King Arthur Pages
Marriage to Guinevere
The Arthur Story according to
Geoffrey of Monmouth
and his version’s political agenda
In his Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain) published in 1136, Geoffrey of Monmouth provided the main outline for the story of King Arthur.
He recounted that after the fall of the Roman Empire and the departure of the Roman troops, Britain was attacked by Picts from Scotland and Huns from mainland Europe until a usurping British leader, Vortigern, invited the Anglo-Saxons (English) over as mercenaries to defend Britain.
This policy had disastrous results as the Saxons promptly invaded in their own right. When the
legitimate rulers of Britain, the brothers Aurelius Ambrosius and Uther, reasserted themselves, Vortigern was killed and the Saxons temporarily
defeated. With the aid of the magus Merlinus (who had prophesied Vortigern’s death)
Uther seduced Igerna, wife of his ally Gorlois of
Tintagel, and from that union Arthur was born. Aurelius and Uther were both later poisoned in Saxon plots.
Arthur grew up to be a great king, inflicting several
defeats on the Saxons, at York, Celidon,
Winchester, his company of knights and allies including his nephew Walgan, Bedwerus, Caius, Peredur, and Urian. Arthur married a Roman noblewoman, Guanhamara, and later set off on a campaign of European conquest.
While he was away, Guanhamara and Modredus (brother to Walgan and nephew to Arthur)
plotted to take the throne. Arthur returned, Guanhamara went into a convent while Arthur pursued Modredus, defeating and killing him at the
battle of Camblam in
In his Vita Merlini (Life of Merlin) in 1151, Monmouth described Arthur’s resting place as the Fortunate Isles or Isle of Apples (insula pomorum),
presided over by Morgen le Fay and her nine sisters.
Monmouth’s Historia served a political purpose, pandering to the Normans by vilifying the Saxon English (whom the Normans had conquered in 1066), providing Britain with a legendary national hero to match the French Charlemagne, and painting a vision of a British empire extending far into Europe.
As a Welshman, Monmouth also used the opportunity to glorify the Welsh (descendants of the pre-Saxon Britons), moulding his new national
hero out of earlier Welsh traditions, creating as he
did so a cultural history of
than Beowulf which was an epic from the
Anglo-Viking warrior tradtion.
King Arthur &
The Round Table
Merlin & The Tree of Life
Merlin the Magician
Born circa 400 CE ; Welsh: Myrddin;
Latin: Merlinus; English: Merlin.
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