The two bishop Davids

The AC B tells us that David was born 30 years after Patrick left Menevia:

“Anus sanctus dewy nascitur anno xxx post dis(c)essum patricii de meneuia.”

As the Irish annals say Patrick arrived in Ireland in 432 it follows that David I was born in 462. This is the David whose ancestry is given in the Welsh genealogies and is spoken of in the Historia Regum Britanniae. His death is mentioned in AC C:

“Sanctus Dauid meneuensis archiepiscopus in domino quieuit .”

The death of the later individual, David II, appears in the AC A and B texts respectively thus:

“Dauid episcopus moni iudeorum.”

“dauid meneuensis episcopus obiit.”

The B text has incorrectly interpreted the A text, the last three words of which are “manu in deorum”, that is “in the hands of God”. So, in reality there is no reference to Mynyw. The date of 601 is not totally inconsistent with the Irish annals which date his obit between 587 and 589.


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.

Myrddin Emrys

Gen. PP1 63 seg. MG 3 seg. HG 16a seg. ByS L 42 seg. PP1 12
4 Seissyllt Eorf Caurtam Braint hir
3 Kynvynn Kaenawc Serguan Nevydd
2 Kynann kanhysgwydd Tegonwy Letan Geraint
1 Sawyl velyn Teon Catleu Garanawc
0 Mevric brenin Dyfed Gwineu Catel Glewddigar
-1 Maredudd brenin Dyfed Howyr leu Decion Anan Kynwas
-2 Predri How dec Cinis scaplaut [daughter] Rychwin varfoc
-3 Pliws hen brenhin Dyved Run rudpaladyr Lou hen Helic Helic
-4 Llara Guidgen Glynnawc Glanawc
-5 Kasnar wledic Caratauc
-6 Gwynn gohoyw Gloyw gwlat lydan Cinbelin
-7 Tenewan Teuhant

The genealogical table above exhibits the names as they appear in the various manuscripts. The name in gen. 0 of the list PP1 63 is Meurig who the document states was present at Arthur’s coronation. This is in accord with some other manuscripts, including the Brut y Brenhinedd :

“And before him [Arthur] were four men bearing four naked swords (namely Arawn Kynvarch’s son, King of Albany, and Caswallaun Longhand, King of Venedotia, and Merrick King of Demetia, and Cador Earl of Cornwall), for this was their privilege by the custom of the emperor.”

The name in gen. -2 is the Demetian Pryderi, son of Pwyll and Rhiannon, and the main character of the Four Branches of the Mabinogion. The name exhibits a number of variations including: Blitri, Bletri, Bledri and Bledri hir. I believe this is the individual that Robert de Boron called Blaise. That he should be the grandfather of a contemporary of Arthur, tallies with the belief that his foster-son, Merlin, should be at least one generation earlier than Arthur.

Bromwich says of Blaes, son of the Earl of Llychlyn, one of the Three Just Knights in Arthur’s Court mentioned in triad 6 of the Pedwar Marchog ar Hugain:

“The name appears to be derived from that of the hermit Bla(i)se in the Prose Merlin …”[1]

The triad states:

“Blaes [preserves justice] by earthly Law …”

This corresponds well to the fact that Blaise defended Merlin’s mother in court.

Confirmation of this analysis is provided by Le chevalier aux deux epées which gives Maredudd of gen -1 the form Mériadeuc and states that he is the son of Bleheri, a name which corresponds to Blaise. Bromwich gives the following footnote:

“K.Jackson discussed the name Bledhericus as a latinization of Ml.W. Bleddri (‘king of wolves’) in a brief note in Les Romans du Graal dans les litteratures des XIIc et XIIIc siècles (Paris, 1956), p. 148. In this he showed that the Welsh name Bleddri becomes easily corrupted to Bleri and then by assimilation to Breri and Bleheris in the continental romances.”[2]

Clearly, if this process could have occurred with the name of Bleddri ap Cydifor then it could also have occurred with Bledri ap Pwyll.

According to the First Branch of the Mabinogion, Pryderi was married to Cigfa, the daughter of Gwyn Gohoyw, son of Gloyw Walltlydan, son of Casnar Wledig. The last two names appear in reverse order in MG 3. However, whichever scheme is correct, Run rudpaladyr of gen. -3 would have been a brother of Gwyn Gohoyw and uncle to Cigfa, confirming the chronological correlation between PP1 63 and MG 3.

Further confirmation of the soundness of the dating is provided by HG 16a which shows Lleu Llaw Gyffes in gen. -2 and his uncle Gwydion, who killed Pryderi, in gen. -3. Note, Cadlew of gen. 1 appears in the HRB IX 12 as Cathleus map Catel and as being present at Arthur’s coronation.

After listing the 7 sons of Helig ap Glannog, not shown in the table above, and mentioning the submerged kindom, ByS L 42 states:

“… ac Anan ap y lleian nai uabchwaer.”

This is similar to the first verse in stanza 17 of Pen. 98B:

“Bedd Ann ap lleian ym newais fynydd,
lluagor llew Ymrais,
Prif ddewin Merddin Embrais.”

This is an englyn penfyr. The rhyme is at the 8th syllable of verse 1 and at the end of the other two verses. The “fynydd”, the final word of line 1, is an addendum known as a gair cyrch. “Lluagor” may be a description of Myrddin’s military skill or a reference to his birth occurring at the same time as that of a certain war-horse. The stanza says “newais” is the name of a mountain, perhaps, it is the Welsh equivalent of Gaelic “Nibheis”, as in Ben Nevis. There is, however, one problem, namely the first verse should contain 11 syllables. It is conjectured that the first line was originally:

“Bedd An anap lleian ym newais fynydd”

The text appears in a number of corrupted forms.

Corruption sequence one: An anap → Ananap → Ananan.
Corruption sequence two: An anap → Ananap → Annap → Airap.
Corruption sequence three: An anap → Ananap → Annap → Ann ap.

“Ananan” appears in ByS K, M 42, “Airap” appears in an englyn milwr transcription and “Ann ap” appears in the englyn penfyr transcription shown above. So, a translation of the text would be:

“The grave of An, the misfortune of the nun, on Ben Nevis,
Host-splitter, lion of Emrais,
Chief magician, Myrddin Emrys.”

Confirmation that the generational dating for ByS L 42 is correct is provided by PP1 12 which shows the descendants of Glannog who was the great-grandfather of Anan, this being the diminutive form for An. One of these is Braint Hir who was a nephew of Cadwallon ap Cadfan and consequently correctly appears in gen. 4.

[1] Bromwich, R., 2006, 289.
[2] Ibid., xciv.



The Tintagel slate is dedicated to an individual called Coliavus. He can be identified in the Llyfr Baglan as belonging to gen -1 as shown in the table below which has the names in the manuscript forms:

Gen. H2414a LB 79-80a LB 215a JC20 46
25 Gwilim Gwillim Gwillim
24 Jankyn Jenkin Jenkin
23 Adam Adam (m. Herbert m. Peter) Adam
22 Kynhaethwy Reignallt Reignallt
21 Peter Peter
20 Herbart Herbert Herbert
19 Lord Herbert Lord Herbert
18 Lord Henry Herbert Lord Henry Herbert
17 Lord Herbert Lord Herbert
16 Godwin Godwin Godwin
15 Elfryd Alured Alured
14 Wlfyn beltharnsvs Vephyn(e) Vephyn(e)
13 Helin Vortegyn Vortegyn
12 Rol (m.) Aedaf Rolopedaph Rolopedaph
11 Alanor Alanor Alanor
10 Eliwd Elnyd Elnyd
9 Vernordin Fferverdyn Fferverdyn
8 Mordaf Mordaf Mordaf
7 Iopin Hopkin Hopkin
6 Hernam Hernam
5 Oswallt Oswallt Oswallt
4 Kawrddoli Canordoyl(e) Canordoyl(e)
3 Dwfnwal Dyfnuall Boifunall
2 Eiddyn Ithel Ithyn Amor
1 Dwn(gerth) Dwn Dwn Morith
0 (Dwn)gerth Caret Caret Aidan
-1 Koilbin Coilbye Coilbye Mor
-2 Progmaell Progmaell Brochuael
-3 Kuneda wledic

Note, Jesus College 20 46 was added to the table to assist the dating as it shares Brochuael with LB.

Lord Henry Herbert, of gen. 18, was the king Henry I’s chamberlain. He attempted to assasinate the royal and is likely to be the same person as Herbert of Winchester. He did have a son called Herbert who became chamberlain to Scotland’s king David I. However, the Harleian 5835 states Lord Herbert, of gen. 19, was an illegitimate son of Henry I by Nest, daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr. This would identify him as Henry FitzRoy who died in 1158.

The LB says Lord Herbert of Cornwall was son of Godwyn, duke of Cornwall. Moreover, the Harleian 2414 describes Godwin as “iarll Kernyw”. Pen. 135 p.369 goes further and calls him “ iarll Kernyw a Dyfnaint”. Yorke mentions:

“What had a more significant impact on the history of the six West Saxon shires as an administrative grouping was Cnut’s abolition of the two ealdormanries of eastern and western Wessex and his appointment of Godwine as earl of Wessex, that is of all England south of the Thames.”.[1]

He was the father of Harold Godwinson. The table shows Godwin’s predecessor as Alfred Aetheling, the brother of Edward the Confessor. Godwin’s father, Wulfnoth, is listed next.

The 12th C Norman poet Beroul in Tristran has a character called Godoine, described as a Cornish traitor, being killed by Tristan shooting an arrow into his eye. This appears to be a reference to Harold Godwinson although the name given is that of his father. As the above genealogy shows, Harold would have claimed Cornish ancestry. This suggests there may have been at Hastings the ironic situation of units in both the opposing forces at that battle invoking the name of Arthur! The Bayeux tapestry shows one of the Saxon banners with a red dragon. This could have been an assertion of Welsh ancestry, though some may argue a Danish connection.

The Tintagel slate is likely to have been a trial attempt for a plaque intended for the island chapel commemorating Coliavus. John Leland tells us the chapel was dedicated to “S. Ulette alias Uliane”. Nicholas Orme in The Saints of Cornwall says “Perhaps this came about through Guilant being reinterpreted as Juliana, of which Juliot is a diminutive form; …”. St. Juliot appears in the folio 122v of the Great Domesday Book as Sanguiland.

That Coliavus was in some way identified with Arthur, that is Paternus according to the slate, led to Juliot being misidentified with St. Julitta, the mother of St. Paternus of Avranches. The Welsh version for Julitta is Ilid. This appears as Loth in the Historia Regum Britanniae and Llew in the Brut y Brenhinedd. Gweirydd ap Llew was Gareth of the Arthurian Romances and it is that name that appears in the above table under gen. 0.

[1] Yorke, B., 1995, 145.

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.”
“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.”[1]

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. 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.”[2]

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).’ “[3]

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 CO as Maelwys son of Baeddan, indicating their probably correct father to son relationship. The identification of Maelwys with Meleagant was made by Chambers.[4] 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 and E, is absent from mss. B and C. 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.The E recension may have recieved this insertion from the Canterbury manuscript it was copied from.

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 fictitious ASC entries were purely designed to deny the existence of a period of British successes under his leadership.

The entries in the ASC from 514 to 544 are one Metonic cycle too early and the repetitions from 495 to 508 have been pre-dated by two cycles. 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.[5]

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


Custennin Gorneu and Custennin Fendigaid

Bartum argued the two names Custennin Gorneu and Custennin Fendigaid, that of the brother of Aldwr, refer to the same individual citing ByS 76 as one piece of evidence:

“Thus Custennin Gorneu and Custennin, the grandfather of Arthur, have been tacitly identified. Further confirmation of this is the fact that Erbin ap Custennin is said to have been uncle to Arthur, and Geraint ab Erbin first cousin to Arthur in the tale of ‘Geraint and Enid’ …”[1]

However, that passage has been influenced by Historia Regum Britanniae which attempts to claim a Breton ancestry for Arthur. The following table shows that Custennin Gorneu was of gen. -2 whereas Custennin Fendigaid, being the brother of Aldwr, was one generation earlier:

Gen. ByS 26 CB ByS G 24a
4 Alanus Magnus
3 Salomon II
2 Hoelus Tertius
1 Kyby Alanus Cristiolus Rystvd
0 Selyf Gereint Hoelus Secundus Howel vychan
-1 Erbin Hoelus Magnus Howel
-2 Custennyn Gorneu Budicus Emyr Llydaw
-3 Audroenus
-4 Salomon
-5 Grallonus Magnus
-6 Conanus Meriadocus

The names in the above table are as they appear in the document. Note, ByS 26 has been adjusted to show Cybi as being the son of Selyf ab Erbin as indicated by his Vitae. As indicated by ByS G 24, Budic was referred to as Emyr Llydaw. This can be confirmed by looking at parallel entries in the HRB and the ByB.

[1] Bartrum, P. C., 2009, 178.

Frollo and Freothwulf

The Historia Brittonum gives the following list for the kings of the Deira:
“Theodoric, son of Ida, reigned seven years. Freothwulf reigned six years. In whose time the kingdom of Kent, by the mission of Gregory, received baptism. Hussa reigned seven years. Against him fought four kings, Urien, and Ryderthen, and Guallauc, and Morcant. Theodoric fought bravely, together with his sons, against that Urien.”

The Flores Historiarum states:
“In the year of grace 570, Frethwulf reigned in Bernicia seven years. In this year the people of Armenia embraced the faith of Christ …
In the year of grace 577 … This year died Frethwulf, king of Bernicia, and was succeeded by Theodoric, who reigned seven years.”

The inversion in HB’s sequence, Theodoric followed by Freothwulf, in the FH’s list may be explained by the Chronicon ex Chronicis which gives a sequence of kings together with the lengths of their reigns:
“… Theodwlf uno, Freothulf VII., Theodric VII. …”
indicating the first name listed above was mistakenly written as Theodoric.

Freothwulf name becomes Frollo (Flollo in the Latin text) in the Historia Regum Britanniae. It takes the form Freol in The Awntyrs of Arthur. Indeed, in the Vulgate Merlin and Lancelot Frollo is said to be from Germany. Frollo’s flight to Paris may be a garbled version of Freothwulf retreating to the kingdom of Deira which originated as the civitas of the Parisi.

Those dates in the FH seem to indicate chronologically Freothwulf could not have been an adversary of Arthur. However, Urien fought against Theodoric and if Freothwulf preceded Theodoric then it is possible that Freothwulf was a contemporary of Arthur and the FH dating is incorrect. The FH does contain dates that may be questionable, such as Maelgwn’s death in the year 586.

According to the HB, Arthurs ninth battle occurred “in urbe legionis”. This may be a reference to York, which had been in the territory of the Brigantes according to Ptolemy and a Roman legionary base. Higham states that the Parisi were subordinate to the Brigantes.[1] Frollo is said to have fled to a city so it may well be his duel with Arthur occurred on an island beyond the old York city walls.

[1] Higham, N. J., 1987, 18.