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.

 

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Why Bartrum’s dating of the Demetian Arthur is wrong

To understand why there is a problem with the birthdate of Arthur ap Pedr given by Bartrum, i.e. 560, we need to look at a manuscript that mentions this individual. The names in the tables below are in the same order as they occur in HG 2a, namely progressing from the most recent to later individuals. My allocation of the generation numbers are in the first column and they are based on the principle that the generation number of an offspring should be one greater than that of the parent. The generation number in the fourth column are those given by Bartrum. The first table shows the first part of the Demetian pedigree. The obits shown in the 3rd column are those stated by Bartrum and originate from the Annales Cambriae.

Gen. HG 2a Obit acc. Bartrum Gen. acc. Bartrum Birthdate acc. Bartrum
13 Owain 18 900
12 Elen 929 18
11 Llywarch 904 17
10 Hyfaidd 893 16
9 Tangwystl 15? 790
8 Owain 811 14?
7 Maredudd 796 13
6 Tewdws 12 700
5 Rhain 11 675
4 Cadwgon 11 650
3 Cathen 10 625
2 Gwlyddien 9 600
1 Nowy 9 580
0 Arthur 8 560
-1 Pedr 7 535
-2 Cyngar 6 510

Using my generation numbers, regression analysis of the five obits in the above table give a generation step-size of 28 years. On the basis of this statistical technique and on the assumption that the average life expectancy was 65 years, it follows that an estimate of Arthur’s birthdate is 531, not 560.

Using a much larger database of obits the step-size is 32 years. Indeed, Bartrum states a male generation (the period between the birth of a father and that of his child) is about 33 years whereas a female generation (the period between the birth of a mother and that of her child) is about 20 years. The vast majority of generations in my database are male ones.

The larger database gives Arthur’s birth as occuring c. 487, this being the mid-value in the range for gen. 0. The Demetian Arthur’s birthdate is in the period that one would expect for the individual around whom the Arthurian cycle was built.

Using my generation numbering, Bartum’s estimates for the birthdates from Owain to Cyngar in the above table has an average step-size of 26 years, which is far too small. To achieve a more realistic step-size, he has given a number of parents and offsprings the same generation number, viz. Elen/Owain, Cadwgon/Rhain and Nowy/Gwlyddien. This results in a more satisfactory step-size of 33 years, but at the cost of artificially giving parents and offsprings the same generation number.

The reason why Bartrum’s analysis went astray may have been because he believed that HG 2 was a single pedigree list, whereas in reality it consists of three seperate segments. That the manuscript compilers did not always know when one list ended and the next one began can be seen in, for example, JC 20 10 to 11 where the ending of the first list is repeated in the start of the following one. In the second segment, shown below, he made use of two dateable events, namely the birth of Gwerthefyr and that of Macsen Wledig. In the Harleian document itself there names take the form Guortepir and Maxim gulecic respectively.

Gen. HG 2b Obit acc. Bartrum Gen. acc. Bartrum Birthdate acc. Bartrum
-1 Gwerthefyr 6 480
-2 Aergol Lawhir 5 460
-3 Tryffin 4 430
-4 Clodri 4? 440?
-5 Clydwyn 3 410
-6 Nyfed 2 380
-7 Annun Dyfed 2 355
-8 Macsen Wledig 388 1 330
-9 Prwtech
-10 Protector

Gildas writing in the 540s in the DE describes Gwerthefyr, whose name takes the form Vortipor, with the words

“… though thy head is now becoming grey … though the end of life is gradually drawing near …”.

So, Bartrum’s birthdate for him of 480 cannot be too wrong. He errs when he identifies the Macsen Wledig with the Roman emperor Magnus Maximus who died in 388. This forces him to use an average generational step-size for the second segment of 21 years, which is not credible. Again, he circumvents this problem by giving Clodri/Tryffin and Annun Dyfed/Nyfed the same generation number, resulting in a step-size of 30 years.

In this instance the name Macsen Wledig was a reference to the emperor Constantius Chlorus who died in 306, which is in line with him being in gen -8. His wife was Helena. This tallies with the first part of the Mabinogion tale entitled the Dream of Macsen Wledig  in which  Macsen came to Britain and married Elen Luyddog, the daughter of Eudaf.

It will be noted that there is an anomaly in that Bartrum’s tentative birthdate given to Clodri is 10 years after that of Tryffin who Bartrum believed was his nephew.

The third and last segment, HG 2c, is shown below. Note, the missing names that have been inserted, i.e. Custennin and Macsen Wledig, can be seen in JC 20 13b.

Gen. HG 2c JC 13b
2 Cyndeyrn Fendigaid
1 Owain
0 Eifudd Cyngar
-1 Eiludd Prwtech
-2 Stater Owain
-3 Pincr misser Miser
-4 [Custennin] Custennin
-5 [Macsen Wledig] Macsen Wledig
-6 Constans Maximianus
-7 Constantinus magnus Constantinus magnus
-8 Constantius Elen Luyddog Constantius Elen

This segment confirms the identification of the Macsen who appears in gen -8 of HG 2b with Constantius Chlorus, as his wife St. Helena has been given the cognomen of Eudaf’s daughter, namely Luyddog. Note, the Macsen of gen. -5 in HG 2c is Magnus Maximus.