Arthur’s adversaries and ally

The HB is correct in claiming Ochta was the son of Hengest. This is supported by Bede. Although the ASC names Aesc as the son, if it is accepted that the 488 date is correct for Hengest’s obit then it would seem that Ochta was the name of Arthur’s opponent in some of the 12 battles.

As far as Esla of the Gewisse is concerned, as Sisam pointed out, Esla/Elesa formed an alliterative pair as did Wig/Giwis. Chronology would, therefore, suggest he was a contemporary of Arthur and identification with Osla Gyllellfawr is reasonable. The Culhwch ac Olwen, where we are told his dagger, Bronllafn Ferllydan, is used as a bridge and also that he was involved in the chase of the Twrch Trwyth, describes him as an ally of Arthur. However, in the Breuddwyd Rhonabwy he is an opponent at Badon, but asked Arthur for a truce. Perhaps, he defected to Arthur. If Esla was, indeed, an ally it may explain why DEB 26 states:

“tam desperati insulae excidii insperatique mentio auxilii”

“… ‘so desperate a destruction of the island’ – the Saxon revolt – ‘and unhoped-for mention of assistance’ …”[1]

This unforseen help referred to may have been Saxons fighting with the Britons against Kentish forces. That may also explain the reason why the West Saxons claimed their dynasty started with Cerdic, rather than with the arrival of Giwis, possibly in 475. Although the ASC claims Cerdic’s obit in 534, Dumville dates it to 554. It is, therefore, likely that Cerdic was one of Arthur’s opponents at Camlan.

[1] Higham, N.J., 2018, 162.

 

Rhun ab Alun Dyfed

Following on from the Myrddin stanza 17 in Pen. 98, see Myrddin Emrys, we have:
“Vch law rhyd y garw faen ryde
y mae bedd Rhun ap Alun Dyv[ed]”

In the version of made from the manuscript in Widow Wynn’s possession this takes the form:
“ychlaw rhŷd garwvayn ryde
y may bêdh Hun ap Alim Dyfe.”[1]

“Above the ford of the rough stone
is the grave of Rhun son of Alun Dyfed.”[2]

Pen. 177 has the following lines concerning Rhun’s death:
“Rhun ab Alun Dyfed who was buried on the edge of the Hard (or Difficult) Ford in the Gwynfynydd in Penllyn. And there he was killed when he retreated from Ciltalgarth.”[3]

The Ymddiddan Myrddin a Thaliesin mentions both poets lamenting the death of warriors in a battle which occurred in Dyfed against Maelgwn. It would seem that Rhun perished in this conflict. The location of Gwyn Mynydd is near Ganllwyd in Gwynedd.

Gwyn Mynydd has possibly the same meaning as Ben Nevis. Gaelic ‘Beinn’ means ‘mountain’ and ‘Niamh’ (pronounced ˈniːəv) could signify ‘bright’. It, therefore, appears that the two verses of stanza 18, which are quoted above, are a continuation of the previous stanza.

The ‘Fourth Branch of the Mabinogion’ mentions the combat between the Demetian Pryderi and the Venedotian Gwydion in which the former was killed. This story places the event at Y Felenrhyd and may be a reference to the same conflict.

BBC Englynion y Beddau stanza 24 refers to the same ford (W. rhyd):
“Piev y bet in Rid Vaen Ked
ae pen gan yr anvaered?
Bet Run mab Alun Diwed.”

“Whose is the grave at Rhyd Faen-ced
With its head downhill?
The grave of Rhun son of Alun Dyfed.”[4]

Dyfyr, another son of Alun Dyfed, is mentioned in Geraint ac Enid as having accompanied Geraint from Arthur’s court to Erbin in Cornwall and Breuddwyd Rhonabwy tells us he was one of Arthur’s counsellors. Culhwch ac Olwen mentions that a son of Alun Dyfed was needed for tht hunt for Twrch Trwyth for unleashing the dogs. The BBC Englynion y Beddau stanza 25 mentions Alun Dyfed’s father, Meigen, whose father’s name is given in stanzas 17 to 19. Meigen’s other sons, Eiddew and Eidal, are mentioned in stanzas 46 and 47.

[1] Arch. Camb. Parochialia  (Part 1), 155.
[2] Jones, T., 1967, 136, 137.
[3] Bartrum, P.C., 2009, 642.
[4] Jones, T., 1967, 122, 123.

Rhita Gawr

The Arthurian connection of Ricca (or Ritta) may have originated from the HRB. Iolo Morganwg mentions a story of Rhita Gawr and he gave the source as a o Lyfr Iaco ap Dewi. Rhita settled a dispute between kings Nynnio and Peibio by conquering them and cutting off their beards. He did the same with all the other 28 kings that challenged him and made a mantle from the beards.

That this may not have been an invention of Iolo is the fact that Ricca may well have been of one generation earlier than Arthur since JC 9 and JC 10 indicate that to be the case for the brothers Nynnio and Peibio. This generational placement is in line with Culhwch ac Olwen which indicates that Eigr was married to a Ricca, chief elder of Cornwall.

One possible speculation, if Iolo’s story has any historical basis, is that if Eigr’s husband was indeed the paramount British ruler it would suggest his conflict with him was not over a damsel but rather over which ruler would have supremacy over the British kingdoms.

Nynnio and Peibio ruled in S. Wales and the Liber Landavensis locates a Tref Rita there.

Arthurian connections with Ewyas and Ergyng

In Culhwch ac Olwen,during his chase, Twrch Trwyth killed Llygadrudd Emys and Gwrfoddw, Arthur’s uncles, his mother’s brothers. The latter name appears in that of Gwrfoddw Hen, king of Ergyng, but he appears to be a later ruler. However, Welsh dynasties often preserved the same name, so Gwrfoddw Hen may have been a descendant. This suggests Eigr, Gwrfoddw’s sister, could have come from that region.

Ergyng may have covered parts of Herefordshire, Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire. The Brut y Brenhinedd calls Eudaf, an ancestor of Arthur, as “Eudaf yarll ergig ac euas”, that is Earl of Ewyas and Ergyng. However, Geoffrey refers to him anachronistically as “Octavius dux Wisseorum”, presumably the territorial name being derived from Welsh Ewyas.

Magnus Maximus had a daughter, named Sevira, by Elen who was the daughter of Eudaf. It was through Gwrtheyrn’s marriage with Sevira that he gained control of the territory that was to become known as Ewyas. Geoffrey referred to him as the “Consol Gewissiorum”. He invited Germanic warriors to settle in the Abingdon area to help defend attacks on his territory in Ergyng. The ASC confuses this event with the later settlement in Kent. The name for Gwent is easily confused with that for Kent. Gwrtheyrn locating the Gewisse, a Saxon tribe, in the upper Thames valley made logistical sense, as his opponent, Emrys Wledig i.e. Aurelius Ambrosius, was based in the Wiltshire area. Located in that county is the village of Amesbury, formerly known as “Ambres byrig” in the Cartularium Saxonicum.[1] It is likely that the East Wansdyke earthwork was built by the Britons as a defense against attack from the north.

Cerdic is attributed in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as the founder of the Wessex dynasty. However, as Dumville has pointed out, his reign started later than the chronicle suggests. In fact, he belonged to a second Wessex dynasty. The first dynasty was founded by the eponymous ruler, Wig/Giwis, the two names being, as Sisam explains, alliterative pairs. His reign was followed by that of Esla/Elesa. The latter is known as Osla Gyllellfawr, whose defeat by Arthur brought the first Wessex dynasty to an end. For obvious reasons, this disaster goes unmentioned in the ASC.

[1] Birch, W. de G., 1887, 178.

Breton genealogies

The Vita secunda S. Winnoci (c. 1064), which gives the pedigree of the kings of Domnonia, and is composed of two segments a and b, states:

“Riwalus Britanniae dux filius fuit Derochi filii Guitoli filii Urbieni filii Catoui filii Gerentonis. Hic Riwallus, ad transmarinis veniens Britannicis cum multitudine nauium, possedit totam minorem Britanniam tempore Clotarii regis, qui Clodovei filius existitit.”

This suggests Riwal, who appears in segment b, belonged to gen. 0. I believe he was the father of Tristan.That Riwal was of gen. 0 is confirmed by Cartulaire de Landévennec, Cartulaire de Quimper and Cartulaire de Quimperlé. Those documents mention various dukes of Brittany. Conanus Sunnoc was Conan III. Alanus Hir Anger was Alan Fergant, i.e. Alan IV. Houel Huuel was Hoel II. Alain Canhiart died 1058.

The V. Winwaloei states the saint was a contemporary of Grallo, that is Gradlon Mur, who according to the above cartularies was of gen. 2. This conforms with the fact that Winwaloe was a nephew of Cadwy ap Geraint.

Riwal’s sister, Pompaea who was the mother of Tudwal, is likely to be Alma Pompa, the mother of Leonorius. The former son was was a contemporary of Deroch II and the latter of Childebert. Breton tradtion states that Pompaea was married to Hoel Meur. This is chronologically possible according to Chronicon Briocense.

Triens of Judicahel struck at Rennes 632 - 638

Triens of Judicahel struck at Rennes 632 – 638

Now turning to segment a of the V. Winocci, the Chronicle of Fredegar indicates Judicahel was a contemporary of Dagobert, and so belonged to gen. 3. That Judicahel was of gen. 3 is confirmed by Cartulaire de Redon as his descendant, Roiantdreh, took prince Salomon, who was duke of Brittany from 857 to 874, as her adopted son when her son died in 861.

Jonas, who is listed in segment a, appears in Culhwch ac Olwen as Iona, king of France, a companion of Arthur. His father, Riatham, is Riothamus who Jordanes called the king of the Britains and who was militarily active around 470.

Aurilla, who appears in the V. Melori Martyris, is said to have been the daughter of Iudoc who belonged to gen. 3. This would suggest Melor was of gen. 5. However, it is more likely that Aurilla was the daughter of Rydoch ap Brychan as indicated by JC 2 11. DSB 11 11 adds the comment “in Francia” and a gloss refers to him as Iudoc. Brychan is of gen. -3 since his daughter, Meleri, was married to Ceredig ap Cunedda Wledig.

Gen. ChB a ChB d ChB e CdL CdQ
19 Conanus Sunnoc
18 Alanus Hir Anger
17 Houel Huuel Houel
16 Alan Canhiarh Alanus Chaniart
15 Binidic Budic
14 Budic Bud Berhuc Budic Castellin
13 Diles Heirguor Chebre Diles Hergu Kembre
12 Aulfret Alesrudon Aufret Alefrondon
11 Gradlon Plueneuor Gralen Ploeneor
10 Fragual Fradleoc Ffraval Fradleuc
9 Budic Mur Budic Mur
8 Concar Cheroenoc Congar Keroenuc
7 Gradlon Flam Gradlem Flam
6 Daniel Unua Daniel Unna
5 Iahan Reith Jahan Reeth
4 Alanus Magnus Budic et Maxenri Budic et Maxenti
3 Salomon II Daniel Drem Rud Daniel Drem Rud
2 Hoelus Tertius Gradlon Mur Gradlen Mur
1 Alanus Judualus Tremorus Concar Congar
0 Hoelus Secundus Jonas Conomerus Tryphina Riuelen Marthou Ri Welen Mar Chou
-1 Hoelus Magnus Riatan Werochus I Riuelen Mor Marthou Ri Welen Mur Mar Chou
-2 Budicus Derochus
-3 Audroenus Rivalus Murmaczon
-4 Salomon
-5 Grallonus Magnus
-6 Conanus Meriadocus

 

Gen. CdQl d CdR CF JC 2 11 V. Melori Martyris
20 Berta
19 Conanus
18 Alan
17 Hoel
16 Alan Cainard
15 Binidic
14 Budic Castellin
13 Diles Heergur Kembre
12 Altfret Alefrudon
11 Gradlon Plueneur Roiantdree
10 Fraugual Fradleuc Louenan
9 Budic Mur Juduual
8 Cungar Keroenuc Argant
7 Gradlun Flam Custentin
6 Daniel Unua Judon
5 Jahann Reeth Urbon
4 Budic et Maxenri Urbien
3 Daniel Drem Rud Jedechaël
2 Gradlun Mur Tewdwr Waroch II Iacob
1 Cungar Budic Macliau Canao
0 Rimelen Marthou Melorus
-1 Rimelen Mur Marthou Rivodius Meliavus Aurilla
-2 Reidoc Budic
-3 Brachan Daniel
-4 Lex or Regula
-5

 

Gen. V. Winnoci a V. Winnoci b
3 Winnoch Judoc Judicahel
2 Juthael
1 Judwal
0 Jonas Riwal
-1 Riatham Deroch II
-2 Deroch I Withol
-3 Riwal Urbien
-4 Cathou
-5 Gerenton

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Arthur’s death

Under the year 501 the ASC A has the entry:

“Her cuom Port on Bretene 7 his .ii. suna Bieda 7 Mægla mid .ii. scipum on þære stowe þe is gecueden Portesmuþa 7 ofslogon anne giongne brettiscmonnan, swiþe ęþelne monnan.[1]
“Here Port and his 2 sons, Bieda and Mægla, came with 2 ships to Britain at the place which is called Portsmouth, and killed a certain young British man – a very noble man.”[2]

It is not usual for the ASC to mention the death of an enemy and if the individual was a nobleman we may be able to identify him. It will be argued that the dating for this event is incorrect. Moreover, the previous entry, for the year 495, and the following entry, for 508, are also suspect of being wrongly dated as they are very similar to the entries for the years 514 and 527 respectively except that some of the names have been altered. It is proposed the reason why the authors would wish to make duplicate entries for the start of the 6th C is because Arthur’s victories occurred in that time frame and they needed to fill that period.

Æthelweard’s Chronicle has a comment under the year 500 which must have been originally part of the ASC 519 entry as it speaks of the six year gap between arrival and conquest:
“Sexto etiam anno aduentus eorum occidentalem circumierunt Brittanniæ partem, quae nunc Vuestsexe nuncupatur.”
“In the sixth year from their arrival they encircled that western area of Britain now known as Wessex.”[3]

Sims-Williams notes:
“That Æthelweard meant A.D. 500 is confirmed by his comment on Ecgberht’s accession in A.D. 800: ‘From the reign of Cerdic, who was King Ecgberht’s tenth ancestor, 300 years elapsed (reckoned from when he conquered the western area of Britain).’ “[4]

The question arises what is the correct dating for the 501 event. The clue to answering this question is the fact that the entries for the years 514 and 527 have been essentially repeated one Metonic cycle, that is 19 years, earlier. The 519 event could not be repeated wholesale under the year 500 as it would have meant giving two dates for the origin of Wessex with the coronation of Cerdic. The solution was to do a part transfer as indicated by the above quote from the Æthelweard’s Chronicle. The 501 entry has no parallel under the year 520. Instead, it was a transfer from two Metonic cycles, that is from the year 539. This is the date of Camlan and the very noble man is none other than Arthur.

The next question is who were the two individuals, Bieda and Mægla, who brought about Arthur’s demise. They appear in Culhwch ac Olwen as Maelwys son of Baeddan, indicating their probably correct father to son relationship. The identification of Maelwys with Meleagant was made by Chambers.[5] As Meleagant was the name given by Chrétien de Troyes for Melwas we may conclude Mægla was Melwas, the abductor of Gwenhwyfar as indicated by a number of sources including the V. Gildae by Caradoc of Llancarfan.

Bieda appears as Baudemagus in the 13th C French poem Sone de Nansai and as Burmaltus in the pre-Galfridian Modena archivolt which is a representation of Camlan. Mægla appears on the archivolt as Mardoc, a name that eventually evolved into Mordred in the French Romances. Cerdic of Wessex, too, can be identified there as Carrado. The appearance of the name Port in the 501 entry, however, was probably an attempt to give the location an eponymous origin and is not likely to be historical.

August Hunt independently came to the same conclusion that Camlan occurred in the Portsmouth area, see WHY ARTHUR’S CAMLANN IS PROBABLY ‘THE CAMS’ ON PORTSMOUTH HARBOUR, although his thesis is quite different. The Modena archivolt seems to indicate Arthur was attacking a fortress which would have been Portchester Castle.

The HRB states that Arthur was taken to Avalon for healing. The V. Merlini indicates he was transported by water. This may have been a journey along the coast followed by largely travelling up the river Avon and down the river Brue to Glastonbury. However, Arthur was not buried there.

It needs to be noted that the 501 description of the murdered Briton as “young”, although present in mss. A (shown above) and E, is absent from mss. B and C:
ASC B year 501
“Her com Port on Brytene 7 his twegen suna, Bieda 7 Mægla, mid twæm scipum on ðære stowe þe is nemned Portesmuða 7 þær ofslogan anne Bryttiscne man swyþe æþelne.”
Note: No “young” mentioned.
ASC C year 501
“Her com Port on Brytene 7 his twegen sunu, Bieda 7 Mægla, mid twam scipum on þære stowe þe is nemned Portesmuþa 7 þær ofslogan anne Brittiscne man swiþe æþelne.”
Note: No “young” mentioned.
ASC D year 501
No entry for year 501.
ASC E year 501
“Her com Port on Brytene 7 his twegan sunan Bieda 7 Mægla mid .ii. scipum in þære stowe þe is gecweden Portesmuða, 7 sona land namon 7 ofslogon ænne gungne Brytiscne man swiðe æðelne.”
Translation:
“Here Port and his two sons, Bieda and Mægla, came with 2 ships to Britain at the place which is called Portsmouth, and immediately seized land and killed a certain young British man – very noble.”
Note: “young” mentioned. The “immediatly” may have referred to the seizing of land, not the killing of the noble man.

It, therefore, may have been an insertion into the A text. If it was common knowledge that the victim was Arthur, this word could have been inserted to justify the early date being given for his death.

ASC versions and related texts

Instances of when the ASC mentions the death of enemy combatants include:
465. … and there killed 12 Welsh chieftains …
508. … killed a certain British king, whose name was Natanleod, and 5 thousand men with him …
577. … and they killed 3 kings, Coinmail and Condidan and Farinmail …
It would seem that the authors were happy to name opponents the Saxons had killed when there was a handful of names to provide. However, the individual who was slain in 501 went unnamed, despite his acknowledged nobility, which might indicate that to have mentioned who he was would have been taboo. The only individual we know who could just possibly have been a nonperson for the Saxons is Arthur, as the ASC entries were intentionally misdated to deny the existence of a period of British successes under his leadership.

Actual dates for the Wessex rulers

The entries in the ASC from 514 to 544 are one Metonic cycle too early (coloured black in the table} while the repetitions from 495 to 508 have been pre-dated by two cycles (coloured red). So, for example, Cerdic’s arrival in 495 occurred in 533 and his coronation in 538, a date also suggested by Dumville for the event. This date can be arrived at by subtracting the total for the regnal years given in the 9th c. West Saxon Genealogical Regnal List from Alfred’s accession in the year 871.[6]

In order to obscure the generation of military defeats that may be called the Arthurian age the ASC made the Adventus Saxonum one Metonic cycle later than the actual date of 428, as indicated by the Historia Brittonum.

[1] Links > Anglo-Saxon Chronicle > Tony Jebson.
[2] Swanton, M., 2000, 14.
[3] Campbell, A., 1962, 11.
[4] Sims-Williams, P., 2007, (ed.) Clemeos, P. et al., Anglo-Saxon England vol. 12, 38.
[5] Chambers, E. K.,1927, 213.
[6] Dumville, D. N., 1985

 

Nowy ab Arthur

The Liber Landavensis states:

“Noe ab Arthur … gave … ,in the first place, Penn Alun, with its territory, without any payment to mortal man, besides to God, and to Archbishop Dubricius, and the church of Llandaff … and also Llandeilo fawr, on the banks of the Towy, with its two territories, where Teilo, the pupil and disciple of St. Dubricius dwelt; and likewise the territory of the Aquilensians, on the banks of the river Tâf. Noe placed his hands on the four Gospels, and committed to the hand of Archbishop Dubricius this alms forever …[1]

… the lands of the Church of Llandaff, namely, Penaly, and Llandeilo fawr, and Llandyfrgwyr, which had before belonged to Archbishop Dubricius, and from the time of Noe son of Arthur …”[2]

Baring-Gould and Fisher noted:

“The grant of Llanddowror, with Penally and Llandeilo Fawr, to Dubricius by Nouy or Noë ab Arthur1 is clearly a forgery, as the latter lived at a much later period. Noë was the father of Sannan, the mother of Elisse, King of Powys circa 725-750, to whose memory the Valle Crucis pillar was set up.”[3]

Bartrum, referring to the above authors wrote:

“Noe filius Arthur occurs in the Book of Llandaf as the donor of land in Penalun [Penally] in Dyfed (BLD 77), but the charter is clearly a forgery (LBS II.401), pretending that the original recipient of the land was Dubricius.”[4]

Although Bartrum did not accept the above genealogy cited by Baring-Gould and Fisher, see Sanan ferch Elise, he dated Nowy to c. 580 and came to the same conclusion concerning the authenticity of the charter. The reality is that this entry was not a forgery. Nowy ab Arthur belonged to gen. 1, see Why Bartrum’s dating of the Demetian Arthur is wrong, as did Dubricius as can be seen in the table below.

Gen. JC 9 seg.
JC 10a
13 Morgan Hen Morgan Hen
12 Owain Owain
11 Hywel Hywel
10 Rhys Rhys
9 Arthfael Arthfael
8 Gwriad [Gwriad]
7 Brochwel Cenedlon
6 Rhys Briafael Frydig
5 Nudd Hael Llywarch
4 Morgan Tewdwr
3 Athrwys Peibio Glafoeriog
2 Meurig Arberth
1 Tewdrig St. Dyfrig (Dubricius)
0 Llywarch [Efryddyl]
-1 Nynnio Peibio
-2 Erb
-3 Erbic
-4 [Creirwy]
-5 Meurig
-6 Enynny
-7 Erbic
-8 Meurig
-9 Caradog Freichfras

Note, it was through Cenedlon’s marriage to Briafael Frydig that her descendants becaume rulers of Glywysing. Morgan Hen died in the year 974 and Dubricius in the year 612. In Culhwch ac Olwen the brothers Nynnio and Peibio appear transformed into oxen.

[1] Rees, W. J., 1840, 321
[2] Ibid., 374
[3] Baring-Gould, S., Fisher, J., 1908, 401
[4] Bartrum, P. C., 2009, 579