Welsh Monarchs to Llewellyn The Great and His Immediate Descendants
Ref: Jones, "The Princes and Principality of Wales"
Ref: Wurts, "Magna Charta, Vol. III"
First, there is the dynasty of Cunnedda (Line of Gwynedd)
1. Cunedda Weledig (Cunedda the Great), was the first in the dynasty of Cunnedda, the line of Gwynedd. He was a Roman officer, by birth half Welsh, and became King of the Welsh about A.D. 400. He married and had a son, Einion.
2. Einion the Impetuous, King of Gwynedd, had a son, Caswallon.
3. Caswallon (Cadwallon), Caswallon the Longhanded, Prince of North Wales, extended his father's kingdom and died in 517.
4. Maelgwn Gwynedd, King of Gwynedd, of much good and evil, died of the yellow plague in 547.
5. Rhun, a great king, tall, with red-brown curly hair. He extended his rule to the Firthm of Forth and died about 586.
6. Beli, King of Gwynedd and Prince of North Wales, died in 599.
7. Iago, King of Gwynedd, but soon abdicated in favor of his son, became a monk and died in 613.
8. Cadfan, reigned in peace and died about 620. A tombstone marks his grave in Anglesey.
9. Caswallon (Cadwallon), King of Gwynedd and Prince of North Wales, a great defender of his people, had a stormy career and was killed in battle in 634.
10. Cadwalader Fendigaid, the third Blessed Sovereign, last king of the ancient Britons, gave protection within all his lands to the Christians who fled from the pagan Saxons. A great warrior, he became a monk, made a pilgrimage to Rome to receive the Habit of a religious Order from Pope Sergius, and died in the great plague of 664.
11. Idwal (Edwal) Iwrch, Prince of North Wales, ruled over Anglesey, and died in 712. He married Agatha, daughter of Alan, Count of Brittany, and had Roderic.
12. Roderic (Rhodri) Malwinnoe (Molwynog), Prince of North Wales, who ruled over Anglesey and died in 754. He married Margaret of Ireland, daughter of Duptory, King of Ireland, and had Cynan.
13. Cynan Dindaethwy., who became King of Wales in 755, ruled over Triudaethwy and died in 811. He married Matilda of Flint, daughter of the Earl of Flint, and they had a daughter, Eisyllt (Ethil), his heiress.
14. Eisyllt (Ethil) , Queen of Wales, married Gwriad (Gwiard) Prince of Dehubarth, King of Manaw (seventh in descent from Uther Pendragon, the legendary King Arthur's father).
15. Merfyn (Marfyn) Frych, (Mervin the Freckled) married Nesta, Queen of Powys, of ancient lineage, and had Rhodri. Merfyn (Marfyn) died in 844.
16. Rhodri Mawr, (Roderick the Great) was born in 844. Uniting three kingdoms, he became King of all Wales, having inherited North Wales from his father, Powys from his mother, and South Wales from his wife. He was slain in battle in 878, having married Ankaret, Queen of South Wales, thirteenth in descent from Cunedda, No. 1 of his line. The kingdoms he united were at his death divided among their three sons. The three sons were as follows:
o 1. Anarawd, heir to North Wales and ancestor of Llewellyn. See below.
o 2. Mervyn, heir to Powys.
o 3. Cadell, heir to South Wales, died about 909. His son, Hywel Dha (Howell the Great), Prince of Wales, compiled a famous code of laws, and after a long and peaceful reign, died in 948. He married Eleanor, daughter of the last king of Dyfed (Pembrokeshire) and the ninth in descent from Cadwgan, living in 650. His daughter Ankaret and her husband Tewdwr, were grandparents of Tudor Mawr, (use the down arrow at the left for the continuation of this genealogy.) from whom descend the Carew, Awbrey, and other families. He was the great-great grandfather of Bleddyn, as mentioned below.
This is the lineage according to both references cited above, except for the descent from Rhodri Mawr. There is a marked difference from that point on. Both references agree on the following lineage, however.
17. Anarawd, the eldest son, Prince of North Wales, died 916.
18. Idwal Foel, Prince of North Wales, died in 942, married Avendreg of Powys, his cousin, and had a son, Meyric.
19. Meyric (Meurig), Prince of North Wales, died in 986.
20. Idwal, Prince of North Wales, died in 996.
21. Iago, Prince of North Wales, died in 1039, married Avendreg, and had a son, Cynan.
22. Cynan of North Wales, married Raignalt, great granddaughter of Brian-Boru, King of Ireland, and had Griffith. He was exiled in Ireland.
23. Griffith (Gruffydd) ap Cynan, Prince of North Wales, married Ankaret of Tegaingl, and died in 1137.
24. Owen (Owain) Gwinedh (Gwynedd), Prince of North Wales, married Gladys, who was descended from Lady Godiva.
Godiva, died 1080, a Saxon lady, the wife of Leofric III., died 1057, Earl of Mercia, Lord of Coventry, a great great grandson of Alfred the Great. She is reported in history as having ridden nude through the city streets of Coventry, in order to protest the unfair taxation imposed by her husband. The Godiva procession was instituted May 31, 1678 as part of the Coventry Fair, was celebrated at intervals until 1826. Their son was Alfgar III who married (2) Elfgifu, daughter of King Ethelred II., and his wife, Elfled. Their daughter Lucia de Mercia became the wife of Ivo de Tailbois and the mother of Lucia Tailbois, who was the ancestress of several Magna Charta barons through her daughter Adeliza Meschines. See elsewhere. Alfgar and Elfgifu were the parents of Ealgith (Edith or Agatha), who was married about 1057 (1) Griffith, Prince of North Wales and had Nesta, born 1058, who was married to Trahhaern of Arwystle (son of Caradoc and grandson of Cynfyn and Queen Ankaret) and had Llyarch, Prince of North Wales, who married Dyddgu and had Gladys, who was married to Owen Gwinedh, grandparents of Llewellyn the Great. Ealgith's second husband was Harold II, born 1022, crowned King of England January 6, 1066, slain in the battle of Hastings October 14, 1066.
Owen died in 1170.
25. Iorwerth Drwyndwn , Prince of North Wales, married Maret, daughter of Madoc, son of Meredith, son of Bleddyn, a wise and gentle ruler, who died in 1075, and his wife and Haer.
26. Llewellyn The Great, born 1173, was in 1201 the greatest Prince in all Wales. He married (1) Tangwyal of Rhos, of ancient lineage, and they had the following children:
o 1. Helen, eldest daughter, married (1) John le Scot, Earl of Huntingdon, from which there was no issue; and (2) Robert de Quincy, the Younger. Robert died in 1257, in the tournament at Blie. See his ancestral lineage in the Quincy Line in Volume II. They had three daughters as follows:
? 1. Anne Quincy, a nun
? 2. Joane Quincy, married Humphrey de Bohun, the younger.
? 3. Margaret Quincy, wife of Baldwin Wake, a feudal lord who died in 1282, with a son, John Wake.
o 2. Gladys Dhu. See below.
o 3. Gruffydd (Griffith) ap Llewellyn, Prince of Wales, died 1242. He married Seneca and had a son, Llewellyn ap Gruffydd (Llewellyn II), who succeeded his uncle David as Prince of North Wales in 1246. In 1256 he declared war on King Henry III. and was able to make himself lord of North and South Wales. He also assisted the Barons. He was surprised and killed in 1282, in a skirmish with the Mortimers, near Builth, in Central Wales. He married Eleanor, daughter of Simon de Montfort, Lord Leicester and his wife Eleanor, daughter of King John.
o 4. Margaret of Wales (fourth child of Llewellyn the Great, said by some to have been the daughter of his second wife, Joan, see below) married (1) John de Braos, surnamedTadody, and (2) Walter Clifford. There was issue from both marriages. From the first marriage there were the following children:
? 1. William de Braose, married Isabel Clare. They had a son, William de Braose, who married Aliva Moulton. They had a daughter, Alive (Alice) Braose, who married John de Mowbray, great grandson of William de Mowbray, the Magna Charta Surety. See the continuation of this lineage in Volume II.
o 5. Angharad, married Maelgwn Fychan, the only marriage in which both parties were Welsh. From their marriage a line descends through nine generations to King Henry VII of England, who married Elizabeth, a descendant of Gladys Dhu.
Llewellyn married in 1206 (2) Joan, the illegitimate daughter of King John of England (by Agatha Ferrers). Joan died February 2, 1237. They had a son, Davydd.
At first Llewellyn was a friend of King John, but their friendship soon ended and in 1211 John reduced him to submission. However, in the following year, Llewellyn recovered all his losses in North Wales and, in 1215, he took Shrewsbury. His rising had been encouraged by the Pope, by France and by the English Barons. Throughout his reign John and Llewellyn were friends or foes according to the dictates of intelligent self-interest. Llewellyn aimed at a united Wales under his rule and resisting the threat to local independence offered by the increasing royal power of the kingdom of England. Later Llewellyn managed to make alliances with the Anglo-Norman lords of the Marches, not only with his old friend the Earl of Chester, but also with the Mortimers and the Braoses. With these families Llewellyn had personal links, as his daughters married members of all of them. Llewelyn died at sixty-five from a stroke on April 11, 1240, at Aberconway Abbey.
27. Gladys Dhu, ("Dark-Eyed") married (1) Reginald de Braose; and in 1230 (2) Ralph Mortimer II She died in 1251. Ralph died in 1246. They had a son, Roger.
28. Roger Mortimer II, died 1282, married Matilda (Maud) de Braose, died in 1301.
o 1. Ralph Mortimer.
o 2. Edmund Mortimer, died July 17, 1304. He was the father of Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, who died in 1330; he was the grandfather of Edmund Mortimer, who died in 1331; and the great-grandfather of Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, who died in 1360. The line continues through Edmund, Earl of March, died in 1369, Roger, Earl of March, died in 1398, married Eleanor Holland, daughter of Thomas Holand, died in 1360, and his wife Joan of Woodstock, who died in 1385. This line continues to King Edward IV., King Richard III., and King Edward V.
o 3. Roger Mortimer III, 1st Earl of March, was born in 1287, died in 1330. He married Joane Geneville, born in 1285, died in 1356. Roger was appointed lord lieutenant of Ireland. This lineage is shown elsewhere in the Mortimer Line in Volume II.
o 4. Isabella Mortimer. See below.
29. Isabella Mortimer, married John Fitz Alan.
30. Richard Fitz Alan, Earl of Arundel, married Alasia, daughter of the Marquis de Saluzzo.
31. Edmund Fitz Alan, Earl of Arundel, married Alice Warren.
32. Richard Fitz Alan, Earl of Arundel, married Eleanor Plantaganet.
This direct ancestral lineage is continued elsewhere. See the Fitz Alan Line in Volume II.
+Sir Edmund FITZALAN (1327-1377) of Arundel, Sussex; 7/1349 Donyatt,
: . . . . . . . . . Somerset [1,3,9,14,25,32,33,35,43]
: . . . . . . . . . . Alice Warren FITZALAN (1349) of Arundel, Sussex [33,43]
: . . . . . . . . . . +Leonard CAREW (1342-1369) of Mohun Ottery, Devon; c.1360 [33,43]
: . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas CAREW (?-1431) of Mohun Ottery, Devon; Baron Hydron 
: . . . . . . . . . . . +Elizabeth BONVILLE (1362) of Chewton, Devonshire 
: . . . . . . . . . . . . Nicholas CAREW (1390-1446) of Mohun Ottery, Devonshire 
: . . . . . . . . . . . . +Joan COURTENAY (1411) of Haccombe, Devonshire 
: . . . . . . . . . . +John de MERIET (1346),Merriott, Somerset; 1384, Arundel, Sussex
: . . . . . . . . . . . Elizabeth de MERIET (1386-1401) of Donyatt, Somerset 
: . . . . . . . . . . Philippa FITZALAN (1351-13/9/1399) of Arundel, Sussex[14,25,33,35,43]
: . . . . . . . . . . +Sir Richard SERGEAUX (1346-1393); 1373, Arundel [14,25,33,35,43]
: . . . . . . . . . . . Elizabeth SERGEAUX (1378) of Colquite, Conrwall 
: . . . . . . . . . . . +William MARNEY (1370-1414) of Layer Marney, Essex 
: . . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas MARNEY (1392-1430) of Layer Marney, Essex 
: . . . . . . . . . . . . William MARNEY (1396-bf.1414) of Layer Marney, Essex 
: . . . . . . . . . . . . John MARNEY (1399-bf.1478) of Layer Marney, Essex 
: . . . . . . . . . . . . Anne MARNEY (1402) of Layer Marney, Essex 
: . . . . . . . . . . . . +Thomas TYRELL; c.1431 Layer Marney, Essex 
: . . . . . . . . . . . . Ellen MARNEY (1404) of Layer Marney, Essex 
: . . . . . . . . . . . Philippa SERGEAUX (1381-1420), Colquite, St Mabyn, Cornwall [37,43]
Descendants of Thomas Tyrrell
1 Thomas Tyrrell
... +Anna Marney 1410 -
2 Thomas Tyrrell II (Sir) 1430 - 1490
..... +Elizabeth Le Brun 1430 - 1473
3 William Tyrrell (Sir) 1465 -
...... +Elizabeth Bodley
. 4 Humphry Tyrrell 1490 - 1547/48
....... +Jane Ingleton 1498 -
.. 5 George Tyrrell 1530 - 1571
........ +Eleanor Elizabeth Montague 1530 -
... 6 William Tyrrell 1552 - 1595
......... +Margaret Richmond 1555 -
.... 7 Robert Tyrrell 1600 - 1643
.......... +Jane Baldwin 1590 - 1661
..... 8 Richmond Terrell 1624 - 1677
........... +Elizabeth Waters
....... 9 Timothy Tyrrell 1665 -
............. +Elizabeth Foster 1665 -
........ 10 Joseph Terrell 1699 - 1775
......... 11 Joseph Terrell, Jr. 1744/45 - 1787
............... +Elizabeth Mills 1744/45 - 1833
.......... 12 David Terrell 1782 - 1819
................ +Mary Henley Thompson - 1871
........... 13 Joseph Carr Terrell 1807 - 1864
................. +Ann Terrell 1790 -
............ 14 Charles Thomas Terrell 1852 - 1923
.................. +Frances Pierce McGeHee 1852 - 1929
............. 15 Early Thomas Terrell 1882 - 1967
................... +Ophelia Louise Harris 1884 - 1968
............... 16 James Emmett Terrell 1911 - 1967
..................... +Nannie Belle Clendenin 1910 - 1972
................ 17 Nancy Terrell 1940 -
...................... +M.F. "Bud" Longnecker (Dr.) 1936 -
................. 18 Michael Emmett Longnecker 1964 -
....................... +Tina Wendy Hilty 1961 -
.................. 19 Taylor Hilty Longnecker 1989 -
................. 18 Gregory Stuart Longnecker 1966 -
....................... +Helen Hernandez 1965 -
.................. 19 Lauren Longnecker 1988 -
................. *2nd Wife of Gregory Stuart Longnecker:
....................... +Stacy Marie Weinkel 1977 -
.................. 19 Christian Terrell Longnecker 1997 -
.................. 19 Hannah Marie Longnecker 1998 -
................ 17 James Emmett Terrell, Jr. 1944 -
............... 16 Earley Thomas Terrell, Jr. 1907 - 1955
..................... +Eugenia Jackson Beazley
................ 17 Betty Jeanne Terrell 1931 -
...................... +Beverly Monroe Wilkerson
................. 18 Kenneth Earley Wilkerson 1952 -
....................... +C. J. Dowling
.................. 19 Megan Lynn Wilkerson
................. 18 Beverly Anne Wilkerson 1954 -
................. 18 Sheryl Mae Wilkerson 1958 -
....................... +Gary W. McNeeley
.................. 19 Thomas Randolph McNeeley 1959 -
................. 18 Thomas Randolph Wilkerson 1959 -
................ 17 Anne Jackson Terrell 1934 -
...................... +Richard Everett Kirkpatrick 1931 -
................. 18 David Lee Kirkpatrick 1954 -
....................... +Penny Monroe
.................. 19 David Lee Kirkpatrick II
................. 18 Gayle Renee Kirkpatrick 1956 -
................. 18 Michael Earley Kirkpatrick 1958 -
................. 18 Douglas Bryan Kirkpatrick 1959 -
................ 17 Mary Lou Terrell Terrell 1939 -
...................... +Bobby Turner 1940 -
................. 18 Terrell Anne Turner 1960 -
................. 18 Faith Lynn Turner 1963 -
............... 16 Frances NelsonTerrell 1915 - 1972
..................... +Henry Drewry Kerr 1914 -
................ 17 Henry Drewry Kerr III 1941 -
...................... +Cheryle Strong 1944 -
................. 18 Michelle Lynne Kerr 1968 -
................. 18 Stephen Phillip Kerr 1972 -
................ 17 Martha Robbins Kerr 1947 -
...................... +Clifford Allen Randolph
............... 16 Martha Louise Terrell 1920 -
..................... +Nathan Lenoir Riddle 1923 -
................ 17 Michael Lenoir Riddle 1954 -
...................... +Andrea Jean Berry 1952 -
................. 18 Mark Andrew Riddle 1977 -
................. 18 Brian Christopher Riddle 1978 -
................ 17 Alan Terrell Riddle 1957 -
...................... +Denise Elaine Edgeman
................. 18 James Tobias Wheeler 1978 -
................. 18 Terrell Edgeman Riddle 1984 -
................ *2nd Wife of Alan Terrell Riddle:
...................... +Nancy Jean Jenks
............. 15 Emmett Hermann Terrell 1878 -
................... +Daisy Ellett
............... 16 Virginia Terrell
............... 16 Margaret Terrell
............. 15 Hervey Rosser Terrell 1880 -
................... +Lucy Vaughn 1880 -
............... 16 Robert Terrell
................ 17 Jane Terrell
................ 17 Susan Terrell
................ 17 Martha Terrell
............. 15 Joseph Stuart Terrell 1886 - 1950
................... +Roberta Y. Winfrey 1882 - 1965
............... 16 Joseph Stuart Terrell, Jr. l 1917 - 1980
..................... +Katherine Hunt Galusha 1917 -
................ 17 Katherine Winfrey Terrell 1948 -
...................... +Charles Brenton (Dr.)
................. 18 Joseph Daniel Brenton
............... 16 William Winfrey Layne Terrell 1919 -
..................... +Lillian May Shelton 1922 -
................ 17 Mary Louise Terrell 1956 -
................ 17 W. W. L. Terrell 1959 -
................ 17 Martha Irene Terrell 1964 -
............... 16 Hervey Rossner Terrell 1920 - 1964
..................... +Lillian D. Sibold 1923 -
................ 17 HR. Terrell, Jr 1948 -
...................... +Eleanor Hudson
................. 18 Shaun R. Terrell
................. 18 Margaret Ann Terrell
................ 17 Margaret Ann Terrell 1951 -
................ 17 Jean Stuart Terrell 1957 -
............... 16 Roberta Frances Terrell 1925 -
..................... +John Parker Jarvis, Jr.
................ 17 Alice Roberta Jarvis 1948 -
...................... +Leslie F. Howell, Jr. 1946 -
................ 17 John Stuart Jarvis 1954 -
................ 17 David Terrell Jarvis 1959 -
LLEWELLYN THE GREAT AND THE TALES OF THE HOLY GRAIL BELOW
About Some Old Welsh Stories And Story-Tellers
Remember that the Celtic family was divided into two branches, the Gaelic and the Cymric. So far we have only spoken about the Gaels, but the Cymry had their poets and historians too. The Cymry, however, do not claim such great age for their first known poets as do the Gaels. Ossian, you remember, was supposed to live in the third century, but the oldest Cymric poets whose names we know were supposed to live in the sixth century. As, however, the oldest Welsh manuscripts are of the twelfth century, it is again very difficult to prove that any of the poems were really written by those old poets.
But this is very certain, that the Cymry, like the Gaels, had their bards and minstrels who sang of the famous deeds of heroes in the halls of the chieftains, or in the market-places for the people.
From the time that the Romans left Britain to the time when the Saxons or English were at length firmly settled in the land, many fierce struggles, many stirring events must have taken place. That time must have been full of brave deeds such as the minstrels loved to sing. But that part of our history is very dark. Much that is written of it is little more than a fairy tale, for it was not until long afterwards that anything about this time was written down.
The great hero of the struggle between the Britons and the Saxons was King Arthur, but it was not until many many years after the time in which he lived that all the splendid stories of his knights, of his Round Table, and of his great conquests began to take the form in which we know them. Indeed, in the earliest Welsh tales the name of Arthur is hardly known at all. When he is mentioned it is merely as a warrior among other warriors equally great, and not as the mighty emperor that we know. The Arthur that we love is the Arthur of literature, not the Arthur of history. And I think you may like to follow the story of the Arthur of literature, and see how, from very little, it has grown so great that now it is known all the world over. I should like you to remember, too, that the Arthur story is not the only one which repeats itself again and again throughout our Literature. There are others which have caught the fancy of great masters and have been told by them in varying ways throughout the ages. But of them all, the Arthur story is perhaps the best example.
Of the old Welsh poets it may, perhaps, be interesting to remember two. These are Taliesin, or "Shining Forehead," and Merlin.
Merlin is interesting because he is Arthur's great bard and magician. Taliesin is interesting because in a book called The Mabinogion, which is a translation of some of the oldest Welsh stories, we have the tale of his wonderful birth and life.
Mabinogion really means tales for the young. Except the History of Taliesin, all the stories in this book are translated from a very old manuscript called the Red Book of Hergest.. This Red Book belongs to the fourteenth century, but many of the stories are far far older, having, it is thought, been told in some form or other for hundreds of years before they were written down at all. Unlike many old tales, too, they are written in prose, not in poetry.
One of the stories in The Mabinogion, the story of King Ludd, takes us back a long way. King Ludd was a king in Britain, and in another book we learn that he was a brother of Cassevelaunis, who fought against Julius Caesar, so from that we can judge of the time in which he reigned.
"King Ludd," we are told in The Mabinogion, "ruled prosperously and rebuilt the walls of London, and encompassed it about with numberless towers. And after that he bade the citizens build houses therein, such as no houses in the kingdom could equal. And, moreover, he was a mighty warrior, and generous and liberal in giving meat and drink to all that sought them. And though he had many castles and cities, this one loved he more than any. And he dwelt therein most part of the year, and therefore was it called Caer Ludd, and at last Caer London. And after the strange race came there, it was called London." It is interesting to remember that there is still a street in London called Ludgate. Caer is the Celtic word for Castle, and is still to be found in many Welsh names, such as Carnarvon, Caerleon, and so on.
Now, although Ludd was such a wise king, three plagues fell upon the island of Britain. "The first was a certain race that came and was called Coranians, and so great was their knowledge that there was no discourse upon the face of the island, however low it might be spoken, but what, if the wind met it, it was known to them.
"The second plague was a shriek which came on every May-eve over every hearth in the island of Britain. And this went through peoples' hearts and frightened them out of their senses.
"The third plague was, however much of provision and food might be prepared in the king's courts, were there even so much as a year's provision of meat and drink, none of it could ever be found, except what was consumed upon the first night."
The story goes on to tell how good King Ludd freed the island of Britain from all three plagues and lived in peace all the days of his life.
In five of the stories of The Mabinogion, King Arthur appears. And, although these were all written in Welsh, it has been thought that some may have been brought to Wales from France.
This seems strange, but it comes about in this way. Part of France is called Brittany, as you know. Now, long long ago, before the Romans came to Britain, some of the people who lived in that part of France sailed across the sea and settled in Britain. These may have been the ancient Britons whom Caesar fought when he first came to our shore.
Later, when the Romans left our island and the Picts and Scots oppressed the Britons, many of them fled back over the sea to Brittany or Armorica, as it used to be called. Later still, when the Saxons came, the Britons were driven by degrees into the mountains of Wales and the wilds of Cornwall, while others fled again across the sea to Brittany. These took with them the stories which their minstrels told, and told them in their new home. So it came about that the stories which were told in Wales and in Cornwall were told in Brittany also.
And how were these stories brought back again to England?
Another part of France is called Normandy. The Normans and the Bretons were very different peoples, as different as the Britons and the English. But the Normans conquered part of Brittany, and a close relationship grew up between the two peoples. Conan, Duke of Brittany, and William, Duke of Normandy, were related to each other, and in a manner the Bretons owned the Duke of Normandy as overlord.
Now you know that in 1066 the great Duke William came sailing over the sea to conquer England, and with him came more soldiers from Brittany than from any other land. Perhaps the songs of the minstrels had kept alive in the hearts of the Bretons a memory of their island home. Perhaps that made them glad to come to help to drive out the hated Saxons. At any rate come they did, and brought with them their minstrel tales.
And soon through all the land the Norman power spread. And whether they first heard them in Armorica or in wild Wales, the Norman minstrels took the old Welsh stories and made them their own. And the best of all the tales were told of Arthur and his knights.
Doubtless the Normans added much to these stories. For although they were not good at inventing anything, they were very good at taking what others had invented and making it better. And the English, too, as Norman power grew, clung more and more to the memory of the past. They forgot the difference between British and English, and in their thoughts Arthur grew to be a national hero, a hero who had loved his country, and who was not Norman.
The Normans, then, brought tales of Arthur with them when they came to England. They heard there still other tales and improved them, and Arthur thus began to grow into a great hero. I will now go on to show how he became still greater.
In the reign of Henry I. (the third Norman king who ruled our land) there lived a monk called Geoffrey of Monmouth. He was filled with the love of his land, and he made up his mind to write a history of the kings of Britain.
Geoffrey wrote his book in Latin, because at this time it was the language which most people could understand. For a long time after the Normans came to England, they spoke Norman French. The English still spoke English, and the British Welsh or Cymric. But every one almost who could read at all could read Latin. So Geoffrey chose to write in Latin. He said he translated all that he wrote from an old British book which had been brought from Brittany and given to him. But that old British book has never been seen by any one, and it is generally thought that Geoffrey took old Welsh tales and fables for a foundation, invented a good deal more, and so made his history, and that the "old British Book" never existed at all. His book may not be very good history - indeed, other historians were very angry and said that Geoffrey "lied saucily and shamelessly" - but it is very delightful to read.
Geoffrey's chief hero is Arthur, and we may say that it is from this time that Arthur became a great hero of Romance. For Geoffrey told his stories so well that they soon became famous, and they were read not only in England, but all over the Continent. Soon story-tellers and poets in other lands began to write stories about Arthur too, and from then till now there has never been a time when they have not been read. So to the Welsh must be given the honor of having sown a seed from which has grown the wide-spreading tree we call the Arthurian Legend.
Geoffrey begins his story long before the time of Arthur. He begins with the coming of Brutus, the ancient hero who conquered Albion and changed its name to Britain, and he continues to about two hundred years after the death of Arthur. But Arthur is his real hero, so he tells the story in very few words after his death.
Geoffrey tells of many battles and of how the British fought, not only with the Saxons, but among themselves. And at last he says: "As barbarism crept in they were no longer called Britons, but Welsh, a word derived either from Gualo, one of their dukes, or from Guales, their Queen, or else from their being barbarians. But the Saxons did wiselier, kept peace and concord amongst themselves, tilling their fields and building anew their cities and castles. . . . But the Welsh degenerating from the nobility of the Britons, never after recovered the sovereignty of the island, but on the contrary quarreling at one time amongst themselves, and at another with the Saxons, never ceased to have bloodshed on hand either in public or private feud."
Geoffrey then says that he hands over the matter of writing about the later Welsh and Saxon kings to others, "Whom I bid be silent as to the kings of the Britons, seeing that they have not that book in the British speech which Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford, did convey hither out of Brittany, the which I have in this wise been at the pains of translating into the Latin speech."
BOOKS TO READ
The Mabinogion, translated by Lady Charlotte Guest. Everyman's Library. Geoffrey of Monmouth's Histories, translated by Sebastian Evans.
How The Story Of Arthur Was Written In English
GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH had written his stories so well, that although he warned people not to write about the British kings, they paid no heed to his warning. Soon many more people began to write about them, and especially about Arthur.
In 1155 Geoffrey died, and that year a Frenchman, or Jerseyman rather, named Robert Wace, finished a long poem which he called Li Romans de Brut or the Romances of Brutus. This poem was founded upon Geoffrey's history and tells much the same story, to which Wace has added something of his own. Besides Wace, many writers told the tale in French. For French, you must remember, was still the language of the rulers of our land. It is to these French writers, and chiefly to Walter Map, perhaps, that we owe something new which was now added to the Arthur story.
Walter Map, like so many of the writers of this early time, was a priest. He was chaplain to Henry II., and was still alive when John, the bad king, sat upon the throne.
The first writers of the Arthur story had made a great deal of manly strength: it was often little more than a tale of hard knocks given and taken. Later it became softened by the thought of courtesy, with the idea that knights might give and take these hard knocks for the sake of a lady they loved, and in the cause of all women.
Now something full of mystery was added to the tale. This was the Quest of the Holy Grail.
The Holy Grail was said to be a dish used by Christ at the Last Supper. It was also said to have been used to hold the sacred blood which, when Christ hung upon the cross, flowed from his wounds. The Holy Grail came into the possession of Joseph of Arimathea, [from whom we all are related - see our lineage from him elsewhere on my website] and by him was brought to Britain. But after a time the vessel was lost, and the story of it even forgotten, or only remembered in some dim way.
And this is the story which the poet-priest, Walter Map, used to give new life and new glory to the tales of Arthur. He makes the knights of the round table set forth to search for the Grail. They ride far away over hill and dale, through dim forests and dark waters. They fight with men and fiends, alone and in tournaments. They help fair ladies in distress, they are tempted to sin, they struggle and repent, for only the pure in heart may find the holy vessel.
It is a wonderful and beautiful story, and these old story- tellers meant it to be something more than a fairy tale. They saw around them many wicked things. They saw men fighting for the mere love of fighting. They saw men following pleasure for the mere love of pleasure. They saw men who were strong oppress the weak and grind down the poor, and so they told the story of the Quest of the Holy Grail to try to make them a little better.
With every new writer the story of Arthur grew. It seemed to draw all the beauty and wonder of the time to itself, and many stories which at first had been told apart from it came to be joined to it. We have seen how it has been told in Welsh, in Latin, and in French, and, last of all, we have it in English.
The first great English writer of the stories of Arthur was named Layamon. He, too, was a priest, and, like Wace, he wrote in verse.
Like Wace, Layamon called his book the Brut, because it is the story of the Britons, who took their name from Brutus, and of Arthur the great British hero. This book is known, therefore, as Layamon's Brut. Layamon took Wace's book for a foundation, but he added a great deal to it, and there are many stories in Layamon not to be found in Wace. It is probable that Layamon did not make up these stories, but that many of them are old tales he heard from the people among whom he lived.
Layamon finished his book towards the end of the twelfth century or the beginning of the thirteenth. Perhaps he sat quietly writing it in his cell when the angry barons were forcing King John to sign the Magna Charta. At least he wrote it when all England was stirring to new life again. The fact that he wrote in English shows that, for Layamon's Brut is the first book written in English after the Conquest. This book proves how little hold the French language had upon the English people, for although the land had been ruled by Frenchmen for a hundred and fifty years, there are very few words in Layamon that are French or that are even made from French.
But although Layamon wrote his book in English, it was not the English that we speak to-day. It was what is called Early English or even sometimes Semi-Saxon. If you opened a book of Layamon's Brut you would, I fear, not be able to read it.
We know very little of Layamon; all that we do know he tells us himself in the beginning of his poem. "A priest was in the land," he says:
"Layamon was he called.
He was Leouenathe's son, the Lord to him be gracious.
He lived at Ernleye at a noble church
Upon Severn's bank. Good there to him it seemed
Fast by Radestone, where he books read.
It came to him in mind, and in his first thoughts,
That he would of England the noble deeds tell,
What they were named and whence they came,
The English land who first possessed
After the flood which from the Lord came.
Layamon began to journey, far he went over the land
And won the noble books, which he for pattern took.
He told the English book that Saint Beda made.
Another he took in Latin which Saint Albin made,
And the fair Austin who baptism brought hither.
Book the third he took laid it in the midst
That the French clerk made. Wace he was called,
He well could write.
. . . . . . . .
Layamon laid these books down and the leaves turned.
He them lovingly beheld, the Lord to him be merciful!
Pen he took in fingers and wrote upon a book skin,
And the true words set together,
And the three books pressed to one."
That, in words such as we use now, is how Layamon begins his poem. But this is how the words looked as Layamon wrote them: -
"An preost wes on leoden: lazamon wes ihoten.
he wes Leouenaoes sone: lioe him beo drihte."
You can see that it would not be very easy to read that kind of English. Nor does it seem very like poetry in either the old words or the modern. But you must remember that old English poetry was not like ours. It did not have rhyming words at the end of the lines.
THE BEGINNING OF ENSLISH POETRY
Anglo-Saxon poetry depended for its pleasantness to the ear, not on rhyme as does ours, but on accent and alliteration. Alliteration means the repeating of a letter. Accent means that you rest longer on some syllables, and say them louder than others. For instance, if you take the line "the way was long, the wind was cold," way, long, wind, and cold are accented. So there are four accents in that line.
Now, in Anglo-Saxon poetry the lines were divided into two half- lines. And in each half there had to be two or more accented syllables. But there might also be as many unaccented syllables as the poet liked. So in this way the lines were often very unequal, some being quite short and others long. Three of the accented syllables, generally two in the first half and one in the second half of the line, were alliterative. That is, they began with the same letter. In translating, of course, the alliteration is very often lost. But sometimes the Semi-Saxon words and the English words are very like each other, and the alliteration can be kept. So that even in translation we can get a little idea of what the poetry sounded like. For instance, the line "wat heo ihoten weoren: and wonene heo comen," the alliteration is on w, and may be translated "what they called were, and whence they came," still keeping the alliteration.
Upon these rules of accent and alliteration the strict form of Anglo-Saxon verse was based. But when the Normans came they brought a new form of poetry, and gradually rhymes began to take the place of alliteration. Layamon wrote his Brut more than a hundred years after the coming of the Normans, and although his poem is in the main alliterative, sometimes he has rhyming lines such as "mochel dal heo iwesten: mid harmen pen mesten," that is:--
"Great part they laid waste:
With harm the most."
Sometimes even in translation the rhyme may be kept, as:--
"And faer forh nu to niht:
In to Norewaieze forh riht."
which can be translated:--
"And fare forth now to-night
Into Norway forth right."
At times, too, Layamon has neither rhyme nor alliteration in his lines, sometimes he has both, so that his poem is a link between the old poetry and the new.
I hope that you are not tired with this long explanation, for I think if you take the trouble to understand it, it may make the rest of this chapter more interesting. Now I will tell you a little more of the poem itself.
Layamon tells many wonderful stories of Arthur, from the time he was born to his last great battle in which he was killed, fighting against the rebel Modred.
This is how Layamon tells the story of Arthur's death, or rather of his "passing":
"Arthur went to Cornwall with a great army.
Modred heard that and he against him came
With unnumbered folk. There were many of them fated.
Upon the Tambre they came together,
The place was called Camelford, evermore has that name lasted.
And at Camelford were gathered sixty thousand
And more thousands thereto. Modred was their chief.
Then hitherward gan ride Arthur the mighty
With numberless folk fated though they were.
Upon the Tambre they came together,
Drew their long swords, smote on the helmets,
So that fire sprang forth. Spears were splintered,
Shields gan shatter, shafts to break.
They fought all together folk unnumbered.
Tambre was in flood with unmeasured blood.
No man in the fight might any warrior know,
Nor who did worse nor who did better so was the conflict mingled,
For each slew downright were he swain were he knight.
There was Modred slain and robbed of his life day.
In the fight
There were slain all the brave
Arthur's warriors noble.
And the Britons all of Arthur's board,
And all his lieges of many a kingdom.
And Arthur sore wounded with war spear broad.
Fifteen he had fearful wounds.
One might in the least two gloves thrust.
Then was there no more in the fight on life
Of two hundred thousand men that there lay hewed in pieces
But Arthur the king alone, and of his knights twain.
But Arthur was sore wounded wonderously much.
Then to him came a knave who was of his kindred.
He was Cador's son the earl of Cornwall.
Constantine hight the knave. He was to the king dear.
Arthur him looked on where he lay on the field,
And these words said with sorrowful heart.
Constantine thou art welcome thou wert Cador's son,
I give thee here my kingdom.
Guard thou my Britons so long as thou livest,
And hold them all the laws that have in my days stood
And all the good laws that in Uther's days stood.
And I will fare to Avelon to the fairest of all maidens
To Argente their Queen, an elf very fair,
And she shall my wounds make all sound
All whole me make with healing draughts,
And afterwards I will come again to my kingdom
And dwell with the Britons with mickle joy.
Even with the words that came upon the sea
A short boat sailing, moving amid the waves
And two women were therein wounderously clad.
And they took Arthur anon and bare him quickly
And softly him adown laid and to glide forth gan they.
Then was it come what Merlin said whilom
That unmeasured sorrow should be at Arthur's forth faring.
Britons believe yet that he is still in life
And dwelleth in Avelon with the fairest of all elves,
And every Briton looketh still when Arthur shall return.
Was never the man born nor never the lady chosen
Who knoweth of the sooth of Arthur to say more.
But erstwhile there was a wizard Merlin called.
He boded with words the which were sooth
That an Arthur should yet come the English to help."
You see by this last line that Layamon has forgotten the difference between Briton and English. He has forgotten that in his lifetimE. ARTHUR FOUGHT AGAINST THE ENGLISH. To him Arthur has become an English hero. And perhaps he wrote these last words with the hope in his heart that some day some one would arise who would deliver his dear land from the rule of the stranger Normans. This, we know, happened. Not, indeed, by the might of one man, but by the might of the English spirit, the strong spirit which had never died, and which Layamon himself showed was still alive when he wrote his book in English.