King Arthur: a Lombard King!

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
26,842
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#1
Today I've had occasion to remember a poster who has been on Historum for a while submitting to our attention a scandal discovery [Da Vinci Code style] about the real identity of King Arthur. He was really interested in the value of such a discovery on the market [I remember he started a thread about the effect of the discovery of the real identity of Arthur].

Now, I',m starting this discussion to reason about "discoveries" in the field of alternative history [so speculative history]. Similarities and wake clues are substantially strong evidences in that environment.

In this case we can even record the presence of a grail ... a blue glass cup from Roman age used by Italian kings from the age of Autari on ... [even Napoleon used it!]. And, what about this ..., a woman carried that glass cup to King Autari in occasion of his coronation [this reminds something of the Arthurian tales ...].

But this is not enough ... Lombards conquered Calabria. You make wonder ... "so what?". Calabria was called Britium because in an ancient past the Breeti lived there. So Arthur [Autari] conquest Britain [Britium ... Calabria!].

These coincidence were the reason why I dared to contact directly Franco Cardini [an Italian senior medievalist] and he rejected, as I expected, the Autari option, but he commented not excluding that a manuscript of Diaconus [who wrote the history of the Lombards in the age of Charlemagne] reached the land of the Anglo-Saxons.

That guy was on a hurry because I understood he had to sign a contract with an editor, anyway ...

How can we consider, from a historical perspective the numerous identifications of King Arthur?
 
Apr 2018
273
Italy
#2
King Arthur was proabily a fruit salad of historical people and legends. Aurelius Ambrosius and Riothamus should e the historical basis of Arthur, Saint Graal, Merlin and Excalibur probabily have an origin in Celtic mythology correct with Christianism.
 
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AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
26,842
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#5
The point is that he was looking for something extraordinary, may be never suggested ...

And actually, from the perspective of a Northern Italian [with or without German roots, this is irrelevant about this] who studies the history of the Lombards since the elementary school, it was simply absurd. No one here would just think to an assonance between "Autari" and "Arthur". About this a refuse on Nuremberg Chronicles from XV century probably played a role.

Like we have never thought that the "Sapphire Cup" of Queen Theodelinda is the Grail ... [reality is that the body of the cup is from the Renaissance, only the blue glass cup is from Roman age, from the early centuries ... and it's blue glass, it's not made of sapphire].

But the story of Theodelinda and Authari [Teodolinda and Autari] is so particular and the detail that she carried that blue glass cup to the King ...
 
Nov 2010
7,666
Cornwall
#6
I prefer the 'last remnants of Roman/Anglo soldiers after the withdrawal of the legions' theory as per the Clive Owen film (/book)

Whatever happened to that fella that promised us first view of his new book when he would reveal all? It hadn't made the best-seller list by the time he was banned. Was that who you meant?
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
26,842
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#7
I prefer the 'last remnants of Roman/Anglo soldiers after the withdrawal of the legions' theory as per the Clive Owen film (/book)

Whatever happened to that fella that promised us first view of his new book when he would reveal all? It hadn't made the best-seller list by the time he was banned. Was that who you meant?
The guy with the "Authari obsession" is still around. It appears sometime and, as for I can guess, there is no best-seller yet. The last development of his theory is that if Authari is Arthur, Theodelinda is the Grail.
 
Jan 2014
2,576
Westmorland
#8
How can we consider, from a historical perspective the numerous identifications of King Arthur?
I think we have to start by asking ourselves what Arthur is for. Aside from a few cranks on the lunatic fringe, it seems to me that most people (including those who think there is a real person at the root of everything) accept that much of what we have about Arthur is essentially literary accretion - stories which attached to his name over a period of time.

This brings us to a fork in the road. Are these later stories just that - stories - or do they contain a kernel of historical truth? The 'historical truth' camp, represented by a number of posters on this forum such as Calebxy or Concan, regard Arthur as a recoverable figure of history. All that is required is to be able to winnow the fact from the fiction and the real Arthur can be discovered. The 'just stories' camp (in which I sit), regard such an exercise as inherently flawed. Being able to spot links between lots of different stories doesn't make bits of them more likely to be true. All it means is that there is a pool of overlapping and interconnected material.

To a degree, the 'historical truth' camp tacitly accepts this - any material which cannot be winnowed out and presented as fact is considered to be story.

As such, although there might be a dispute about how much Arthurian material is pure fiction, we all agree that at least a fair chunk of it is.

This means that Arthur is one of a small group of individuals (which, in Britain, also includes the likes of Robin Hood and Dick Turpin) who, real or not, function as endlessly recyclable figures in our national story. Unlike other universally known characters such as Harry Potter, no-one 'owns' Arthur, meaning that all of us do. This means that Arthur is like a bowl made out of reflective glass which can be filled with whatever you want and then held up as a mirror.

In historical terms, I think this goes some way to explaining the evolution of Arthur. The ninth-century Welsh of Gwynedd needed Arthur to be the embodiment of the national hero who resisted the Saxons, who in the ninth century were giving the Welsh kingdoms a hard time of it. There is, incidentally, not a scrap of evidence to support the argument that anything about Arthur written in the ninth century accurately captured events of the fifth/sixth century.

For the medieval writers of courtly Romance, Arthur had a new role to fill. He was the embodiment of the chivalric ideal, albeit with a dash of hubris to make for more entertaining storytelling. Thus our Saxon-bashing Dark Age warlord becomes a clanking knight giving it plenty on the 'yea verily by Mary and the Rood'' front.

And so it goes on until our own time. We have Arthur in a 1980s feminist setting (Mists of Avalon), Arthur as a child's storybook hero (Once and Future King) and, of course, the freedom-lovin', personal sacrificin' tough guy of innumerable recent books and novels - basically Arnie in armour.

This, I suspect, is the answer to your question. For so long as people need figures like Arthur onto whom they can project their own preoccupations, ideals and (all too often) their personal issues, I think Arthur will continue to evolve and grow.
 
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