Arthur’s descent from Cunedda

Gwen, the mother of Eigr, was the daughter of Cunedda Wledig, see Amlawdd and Gwen. Arthur is identified with Paternus on the Tintagel slate. The V. Paterni tells us that Paternus’s mother was a lady named Gwen (Guean) but does not give her ancestry. This is provided by late additions to the ByS, e.g. in version J:

Gwenn v’ch Karedic ap Kvnedda wledic

The respective pedigrees are shown below:

Gen. JC 7, ByA 31
ByS 21
Reconciled
0 Arthur Paternus Arthur/Paternus
-1 Eigr Gwen Eigr Gwendragon
-2 Gwen Ceredig Gwen
-3 Cunedda Cunedda Cunedda

Arthur’s pedigree may be reconciled with that of Paternus as shown by the column entitled ‘Reconciled’ in the table above. The name of the Paternus’s mother, Gwen, was, in fact, also an element of Eigr’s cognomen. 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

Iubair is the name given to Arthur’s father in the 1467 ms. The name Iobhair can take the form Iomhair which is derived from the Welsh Emyr Llydaw. This title referred to Petranus, Pedrwn or Pedr in Welsh, the father of Paternus. Thus, Arthur’s father, Iobhair (Pedr), was the son of Ambrois (Ambrosius) who in turn was the son of Constantin (Custennin Fendigaid). Confusingly, Pedrwn’s father was also given the title Emyr Llydaw in ByS 21.

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
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Was Arthur a king?

This question is raised from time to time. That Arthur was not a king during all or most of the period of his twelve battles is confirmed by HB which gives him the title “dux bellorum” in the following passage:

“Then it was, that the magnanimous Arthur, with all the kings and military force of Britain, fought against the Saxons. And though there were many more noble than himself, yet he was twelve times chosen their commander, and was as often conqueror.”

This is not surprising since during these campaigns he may well have been in his early to mid-twenties. That he eventually became king of Dyfed is shown by his entry in HG 2.

The Annals of Ulster has the following statement under the year 467:

“Death of Uter Pendragon, king of England, to whom succeeded his son, King Arthur, who instituted the Round Table.”

Hennessy pointed out that this comes from only version B of the annals and was done in a later hand.[1] This explains the anachronistic reference to an English king and a Round Table. The date for Arthur’s coronation is, clearly, incorrect and may have been the result of a copyist mistaking the date cccccxuii to be cccclxuii. This is close to that given by the AC for Badon as opposed to being much earlier providing evidence that Arthur attained kingship towards the end or soon after his twelve battles.

[1] Hennessy, W. M., 1887.