenius, an ally of Modred, remains 
master of the field and takes prisoner Queen Guanora (here first men- 
tioned in Boece), whom the Picts hold in lifelong captivity. A local 
tradition about her tomb is mentioned. 

Boece's work met with an enthusiastic reception, partly, no doubt, 
because it was the first Scottish history to be put into print. King 
James soon ordered two translations into Scottish to be made, — one 
in prose, by John Bellenden, which appeared in 1536,^ the other by 
William Stewart,' in metre. Bellenden treated his original so freely 
that the result is almost an independent work ; but with regard to the 
Arthurian period it is enough to note his tendency to supply reasons 
for the actions of his characters, to soften the records of cruelty, 
by whomever committed, and occasionally, — as in the account of 
Arthur's last battle,* — to abbreviate and condense. 

Stewart's version, likewise, differs somewhat in details from its 
original, in the fact of condensation and otherwise, but demands no 
extended discussion. The author's final comment about Arthur,^ 
however, is more extreme in tone than any single passage in Boece. 
He classes the fables which exalt Arthur's fame more than he himself 

1 Cf. p. 224, above. 

2 A new edition, Edinburgh, 1821, by Thomas Maitland, The History and 
Chronicles of Scotland, An English translation by Harrison was included in 
Holinshed's Chronicles (see p. 267, below). 

8 The Bulk of the Croniclis of Scotland, ed. W. B. TumbuU, Rolls Series, 3 
vols., 1558. 

* Cf. p. 137, note I, above. 
5 II, 261-262. 


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248 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

has done with those of ** Fyn-Mak-coull " and " Robene Hude," and 
concludes : * 

Considdering all his infelicitie, 
Haif e to richt and lat affectioun be, 
I hald him for the maist vnhappie king 
0£E all the Britis that did in Britane ring. 
For-quhy he wes so faithles and wntrew 
To king Modred, befoir as I 30W schew, 
And maneswome als, the hand of God thairfore, 
As ressone wald, it tuechit him full soir. 
Britis bifore quhilk wes of sic renoun, 
Sensyne tha tynt baith thair kinrik and crOun ; 
As plesis God, till all men weill is kend, 
Falsheid come neuir till ane better end. 

IV. Other Versions (including Leslie and Buchanan) 

The short chronicle of Scotland written in Scottish prose of about 
1500 which appears in the Royal MS. of Wyntown ^ contains a single 
Arthurian entry,' stating that Arthur was supported against the 
Saxons by King Conrane of Scotland, whose nephew aided Modred, 
King of the Picts, against Arthur in the battle where Arthur was 
slain with all his nobility. This information is related to the asser- 
tions of Boece, and its importance is in about direct ratio to its 
length. But there are still one or two more significant histories of 
Scotland to be mentioned. 

In 1578, to support the cause of Queen Mary and the Catholic 
religion, John Leslie, Bishop of Ross, published at Rome his Latin 
history De Origine^ Moribus^ et Rebus Gestis Scotorum,^ which was 
somewhat inaccurately translated into Scottish in 1596 by Father 
James Dalrymple, who describes himself as a monk in the Scottish 
cloister at Regensburg.^ Leslie merely follows Boece until after the 

1 Vv. 27,977-27,988. 

2 Printed in Laing's edition of Wyntown, III, 321-338. 

' P. 323. * Reprinted in 1675. 

6 The Historie of Scotland, etc., ed. by Father E. G. Cody, Edinburgh, 1888-95, 
2 vols. 


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Leslie and Btichanan 249 

«nd of the Arthurian period, but he abbreviates greatly. He does 
not even mention Vortimer, and as regards Arthur he does little 
more than repeat Boece's expressions of incredulity at the stories 
about him. But it is interesting to notice that he expresses the 
opinion that Arthur was the builder of a stone house formerly 
existing not far from the river Carron,^ which Boece, while mention- 
ing a vulgar ascription of it to Caesar, was inclined to assign to 
Vespasian. He adds also a popular idea or two about Arthur,* 
saying that the number of his knights was twenty-four, and that he 
himself has seen what, "unless our ancestors have erred," is the 
veritable Round Table at Winchester (where we of the twentieth 
-century may see it too if we choose). 

Of the important and very popular Rerum Scoticarum Historia of 
-George Buchanan, published in 1582, it is enough to say, at this 
stage of the discussion, that its account of the Arthurian period chiefly 
follows Boece, but with great condensation and some omissions and 
other changes of details due to the author's independence of judg- 
ment in comparing authorities and to his attempt to reason for 
himself as to the causes of actions. 

1 Ed 1578, p. 95. « P. 146. 


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With the passing away of the interest in the rude rh3rmes of the 
early fourteenth-century chroniclers, English writers seem to have 
lost for a time all ambition to record the history of their country 
in their own language. Doubtless the reading public of the period 
following was satisfied for the most part with the translation of the 
Brut, Nevertheless, in the first half of the fifteenth century we 
again encounter English compilations, and at the end of that century 
begins a series of English historians whose works (thanks, in great 
measure, to the printing press) did far more to popularize English 
history among the people at large than those of all their predecessors 
put together. 

I. John Capgrave 

Decidedly significant from the historian^s point of view is the 
chronicle of John Capgrave, the learned head of the Augustinians in 
England, who, using the annalistic form, made an attempt, sometime 
in the first half of the fifteenth century, to compose in English prose 
a really critical history of the island.^ But among his two or three 
notices of the Galfridian story he includes for the Arthurian period 
only a single summary sentence about Arthur.^ Later, under the 
proper dates, he mentions the discovery of Arthur^s body and 
Edward's letter to the Pope.' 

1 The Chronicle of Englandy edited by Rev. F. C. Hingeston, Rolls Series, 1858. 

2 P. 87, ann. 5651-453. « Pp. 140, 172. 



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John Hardyng 251 

II. John Hardyng^s Chronicle; and an Anonymous 
Chronicle in Metre 

The chronicle of England which was composed in rough seven-line 
stanzas, probably about the year 1436, by the sturdy Northern squire 
John Hardyng,^ shows, more than any other, direct influence from the 

The first part of this work consists in a condensed and interpo- 
lated version of Geoffrey's story. Most of Geoffrey's incidents, with 
the exception of several of the least credible ones, are reproduced 
or mentioned ; ^ but the divergences in details, in some of which 
Hardyng agrees with the Brut^ show that the source is not primarily 
Geoffrey's narrative. As points of difference from Geoffrey, the 
following may be especially mentioned : — 

The assassination of Constantine is ascribed to Vortiger's instigation.^ 
The whole account of the career of Constaunce * is confused, disagrees with 
Geoffrey in particulars (as in saying that Constaunce was a fool ^), and is 
clumsily put together from two different versions, one of which represents 
Constaunce as being deposed. Vortiger is made to marry Rowan lawfully. 
Dates are given.^ liter's first victory over Occa and Oysa is put "beside 
Dane hill." Arthur is said to be especially tall.^ Uter's arms,® called those 
of St. George, and Arthur's banners® are described. Cador is called 
Arthur's brother " of his mother's syde." ^^ Loth is said to live at Dunbar,^^ 
— a Scottish touch. Arthur is said to have given Westsex to Cordryk after 
the battle of Bath ; ^^ Arthur is said to have made Gawayne lord of Low- 
thyan ; i^ and is made to conquer almost all Western Europe.^* Arthur's cam- 
paign between the fight at Mont St. Michel and the great battle with Lucius 

1 Edited by Sir Henry Ellis, 4to, Lend., 18 12. See Did. Nat. Biog.^ and 
Morley, Eng. Writers^ VI, 156. 

2 The chief exceptions in the Arthurian portion are : the story of Eldol's 
exploit (p. 113) ; the account of Vortigem's tower and Merlin's prophecy (p. 114), 
to which Hardyng alludes, but with a doubt of its authenticity (cf. p. 136, above) ; 
the story of the bringing of Stonehenge from Ireland (p. 1 16), as to which Hardyng 
merely says that it was erected at Merlin's advice. 

8 Cf. pp. 40, 184, above. ^ p, 121. n p. 124. 

* Pp. 106-108. 8 p. 117. 12 Cf. p. 186, above. 

* Cf. p. 257, below. • P. 122. 18 p. 126; cf. p. 105, above. 
® Cf. p. 159 and note 12, above. 1° Cf. p. 140, above, i"* Cf. p. 223, above. 


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252 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

is omitted ; ^ the latter is made to take place in " Romany," after Arthur 
has actually crossed the Alps and passed through Tuscany ; ^ and the 
author distinctly states that Arthur himself killed Lucius.^ Arthur gets 
to Rome and is crowned Emperor in the Capitol. Arthur in person kills 
Modred and receives his death wound from him.^ Calibum is said to have 
been of such virtue that it killed whomever it struck/ It is with a wise 
maiden that Gwaynour flees to Carlion.' Constantine is definitely repre- 
sented as Arthur's nephew/ There is a categ(^cal statement of Arthur's 
death and burial. In the final eulogy of Arthur, Gwaynour, whose beauty 
has previously been greatly lauded,® is especially blamed,* and with her 
" fals Fallas " or Deceit. 

But the most significant changes consist in the insertion (briefly^ 
in two sections) of practically the whole outline of those facts of the 
Grail legend ^^ which are most closely connected with Joseph of 
Arimathea and Arthur^s knights." In connection with this are given 
the natnes of many of the knights of the Arthurian romances,^* and^ 
in various places, there is much detail about the Round Table^ 
Hardyng says^' that it was to comfort Ygeme that Uter^* set the 
Table at Wynchester, which Joseph of Arimathea made for the 
brethren of the St. .Graal only; that Loth was the first knight of 
the Table " (another Scottish touch) ; that, upon his marriage with 
Gwaynore, Arthur filled up the depleted ranks of the knights, upoa 
which the laws of the order are given at length ; " that Arthur's feast 
lasted forty days ; ^"^ that in the battle at Winchester were killed all 
the knights of the Table except Launcelot " (for at Winchester, says 
Hardyng, the Round Table began and ended, and there it hangeth 
yet) ; that when Arthur had been buried, Launcelot and others came 

1 Cf. p. 136, above. ^ Cf. p. 230, above. 

2 Cf. p. 187, above. 8 p. 124. 

• P. 144; cf. p. 201, and note 17, above. ® P. 149; cf. p. 163, above. 

• P. 146; cf. p. 120, above. 10 Cf. above, p. 189, and note 2. 
6 P. 146; cf. p. 162, above. u Pp. 83, 131-136. 

• Cf. p. 219, above. 12 p. ^yj. i^ p. ,20. 

1* As far as is known, and as is said by Paris in his introduction to the Hutk 
Merlin^ Borron was the first to connect Uther with the Table. See chap. 3 of 
the ordinary Merlin^ ed. Sommer. 

"P. 120. "P. 128. 

i« Pp. 124-125; see above, p. 187. ^^ P. 146. 


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Marquis of Bath 's Matiuscript 253 

to his tomb. And the names are given of more than a score of towns 
where Arthur sometimes held the Table.^ 

Together with Hardyng^s Chronicle may be mentioned a fragmen- 
tary one of probably about the same period, also written in seven- 
line stanzas, which in its present form extends only from Gurgunt 
to Stephen.^ The style is that of the old mystery plays ; each king 
speaks in the first person. Arthur occupies twelve stanzas, begin- 
ning, " The first worthy I am of the faith cristian." ' Most of the 
exploits attributed to him by Geoffrey are briefly outlined, and many 
of the late popular details, some of them drawn from Hardyng, are 

III. The Metrical Version of the Story of Arthur's Reign 
IN the Marquis of Bathes Manuscript 

This manuscript is written for the most part in Latin and is unpub- 
lished, but the story of Arthur's reign is recounted in vigorous short- 
lined English verse.* It is based chiefly, with condensation, on the 
** frensch boke," that is, the Brut There are some poetical touches, 
such as the observation (enlarging a little on the Brui) that the 
head of the giant whom Arthur killed was more horrible and great 
than that of any horse,* and the vivid description of the battle against 
Lucius.® The poef s religious feeling takes the form of occasional 
exhortations to his readers (or hearers) to pause and say a pater- 
noster. Frollo is said to fight with an axe,^ and the mortal wound 
which Arthur gives him is from the shoulder down, not in the head. 
Arthur's tomb at Glastyngbury is mentioned. For his sword, the 
name "brounsteelle," which appears also in romances, is given.® The 
Round Table is mentioned, with the cause of its institution. 

1 P. 126. 

2 In the sixteenth-century MS. Bodl. Douce, 341 (see Hardy, II, 197, No. 265). 

* Cf . p. 244, above. 

* Ed. Fumivall, Arthur; a Short Sketch, etc., E.E.T.S., 1864. 

* Vv. 393-394. « Vv. 457 ff . 7 V. 85. 

8 In the English translation of the Brut it is written, by corruption, Tabourne. 


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2 54 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

IV. The Short English Chronicle of MS. Lambeth 306 ^ 

The two-page version of the Arthurian period here givea is 
comparable to nothing but that of the short anonymous Middle 
English metrical chronicle. " Urtager " is called Earl of " Esex. '* 
The length of Constaunce's reign is given as three years.^ No men- 
tion is made of any treachery on Urtager 's part, and it is said that 
after he became king, he and Coslyn, the Bishop of London, sent 
Aurylambros and liter into Litell Brettayne. Engest is represented 
as having conquered all the land except Wales and as dividing it 
into eight kingdoms. " Ingrene " was of the lineage of ** Cornebyus 
of Troye," — evidently an inference from the fact of her residence in 
Cornwall, — and it was from her name that Uter took that of Eng- 
land.' There is no allusion to Modred, and it appears that Arthur 
ended his life in prosperity.* " Where he is beryed the story make 

V. John Ross and Nicholaus Cantaloupus 

A belated Latin work, which certainly does not deserve to be 
included among the serious Latin chronicles, is the Historia Regum 
Angliae of John Ross of Warwick, written about 1485.^ Its first 
part is based directly on Geoffrey's narrative, or more likely on 
incomplete excerpts therefrom ; but nothing could be more discur- 
sive or fuller of interpolations of all sorts, great and small ; and 
Ross is interested more in the stories of the foundation of his own 
city and in Greek philosophers than in the history of Britain. His 
fragmentary notices of the Arthurian period are vague and inaccu- 
rate. His laudation of Arthur,^ who, he says, freed Britain from 
the Romans, is unqualified, at the opposite extreme from his brief 
characterization of Vortigern.® He illustrates strikingly the pop- 
ular tendency to connect heroes of the story with definite places 

1 Ed. James Gairdner, Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles^ Camden Soc, 1880, 
pp. 9-1 1. s Contrast p. 199, above. 

2 Cf. p. 159, above, with note 12. ^ Ed. Heame, Oxford, 1716, 1745. 
8 Contrast p. 218, above. ^ p. ^g. 

♦ Cf. p. 199, above. '* P. 56. Cf. p. 40, above. 


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Robert Fabyan 255 

in the island. He states that Welsh records say that Constantine 
rebuilt Caerleon,* and asserts that Uter founded "castrum Pen- 
dragon " in the North.^ He includes a Glastonbury fabrication 
which had been noticed by William of Malmesbury, to the effect 
that Arthur had given to that abbey the territory of Bremmerch.' 

In this connection may be noticed the tradition, recorded earlier 
in the century by Nicholaus Cantaloupus, in his De Antiquiiate et 
Ofigine Universitatis Cantabrigiae, that Vortumerus defended the 
scholars of Cambridge from the Saxons, — a statement accom- 
panied by a transcript of the charter said to have been given to 
the university by Arthur.* 

VI. Robert Fabyan 

Coincident, roughly speaking, with the beginning of the sixteenth 
century, and a direct result of the new national consciousness and 
of the whole set of influences which the Renaissance exerted in 
England, is the appearance of that last and most important class 
of English chronicles to which reference has already bqen made, — 
those prose works, usually of considerable extent, whose authors, 
setting out, almost all of them, in an essentially modern, though not 
fully developed, spirit of judicial criticism, such as had character- 
ized some of the Latinists like Higden, attempted to get together 
what seemed to be the credible facts, — in the later portion, from 
their own knowledge ; in the earlier, from all the best previous 

In one respect, however, the passage of time since Higden^s day 
had made the task of these later historians more difficult, as regards 
the period here considered. There was no methodical criticism — 
and indeed no opportunity for it — to demonstrate that the now 
manifold series of chronicles which dealt with the Arthurian tradi- 
tion in its post-Galfridian form really drew ultimately from a single 
source. Consequently most of these writers, unlike Higden, treated 

1 P. 53- ^ P- 58. 

8 P. 65. Cf. pp. 98-99, above. William's form of the name is Brentimaris. 

* Edited in Heame's Thomae Sprotti Chronica^ I7i9> PP« 267-269. 


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256 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Geoffrey's book not as practically the sole authority for this current 
form of the tradition, but as only one (although the chief) among 
many or several authorities. But this fact may be over-emphasized ; 
for as a rule these chroniclers tend, even if not always on the best 
grounds, to look with some distrust on the incidents which are not 
mentioned by Nennius or one of the other pre-Galfridian historians. 

The first work of this class, written about 1493, though not pub- 
lished until 15 16, was the New Chronicles of England and France^ 
by Robert Fabyan, an opulent draper and very prominent citizen 
of London.^ 

Fabyan does not entertain a high opinion of Geoffrey's trustwor- 
thiness. He more than once speaks of him' as among the unau- 
thentic historians whose testimony cannot be accepted without cor- 
roboration, and he shows no particular respect for his statements in 
the frequent discussions which he introduces as to the respective 
weight of conflicting evidence. Nevertheless, up to the end of the 
reign of Vortigern, he includes, sometimes with changes in details 
due to his collateral employment of other versions, most of the essen- 
tial substance of Geoffrey's work. From the death of Vortigern 
the case becomes very different. As possible sources for Fabyan 's 
divergences from Geoffrey in the Arthurian period, aside from 
indeterminable ideas, we need mention, from among the large num- 
ber of authorities to which he constantly refers, only Bede, William 
of Malmesbury, Higden,* " the English Chronicle " (doubtless the 
translation of the Brut\ " Guydo de Columpna " * (by whose name, 
Fabyan, following a long persistent error, probably means to indi- 
cate a form of the Mer des Histoires), and "an old chronicle of 

1 Ed. Sir Henry Ellis, London, 181 1 ; see Morley, English Writers ^ VII, 267. 
The French material is given in occasional distinct sections. 

2 It ought to be remarked, by way of caution, that the following brief accounts 
of Fabyan and some of his successors, as well as those above given of some of his 
predecessors, are necessarily in a sense inadequate, even as regards the limited 
aspect of their work here under consideration; because, with their somewhat 
prolix style, these writers sometimes elaborate details in a manner which is often 
quaint and interesting, but which must here pass without notice. 

8 For example, p. 75. * In Trevisa's translation, according to Ellis. 

6 Cited, p. 18. 


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Robert Fabyan 257 

unknown author," which may be assumed to have been related to 
the Brut 

Up to the death of Vortiger, the following points deserve men- 
tion. Fabyan inserts ^ the Bede version of the prosperity of the 
Britons in the early part of Vortigern's reign, of the consequent 
sin of the land, and of the summoning of the Saxons. Like Boece, 
he connects Bede's Hallelujah Victory with Vortimer.* He gives 
as alternative to the other* an expanded version of William of 
Malmesbury's story of the Stonehenge massacre ; and in greatly 
abbreviating the narrative of Hengist's earlier machinations * he evi- 
dently draws partly from the same source. He presents in more 
detail an idea included by Hardyng, saying that Constant was put 
into a monastery because of his stupidity,*^ though others assert (he 
remarks) that it was of his own choice, from pure devotion. He 
adds that, according to most writers. Constant reigned five years ; • 
that, on the usurpation of Vortiger, many Britons went to Armorica 
to the help of Aurelius and Uther ; • that, after the Saxons had 
grown strong, Vortiger had to side with them, because the Britons 
forsook him ; '^ and that in his last extremity he victualled his castle 
well, knowing that he had not enough strength of knights to trust to.* 
The inconsistency of Fabyan's sources leads him to ascribe to 
Vortimer other battles besides the four. 

The most important changes are due to Fabyan's critical attempt 
to make the narrative plausible. He merely refers to the story of 
Vortigem's tower and Merlin,* and later he omits all suggestion of 
magic in mentioning the transportation of the great Stones,® while 
he alludes to the story that Uther won his lady by Merlin's enchant- 
ment, only to say that it " is nat comely to any Cristen Relygyon to 
gyue to any suche f antastycall illusions any mynde or credence." ^° He 
modifies Vortimer's success, saying that he took from the Saxons 
most of their territory, and then often grieved them with such navy 
as he had. From this he passes on, alleging as his source "the olde 
cronycle," to an attempt at explaining Vortiger's restoration to the 

^ P. 62 ; cf. p. 40, above. 

8 P. 68. 

• P. 69 ; but cf. p. 75. 10 P. 75. 





2 p. 













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258 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

throne. During Vortimer's reign, he says, Vortiger had been kept 
in Chester under " tutors," but he demeaned himself so well that he 
won the favor of the Britons.^ 

Beginning with Aurelius, Fabyan very largely rejects the Galfridian 
story in favor of that of the Saxon sources. He gives the outline of 
most of Geoffrey's account of Aurelius and Uther, but sometimes 
with entire confusion of details.^ Just as he had mentioned Hen- 
gist's division of the land into three parts (he supposes that the Saxon 
conquest of the whole country was achieved, temporarily, at a single 
stroke), he insists that the Saxons were never thoroughly crushed 
nor driven away,® and that Hengist died in his bed after ruling" 
twenty-four years,* in spite of the British books. 

Coming to Arthur,^ Fabyan expresses his regret that he cannot 
speak at length on credible authority of the hero's great exploits, half 
apologizing to the Welshmen for his brevity of treatment.^ So he 
gives only a summary, mostly from Higden, of Arthur's early wars, 
alluding to the statement of some authors that the Saxons were trib- 
utary to Arthur for the lands which they succeeded in holding.' 
He goes on to remark that Arthur long fought against them, espe- 
cially against Cerdic.® He then mentions Arthur's expedition against 
the Romans, refusing to accept it. He gives without question the 
story of Modred's union with Cerdic, and a brief outline of the usual 
(Galfridian) narrative of Arthur's campaign against him; but he local- 
izes the last battle at Glastonbury, and insists on Arthur's death and 
his burial in "the vale of Aualon, besyde Glastynbury."* His inclu- 
sion of the mention of Gawyn's death may be taken as indirect testi- 
mony to the vogue of the Gawain stories. ^^ 

Fabyan's attitude is so relentlessly that of the searcher for truth that 
it is pleasant to mention, in leaving him, the single instance of poetic 
feeling that he evinces in all this first part of his work. Just before 
stating that it was at the instigation of the devil that Vortiger asked for 
Ronowen from his father, he observes, in the very manner of Wavrin, 
that the king was wounded with the dart of the blind god Cupid.^^ 

1 Pp. 65-66. 6 p. 79. 9 cf. p. 189 ff., above. 

2 Pp. 68-70, 74-75- * Pp- 79, 81. 10 Cf. p. 105, above. 

8 Pp. 68, 69, 79. "7 Cf. p. 186, above. " P. 61 ; cf. p. 228, abovcv 

* P. 69. Cf. p. 159, above. « p. go. 


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Polydore Virgil 259 

VII. John Rastell 

The seriousness and real merit of Fabyan's chronicle did not pass 
without recognition, and it became a standard model for almost all 
those of the following century. Indeed, though the succeeding his- 
torians adopted Fabyan's method of careful independent investigation 
of sources, yet, for the early period of the history, several of them based 
their works directly upon his. Of these more immediate followers, 
the earliest is John Rastell, who in 1529 published The Pastime 0/ 
People^ or The Chronicles of Divers Realms^ and especially England?- 

Rasteirs adherence to Fabyan's version of the Arthurian story is 
very close, but in some ^places he is a little less critical. For if he 
omits (very likely by accident) the story of Vortiger's tower, he men- 
tions the statement that Hengist died in his bed only as an alterna- 
tive account after saying that he was killed in battle against Aijrelius. 
Fabyan did just the reverse of this. Rastell represents that it was 
after Arthur heard of Cerdic's death that he returned to oppose 
Modred, — as if Arthur had been afraid to do so earlier. He also 
gives considerable discussion to the print of what was supposed to 
have been Arthur's seal (which had been previously mentioned in 
the chronicles), then kept at St. Edward's shrine in Westminster, 
about the border of which, he says, was written, Arthurus patricius 
Brittanie Gallic et Dade imperator. As to the credibility of the whole 
account of Arthur's exploits, after observing that Geoffrey's " long 
story " does not agree with other writers, so that some think he com- 
posed it "for affeccion," he expresses himself thus: — "But yet, all 
this not withstandyng, I wyl nother denye the seyd story of Arthur, 
nor exort no man presysly to affyrme it; but to let euery man be at 
his lyberte to beleue ther in what he lyste." ^ 

VIII. Polydore Virgil 

However sincere may have been the efforts of Fabyan to arrive at 
historical truth, he labored under one disadvantage, which his con- 
temporary compatriots certainly would not have admitted as such, 

1 Ed. Dibdin, 181 1, in the same large quarto series with Hardyng and Fabyan. 

2 P. 107. 


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26o Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

namely, that of being an Englishman. To attain an attitude of still 
more deliberate skepticism was reserved for a scholar of Italian birth, 
the well-known Polydore Virgil. Polydore's foreign origin is the cause 
of another fact which differentiates his work still more, externally, 
from the other great English chronicles of the century, — the fact 
that it is written in Latin. 

Polydore Virgil held, for most of his life, various ecclesiastical and 
other offices in England under the fickle favor of Henry VIII. It 
was at the suggestion of that monarch that he prepared his Anglicae 
Historiae Libri XXVI^ which occupied him for many years, and 
appeared in 1534.^ 

The most significant thing about Polydore's work, for the present 
discussion, is his general attitude toward the Arthurian story and 
the whole Galfridian narrative. This is often misrepresented. The 
vigorous defence of Geoffrey which was undertaken by Leland,^ 
Price,' Stow,* Howes,* and others,* in the first century following the 
appearance of Polydore's history, was originally called forth by him, 
and was largely directed against him in a spirit of spiteful national 
prejudice and in neglect of the fact that he was by no means the 
first to deny Geoffrey's authority. As a matter of fact, Polydore 
not only merely followed the lead of Fabyan and his successors in 
this regard, but he does not flatly reject Geoffrey's narrative, though, 
to be sure, this seems to be chiefly from unwillingness to speak out 
too boldly. He does not attack Geoffrey by name, but quotes, with 
disguised approval, part of William of Newburgh's arraignment of 
him,'' taking care to say that he does not endorse William's opinion 
but merely repeats what has been said before. He even thinks it 
wise to refer to Merlin, at the proper place,® though naming him only 
as a figure of the belief of the " vulgus." While he states plairfly 

1 At Basle. The edition to which references are here made was published in 
the same city in 1 570. 

2 Assertio Inclytissimi Arturii, I544» and Codrus^ sive Laus Arthuri (see p. 50, 
note I, above). 

' Hi$toriae Brytannicae Defensio^ ^573' 

* A Brief e Proofe of Brute ^ in his Annates ^ ed. 1631, pp. 6-7. 
^ Editing Stow (see Historicall Preface). 

^ See, for example, John Caius*s animadversions against Polydore in De Anti- 
^uitate Cantebrigiensis Academiae^ ed. 1574, p. 52. "^ P. 17. ^ p^ ^7, 


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Polydore Virgil 26 1 

that nothing is more obscure than the early affairs of Britain, he 
begins his historical narrative with an outline of the Galfridian 
account of the pre-Roman kings, expressing his unwillingness to do 
so and his belief that the story is full of errors,^ and making as he 
proceeds frequent additions and corrections. For the Roman period, 
he draws mostly from classical historians, and once or twice notes 
the evident incredibility of the "historia nova."^ 

For the first part of the Arthurian period,' Polydore follows Nennius 
(minus his supernatural incidents), Bede, and Gildas ; but with inter- 
pretation and descriptive expansion of his own which sounds at first 
to a modern reader scarcely less ridiculous than the fables which he 
rejected, — rationalization on an irrational basis, it might be called. 
Thus, he tells how " Vortigerius " was chosen king by the Britons 
because he was chief of all in authority, birth, and valor,* and says 
that the Saxons, when hard pressed by the Picts in their first battle, 
redoubled their efforts on reflecting that their success would deter- 
mine their reputation with the Britons. It is notable that Polydore 
represents Vortigem as thoroughly patriotic,* at least in the begin- 
ning of his reign, and excuses his partiality for the Saxons on the 
ground of their services to him.® His moral bias' becomes evident 
occasionally, as when, accepting the story of Vortigem's union with 
Hengist's daughter, he characterizes it as setting the worst example 
within the history of mankind. His account of Aurelius and Vorti- 
mer, whom he seems to make contemporary (Aurelius as general, 
and Vortimer as king), is entirely confused, — a natural result of 
the effort to harmonize Gildas, Nennius, and other authorities.^ He 
makes Ambrosius kill Hengist in the battle of the Don • and himself 
fall in battle shortly after. He includes Uther, but the chief works 
that he ascribes to his reign are the Hallelujah Victory ^° and the 
Battle of Badon. 

When he comes to Arthur, Polydore makes it clear that he accepts, 
in a modified form, the current idea of his greatness. For although. 

1 Pp. 18-19. • Cf. p. 234, above. 

3 See p. 32. ' Cf. p. 183, above. 
« Pp. 54 ff. • Cf. p. 40, above. 

4 Cf. p. 266, below. » Cf. p. 184, above. 
6 Contrast p. 40, above. ^ Cf. p. 246, abov*. 


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262 Arthurian Material in Chronic ks 

in giving a brief outline of the Galfridian story of Arthur's reign, ^ he 
specially observes that it is only a tradition of the common people, 
remarkably exaggerated, yet he decides that the king was " noe 
doubte suche a mann as, if hee hadd lived longe, hee surelie woulde 
have restored the whole somme beeing almoste loste to his Britons." ^ 

IX. Arthur Kelton 

One of the most indignant replies to Polydore was that of Arthur 
Kelton' in his little Chronyde with a Genealogie dedaryng that the 
Brittons and Welshemen are lineally e dyscended from Brute, printed in 
London in 1547, and now exceedingly rare. Kelton, whose energetic 
patriotism can scarcely be over-emphasized, resolves the question into 
a dispute between the Romans, with " Polidorus " for their leader, on 
one side, and " us Welshmen " on the other. Nothing could be more 
unimportant than his wildly rambling doggerel tetrameter stanzas. 
He cites as authorities Geoffrey and other chroniclers (some of whom 
I have not been able to find), but has only two or three casual men- 
tion^ of Arthur, though he describes, at a length of several lines, the 
discovery of his body. The genealogy at the end has, for the two 
extremes, Osiris and Edward VI, but it includes by name only the 
most important of the intermediate monarchs, following (Geoffrey's 
list for the period which it covers. 

X. George Lily 

A work popular in its time, as numerous editions show, but now 
insignificant, written, by the accidents of the author's life, in Latin, 
is the Chronicon of George Lily, Roman Catholic divine, and son of 
the famous grammarian William Lily. It appeared first at Venice 
in 1548, in the same volume with a Descriptio Britanniae, Scotiae, 
Hybemiae, et Orchadum, ex Libro Pauli fovii Episcopi Nucer, De 
JmperiiSy et Gentibus Cogniti Orbis, etc. The Descriptio Britanniae^ 

1 P. 60. 

2 I quote from the English translation made soon after the appearance of 
Polydore's history (ed. Sir Henry Ellis, Camden Soc, 1846, I, 121). 

8 See Did, Nat. Biog., XXX, 359. * Fols. 5, 6. 


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Thomas Cooper 263 

gives in brief outline the Galfridian account of Vortigern's reign and 
of the wars of Arthur against the Saxons, and mentions the discovery 
of his tomb. Lily's part begins with a few pages ^ about English 
and Scottish names, and a eulogy, addressed to Paulus Jovius, of 
various English scholars of the sixteenth century.^ His chronicle* 
is entitled A Brute , , . omnium in quos . . . Britanniae Imperium 
translatum Brevis Enumeraiio} Lily perhaps shares Polydore's skep- 
ticism about Geoffrey's story, though, in view of the brevity of his 
treatment, this is not a certain inference. At any rate> he omits 
everything from Brutus to Julius Caesar, and in the very summary 
and much curtailed outline of the story with which he begins his list 
of monarchs, he has scarcely more than a mention of Vortigern, 
Arthur, and the intermediate British and Saxon kings. 

XI. Bishop Cooper 

Polydore Virgil was the last of the significant Latin chroniclers. 
In the year following the appearance of Lily's book, was published 
another of those English works which go back directly to Fabyan, — 
the widely-circulated Epitome of Chronicles begun and carried down 
to the birth of Christ by Thomas Lanquet, and completed by 
Bishop Thomas Cooper of Winchester. The entries that concern 
the Arthurian period are few and brief, and they are almost entirely 
taken from Fabyan.^ There is a marked tendency to omit all magic 
elements, to which the bishop sometimes refers as being of the 
common voice of the people. Cooper, indeed, distrusts the whole 
Galfridian story ; and, in beginning the early history of Britain,® 
Lanquet, also, warns his readers that it is very doubtful, adding that 
he will not dissent from the common opinion, but will follow Geoffrey 
as nearly as possible. 

1 Fols. 42b ff. 2 Fols. 45-54. * Fols. 57-125. 

* The later independent editions are called Chronicon sive Brevis Enumeration 
etc. It is reprinted in Gruter's Chronicon Chronicorutn politicum^ 161 4, vol. I. 

5 Perhaps the only exception is the remark that the histories of the Scots say 
that the Picts and Scots were allied with the Britons (fol. 143b). 

« Fol. 27b. 


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264 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

XII. Richard Grafton and John Stow 

Among all the English historians from the beginning, there are 
scarcely any two who would have been more reluctant to have their 
names associated than the well-known printer Richard Grafton and 
his professional and personal antagonist, the antiquarian tailor John 
Stow. But in effect their rivalry has proved a reason for conjoining 
them hardly less sufficient than active collaboration wobld have been. 

The most popular historical books in England in the last part 
of the sixteenth century were the brief outlines prepared first by 
Grafton, and afterward, when their success suggested imitation, by 
Stow. Grafton's little Abridgement of the Chronicles of England first 
appeared in 1562 or 1563, and was frequently reissued. It is essen- 
tially a series of dated annals, generally brief, extending from Brute 
to the year of publication. Each edition was newly revised, and 
differs from the others in many minor details. In all the early por- 
tions, at least, the book is based primarily on Fabyan, though it 
sometimes borrows from other chroniclers, ancient or recent. 

Stow first put forth his Abridgement of the English Chronicle in 1565. 
It ultimately surpassed its rival in favor, and was often republished 
during a period of fifty years. The various editions are not always 
identical, nor even in agreement in all details.^ They are seldom at 
variance with Geoffrey. 

It is interesting to note that the personal hostility of Grafton and Stow 
does not prevent them from borrowing occasionally each from the other. 

Not many particular features of these abridgments need to be 
registered. Toward Arthur, Grafton adopts an attitude of moderate 
skepticism similar to that of Fabyan, while Stow gives only a very 
scanty outline of the whole of Arthur's reign. Both are interested 
in the establishment of the Round Table and in the question whether 
it was held at Windsor or at Winchester.^ 

1 The second, that of 1 567, represents a somewhat shorter redaction, but the 
other editions which I have examined all belong to the earlier and larger form. 

2 In the edition of 1571 Grafton refers to and makes use (fol. 12a) of what 
seems to be an interesting lost chronicle " written by a Monke of Saint Albons, 
but his name by some indiscreete persons is tome out of the booke." Compari- 
son shows that he does not mean the St. Albans edition of Caxton. 


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Grafton and Stow - 265 

Less important is Grafton's minute Manuell of the Chronicles of 
Englandefrom the Creadon of the Worlde to this Yere , , . ijds, which 
in the really English portion (down to the Norman Conquest) is 
scarcely more than a list of kings, with a note of the length of each 
reign. Through the period covered by Geoffrey, it agrees almost 
entirely with him. 

Neither Grafton nor Stow was willing to stop with these minor 
works, and, in the preparation of a more extensive history, Grafton 
again had the start. His Chronicle at Large appeared in 1569. For 
the most part it agrees substantially with his Abridgement in whatever 
that includes, and it is almost as dependent upon Fabyan for the 
Arthurian part of the story as was Cooper. For while, in the earlier 
portions, Grafton makes use of Cooper and others of the many author- 
ities whom he names, when he comes to our period^ he takes almost 
his whole account from Fabyan, often nearly verbally. The only 
points of divergence ate: — the insertion (with slight changes) of 
Geoffrey's narrative of the death of Vortimer, of Vortiger's surren- 
dering his land, and of Pascent's deeds, — these as alternatives to 
Fabyan's versions; the omission of Fabyan's rejecting allusion to 
the story of the building of Stonehenge ; the use of Nennius (from 
whom Fabyan differs slightly) for the names of Arthur's twelve 
battles ; the statement that Arthur built Windsor and there founded 
the Round Table, with mention of " Frosard " as authority, and the 
observation that some think it was rather Winchester,* because " there 
is the Table " ; the mention, from Hardy ng, of Arthgall of Warwick, 
with the addition of the names of two of his successors in his lord- 
ship, and one or two other local details. 

Stow's larger work, The Chronicles (later called Annates *) of Eng- 
land^ was issued in 1580. It generally agrees in dates and otherwise 
with his Abridgement. He bases his account of the Arthurian period 
on Cooper, but he draws also from many others of his predecessors 
— the Saxon Chronicle^ Bede (from whom he takes a good deal), 
William of Malmesbury, Geoffrey, Hardyng, Fabyan, Grafton, and 

^ Ellis's ed., 1809, I, 73 ff. 

2 An opinion which he himself adopts in later versions of his Abridgement. 

* This is the title in Howes's ed. of 163 1, to which references are here made. 


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266 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Ross, as well as some others who cannot be identified. The result 
is one of the most heterogeneous narratives in the whole history of 
the tradition. It will suffice to pass over most of the details and 
mention some of the especially notable features. 

Stow omits ^ all mention of Geoffrey's story of Constantinus and 
Constans, because he follows the historical narrative represented by 
Bede. Of Vortiger's accession he says only that the Britons thought 
good to appoint some king, and so unanimously elected Vortiger.* 
He includes, briefly, most of the events of the reigns of Vortiger 
and Vortimer as they appear in the Galfridian story, but in the 
whole narrative he omits supernatural incidents, so that he has noth« 
ing, for instance, about Vortiger's tower. Whenever he has occasion 
to mention a place (Thong Castle, Stonehenge, or another), he shows 
his antiquarian instinct by entering into a digression upon it. He 
includes the incident of Vodine, Bishop of London,* which appeared 
first in Boece. After giving, with some confusion, Bede's account 
of.Aurelius Ambrosius, he introduces from William of Malmesbury, 
though professedly only on William's authority, the statement that 
Aurelius and Arthur fought together against the Saxons.* He men- 
tions the story in The Chronicles of the Britaines of the removal of 
the Stonehenge circle from Ireland "by the industrious meanes 
of Merlin."^ On Uther he gives only a ten-line summary.® Like 
Sir Thomas Gray,^ he says that Guinever was Cador's cousin and 
daughter to the king of Biscay. At the beginning of Arthur's reign 
he makes a statement® of the relations with Scotland not identical 
with anything in the extant Scottish histories, — namely, that Lotho 
and Conradus, Arthur's allies, envying his prosperity, made war upon 
him, but he conquered them and put Anguisel over them. He men- 
tions the establishment of the Round Table, and says that it was 
held at Winchester (like Grafton) and at Camalet (here first appear- 
ing in the chronicles). He stops to discuss the remains of Camalet 
and to speak of a silver horseshoe found there, and of Arthur's Table 
in Denbigh. He speaks of the greater part of Arthur's doings at 

1 Contrast Higden (p. 185, above) and Holinshed (p. 269, below). 

2 P. 50; cf. 261, above. » P. 51. * P. 53. « P. 53. 
® P. 53. '^ See p. 225, above. 8 p. 54. 


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Holinshed and Harrison 267 

home, but for his foreign conquests merely alludes to his " warres 
beyond the seas (where he wrought many wonders, as some haue 
written, but farre vnlike to be true)." Then he passes to a summary 
statement of Modred's alliance with Cerdic, and Arthur's last cam- 
paign. He definitely dates Arthur's death on May 21, 542. 

XIII. Raphael Holinshed and William Harrison 

In 1577, three years earlier than Stow's large history, appeared an 
even more ambitious work, the Chronicles of England^ Scotland^ and 
Ireland^ by Raphael Holinshed, which formed a part of an immense 
compilation of universal history planned, but never completed, by 
the publishers. 

Some of the material of the work as printed was prepared by the 
industrious chronologer William Harrison.^ Besides the account of 
the Arthurian period in his translation of Bellenden's translation 
of Boece,^ he gives in the preliminary Description of Britain^ a very 
brief outline of the succession of early British kings, intended to 
show that they had been supreme over Scotland. The Arthurian 
section of this outline shows in an interesting way how strange a 
version could now be compounded, especially by one who was 
inclined to give heed to the various Scottish stories. Constantine, 
it is said, kills Dongard, and subdues all Scotland. There is no 
mention of Constans. Vbrtiger gives various regions in Scotland to 
Hengist, who, desiring the whole kingdom, is banished, and con- 
spires with the Scots against Aurilambrose, the right heir. He is 
taken prisoner in battle by Eldulph de Samor, and his head is struck 
off at the command of Aurilambrose. The Scots are vanquished, 
but Octa, son of Hengest, is spared, and receives Gallowaie. Uter 
. conquers the Saxons and Scots. Arthur succeeds. His noble acts, 
says Harrison, have been stained by vulgar fables, but he subdued 
the Saxons with the help of the Scots and Picts. When the Scots rebel 

1 Harrison wrofte also a Great Chronology^ never published. See Morley, 
English Writers, VIII, 368. 

* V, 136-162, of the six-volume quarto ed. of Holinshed, 1807-1808. 

' I, 201-202. The Description was also edited, in part, by Fumivall for the 
New Shakspere Society, 1877-8. 


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268 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

and besiege Howell in York, Arthur defeats them and establishes 
Angusian and his brothers. At Arthur's royal feast Angusian (as 
in Geoffrey) bears his sword. It is strikingly illustrative of the 
difference between the spirit of the sixteenth century and that of 
the twentieth that this outline of the Arthurian period could appear 
without explanation in the same work with Holinshed's version of 
the history of that time. 

Of Holinshed's life little is known except that he began his literary 
career as a translator in a printing office and describes himself in his 
will as steward to Thomas Burlet of Bramcote. His personality is 
attractive, — none the less so because one of his prominent charac- 
teristics is credulity. It was not possible for a writer at the end of 
the sixteenth century to accept in toto traditions like that of Arthur 
without question, but Holinshed was very far from possessing the 
temperament of Polydore Virgil, and often seems to take pains (not 
so much in our period as elsewhere) to record impossible marvels. 

Among the long list of authorities cited by Holinshed ^ occur the 
names of Alfred of Beverley, Bede, the Chronica Chronicorum, the 
Chroniques de Britaine, Caxton's Chronicles, Fabyan, Gildas, Geoffrey, 
William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon, Boece, Hardyng, 
Fordun, Stow, Nennius, Polydore Virgil, and Cooper. As borrowings 
from most of these sources occur in the narrative of the Arthurian 
period, and as this covers about thirty printed pages (six or eight 
times as much space as the corresponding section of Stow), we must 
confine our attention to the more important features. First, as to 
Holinshed's attitude toward Geoffrey. 

In a good deal of the pre- Arthurian story, Holinshed follows Geof- 
frey, sometimes rather closely, but in the Arthurian period he does 
so only very little. Several times he expresses directly an unfavor- 
able opinion of Geoffrey's book. In a confused passage^ in which • 
he tries unsuccessfully to say (following the erroneous version in 
Higdeh ®) that the Constantine of Bede is a different person from 
Geoffrey's, he observes that "there is not so much credit to be 
yeelded to them that haue written the British histories, but that 
in some part men may with iust cause doubt of sundrie matters 

^ I, ix. 2 p, ^^2. 8 See p^ jg^, above. 


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Raphael Holinshed 269 

conteined in the same." Geoffrey's statement that the Saxons were 
driven from the land he characterizes as unlikely,^ referring his readers 
to William of Malmesbury and other old authentic historiographers 
to whom we "male vndoubtedlie and safelie giue most credit." 
Though he follows Fabyan in speaking of Hengist's return,* he 
glosses in the margin : " He might easilie returne, for except I be 
deceiued he was neuer driuen out after he had once set foot within 
this lie." He alludes to the story of Vortigern's tower as " not of 
such credit as deserueth to be registred in anie sound historic,"* 
and, in mentioning * Uther's expedition to Ireland, he omits Merlin 
and the magic element. After noticing the story of Arthur's wars in 
France, he concludes -} " For so much as there is not anie approoued 
author who dooth speake of anie such dooings, the Britains are 
thought to haue registered meere fables in sted of true matters." 

Geoffrey is not the only author whom Holinshed views with sus- 
picion. He rejects Henry of Huntingdon's story of the destruction 
of Vortigern by fire from heaven,* and he occasionally notes and dis- 
cusses the inconsistencies in his other sources. Evidently he desired 
to be critical ; but how little that quality accorded with his natural 
mental disposition appears from his introductory observations about 
Arthur,' whom he calls, at his accession, " a yoong towardlie gentle- 
man, of the age of 15 yeeres or thereabouts." "Of this Arthur," he 
goes on, " manie things are written beyond credit, for that there is 
no ancient author of authoritie that confirmeth the same : but surelie 
as may be thought he was some woorthie man, and by all likelihood 
a great enimie to the Saxons, by reason whereof the Welshmen 
. . . haue him in famous remembrance." 

The other more notable points in Holinshed's narrative are as fol- 
lows. He includes, drawing, it should be borne in mind, from many 
sources, chiefly not from Geoffrey : the story of Constantinus and 
Constantius ; Vortigern 's scheming and accession, — with the state- 
ment that he garrisoned the Tower of London ; the coming of the 
Saxons, summoned by the council " after they [the council] had 
throughlie pondered all things " ; the early plotting of Hengist, with 

ip. 559. «P. 564. «P.576. 'P. 574. 

2 P. 560. * P. 565. « P. 564. 


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2/0 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

the wassail incident ; the story of Vortimer ; Vortigern's restoration 
and the massacre ; a long statement of the establishment of the 
Saxon kingdoms ; some material about St. German us, with the Hal- 
lelujah Victory ; ^ the coming of Aurelius and Uther ; more Ger- 
manus legend ; Aurelius's whole reign, in very brief summary ; some 
account of Saxon affairs ; most of the story of Uther, following 
Fabyan's version of Arthur's birth, which makes him legitimate ; ^ an 
outline of Arthur's reign, through the northern conquests ; Arthur's 
last campaign, chiefly according to Geoffrey ; the discovery of Arthur's 
body. Near the end, Holinshed makes a rationalizing observation 
which illustrates the Elizabethan manliness of feeling which attracts 
one strongly to him. He says of Gawain that, " like a faithfull gentle- 
man, regarding more his honour and loiall truth than neerenesse of 
bloud and coosenage, [he] chose rather to fight in the quarell of his 
liege king and louing maister, than to take part with his naturall 
brother in an vniust cause."® With true knightly sentiment he 
defends the reputatipn of " Guenhera," * mentioning the Melwas 
myth as we know it in the Life of Gildas. 

XIV. William Warner, Michael Drayton, and the End of 
THE Chronicles 

Holinshed and Stow are the last writers who have any strong 
claim on our attention. The only later works which need even be 
mentioned are two poems partly and incidentally of chronicle char- 
acter, the Albion* s England of the London attorney William Warner, 
published in 1586, and the Polyolbion of Michael Drayton, which 
appeared, with prose annotations by the learned John Selden, in 
1613.*^ Different as these productions are in nature, each includes 
an outline (divided, in the Polyolbion^ into widely scattered fragments) 
of a large part of the Galfridian narrative, not based altogether upon 
Geoffrey, but too brief or too poetical to differ very notably from him 

1 Cf. p. 246, above. * P. 576. 

2 Cf. p. 184, above. * P. 580 ; cf . p. 163, above. 

^ Albions England^ ed. 161 2, chap. 19, pp. 88-91. The book contains also 
a prose epitome of the history of England (see pp. 357-358). Polyolbion^ ed. of 
1622, reprinted by the Spenser Society, 1889- 1890. 


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The End of the Chronicles 271 

or to have any special importance. As to prose, there was no break 
in historical composition at the end of the sixteenth century, but the 
succeeding works have ceased to be chronicles and have become 
histories. The spirit of criticism, besides, was developing, and in 
these histories the pre- Saxon period of the story sank into a still less 
prominent place than with Grafton and Stow. Geoffrey's credibility 
was attacked by some and defended by others, but even those who 
maintained it adopted his narrative only in very condensed outlines.^ 
The Arthurian tradition had ceased forever to have any large impor- 
tance outside its legitimate sphere of romance and poetry. 

1 Here it may be noted that the fabulous English compilation of MS. Harl. 
2414 and the slight summary of the Arthurian story in MS. Sloane 1090 are both 
of the seventeenth century and therefore too late to have any value. 


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The history of the Arthurian tradition in the chronicles, as it has 
been traced in the foregoing pages, may be briefly summarized as 
follows : — 

About the middle of the sixth century, Gildas, a British ecclesiastic 
who had fled to Armorica, wrote, as introduction to a violent denun- 
ciatory epistle, a very brief sketch of the history of Britain. Though 
entirely incidental in character and warped by extreme prejudice, 
this sketch gives the only nearly contemporary account of the Arthu- 
rian period. It outlines in a few words the general course of events, 
— the coming, devastations, and conquests of the Saxons, the paral- 
ysis of the Britons at first, their subsequ^t uprising and resistance, 
which ultimately (when Gildas wrote) had checked the invader, and 
their continuance in civil wars. It names Ambrosius Aurelianus and 
the Battle of Badon. 

During a long period which began, perhaps, not very much after 
the time of Gildas, there was gradually put together by other British 
authors, — of whom the last important one, at the end of the eighth 
century, was Nennius, — the very composite Historia Britonum, This 
work practically includes in a general way all the facts of the Arthurian 
period mentioned by Gildas, and it supplies also the name Vortigern 
for the unlucky prince whom Gildas represented as ruling when 
the Saxon invasion commenced, and the characters and names of 
Vortimer, Hengist, Horsa, Octha, and Ebyssa. For the last four of 
these, as well as for the first, some corroborative testimony is fur- 
nished by the Saxon accounts of the period given by Bede and the 
Chronicle^ — accounts which are otherwise altogether at variance with 
Nennius. The bulk of the Historia Britonum^ so far as it concerns 
our discussion, is made up of fabulous tales about Hengist's treach- 
erous plots and his marriage of his daughter to Vojrtigern, and of 



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Conclusion 273 

the story of Vortigem's tower and the supernatural boy Ambrosius. 
Much more straightforward and plausible is the summary catalogue 
of the twelve victories of Arthur, dux beilorum, of which the last is 
identified with the battle of Mount Badon. Legendary stories about 
Arthur are also briefly recorded in two mirabilia. 

Among the few Saxon chroniclers of the next three hundred years, 
^thelweard briefly retold the story of Bede, with perhaps a few 
touches from Nennius and a few from his own imagination. William 
of Malmesbury and Henry of Huntingdon, with whom the chronicles 
of England reemerged into real importance in the first quarter of the 
twelfth century, employed much the same method as ^thelweard, 
but with far more license, — combining and rearranging at will the 
narratives of Nennius, Gildas, Bede, and the Chronicle. Their signifi- 
cance is mostly limited to the fact that they may have given the first 
stimulus and some general suggestions to Geoffrey of Monmouth. 

With Cxeoffrey, a literary artist of great genius and remarkable 
good fortune, there came into being, a few years later, the romance 
which passed for centuries as the History of the Kings of Britain, 
and which determined — and indeed largely created — the form of 
the Arthurian story found in the chronicles. Geoffrey based his 
narrative as much as possible on the work of Nennius, and neces- 
sarily to a far smaller extent on Bede and Gildas; but he utilized 
the whole stock of his reading and knowledge wherever and however 
he thought most convenient. He drew especially from Celtic myths 
and traditions, including those which he found connected with Arthur, 
and which as connected with him had been already mentioned in the 
Annales Cambriae at the end of the tenth century and by William of 
Malmesbury. Geoffrey drew also from Celtic records, lay and eccle- 
siastical ; from his knowledge of general history (sometimes borrow- 
ing directly from William of Malmesbury and Henry of Huntingdon), 
and from the life, manners, and romantic literature of contemporary 
Norman England and France. He wrought together all these diverse 
elements into a consistent and continuous narrative. To begin the 
Arthurian period, he appropriated from Bede the figures of the Roman 
Constantinus and Constans as the founders of the royal line in which 
he placed Aurelius (Gildas's "Ambrosius Aurelianus") and Arthur. 
Nennius furnished him with nearly the complete outline for his 


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2/4 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

account of Vortigern's reign, and he added (or developed) Merlin and 
his prophecies. He invented (or took from sources now unknown) 
the whole history (consisting chiefly of successful wars against the 
Saxons) of Aurelius and the Uther whom he adapted as the brother 
of Aurelius and father of Arthur. His most significant work was to 
add to his greatly expanded version of Nennius's sketch of Arthur's 
victories at home, the narrative of his foreign conquests ; ^ to portray 
both the king and his knights in the colors of contemporary chivalry 
and courtly romance; and to recount at some length the treason 
of Modred against Arthur as husband and as king, and Arthur's 
vengeance, fatal also to himself. 

The national epic material of one of the most romantic peoples in 
the world had thus been put into a definite form supremely appro- 
priate and apparently authoritative. In this form, — the ground 
having doubtless been already prepared by many less systematic 
tales on the same subject, — it was made current by popular story- 
tellers, and swept over mediaeval Europe almost in an instant, so 
that Arthur and his knights were adopted not only as English but 
as Christian heroes. That the material continued for centuries, 
partly as a result of Geoffrey's influence, to hold a place of unsur- 
passed importance in romantic literature, is a fact with which we are 
not here directly concerned. But whether or not Geoffrey had so 
intended, his book was taken seriously by the historians. Not only 
did the French, English, and Latin metrical chroniclers of the two 
following centuries, — who, whether they wrote for the upper classes 
or for the populace, were rather poets or rhymers than historians, — 
continue to paraphrase Geoffrey's story almost entire, but the sober 
Latinists of the monasteries, with very few exceptions, regarded it 
with careful attention ; and while there were some among them, even 
from the first, who discerned its true nature, or viewed it with great 
distrust, and while most of them, owing largely to the character of 
their works, did no more than to extract from its pages a few brief 
notices, there were not wanting others (and that among the most 
painstaking) to embody it almost verbatim in their compilations, 
and many more drew upon it very freely. In its almost countless 

1 For this he probably took the hint from ancient stories. 


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Conclusion 275 

repetitions during a very long period, the history, as thus told in chron- 
icles, naturally underwent very great modifications of detail. These 
were due sometimes to the carelessness or inaccuracy of those who 
rearranged it, sometimes to their unjudicial and instinctive love of 
romance and a good story, sometimes to their desire to reconcile 
it with other historical authorities or with ideas of their own. The 
narrative necessarily gathered up also some touches from current 
popular tales about its heroes, and increasingly (especially after the 
first couple of centuries) from the related very elaborate prose 
romances, which in their origin had been largely inspired by it. In 
the long French prose compilations of the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries it was itself treated throughout in a fashion thoroughly 
romantic. It received occasional notice in Continental chronicles 
not dealing especially with England, but only in those of England 
did it hold a place of the largest importance. Naturally the Scottish 
historians gave it much attention, but often only to travesty it in the 
interest of national prejudice and animosity. In exceedingly various 
shapes, then, it reached at last the English prose historians of the 
sixteenth century. These men were setting out seriously, under the 
lights and shades of the Renaissance, to compile the authentic his- 
tory of their country. Credulous as some of these were by nature, 
and impossible to the time as was a genuinely scientific method, yet 
they did not fail to question the Arthurian story at every point and 
to reject, and train the reading public to reject, or distrust its least 
credible features. Gradually, with the passing of the mediaeval spirit, 
passed away the importance of the story to history, and by the be- 
ginning of the seventeenth century, it came to occupy in history 
only a comparatively insignificant place. For four hundred years 
and more, this narrative in which there were scarcely a few glimmer- 
ings of truth had aided most signally in supporting the usurpation of 
romance upon the realm of fact, but the age of romance was at last 
ended, and fact, though not yet swollen with parvenu insolence, could 
not much longer be largely kept from what was rightfully its own. 


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Certain articles which (with one exception) have appeared since the 
foregoing pages were in the hands of the printer, demand notice here. 

Page 26 

Mr. Anscombe has lately renewed the argument that the scenes of 
Arthur's battles as named by Nennius are to be identified with places in the 
region to the south of the Roman walls, that is, in Upper Britain.^ His 
reasoning will hardly convince those who have heretofore been skeptical. 
He prefers the forms of the names in the Vatican MS. (which suit the 
theory better) and puts more confidence, among other points, both in the 
historicity of Nennius's list and in the occasional trustworthiness (accidental 
trustworthiness, perhaps it is only fair to say) of Geoffrey than the majority 
of students will think justified. 

Mr. Anscombe's disagreement^ with another of my conclusions may be 
noted. He believes Nennius to be right in saying that Octha and his fol- 
lowers first settled in the North, and suggests that they may have removed 
to Kent in consequence of Arthur's victories. " The extreme eastern point 
of Kent was a strange place wherein to station the Saxon auxiliaries who 
had been hired to defend the Roman province [j/V] against the northern 
peoples of the Picts and Scots." 

Page 47 

Gewissae^ the name which Geoffrey gives to Vortigern's tribe, is a Saxon 
name (Plummer's Bede, II, 89). 

Pages 49 ff. 

In some notes on Geoffrey' Mr. Ward proposes the following hypothesis 
about the liber and its connection with the Historia^ which seems interest- 
ing and possible enough to be here reproduced, though, as he himself says, 
it is not much more than guesswork. 

1 Ztsch.f. Celt. Phil., 1904, V, 103-123 ; cf . pp. 15-16, 26-28, above. 

2 P. no; cf. p. 25, above. ^ Anglia, 1901, XXIV, 381-385. 



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278 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

" Archdeacon Walter of Oxford brought home from Brittany an Old Welsh 
MS., containing many British genealogies and several historical glosses. He 
had not leisure (perhaps not skill enough) to translate these into Latin, and 
arrange them. He naturally turned to South Wales, where Robert of Glouces- 
ter was Prince of Glamorgan, and Urban was Bishop of Llandaff." Geoffrey 
was recommended to him, undertook the work, and did it, " from first to last, 
under the sanction of Archdeacon Walter." 

Page 90 

For another Oriental parallel to Uther's change of form see Oertel,/^«r. 
Amer, Oriental Soc, 1905, XXVI, 186. Professor Oertel also quotes' Pau- 
sanias, v, 18,3: <!>$ airyyeyoiTo AXxfiijvrj Zev$ Afi<f>iTpvitivi. cixacr^cts. 

Pages 96 ff. 

In an article on T/ie Round Tabled Professor L. F. Mott argues plausibly 
for a connection in folk-lore observances between the Celtic Round Tables 
on the one hand and, on the other, the druidical circles and the various 
circular or oval objects in Great Britain which are or have been popularly 
associated with Arthur. He thinks that they all point back to primitive 
agricultural festivals, and suggests therefore that Arthur was originally an 
agricultural god. This last inference is perhaps as likely to be true as any of 
the theories which have been proposed to explain the mythological elements 
in the conception of Arthur ; but it does not seem more probable than these 
other theories, especially in view of the manner in which popular and romantic 
stories develop. At all events, the character of agricultural divinity does not 
differ greatly from that of culture hero, which one of these theories assigns 
to Arthur. Whoever is inclined to accept either hypothesis must readjust 
for himself the emphasis in part of what has here been said ^ of the growth 
of the idea of Arthur before Geoffrey. He must picture to himself not an 
historical (or supposedly historical) figure gradually attracting to itself the 
debris of various mythological personages, but two distinct figures, one 
mythological, the other historical, gradually united, with all their attributes. 

Pages 189-191 

The arraignment of the existing text of William of Malmesbury's Pe 
Antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae has been strongly renewed by Mr. W. W. 

1 Publ. Mod. Lang. Assoc, 1905, XX, 231-264. 2 pp. 107-108, above. 

^ Publ. Mod. Lang. Assoc, 1903, XVIII, 459-512. 


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Additional Notes 279 

Mr. Newell makes it appear probable (though there is no absolute proof) 
that the Arthurian entries in this work (among many other sections) are inter- 
polations made in the latter part of the twelfth century. It must therefore be 
doubted whether the idea that Arthur and Guenevere were buried at Glas- 
tonbury^ really antedates Geoffrey's Historia. The same is true of the story 
of Arthur and Ider,^ for the insertion of which, in particular, Mr. Newell has 
a plausible theory^; though it hardly seems to me justifiable (considering 
the frequent occurrence of such episodes in romantic literature) to assert 
positively* that the ultimate source of this story is Geoffrey's account of the 
duel between Arthur and the giant of Mont St. Michel. 

Mr. NewelPs discussion* of the discovery of the bodies of Arthur ^nd 
Guenevere is not altogether in agreement with mine.® 

I see no reason to alter my statement that the account of this incident 
given in the Flore s Historiarum is copied from that in the Coggeshall 
Chronicle. It is true tiiat the date 1187, which I have given' for the latter 
chronicle, merely marks the year at which Abbot Ralph took up the task of 
compilation.* It seems also to be true that Roger of Wendover more prob- 
ably began his work on the Flores at the year 11 88 than at ca. 1200, the 
date which (using round numbers in a case of uncertainty) I have put down.* 
But we must suppose that Ralph wrote before Roger, and Roger's work is 
still only a compilation up to 1202. 

Mr. Newell's conclusion ^° that Giraldus had never heard of a connection 
between Arthur and Glastonbury before 1191, while it may be true, does 
not seem to me to be borne out by valid evidence. 

Mr. Newell appears definitively to reject Giraldus's assertions about the 
instrumentality of King Henry II in the discovery of the bodies. But even 
if Giraldus is wrong, as appears to be the case, in saying, in the Speculum^ 
that the king suggested the search to Abbot Henrys nevertheless in his ear- 
lier account (that of the De Principis Instructione) Giraldus's statement is ^^ 
that the king had made his communication to the monks. It may well be 
that this is the fact and that in his later version Giraldus may be writing 
carelessly, or, as Mr. Newell suggests, may have forgotten. Distrust of 
Giraldus would seem to me better grounded if I could accept the statement ^^ 

I See p. 191, above. 2 pp, 98-99, above. ' Pp. 493-497. 

* P. 497, note. 5 Pp. 505-509. ® Pp. 189-191, above. "^ P. 172, above. 

* It is, therefore, in the absence of definite knowledge about the authorship of 
the earlier part, the best assignable date for this earlier part, in which occur the 
bulk of the Arthurian entries. * P. 173, above. *° P. 508. 

II As Mr. Newell's citation (p. 507, note 2) shows. ^ P. 506, note i. 


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28o Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

that the De Principis Instructione was not written until 121 7. The dates 
of both the composition and the publication of the treatise as a whole and 
in its various parts are only inferential and uncertain ; but the statement just 
mentioned seems to be taken inadvertently from Mr. Warner's conclusion ^ 
that the complete work was published about 121 7. Mr. Warner's discus- 
sion ^ affords good reason (never controverted, so far as I know) to believe 
that the first distinction which contains the passage in question, was written 
(if not published) some time before the year 1 200.* 

However, the statement that the bones were found at a depth of sixteen 
feet may be false, and if so it is the less unlikely that they may have been 
found by accident ; and the conclusion which Mr. Newell adopts, namely 
that the discovery was planned, or manipulated, by the Abbot, to enhance 
the glory of Glastonbury, must always be borne in mind as an alternative 
to (or possibly as cooperative with) the theory which I have followed, involv- 
ing machinations of King Henry. 

Page 213 

It has recently been pointed out * that the verses said in the Polls tor ie del 
Eglise de Caunterbyre to have been engraved on Gawain's sword occur also, 
together with an explicit and extravagant statement in prose of the size of 
the various parts of the sword, in a manuscript which is said to be of the 
reign of Edward I, a few years earlier, that is, than the Polistorie,^ 

Professor A. C. L. Brown has called attention^ to the fact that the Gaban"^ 
whom the verses call the maker of the sword is probably the famous smith 
known in Welsh stories as Gofan, or Govan, in Irish as Goibnin? 

1 Giraldus, Operay VIII, xv. 2 pp. xiv-xx. 

8 My "about 1194," though it is, I think, not unreasonable, perhaps sounds 
more definite than our actual knowledge warrants. 

* Rom.<, 1905, XXXIV, 279-280. 

* The verses were printed by Madden in his Syr Gawayne. M. Meyer has shown 
also (Rom, XXXIV, 98-100) that the last four verses are a commonplace, known 
to exist in varying forms in still three other MSS. 

^ Modern Philologyy 1903, I, 100. 

^ The name has generally been corrupted to Galatiy etc., in the MSS., unless as 
Professor Kittredge suggests to me, Galan (Gaiant) is here the earlier form and 
is to be taken as a corruption of Wayland. 

8 Professor Rhys has brought the same fact to my notice, and adds that the 
mediaeval Irish word for " smith " was goba^ or gaba^ genitive gobantty etc. 


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Additional Notes 281 

In the article just referred to^ Brown makes the extremely probable sug- 
gestion that the smiths to whose workmanship Layamon ascribes Arthur's 
bumie and spear ^ were both originally no other than Gofan. It seems to 
me that we must accept Professor Kittredge's emendation^ of Madden's 
translation, which would make Wygar (i.e. Wigheard^ battle-hard) the name 
not of the smith, but of the burnie, and Witeje the name of the smith. 
Witeje will then apparently be a corrupt form of Widia^ or Wudia, the 
name given in Anglo-Saxon mythology to the son of Wayland. But 
whether this is so, or Madden was right in supposing Wygar to be a cor- 
ruption of Welandy or Wygar is an independent person otherwise unknown. 
Brown certainly seems to be right* in saying that Saxon narrators might 
easily substitute their own legendary smith for the Welsh one whom they 
found in the story. It seems altogether probable that the name of the other 
smith. Griffin, whom Layamon calls maker of the spear, is merely a corrupt 
form of Gofan, the more especially, as Brown observes, in view of the verses 
on Gawain's sword referred to above. To quote Brown's words : " In Irish 
and Welsh, wonderful arms are regularly said to be the work of Gobban.* 
He would therefore be the natural artificer of Arthur's magic accoutrements." 
From all which follows the main conclusion of the article, namely that in 
these, as in other instances, Layamon is preserving in Saxon disguise original 
Welsh ideas. 

Similarly Brown gives almost certain confirmation to the theory that 
Layamon's name Goswhit for Arthur's helmet is a Saxon translation of a 
Welsh name. He points out^ that most of the names of Arthur's posses- 
sions in Kulhwch and Olwen contain the idea of "whiteness." Even 
Gwenhwyfar is " the white enchantress." " Probably all the belongings 
of the Celtic Other World had whiteness or luminosity attributed to them." 

I am glad to transcribe also from the- article just under discussion two 
minor points.^ (i) Layamon's form Winetlonde^ for Wace's Guenelande 
(Greenland) as the country of one of Arthur's subject kings, seems to show 
that Layamon thought Gwynedd Qi\or\\i Wales) to be meant (2) Gille 
Callcet ^ means " prudent gillie." 

1 Pp. 99-100. a See p. 162, above. 

' Appended to Brown's article, p. 99, note 4. 

* And parallel cases bear him out (p. 99, note 5). 

5 Doubtless one should always remember that the name was originally generic, 
not personal. * Pp. 101-102. "^ P. 97. 

8 See p. 164, above. The equation of Winetlonde with Gwynedd was suggested 
by Professor Kittredge. ^ See p. 1 59, above. 


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282 Arthurian Material in Chronicles 

Page 218 

I have overlooked the fact that the Dorell and Richard whom the French 
Brut names (together with Holdinus) as recipients of fiefs in France from 
Arthur are evidently identical with Borellus Cenomanensis and Guytardus 
Pictavensis whom Geoffrey (ix, 12) mentions (with Holdinus) among^ the 
Gallic lords present at Arthur's coronation. Why the Brut makes them 
relatives of Arthur does not appear. 

Page 232 

The Guerin de Chartres who appears in Bouchart is evidently the Guerinus 
Carnotensis whom Geoffrey (x, 4) also represents as a member (though not 
the chief member) of Arthur's embassy to Lucius. The author of the 
account in the Liber de Constructione ^ applies the appellative Carnotensis, 
by confusion, to Boso of Oxford. 

Page 239 

The Ricardus cited as authority by Laziardus is probably Richardus 

Page 242 

Some further explanation will make clearer the reason for Fordun's 
objection to Geoffrey's statements about the relationship between Arthur 
and Anna. Geoffrey (viii, 19 and 20) first represents that Arthur was the 
eldest child of Uther and Igerna, and that Anna was also their daughter. 
In the next chapter he says that Uther had given Anna in marriage to Lot. 
He implies a considerable interval between chapters 20 and 21, but the 
statement is not altogether plausible in view of his remark (ix, i) that 
Arthur was fifteen years old at his accession. It is consistent enough with 
what Geoffrey says of Lot and Gawain in ix, 11. But in ix, 9 Geoffrey tells 
us that in the time of Aurelius, Lot had married his (Arthur's) sister. Since 
Aurelius died, according to the rest of Geoffrey's account, long before 
Arthur's birth, this statement is in absolute contradiction to both the others. 
Fordun pardy bases his criticism, however, on a misconception of Geoffrey's 
language in ix, 9, which Fordun, like Boece later,^ interprets as meaning 
that Anna was the sister of Aurelius. 

Geoffrey's statement (ix, 2) that Hoel of Brittany was the son of a sister 
of Arthur obviously implies a second sister. The occasional confusion of 
the two in later chronicles * was to be expected. 

.1 See p. 123, above. 8 ggg p. 247, above. 

2 P. 171, above. * See pp. 183, 232, above. 


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Additional Notes 283 

Still later (xi, 2) GeofiPrey calls Cador's son Constantine, to whom Arthur 
leaves the kingdom, Arthur's cognatus, (Later versions say, nephew?) 
Geoffrey has represented Cador as Duke of Cornwall, and if we wish to 
rationalize we may assume that Geoffrey thinks of him as the immediate 
successor of Gorlois, perhaps, therefore, as son of Gorlois and Igerna and 
half-brother of Arthur. The Brut Tysilio and Hardyng say definitely that 
Cador was son of Gorlois.* That Guenevere is called in later versions a 
relative of Cador ^ may be partly a careless inference from this statement of 
Geoffrey, but more probably comes from his earlier one (ix, 9) that Cador 
brought her up. 

Page 246 

It seems altogether probable that the Vodinus, bishop of London, in 
Boece,* is to be identified with Geoffrey's Archbishop Guethelinus.* 

1 See pp. 230, 252, above. * See p. 246, above. 

« See pp. 117, 251, above. ^ See p. 59, above. 

« See pp. 159, 225, 266, above. 


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[The names of some chroniclers and some chronicles are given in the vernacular, 
of others in the Latin form, in accordance, as nearly as possible, with common 
usage. In the arrangement of sub-headings Geoffrey's order has been taken as 
the basis. Names of saints are entered under St., and the order is as if the title 
were spelled in full. Brackets [] mean that some link of the connection between 
subject and reference must be supplied by the reader.] 

Aaron and Julius, martyrs, 1 14 n. 5. 
Adam de Domerham, Historia de Rebus 

Gestis GlastoniensibuSy 174, 191 

Adeluf, in Rauf de Boun the name of 

three kings, one a son of Arthur, 

iEdilberct, Kentish king, 25. 
iElcus (Malvasius), king of Iceland, 159. 
iElle, Saxon king, 22. 
iEneas Sylvius, Historia^ 240 n. 2. 
iEsc (CEric, Oisc), son of Hengist, 21, 

25. See Eosa. 
iEschil. See Aschillius. 
iEthelweard, Chronicle^ 35 ff., 67 n. 3. 
Agamemnon, 94. 
Agned, in Nennius, a mountain, scene 

of one of Arthur's battles, 16. 

Cf. Arthur, war with the Saxons. 
Agrauains, son of Lot and Anna, 189. 
Aguisel, Agusel. See Auguselus. 
Alanus de Insulis, Prophetia Anglicanay 

79, lOI. 
Alaric, king of the Goths, 84. 
Albania. See Scotland. 
Albericus Trium Fontium, 173, 191. 
Albertus Stadensis, AnnaUsy 240 n. 2. 
Albinus. See Alcuin. 
Alclud, taken by Uther, 243. 
Alcuin (Albinus), letter, 70. 
Aldolf. SeeEldol. 


Aldroenus, king of Armorica, 47, 59. 
Alexander, bishop of Lincoln, 45, 51, 

55, 226 n. 3. 
Alfred, King, 72, 88. 
Alfred of Beverley, Annales sive His- 

toriay 116 (with n. 3), 125, 171 

(bis), 182, 183, 268. 
Aliduc, one of Arthur's knights, 162. 
AUectus, historical British adventurer, 

Aloth. See Loth. 
Amand de Zierickzee, Chronica com- 

pendiosissima, 239. 
Amboise, foundation of, etc., 122 f. 
Ambrosius (Ambrose, Embreis), Am- 

brosius Merlinus. See under 

Aurelius and Merlin. 
Amesbury (Stonehenge), scene of 

"Long Knives" episode, 157. 

See under Vortigem. 
Amlawdd the Great, called father of 

Igerna, 117. 
Amytayn, Sire, called Merlin's master, 

Andreas, priest at Ratisbon, Chronicon 

GeneraUy 238. 
Angles, Anglo-Saxons. See Saxons. 
Angria, name applied to the Saxons' 

country, also to Rowena, 147. 
Anguischel, Anguisel, Anguissel, An- 

gusian. See Auguselus. 


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Anir, Arthur's son, 17, 18. 

Anjou, III, 233 ff. Chroniques d^AnjoUy 
233. See Bourdign^. 

Anlaf, historical Danish leader, 88. 

Anna, Arthur's sister, wife of Lot and 
mother of Gawain and Modred 
(Hoel and others), 90 (as a tradi- 
tional character), 48, 141, 183, 
189, 2 1 5, 224, 232 f ., 242, 247, 282. 

Annales Cambriag, 31 ff., 76 f., 78 n. 7, 
90, 98. 

Annales Prioratus de Dunstapliay 173. 

Annales Wigornenses (Annals of the 
Priory of Worcester^ 175, 192 
n. 3. 

Annales de Wintonia (Annals of Win- 
chester)^ 172 f. 

Annals of Margan, 173, 191. 

Annals (Chronicle) of St. MichaePs 
Mounty 34 f . 

Annals of Waverley^ 174, 191 n. 4, 192 

Anne of Brittany, 230. 

Anonymous Metrical English Chron- 
icle, i98f. 

Anthemius, Roman emperor, 82. 

Antoninus Forciglioni, Chronica^ 238. 

Apollo, 157. 

Appas, 1 53. See £opa. 

Arawn, king of Hades, 76 ji. 6. Cf. 

Argante, 165. See Morgana. 

Armorica (Brittany), settlement by 
Britons (Conan Meriadoc), 2 
n. I, 47, 65, 122; Aurelius and 
Uther brought up there, 72, 75, 
82, 137 n. I, 163, 254, 257; Sam- 
son and Thelianus go there, 79 ; 
Arthur called from there, 1 53, 1 63 ; 
Caduallo flees thither, 49 ; Arthur 
possibly early famous there, 102 
n. 3 ; histories of, 230 ff. 

Armoricans (Bretons), alliances with 
Britons, 48, 82, 145 f., 155 n. 17, 
196. See Hoel. 

Arras, a manuscript there, 124 n. 

Arthgall of Warwick, 265. 

Arthur (Arthoure, Arthure, Arthurus, 
Arturus, Artus, Zitus), King^, 
mythical and folklore elements 
in the conception of Arthur, and 
theories as to their connection 
with him, 83 f., 95 ff., 278 ; ques- 
tion of his historical existence, 
actual rank, and achievements, 

[I f.], 7 f., [18], 2Z. 26 f., 28 ff., 

[37] ; not the son of Ambrosins, 
26; identified with Riothimir, 
185 (cf. 82 f.); historicity de- 
fended, 225; exploits doubted, 
233 (^'-f)* 239 (^assim)y 245, 246, 
249, 258, 259, 260 ff., 264, 267 
(bis)y 269 (bis) (cf. Geoffrey of 
Monmouth, Historia^ doubted); 
asserted [50, n.], 260, 262; lo- 
cality of his activity and places 
associated with him, 26 ff., 95 
n. I, 185, 244, 266, 277, 278; 
idea of him and extent of his 
fame before Geoffrey, 15 f., 16 f., 
28, 34, 35. 40. 42, 49. 50, 53 n- 3» 
97-108, 114, 137, 145 f., 278; as 
subject of popular stories after 
Geoffrey, 188 n. 10; praised or 
magnified, 107, 120, 138, 145, 
159 f., 167, 186, 187, 197, 199, 
202, 206, 208, 221, 227, 252, 254, 
262, 269 ; called one of the Nine 
Worthies, 244; a magus, 245; 
made an English hero, 147; dis- 
praised, 241 ff. 

Possessions (etc.) : treasures, 
95 n. 4; dog Cabal, 16, 18; 
weapons, 205, 239 (bis) ; bumie, 
96, 162, 281 ; helmet (Goswhit), 
96, 141, 162, 281 ; lance (spear, 
Ron), 96, 162, 281; shield (Prid- 
wen), 32, 95, 162, 167 ; sword 
(Caliburn, etc.), 95 f., 162, 167, 
187, 192, 197, 202, 206, 225, 230, 


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252, 253 (with n. 8); banners, 
213, 251; "dragon," 200; war- 
cry, 227; coat-of-arms, 232; 
crown, 192 ; seal, 259. 

Story as a whole : in Nennius, 
I5£f. ; Geoffrey, 48 f., 63 f.; 
Layamon, i53ff. ; briefer men- 
tions, 34, 39 f., 42, 121, 145, 174, 
177 n., 178 n. (bis)^ 180, 182, 
198, 210, 211, 212, 213, 230 f., 
231, 238 (passim), 239 (passim), 
240, 244, 246, 249, 250, 253 (bis), 
254, 258, 259, 261 f., 263 (bis), 
264, 266 f ., 270. 

Ancestry, 82, 189, 227 (cf. 
145 f.); begetting, 48, 167 (cf. 
Uther, union with Igema) ; ille- 
gitimacy emphasized, 241 ff. ; 
represented as legitimate, 182, 
184, 233, 270; why Geoffrey 
made Uther his father, 89; 
enchanted by elves, 162; rela- 
tives (see below, after Arthur, 
marriage) : sister Anna, 48, 90, 
141, 183, 189, 215, 224, 232 f., 
242, 247, 282; a second sister, 
mother of Hoel, [48], 282; 
Morgana of Avalon called his 
sister, 146, 190, 223; called rel- 
ative of Kay, 159 (with n. 11); 
nephew of St. David, 181 ; half- 
brother of Cador, 251, 283 ; kins- 
man of Constantine, his successor, 
49, 230, 252, 283 ; of St. Iltutus, 
106; of Maurin, 159 ; kinsman of 
Dorell and Richard, 218; char- 
acteristics: cruel, 160; cruelty 
expunged, i38f.; tall, 251; char- 
acteristics of a hero of romance, 
98 (cf. 279), 99 f., 103, 107, 1131, 
{.''^Z^ly 167, 186, 197, 199, 201 f., 
202 n. 8, 206, 218, 224, 227 ; 
nothing said of him from birth 
to accession, 163 f . ; knighted, 
223 ; called from Brittany to be 

crowned, 153, 163 ; accession and 
place of coronation, 78, 87, 182, 

224, 229, 238, 242, 269, 282. 
War with the Saxons (cf. 

Baldulf, Cador, Cerdic, Cheldric, 
Hoel), 151, 18, 26, 48, 63 f., 82, 
88, 185 f., 246, 258 (bis), 263, 
265, 277 ; battle at the Dubglas, 
'5» 63, 153, 235; siege of York, 
203; retreat to London, 135; 
aid from Hoel, 48, 235; battle 
at Caledonian forest, 16, 63, 206; 
allows Saxons to depart, [i49]» 
218; battle of Badon Mount 
(generally identified with Bath), 
[3. 5» 6, 7 (^), 8], 16, 18, 23, 
26, 30, 32 ff., 40, 48, 63 f., [67], 
71, 78, 88, 136 n. I, 149, 154, 
201, 202, 205, 216, 219, 225, 229, 
231 n. 4 (bis), 232 n. 7, 251; 
locality of the battles, 26 ff., 277 ; 
Arthur and Aurelius as coad- 
jutors, 39, 266; Arthur helped 
by Scots (and Picts), [245], 248, 
267 ; Angles made tributaries, 
185, 258 ; Arthur gives Westsex 
to Cerdic, 251 ; war with the 
Scots and Picts (and Irish) and 
division of Scotland, 48, 64, 109, 
132, 138, 212, 215, 218, 224, 

225, 246, [251], 266, 267 f. ; cited 
by Edward I, 192 ; Arthur called 
builder of a house in Scotland, 
249; feast at York, 168 n. 2, 
196, 203, 246; aids the Church, 
239; distributes fiefs in Britain, 
213, 218; marriage with Guene- 
vere, [190], 225, 234, 252; mar- 
riage childless, 140, 155, 215; 
Arthur's son, 17, 18, 141 (with 
n. i) ; Modred called his son, 
141, x88 ; other sons, 211. 

Conquests outside Great 
Britain, 48 f., 154 f., 239; origin 
of the idea, 50, 83 ff., I26f., 


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142; Ireland, 84, 133, 181, 216; 
."Gutlande," 216; Greenland, 
141, 281; Norway, 138, 216; 
Denmark (Dacia), I26f. ; omis- 
sions, 216; first war in Gaul 
(France) : origin of the idea, 
67 f., 82 ff., 85 ; whole campaign, 
48, 154, 218, 244; doubted or 
omitted, 233 (^j); duel with FloUo 
and surrender of Paris, 87, 96, 
113, 131, 157, 167, 194, 196, 201, 
232,253; Arthur's deeds in France 
(Wace), 137 ; divides France, 109, 
218; institutes Twelve Peers,- 
187 ; builds a chapel to the Vir- 
gin, 232; builds a castle, 206; 
return from France, 131, 203; 
second coronation and feast, 
48. 67, 78, no, 113, 119, 129, 

131. i55» 161, 171, 181, 195 
n. 8, 196, 201, 202, 207, 214 n. 4, 
216, 218, 231 n. 4, 232 n. I, 
252, 268, 282; Round Table 
(thing or custom) associated 
with Arthur (cf. below, Round 
Table), 100, 142, 143, 164, 187, 
I97» 203, 207, 213 (bis), 214 n. 4, 
215, 218, 222, 223, 232, 242, 244, 
249, 252, 253 {pis\ 264, 265, 266; 
Arthur has 24 knights, 249. 
War with Lucius in general, 
48 f., 122, 154 f., 198, 216, 223, 
[242], 251 f., 254; Lucius invades 
Britain, 223; Lucius's message, 
67, 132, 154 f., 181, 216, 218, 
219; speech by Cador, 133 n. 10, 
139, 161, 231 n. 4; by Gawain, 

132, 139, 161 ; Lucius's heathen 
kings, 87 ; Lucius leaves Rome, 
219; Arthur's embarkation, 131, 
144, 1 56 ; dream on the Channel, 
67, 88, 136, 160, 195 n. 8, 216; 
duel with the giant of Mt. St. 
Michel, 90 f. (mythical origin), 
48, 82, 108 n. 3, 1 13, 130, 134 n. I, 

I35» 13^ 141. iS5» ^6i (bis)^ 
163, 188, 196, 201, 216, 2I9» 
227, 232 n. I, 253, 279; duel with 
Ritho, 91, 160, 188, 196, 201; 
with a giant in Ireland, etc., 
183 {bis) ; embassy of Gawain and 
others and first battle with the 
Romans, 48, 71, 131, 132 {pis), 
134 n. I, 135, 141, 143, 144, 156 
(with n. 5), 213, 229, 232, 282 ; 
prisoners sent to Paris, 135; 
Lucius's ambuscade and battle 
of the Convoy, 136 n. i, 227; 
Lucius retreats, 119; Arthur 
interposes, 206; last battle with 
Lucius, 122, 163, 205, 217, 229, 
253; Arthur's prowess, 138, 219, 
231 n. 4; Arthur kills Lucius, 
252 ; Gawain kills Lucius, 201 ; 
treatment of Lucius's body, i3Sf.; 
Arthur crosses Alps, 187, 202, 223, 
252 ; invasions of France con- 
fused, 122, 183^ 212; conquests 
extended, 103, 223, 244, 251. 

Arthur's last campaign: war 
with Melwas in early tales, 94 f., 
105 f., 270; possible origin of 
Geoffrey's story, 81 ; Modred's 
treason, etc., 49, 51, 141, 150 f., 
163, [190], 198, 207, 216, 228, 
229!; Guenevere blamed, 163, 
175. ^97. 201, 210, 219, 223, 252; 
exculpated, 229 f., 270 ; the cam- 
paign against Modred in general, 
122, 198, 207, 213, 219, 223, 242, 
258, 259, 267, 270 ; Modred helped 
by Saxons and Scots, 186, 219, 
248, 258, 267 ; first battle, 231 
n. 4 ; battle at Winchester, 252 ; 
omitted, 216 ; Modred escapes to 
Cornwall by sea, 231 n. 4 ; last 
battle, at Camelford (Camlann, 
Camblenc, river Cambula, Cam- 
blan, Tambre, Tanbre), 32, 34, 
118, 120 f. (with 120 n. 5), 126, 


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127, 137 n. 1, 164 f. (with 164 n.3), 
167, 175, 180, 188, 190, 197 f., 202, 
213, 222, 230, 236, 247, 248, 252, 
258 ; Arthur gives Calibume to 
Gifflet, 230; leaves kingdom to 
Constantine, 230, 283 ; said to 
have (conquered Modred and) 
continued to reign, 199, 254; 
Arthur killed (or dies), 32, 120 
(with n. 5), 123, 188, 197, 202, 207, 
211, 219, 247, 248, 252, 258, 267; 
uncertainty whether he is alive 
or dead, 202, 232 ; carried to Ava- 
lon, 49,95, ^oo» 102, 123, 165, 223, 
225, 230, 258; to Glastonbury, 
211; to Saleme, 214 n. 4; dis- 
appearance rationalized, 190; in 
the antipodes, 145, 167 ; in the 
Earthly Paradise, 167; in Mt. 
Etna, 188; associated with the 
Wild Hunt, 189; British hope 
of his return, 100, loi, 102, 104, 
107, 120, 138, 143, 146, 165, 167, 
188, 197, 202, 207, 219, 221, 223, 
239; sepulchre unknown, 104, 
254; buried at Glastonbury, 
199, 203, 210, 211, 258 ; bodies of 
Arthur (and Guenevere) found 
at Glastonbury, 189 £f., 197, 225, 
250, 253, 262, 263, 270, 279 f. 
Miscellaneous mentions : Arthur 
brought in before Vortigem, 198; 
visits Jerusalem, 33 f . ; on good 
terms with **Clodius," 122 ; fight 
with the cat, 214 n. 4; endows 
Glastonbury Abbey, 99, 255 ; 
charters Cambridge University, 
255; builds Windsor, 265 ; reigns 
twenty-one years, 211. 

Arthur, a figure in a genealogy, 77. 

Artur le Preuxy 231. 

Arturus, Artus. See Arthur. 

Arviragus, British king, 46, 73 f., 86. 

Aschillius (iEschil, Aschis), king of 
Denmark, i26f., 154. 

Asser, 67 n. 3. 

Attila, king of the Huns, 84. 

Aualon. See Avalon. 

Auguselus ( Aguisel, Agusel, Anguischel, 
Anguisel, Anguissel, Angusian, 
Augusele) receives part of Scot- 
land from Arthur, 48, [109], 192, 
224, 266, 268 ; at Arthur's feast, 
76, 268 ; death, etc., 155, 161, 201, 
207, 219, 244; I wain succeeds 
him, 135; omitted, 218. 

Augustodunum, 219. 

Aurelius (Ambrose, Ambrosius, Am- 
brosius Aurelianus, Ambrosius 
Merlinus, Aurelie, Aurelien, 
Aurelius Ambrosius, Aurilam- 
bros(e), Aurylambros, Awrelius), 
Ambrosius Aurelianus in Gildas, 
5, 7 f. ; probably historical, 23 ; 
perhaps has mythical elements, 
19 n. I ; possibly to be equated 
with King Bors, 89 n. i ; as 
supreme kinjg in Nennius, 15 ; 
quarrel with Guitolinus, 16, 64, 
80 ; as boy in the tower episode, 
12 ff., 17, 47, 62 f., 92; incon- 
sistency of Nennius's mentions, 
18; largely gives place in Nen- 
nius to Vortimer, 18 {bis)\ 
omitted, 198; whole story, 39, 
47 f., 59 f.. 63, 109 n. 3, 143, 153, 
166 n. 4, 174, 238, 239 {bis), 242 
n.3, 243, 258, [263], 266, 270; 
chosen king before Constans, 
1 50 {pis) ; a child at the death 
of Constans, 183; taken to 
Brittany, 72, 75. 82, 254, 257; 
reputation there, 137 n. i ; Vor- 
tigem in fear of, 10, 18, 60; 
called from Brittany, 163; 
awaits Saxon attack, 136 n. i ; 
destroys Vortigem, 47, 133, 155 ; 
war with the Saxons (Hengist), 
speech of Eldadus, and death of 
Hengist, 47, 67, 82, 87, 157, 184, 


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226, 229, 232 n. I, 246, 259, 261, 
267 ; Aurelius restores churches^ 
78; restores York, 168 n. 2; 
Uther*s expedition to Ireland 
for the Great Circle and its 
erection at Stonehenge with 
Merlin's help, 47, 93 (with n. 3 
and n. 4), 118, 139, 140, 153, 155, 
162, 167, 172, 180 f., 189, 207, 
[213], 218, 229, 251 n. 2, 257, 
265, [266], 269 ; disbelieved, 182, 
244; Aurelius's second corona- 
tion, 1 10 n. 5 ; wars with Pascent, 
47, 134 n. 2; poisoned, 75 f., 132 
(with n. 2), 282; killed in battle, 
218, 238, 261 ; loses importance 
in later Arthurian stories, 94 ; 
called coadjutor of Arthur, 266 ; 
under Vortimer, 261 ; confused 
with Uther, 195 n. 8 ; alliance with 
Scottish kings, 243, 245 ; his sis- 
ter, wife of Lot, 247, 282 ; Gildas's 
book on his victories, 65 n. 2. 

Aurelius Conanus, British king, 49. 

Aurilambros, Aurylambros, etc. See 

Avalon (Aualon, Avallon, Avallonia, 
Avalun, Insula Fatata), 100 f., 
146, 162, 167, 187, 197, 202, 207 ; 
Arthur goes there, 49, 95, 100, 
102, 123, 146, 165, 167, 223, 225, 
230, 258 ; equated with Glaston- 
bury, 190, 258. 

Avicianus, Count of Tours, 123 (with 
n. 4). 

Awrelius. See Aurelius. 

Ayala, CrSnica del Rey Don Pedro, 236. 

Badon, Mount (Mons Badonicus, Bath 
(.?)), battle of, 5, 7, 8 ; ascribed to 
Uther, 261 ; to Arthur, see under 
Arthur, war with the Saxons. 

Badulcus. See Baldulph. 

Bajocae (Bayeux), Bedver*s burial place, 

Balderus, perhaps to be equated -with 
Baldulph, 88. 

Baldulph (Badulcus, Baldolf, Baldulf, 
Baldulphus, Bladulf), Saxon 
leader against Arthur, 88 (Bal- 
derus), 48, 63, 149, I53f., 159, 
216, 235. 

Ban, King, in the romances, 89 n. i. 

Barbour, Brut, not extant, 241 n. 2. 

Bartholomew de Cotton, Historia Anglt^ 
canay 171, 174. 

Bassas, river, scene of one of Arthur's 
battles, 16, 63. 

Bath, battle of. See Badon. 

Baynes, Merlin's fountain, 207. Cf. 
Galabes and Labenes. 

Beauvais, monk of, interpolated version 
of the Chronicon of Sigebert de 
Gembloux, 172, 179. 

Bede, Historia Ecclesiastical 23 ff.; 
draws from Gildas, 24 (with n. 2) ; 
used by Geoffrey, 53 {pis\ 57 ff., 
62 n. 4, 65 n. 2, 81 ; by other 
writers, 21,36, 38ff., 41, 148, 171, 
175, 179 f., 210, 237 (with n. i), 
238, 243 (bis) (with n. i), 246, 
256, 257, 261, 265, 266 {bis)y 268 

Bedrag, grandfather of Bedver, 1 1 2 n. 4. 

Bedver (Beduerus, Bedwer), Arthur's 
steward, inf., 76, 143; in the 
fights with the giants, 91, 163, 
196, 218 f.; death, 49, 119, 132, 
139 n. I; his son, 240; called 
king, 196; ancestor of the Bed- 
uara, 240. 

Bedver I, grandfather of Bedver, 112, 
133 n. 10. 

Belinus, early British king (Gallic chief), 
46, 68, 81, 108. 

Belle nden, John, translation of Boece's 
Scotorum Historia, 247, 267. 

Benedict of Gloucester, Life of St. 
Dubricius, account of Arthurian 
period, 121. 


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Benedict, abbot of Peterborough, Gesta 

Henrici 11^ 172, 192. 
Benedictus, monk of S. Andreas, Chron- 

icofif 240 n. 2. 
Biowulf, 156, 157. 
Bergomensis, 238. See Foresti. 
Bemhardus,monk,on Merlin's birth, 238. 
Beulan, spiritual director of Nennius (?)» 

Bevis of Hampton, 206 n. 6. 
Bible, influence of on Geoffrey's Historian 

87 (passim), 156 (with n. i). 
Billeius, 123. See Hirelgas. 
B/ack Book of Caermarthen, 89 n. 3. 
Bladud, early British king, 46, 86 {pis), 
Bladulf. See Baldulph. 
Blase, Merlin's master, 208. 
Blesis (Blois), foundation, 123. 
Blioberis, one of Arthur's knights, 223. 
Bliriacus (Bler^), town in Touraine, 123. 
Bloet, Robert, bishop of Lincoln, 41. 
Blondus, 238. See Forliviensis. 
Boccus (Bocu), king, killed by Hirelgas, 

119, 139 n. I, 160 n. 6. 
Bodemound, substituted for Gorlois, 211. 
Boece, Hector, Scotorum ffistoria, 

245 ff., 257, 282, 283; followed, 

248 f., 249, 266, 268. 
Book of Llan Ddv (Llandaff, Liber 

Landavensis), 17 n. i, 77 n. i, 78, 

79 (with n. 4). 
Borel (Borellus Cenomanensb, Bors, 

Dorell), one of Arthur's knights, 

140 n. 3, 143, 159 n. 5, 161 f., 

218, 282. 
Borel, a Saxon warrior, 159. 
Borron, Robert de, author of the prose 

Merlin, 118, 252 n. 14. 
Bors, King, 89 n. i. 
Bors, 143. See Borel. 
Boso (Beus) of Oxford, one of Arthur's 

knights, 56 n. 2, 206 n. 6, 229. 
"Boso Camotensis" (Boso of Oxford 

confused with Guerinus Camo- 
tensis of Geoffrey, x. 4), 123, 282. 

Bouchart, Alain, Grandes Croniques de 

Bretaigne, 231 ff., 233, 268, 282. 
Boulogne-sur-Mer, counts of, 124 n. 
Bourdign^, Jehan de, Chroniques d*An- 

jou et du Maine (Hystorie agre- 

gative des Annalles et cronicques, 

etc.), 233 ff. 
Bran of the Venerable Head, 89 n. i. 
Branwen, Daughter of Llyr, 83 n. 7. 
Bremmerch (Brentimaris), a piece of 

land, [99], 255. 
Brennius, 46, 81. Cf. Belinus. 
Brentecnol (Brentenol), Mt., 99. 
Bretons. See Armoricans. 
Brittany. See Armorica. 
Brompton, John, Chronicon, 175. 
Brounsteelle. See Caliburn. 
Brut. See Barbour, French Brut, Lay- 

amon, Munchener Brut, Petit 

Brut, Wace. Minor French 

chronicles, 209 ff. Cf. 209 n. i. 
Brut Gruffydd ab Arthur, 117 (with 

Brut Tysilio, 2 n. i (p. 3), Ii7ff., 146 

n. 4, 283. 
Brut y lywysogion (Gwentian Brut), 

44 (with n. 2 and n. 4), 45 (bis), 

50 n. 
Brutus (Brute), legendary founder of 

the British race, 46, 51, 65, 81, 

98, 108, 115, 167 n. 19, 193, 198, 

216, 262. 
Buchanan, George, Rerum Scoticarum 

Historia, 249. 
Budecius (Budic) of Brittany, 75, 232. 

Cabal, Arthur's dog, 16, 18. 

Cabellus, a Roman, 229. 

Cadal, Constantine's assassin, 158. 

Cadiocus, bishop of Vannes, 166. 

Cador (Cato), duke of Cornwall, father 
of Constantine (3), 64, 88, 283 ; 
mythical origin, 94 ; called king, 
106, 229; son of Gorlois, 117, 
251, 283; relative of Guenevere, 


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140 n. 3, 159, 225, 266, 283; in 
Arthur's wars, 48, 72, 131, 134 
n. 1, 154, 1 57 n. 2, 200, 235; speech, 
133 n. 10, 139, 161, 231 n. 4. 

Cadualladnis (Cadwaladrus), last Brit- 
ish king, 49, 51, 57 (with n. i), 

Caduallo (Cadwallo), last great British 
king, 49, 65, 108. 

Caduanus, British king, 49. 

Caen, Kay buried there, 1 1 1 f . 

Caer Guorthigim, 14, 15 (with n. 4), 20 
n. I. 

Caerleon (Carlion, Carlon, Karlium, 
Kerlionus, Urbs Legionum, Usk), 
rebuilt by Constantine the Great, 
255; tournament under Uther, 
223; scene of one of Arthur's 
battles, 16; as Arthur's capital, 
114, 67, 77, 99, 163, 181, 186, 
216 (cf. under Arthur, second 
coronation) ; Arthur dies there, 
211; Guenevere becomes nun 
there, 95 n. i, 230, 252; said to 
be on the Thataies, 229. 

Caesar, Julius, invasion of Britain, 46, 
67, 68 f., 71, 249. 

Caesarius of Heisterbach, on Arthur's 
immortality, etc., 188 n. 10. 

Caius, John, De AnUquitate Cantabrigi- 
ensis Academiae^ 50 n. i, 260 n. 6. 

Cajus. See Kay. 

Caleburne, etc. See Caliburn. 

Caledonian forest (Wood of Calidon, 
Celidon), scene of one of Arthur's 
battles, 16, 63, 206. 

Caliburn (Brounsteelle, Caleburne, Cal- 
ibeorne, Calibourne, Caliburnus, 
Taboume), Arthur's sword, 95 f., 
162, 167, 187, 192, 197, 202, 206 f., 
225, 230, 252, 253 (with n. 8). 

Camalet, Round Table held there, 266. 

Camblan, river, 164 n. 3. See Arthur, 
last battle. 

Camblenc, 236. See Arthur, last battle. 

Cambridge University, 255. Cf. Caius 
and Cantalupus. 

Cambula, river, 164 n. 3, 167. See 
Arthur, last battle. 

Camelford, 164. See Arthur, last battle. 

Camlann, 32, 34. See Arthur, last battle. 

Canon of Lanercost, Larga Angliae 
Historian 175 ^m ^^> ^^3 n. 3. 

Cantalupus, Nicholaus, De AnUquitate 
et Origine Universitatis Canta- 
brigiaey 255. 

Cantia, 11. See Kent. 

Canturguoralen, 11. See Kent. 

Capgrave, John, The Chronicle of Eng- 
land^ 250. 

Caradoc of Llancarvan, 52 ; Brut y 
Tywysogion (Gwentian Brut), 44 
(with n. 2 and n. 4), 45 (bis), 50 
n. ; Life of Gildas, 80, 95, 105 f. 

Caradocus, duke of Cornwall, 86. 

Carados of Little Britain, 223. 

Carausius, historical British adven- 
turer, 81. 

Cardiff, 80. 

Careticus, British king, 49. 

Carlion, Carlon. See Caerleon. 

Carlisle, 73 f. 

Cassibellaunus, British king, 46, 67, 
(&, 108. 

Castelford, Thomas, Chronicle, 202 f . 

Catagren, 218. See Categimus. 

Categimus (Catagren, Kartigem), son 
of Vortigern, 14, 15, 218, 228. 

Catel, a Welsh chief (Annates Cam- 
briae), 76. 

Cato, 106. See Cador. 

Caxton, Crony cles of Englond, 214, 220, 
231 n. 3, 256, 268; St. Albans 
edition, 264 n. 2. 

Celidon, Wood of, 16. See Caledonian 

Cerdic (Cordryk), historical Saxon 
king (Geoffrey's Cheldricus and 
Cherdicus, which see), 22, 185 f., 
246, 251, 258, 259, 267. 


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Ceretic, Hengist's interpreter, 1 1, 18. 

Chainon (Chinon), 122. 

Chanson de Roland^ 87 n. ii, 94 n. I. 

Charlemagne, 84, 94. 

Chatleus map Catel, one of Arthur's 
knights, 77. 

Cheldric (Cheldrich, Cheldricus, Chel- 
drik, Cheldryk, Chelrik, Chil- 
deric, Childrich, Childrick), two 
Saxon leaders of that name in 
Geoffrey, both properly identical 
with Cerdic, 185 ; (i) in Arthur's 
early wars, 48, 61, 63, 88, 141, 
149. i54» 157 n. 2, 159, 195 n. 8, 
216 n. 2, 219, 231 n.4, 234; (2) 
allied with Modred, 186, 219. Cf. 

Chelianus (Thelianus), 79 (with n. 8). 

Ghent, 11. See Kent. 

Gherdicus, a Saxon leader, 185. Gf. 
Gerdic and Gheldric. 

Ghester, Vortigem kept there, 258. 

Gheudo (Gajus), 11 1 n. 5. 

Cheuno. See Kay. 

Ghilderic, etc. See Gheldric. 

Ghinon, foundation, 122 f. Gf. 206. 

Chronica Chronicarum^ 268. See under 

Chronica of Mailros, 241 n. 2. 

Chronica S, Martini de Dover ^ 177 n. 

Chronicle of MS. Gott. Gleop. A. i, 175, 
183, 186 n. 5. 

Chronicle (Annals) of St. . MichaePs 
Mountf 34 f. 

Chronicon Incerti Auctoris^ 240 n. 2. 

Chronicon Monasterii de Hales ^ 175, 182, 
185 n. 8, 187 n. 8, 191 n. 2. 

Chronicon Monasterii Mellicensis, 240. 

Chronicon de Origine et Rebus Gestis 
Britannia^ et AngliaCy 176, 187. 

Chronique des Vavassours^ 222 n. 5. 

Ghymoun, Kay's town, 206. Cf. I22f. 

Gilchester, Arthur crowned there, 224 
n. 4, 229. 

Gimbri, 74. 

Ginncenn, Welsh chief {AnncUes Cam- 
briae), 76. 

Cirencester, 215. 

Claudius, emperor of Rome, 46, 74. 

Clodius (Clovis the Merovingian)^ 122. 

Gloucestre (Gloucester), 229. 

Clovis. See Clodius. 

Goel, British king, 69. 

Coggeshall Abbey, Chronicle, 172, 173, 
189 n. 3, 190, 279. 

Golgrin (Colegryne, Colgrim, Colgri- 
nus), a Saxon leader against 
Arthur, 48, 63, 135, 149, 215, 
216 n. 2, 235. 

Commodus, or Ivomadus, legendary 
character, 123. 

Conaan, Merlin's grandfather, 158. 

Gonan Meriadoc, British hero, [2 n. i], 
47 (^w), [65], 86, [122]. 

Conchobar, Irish hero, 107 n. 6. 

Gonrane (Conradus), king of Scotland, 
248, 266. 

Gonstans (Constant, Constantius, Con- 
staunce), son of Constantine (2), 
king of Britain, whole story, 47, 
59, 81, 146, 151 (passim), 251, 
266, 269; coronation, i49f.; as- 
sassination, 150, 159, 232 n. I ; 
sons, 195 n. 8 ; other mentions, 
182, 251, 254, 257 ; omitted, 267. 

Constantine the Great, 47, 69, 84, 255. 

Constantine (Constantin, Constantinus) 
of Brittany, king of Britain, 
father of Gonstans, Aurelius, 
and Uther, 47, 59, 72, 81, 84, 87, 
144, 163, 185, 195 n. 3, 200, 217, 
251, 266, 267, 268, 269. 

Constantine (Constantinus), son of Ca- 
dor (Carados, Gorlois), kinsman 
of Arthur, and his successor, 49, 
64, 117, 165, 223, 230, 252, 283. 

Cooper, Thomas, bishop, Epitome of 
Chronicles, 263, 265, 268. 

Coquet River^ scene of a victory of 
Uther, 224. 


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Cordryk. See Cerdic. 

Corineus (Cornebyus), early legendary 
British hero and duke of Corn- 
wall, 46, 56, 254. 

Cormac, Irish hero, 113 n. 2. 

Cornebyus, 254. See Corineus. 

Comer, Hermannus, Chronica Novella, 
240 n. 2. 

Comubia, Cornwall, loi, 106, 231 n. 4, 
244. Cf. Cador, Caradocus, Con- 
stantine (3), Corineus, Gorlois. 

Coslyn, 254. See Guethelinus. 

Crecganford, scene of a battle between 
Saxons and Britons, 21. 

Crestien de Troyes, 99, 133. 

Crete, 136. 

Cronica Cronicarum Abrege, 233, 268. 

Crdnica del Rey Don Pedro, by Ayala, 

Crony cles o/Englondy 220. See Cazton. 

Cumbreland, 74. 

Cupid, 228. 

Cynric, historical Saxon king, 22, 246. 

Cynvarch (Kahu), mythological Welsh 
character, 76, 224. 

Dacia. See Denmark. 

Dalrymple, James, translation of Leslie's 

De Origine . . . Scotorum^ 248. 
Damen (Dannet, Dane) Hill, scene of 

one of Uther's battles, 118 n. 11, 

Danaut map Papo, one of Arthur's 

knights, 77. 
Danish invasions of England, 67, 108 

n. 3. 
Dannet. See Damen. 
Dates added, 159, 217, 222, 232 n. i, 

233» 251, 254, 257, 258, 264, 

265, 267. 
Denmark (Dacia), conquered by Arthur, 

48, i26f., 154. 
Derguentid, river, scene of one of 

Vortimer's battles, 14. 
Dido, queen of Carthage, 88. 

Dillus Varvawc) a giant in Kulhwch 

and Olwen, 91, 163. 
Dinabuc^ giant of Mt. St. Michel so 

called, 141. Cf. under Arthur. 
Dinabutius, in the tower episode, 62, 

[12 f., 218]. 
Dindrarthon, called Arthur's city, 106. 
Dol in Brittany, 79. 
Don, river, scene of Hengist's death, 

184, 261. 
Dongard, king of Scotland, 267. 
Dorell (Geoffrey's Borellus Cenoma- 

nensis), called Arthur's cousin, 

218, 282. 
"Douglas of Glastonbury," alleged 

author of the French Brut, 214. 
Douglas, river. See Dubglas. 
Dowchsperys (Twelve Peers, which see), 

Draco Normannicus, 145 f., 167. 
Drayton, Michael, Polyolbion, 270. 
Dream of Rhonabwy, 95 n. 4, 141 n. i. 
Drinc Heil episode. See under Vorti- 

gem, Hengist's feast. 
Dubglas (Douglas, Duglas), river, scene 

of several of Arthur's battles, 

15. 63» 153*235. 
Dubricius (Dubriz), St., 121 (Life of), 77, 

119, 154, 181, 205. 
Duglas, river. See Dubglas. 
Dunbar, 251. 

Dunvallo Molmutius, British king, 75. 
Duvianus, legendary missionary, 65 n. 2. 

Earthly Paradise, 146, 167. Cf. Avalon. 
Ebissa, Ebyssa. See Eosa. 
Eboracum. See York. 
Edgar, historical Saxon king, 186. 
Edinburgh, associated with Arthur, 244. 
Edward I, connected with the Arthu- 
rian story, 191 f., 250. 
Edward, St., historical Saxon king, 72. 
Egbert, historical Saxon king, 72. 
Egypt, conquered by Arthur, 223. 
" Eielredus," Saxon king, 70. 


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Eigr, 117. See Igerna. 

Eldadus, bishop under Aurelius, 47, 
80 n. 7, 87. 

Eldof, Eldolf, etc. See Eldol. 

Eldol (Aldolf, Eldof, Eldolf, Elduf, 
Eldulph), escape from **Long 
Knives" massacre, 47, 62, 87, 
127 n.2, 130 f., 152, 183, 228, 
251 n. 2 ; in the battle against 
Hengist, 47, 155, 157, 229, 
232 n. I, 267. 

Eleanor, queen of Henry II, 128. 

Eleven Thousand Virgins, legend of, 86. 

Eli, reeve of Merlin's city, 158. 

Elized, Welsh chief (Annates Cambriae)^ 
76 (bis), 

Elmham. See Thomas of Elmham. 

Elves, 162, 195 n. 4; Argante called 
elf, 165. 

Elyn (Helen), mother of Lot, 218. 

Embreis. See Ambrosius. 

Emine, name given to Anna, 232. 

Enenkel (Einenkel), Joannes, Univer- 
sai-Chronik^ 240 n. 2. 

Engelhusius, Theod., Chronicon^ 240 n.2. 

Engist. See Hengist. 

England, name derived from Hengisty 
218, 244; from Igerna^ 254; 
divided by Hengist, 218, 244, 
254, 258. 

^''English Chronicle'*'* (translation of 
the French Brut). See Caxton. 

Englist. See Hengist. 

Enguerrand de '^^XyChroniquey 222 n. 5. 

Eopa (Appas), a Saxon, poisons Aure- 
lius, 48, 153. 

Eosa (iCsc, Ebissa, Ebyssa, Eossa, 
CEric, Oisc, Osa, Ossa, Oysa, 
Oyse, Oza), Hengist's nephew 
(son), Ebissa probably identical 
with vEsc, 25; Layamon distin- 
guishes Ebissa and Eossa, 158; 
Ossa called brother of Otta 
(Octa), 214 n.4; wed-brother, 
157; Ebissa in Nennius, 11, 18, 

29» 30, 39; iEsc in the Saxon 
Chronicle y 21 ; Eosa (Ebissa) in 
Geoffrey and others, [47], 48, 61, 
63, 152; surrender to Aurelius, 
157; first war with Uther and 
capture, 48, iiSf., [196, 229], 
251 ; second war with Uther and 
death, [70, 73], 153. [185], 200, 
[214 n.4], 224, [246, 267]. 

Episford, scene of one of Vortimer*s 
battles, 14. 

Epitome Historiae Britannicae^ 168. 

Er, son of Hiderus (Ider), 94, 162. 

Erech, one of Arthur's knights, 223. 

Eridur, British king, 77. 

Esscol, son of a king of Iceland, 159. 

Essex, and other counties, Wace*s ety- 
mology, 136. 

Ethelred, historical Saxon king, 72. 

£tienne, monk of Bee, supposed author 
of Draco Normannicus, 145. 

£tienne de Bourbon, on Arthur's earthly 
immortality, 188 n. 10. 

Etna, Mt., Arthur said to be there, 188. 

Eudo, abbot of Caen, 1 1 1 n. 5. 

Eudo, seneschal of William I and II, 
III n. 5. 

Eugenius, king of Scotland, 247. 

Eventus. See Iwain. 

Eweyn. See Iwain. 

Exeter, Arthur holds a hustings there, 154. 

Fabyan, Robert, New Chronicles of 
England and France, 255 ff.> 
259, 260, 263, 264 {bis)y 265, 268 f . 

Faganus and Duvianus, legendary mis- 
sionaries, 65 n. 2. 

Fasciculus Temporuniy 238, 239. 

Fausta, legendary character, 123. 

Febus, called god of the Saxons, 136. 

Ferrex and Porrex, 46. 

Feudal manuals of English history, 212. 

FloUo (Flolon, FroUe, Frollo, Frolloun, 
FuUo, Fullon), possibly to be 
equated with RoUo, 81 ; under 


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the Emperor Leo, 85 n. 2 ; called 
" Sir Thomas," 183, 200 n. 9, 
212; Arthur's campaign against 
and duel with, see under Arthur. 

Florence of Worcester, 35, 67 n. 3. 

Flores Historiarum (The Flowers of 
History), 170, 173, 183, 184, 185, 
187, 189, 191 n. 2, 279. Cf. Mat- 
thew of Westminster. 

Flowers of History , 173. See Flores 

Forciglioni, Antoninus, Chronica, 238. 

Fordun, John of, Chronica Gentis Sco- 
torunty 242 f., 247, 268, 282. 

Foresti, Jacobus (Bergomensis), Sup- 
plemerUum Cronicarum, 238 f., 

239» 245- 
Forliviensis, Flavins Blondus, Historiae 

ab Inclinatione Romanorum Im- 
perii , 238, 239 (<Jw). 
Fortiger. See Vortigern. 
Fortune, 228. 
France. See under Arthur, first war in 

Gaul, and war with Lucius. 
Frea (Frie), Teutonic goddess, 70, 

195 n. 4. 
French Brut, the large one, 214 £f., 

176, 213, 220, 242 n. 3, 244, 250, 

251, 253, 282. 
Frie, 195 n. 4. See Frea. 
Frise, Frislonde, (Frisia), 151, 158. 
Froissart (Frosard), 265. 
Frolle, Frollo. See Flollo. 
Fulgentius, British king, 242. 
" Fyn-Mak-couU," popular Scottish 

hero, 248. 

Gaban, maker of Gawain*s sword, 213, 

Gaheries, son of Loth and Anna, 189. 

Gaimar, Geoffrey, History of the Brit- 
ons and History of the Engles, 
125 ff., loi, 144 n. 10. 

Galabes, Merlin's fountain, 127 n. 2, 
187 f. Cf. Baynes, Labenes. 

Galan, Galant, suggested intermediate 
forms between Waylart^ and 
Gaban, 280 n. 7. 

Gallowaie (Walweitha), 104, [187, 218, 
251], 267. 

Galopes, son of King March, 223. 

Ganhumara. See Guenevere. 

Gaufridus Monumetensls. See Geoffrey 
of Monmouth. 

Gaul, 137 n. I. See under Arthur, first 
war in Gaul, and war with Lucius. 

Gauuan. See Gawain. 

Gawain (Gauuan, Gavain, Gawa3me, 
Gawen, Gawyn, Walgainus, 
Walgan, Walvanus, Walwanus, 
Walwen, Wawayn), son of Xx^tli 
and Anna, brother of Mod red 
(and Hoel), 104 {bis), 183, 189, 
2x1, 221, 282 ; cousin to Holdin, 
• 140 n. 3 ; original mythical char- 
acter, 94; hero of stories in 
North of England, [104], 219; 
in William of Malmesbury, 1 04 f . ; 
in Geoffrey, 48, 113; sent to 
Pope Sulpicius, 80, 229 ; receives 
a fief from Arthur, 187, 218, 
251 ; speech, 132, 139, 161 ; em- 
bassy to Lucius and battle with 
the Romans, 48, 71, 131, 132 
(bis), 134 n. I, 135, 141, 143, 
144, 156 (with n.5), 213, [282] ; 
kills Lucius, 201 ; goes with 
Arthur to Avalon, 223; death, 
49, 104, 258 ; Arthur's regard for, 
207 ; body sent to Scotland^ 219; 
body found, 104, 187 ; his sword, 
213, 280; praised, 48 f., 82, 94, 
105 n. 2, 139, 144, 163, 187, 197, 
201, 207, 213 {pis), 229, 270 ; dis- 
praised, 123; exploits doubted, 
245; omitted, 199. 

Gaynore. See Guenevere. 

Gayus. See Kay. 

Gelderus, perhaps identical with Chel- 
dric, 88. 


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Genealogy of the Kings of England^ in 
French verse, 202 n.8. 

Geneviere, Genevre, Genievre, Gen- 
ouer. See Guenevere. 

Geoffrey Gaimax, History of the Britons 
and History of the Englesy 125 ff., 
loi, 144 n. 10. 

Geoffrey of Monmouth, life, 43 ff.; 
called an earl, etc., 229 ; Historia 
Regutn Britanniaey outline, 46 ff. ; 
literary style, merits, and defects, 
45» 50» 58 f-* 61, 67, 75, 94, I29f. ; 
general method of composition, 
57 f-> 65, 75 ; sources : the Liber 
Vetustissimus and question of its 
existence, 49 ff., 82, 115, 277 f.; 
Breton material, 82 ; Nennius, 
Bede, and Gildas, 53, 57 ff., 7 if., 
8 1 , 89, 92 ff . ; William of Malmes- 
bury and Henry of Huntingdon, 
[52]. 53» [55]» 57 U 61 n. i, 
n. j^2, and n. 3, 66 ff., 84 ; Celtic 
records, 75 ff. ; general history, 
80 ff. ; myths and popular stories, 
54, 85 ff. ; contemporary manners 
and the romantic idea, 108 ff.; 
Geoffrey's purpose and mood in 
the Historiay 54 ff., 65 n. 2, 147 ; 
creates the historical romance 
of Arthur, 56, 108, 273 f.; aston- 
ishment caused by the Historia^ 
116; its authority doubted,' 54 f., 
92, loi, 171, 179 ff., 239, 242, 256, 
260 f., 263, 268 f., 270; transla- 
tions into French prose, 220 n. 6; 
into English, 220 n. 6; into 
Welsh, 1 1 7 ff. ; Prophecy of Mer- 
lin, published separately, 45, 171 ; 
Vita Merliniy 45!, 92 n. 7, 100, 
146, 163, 165, 167. 

Geoffrey of Paris, Chronique Rimiey 
202 n. 8. 

Gerard de Leeu, edition of Caxton*s 
Crony clesy 220 n. 6. 

Gerins, 143. See Guerin. 

Germanic invasion. See under Saxons. 

Gerontius, lieutenant of Constantinus, 
59, 81 {bis). 

Gervase of Canterbury, Gesta Regutn 
Britanniaey Actus Pontificunty 
and Mappa Mundiy 173, 191 n. 2. 

Gervase of Tilbury, Otia Imperialiay 
87 n. 2, 173, 186 f., 188 f., 239 n. 

Gesta Comitum Andegavensiuniy 121. 
See Liber de Constructione. 

Gesta Regis Henrici //, ascribed to 
Benedict of Peterborough, 172, 

Gesta Regutn Britanniaey i66f. 

Geste des Bretonsy 128. See Wace, 

Gewissae, Vortigem*s tribe, 47,' 277. 

Gifflet, one of Arthur's knights, 230 

Gildas, St., of Ruys, 2 n. i (passim), 
34 ; life, 3 f . ; Lives of 4, 80, 95, 
105 f., 270; De Excidio et Con- 
questu Britanniaey 3 ff . ; trust- 
worthiness, 5 ff. ; account of 
the Arthurian period, 4 ff., 7 f . ; 
comparison with Nennius's ac- 
count, 17 ff.; as source of Wil- 
liam of Malmesbury, 38; of 
Geoffrey, 53 (bis)y 57 ff., 65 n. 2, 
81; of other writers, 171, 175, 
178 n., 238, 261 (bis)y 268; 
Gildas associated with Arthur, 
105 f., 187; books ascribed to 
him, 65 n. 2, 166. 

Gille Callaet, Constans's assassin, 159, 

Gillomanius (Gillomith), king of Ire- 
land in time of Aurelius and 
Uther, 47 f., 229. 

Gillomar, king of Ireland, captured by 
Arthur, 154. 

Gillomith. See Gillomanius. 

Ginevra. See Guenevere. 

Giraldus Cambrensis, Works y 172 ; 
special points, 34 n. i, 79, 80, 


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92 (passim), 93 n.3, ibl, ii4» 
180 f., 185, 189 f., 279 f. 

Glamorgan, 278; Arthur crowned its 
king, 216, 218. 

Glastonbury (Glastinbery, Glastonia, 
Glastyngbury) Abbey, 38, 99, 
105 f., 255; Arthur (and Guene- 
vere) buried, or their bodies 
found, there, 189 ff., 197, 199, 
203, 225, 250, 253, 258, 262, 263, 
270, 279; equated with Avalon, 
190 (bis), 258. 

Glein, a river, scene of Arthur's first 
battle, 15, 63. 

Gloucester (Cloucestre), place of 
Arthur's coronation, 229. 

"Gnaor, Maister," translator of Geof- 
frey's Historia into English, 
220 n. 6. 

Gobban. See Gofan. 

Goemagot, a giant, 87. 

Gofan (Gobban, Go van), Celtic smith, 
possible original, of Gaban and 
Griffin, 280 f . 

Gog and Magog, 87 n. 3. 

Gogfran, called father of Guenevere, 

Golfarius, Arthur's sword-bearer, 122. 

Goneoure. See Guenevere. 

Gorbonianus, British king, 46. 

Gorlois (Gorloys, Gothlois), duke of 
Cornwall, 232 n. i ; war with 
Uther and death, see under 
Uther; called father of Cador, 
117 f., 283. 

Gormund, king of Africa, 49, 87, 171. 

Gortimerus. See Vortimer. 

Goswhit, Arthur's helmet, 162, 281. 
See under Arthur, weapons. 

Gothland (Gutlande), submits to Arthur, 
48, 216. 

Gothlois. See Gorlois. 

Gottfried of Viterbo, Pantheon, 146 f., 
212, 228. 

Govan. See Gofan. 

Go wan, oppressor of the Britons, 217. 

Graal (cup), 252. 

Grafton, Richard, Chronicle at Lxirgc 
and other works, 264 ff. 

Grail (Graal) romance, used as source^ 
or referred to, 189, 211, 230, 252. 
Cf. 90 n. 2. 

Gran Conquista de Ultramar, z^fi. 

Gray, Sir Thomas, Scalacronica, 224 f .^ 

Great Circle. See under Aurelius^ 
Uther's expedition to Ireland. 

Greenland (Guenelande, Venelande, 
Winetlonde), conquered by Ar- 
thur, 141, 281. 

Gregory of Tours, 235. 

Griffin, a smith, maker of Arthur's^ 
spear, 162, 213, 281. 

Guanhumara, Guanora. See Guenevere. 

Guanius, heathen pirate, 86 (bis). 

Guenelande. See Greenland. 

Guenevere (Ganhumara, Gaynore, Gene- 
viere, Genevre, Genie vre. Gen- 
ouer, Ginevra, Goneoure, Guan- 
humara, Guanora, Guenhera, 
Guennvvar, Guenuara, Guinever,. 
Guinevere, Gunnore, Gwaynour,. 
Gwenhwyfar, Wenhaver, Wenne- 
vereia), spelling of the name^ 
157 f.; meaning, 281; stories 
about her in southern Scotland, 
27, 247 ; called daughter of Gog- 
fran, 117 ; sister of Modred, 141 ; 
cousin of Cador, 140 n. 3, 159, 
225, 266, 283; her beauty, etc., 
114, 143, 252; marriage with 
Arthur, 225, 234, 252; called 
Arthur's second wife, 190 ; child- 
less, 140, 155, 215; coronation 
at Arthur's feast, 155; union 
with Modred (Mel was), see under 
Arthur, last campaign ; flees from 
Arthur and becomes nun, 95 n. i,. 
194 n. 10, 203, 219, 230, 252; 
kept captive by the Picts, 247; 


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executed by Lancelot, 223; dis- 
covery of her body, 189 ff., [197, 
225, 250, 253, 262, 263, 270], 
279 f. 

Ouenhera, Guennvvar, Guenuara. See 

■Guerin de Chartres (Gerins, Geoffrey's 
Guerinus Camotensis), sent by 
Arthur to Lucius, 143, 232, 282. 

-Guethelinus (Coslyn), archbishop, 59, 
64, 80, 254, 283. Cf. Vodinus. 

-Guiart, Guillaume, Branche des Royaus 
Lingnages^ 202 n. 8. 

•Guibertus of Novigentum, autobiogra- 
phy, lOI. 

Cuido. See " Guydo." 

•Guinever, Guinevere. See Guenevere. 

-Guinnion, a fortress, scene of one of 
Arthur's battles, 16, 33 n. 2. 

Ouitolinus, in Nennius an opponent of 
Ambrosius, 16, 18, 64, 80. 

•Gunnore. See Guenevere. 

•Gunter, king of Denmark, killed by 
Arthur, I26f. 

•Guorthemir. See Vortimer. 

•Guorthigimusr. See Vortigern. 

•Guoyrancgonus, ruler of Kent, 11. 

-Gurgiunt (Gurgunt) Brabtruc, British 
king, 126, 253. 

-Gutlande. See Gothland. 

^*Guydo de Columpna," called author 
of Mer des Histoiresy 256. 

•Guytardus Pictavensis, one of Arthur's 
knights, 282. 

•Gwaynour. See Guenevere. 

"Gweheres, son of Loth and Anna, 189. 

Owenhwyfar. See Guenevere. 

Cwentian Brut, See Brut y Tywyso- 

Gwynedd, 281. 

Owynwas, Celtic god, original of Gua- 
nius, 86. 

Hades, in Irish and Welsh myths, 83 f. 
Cf. Arawn. 

Hales Monastery, Chronicon^ 175, 182, 
185 n. 8, 187 n. 8, 191 n. 2. 

Hallelujah Victory of Bede, 246, 257, 
261, 270. 

Hampshire, given by Arthur to Cerdic, 

Happy Other World, loi. Cf. Avalon. 

Hardyng, John, Chronicle^ 251 ff., 257, 
265, 268. 

Harrison, William, Description of Brit- 
aitiy in Holinshed, 267 ; Great 
Chronology y 267 n. i ; translation 
of Boece-Bellenden, Scotorum 
Historiay 247 n. 2, 267. 

ffaveloky metrical romance, 126 f., 198. 

Helen (Elyn), mother of Lot, 218. 

Helena, mother of Constantine the 
Great, 69. 

Helena (Helaine), niece of Hoel. See 
under Arthur, duel with the giant 
of Mt. St. Michel. 

Helgi, 113 n. 2, 162. 

Hengist (Engist, Englist, Hencgistus, 
Hengest, Hengistus), whole story 
of Hengist (and Horsa), 1 1 f ., 
14 f., 18, 21 f., 24, 25, 30, 36, 47, 
61 f., 70, 151 f., 174, 210; early 
doings in Britain: defeats Picts 
(and Scots), 60, 134 n. i, 228, 
246; other doings, 25 n. 5, 130, 
217, 267 ; builds a castle (bull's 
hide trick), 61, 88, 151 f., 205, 
228 ; plots, 226, 257, 269 ; feast to 
Vortigern, see under Vortigern ; 
war with Vortimer and expul- 
sion from Britain, 226 (see 
under Vortimer) ; return, 244, 
246, 269 ; slaughter of the British 
chiefs, see under Vortigern ; war 
against Aurelius, in general, see 
under Aurelius; captured and 
killed, 47, 157, 184, 195, 259, 261, 
267 ; dies a natural death, 1 5, 
258, 259; lived in Britain forty 
years, 195 ; conquers and divides 


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Britain, 218, 244, 254, 258; Eng- 
land named from him, 218, 244; 
destroys churches and Chris- 
tianity, 244; reproached, 228; 
his relatives dispossess Gawain, 
104 ; called count of Anjou, 234. 

Henricus de Silegrave, Chronicofu, 174. 

Henry I, 72, 85. 

Henry II, 145, 186; directs search for 
Arthur's body, 190 f ., 279 f . 

Henry, abbot of Glastonbury, 279 f. 

Henry of Huntingdon, life, 41 ; Histo- 
ria Anglorumy 41 f., 26 f., 32 n. 4, 
39 n. 2 ; as source of GeofiErey, 
[52]. 53. 55» 57 f-. 61 n. 2, 66fif.; 
of other writers, 175, 176, 182, 
185, 195, 212, 268; distrusted, 
269; Letter to fVdrtnus, ii9ff., 
10 1, 116, 118, 179; followed by 
other writers, 120 (with n. 5), 

121, 175, 188, 198, 202, 230. 
Henry Knighton, 176. See Knighton. 
Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, 210. 
Hercules, 91 n. i, 167. 

Hiderus, 94. See Ider. 

Higden, Ralph, Polychronicofty 175 {pis)y 

176, 181 f., 185 f., 191 n. 2, 255, 

256, 258, 268. 
Hirelgas (Billeius, Hiresgas, Hirlas, 

Irelgas, Ridwa'Selan), nephew of 

Bedver, kills Boccus, etc., 119, 

123, 139 n. I, 158 f., 160 n. 6, 

162, 207. 
Historia Britonum. See Nennius. 
Heel (Howell), Arthur's nephew, 48, 49, 

%2{bis), 127 n. 2, 138, 183, 232, 

235, 268, ?82. 
Hoel, historical count of Brittany, 82. 
Holdinus (Holdin, Houdin, Oldinus), 

one of Arthur's subject kings, 

122, 140 n. 3, 2i8, 282. 
Holinshed, Raphael, Chronicles of Eng- 
land, Scotland, and Ireland, 
267 ff., 247 n. 2. 

H61m-ganga, Norse custom, 87. 

Honorius, Emperor, called superior of 

Lucius, 122. 
Horn, name given to Horsa, 217. 
Horn, King, metrical romance, 198. 
Horsa (Horn, Hors, Horsus), 11, 14, 

18, 21, 24f., 30, 36, 151, 217 f., 

218 n. I. Cf. Hengist. 
Houdin, 140 n. 3. See Holdinus. 
Howell. See Hoel. 
Howes, Historicall Preface to Stew's 

Annates i 260 (with n. 5). 
Huchown, lost account of Arthur, 

242 n. 3. 
Hudibras (properly Rudhudibras), Brit- 
ish king, 86 n. I. 
Hueil, an enemy of Arthur, 105 (with 

Hugues de Pierrepont, bishop, 222 n. 5. 
Humber, river, called scene of Arthur's 

last battle, 247. 
Hywain. See Iwain. 

Iceland, conquered by Arthur, 48. 

Ickham, Peter (?), Chronicon de Regibus 
Angliae, 174, 183, 185, 187, 188. 

Ida, king of Beomicia, 16. 

Ider (Hiderus, Yder), son of Nu (Nudd, 
Nuth), father of Er, in the battle 
of the envoys, 94, 161 f., 196 ; 
William of Malmesbury's story, 
99, 103, 231 n. I, 279. 

Igema (Eigr, Igerne, Ingrene, Ygema, 
Ygerne), union with Uther, see 
under Uther; lineage and rela- 
tives, 117 f., 251, 254, 283; Uther 
makes the Round Table to com- 
fort her, 252; England named 
from her, 254; her beauty, 155. 

Inge, name given to Rowena, 207. 

Ingrene. See Igema. 

Insula Fatata, 187. Cf. Avalon. 

Iny, nephew of Cadualladrus, 49. 

Ireland (Irland), Picts get wives there, 
73; how peopled, 181; takes 
the place of Hades in mythical 


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stories, 83 f.; Uther removes 
the Great Circle, see under 
Aurelius; conquered by Arthur, 
48,84, 133, 154, 181, 216; Arthur 
kills a giant there, 183. 

Irelgas. See Hirelgas. 

Irland. See Ireland. 

Irminric, Kentish king, 25 (of. n. 4). 

Isle of Wight, 22. 

Ivomadus (Commodus), 123. 

Ivor, son of Cadualladrus, 49. 

Twain (Eventus, Eweyn, Hiwayne, 
H3rwain, Iweyn, Owain, Yvain, 
Ywain), son of Urien, 94, 135, 
161, 199, 201, 207, 219, 223, 225. 

Jean d'Outremeuse. See Jean des Preis. 
Jean des Preis, Mer des Histoires (Ly 

Myreur des Histors^^ 222 ff. ; 

Geste d*Ogtery 224. 
Jean de Stavelot, continuator of Mer 

des Histoires y 222 n. i. 
Jean de Wamant, Chronique^ 222 n. 5. 
Jehan de Bourdign^. See Bourdigne. 
Jehan Mansel, 220 n. 6. 
Jehan Petit, Cronica Cronicarutnyi^'^ n.3. 
Jerusalem, conquered by Arthur, 223. 
Johannes Bevenis, Chronica, 175, 177 n. 
Johannes Historiographus, Ckronicon, 

John Brompton, Chronicon, 175. 
John of Oxnead, Chronica, 174. 
John of Whethamstede, 182 n. 4. 
Joram, Vottigern*s chief magus, 159. 
Jordanes, Gothic historian, 82 f. 
Joseph of Arimathea, 189, 252. 
Joseph of Exeter, 10 1, 191. 
Judgual, a Welsh chief killed by the 

Saxons, 76. 
Julius, legendary martyr, 114 n. 5. 
Julyan Notary, edition of Caxton's 

Crony cles, 220 n. 6. 
Jupiter and Alcmena, 90, [167, 278]. 
Justin, son of the emperor Anastaux, 

conquered by Arthur, 223. 

Justinian, Roman emperor, 83 n. 4. 
Juvenal, quoted by Geoffrey, 69 n. 4. 

Kaei, Kai. See Kay. 

Kahu (Cynvarch), father of Lot, etc., 
76, 224. 

Kairmerdin, Kairme'Sin, Merlin's city, 
162, 180. 

" Kardoyl," 200. 

Karlium. See Caerleon. 

Kartigern, 228. See Categimus. 

Kctthdsaritsdgara, 90. 

Kay (Cajus, Cheudo, Cheuno, Gayus, 
Kaei, Kai, Kei, Keux, Key), 
Arthur's seneschal, 49, 76, 91, 
inf., 122 {bis)y 123, 159 (with 
n. 11), 163, 184, 196, 206, 218 f., 
223, 235. 

Kei. See Kay. 

Kelton, Arthur, Chronycle, etc., 262. 

Kent (Cantia, Canturguoralen, Ghent), 
Saxons there, 11, 15, 18, 21, 

Kerlionus. See Caerleon. 
Keux. See Kay. 
Kildare, in Ireland, 93 n. 3, 181. 
Kimbelim map Trunat, one of Arthur's 

knights, 77. 
Kincar, one of Arthur's knights, 77. 
Kinkailin, king of Frislonde, 158. 
Kinlich map Neton, one of Arthur's 

knights, 77. 
Knighton, Henry, Chronicon, 176, 191 

n. 2. 
Kulhwch and Olwen, Welsh tale, 16 

n. 7, 83 n. 7, 91, 95 n. 4, 97, 103, 

105 n. 5, 106, 163, 281. 
Kymbelinus, British king, 77 n. 3. 

Labenes, Merlin's fountain, 127 n. 2. 

Cf. Baynes and Galabes. 
Lancelot (Lanchelot, Launcelot), 201 

n. 17, 223, 234, 252 f. 
Lancelot, prose romance, 88, 120 n. 5, 

151 n. I, 164, 165, 188 {bis), 230. 


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Cf. Lantelet and Morte Arthur^ 
prose romance. 

Lanercost, canon of, Larga Angliae 
Historian 175 ^m ^^0» ^^3 "^-S* 

Langtoft, Peter, Chronicle^ I99ff.> 183 
n. 3, 204. 

Lanquet, Thomas, Epitome of Chron- 
icles, 263. 

Lanzeletj romance by Ulrich von Zat- 
zikhoven, 141 n. i. Cf. Lancelot. 

Laon, monks of, journey to Cornwall, 


** Lapis Tituli," scene of one of Vor- 

timer's battles, 14. 
Large Brut. See French Brut. 
Launcelot. See Lancelot. 
Layamon, life, 148; Brut, 147 ff-» 70, 

100 n. 3, 128, 141 f., 147 n. 2, 

195 n. 6, 281 (passim). 
Laziardus, monk, Epitomata a . . . 

Mundi Origine, 239, 282. 
Le Baud, Pierre, Histoire de Bretagne, 

230 f. 
Leir, King, 46, 86, 210 n.4. 
Leite, Irish hero, 95 n. 4. 
Leland, John, Assertio Inclytissimi 

Arturiiy 191 n. 2, 260 n. 2; Co- 

drus sive Laus Arthuri, 50 n., 

260 n. 2; Collectanea, 177 n., 
• 224. 
Leo, Roman emperor, associated with 

Lucius, 71, 82, ^-^i (with n. 4), 85 

n. 2, 133 n. 10, 167 n. 19, 174, 

196, 200, 229, 231 n. 4. 
Leodegarius (Ligerus), "consul Bolo- 

niae," 124 n. 
Leois, 152. See Lupus. 
Leslie, John, De Origine, Moribus, et 

Rebus Gestis Scotorum, 248 f. 
Liber. See Book. 
Liber de Constructione Aliquorutn Oppi- 

dorum Turonicae Regionis, 121 ff., 

184, 235, 282. 
Ligerus, 124 n. See Leodegarius. 
Lily, George, Chronicon, 262. 

Lincoln, 63, 1 54. 

Liud, 68. See Lud. 

Liver e de Rets de Brittanie, 210 f. 

Liver e de Reis de Engleterre, 210. 

Llacheu, Arthur's son, 141 n. i. 

Llan Div (Llandaff), 45, ^^. Book oJ\ 
see Book. 

Loch Lomond, 217. 

London (Trinovantum), 62, 63, 150 
(passim), 186, 223 (bis), 231 n. 4. 

Lot (Aloth, Loth, Lotho), ancestry, 76, 
189, 218, 224 ; marriage with. 
Anna, and children, 48, 183, 189, 
224, 242, 244, 247, 282; various 
mentions, 48, 70, 76, 135, 185, 
218, 224, 231 n. 4, [268] ; in the 
Scottish versions, 241 if., 246 £., 
251, 252, 266. Cf. Natanleod. 

" Lowthyan," Arthur gives it to Gawain, 

Lucan, quoted, 69. 

Luces, Lucidar. See Lucius Hiberius. 

Lucifer, 118. 

Lucius, legendary British king, 24 n. 3, 

47» 73 ^-y 198. 

Lucius (Luces, Lucidar, Lucye) Hibe- 
rius (wrongly, Tiberius), emperor 
of Rome, 85 n. 2, 122, 133 n. 10, 
140, 156, 196, 200, 231 n. 4. See 
under Arthur, war with Lucius. 

Lud (Liud), British king, 65 n. 2, 68 
(with n. 4). 

Ludhudibras, 86 n. i, incorrect form 
for Rudhudibras. 

Lupa, legendary character, 123. 

Lupus (Leois), associate of St. Ger- 
manus, 24 n. 2, 152. 

Lutesse (Paris), tournament there, 223. 
See under Arthur, duel with 
FloUo and surrender of Paris. 

Ly Myreur des Histors, 222 ff., 256. 

Maelgwyn, 104 n. 6. See Malgo. 
Maffei, Raphael, 239. See Volaterra- 


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Maglocunus. See Malgo. 

Magnum Chronicon Belgicum^ 238. 

Mahun (Mahomet), 157. 

Mailrosj Chronica of, 241 n. 2. 

Maine^ Chroniques du^ 233. See Bour- 

Mair. See Major, John. 

Major (Mair), John, History of Great 
Britain^ 243 ff., 246, 247. 

" Malebierge," Merlin buried there, 221. 

Malgo (Maelgwyn, Maglocunus), Brit- 
ish king, 49, 8r, 104 n. 6. 

Malory, Sir Thomas, Morte Darthur, 
88, 159 n. II. 

Malvasius (^Icus), king of Iceland, 

Mannyng, Robert, of Brunne, Chron- 
icUy 204 ff., 199; Havelok story, 


Mansel, Jehan, called de Hesdin, Fleur 
des Hy stories y 220 n. 6. 

Manuscripts not consulted in the prep- 
aration of this book, 178 n., 202 
(with n. 8), 209 n. I, 220 n. 6, 224, 
267 n. I. 

MS. Bodl. Douce no. 341, p. 253 n. 2. 

MS. Bodl. Tanner no. 195, p. 210. 

MS. Cott. Cleop. A. i, pp. 175, 183, 186 
n. 5. 

MS. Harl. no. 2414, p. 271 n. 

MS. Lambeth no. 306, p. 254. 

MS. Marquis of Bath, p. 253. 

MS. Sloane no. 1090, p. 271 n. 

Marcel and Marcel's cousin, killed 
(wounded) by Gawain, 141, 143, 

March, King, 223. 

Margan^ Annals of 173, 191. 

Marganus, British king, 86. 

Marianus Scotus, 35. 

Marignola, Johannes, Ckronica^ 240 n.2. 

Marius, British king, 46, 73 f., 211. 

Marius, Roman general, 74. 

Martin de Roecestre, poem on Merlin, 
144 n. II. 

Martinus Fuldensis, Ckronicon^ 240 
n. 2. 

"Martinus" Minorita, Flores Tempo- 
rum, 174, 238, 240. 

Martinus Polonus, Cronica Summorum 
Pontificum Imperatorumque, 174. 

" Master of Histories," one of Wavrin's 
authorities, 226. 

Matihre de Bretagne^ 82, 90 n. 3. 

Matthew Paris (Matthaeus Parisiensis), 
Chronica Majora and Historia 
Anglorumy 173. 

"Matthew of Westminster," 173, 176, 
'79 ^' 3* See Flores Historia- 

Maugantius (Maygan), in the tower 
episode, 62, 1 18, 195 n. 8. 

Maugis in Renaut de Montauban, 94 
n. I. 

Maurin, relative of Arthur, 159. 

Maximus (Maximianu$), British leader 
and Roman Emperor, 47, 84. 

Maygan, 118. See Maugantius. 

Medraut, 32. See Modred. 

Meilerius, mentioned by Giraldus, 180. 

Meleon, son of Modred, 1 58. 

Melga, heathen pirate, 86 {bis). 

Melingus, Irish prophet, 92. 

Mel was (Melvas), Celtic god, original 
of Melga, 86; as abductor of 
Guenevere, 94 f., 105 f., 270 (cf. 
Arthur, last campaign). 

Memoriale hystoriarum, 232. 

Mer des Histoires^ 222 ff., 256. 

Merlin (Ambrosius Merlinus, Merelinus, 
Merlinus, Merlinus Celidonius, 
Merlinus Silvestris, Myrddin), 
question of his historical exist- 
ence, 2 n. I ; origin of the stories 
about him, 91 f. ; Geoffrey's 
account, 47 f. ; early known as 
prophet, 91 f. ; Ambrosius (Mer- 
linus) in the tower episode, 
12 ff., 17, 47, 62 f., 92 f., 181; 
age at that time, 205, 218; 


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prophecy at the tower, as a 
whole, 12 ff., 47, SI, 63, 145, 171 
{J>a5sim)y 189, 194, 220 n. 3, 221, 
226, 228, 236, 238 {bis)f 239 ; spe- 
cial points, 60, 70, 72, 79 f ., 87, 1 59, 
181, 196; prophecies doubted or 
omitted, 136, 194, 200, 208, 218, 
225, 234, 242, 244, 251 n. 2, 257; 
special prophecy to Arthur, 92 ; 
prophesies Arthur's return, 165; 
prophecies of Merlinus Silves- 
tris, 92 (3m), 93 n. I ; other 
prophecies not derived from 
Geoffrey, 92, 215, 221 ; general 
mentions as prophet, 199, 238; 
Merlin's birth, 12 ff., 62 f., 118, 
131, 144, i8of., 238, 244 f. ; Merlin 
Ambrosius and Merlinus Silves- 
tris (Celidonius) distinguished, 
92, 163 ; Merlin as magician, in 
general, 93, 139 f., 162 f., 167, 
180 n. 5, 196, 201, 207 ; doubts 
about his supernatural powers, 
257, 260; Merlin's part in the 
Great Circle affair, 47, 93 (with 
n. 3 and n. 4), 118, [139], 140, 
[162], 167, 172, 180 f., 189, 207, 
218, 229, 251 n. 2, 257, 265, 266, 
269; disbelieved, 182, 244; Mer- 
lin omitted, 269; incident of 
Uther's comet, 139; Merlin's 
part in Uther's amour, 48, 93, 
139, 162, 167, 196, 200 n. 2, 245, 
257, 278; general mentions, 174, 
238 (3/j), 239, 240 ; comparative 
importance in Geoffrey, 93 f., 
139 (with n. 7) ; his fountain, 
127 n. 2, 187 f., 207; buried at 
" Malebierge," 221 ; king of 
Great Britain, 222 ; prompts 
Vortigem to strengthen Chris- 
tianity, 238; connected with 
Round Table, 187, 222; book 
about, 234 ; Vita Merlini^ 45 f., 
92 n. 7, 100, 146, 163, 165, 167. 

Merlin^ prose romance, 118, 144 n. 11, 
146) 195 n. 8, 208, 252 n. 14. 

Minau (Isle of Man), Arthur kills Hueil 
there, 105. 

Minnocaunus, British king, 68. 

Mirabilia, See Nennius. 

Modena cathedral, Arthurian sculpture 
there, 102. 

Modred (Medraut, Moddred, Modret, 
Mordrech, Mordred, Mordret, 
Mordreth), in Annales Cambrict^^ 
32, 34 ; stories about him in south- 
em Scotland, 27 ; son of Lot, etc., 
183 ; Arthur's nepos, 119 n. 8 ; 
Arthur's son, 141, 188; brother 
of Guenevere, 141 ; relative of 
Geoffrey of Monmouth, 229 ; 
illegitimacy of his birth ques- 
tioned, 242; treason and cam- 
paign against Arthur, see under 
Arthur; executed by Lancelot, 
223 ; buried with Arthur, 191 ; 
made a Scottish hero, etc., 241, 
242, 244, 247, 248 ; omitted, 254 ; 
his sons, 49, 64, 158. 

Moine, son of Constans, 195 n.8. 

Mordrech, Mordred, Mordret, Mor- 
dreth. See Modred. 

Morgaine, 223. See Morgana. 

Morgan the Fay, 211. See Morgana. 

Morgan le Noir, son of Arthur, 211. 

Morgana (Argante, Morgaine, Morgan 
the Fay, Morganis, Morgante), 
lady (queen) of Avalon (Glas- 
tonbury), sister (relative) of 
Arthur, 146, 165, 190, 211, 223. 

Morte Arthur^ prose romance, 164 f., 
[207]. Cf. Lancelot. 

Morte Arthur of the Thornton MS., 
201 n. 17. 

Morte Darthur of Malory, 88, 159 
n. II. 

Mt. Giu, 155. 

Mt. St. Bernard, 214 n. 4. Cf. Mt. St. 


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Mt. St. Michel, Arthur's duel there. See 
under Arthur, war with Lucius. 

Mousquet, Philippe, Chronique rimie^ 

Miinchener BruU 144, 205 n. 2. 

Myrddin, 118. See Merlin. 

Myreur des HistorSy Ly, 222 ff., 256. 

Naime de Bavi^re, 94. 

Natanleod (Nathaliodus, Nathanliot, 
Nazaleod), British king, killed 
by the Saxons, 22, 70 f., 185, 246. 
Cf. Lot. 

Nauclerus, Joannes, Memorabilium . . . 
Chronici Commentarii^ 239. 

Nazaleod. See Natanleod. 

Nennius, early British hero, 65 n. 2. 

Nennius, Historia Britonum^ 2 n., 8 ff. ; 
manuscripts, 10, 15 n. 7, 19 f., 
33» 98, 277 ; question of author- 
ship, etc., 9 f. ; outline, 10 S. ; 
comparison with Gildas,, 1 7 ff. ; 
sources, 19 ff.; question of his- 
toricity, 21 ff. ; account of Arthur, 
7, 25 ff.; comparison with the 
Saxon Chronicle y 21 ff . ; with 
Bede, 235.; with Annates Cam- 
briaey 32 ff. ; special points, 8, 
277; mirabiliay 10, 16 f., i8, 20, 
21, 28 {bis)y 64, 98, 103 ; as source 
of William of Malmesbury, 38 ff . ; 
of Henry of Huntingdon, 41 f., 
68, 7 if.; of Geoffrey, 53 (bis), 
57 ff., 65 n.2, 71 f., 89, 92 ff.; 
of other writers, 36 f., 135 n.6, 
175, 212, 256, 261, 265, 268. 

Neptune, 231 n. 4. 

Nestor, 94. 

Neustria (Normandy), 72, 73, iii. 

Nicolaus Gloucestriae (Nicholas of 
Gloucester), Chronicon, 176, 180, 
189 n. 5. 

Niger, Ralph, Chronica, 172. 

Nine Worthies, 244, [253]. 

Nonnita, mother of St. David, 80. 

Normandy (Neustria), 72, 73, iii. 


Norway, conquered by Arthur, 48, 138, 

Notre Dame Cathedral, 232. 
Nudd (Nu, Nuth), Celtic god, father 

of Ider, 94, 99. 
Nussia, monk of, Magnum Chronicon 

Belgicuniy 238. 

Octa (Occa, Octha, Otta), relation to 
Hengist, 25; in Nennius, 11, 15, 
18, 25 n. 4 and n. 5, 29, 30, 
277 ; in William of Malmesbury, 
39 ; in Geoffrey, 47 f., 61, 63 ; in 
other chronicles, 135, 152, 157, 
214 n. 4, 267 ; first war with 
Uther and capture, 48, ii8f., 
[196], 229, 251 ; second war 
with Uther and death, [70, 73], 
IS3» [i8s]» 200, [214 n.4], 224, 
246, 267. 

Odo, bishop of Bayeux, 81 f. 

Odulf, king of Denmark, 126. 

CEric, 25. See -^sc. 

Ogier the Dane, 224. 

Oisc, 25. See iEsc. 

Oldinus, 122. See Holdinus. 

Ordericus Vitalis, Historia Ecclesiastica, 
171, 82 n. I, 109. 

Orkney islands, 12, 48, 154. 

Osa. See Eosa. 

Osiris, 262. 

Ossa. See Eosa. 

Otia Imperialia. See Gervase of Til- 

Otta. See Octa. 

Otterboume, Thomas, Chronica Regum 
' Angliae, 176. 

Otto Frisingensis, Chronicon, 240 n. 2. 

Owain, 94. See Iwain. 

OySa, Oyse, Oza. See Eosa. 

Pantheon of Gottfried of Viterbo, 146 f., 
212, 228. 


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Paris of France, Arthur's friend, 223. 

Pascent (Pascentius), son of Vortigem, 
15, 18, 47 f., 63. 134 n. 2, 217, 
228, 229, 265. 

Patrice, a Scottish thane, 1 59. 

Patrike le Rous, son of Arthur, 211. 

Paul, Count of Anjou, 235. 

Paulus Diaconus, 175, 237 n. i. 

Paulus Jovius, Descriptio Britanniae^ 
etc., in his De Imperiis . . . Cog- 
niti Orbisy etc., 262 f., 240. 

Pa via, 202. 

Pepin the Short, 84. 

Perceval^ prose romance, 141 n. i. 

Percival, Arthur's knight, 211. 

Peredur, in Geofifrey, 77. 

Persia, conquered by Arthur, 223. 

Petit Brut, 146, 210 £f. 

Petr, in Annates Cambriofy 77 n. i. 

Petreius Cotta, Roman leader against 
Arthur, 48, 71, 77 n. i, 133, 
156 n. 5. 

Picts, come to Britain, 46, 73 ; Picts and 
Scots attack the Britons, i f., 
4^., 10, 47, 59, 79, 277; Picts 
made Constans's body-guard and 
assassinate him, 47, 151, 159, 
232 n. I ; defeated by Hengist, 
60, 134 n. I, 228, 261 ; Picts 
and Scots (one or both) defeated 
by Arthur, Arthur's conquest of 
Scotland, 48, 64, 132, 138, 212, 
215, 225, 246, 266, 267 f.; Picts 
in Scottish Chronicles, 243 ff., 
263 n. 5. 

Pierre Le Baud. See Le Baud. 

Placidia, legendary character, 123. 

Polistorie del Eglise de Christ de Coun- 
ter byre, 212 f., 280. 

Polychronicon. See Higden. 

Polydore Virgil, Anglicae Historiae Li- 
bri XXVI, 259 ff.; translation, 
262 n. 2 ; doubts Geoffrey, 260 f., 
263, 268 ; opposed, 260, 262 ; fol- 
lowed, 268. 

Ponticns Vininnius, condensation of 

Geoffrey's Historia, 240. 
Porrex, 46. 
Price, John, Historiae Brytanniceir 

Defensio, 50 n., 260 n. 3. 
Pridwen, Arthur's shield, 32, 95, 162, 

Pynson, Richard, edition of Caxton's 

Cronycles, 220 n. 6. 
Pyramus, Arthur's chaplain, 80. 

Quintilien, governor of Gaul, 229. 

Ragnar Lo'Sbr6k, Saga of, 88 {bis), 
Ralph (Radulphus) of Cogge^all. See 

Coggeshall Abbey. 
Ralph de Diceto, Works, 170, 172, 173, 

184, 187. 
Ralph Niger, Chronica, 172. 
Ramesey, 207. 

Rastell, John, The Pastime of the Peo- 
ple, or The Chronicles, etc., 259. 
Rauf de Boun (Bohun), Petit Brut, 

210 £f., 146. 
Red Book of Hergest, 103, 117 n. i, 

119 n. 8. 
Regin map Claut, one of Arthur's 

knights, 77. 
Renaut de Montauban, 94 n. I. 
Ricardus (Richardus Cluniacensis ?), 

239, 282. 
Richard I, 192, 225. 
Richard, Arthur's nephew, 218, 282. 
Richard of Cirencester, Speculum His- 

toriale, etc., 176, 179 n. 3, 183, 

Richard of Devizes (monk of Win- 
chester), Chronicon, 172 f., 183 

n. II, 185. 
Richard de Morins, prior, 173. 
Richardus Cluniacensis, Chronicle, 171, 

RidwatSelan, 158. See Hirelgas. 
Riothimir, king, possible original of 

Arthur, 82 f ., 185. 


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Rishanger, William, Works ^ 175, 176, 

182, 191 n. 2, 192 n. 4. 
Ritho (Rito), a giant killed by Arthur, 

91, 160, i83(^/j), 188, 196, 201. 
Rivallo, British king, 70. 
Robert of Avesbury, Historiae Ed- 
war di III, 176, 189. 
Robert de Borron, 118, 252 n. 14. Cf. 

Merlin [and Grail]. 
Robert, earl of Gloucester, patron of 
Geoffrey and others, 38, 44 f., 
SI {bis), 55(^w)» 1 10 n. 3, 114, 
226 n. 3, 229, 278. 
••Robert of Gloucester," Chronicle, 

193 ff. 
Robert, bishop of Lincoln, 45. 
Robert de Torigni, Chronicle, 116 n. i, 

120 n. 2. 
Robertus, canon of S. Marianus, Chro- 

nologiay 240. 
Robin Hood, 248. 
Rodric, king of the Picts, 73, 211. 
Roger of Hoveden, Chronica, 85, 172, 

186, 192 n. 2. 
Roger of Wendover, Chroni(;a, etc., 

I73» 279- 

Rolewinckius, W., Fasciculus Tempo- 
. rum, 238, 239. 

Rollandus, count of Brittany, 145. 

Roman walls in Britain, 11, 27, 277. 

Romances. See Grail, Lancelot, Lanze- 
lety Merlin, Morte Arthur, Per- 
ceval, Jean des Preis, Geste 

Romances, points of contact with, 49, 
88, 89 n. I, 99, 120 n. 5, 141, 
146 (^/j), 151 n. I, 159 ff., 164 f., 
188, 189, 195 n. 8, 208, 21 1, 222 ff., 
225, 230, 242, 246 f., 251 ff., 252 
n. 14, 253. See under Arthur, 
characteristics, and cf. Gawain, 
praised, etc., Auguselus, Iwain, 
Kay, Lancelot, Lot, Modred. 

Romarec of Guenelande (Rumareth of 
Winetlond), 141 f., 143, 164. 

Romualdus, Chronicon, 240 n. 2. 

Ron, Arthur's lance (spear), 96, 162, 281. 

Ronewen, Ronixa, Ronouen, Ronowen. 
See Rowena. 

Ros (Pembroke), Gawain*s tomb there, 

Ross, John, of Warwick, Historia Re- 
gum Angliae, 254, 265 f. 

Rouen, 112. 

Round Table, original significance, 278 ; 
made by Joseph of Arimathea, 
252 ; by Merlin, 222 ; connected 
with Uther, 252 (with n. 14) ; 
mentioned, 106 n. 3, 174, 187 
(passim), 197, 203, 233, 236, 239, 
249. See under Arthur, Round 

Roven, Rowan, Rowen, etc. See 

Rowena (Ronewen, Ronixa, Ronouen, 
Ronowen, Roven, Rowan, Ro- 
wen, Rowenne, Roxiena), daugh- 
ter of Hengist, wife of Vortigern, 
in Nennius (unnamed), 11, 18; 
named by Geoffrey, 61 ; mar- 
riage with Vortigern, see under 
Vortigern ; has a son, 246 ; poi- 
sons Vortimer, 62, 72, 132 n. 2, 
[150], 152 (with n. 6), [265]; 
death, 135 ; other mentions, 147, 
207, 244. 

Roxiena. See Rowena. 

Royal MS, Scottish chronicle, 248. 

Rudborne, Thomas, Historia Major 
Wintonensis, 177, 185 n. 9. 

Rudhudibras (Hudibras), British king, 
86 n. I. 

Rumareth of Winetland, 164. See 

Rusie (Russia), 151, 158. 

Sabrina, early British heroine, 46. 

St. Aaron, church of, 201. Cf. Aaron 

and Julius. 
St. Alban, 184. 


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St. Albans (St Albons), monk of, 

chronicle, 264 n. 2. 
St. Albans, Schoolmaster of, edition of 

Caxton's Cronycles^ 220 n. 6, 

264 n. 2. 
St. Asaphs, bishopric, 45. 
St. Augustine, comes to England, 

220 n. 6. 
St. Brandan, 153, 154. 
St. Bride, 154. 
St. Cadoc, Life of 107 (with n. 2 and 

n.3)- • 

St. Carannog, Life of 106. 

St. Columkille, 154. 

St. David, called Arthur's uncle, 80, 
181, 213. 

St. Davids, bishopric, 180. 

St. Dubricius. See Dubricius. 

St. Edward, 72. 

St. Elbodug, bishop of Bangor, 10. 

St. Faustus, son of Vortigem, [12], 15. 

St. George, 200, 251. 

St. Germanus (Germain), Book of a 
source of Nennius, 9, 15, 19 f.; 
Life of 24 n. 2 ; mentions, 11, 12, 
15, 18, 21, 60, 61, 64, 152, 218, 

St. Iltutus, Life of 106. 

St. Kentigem, 244. 

St. Paternus, Life ^, 107 n. i. 

St. Patrick, 15. 

St. Paul's church, 227. 

St. Samson, 79, 203. 

St. Teilo, 79. See Thelianus. 

[St. Ursula and] the 11,000 Virgins, 86. 

Saleme, Arthur carried there, 214 n. 4. 

Samuil-penissel, 77. 

Sandwych, 213, 219. 

" Saracens," name applied to the Picts 
and Scots, 217. 

Sater, 76. See Stater. 

Saturnus, called a Saxon god, 151, 
231 n.4. 

" Saynes," king of, conquered by Ar- 
thur, 223. 

Saxo Grammaticus, 88. 

Saxon Chronicle ^ 21 ff., 36!, 38 f., 41 f., 
70, 71 n. I, 246, 265. 

Saxons (Anglo-Saxons, Angles, Ger- 
mans), early depredations in Brit- 
ain, if., 6 ; invasion of Britain 
and settlement, 17, 108 n. 3, 239, 
258; in the North of Britain, 
25, 246, 277 ; alliance with the 
Picts, 243 ; their kingdoms estab- 
lished, 270; conquered by Con- 
stantine and Caduallo, 49; con- 
fused with the Britons, 147 {bis) 
(with n. 3); identified with the 
Macedonians, 146. See under 
Arthur, first war, Aurelius i^pas- 
sim), Baldulph, Cerdic, Chel- 
dric, Cherdicus, Colgrin, Cynric, 
Eopa, Eosa, Hengist, Horsa, 
Octa, Rowena, Uther (passim)^ 
Vortigem (passim), Vortimer 

Scalacronica of Sir Thomas Gray, 224 f. 

Schedel, Hartmann, Chronicon, 240 n. 2. 

Schoolmaster of St. Albans, edition of 
Caxton*s Cronycles, 220 n. 6. 

Scotichronicon, 242 n. 4. 

Scotland (Albania), Scots, 73 (bis\ 216, 
217, 267 (passim) \ Scotland 
divided by Arthur, 48, 109, 192, 
224, 241 ff., 251, 263 n. 5, 266, 
268. See under Picts. 

Scottish chronicles, 241 ff. 

Scythia, original home of the Picts, 73. 

Selden, John, annotations in Drayton's 
Polyolbion, 270. 

Seven Saints of Brittany, 79. 

Shaftesbury, supernatural eagle, 86, 92, 

Sicardus, bishop of Cremona, Chroni- 
con, 240 n. 2. 

Siegfried, 89 n. 4. 

Siffridus, Epitome, 240 n. 2. 

Sigebert of Gembloux, Chronic on, 172, 
170, 231. See Ursicampum. 


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Sigmund, father of Siegfried, 89 n. 4. 

Silchester, 59. 

Simeon of Durham, 35, 67 n. 3. 

Simplicius, Pope, 80. Cf. Sulpicius. 

Solomon, 201. 

Somerset, 106 (with n. i) ; Arthur gives 
to Cerdic, 186. 

" Southfolk," 216. 

Sprott, Thomas, Chronicle^ 176, 183 
n.8, 187, 191 n. 2, 255 n.4. 

Stamford, 42. 

Stater (wrongly Sater), British king, 
76 f. 

Stewart, William, The Buik of the 
Croniclis of Scotland (transla- 
tion of Boece's Scotorum His- 
toria)y 247 f. 
Stonehenge, Great Circle, 182, 266. See 
under: Aurelius, Uther's expedi- 
tion to Ireland; and Vortigem, 
slaughter of the British chiefs. 
Stow (Stowe), John, The Chronicles 
(Annates) of England ^Xid other 
historical works, 264 ff., 185 n.3, 
268 ; A Briefe Proofe of Brute, 
182 n.4, 260 n.4. 
Sulpicius (Simplicius?), Pope, 80, 229. 
Syria; conquered by Arthur, 223. 

Tabourne. See Calibume. 

Taliessin, Spoils of Anwynn (Hades), 

83, 95 n. 4; poem on Uthr Ben, 

89 n. I ; as prophet, 91 n. 5. 
Tambre, Tanbre, 164. See Arthur, last 

Tancred, 192, 225. 
Tanet. See Thanet. 
Tenuantius, British king, 77 n. 3. 
Tervagant, 157. 
Thametes, mother of St. Kenrigern, 

Thanet (Tanet), Isle of, 11, 14, 18, 134 

n. I, 141. 
Thelianus (Chelianus, St. Teilo), 79 

(with n. 8). 

Thomas Albus, Chronicon, 174. 
Thomas of Elmham, Historia Monas- 

terii S. Augustini Cantuariensis, 

176, 191 n.4. 
Thomas de Loches, 121 f. See Gesta 

Comitum Andegavensium. 
Thomas, monk of Malmesbury(?), Eulo- 

gium Historiarum and Chronicon 

brevius, 176. 
Thomas Otterbourne, 176. See Otter- 

Thomas Rudborne, 177. See Rudbome. 
Thomas Sprott, 176. See Sprott. 
Thomas Walsingham, 176. See Wal- 

Tidea, Saxon goddess, 151. 
Tintagel. See Tyntagell. 
Tolomer, master of Merlin, 208. 
Totness, 134 n. i, 141, 154. 
Tower episode. See under Vortigem. 
Tower of London, 269. 
Tremorinus (Tremonnus, Tremorien, 

Tremounus), one of Geoffrey's 

archbishops, 80 n. 7, 213, 229. 
Trevisa, translation of Higden*s Poly- 

chronicon, 175, 182, 183 n. 8, 

256 n.4. 
Tribuit, a river, scene of one of Arthur's 

battles, 16. 
Trinbvantum (London), 62. 
Tristan, 223. 
Trithemius, Johannes, Compendium . . . 

de Origine . . . Francorum, 239. 
Troynt (the boar Twrch Trwyth), 16 

(with n. 7). 
Twelve Peers of France (Dowchsperys), 

87, no n. 2, 187, 242. 
Twrch Trwyth, the boar, 16 n. 7. 
Tydorely Lay of 113 n. 2. 
Tyntagell, Gorlois's castle, 218. 
Tysilio. See Brut Tysilio. 

Uchtryd, Geoffrey's uncle, 44 f., 1 14 n.3. 
Ulfin (Ulphin), adviser of Uther, 139, 
153, 162, 200 n. 2. 


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Ulrich von Zatzikhoven, Lanzelet, 141 

n. I. 
Urban, bishop of Llan D&v, 44, 278. 
Urbgen(?), son of, one of the authors 

of the Historia Britonumy 9, 

Urbs Legionum. See Caerleon. 

Urianus (Urien), 48, 76 (with n. 6), 89 
n. I, 94, 218, 224, 231 n. 4, 268. 

Ursicampum, monk of, interpolated 
version of the Chronicon of 
Sigebert of Gembloux, 172, 170, 
174, 179, 182, 183 n. II, 185, 231. 

Urtager. See Vortigern. 

Usk (Caerleon), 67. 

Uter, Uterpandragon, etc. See Uther. 

Uther (Uter, Utere, Uterpandragon, 
Utherpendragon, Uthr Ben), the- 
ories of his literary origin, 65 n. i, 
88 f ., 89 n. I ; story in Geoffrey, 
MU 59» 63, 67, 75; in other 
writers, 146 f., 153, 174, 198, 200, 
21 1 f., 222, 238, 239 {bis), 242 n. 3, 
243, 246, 258, [263], 266, 270; a 
child at the death of Constans, 
183; in Brittany, 59, 72, 75, 82, 
163, 254, 257; establishment in 
Britain, 146 (cf. Aurelius) ; expe- 
dition to Ireland for the stones 
of the Great Circle and their 
removal by Merlin's aid, 47, 93 
(with n. 3 and n. 4), 1 18, 140, 153, 
I55» 167, 172, 180 f., 207, 218, 
229, 251, 257, 265, 266, 269; dis- 
believed, 182, 244; sick at the 
beginning of his reign, 246; 
campaign against Pascent, 47, 
217; comet, 47 f., 67, 72, 139; 
lament for Aurelius, 205; first 
war with Octa and Eosa, 48, 
118 f., 196, 229, 251; exploits, 
etc., in the North, 203, 255 ; 
twelve years of peace, 229 ; rela- 
tions with the Scots and Picts, 
243, 245, 246, 247, 267 ; love for 

Igema and war with Gorlois, 48, 
"9» i33» 134 n. I, 153, 155, 197, 
201, 218, 227, 228, 229, 246; 
union with Igema, of which 
Arthur is the child, 48, 90, 93, 
139, 146, 153, 162, 167 (bis), 184, 
196, 200 n. 2, 211, 229, 245, 257, 
278, 282 ; represented as a law- 
ful marriage, 182, 184, 233, 270 ; 
omitted, 198 ; Uther names Eng- 
land from Igema, 254 ; gives Anna 
to Lot, 282 ; sickness and second 
war with Octa and Eosa, 70, T^y 
i53» i57» 185, 200, 214 n. 4, 224, 
246, 267 ; conquered by the 
Saxons, 246 {bis) ; poisoned, 
75 f., 132 n. 2, 150, 184, 229, 232 
n. I ; buried in Glastonbury, 199 ; 
loses importance in later, Arthu- 
rian tradition, 94 ; mistakes as to 
his identity, etc., 120, 195 n. 8, 
238; dragon standard, 72; hel- 
met, 141 ; arms, 251 ; Hallelujah 
Victory connected with him, 246, 
261 ; battle of Badon connected 
with him, 261 ; Round Table 
connected with him. 252 (with 
n. 14) ; tournament, 223. 
Uthr Ben. See Uther. 

Vandals, conquered by Arthur, 223. 

Venelande. See Greenland. 

Verolamium, 157, 200. 

Vertigerius. See Vortigem. 

Vespasian, 249. 

Vikings, wars in the British Isles, 84. 

Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum Histori- 

ale and Speculum Majus, 174, 

237, 238, 239. 
Virgil, no n. 2. 
Visigoths, 82 f. 
Vita Merliniy 45 f., 92 n. 7, 100, 146, 

163, 165, 167. 
Vodinus (Vodine), bishop of London, 

246, 266, 283. Cf. Guethelinus. 


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Volaterranus (Raphael Maffei), Com- 
tnentarii Rerum Urbanicaruniy 


Vorciguus. See Vortigern. 

Vorcimer. See Vortimer. 

Vortigern (Fortiger, Guorthigimus, 
Urtager, Vertigerius, Vorciguus, 
Vortegem, Vortegrinus, Vorti- 
ger, Vertigerius, Vortigernus, 
Vortigerus, Vortigier, Vorty- 
geme, Vuertigerias, Vurthern, 
Vurtigemus, Wortigonus, Wyrt- 
geom); probably historical, 23; 
origin of Geoffrey's account, 59, 
81 ; Vortigem's tribe the Gewis- 
sae, 47, 277; called Earl of 
"Esex" (Westsexe), 217, 254;' 
his story as a whole, [5, 7, 8], 
10 ff., 18 f., 21, 22, 24, 30, 361, 
39 f» 47, 59 ff-» [146], 151 ff-, 198, 
200, 213, 233 f^ 238, 239, 240, 
242 n. 3, 243, 257, 263, 266; 
instigates Cons tan tine's assas- 
sination, 183, 251 ; relations 
with Constans, 149 ff., 157, 195 
n. 8; b^omes king, 183, 257, 
261, 266, 269; exonerated for 
assassination of Constans, 232 
n. I, 254; sends Aurelius and 
Uther into Brittany, 254; fears 
Aurelius, 10, 60, 184, 246; early 
reign prosperous, [4], 257 ; re- 
ceives (summons) Saxons, [5,^7, 
8], II ff., 21 f., 23, 30, 58, 60, 70, 
179, 183 n. 8, 210, 237 n. I, 238, 
257, 269; Hengist*s first pro- 
posals, 130 ; bull's hide episode, 
61, 88 (cf. Hengist); Hengist's 
feast, with Drinc Heil ( Wassail) 
episode, and Vortigern's mar- 
riage to Rowena, 11, 18, 22, 23, 
61, 132, 167, 183, 210, 218, 228, 
244, 246, 251, 258, 261, 270; 
Vortigern gives parts of Scot- 
land to Hengist, 267; Vorti- 

gern *s incest, 12, 39, 61 ; kept 
in Chester during Vortimer's 
reign, 258 ; restoration, 1 19, 
218, 244, 257 f, 270; Hengist's 
slaughter of the British chiefs 
at Stonehenge (Amesbury — 
"Long Knives" affair), 14 f., 18, 
21 (with n. i), 39, 42, 47, 62, 87, 
132, 152, 157, 183, 194 n. 5, 218, 
228, 234 f., 244, 246, 257, 265, 
267, 270 (cf. Eldol); Vortigern 
resorts to augury, ' 228 ; tower 
episode, with the fight of the 
dragons, I2ff., 18, 20 (with n. i), 
21 {bis)y 47, 61, 62 f., 92, 93, 118, 
131, 134 n. I, 136, 144, 146 f., 
152 f. (with 152 n. 13), 159, 171, 
184, 194 (passim) f [195 n. 8], 
201, 205, 206, 222, 228, 232 (with 
n. i), 239 (cf. Merlin, prophecy) ; 
tower episode omitted or ques- 
tioned, 39, 42, 120, 171, 182, 
234, 251 n. 2, 257,' 259, 266, 269; 
Vortigem's death, 15, 18, 47, 63, 
^33^ ^3Sy [155], 227, 257, 269; 
Vortigern called bad or re- 
proached, 40, 167, 183, 184, 
200, 206, 213, 227 f., 251, 254, 
257; length of his reign, 159; 
strengthens Christianity, 238 ; 
confused with Vortimer, 183; 
puts Vodinus to death, 246; 
connected with Anjou, 233 f. 
Vortimer (Gortimerus, Guorthemir, Vor- 
cimer, Vortumerus), probably 
historical, 23; replaces Ambro- 
sius, 18 f.; overpraised by Nen- 
nius, 23; reign, and battles 
against the Saxons, 14, 15, 18 
(dis), 22 f., 30, 38, 60 ff., 152, 200, 
203 n. 8, 228, [238], 243, 257, 
[263], 266, 270 ; dies (naturally), 
14, 71 ; poisoned by Rowena, 62, 
72, 132 n. 2, 150, 152 (with n. 6), 
2261, 265; burial, 18, 21, 136, 


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227; confused with Vortigem, 
183; called colleague of Hen- 
gist* 246; made contemporary 
with Aurelius, 261 ; other men- 
tions, 218, 228, 243, 255, 257 
(bis) ; not mentioned, 249. 

Vortumerus. See Vortimer. 

Vortygerne, Vuertigerius, Vurthem, 
Vurtigemus. See Vortigern. 

Wace, life, 128; Brut^ 127 ff., 91 n. 5, 
99 f., 125. 143 n. I, 144, 148, 195 
n. 6, 203, 204 f., 213, 215, 226, 
281 ; Roman de Rou^ 128. 

Walgainus, Walgan. See Gawain. 

Walsingham, Thomas, Historia Angli- 
cana and Ypodigma Neustriae, 


Walter of Coventry, Memorialed 170, 

174, 183, 187, 192 n. 2. 
Walter, archdeacon of Oxford, and 

his connection with Geoffrey's 

liber, 51, 52 (passim), 55 n. 2, 

224, 278 (bis). 
Walvanus, Walwanus, Walwen. See 

Walweitha (Galloway), 267. Gawain 

rules there, 104, [187, 218, 251]. 
Warinus. See Henry of Huntingdon, 

Warner, William, AlbiorCs England, 

Warwick, 254. 
Wassail episode. See under Vortigern, 

Hengist's feast, etc. 
Wauquelin of Mons, translation of 

Geoffrey's Historia into French 

prose, 220 n. 6. 
Wavrin, Sire Jehan de, Recueil, 225 ff., 

220 n. 6, 258. 
Wawayn. See Gawain. 
Wayland (Weland) the Smith, 162, 213, 

280 n. 7, 281. 
Wed ale, in an Arthurian legend, ^iZ- 
Weland. See Wayland. 

Welsh chronicles, 1 19 (with n. 8). Cf . 
also Gildas, Nennius, Annates 
Cambriae^ Brut Tysilio, Brtit 
Gruffydd ab Arthur, 

Wendover. See Roger of Wcndover. 

Wenhaver, Wennevereia. See Guene- 

Westmoreland (Westimaria, West- 
meria). 73 f., 211, 243. 

" Westsex," 217, 251. 

Whytsand, 213, 219. 

Widia (Wudia), son of Wayland, 281. 

Wild Hunt, associated with Arthur, 189. 

William I, the Conqueror, 44, 72 (bis)^ 
81 f., 82, 109-112. 

William II, Rufus, 81, 104, no n. 5. 

William, son of Robert, Earl of Glou- 
cester, 44 n. 4, 45. 

William of Malmesbury, life, 38 ; Gesta 
Regum Anglorum, 37 ff., 67, 32, 
98, 104 f., 184 ; as source of 
Geoffrey, [52], 53, [55], 57 f., 
6l n. I and n. 3, 66 ff., 70 ff., 84 ; 
of other writers, 174 (bis), 176, 
178 n., 182, 187, 198 n. 3., 256, 
257* 265, 266, 268 f.; De Anti- 
^uitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae, 
38, 98 f., 103, 191, 231 n. I, 255, 
278 f.; Gesta Pontificum, 70, T}^. 

William de Mechlin, edition of Cax- 
ton*s Crony cles, 220 n. 6. 

William of Newburgh, opposes Geof- 
frey's Historia, 54 f., 92, 1 01, 
180, 260. 

William of Rennes, possibly author of 
Gesta Regum Britanniae, 166. 

William Rishanger. See Rishanger. 

Winchester (Wynchester), 109, 149 f., 
153. i55» 186, 216, 224, 249, 252 
(bis), 264, 265, 266. 

Winchester, Chronicle of. See Richard 
of Devizes. 

Windsor, 264, 265. 

Winetlonde (Guenelande, Gwjrnedd (?)), 
164, 281. Cf. Greenland. 


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Wippedsfleet, scene of a battle between 
Hengist and the Britons, 21. 

Witese (Widia?), 281. 


Wotfdietrich, 113 n. 2. 

Worcester Priory, Annales^ 175, 192 
n. 3. 

Wortigonus. See Vortigem. 

Wortiporius, a British king, 49. 

Wudia, 281. See Widia. 

Wygar, smith or bumie, 162, 213, 281. 

Wynchester. See Winchester. 

Wynkyn de Worde, edition of Caxton*s 
Crony cleSf 220 n. 6. 

Wyntown, Andrew of, 241 n. 2 ; Orygy- 
nale Cronykil of Scotland^ 242, 

Wyrtgeorn. See Vortigem. 

Yder. See Ider. 

Ygema, Ygeme. See Igerna. 

York (Eboracum), 63, 70, 95 n. i, 109, 

167, 168 n. 2, 196, 203, 216, 246, 

Yvain, Ywain. See Iwain. 

Zitus, name given to Arthur, 236. 


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