We shall begin this section of our study by considering the
work of a British scholar named Nennius. (The term British
means he descended from the original peoples who settled in
Britain after the Flood. The modern Welsh are descended from that
same stock.) Nennius completed his famous work, the Historia
Brittonum, towards the very end of the eighth century AD,
and his achievement was to gather together, and thus preserve, a
whole series of documents and sources that collectively shed much
light specially upon the early pagan (i.e. pre-Christian) history
of the early Britons. 16 In the preface to his work, he tells us
(in Latin) that he is recording certain facts that the British
had stupidly thrown away (quae hebitudo gentis Brittaniae
As his work proceeds, he lists some of the sources he has
used, and we see these ranged from oral traditions to certain
written chronicles and annals. As far as his oral sources are
concerned, he tells us that certain items in his history were
imparted by Irish scholars (sic mihi peritissimi Scottorum
nuntiauerunt,) and a certain genealogy was "in the
writing of the writer's mind" (set in scriptione mentis
scriptoris fuit.) Of his written sources, he lists the
annals of the Romans; the Law; "another explanation" (aliud
experimentum;) and, lapsing into his native Welsh, informs
us that a noble elder named Cuana compiled a British genealogy
from a certain Roman chronicle (i Guanach geitilach Breatan a
cronicib na Romanach.)
In common with other historical writings from the Saxon
period, it has been fashionable for scholars to denigrate much of
his work as fictitious or mythical. However, the tide is now
turning, and not without good reason. One of the latest scholars
to study Nennius' work in any real depth wrote:
"Nennius' SELECT DOCUMENTS (Excerpta) of Early
British History is almost unique in ancient and Medieval
historical writing, both in concept and form and in originality
and quality of scholarship." 17
As with the Irish chronicles, we shall meet with certain
corroborations in Nennius' history that confirm the fact he was
not just inventing stories to either flatter, deceive or
entertain his readers. But before we proceed, let us set our
minds at rest over any unease that may be felt regarding the
reliability or otherwise of "oral tradition."
What type of information can we reasonably expect oral tradition
to convey, that is, with any degree of accuracy.
Oral tradition can, in fact, remain surprisingly accurate,
even over vast periods of time. Events sometimes become
exaggerated during transmission, or lose their chronological
sequence, to be sure. But for the most part, they remain
recognizable. However, as well as events, oral transmission is
especially effective in the preservation of personal names. A
most interesting example of this from modern times, and one which
illustrates the principle exactly, is the following account. It
concerns an old man of a certain author's acquaintance:
"This man was rich in ancient lore. For instance,
through tradition handed down from father to son for untold
generations, he could trace the poor condition of certain farms
to what he called "a bad setback." When pressed for
details he would say, "Mi grandfaither told me, and his
grandfaither told him, that 'Willy Norman burnt 'em down.' Who
'Willy Norman' was he had no idea. Yet here was a folk memory
preserved in local dialect and handed down as a kind of family
"Willy Norman," of course, was William, the Norman
Conqueror of England, his burning down certain farms in the area
was a well-attested historical incident of a punitive raid
carried out under William's orders and by his troops. It would,
no doubt, have come as a great surprise to the old man who,
remembered the incident, to learn no less than 900 years lay
between him and the facts behind the story he was so fond of
relating! Yet, he was accurately conveying to his listeners, both
the name of the culprit and the nature of the crime, in spite of
his own unawareness of the passage of so many centuries. And this
is typical of oral traditions as a whole. They can be
surprisingly accurate in the information they convey, even though
time-scales and chronological sequences may suffer in the
process, and as we begin our consideration of the rest of
Nennius' work, we would do well to bear in mind that the same
principle applies to certain ancient written records
Nennius, as we have seen, gathered together a number of
sources from which he compiled the Historia; one
especially, contains remarkable information. He begins chapter
ten of his work with the statement he has come across two
"alternative explanations" (hoc experimetum bifarie
inueni) concerning the origins of the early British people.
The first account, which appears in the same chapter, is of
doubtful reliability, to say the least, although a historicity of
sorts could be argued for some of its details.
However, in chapters 17 and 18, he deals more plainly, with
the origins of the British, stating that "I found
another explanation.... in the ancient books of our elders,
(Aliud experimentum inueni.... ex ueteribus libris ueterum
nostrorum.) There then follows a genealogy whose scope
embraces a surprising amount of verifiable history. We can only
deal with it briefly here, but the genealogy is best understood
by studying Table 3 and its accompanying notes. (For the full
Latin text, and a translation, see Appendix I.) Here, we may
content ourselves with the observation that Nennius has passed
down to us the contents of a very ancient document; and he has
preserved it warts and all.
GOMER (1) MAGOG (2) MADAI (3) JAVAN TUBAL (4) MESHECH (5) TIRAS
| | | | | | |
Gauls ______|______ Medes | | | Thracians
Scythians Goths | | Cappadocians
| Hiberei Hispani Itali
Female line | Abir Male line
of descent Anchises Oth of descent
Numa Pompilius Simeon
Hessitio Armenon Negue,/pre>
| | |
__________|____________________ | _______________________|____________
Franks Latins Albans British | Bavarians Vandals Saxons Thuringians
Goths Walagoths Gepids Burgundians Langobards
3. A chart showing the lines of descent to the European nations,
including the British
If we compare Nennius' Table of European Nations with Table 1
of Part 1 of this study, the genealogy of Japheth's descendants
as based on the Genesis record, we find Nennius and Genesis are
in remarkable agreement with one another, yet Nennius adds
details not included in Genesis (for natural and obvious
*Gomer (1), for example, is merely cited by Nennius as being
the ancestor of the Gauls, Nennius omitting the Biblical names of
Gomer's three immediate descendants, Ashchenaz, Riphath and
He cites Magog (2) as the ancestor of both the Scythians and
Goths, and Madai (3) as the father of the Medes. So far, so good.
From this point, however, the document from which Nennius is
working shows one or two telltale signs of the (albeit remarkably
little) distortion that it has suffered in transmission (oral or
Tubal (4) - (see Part 1, Table 1, no. 13) - was father of a
people known to the Assyrians as the Tabali, whose land,
(present-day Georgia in the USSR,) lay adjacent to that of
Tegaramah. The descendants of Tubal eventually migrated
north-east to found the city that still bears their name,
Tobolsk. The document Nennius has handed down to us adds the
details that from Tubal came the Iberians, the Spanish and the
Italians! Such a descent is unlikely on racial grounds alone, yet
is an echo of an earlier assumption that was recorded by Josephus
some seven hundred years before. (Josephus wrote that Tubal was
the ancestor of the Thobelites, who were known as the Iberes -
Iberians - of his own day.)
Likewise Nennius' source cites Meshech (5) as father of the
Cappadocians, an error that once again had already been recorded
by Josephus. (It is doubtful Josephus originated these errors,
for he himself relied on even earlier records for his own
information.) The confusion was easily brought about, for Genesis
does record the existence of two Meshechs, not one! The Meshech
with whom we are immediately concerned was a son of Japheth
whereas the Meshech with whom he was often confused, was
descended from Shem (see Part 1, Table 3, no. 57!)
The people descended from the Semitic Meshech were known to
the Akkadians as the Mashu, and to the Egyptians as the Msh'r,
both names referring to a people then inhabiting Lebanon (hence
Cappadocia.) This is the source of Josephus' error, and of those
on whom he relied. We find it perpetuated also here in Nennius.
Other examples of distortion (albeit of a minor nature) are
seen in that the Goths are shown as being descended both from
Magog, the Biblical patriarch, and from Armenon, the son of
Alanus. Armenon himself is stated to have had five sons, yet only
four are named. (Five nations are later shown to have descended
from him.) Likewise, Negue is stated at first to have had three
sons, yet four nations derive from him. The significance of all
this is that Nennius could easily have edited out or corrected
these points thereby enhancing his own credibility, yet he chose
to simply leave them as they are. Almost paradoxically, this
enhances his standing as a trustworthy and reliable historian,
and it further assures us that we are reading these ancient
documents exactly as Nennius read them.
Furthermore, the exactitude of this genealogy in showing both
the male and female lines of descent of Alanus from Javan is
surprising as it is unusual and rather than contain any overtly
mythical material both lines give every appearance of being
simple registers of ancestral names.
From Alanus onwards appears a comprehensive table of European
nations. One or two of these names were archaic even in Nennius'
times, and would long have fallen into disuse. They are all,
however, familiar to any historian today whose studies touch upon
the history of Europe at about the time of the collapse of the
Roman Empire. For some two or three centuries, Europe was a
seething cauldron as nation vied with nation in a bewildering
array of invasion and counter-invasion and yet not one of the
names in this table is historically unattested! (Not even the
unlikely sounding Gepids.) Again, this assures us that these
names were carefully and faithfully preserved in the document
that Nennius copied, and we also note with interest, various
nations are seen to have descended from patriarches whose names
are also to be found in the Genesis record. (See Appendix I.)
*There is an etymological link between the ancient tribes of
Gomer, and the modern Welsh. An equivalent of the adjective
"Welsh," is Cambrian, (see Table 4, no. 4. Kamber.)
Today, Welshmen still know their country as Cymru, and the link
between them and the early peoples of Gomer is illustrated in the
"...the ancient Gomery and Cymbry descended of Japhet,
the first possessors of this Island, after the dispersion of
Babell..." (Stowe, p.1. See Bibliography.)
A compatriot of Nennius, though he lived some 350 years after
him, was Geoffrey of Monmouth who published his own History of
the Kings of Britain (the Historia Regum Britanniae)
in about 1136 AD. Geoffrey's Historia deserves
our closest consideration, not least for the fact that it is
today perhaps the most disparaged of all the works of the Middle
Ages. Experience has shown, the re-examination of a work that is
too readily dismissed by modernist scholars, usually reveals
evidence that should not be ignored, and Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia
is no exception to this rule.
Geoffrey's work undoubtedly contains errors, and it is
allegedly on these grounds that his Historia is
dismissed as myth or plain fiction. Yet, as we have already seen,
such errors are exactly what we should expect to find! They in no
way indicate that a given work is necessarily spurious. Rather,
they are, paradoxically, the very hallmarks of a work's
We must also bear in mind the fact that material passed down
by Geoffrey, errors and all, is not original to him. Rather,
according to his own account, the Historia is
merely, for the most part his translation into Latin of a certain
ancient British (i.e. Welsh) book (quendam britannici
sermonis librum uetustissimum), which was given to him
for this very purpose by Walter of Oxford, "a man most
learned in all branches of history."
There are admittedly portions of Geoffrey's Historia
tend to grate on the modern ear. It contains, for example the
usual literary conventions of his time, such as long and flowery
speeches, and unlikely tales of heroism. Yet, this is the very
stuff and substance of Welsh Bardic lore, and it should come as
no surprise to meet it in what was, after all, originally a Welsh
However, shorn of its magic tales and accounts of heroic
deeds, Geoffrey's Historia is seen to be built
around a solid framework of perfectly acceptable historical data.
In the first few books of the Historia appear
the names of some 110 successive holders of the British crown,
and I have arranged these names into their proper genealogical
order. (See Table 4 and accompanying notes.) The list is strictly
a genealogy only as far as Lucius (54), after whom it becomes a
king-list. However, this table embraces a period of history that
extended over some 2,000 years, from Brutus (c. 13th century BC)
to Yvor, who lived at the end of the 7th century AD.
Set against the acknowledged and expected errors in Geoffrey
of Monmouth's work, are the equally expected (though too-rarely
acknowledged) historical vindications. As Thorpe was compelled to
"Finally, there is the archaeological evidence, the
fact that strange light has been thrown upon certain of the
alleged fancies of Geoffrey of Monmouth by subsequent
archaeological discoveries." 21
A short discussion of these vindications is given in Appendix
II of this article, and together they assure us of the general
reliability of most of Geoffrey's historical material. Certainly,
scholars in the Middle Ages found little to criticize in this
regard. More modern scholars, however, justify their own
rejection of Geoffrey's work by pointing out that a
near-contemporary of his, namely William of Newburgh, condemned
Geoffrey out of hand as a liar. But, such would do well to
consider exactly what William was criticizing. In his own words:
"It is quite clear.... that everything this man wrote
about Arthur and his successors, or indeed about his predecessors
from Vortigern onwards, was made up, partly by himself and partly
by others, either from an inordinate love of lying, or for the
sake of pleasing the Britons." (Thorpe, p. 17.)
Thus, we see that William of Newburgh's criticism in fact was
aimed at only the last portion of Geoffrey's Historia,
namely its long section dealing with king Arthur. This, however,
had more to do with William's sensitivity as a Saxon-cum-Norman
scholar, whose efforts to establish the historical respectability
of his Norman masters was not at all advanced by Geoffrey's
reminding the Normans (and Saxons) that they were relative
newcomers to this island! In this context, however, it is
important to note William was careful not to disparage the
historical material contained in Geoffrey's work for the ages prior
to Arthur! That much, at least, was acceptable even to his
jaundiced eye, and it becomes clear that when they reject all of
Geoffrey's account on the basis of William of Newburgh's
accusation, then modernist scholars can be said to have
overstated their case.
Yet, why should Geoffrey's Historia suffer
such out-of-hand rejection when a great part of it is verifiable
and acceptable history? The answer is not hard to find. On
Thursday 6th July 1600, a certain Baron Waldstein visited
London's Lambeth Palace. He tells us that in one of the rooms he
"..a splendid genealogy of all the Kings of England,
and another genealogy, a historical one, which covers the whole
of time, and is traced down from the Beginning if the
Later, arriving at Richmond Palace on 28th July, he saw in the
"...beautifully set out on parchment, a genealogy of
the kings of England which goes back to Adam. "23
Such genealogies were immensely popular, and as fascinating to
the general public as they were to historians and other scholars.
As tables of descent they provide a continuous record of human
history from the Creation through the post-Flood era, down to
modern times. The material of which they were based was
undoubtedly that which Geoffrey of Monmouth has passed down to us
as well as various details gleaned from the Saxon records (Table
5.) It is important to realize the disparagement of these
genealogies only really began in the 18th century, when so-called
Rationalists were already seeking to replace man's recorded
history with certain anti-Biblical notions of their own! Such is
the extend of their success in this, that today hardly a scholar
can be found who would dare to base his history on the truth and
reliability of these records. Instead, the student of history is
presented with a complete blank when he comes to inquire into the
history of Britain for the period preceding the Roman; and when
Sellar and Yeatman wrote satirically that history did not begin
until 55 BC (the date of the first Roman invasion of Britain,)
they were not entirely joking (Appendix II.)
The British chronicles, however, are not alone in suffering
such disparagement at the hands of modern sceptics. Rather, their
treatment is mirrored exactly in the present-day handling of
another set of records that far exceed those of the early British
in both quality and quantity:
4. A chart showing the line of descent of the early British
|_________________________________________ Pandrasus (K. of Greeks)
(2) Corineus (1) BRUTUS---Ignoge
| | | |
(6) Gwendolen---Locrinus---Estrildis Kamber Albanactus
| (3) | (7) (4) (5)
(9) Madden Habren
(11) Mempricius (10) Malin
(13) Brutus (Greenshield) 19 sons & 30 daughters
| | |
(18) Goneril---Maglaurus (19) Regan---Henwinus (20) Queen Cordella---Aganippus
| | K. of the
(21) Marganus I (22) Cunedaglus Franks
(27) Ferrex (26) Porrex I
(28) ? ---Unspecified period of civil war
(32) Belinus Brennius---Daughter of
| Eisinglus K.
(33) Gurgult (Barbtruc) of Norwegians
(34) Gulthelin---Queen Marcia
| | | | |
(36) Gorbonianus (37) Archgallo (38) Elidurus (39) Ingenius Peredurus
| | | | |
? | Gerennus Idvallo Runo
| | Catellus
(40) Marganus II (41) Enniaunus |
| | |
Fulgenius Edadus Andraglus
(42) Beldgabred Archmail
| | |
(45) Lud | Nennius
(47) Androgeus (48) Tenvantius
(50) Gulderius (51) Arviragus---Genvissa
(61) Constantine I
(66) Constantine II---A British Noblewoman
| | |
(67) Constans (73) Aurelius (74) Utherpendragon---Ygerna
| | |
| (69) Hengist (75) Arthur Anna---Budicius II
| | | | K. of
?---(68) Vortigern---Renwein (76) Constantine III | Brittany
| | |___
| (77) Aurelius (Conanus) |
__|____________________ | Hoel I
| | | (78) Vortporius |
Vortimer Katigern Paschent | Hoel II
(70) (71) (72) (79) Malgo Kings of
3 unnamed "tyrants"
(84) Yvor The last king of British descent
TABLE 4. A chart showing the line of descent of the
early British kings.
NB The Line from Noah to Brutus (with the exception of
Silvius), is taken directly from chapter 18 of Nennius' Historia
Brittonum, and these names thus appear in bold Letters. A other
names are from Geoffery of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae.
(1) Brutus. He was the first to colonize the British mainland
after the Flood, and was Britain's first king. The land of
Britain and its people, the Britons, derived their name from him.
His wife, Ignoge, the daughter of a "Greek" king named
Pandrasus, was married to Brutus against her will.
(2) Corineus. He joined forces with Brutus in his migration
to the British mainland and shared the same ancestry as Brutus,
although their exact relationship is unclear. During the process
of colonization, Corineus was apportioned that part of Britain
that still bears his name - Cornwall. For some time, Cornwall was
a separate and independent kingdom.
(3) Locrins. On the death of Brutus the island was divided up
between Locrins and his brother. Locrinus' kingdom consisted of
what is now England, with the exception of Cornwall, which
retained its independence. His kingdom was long known by his
name, i.e. Loegria, and even today the Welsh know England as
(4) Kamber. His inheritance on the death of Brutus was the
kingdom that bears his name, Cambaria, present-day Wales. It is
interesting to note that his name is perpetuated whenever we
speak of Cambrian and Precambrian rocks.
(5) Albanactus. He was apportioned present-day Scotland which
then bore his name, Albany. Nennius tells us in chapter 18 of his
own Historia Brittonium that the early Albans were directly
related to the early Britons.
(6) Gwendolen. The daughter of Corineus. Loctrinus had
married her in accordance with an earlier pledge, but on the
death of her father, Loctrinius deserted her in favour of
Estrildis. In vengeance, Gwendolen roused up her father's kingdom
of Cornwall against Locrinus and Locrinus was killed in the
ensuing battle. As now undisputed ruler of Loegria, Gwendolen
gave the order to execute by drowning Estrildis, and her daughter
Habren, born of Locrinus' adultery. Gwendolen ruled Loegria for a
further 15 years, retiring eventually to her native Cornwall,
where she died.
(7) Estrildis. Temporarily became Queen of Loegria when
Locrinus deserted his legitimate wife. On the death of Locrinus,
Estrildis was drowned on Queen Gwendolen's orders.
(8) Habren. The daughter born of Locrinus' adultery with
Estridis, she was drowned with her mother in the river that long
bore her name, the Habren in the early British tongue. The Romans
transposed the name as Sabrina. We know it today as the river
(9) Maddan. His mother, Gwendolen, abdicated the throne in
Madden's favour after ruling for fifteen years. Maddan was to
rule in her place for forty years.
(10) Malin. His ambition for the crown on his father's death
resulted in his murder at his own brother's hands. The
assassination occurred at a conference called between the two
(11) Mempricius. A noted tyrant, he murdered his brother
Malin, deserted his lawful wife in favour of unnatural practices,
and generally misruled the kingdom. In the twentieth year of his
reign he was separated from his companions in a hunting party,
surrounded by wolves, and eaten.
(12) Ebraucus. He took the crown on his father's death, and
subsequently ruled the kingdom for 39 years. In an eventful and
fondly remembered reign, he sacked Gaul, and founded the city of
Kaerbrauc which bore his name. The Romans later preserved his
name as Eboracum, modern York.
(13) Brutus. Greenshield Ebraucus' eldest son, he took the
crown on his father's death.
(14) Leil. Succeeding the throne on his father's death, he
founded the city that still bears his name, Kaerfeil - known
today as Carlisle. Leil's reign of 25 years ended in civil war
due to his ineffectiveness and lack of resolve as a leader.
(15) Hudibras. Ending the civil war of his father's making,
Hudibras ruled for 39 years. This great builder founded the
cities of Kaerreint (Canterbury,) Kaerguenit (Winchester) and the
fortified township of Paladur, present-day Shaftsbury.
(16) Bladud. Not mentioned by Geoffrey of Monmouth, is the
fact that Bladud was a leper. He ruled Leogria for 20 years,
founding the city of Kaerbadum, present-day Bath. He outlawed the
practise of necromancy throughout his kingdom, and was killed in
one of the earliest recorded attempts to fly.
(17) Leir. Leir succeeded his father to enjoy a reign of 60
years. He founded the city of Kaefeir, known today as Leicester,
and "immortalised" in Shakespeare's play, King Lear,
which recalls the events of his reign.
(18) Goneril. King Leir's eldest daughter, she married
Maglaurus, Duke of Albany. (By now Albany, Cambria and Cornwall
were duchies subservient to the kingdom of Loegria.)
(19) Regan. Leir's second eldest daughter, she married
Henwinus, the Duke of Cornwall. With her sister Goneril, she was
to depose Cordelia, the lawful Queen.
(20) Queen. Cordelia After marrying Aganippus, King of the
Franks, Cordelia became Queen of all Britain on her father's
death. Five years later, she was deposed by her sisters, and
committed suicide in prison.
(21) Marganus. I He ruled (unlawfully) the territory north of
the Humber. After attacking Cunedagius he was pursued into Wales
where he met his death at Cunedagius's hands. The place where he
died was long known as Margon (Morganwc - present day Margam.)
(22) Cunedagius. Originally ruling the territory south of the
Huber, Cunedagius became King of all Britain in the death of
(23) Rivallo. A notable young king who ruled wisely and
"frugally," and is remembered for a "rain of
blood" which fell from the skies, (freak weather conditions
that produced red showers of rain,) a great swarm of flies, and a
plague that took a heavy toll of the population.
(24) Jago. Jago was Gurgustius' nephew, not grandson as the
genealogy would imply.
(25) Judon. Gorboduc's queen, Judon was caused much grief
over her quarrelling sons. On learning that Porrex had killed
Ferrex her favourite, she became insane, and later murdered
Porrex in his sleep by hacking him to pieces.
(26) Porrex. He killed his elder brother in battle, and was
later murdered by his own mother in revenge.
(27) Ferrex. He constantly quarrelled with his younger
brother, over who should succeed their now sterile father. At one
point, Ferrex fled to Gaul from where, with the help of Suhard,
King of the Franks, he led a military expedition against his
brother. He died in the ensuing battle.
(28) An unspecified period of strife and civil war, as five
rival kings fought for supremacy. Unfortunately, the lineal royal
descent for this period is untraceable.
(29) Pinner. Emerged from the civil war period as King of
Loegria. He was later killed in battle by his successor but one.
(30) Cloten. King of Cornwall, Cloten may have been one of
the previously unnamed kings. The provinces of Britain had
reverted to separate kingdoms during the civil war period.
(31) Dunvallo. (Molmutius) Erstwhile successor to his father
Cloten's kingdom of Cornwall, Dunvallo's military prowess gained
him the title King of Britain. He codified the Molmutine Laws, a
law-code that Geoffrey of Monmouth tells us was still famed and
revered in his day. Dunvallo reigned for some 40 years, during
which crimes of violence were virtually unheard of in his
kingdom, such was the severity of punishment meted out to such
criminals during his reign.
(32) Belinus. Dunvallo's eldest son, Belinus ruled Leogria,
Cambria and Cornwall. His brother Brennius held Northumbria and
Albany. Belinus eventually defeated Brennius, and thus came to
rule all of Britain. Geoffery of Monmouth tells us that Belinus
was a great road-builder, and that Billingsgate in London was
built by and named after him. In an eventful reign, Belinus
subdued the then King of Denmark, exacting from him a great
(33) Gurguit. The son and successor of Belinus, Gurguit was
renowned as a "lover of peace and justice." During
Gurguit's reign, the King of Denmark withdrew the tribute Belinus
had exacted from him, and Gurguit promptly invaded Denmark to
assert his authority there. It was during his return from Denmark
that Gurguit intercepted the ships of Partholan and his
fellow-exiles. Gurguit assigned Partholan the otherwise
uninhabited land of Ireland. His death was a peaceful one, and he
lies buried in the city of Caerleon-on-Usk.
(34) Guithelin. Succeeding to the crown after his father's
death, Guithelin was a noted and benevolent ruler. He married
Marcia, a learned woman, who codified the Marcian Laws, the Lew
Martiana. King Alfred the Great later translated the code as the
Mercian Laws, believing them to have been named after the much
later Saxon kingdom of Mercia. Queen Marcia ruled Britain for
many years after Guithelin's death, and during their son's
(35) Morvidus. An otherwise heroic ruler, Morvidus was noted
and feared for his ferocious and uncontrollable temper. He was
also possessed of a merciless cruelty towards those whom he
defeated in battle. After one particular attempted invasion of
his kingdom, Morvidus personally put to death his prisoners of
war, one by one. "When he became so exhausted that he had to
give up for a time, he ordered the remainder to be skinned alive,
and in this state he had them burnt." During his reign, he
received reports a monstrous animal was causing havoc in the
west. With typical, if hasty, bravado Morvidus fought the beast
single-handedly. The dinosaur killed him and devoured his corpse.
(36) Gorbonianus. He was much renowned for his goodness as a
(37) Archgallo. He was the very opposite of his elder
brother. Such was his tyranny he was eventually deposed by the
nobility, and his younger brother elected king in his place.
(38) Elidurus. Surnamed the Dutiful because of the compassion
he showed towards his elder brother. Elidrus exercised this
compassion to the point of temporarily abdicating in favour of a
now reformed Archgallo, whose behaviour as king was now a
complete reversal of his former conduct. Archgallo died after ten
years, at which point Elidrus resumed the crown. Elidrus' reign,
however, was to be interrupted once again...
(39) Ingenius and Peredurus. The two younger brothers of
Elidurus, they both organized his deposition by rebellion, during
which Elidurus was seized and incarcerated in a tower. Ingenius
then ruled the southern half of Britain, and Peredrus ruled the
north, including Albany. Ingenius died seven years later, and
Peredurus gained the whole kingdom. Peredurus now became a wise
and benevolent king, but died after only a short reign. Elidurus
thus regained the crown for a third time.
(40) Marganus II. A wise and good king whose reign was noted
for its tranquillity.
(41) Ennianus. His tyrannical behaviour brought about his
deposition after only a six-year reign.
(42) Beldgabred. This "king surpassed all the musicians
of ancient times, both in harmony and in playing every kind of
musical instrument, so that he was called the god of the
(43) Digueillus. A notably just and fair king.
(44) Heli. Heli ruled for forty years.
(45) Lud. He ordered the rebuilding of London's walls and
towers. The city, hitherto known as Trinovantum, thus became the
city of Lud, i.e. Kaerlud. This was later corrupted to
Kaerfundein, from whence came its present name. Lud was
eventually buried in London, close to Ludgate that still bears
his name. Lud's sons were not considered fit to succeed him, so
the crown passed to his younger brother, Cassivelaunus.
(46) Cassivelaunus. It was this king who withstood, in the
year 55 BC, the invading armies of Julius Caesar. Cassivelaunus
was starved into submission after betrayal by Androgeus, his
brother Lud's eldest son. The British resistance, however, had
been great and fierce, evoking from the Roman author Lucan much
praise concerning one particular engagement: Territa quaesitis
ostendit terga Britannis, when Caesar fled in terror from the
very Britons whom he'd come to attack!" (Lucan's Pharsallia,
ii, 572. See Thorpe, p. 117.)
(47) Androgeus. In his minority he received the duchy of Kent
from his uncle Cassivelaunus. His betrayal of the British forces,
later leaving the country, ensured that he would not inherit the
(48) Tenvantius. During his minority, he received the duchy
(49) Cymbeline. Son and heir of Tenvantius, he received a
Roman upbringing in the Imperial household. Like Leir before him,
Cymbeline has been "immortalised" by Shakespeare, whose
play, Cymbeline, recalls his reign.
(50) Guiderius. On his succession to the crown, he promptly
refused to pay tribute to Rome. Emperor Claudius was attacked by
Guiderius' forces at Porchester. During the attack, Guiderius was
betrayed and killed.
(51) Arvirgus. Taking command of the British forces on the
death of his brother Guiderius, Arvirgus emerged victor from a
major skirmish with Claudius' troops. He eventually ruled the
British as Rome's puppet-king, being interred in the city of
Gloucester. British warriors at that time were famed for their
ability to fight whilst standing on the pole of the chariot, and
Arviragus was particularly adept at this as a certain Roman
author testified: "Either you will catch a certain king, or
else Arviragus will tumble from the British chariot-pole."
(Juvenal, I, 1v, 126-127. See Thorpe, p. 123.)
(52) Marius. Inheriting the crown from his father Marius
enjoyed friendly relations with Rome. During his reign, he
defeated and killed Soderic, the king of the Picts, in a great
battle. The present country of Westmorland was so named in his
honour because of the battle and Marius accordingly had a stone
inscribed commemorating his victory set up in the county.
(53) Coilus. The son of Marius, he was raised and educated as
a Roman and was to rule his kingdom in peace and prosperity.
(54) Lucius. Taking up the crown on his father Coilus' death.
According to Bede, Lucius was to become Britain's first Christian
king. He died in the year 156 AD.
(55) Geta. His rule marks a break in the strict lineal
descent of the British kings. Geta was a son of the Roman
Severus, and on the death of Lucius was elected king of the
Britons by the Roman Senate. He was eventually killed by his
(56) Bassianus. The Britons elected Bassianus king after he
had killed his half-brother. Like Geta, he was a son of Severus,
but by a British noblewoman.
(57) Carausius. After raising a fleet of ships (with the
blessing of the Roman Senate,) he invaded Britain. He compelled
the Britons to proclaim him king, and killed Bassianus in the
ensuing battle. He was eventually murdered by Allectus.
(58) Asclepiodotus. He held the duchy of Cornwall when he was
elected king by the Britons in their attempt to break the tyranny
of the Roman legate Allectus. Allectus was defeated by
Asclepiodotus in the battle of London. It was during his reign
that the Diocletian Persecution began, (303-312 AD.)
(59) Coel. Becoming king by rebelling against and killing
Ascliepiodotus, Coel is commemorated in the children's
nursery-rhyme Old King Cole. He founded the city of Colchester
that still bears his name.
(60) Constantius. Originally a Roman Senator, he was sent to
Britain as Legate, and reduced Coel to submission. He married
Coel's daughter, Helen, and became king on Coel's death.
(61) Constantine I. The son of Constantius and Helen, He
ruled Britain on his father's death. He went on to become the
famous Emperor of Rome who legalized the Christian religion.
(62) Octavius. He revolted while Constantine was in Rome, and
assumed the British crown.
(63) Trahern. He was the brother of Coel, and was ordered by
Constantine to put down the revolt of Octavius. Eventually
defeating Octavius in battle, Trahern was later murdered by one
of Octavius' men.
(64) Maximianus. He was a nephew of Coel, and he held the
crown by virtue of that descent. He was, however, later
assassinated in Rome by friends of his successor, Gracianus.
(65) Gracianus. He was originally sent to Britain by
Maximianus to fight off an invasion by the Picts and Huns.
However, upon successfully expelling the invaders, he assumed the
crown and ordered the murder of Maximianus. He was himself to
suffer death at the hands of an assassin.
(65) Consantantine II. Crowned king at Silchester and later
killed by an unknown Pict; he invaded Britain at the request of
(67) Constans. Constantine's eldest son, he tried to avoid
the perils of the crown, becoming a monk at Winchester. He was
forcibly crowned by Vortigern, who later had him murdered.
(68) Vortigern. He became king after the murder of Constans.
It was Vortigern who invited the Saxon adventurers, Hengis and
Horsa, (see Table 5,) to Britain to help fight the Picts. After a
disastrous reign, during which he married Renwein, the daughter
of Hengist, Vortigern was burned alive in a tower by Aurelius
(69) Hengist. With his brother Horsa he was invited to
Britain by Vortigern to help expel the invading Picts. However,
Hengist availed himself of the opportunity to settle his own
people permanently in Britain. He gave his daughter Renwein to
Vortigern in exchange for the county of Kent. His treachery
became Proverbial, and he was eventually caught and executed.
(70) Vortimer. The son of Vortigern by his first wife,
Vortimer achieved four notable victories in his attempts to drive
out the Saxons, but for this he was poisoned by his Saxon
(71) Katigern. The second son of Vortigern by his first wife,
Katigern was killed at the battle of Epiford by Horsa, brother of
(72) Paschent. Vortigern's third son by his first wife,
Paschent fled to Germany where he raised an army of mercenaries
to invade and defeat Aurelius Ambrosius (73). This invasion
failed, and Paschent then fled to Ireland. Raising another army,
he was killed at the subsequent battle of Menevia by
(73) Aurelius (Ambrosius). Too young to take up the crown, he
was smuggled to Brittany on Constans' murder (see 67), and was
raised in the household of king Budicius. Eventually declared
king, Aurelius planned Vortigern's death. During his reign,
Ambrosius forced the Saxons to retreat to Albany (Scotland,) and
captured and executed Hengist at Kaerconan, present-day
Conisborough. He was eventually poisoned by Eopa the Saxon.
(74) Utherpendragon. Named Uther at birth he assumed the
surname pen-Dragon after the appearance of a dragon in the sky.
Like his brother Aurelius, he was smuggled abroad on the murder
(75) Arthur. Certainly the most glamorous of all the British
kings, and the main subject of Geoffrey's Hisioria. Arthur
succeeded to the crown at only 15 years of age. After an eventful
reign, he died in the year 542 AD.
(75) Constantine III. The son of Cador, duke of Cornwall, he
succeeded Arthur in 542 AD. His succession was complicated by an
immediate revolt of the Saxons, which was violently crushed.
Constantine was struck down some four years later "by God's
(77) Aurelius. Conanus Nephew of Constantine III, he gained
the crown only by imprisoning another uncle who was next in line
to the throne. He reigned for only three years before his death.
(78) Vortiporius. Succeeding Auralius Conanus, he put down an
invasion from Germany. His subsequent fate is unrecorded.
(79) Malgo. According to a recorded speech of Cadwallo (82),
He had two sons, Ennianus and Run, neither of whom succeeded him.
(80) Keredic. Of unknown origin and descent, he succeeded
Malgo. In a subsequent battle, he was driven to seek refuge in
(81) Cadvan. Of Northern Welsh descent, he
"succeeded" to the kingship by engaging in battle
Ethelfrid, the king of Northumbria. They divided Britain between
them, Cadvan ruling over the southern half.
(82) Cadwallo. The son of Cadvan, he had a relatively long
and eventful reign, eventually dying of old age.
(83) Cadwallader. The son of Cadwallo, he succeeded his
father as king. Bede knew him as Cliedvalla, and the Welsh knew
him as Cadwaladr. He died in 689 AD.
(84) Yvor. Ruled over the remaining Britons who had been
driven into Wales. The last king of strictly British descent,
during Yvor's reign the British came to be known as the Welsh.