The king list of Gwynedd

The line of descent of the Venedotian kings is given in H3859 1. However, this list poses a problem in terms of chronology until it is treated as three fragments as shown in the first three columns below.

Gen. H3859 1:1st seg. H3859 1:2nd seg. H3859 1: 3rd. seg. ByA 28c ChB
13 Owain
12 Hywel D.
11 Cadell
10 Rhodri M.
9 Merfyn F. Esyllt
8 Cynan D.
7 Rhodri M.
6 Idwal I. Conobertus
5 Cadwaladr F. Alain II
4 Cadwallon Salomon II
3 Cadfan Hoel III
2 Iago  Beli m. Rhun Alain I
1 Beli Rhun H. Perweur Hoel II
0 Rhun Maelgwn G. Rhun R. Hoel I
-1 [Einion] Cadwallon L.  Einion Budic
-2 Einion Y. Mar Audroenus
-3 Cunedda W. Ceneu Salomon I
-4 Edern Coel Gradlon
-5 Padarn B. Conan M.

Although H3859 1 claims Essylt was the mother of Merfyn Frych later documents say she was his wife and this is generally accepted as correct. As can be seen in the second fragment, the list states that Rhun was the father of Beli. This is correct but that individual was not Rhun Hir, the son of Maelgwn Gwynedd, who appears in the 3rd fragment.

Rhun Hir married Perweur f. Rhun Ryfeddfawr whose name appears in ByA 28c and they both belonged to gen. 1 as shown in the above table. Triad 79 tells us she was one of the Three Lively Ladies of Britain. ByA 28c errs when it says Perweur was the “Mam Beli m Rhun …”. As can be seen from the first column Beli m. Rhun belonged to the same generation as his supposed parents. ByB confirms that a Rhun was the father of Beli. It was this Rhun and not Rhun Hir who fled to Armorica. His daughter, Tymyr, married Hoel II who appears in ChB.

HRB wrongly asserts that Beli’s father was Einion but I believe this contains a germ of truth in that Einion was Beli’s grandfather as shown in column 2. Moreover, I suggest Einion was the son of Einion Yrth. This allows us to solve a 1500 year old murder mystery which is not a whodunit but a “who was it dun to”. Gildas wrote of Maelgwn:

In the first years of thy youth, accompanied by soldiers of the bravest, whose countenance in battle appeared not very unlike that of young lions, didst thou not most bitterly crush thy uncle the king with sword, and spear, and fire?[1]

In the Latin text the word for uncle is avunculus which strictly means mother’s brother. However, in this context I believe it is referring to the fact that Einion was not only half-brother to Cadwallon Lawhir, Maelgwn’s father, through Einion Yrth but that their mothers were sisters, daughters of king Didlet.

Although HRB states Rhun escaped to Armorica after the death of Einion because he was driven out by the Saxons, it would seem that Maelgwn had a hand in it as well. After Maelgwn’s death his son successfully thwarted challenges to his kingship. However, it would seem that the rightful lineage to the throne was reestablished when Beli became king. As can be seen in the above table, Cadwallon is correct when he tells Salomon II  in ByB that their two fathers were two second cousins.

[1] Williams, H., 1899, 77

Paganism in the Arthurian age

Although Arthur, himself, was likely to be Christian it does not follow that paganism had disappeared in the early 6th C. O.J. Padel refers to a probably early 10th C text in the Vatican library listing between twenty-four and thirty-two names of saints revered in Cornwall.[1] Another text lists the twenty-four saintly children of Brychan Brycheiniog, the Cornish version of which is in The Life of Saint Nectan. Both lists are in the vernacular and the names are partly geographically arranged. Padel states that these lists demonstrate the existence in Cornwall of local dedications, many of which are unique to particular parish churches. The explanations he gives for the dedications is usually in terms of the conversion of the area by the local saint. The Vatican list dedications includes a number of 6th C saints, such as St Levan, St Just and St Gerrans.

The Annales Cambriae records for the year 589 AD ‘The conversion of Constantine to the Lord’. This may well be Constantine, the king of Damnonia, the one rebuked by Gildas.

 

[1] Thacker, A., Sharpe, R., 2002, 316-319

The Tintagel slate

The slate was found on the island at Tintagel in 1998. I believe it reads

The Tintagel slate (Glasgow University)

  1.   MAV E[IGIR]
  2.   †
  3.   PATERN[VS]
  4.   COLI AVI FICIT
  5.   ARTOR GNOV
  6.   COLI [AVI]
  7.   FICIT

where the bracketed letters are now missing and some of the words run together. A cross occupies the space between lines one and three.

The letters in the first line are in larger characters. They are not easy to identify and their interpretation has changed since the slate’s discovery. The M and A are ligatured with the start of the letter M being only just visible. The text below the cross occupies five lines and the script is smaller. The lefthand diagonal descender of the letter V in the third line is just about visible. Also, what has thus far been interpreted as a G on the fifth line is in reality an R and G ligatured as illustrated below.

Letter r

Letter g

Letters r and g ligatured

 

 

 

 

 

 

The inscription is clearly Arthurian as indicated by the following interpretation. The text in lines one to four form a sentence which is repeated in lines five to seven, but with the matronymic missing and the name Paternus replaced by Artor. This suggests that Paternus is an alternative name for Artor. The slate thus reads:

The son of Igraine, Paternus, made this for his grandfather Coel.
The renowned Arthur made this for his grandfather Coel.

We thus have an inscription with an interesting mix of Brythonic and Latin text.

The Bayeux tapestry and the draco standards

The pedigree of Godwin in the manuscript LB indicates he was descended from Clement, duke of Cornwall and father of Pedrock. This is confirmed by H2414 which describes him as “iarll Kernyw”. It is, therefore, likely that the red and gold draco standard portrayed as still standing on the Bayeux tapestry is of Cornish and not Saxon origin. To the left can be seen a gold draco standard that has fallen. This may be that of Wessex.

The Adventus Saxonum

The manuscript BL Cotton Tiberius A. iii states:

“Then succeeded Alfred, their brother, to the government. And then had elapsed of his age three and twenty winters, and three hundred and ninety-six winters from the time when his kindred first gained the land of Wessex from the Welsh.”[1]

396 years prior to the start of Alfred’s reign, in the year 871, suggests an Adventus Saxonum in the year 475. This, of course, was not the first arrival of Germanic peoples to Britain. However, there was an influx of Saxon invaders around this time as indicated by the chronicle entry for the year 477:

“This year Ælla, and his three sons, Cymen, and Wlencing, and Cissa, came to the land of Britain with three ships, at a place which is named Cymenesora, …”[2]

It would thus seem that the West Saxons and the South Saxons arrived at around the same time. They also appear to have landed in areas that are in close proximity, namely Cerdicesora (Southampton area) and Cymenesora (Selsey area) and then went on to expand their kingdoms westwards and eastwards respectively. Alternatively, it may be that there was no seperate South Saxon invasion and that the 477 entry refers to the West Saxon invasion. A discrepancy of two years in the Chronicles is nothing unusual. An explanation of this idea will be given in a later article entitled “The emergence of Wessex”.

I suggest that when Bede wrote:

“From that day, sometimes the natives, and sometimes their enemies, prevailed, till the year of the siege of Badon hill, when they made no small slaughter of those invaders, about forty-four years after their arrival in Britain.”[3]

his source for this information, the DEB, was referring to this later Adventus, not the one traditionally dated to the year 449. Bede’s version of the DEB is likely to have been closer to Gildas’s original text than any of our later surviving copies. Gildas was a little more precise than Bede with regards to the time interval between the Adventus and Badon when he stated:

“And this commences, a fact I know, as the forty-fourth year, with one month now elapsed; it is also the year of my birth.”[4]

The first year being 475 implies the forty-fourth year is 518, the traditional date for Badon. The battle occurred one month into that year. He states that year is when he was born. The AC tells us that Gildas died in the year 572, giving a plausible life-span of 54 years.

Gildas may have started formulating his ideas concerning the DEB around the age of 20, that is c. 538. Camlan occurred in 539 and could well have been as a result of an internecine feud amongst the Britons, since triad 84 tells us it was one of the Futile Battles of the Island of Britain[5]. Indeed, it may have been one of the triggers that set Gildas on the path to writing the DEB 10 years later, around the year 548.

[1] Adapted from Ingram, J., 1823, 20.
[2] Adapted from Giles, J.A., 1914, 8.
[3] Adapted from Giles, J.A., 1859, 26.
[4] Adapted from Williams, H., 1899, 63.
[5] Bromwich, R., 2006, 217.

Clinog Eitin and Clydno Eidin

Clinog and Clydno have been identified as the same person. The former name is said to be a corruption of the latter. Also, the two names share the same cognomen, which means Edinburgh. However, their pedigrees indicate they were not the same individual as the following table, which uses the manuscript form of their names, illustrates. Clinog was a generation earlier than Clydno.

Gen. H3859 7 BGG 3 ByS 15
4 Gorỽst
3 gỽeith hengaer eiryorỽy
2 Clydno Eidin elphin glydno eidin
1 [C]linog eitin Kynnỽyt Kynnỽydyon vryen
0 Cinbelim Kynuelyn
-1 Dumngual hen Arthwys
-2 Mar
-3 Keneu
-4 Coel

(Three other sons of Cynwyd Cynwydion who are mentioned in BGG 3 have not been included in the above table .)

In ByS 15 Clydno appears as the father of Euronwy, the wife of Gwaith Hengaer and the mother of St. Gwrwst. In CO his daughter is mentioned in a list of “the gentle, golden-torqued ladies of this Island” as “Eurneid daughter of Clydno Eidin”.[1] The medieval poem Y Gododdin by Aneirin celebrates the valour of his son, Cynon, in the battle of Catraeth which occurred c. 600.

[1] Davies, S., 2007, 188.

The two Macsen Wledigs

The name Macsen Wledig has been applied to two distinct persons. The first individual appears in gen. -8 of H3859 2 as Maxim gulecic, see Why Bartrum’s dating … . He also appears in H3859 4 as Maxim guletic and in BGG 11 as Maxen Wledic. I believe this individual can be identified with the Roman emperor Constantius Chlorus as explained in the above link.

The opening lines of The Dream of Macsen Wledig from Pen. 4.

The opening lines of The Dream of Macsen Wledig from Pen. 4.

The Pen. 16 version of The Dream of Maxen Wledig only describes the story up to his stay in Britain. The version in Pen. 4 of the White Book of Rhydderch speaks about his return to Rome, but this continuation is actually referring to the second Macsen.

This is the Western Roman emperor Magnus Maximus born c. 335. He appears in gen. -5 as in the follwing fragment from JC20 13.

Gen. JC20 13
1 Cyndwr Fendigaid
0 Owain
-1 Cyngar m. Protec
-2 Owain
-3 Miser
-4 Custennin
-5 Macsen Wledig
-6 Maximianus
-7 Constantinus Mawr
-8 Constantius Elen

Note, Cyngar son of Protec is an error in this pedigree list. The latter name is simply Cyngar’s cognomen. The table is in accord with Constantine the Great’s birth in 272 or 273 and the birth of Helena, a wife of Constantius Chlorus, birth between 248 and 250.[1]

[1] Harbus, A., 2002, 13.