GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH
Recent research into the Arthurian period, has revealed that Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote two accounts of his History of the Kings of Britain. The first one, copied from a Ms by Walter the Archdeacon in 1135 has conveniently been lost! The second, written in 1145 and still extant today; contains some very interesting additions.
In an effort to boost the Welsh claim to Arthur, he places Camelot (City of the Legion) at Caerleon-on-Usk. Yet history teaches us that this is more accurately located at Chester, city of the Twentieth Legion for three hundred years.
Then to enhance Arthur’s profile, Geoffrey describes in detail his invasion of Europe. Later, Malory copies this. Examination of this material has however revealed that this is actually an out of place event.
These passages in Geoffrey of Monmouth and Malory describing Arthur’s invasion of Europe, which have been taken as invalidating the reliability of both authors; are now seen in a different light.
They show that both were recording accurately, not the military events of Arthur in Europe; but those of the self-styled Emperor Magnus Clemens Maximus.
Geoffrey’s third additional alteration is that of Tintagel. Geoffrey of Monmouth was the first person to link Tintagel with Arthur. He described a castle standing high on a coast and surrounded by sea except for a rocky isthmus joining its rock to the mainland.
This description fits exactly with a particular headland in North Cornwall. The headland formed part of the manor of Bossinney, listed in 1086 in the Domesday Book. The Domesday Book mentioned no headland castle, but archaeological studies begun in the 1800s revealed traces of ancient fortification; as well as later works.
Disappointingly however, it turned out that this stronghold was built at least 600 years later than Arthurian times. Carved stonework discovered there in the 1800s suggests a date of about 1150 for the complex. That makes it the undoubted remains of a castle built by Henry I illegitimate son Reginald soon after 1141 when Henry created him Earl of Cornwall.
Significantly, Earl Reginald’s half brother Earl Robert of Gloucester was Geoffrey of Monmouth’s patron. Almost certainly, then; Geoffrey located Arthur’s birth at Tintagel to flatter the royal family whose patronage he valued.
It is true that Geoffrey first wrote his account of Arthur before the medieval castle had been built, but that version of his history has disappeared. Geoffrey probably produced the surviving version in 1145, adding Tintagel as a topical – and tactful – afterthought.
With the removal of these erroneous passages, a far more accurate picture emerges.
Note: We now know that Arthur used the complete table-list [Round Table] of the Roman Civil and Military administration in Britain. Therefore as Dux Britanniarum, his administrative territory was from Hadrian’s Wall to the Tamar. He never went North of the Wall, West of Chester or South of the Tamar.
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