King Arthur: a Lombard King!

Peter Graham

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
2,618
Westmorland
A historical King Arthur would have to have been the commander in the 12 Battles of Arthur against the Saxons in the HIstoria Brittonum, sometime between 450 and 550. A historical Arthur would have to have fought a Battle of Baden about 516/17/18 and been killed along with an ally or enemy name Medraut at the Battle of Camlann about 537/38/39 according to the Annales Cambriae. And there is only a little bit more than might be added from other very early sources to make a historical King Arthur.
A historical Arthur need have done none of these things. By the time we hear of twelve battles against the Saxons and of Medraut, we are already about three and a half centuries on from when the putative real Arthur would have lived. That's the same distance in time between us and the Glorious Revolution of 1688. That's plenty of time for stories to evolve and grow. Two or three short references to Dick Turpin as he exists in the minds of people living in the 21st century would probably have very little bearing on the real man and his deeds. We'd see him as a noble highwayman who completed a mammoth ride to York. Which he wasn't and which he didn't.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,011
Italy, Lago Maggiore
But you should remember that the Holy Grail is irrelevant to a discussion of a historical King Arthur. A historical King Arthur would have to be someone famous enough that several princes were named after him in the decades around 600. A historical King Arthur would have to have been the commander in the 12 Battles of Arthur against the Saxons in the HIstoria Brittonum, sometime between 450 and 550. A historical Arthur would have to have fought a Battle of Baden about 516/17/18 and been killed along with an ally or enemy name Medraut at the Battle of Camlann about 537/38/39 according to the Annales Cambriae. And there is only a little bit more than might be added from other very early sources to make a historical King Arthur.
I understand your point, I'm making reference to the late Arthur, the Arthur that the general public knows.

Regarding Badon, wait a minute or better a hour: no early source connected Arthur to that battle. Centuries after Gildas and Beda someone else put Arthur there.

To keep Arthur at Badon I have read some justifications about Gilda's silence which look more absurd than what Sage sustained ...
 
Sep 2015
337
ireland
I understand your point, I'm making reference to the late Arthur, the Arthur that the general public knows.

Regarding Badon, wait a minute or better a hour: no early source connected Arthur to that battle. Centuries after Gildas and Beda someone else put Arthur there.

To keep Arthur at Badon I have read some justifications about Gilda's silence which look more absurd than what Sage sustained ...
In my opinion Badon was never Arthurs battle. The individual who wrote about Arthur in HB was like the rest of us today....unsure of who Arthur really was, even though I suspect he was aware of an amount of legendary material. He didn`t know where the legend really fit in his historic narrative and so he set out to find a place to put him. I can offer a number of reasons why he chose Badon. Apart from the fact that Gildas didn`t tell us who was the leader there, I think that HB was also influenced by the bear imagery that Gildas applied to the ancestors of Cuneglas. Basically it can be assumed from the imagery that there was a figure who was associated with a bear and was a king in north Wales a generation or two earlier, when the battle was fought.

If I was to suggest who it was that led the Badon victory, I would offer two primary possibilities because as far as I can see Gildas has a positive opinion about only two figures from the 5th century. The first is Ambrosius Aurelianus who might have still been around at the time and the other was Uortipors father who Gildas called a good king. It is also possible that some of the battles that HB attributed to Arthur may well belong to the real Badon victor. I can`t provide clear illumination on this. But I`m convinced that there are known Roman battles where my Arthur was victorious, that are remembered in HBs list although corrupt. In fact I would suggest that we are given more archaic names for some of the battles in Pa Gur than in HB. I think that this poem, although usually given a later date than HB, is a halfway house in how some Roman battlenames evolved over several centuries before their appearance in HB.

Camlann is a much older tradition that was always belonged to Arthur in legend. A Roman army was defeated there and some of the accounts of it that survive show a number of similarities to descriptions that survive in British tradition. I know the year it was fought and I know the site. I`m not implying that the battle must have been called Camlann as some Arthurian theorists do by saying for example that "there was once a battle fought here and because there is a bend in the river and a church nearby, therefore it must have been called Camlann". This battle was always called Camlann in its own tongue and tradition, with only minimal contraction and has never as far as I know been associated with Arthurian tradition because ever since HB was written, everyone accepted that Arthur lived in the 5th/6th centuries. I suspect that the interpolator responsible for the Arthurian entries in the Welsh annals had a sense of the truth but in the end he accepted HBs dating of Arthur as did almost everybody else afterwards.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,011
Italy, Lago Maggiore
In my opinion Badon was never Arthurs battle. The individual who wrote about Arthur in HB was like the rest of us today....unsure of who Arthur really was, even though I suspect he was aware of an amount of legendary material. He didn`t know where the legend really fit in his historic narrative and so he set out to find a place to put him. I can offer a number of reasons why he chose Badon. Apart from the fact that Gildas didn`t tell us who was the leader there, I think that HB was also influenced by the bear imagery that Gildas applied to the ancestors of Cuneglas. Basically it can be assumed from the imagery that there was a figure who was associated with a bear and was a king in north Wales a generation or two earlier, when the battle was fought.

If I was to suggest who it was that led the Badon victory, I would offer two primary possibilities because as far as I can see Gildas has a positive opinion about only two figures from the 5th century. The first is Ambrosius Aurelianus who might have still been around at the time and the other was Uortipors father who Gildas called a good king. It is also possible that some of the battles that HB attributed to Arthur may well belong to the real Badon victor. I can`t provide clear illumination on this. But I`m convinced that there are known Roman battles where my Arthur was victorious, that are remembered in HBs list although corrupt. In fact I would suggest that we are given more archaic names for some of the battles in Pa Gur than in HB. I think that this poem, although usually given a later date than HB, is a halfway house in how some Roman battlenames evolved over several centuries before their appearance in HB.

Camlann is a much older tradition that was always belonged to Arthur in legend. A Roman army was defeated there and some of the accounts of it that survive show a number of similarities to descriptions that survive in British tradition. I know the year it was fought and I know the site. I`m not implying that the battle must have been called Camlann as some Arthurian theorists do by saying for example that "there was once a battle fought here and because there is a bend in the river and a church nearby, therefore it must have been called Camlann". This battle was always called Camlann in its own tongue and tradition, with only minimal contraction and has never as far as I know been associated with Arthurian tradition because ever since HB was written, everyone accepted that Arthur lived in the 5th/6th centuries. I suspect that the interpolator responsible for the Arthurian entries in the Welsh annals had a sense of the truth but in the end he accepted HBs dating of Arthur as did almost everybody else afterwards.
We can say that the religious nuance of Gilda's text doesn't help. He didn't write a historical accurate chronicle, but substantially a sermon. This is the only reason why [the structure of the narration] we cannot put Ambrosius Aurelianus at Badon with absolute certainty. We can say that, considering the Latin text, there is no interruption, between the moment in which Gilda introduces Ambrosius and Badon, there is a kind of contextualized interlude which dosn't give clear temporal references.

Let's see how Gilda tells the story ...

... duce ambrosio aureliano uiro modesto, qui solus forte romanae gentis tantae tempestatis collisione occisis in eadem parentibus purpura nimirum indutis superfuerat, cuius nunc temporibus nostris suboles magnopere auita bonitate degenerauit, uires capessunt, uictores prouocantes ad proelium: quis uictoria domino annuente cessit.
My translation.
... leader Ambrosius Aurelianus, a modest man, who from the Roman People, because of fate, survived to the impact of such a storm [his parents, attired with purple, got killed in it] whose descendants have deeply degenerated from their ancient nobility. To them, with the favor of the Lord, victory had conceded.

The paragraph ends here. Then, it comes the interlude.

ex eo tempore nunc ciues, nunc hostes, uincebant, ut in ista gente experietur dominus solito more praesentem israelem, utrum diligat eum an non:
My translation
From that time, citizens were sometimes victorious, sometimes their enemies. Like the Lord, following His Will, can try in this People the present Israel, wheter He Loves it or not.

And suddenly ... Badon.

usque ad annum obsessionis badonici montis
My translation
this went on until the year of the siege of mount Badon.
 
Sep 2015
337
ireland
My translation
From that time, citizens were sometimes victorious, sometimes their enemies. Like the Lord, following His Will, can try in this People the present Israel, wheter He Loves it or not.

And suddenly ... Badon.
.
Compare this particular passage to how HB describes the lead up to Badon where we are told how Arthur had won 11 successive victories as he leads an alliance of British kings. HB was written 3 centuries after the supposed events but Gildas would have had the testimony of his own parents and other living memories to inform him. One of a number of red flags raised over HB.
 

Peter Graham

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
2,618
Westmorland
Camlann is a much older tradition that was always belonged to Arthur in legend. A Roman army was defeated there and some of the accounts of it that survive show a number of similarities to descriptions that survive in British tradition. I know the year it was fought and I know the site. I`m not implying that the battle must have been called Camlann as some Arthurian theorists do by saying for example that "there was once a battle fought here and because there is a bend in the river and a church nearby, therefore it must have been called Camlann". This battle was always called Camlann in its own tongue and tradition, with only minimal contraction and has never as far as I know been associated with Arthurian tradition because ever since HB was written, everyone accepted that Arthur lived in the 5th/6th centuries.
If it helps, 'Camlan' need not (and probably does not) incorporate Welsh llan (enclosure). If there was a Roman-era record of the battle, the name would have been rendered into Latin. As you will no doubt know, Camlan is often argued to be a later Brittonic/Old Welsh rendering of Latin camboglanna, which means something like 'crooked bank'. As was so often the case, the Latin is itself a lift from British but with a Latin ending added so the noun could be made to decline properly. British is the precursor language to post-Roman Brittonic (aka Neo-Brittonic, Primitive Welsh, Archaic Welsh et al), which in turn was the antecedent of Old Welsh.

We know of one definite Roman-era site in Britain called Camboglanna. This is the Roman fort of Castlesteads on the Wall corridor, just north of Brampton in Cumbria. Unlike Vindolanda, Birdoswald et al, there is nothing to see there any more apart from some faint humps in the fields. The name of the fort appears on, inter alia the engravings on the Rudge Cup, which list five fort names running east to west from Bowness on Solway to Birdoswald. The same list - with the addition of one further fort (Aesica - now Great Chesters near Haltwhistle and almost certainly the Aeche which Cuthbert visited on his journey from Hexham to Carlisle in the 680s) also appears on the Amiens patera. A futher variant of the list appears on the Staffordshire patera.

For your purposes, this proves that such a name not only might have existed but genuinely did exist in the Roman period. Of course, given the Celtic fondness for topographic names, it is quite possible that other places called 'crooked bank' once existed.
 

Peter Graham

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
2,618
Westmorland
Compare this particular passage to how HB describes the lead up to Badon where we are told how Arthur had won 11 successive victories as he leads an alliance of British kings. HB was written 3 centuries after the supposed events but Gildas would have had the testimony of his own parents and other living memories to inform him. One of a number of red flags raised over HB.
A bigger issue is the suspicious similarity of some of the Arthur battles to other battles which are attested elsewhere without any attribution to Arthur.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,011
Italy, Lago Maggiore
A bigger issue is the suspicious similarity of some of the Arthur battles to other battles which are attested elsewhere without any attribution to Arthur.
It may be that a later author [in the case of the Historia Britonum, "Nennius"] made something which wasn't rare to observe: the author of HB read Gildas and he realized that the passage was too short, not enough rich to be a chronicle. So he simply thought that, transforming a sermon in something more near to a chronicle, a historical work, he was allowed to interpolate. Gildas said that there were battles, sometimes local won, sometimes invaders won, he didn't say how many, he didn't supply a datation, the place where they occurred, who leaded the locals in this or that battle ... Gildas gave only a temporal reference [referred to himself] for the battle at Badon. Period.

Someone decided to feel in the blanks. And perhaps the author used existing material about past important battles, local traditions and similar.
 
Sep 2015
337
ireland
If it helps, 'Camlan' need not (and probably does not) incorporate Welsh llan (enclosure). If there was a Roman-era record of the battle, the name would have been rendered into Latin. As you will no doubt know, Camlan is often argued to be a later Brittonic/Old Welsh rendering of Latin camboglanna, which means something like 'crooked bank'. As was so often the case, the Latin is itself a lift from British but with a Latin ending added so the noun could be made to decline properly. British is the precursor language to post-Roman Brittonic (aka Neo-Brittonic, Primitive Welsh, Archaic Welsh et al), which in turn was the antecedent of Old Welsh.

We know of one definite Roman-era site in Britain called Camboglanna. This is the Roman fort of Castlesteads on the Wall corridor, just north of Brampton in Cumbria. Unlike Vindolanda, Birdoswald et al, there is nothing to see there any more apart from some faint humps in the fields. The name of the fort appears on, inter alia the engravings on the Rudge Cup, which list five fort names running east to west from Bowness on Solway to Birdoswald. The same list - with the addition of one further fort (Aesica - now Great Chesters near Haltwhistle and almost certainly the Aeche which Cuthbert visited on his journey from Hexham to Carlisle in the 680s) also appears on the Amiens patera. A futher variant of the list appears on the Staffordshire patera.

For your purposes, this proves that such a name not only might have existed but genuinely did exist in the Roman period. Of course, given the Celtic fondness for topographic names, it is quite possible that other places called 'crooked bank' once existed.
Linguists deconstruct the word Camlan incorrectly. Camlan didn't bring me to Arthur. I was onto him for some time for a number of different reasons before I had a "duh" moment and realised how what was obvious, was staring me in the face and I hadn't seen it. A bit like my recent Greek AnnWNIO. But it is contraction though not as severe as a contraction from Camboglana would be in my opinion. The fact that someone such as yourself would be comfortable with a Camlan derived from Camboglanna would augur well for my case.
 

Peter Graham

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
2,618
Westmorland
But it is contraction though not as severe as a contraction from Camboglana would be in my opinion. The fact that someone such as yourself would be comfortable with a Camlan derived from Camboglanna would augur well for my case.
Good stuff. But I should perhaps point out that it's not quite a contraction per se. British Latin changed significantly in the post Roman period. In very broad terms, there was a collapse of rigid Latin declensions and case systems. In addition, words shortened when spoken. This process is known as syncope or apocope depending on whether letters got dropped from the middle or the end of a word. The change from Camboglanna to Camlan shows these processes in action. They often follow a fairly predictable pattern, so if you are arguing that linguists have got it wrong , you'll need to show an awareness of these processes (which you may, of course, have!).