The Theosophy Wales

King Arthur Pages


King Arthur’s

Marriage to Guinevere


Return to Homepage



Gwrtheyrn in Welsh

The Meaning of the Name


The name Vortigern, which has been anglicized as, appears in the oldest Welsh records as Guorthigirn and in modern Welsh as Gwrtheyrn. The Venerable Bede, writing in Latin, uses the very early forms Vertigernus and Uurtigernus; in the later Anglo-Saxon texts these are rendered as Wyrtgeorn.

The meaning is explained as ' High Lord' or 'Overlord'. Tigern- does not quite have the meaning of 'King', which is usually represented in names with the form 'Rex', as in Ri(othamus) or (Vortime)Rix, though a more loose translation with 'king' may not be totally incorrect.

Superbus Tyrannus? Proud Tyrant or Arrogant Usurper; The title bestowed on Vortigern by Gildas

Gildas in his De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae  “The Overthrow and Conquest of Britain” circa 540 CE  does not seem to mention the name of Vortigern, only the probable pun on his name, superbus tyrannus, “Proud Tyrant or Arrogant Usurper” though some manuscripts of Gildas actually do mention him directly.

This phrase, together with the occurrence of the name twice in the works of the Venerable Bede and once in manuscript A of Gildas but not in the oldest manuscript, C, had led to speculation among historians. The best interpretation seems to be that British *Wortigernos was the man's name, and only the fact that Mommsens's popular edition was based on manuscript C, which lacked it, gave rise to these speculations of interpolation by Bede or others in the first place.

We have seen that Gildas may have written superbo tyranno Vortigerno after all, and that this may well be why it appeared in Bede. In any case, the point is that in calling him 'arrogant usurper' he was characteristically playing on the meaning of the British *Wortigernos in exactly the same way as he did with that of Aurelius Caninus, Vortiporius, Cuneglasus and Maelgwn.

Superbus tyrannus does not mean 'outstanding ruler' or 'high king' and is not the Latin translation of *Wortigernos. Latin superbus means 'arrogant', 'haughty' or 'proud', and most certainly not 'superior'. Latin tyrannos was borrowed from Greek and had always a negative meaning of unconstitutionality or despotism.

The name Vertigernus or Vortigern means overlord or high lord. Gildas was punning it in his usual way, and getting an offensive meaning out of it, by rendering *wor not by Latin super but by superbus 'arrogant, proud', and *tigernos not by dominus 'lord' but by tyrannus 'despot, usurper'.

But Gildas may have had yet more in mind with choosing this pun. To the latin reader, superbus had another meaning, namely that of the name of Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquin the Proud), the last (non-Roman) ruler of Rome before the Romans overthrew the hated monarchy. Afterwards their republic went on to dominate the world, and kings were never again allowed. Gildas might have indicated with this pun that he saw Vortigern not only as equally proud, but also as the first (non-Roman) king after the Romans!




Return to Homepage





King Arthur &

The Round Table


Merlin & The Tree of Life


Merlin the Magician

Born circa 400 CE ; Welsh: Myrddin;

Latin: Merlinus; English: Merlin.



The Holy Grail


The Theosophy Wales

King Arthur Pages



Pages About Wales

General pages about Wales, Welsh History

and The History of Theosophy in Wales



Theosophy links


Life & Work of H P Blavatsky


Dave’s Streetwise 

Theosophy Boards

The Theosophy Website that

Welcomes Absolute Beginners


The Most Basic Theosophy

 Website in the Universe

A quick overview of Theosophy 

and the Theosophical Society

If you run a Theosophy Group you 

can use this as an introductory handout.


Theosophy in Cardiff


Theosophy in Wales


Cardiff Lodge’s Instant Guide

to Theosophy


Cardiff Theosophy Start-Up

A Free Intro to Theosophy


Cardiff Theosophical Archive


Blavatsky Blogger

Independent Theosophical Blog


Quick Blasts of Theosophy

One liners and quick explanations

About aspects of Theosophy


Great Theosophists

H P Blavatsky is usually the only

Theosophist that most people have ever

heard of. Let’s put that right


The Blavatsky Blogger’s

Instant Guide To

Death & The Afterlife


Blavatsky Calling

The Voice of the Silence Website


The Blavatsky Free State

An Independent Theosophical Republic

Links to Free Online Theosophy 

Study Resources; Courses, Writings, 

Commentaries, Forums, Blogs


Feelgood Theosophy

Visit the Feelgood Lodge


Theosophy and Reincarnation

A selection of articles on Reincarnation

by Theosophical writers

Provided in response to the large 

number of enquiries we receive at 

Cardiff Theosophical Society on this subject


Nothing answers questions

like Theosophy can!

The Key to Theosophy


Blavatsky Calling

and I Don’t Wanna Shout

The Voice of the Silence Website


The South of Heaven Guide

To Theosophy and Devachan


The South of Heaven Guide

To Theosophy and Dreams


The South of Heaven Guide

To Theosophy and Angels


Theosophy and Help From

The Universe


Wales! Wales! Theosophy Wales

The All Wales Guide to

Getting Started in Theosophy


The Tooting Broadway

Underground Theosophy Website

The Spiritual Home of Urban Theosophy


The Mornington Crescent

Underground Theosophy Website

The Earth Base for Evolutionary Theosophy


H P Blavatsky’s Heavy Duty

Theosophical Glossary

Published 1892




Try these if you are looking for a

local Theosophy Group or Centre



UK Listing of Theosophical Groups


Worldwide Directory of 

Theosophical Links


International Directory of 

Theosophical Societies



Wales Theosophy Links Summary


All Wales Guide to Theosophy Instant Guide to Theosophy


Theosophy Wales Hornet Theosophy Wales Now


Cardiff Theosophical Archive Elementary Theosophy


Basic Theosophy Theosophy in Cardiff Theosophy in Wales


Hey Look! Theosophy in Cardiff Streetwise Theosophy


Grand Tour Theosophy Aardvark Theosophy Starts Here


Theosophy 206 Biography of William Q Judge


Theosophy Cardiff’s Face Book of Great Theosophists


Theosophy Evolution Theosophy Generally Stated


Biography of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky


Please click here for Current Theosophical Events in Cardiff




Theosophy has no dogma, no priesthood or diploma elite 

and recognizes no spiritual head.

All ideas presented at meetings are for consideration.


Please click here for Current Theosophical Events in Cardiff



Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales

Theosophy House

206 Newport Road

Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24 1DL