Celtic Kings of Britain

Moros

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
3,094
Cassibelanus is the Cassivellaunus of Julius Caesar's account of the invasion of Britain in 54 BC.

But I always wondered whether Digueillus (according to Monmouth he was the uncle of Cassibelanus) was a garbled version of Diviciacus, whom Julius Caesar also mentions in his 'Gallic Wars' (Bk.2 Ch.4) when talking about the Belgae Suessiones tribe -

"Among them, even within living memory, Diviciacus had been king, the most powerful man in the whole of Gaul, who had exercised sovereignty alike over a great part of these districts, and even over Britain."
 
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Jan 2015
924
England
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_legendary_kings_of_Britain

Which of these kings are thought to have really existed?
Is there a point in the list at which it goes from mythological to real, or is it irregular?
Most of the kings from Cassibelaunus onwards are known to have been real (as that list explains, many were actually Roman emperors or officials). There's pretty much no surviving evidence for any kings prior to Cassibelaunus (except for maybe Digueillus, as Moros notes) due to the complete lack of sources. However, some researchers have noted that, in the B.C.E. era kings, about 600 years worth are clearly kings who lived after the start of the Roman era. For example, there's Cunedda, Peredur, Elidur, Samuel Penissel, Dyfnwal Moelmud and his son Bran Hen (or Brennius, as Geoffrey spells it - he seems to have combined the historical Bran Hen of the 5th century C.E. with the historical Brennus of the 4th century B.C.E.). There are many other examples, and these in particular are kings of the north from about 400 to 600, after the end of the Roman era.

Ebraucus is probably Brychan, again moved from the Common Era to Before the Common Era. They are both recorded as having an unrealistically huge number of wives, sons and daughters. Both are recorded as moving to Gaul, and both are recorded as having descendants who went and became rulers of the Germans.

So in other words, the reality is that many of the kings listed before Cassibelaunus were real. But they actually lived after him, not before.

Interestingly, if you remove all those phantom kings, you get a date for Brutus around the 6th century B.C.E. As such, it's quite possible - even probable - that the Brutus in question was Lucius Junius Brutus, the first consul of Rome who really did live in the 6th century B.C.E. In fact, the earlier version of the legend in HB explicitly says that Britain was named after Brutus, a Roman consul.
 
Jan 2009
1,267
It is irregular, since you have a couple of guys around the time of the Roman Invasion who are probably real, and then another gap until you get the Roman usurpers of revolting Provinces, another gap in the Anglo-Saxon invasions time, and finally more historical kings of Gwynedd. Of course, it can be argued if any of them were actually 'Kings of Britain' rather than just regional kings.

But the ones with more history behind them would be:
Cassivellaunus
Cunobeline
Caratacus (Arviragus)
 
Jan 2015
924
England
Caratacus (Arviragus)
While that's quite a popular theory, it is extremely debatable, and I whole-heartedly disagree with it. We know that Arviragus existed due to the poem by Juvenal, and I believe the evidence supports the idea that the two battles between him and the Romans which occured according to the HRB really did happen (no, Geoffrey never said there was a war between Arviragus and the Romans).
 
Jan 2016
809
Europe
Most of the kings from Cassibelaunus onwards are known to have been real (as that list explains, many were actually Roman emperors or officials). There's pretty much no surviving evidence for any kings prior to Cassibelaunus (except for maybe Digueillus, as Moros notes) due to the complete lack of sources. However, some researchers have noted that, in the B.C.E. era kings, about 600 years worth are clearly kings who lived after the start of the Roman era. For example, there's Cunedda, Peredur, Elidur, Samuel Penissel, Dyfnwal Moelmud and his son Bran Hen (or Brennius, as Geoffrey spells it - he seems to have combined the historical Bran Hen of the 5th century C.E. with the historical Brennus of the 4th century B.C.E.). There are many other examples, and these in particular are kings of the north from about 400 to 600, after the end of the Roman era.

Ebraucus is probably Brychan, again moved from the Common Era to Before the Common Era. They are both recorded as having an unrealistically huge number of wives, sons and daughters. Both are recorded as moving to Gaul, and both are recorded as having descendants who went and became rulers of the Germans.

So in other words, the reality is that many of the kings listed before Cassibelaunus were real. But they actually lived after him, not before.

Interestingly, if you remove all those phantom kings, you get a date for Brutus around the 6th century B.C.E. As such, it's quite possible - even probable - that the Brutus in question was Lucius Junius Brutus, the first consul of Rome who really did live in the 6th century B.C.E. In fact, the earlier version of the legend in HB explicitly says that Britain was named after Brutus, a Roman consul.
I know you said the legend, but I had the impression it was called Prydein in Celtic and it got turned into "Britannia" and then "Britain". The Saxons just seem to have called it Anglaland.
 
Jan 2016
809
Europe
A few things:

-I can imagine dating things before Romanisation would be hard given they wouldn't use AD BC dates. Would the Romans already have started counting down up 0 AD by the time they fully occupied Britain?
-Monmouth is said to have worked from an older, now lost, Welsh text: is it possible people like Sawyl Penuchel were written down as having reigned in "300", and Monmouth assumed it was BC rather than AD?
-With Welsh naming, I'd have thought it would be easy to trace ancestry. We know Coil ap Meurig was the son of Meurig, for example. Wouldn't Cassibelanus have called himself Cassibelanus ap Lleu? And Lleu called himself Lleu ap Beli?
-Is Sawyl actually the equivalent of Samuel? Samuel being a Hebrew/Jewish name, it seems rather odd for it to be in Celtic as a "normal" name.
-Regarding the Sawyl problem. It's important to note Geoffrey calls him "Sawyl Penisel", which actually means "Sawyl the Humble". The one we know, sawyl Penuchel, means "Sawyl the Arrogant". Could it just be coincidence that they resemble each other? It's not strange for people to have the same epithet, look at Aergol Lawhir, Cadwallon Lawhir, Rhun Hir, Maelgwn Hir...
-I've seen some genealogies link Coel ap Meurig to a mother called "Julia Victoria", supposedly Bouddica's daughter. Sure enough, it seems Meurig married a woman named "Julia", but with no mention that she's B's daughter.
I looked more into why she'd have a latin name, and apparently Bouddica is the equivalent of Victoria, so it's not too mad a name. Is there any evidence of this? I've looked for a source but found none and it looks as if it was either a King trying to claim descent or else some sort of error.

Sorry, another aside:
We know Bouddica existed from coins minted of her around the time of her death. We know from Tacitus' account Prasutagus (also immortalised in coins) gave half his lands to the Romans and left the other half in his will to his daughters. I'm not sure why he cut his wife out of the deal, but we do know the above facts from Tacitus. Though T had a propagandist agenda and was liable to make some errors, the fact he wrote it based on his step-father (who fought in the battle against Bouddica!) I doubt it's very wrong. Ignoring the speeches, which were expected in historical accounts by the Romans at the time (with the full knowledge of them being fake, they didn't actually think people made the speeches).
 
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authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,219
-I can imagine dating things before Romanisation would be hard given they wouldn't use AD BC dates. Would the Romans already have started counting down up 0 AD by the time they fully occupied Britain?
Anno Domini was introduced by the Christian church and is often attributed to a scythian monk, Dionysius Exiguus in the year 525.
 
Apr 2016
1,646
United Kingdom
What do you think about a list of High kings of Ireland?
Largely-founded on the wholly-fictitious Mil Espaine business, a high king list of Ireland can't help but be wildly inaccurate. The earliest high king with any degree of historicity would be Tuathal Teachtmar, and the earliest credible one Niall Noigiallach, though that doesn't mean those surrounding them existed or had effective rule of the country.