Monday, 6 April 2009

Legendary Kings of Britain

The following list of legendary kings of Britain derives predominantly from Geoffrey of Monmouth's circa 1136 work Historia Regum Britanniae ("the History of the Kings of Britain"). Geoffrey constructed a largely fictional history for the Britons (ancestors of the Welsh, the Cornish and the Bretons), partly based on the work of earlier medieval historians like Gildas, Nennius and Bede, partly from Welsh genealogies and saints' lives, partly from sources now lost and unidentifiable, and partly from his own imagination[citation needed] . Several of his kings are based on genuine historical figures, but appear in unhistorical narratives. A number of Middle Welsh versions of Geoffrey's Historia exist. All post-date Geoffrey's text, but may give us some insight into any native traditions Geoffrey may have drawn on.
Geoffrey's narrative begins with the exiled Trojan prince Brutus, after whom Britain is supposedly named, a tradition previously recorded in less elaborate form in the 9th century Historia Brittonum. Brutus is a descendant of Aeneas, the legendary Trojan ancestor of the founders of Rome, and his story is evidently related to Roman foundation legends.
The kings before Brutus come from a document purporting to trace the travels of Noah in Europe and once attributed to the Mesopotamian historian Berossus, but now known to have been a fabrication of the 15th century Italian writer Annio da Viterbo. Renaissance historians like John Bale and Raphael Holinshed took the list of kings of Celtica given by pseudo-Berossus and made them kings of Britain as well as Gaul. John Milton records these traditions in his History of Britain, although he gives them little credence.

First kings derived from pseudo-Berossus
Samothes, also known as Dis: fourth son of Japheth, son of Noah. First king of Celtica, 200 years after the Flood. Britain is named Samothea after him.
Magus, son of Samothes Saron, son of Magus Druis, son of Saron (founder of the Druids)
Bardus, son of Druis (founder of the bards)
Albion, son of Neptune, a giant, who overthrows Bardus, rules for 44 years, and renames the island after himself. He is killed fighting Hercules on the continent, and from then until the arrival of Brutus, Britain has no ruler.
Kings derived from Geoffrey of Monmouth
Geoffrey synchronises some of his kings with figures and events from the Bible, Greek, Roman and Irish legends, and recorded history. These are given in the "Synchronisation" column.
England Scotland Wales Cornwall Synchronisation
Brutus I (24 years)
Corineus Eli, Aeneas Silvius Locrinus (10 years)
Albanactus Kamber Gwendolen Gwendolen (15 years)
Maddan (40 years)
Gwendolen Samuel, Aeneas Silvius, Homer Mempricius (20 years)
Saul, Eurystheus Ebraucus (40 or 60 years)
David Brutus II Greenshield (12 years)
Leil (25 years)
Solomon Rud Hud Hudibras (39 years)
Haggai, Amos, Joel, Azariah Bladud (20 years)
Elijah Leir (60 years)
Cordelia (5 years)
Marganus I (north of the Humber) and Cunedagius (south of the Humber) (2 years)
Cunedagius (33 years)
Isaiah, Hosea, Romulus and Remus Rivallo Gurgustius Sisillius I Jago Kimarcus Gorboduc War between Ferrex and Porrex I Civil war; Britain divided under five unnamed kings Pinner Staterius Rudaucus Cloten Dunvallo Molmutius Dunvallo Molmutius (40 years) Brennius (north of the Humber) and Belinus (south of the Humber)
Sack of Rome (387 BC)
Belinus Gurguit Barbtruc Partholón Guithelin Marcia (regent) Sisillius II Kinarius Danius Morvidus Gorbonianus Archgallo Elidurus (5 years)
Archgallo (restored) (10 years)
Elidurus (restored) Peredurus (north of the Humber) and Ingenius (south of the Humber) (7 years)
Peredurus Elidurus (restored) Regin son of Gorbonianus Marganus II Enniaunus Idvallo Runo Gerennus Catellus Millus Porrex II Cherin Fulgenius Edadus Andragius Urianus Eliud Cledaucus Clotenus Gurgintius Merianus Bledudo Cap Oenus Sisillius III Beldgabred Archmail Eldol Redon Redechius Samuil Penessil (or Samuil, followed by Penessil) Pir Capoir Digueillus Heli (40 years)
Lud Cassibelanus
Julius Caesar's invasions of Britain (55-54 BC)
Tenvantius Kimbelinus Augustus Guiderius Claudius's conquest of Britain (AD 43) Arvirargus Claudius, Vespasian Marius Coilus Lucius (d. AD 156) Pope Eleuterus (174-189) interregnum; war between Severus and Sulgenius Septimius Severus (Roman emperor 193-211) Bassianus (Caracalla) Caracalla (Roman emperor 211-217) Carausius Carausian Revolt (289-296) Allectus Allectus assassinated Carausius in 293 Asclepiodotus (10 years)
Asclepiodotus and Constantius Chlorus retook Britain in 296) Coel Constantius (11 years)
Constantius Chlorus, Roman emperor 293-306 Constantine I Constantine I, Roman emperor 306-337 Octavius Trahern Octavius (restored) Maximianus Magnus Maximus, Roman usurper-emperor 383-388 Dionotus Constantine II Constantine III, Roman usurper-emperor 407-411 Constans Constans II, Roman usurper-emperor 409-411 Vortigern Vortimer Germanus of Auxerre (378-448),
Battle of Aylesford (455)
Aurelius Ambrosius Uther Pendragon Arthur
Battle of Mons Badonicus,
St. Dubricius Constantine III Aurelius Conanus (2 years)
Aurelius Caninus, 6th century king of Gwent or Powys Vortiporius (4 years)
Vortiporius, 6th century king of Dyfed Malgo Maelgwn Hir ap Cadwallon, 6th century king of Gwynedd Keredic
Interregnum; Saxons occupy England
Cadvan Cadfan ap Iago, 6th/7th century king of Gwynedd Cadwallo Cadwallon ap Cadfan, 7th century king of Gwynedd, d. 634 Cadwallader (d. AD 689) Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon, 7th century king of Gwynedd
After the death of Cadwallader, the kings of the Brythons were reduced to such a small domain that they ceased to be kings of the whole Brythonic-speaking area. Two of his relatives, Yvor and Yni, led the exiles back from Brittany, but were unable to re-establish a united kingship. The Anglo-Saxon invaders ruled the south-eastern part of the island of Great Britain, which would become England, after that point in time under the Bretwaldas and later the kings of England.
The heirs to the Celtic-British throne continued through the Welsh kings of Gwynedd until that line was forced to submit itself to the English in the 13th century. Princes and lords of Gwynedd ruled until the reign of Dafydd III, who ruled from 1282 to 1283. His death marked the end of the house of Brutus.
Owen Tudor, grandfather of Henry VII of England, was a maternal descendant of the kings of Gwynedd; Henry's marriage with Elizabeth of York thus signified the merging of the two royal houses (as well as the feuding houses of York and Lancaster).
Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum Britanniae (1136)
The Travels of Noah into Europe - online at
Raphael Holinshed, Chronicles: "The History of England" Vol 1 - online at Project Gutenberg John Milton, "The History of Britain", Prose Works Vol 2 - online at The Online Library of Liberty
Charles W. Dunn, in a revised translation of Sebastian Evans. History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth. E.P. Dutton: New York. 1958. ISBN 0-525-47014-X
John Morris. The Age of Arthur: A History of the British Isles from 350 to 650. Barnes & Noble Books: New York. 1996 (originally 1973). ISBN 0-7607-0243-8
John Jay Parry and Robert Caldwell. Geoffrey of Monmouth in Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages, Roger S. Loomis (ed.). Clarendon Press: Oxford University. 1959. ISBN 0-19-811588-1
Brynley F. Roberts, Geoffrey of Monmouth and Welsh Historical Tradition, Nottingham Medieval Studies, 20 (1976), 29-40.
J.S.P. Tatlock. The Legendary History of Britain: Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae and its early vernacular versions. University of California Press. Berkeley. 1950.

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