Sanan ferch Elise


HG 15 states:

[G]ripiud . teudos
caten . tres sunt
filíí nougoy .
et sanant elized .
filia illorum . mater erat
regis pouis

Bartrum correctly interprets this[1] slighlty corrupted text thus (the generation numbers are mine):

Gen. HG 15
10 Gruffudd Tewdws Cathen
9 Nowy Sanan
8 Elise

Gruffudd, Tewdws and Cathen were three sons of Nowy, the king of Powys, and Sanan daughter of Elise. JC 8 has:

Gruffud a the6dos. a cathen. meibyon y vrenhin powys. o sanant verch elisse y mam. Elisse. verch neuue hen

The full pedigree list in JC 8 is:

Gen. JC 8
14 Tewdwr
13 Griffri
12 Elise
11 Tewdwr
10 Gruffudd Tewdws Cathen
9  Vrenhin Powys Sanan
8 Elise
7 Nowy Hen
6 Tewdwr
5 Rhain
4 Cadwgon
3 Cathen
2 Ceindrech
1 Rhiwallon
0 Idwallon
-1 Llywarch
-2 Rhigeneu
-3 (Rhain Dremrudd)
-4 (Brychan I)

Comparing the two tables above, the ruler of Powys, Vrenhin Powys, in gen. 9 is clearly a reference to Nowy, Sanan’s husband. Bartrum errs when he maintains that the Nowy Hen listed in JC 8 and of gen. 7 is her husband’s name displaced :

Y Cymmrodor XLIII 57

In fact, he is shown correctly in gen. 7 and was Sanan’s grandfather. There is, however, a genuine error in the document when it states Elise was the daughter of Nowy Hen as Elise is a male name.

Note, Rhain Dremrudd and his father Brychan I are interlopers in this pedigree as the former was a contemporary of St. Cadog.

Bartrum proposed the idea that Nowy, the husband of Sanan, was the son of Madog using the lineage that appears in JC 16:

Gen.  JC 16 seg.
15 Lleucu
14 Adwent
13 Eliffer
12 Gronwy
11 Cynhaethwy
10 Ceno
9 Nowy
8 Madog
7 Sandde
6 Tudwal
5 Merin
4 Madog
3 Rhun
2 Cenelaph Dremrudd
1 Cynan
0 Casanauth Wledig Thewer
-1 Brydw
-2 Cadell Ddyrnllug
-3 Cateyrn
-4 Gwrtheyrn Gwrtheneu

Cadair Early Series (Aberystwyth University)

Nowy ap Madog occupies gen. 9 as does Nowy in the previous tables and I believe Bartrum’s proposal was sound. Unfortunately, however, he abandoned this idea, as can be seen by his crossing out in this chart:

He tentatively adopted Dumville’s incorrect proposal that Elise, not Nowy, was the king of Powys and that his father was Gwylog who appears in HG 27 and on the PE.[2] In this scheme Nowy, the husband of Sanan, is made the son of Tewdwr ap Rhain, see the pedigree chart below:



Britons and Anglo-Saxons in the Early Middle Ages 51

Dumville’s chronology does not work. He suggests Tewdwr ap Griffri was a signatory of a land charter dated 934. In fact the LL states this individual was Tewdwr ab Elise.

[1] Cy XLIII 53
[2] Dumville, D.N., 1993

The Powysian lineage

Understanding the descent of the kings of Powys poses considerable problems. These can be resolved when it is realised that the sons attributed to Vortigern (Gwrtheyrn Gwrtheneu) are in reality the offsprings of Cadell Ddyrnllug. The reason behind this intentionally incorrect attribution is given in HB 32-35. It tells how the royals of Powys were descendants of Cadell whose origins were humble. HB 34 tells us Cadell had nine sons. The Harleian manuscript gives the names of five of them, although they are incorrectly listed not as siblings but as sons of each other:

Gen. HG 22
2 Selyf Sarffgadau
1 Cynan Garwyn
0 Brochwel Ysgithrog
-1 Cyngen Mawgan Pasgen Cateyrn
-2 Cadell Ddyrnllug
Gen. HG 23
5 [H?]esselis
4 Gwrhaearn
3 Elfoddw
2 Cynin
1 Millo
0 Camuir
-1 Brydw Cateyrn
-2 Cadell Ddyrnllug
Gen. HG 27    
9 Cyngen
8 Cadell
7 Brochwel
6 Elise
5 Gwylog
4 Beli
3 Eiludd
2 Selyf Sarffgadau
1 Cynan Garwyn
0 Brochwel Ysgithrog
-1 Cyngen Glodrydd Mawgan Pasgen Cateyrn
-2 Cadell Ddyrnllug
-3 Selevan

The PE mentions four of the sons:


The third and fourth elements of this part of the inscription is a reference to a single name, i.e. Mawgan. It is claimed the PE states they were the sons of Gwrtheyrn. However, this may be a misreading and the above four names were not being linked to Gwrtheyrn but rather to the largely missing previous lines. Following the above text the inscription reads:


HB 48 tells us that Gwrtheyrn’s son, Faustus, by his incestuous relation with his daughter, was brought up by Germanus. So, the first word in the above text may be a reference to Faustus, the only genuinely known son of Gwrtheyrn. This interpretation is supported by the use of the singular form ‘filius’.

The first segment of ABT 6k, shown below, matches the above HG 27:

Gen. ABT 6k 1st seg. ABT 6k 2nd. seg.
10 Rhodri Mawr
9 Merfyn Frych  Nest
8 Cadell
7 Brochwel
6 Elise
5 Gwylog
4 Beli
3 Eiludd
2 Selyf Sarffgadau
1 Cynan Garwyn
0 Brochwel Ysgithrog
-1 Cyngen Glodrydd
-2 Cadell Ddyrnllug
-3 Pasgen Brydw Rhuddfedel Frych Cyndeyrn
-4 Gwrtheyrn Gwrtheneu

Although the manuscript states Nest was the mother of Merfyn Frych the above table shows her as his wife. This is indicated as being the case in JC 18.

The second segment promotes the myth that, except for Cyngen, the sons of Cadell were, in reality, the sons of Gwrtheyrn. As noted by Phillimore the name Cateyrn has been ‘tortured’ into the form Cyndeyrn by later genealogies.[1] Vermaat explains the presence in the list of Rhuddfedel as a reference to the battle at Rithergabail where Cateyrn died.[2]

Interestingly, with the aid of the LaB, HB M 49  and GaC 2 it is possible to trace the Powysian ancestry back to the 2nd century BCE. The manuscript form of the names are given:

Gen. LaB HB M 49
9 Fernmail
8 Teudubir
7 Pascent
6 Guoidcant
5 Moriud
4 Eldat
3 Eldoc
2 Beuno Paul
1 Bugi Mepurit
0 Gwnlliw Briacat
-1 Tegit Pascent
-2 Kadell Drynlluc
-3 [Faustus] [Faustus]
-4 Gortegyrun Guorthigirn Guortheneu
-5 Gorthevyn Guitaul
-6 Gorthgeyrun Guitolin
-7 [Gloiuda] Gloiuda
-8 [Paul Merion] Paul Merion
-9 [Gloiu] Gloiu
-10 [Rhifedel] [Rhifedel]
-11 Rutegyrn [Rutegyrn]
-12 Deheuwynt [Deheuwynt]
-13 Eudegan [Eudegan]
-14 Eudegern [Eudegern]
-15 Elud [Elud]
-16 Endos [Endos]
-17 Endolen [Endolen]
-18 Avallad [Avallad]
-19 Amalech [Amalech]
-20 Belim [Belim]

LaB goes on to say Beli was the son of Anna. Rhifedel of gen. -10 does not appear in either of the above documents. However, he is the only known son of Rhydeyrn and appears in HG 10, GaC 2 and ABT 1c. The last king mentioned in the above list from the HB, Ffernfael ap Tewdwr, was reigning in Buellt and Gwrtheyrnion at the time the document was written according to the manuscript, i.e. c. 830, confirming he belonged to gen. 9.
[1] Cy IX, 179 n. 5
[2] Vortigern Studies > Vortigern > The Family of Vortigern > Catigern, son of Vortigern

Arthur’s descent from Cunedda

Gwen, the supposed mother of Eigr, is said to have been the daughter of Cunedda Wledig, see Amlawdd and Gwen. Arthur is identified with Paternus on the Tintagel slate. The VSP tells us that Paternus’s mother was a lady named Gwen (Guean) but does not give her ancestry. This is provided by a late addition to the ByS in the manuscript Pen. 128:

Gwenn v’ch Karedic ap Kvnedda wledic

The respective pedigrees are shown below:

Gen. JC 7, ByA 29(13, 14) ByS Pen. 128 Reconciled
0 Arthur Paternus Arthur/Paternus
-1 Eigr Gwen Eigr Gwendragon
-2 Gwen Ceredig Ceredig
-3 Cunedda Cunedda Cunedda

Arthur’s pedigree may be reconciled with that of Paternus as follows. Gwen was not the mother of Eigr and that name was part of her cognomen as shown in column entitled ‘Reconciled’ in the table above. The evidence for this assertion is provided by two Irish Arthurian Romances. In the RIA.23D 22 version of the Romance Eachtra an Mhadra Mhaoil (The Story of the Crop-Eared Dog)[1] we have:

Artur mhic Iobhair mhic Ambros mhic Constaintin

whereas in the RIA.23M 26 version it is:

Arthur mhac Ambróis mic ConstantÍn mic Uighir Finndrea guin

In the Romance Eachtra Mhacaoimh an Iolair (The Story of Eagle-boy)[2] the last name in the above pedigree takes the form Ughdaire Finndreagain. These pedigrees are consistent but need to be interpreted thus:

Gen. EaMM RIA.23D 22 EaMM RIA.23M 26 EMaI
0 Artur Arthur Artur
-1 Iobhair [Iobhair] Uighir Finndreaguin Iubhair Ughdaire Finndreagain
-2 Ambros Ambróis Ambrois
-3 Constaintin ConstantÍn Constaintin

So, Arthur’s father, Iobhair, was the son of Ambrois (Ambrosius) who in turn was the son of Constantin (Custennin Gorneu). Moreover, Arthur’s mother was Uighir Finndreaguin (Eigr Gwendragon), where Irish Finn and Welsh Gwen have the meaning white or fair or blessed. Finndreaguin was erroneoulsy taken to be Cinndreaguin, resulting in the matronymic Arthur m. Uighir Finndreaguin becoming the false patronymic Arthur m. Uther Pendragon. Another inaccuracy is the assertion that Eigr’s father was Amlawdd Wledig. As noted by Brynley F. Roberts[3] he is a fictitious character whose only role is that his daughters are the mothers of heroic figures.

[1] ITS vol.10 1907 2
[2] ITS vol.10 1907 118
[[3] AoW 94

Was Arthur a king?

This question is raised from time to time. That Arthur was not a king during the period of his twelve battles is confirmed by the HB and is not surprising since during these campaigns he may well have been in his early to mid-twenties. Consequently, Gildas would not have considered mentioning him. That he eventually became king of Dyfed is shown by HG 2.

Pre-Galfridian Arthur

The importance of Arthur, at least to the people of the West Country and Brittany, was not a creation of Geoffrey of Monmouth. This is indicated by Hermann of Tournai’s 1146 chronicle De Miraculis Sanctae Mariae Laudunensis which states that in 1113 nine canons from Laon in France were on a fund-raising journey that included Cornwall. They were shown local sites associated with Arthur. That there was at this early date landmarks associated with Arthur is remarkable in itself. What is even more intriguing is the incident that occurred at Bodmin in Cornwall. The French canons had brought the Shrine of Our Lady of Laon. A man with a withered arm came to be cured by the relics. The individual mentioning that Arthur still lived led to a quarrel with one of the French called Hangello and this in turn developed into a riot with order eventually being restored by the cleric Algardus. Hermann had mentioned that the Bretons, too, quarrel with the French with regards to Arthur.[1]

[1] Coe and Young, 1995, 46

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the British victories

That the ASC makes no mention of Baddon is not surprising as the policy was clearly not to mention their defeats. A further example of this are the battles mentioned in the AC and also referred to in the ByT, dated to the year 721:

And the battle of Heilin, with Rhodri Molwynog, took place in Cornwall; and the action of Garthmaelog, and the fight of Pencoed in South Wales. And in those three battles the Britons were victorious.[1]

Moreover, although the ASC is reasonably accurate, it is clear that in the Arthurian age the information has been manipulated. The entries for the years 495 and 508 look similar to those of 514 and 527 respectively, seperated by 19 years, the Metonic cycle. It would appear that, by the use of repetition, the chronicle blanked out a disastrous period for the Saxons.

[1] Williams, J., 1860, 5

Dating Baddon

The AC A-text indicates the battle of Baddon occurred 63 years after Pope Leo’s dating of Easter which occurred in the year 455. This points to a date for Baddon of 518.
The AC B-text describes the occurrence of an eclipse thus:

Anus dies tenebrosa sicut nox.

This is likely to be that which occurred on 23 December 447 and would have been visible over Britain. The document shows Baddon as occurring 71 years later. This too indicates Baddon took place in the year 518.

Further confirmation of this date is given by the ASC and DE as can be seen in the post entitled The Adventus Saxonum.