The three Merlins

As first stated by Giraldus Cambrensis, Merlin of the Historia Regum Britanniae was not the same individual as Myrddin Caledonius.[1] But whereas he stated there were two Merlins in fact there were three.

Gildas’s Ambrosius Aurelianus was known to the Welsh as Emrys Wledig. Geoffrey or a later copyist called him Ambrosius Merlinus. This Merlin was a boy during Gwrtheyrn’s reign and so belonged to gen -2. His father is likely to have been Constantine III. His mother may have been Gwledyr ferch Clydwyn. If so, his name appears in ABT 18d as Amwerydd ap Custennin.

Emrys was the father of Uthr Bendragon and not his brother as claimed by Geoffrey of Monmouth. Also, Geoffrey created a doublet of Emrys by inverting the two Latin elements and thus producing the name for this supposed brother as Aurelius Ambrosius.

The second Merlin was An, the son of a daughter of Helig ap Glannog, see Myrddin Emrys, and consequently of gen. -1. He was the one who articulated the prophecy in HRB VII 3 and was involved in the deception played on Eigr.

The third Merlin is he of the Vita Merlini, known as Myrddin Caledonius, son of Morfryn and king of Dyfed. His sister, Ganieda, was married to Rhydderch Hael who was of gen. 0, see Rhydderch Hael and Rhydderch Hen. He may well have been a contemporary of the adult Arthur, being of gen. 1.

It is generally held that the name Merlin was created to avoid the association with the Latin equivalent of Myrddin, namely Merdinus. However, in reality, the name originated in the HRB as a corruption of Aurelianus.

[1] Rhys, E., 1908, 125.
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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, daugther 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.

Pabo and Sawyl

There were two different individuals with the name Pabo. The cognomen Post Prydyn is incorrectly attached to the earlier Pabo.:

Gen. BGG 4
HG 19
1 Dunod Fwr Cerwyd Sawyl Benuchel Cadwallon Lyw
0 Pabo Post Prydyn Guitcun
-1 Arthwys Sawyl Benisel
-2 Mar Pabo (Post Prydyn)
-3 Ceneu Ceneu
-4 Coel Hen Coel Hen

Sawyl Benuchel is mentioned in the V. Cadoci as a tyrant who the saint dealt with for the theft of food and drink from his monastery. His cognomen means High-head or Proud. Triad 23 calls him one of the Three Arrogant Men of the Island of Britain. He is not to be confused with Sawyl Benisel whose cognomen means Low-head or Humble. He was married to Deichter, daughter of Muiredach Muinderg, King of Ulster, who died in 489, as stated in the AT. Also, according to Elis Gruffydd, his daughter was married to Maelgwn Gwynedd.

Triad 5 tells us Dunod was one of the Three Pillars of Battle of the Island of Britain and the son of Pabo Post Prydyn. His warrior character is confirmed in poetry by the words:

Dunod ap Pabo does not retreat.

Geoffrey mentions he was present at Arthur’s coronation. Triad 44 tells us he was at the battle of Arfderydd together with Gwrgi, Peredur, Cynfelyn Drwsgl (also of triad 5) and Dinogad ap Cynan Garwyn. He survived the battle and, according to the AC, died in the year 595. The B-text confirms that his father was Pabo. Various poems indicate he lived beyond Urien’s death and battled against Owain and Pasgen, sons of Urien.

Cadwallon Lyw is likely to be the king who gave land at Llancarfan to Kentigern for a monastery, as mentioned in V. Kentigerni 23.