Thursday, May 22, 2008

Arthur- Warlord and Chieftain of the Silures-Tintagel and Gwent

Gwent , Erging Glwyssing-the land of Silures has many famous sons and daughters but perhaps Arthrwys, the warlord of the Silures is on of the best known. It is true he was a Christian leader , however, he was no saint in the case of holy behaviour. We shall see in the Lives of the Cambro British Saints, that he was capable of all sorts of flaws, which we would not necessarily wish to see,and not comparable by his great and noble romanticised version yet he did spend his whole life fighting the pagan Saxons and his downfall was accelerated by a great betrayal in his own household.

Geoffrey of Monmouth and Saxon bias against the Britons

It is fashionable to dismiss Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account as fictitious. Yet bear in mind that it is not in the interest of the early Saxons to praise him, but rather downplay him. Remember too we are talking about a largely non literate culture and we do have sources from Gildas and Nennius.The sphere of Arthur seems to span down to Cornwall as well as South East Wales and there is mention that he also fought battles in the North, and Scotland. South East Wales and Cornwall and the West Country were very close, the Severn not so broad and Brythonic Celts, speaking more or less the same language would travel up and down through the lands. An area in Gwent was called ‘Cornwall’ and certainly Cornwall, South Wales and Brittany were very close, culturally, physically and in religion.

It is simply not feasible that a name so universal, albeit romanticised by the Middle Ages, should have no basis in fact. In these areas ,in fact, the name often gives more of a clue to its origins than its written history. Yet there is one bit of evidence that the memory of Arthur was strong in the West Country before Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account.In a chronicle, written in 1146 by one Hermann of Tournai.
In "De Miraculis S. Marie Laudunensis" ("On the Miracles of Our Lady of Laon." ) Hermann writes about the year 1113. It seems a group of nine monks from the church at Laon, France, went on a fund-raising mission to England, taking with them the Shrine of Our Lady of Laon, a collection of miracle-working relics. Their cathedral church had burned down and it was their hope to travel around the country, visiting as many places as their time would allow and to raise money for rebuilding their church, in payment for the "cures and healings" that they said their relics could produce. They visited the town of Bodmin in Cornwall. The people told them they were in King Arthur’s Lands and showed them various local sites connected with him. (such as Arthur's Chair and Arthur's Oven). There were also landscape feature connected with him, so this showed a strong Arthurian tradition even in those days. While there, a man with a withered arm came asking to be healed of his affliction. In the The man said that Arthur still lived. Members of the visiting group from France apparently mocked him for saying something so unreasonable.. The crowd supported the man's comment, however, and a brawl broke out, which required armed force to stop

So there was a generally held belief, at least in Bodmin, Cornwall, that Arthur was not only a genuine historical figure, but that he was still alive in 1113. This does prove that Geoffrey did not make the Arthur story up.

What does all this have to do with St. Petroc's Church in Bodmin? Just this. If the Laon Canons were visiting anywhere in Bodmin, Cornwall, they would visit the local monastic community or the local parish church. It so happens that St. Petroc's is both. John Leland, in 1533, visited Bodmin and said this:

The former Augustinian priory, whose patron and sometime resident was St. Petroc, lay in the churchyard of Bodmin parish church, at the east end. There have been monks, then nuns, then secular priests, then monks again, and finally regular canons in St. Petroc's church, Bodmin.
Present day St. Petroc's parish church, is on the site that the Laon Canons absolutely would have visited. On the east side of the property stands a ruined church, pictured in the photos above. It is possible that in that very building, the event recorded by Hermann of Tournai over 850 years ago, the brawl over a belief in King Arthur, actually took place. If so, then St. Petroc's plays an important role in the Arthurian story.

Arthur’s Birth at TintagelUther Pendragon and Ygraine , widow of his enemy Gorlais

Geoffrey of Monmouth, in his "History of the Kings of Britain," tells the story of the night of the conception of Arthur, the "Once and Future King". He places the event at Tintagel Castle, which was said to be the home of the Duke of Cornwall, Gorlois, and his ravishing wife, Ygerna. Some 700 years later, the great Victorian poet laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson, in "Idylls of the King" begins his story of Arthur at Tintagel, also.

Why did he choose Tintagel? Are these stories pure fabrication? Pure literary license? Or, was there an ancient oral or written tradition that associated Arthur with Tintagel? We don't know for sure. We do know that there is a ruined castle there. It sits impressively high above the Atlantic, connected to the mainland only by a slippery, narrow bridge where the wind howls constantly.

Although the visible ruins date back only to the thirteenth century, archaeological excavations of the area have discovered that there were other, earlier structures on this site. Tintagel contains the site of an earlier Celtic monastery dating back to around the fifth century, the supposed time of Arthur. Excavations in the 1990s do support a settlement or fortress there. Also this is the site of the conception of Arthur, as Uther Pendragon had a great passion for Gorlais’s daughter Ygraine. He tricks her with the help of his Brehon Myrddyn and sleeps with her on the very night Arthur is conceived. It is widely believed that Myrddin was a half christianised Brehon and Ygraine herself, a Christian, who raised her son as such. While remaining somewhat wild and irascible he was foremost in protecting Christian Britain from the Saxons and was greatly revered for it.

Uther was the youngest son of Constantine of Cornwall and Britain and Ygraine related to the Silurian Royal family, whence she probably returned after the birth. She was the daughter of the Silurian King Cystennin Gorneu who was a Christian Chieftain, founding churches at Erging or Archenfield in South Hereford and his father Uther’s sister was married to Peblau ab Urb at Ertin, who was King of Gwent. His cousin, Geraint ab Erbin founded the first monastic island settlement at Hereford. Uther’s elder brother was Aurelius Ambrosius and there is also a legend, that Abrosius himself was Arthur’s father , but Arthur is not referred to as king anywhere. This is mainly as the word kynge was and English term, the Welsh being Brennin or overlord, chieftain.

It seems Arthur grew up therefore at Tintagel, but as a Christian, often visiting. He seems to have been a fairly normal British chieftain with his own war band. Perhaps at some stage he repaired in his teens to his mother’s lands. He had no claim to Gorlais property and could easily have gone to his aunt’s court. In any case, there is no mention of Ygraine after Arthur’s birth, so it is possible she could have died in childbirth or shortly after.

Illtyd the Warrior goes to see his cousin Arthur

In the Life of St Iltyd it seems that the King of Gwent was living at Caerleon, still the largest and most powerful town , with beautiful buildings. The word ‘Welsh’ meant ‘Romanised Celt’ and they sure were Romanised. Illtyd, son of Bicanus, arrived in Gwent to see Arthur as we are told he then went on to King Paulinus of Glamorgan-if he had arrived in Cornwall it would have said ‘he then went on a long journey to Glamorgan’ .

The writer of Illtyd’s story says ‘ Illtyd the soldier in the meantime, hearing of the magnificence of his cousin, Arthur, and desiring to visit the court of so great a warrior, left what we call farther Britain (Brittany) and, by sailing, came to where he saw a very large collection of soldiers. (This implies a fortress right by the sea, which could only be Caerleon) Being honourably and munificently received, according to military wishes, and his desire for receiving presents he was satisfied, he left, much pleased from the high court with his wife Trynihid, and came to the royal court of Paelin of Glamorgan’.

So here we do see, independently of Geoffrey an appearance of Arthrwys or Arthur.

Arthur’s personality traits are those of a man and a warrior, who whilst defending the faith, was no saint.

Arthur,Gwynlliw and Gwladys , grand daughter of Brychan

In the Life of Cadoc, a different writer and account, we see him appear at Bochtiwcarn, north of Bedwellty in Monmouthshire, near the border with Brecon at Rhiw Carn , the name of the Mountain Road leading from the Iron Works to Llangynydir, where there are numerous carns from the pre Christian period. Gwynlliw, the warrior carried off Gwladys, the beautiful and prized, saintly daughter of the Christian Chieftain Brychan Brycheiniog. His territory his still called ‘Brecon’ today. Gwynlliw or St Woolos the Warrior as he later became called) had a terrible reputation, for murder and pillage, albeit he was a strong king.He would take out his boat from Pill gwenlly in the Newport Area and harry and attack trading ships coming up the Bristol Channel and into the Usk or Wye and take slaves and property killing anyone he liked.

Arthrwys-Arthur meets Gwynlliw and Gwladys and is seized by lust

Brychan was dismayed and called his men and friends and family together and set off after Gwynlliw to recapture his gently bred daughter.Arthur seemed to be at the boundary of Gwynlliw’s land there. Gwynlliw put up a great fight and so was saddened at the distress this must have caused his prized captive.The Life of Cadoc says’ three brave warriors Arthur and two comrades Kai and Bewyr were sitting down there and playing with dice.
‘When they saw the chieftain and the young lady coming near them, Arthur was immediately seized with lust towards the lady and was filled with bad thoughts and said to his companions: ‘Know ye that I am vehemently seized with love towards the lady, whom the soldier carries off riding’. But they, forbidding him said ‘Far be from thee to commit such wickedness ; for we have been accustomed to assist the destitute and the distressed, wherefore let us go forward and quickly render our assistance so that this contest may be terminated’. And he said ‘Since you will both assist him, rather than take away the lady from him for me, go an meet them, and carefully inquire as to whom is the owner of this territory’. And they left at once and to the enquiry made by the order of Arthur. Gynlliw answered ‘God being witness, and all the most learned in the land. I profess myself to be owner of this territory’. The messengers on returning to Arthur , mentioned what they had heard from him’. (Arthur would almost certainly have known Gwynlliw’s younger brother Petroc from Bodmin in Cornwall where he had withdrawn to his Green Martyrdom and founded a monastic settlementMM.) Obviously Arthur was up for a fight because Arthur and his companions rushed on the pursuers from Bredon and put them to flight back to Talgarth.

The narrator then goes on ‘Then Gwynlliw, triumphing through the assistance of Arthur , went with his lady Gwladys to his palace that was on that hill (Allitiwynlliw)We certainly don't see here the rather weedy sexless courtly king of later times. Tune in tomorrow for another exciting instalment!

Haut de la Garenne-Childrens' Home in Jersey

It appears from last night's tv reports that the blood and teeth found in the cellar at the home were indeed those of a child, who had seemingly been cremated in a fireplace.Words fail me. God rest their souls and bring their tormentors to justice!

Madeleine McCann

I received an email from Maddy's Unle via a friend with more photos begging people to look out for her. She may now have cropped hair, glasses, dyed hair etc Sadly the emails only reach the nations who have email and internet. If any of my readers in Brazil or Patagonia particularly could keep a look out, or make people aware of this, it would be good. If you email me on I will send you a copy of his email.We are looking particularly at rich and childess couples who have recently had a child come into their household of about five years of age, by adoption or any other means. The eye is the giveaway. Please look at the video below.People have no right to steal others' children and worldwide effort might do it!

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