Were Hengest and Horsa Real?

Dec 2011
2,768
Ceawlin's brother Cutha was killed in 584 at Battle Wood (Stoke Lyn, Oxfordshire) against the Britons. There's a 4 year gap between Ceawlin's death and Cutha's son Ceolwulf beginning to rule, probably a minor in 593.
The ASC 597 records Ceolwulf fighting Angles, Welsh, Picts and Scots, in 607 Ceolwulf is fighting the South Saxons.
Some say Woden's Barrow was a family dispute, because in 591 the ASC states that Coel the son of Cutha begain to rule and does not explicitly state that Woden's Barrow was against the Britons. Cutha was probably sub king to his brother Ceawlin and his son took his place.
 
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Nov 2008
1,092
England
That might in part be due to the conversion to Christianity. Bede calls the Britons 'wicked' for opposing 'the appointed Easter of the whole Catholic Church'. He also states that they are for the most part, are adverse to the english nation. Nothing like sermons to whip up anti briton feelings and vice versa. One hundred years or so beforehowever, the pagan anglian Deirans, Edwin and Hereric, were fleeing the anglian Aethelfrith and seeking the protection in the british kingdoms of Elmet and Gwynedd. This was more about exercising control and exacting tribute and not ethnicity.
True to a point. However, King Ine began to enact his laws soon after his accession in 688, and Bede was only a small boy at that time, so the antipathy towards the Britons was there way before Bede wrote his famous history. The fact that the Anglo-Saxons regarded the Britons as "second class" or inferior would not have prevented a certain amount of pragmatism, dynastic marriages, or political alliances if they offered benefits. I believe this disdain the Anglo-saxons felt towards the Britons had its roots in the late fifth century and early sixth century.

Another point. The disdain towards the Britons was uniform amongst all the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in a general sense, even when they were fighting amongst themselves.
 
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Nov 2008
1,092
England
Where does Bede make the God's chosen people and England the Promised Land?

Bede certainly didn't like Penda and his Brit Christian ally, Cadwallon, not because he was Christian but because he ravaged his parents Northumbria.
Either Penda was being pragmatic when he allied himself to a powerful British king, or he perhaps just didn`t care what race an ally belonged to. From what we know of him, he seemed to be tolerant to religion, but certainly not to his enemies. An unusual man and it is a pity we know so little about him.
 
Nov 2008
1,092
England
I think you know my views on Arthur - he was not brought in the genealogical framework because he wasn't conceived of as a real person
I share your views on Arthur, but not entirely on the point you make here. Even legendary heroes are included in geneaological lists if it will enhance the status of a dynasty. You seem to be saying that the Britons of the ninth century, when "Nennius" wrote his book, did not believe in the authenticity of Arthur. Is there anything in the chronicles of the time to suggest this? I know there were some in the later middle ages who regarded Arthur as fictitious. William Caxton certainly was one such, then changed his mind when he realised he had a best seller on his hands with "Le Morte D`arthur".
 
Sep 2015
279
ireland
@ Peter Graham

Is there any evidence any where that anyone questioned Arthurs authenticity around the time you suggest that genealogical lists might have been manipulated or even for centuries afterwards? I`m aware of a story of some French monks turning up in Cornwall and questioning the provenance of Arthur and having to run for their lives from the locals for doing so, but this was much later. There were also dissenters of Geoffrey of Monmouths version of the tale in the 12th century but nobody suggested that Arthur never existed.

We know that Ambrosius` descendants were still around somewhere in the west in the sixth century because Gildas says so and it seems extraordinary to me that some record of them wouldn`t survive in a genealogy, even allowing for the line to have died out. Uriens line died out with him but he was still recorded. The only ancestry of Ambrosius that I`m aware of is that provided by Geoffrey which is clearly fictional.

Maybe the Welsh were attached to Coel because they were actually descended from him. The interesting thing about Coel is that he appears to have a badger in his pedigree, something which also appears in Ui Liathain pedigrees.
 
Jan 2014
2,129
Westmorland
You seem to be saying that the Britons of the ninth century, when "Nennius" wrote his book, did not believe in the authenticity of Arthur. Is there anything in the chronicles of the time to suggest this?
There's no statement to the effect of "Arthur isn't real and everybody knows it", but the likely earliest reference (the famous reference in the Gododdin elegies) portrays Arthur as a legendary figure rather than a real person. The only reason why this reference to Arthur is taken as evidence of his historicity is because it the verse in question is always taken out of context by the Arthur-hunters. Read in context there is no valid alternative explanation. I can expand further if you would like, but I'm conscious you may have heard the explanation before.

If that verse is not as early as it appears, the earliest references are in the Historia. Again, the battle poem is taken out of context, in that it is rarely recognised that the Historia contains other references to Arthur which are clearly mythical/legendary. It is also rarely recognised that the battle poem itself is a lash up, in which well-known battles are essentially recycled and given to Arthur. This recycling of stock events is quite evident elsewhere in early Welsh poetry and is a clever literary device. It is not, however, in any way historical.
 
Jan 2014
2,129
Westmorland
Is there any evidence any where that anyone questioned Arthurs authenticity around the time you suggest that genealogical lists might have been manipulated

We know that Ambrosius` descendants were still around somewhere in the west in the sixth century because Gildas says so and it seems extraordinary to me that some record of them wouldn`t survive in a genealogy, even allowing for the line to have died out. Uriens line died out with him but he was still recorded.

The interesting thing about Coel is that he appears to have a badger in his pedigree, something which also appears in Ui Liathain pedigrees.
A badger? Do tell me more, as I have never heard that before.

There's no positive evidence of anyone in ninth-century Wales actively questioning Arthur's authenticity. But then, there isn't any evidence of anyone's authenticity being questioned, so I'm not sure what that proves.

Urien's line didn't die with him. Rhun was supposedly his son and was credited (by the Historia at least) with baptising Edwin of Deira. The now-lost Chartres Recension of the Historia attributes authorship of the Historia to Rhun.

Rhun's grand-daughter (so Urien's great grand-daughter) married Oswiu of Northumbria, according to the Historia. The match is also attested by the probably more reliable Durham Liber Vitae.

Ambrosius' grandchildren are indeed expressly mentioned by Gildas, although it is not clear if they were one or more of the kings he castigates. He doesn't appear in the surviving genealogies for Maelgwn or Cuneglasus though, does he?
 
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Jun 2017
37
Thailand
https://tchipakkan.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/britain-c-400.jpg

Gildas mentions the lands in light green in the west, but plausibly implies all of the highland tribal areas in white also

so Badon drove the Saxons from Wales, Cornwall and neighboring areas, but not Kent or the areas to the east where they had dwelt for 50 years

if Cerdic did show up in Hampshire in 495 AD, just about the time Badon, and fought with local British inhabitants for the next 20 years, wouldn't Gildas have said something? Doesn't he make it sound like 44 years of external peace from 500-540 AD?

maybe the west Saxons arrived as allies on the eve of Badon as British resistance stiffened under "Arthur" and "his" dozen battles? Despite Badon, they survived and were able to keep their new territories?

Wikipedia gives the following time line:

495 Cerdic lands in Hampshire in with his son Cynric in five ships
508 Fights and defeats a Brittonic king named Natanleod at Natanleaga
514 west Saxon kinsmen, including Stuf and Wihtgar, arrive, settle Wight
519 fought at Cerdicesleag = Charford (Cerdic's Ford)
519 Cerdic and Cynric "begin to reign", suggesting that they ceased being dependent vassals or ealdormen and became independent kings in their own right

Arrives 495, because of Badon remains a vassal foederati
chafes under the terms, fights a minor chieftain in 508
"Arthur" sleeps with his ancestors and in 514 more west Saxons arrive
519 breaks free of vassal foederati status, under say the second high king "from Arthur"

Hampshire is far enough east from Gildas' area of focus that perhaps all accounts are mutually compatible as is
 
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Oooh love it, nice question.

But I don't see any reason to doubt it, were they not recorded by the Romano-Britons of the time?

In fact there is enough of a back story to suggest they were, we know who the leader was of the Romano-Brits at the time and that he was responsible for calling in Saxon back up to deal with the Pict incursions.

Did the saying "The night of the long knives" come from them also when the Saxons called a meeting with the British aristocracy and then murdered them all with their Seax if I remember rightly?
 
Dec 2011
2,768
https://tchipakkan.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/britain-c-400.jpg

Gildas mentions the lands in light green in the west, but plausibly implies all of the highland tribal areas in white also

so Badon drove the Saxons from Wales, Cornwall and neighboring areas, but not Kent or the areas to the east where they had dwelt for 50 years

if Cerdic did show up in Hampshire in 495 AD, just about the time Badon, and fought with local British inhabitants for the next 20 years, wouldn't Gildas have said something? Doesn't he make it sound like 44 years of external peace from 500-540 AD?

maybe the west Saxons arrived as allies on the eve of Badon as British resistance stiffened under "Arthur" and "his" dozen battles? Despite Badon, they survived and were able to keep their new territories?

Wikipedia gives the following time line:

495 Cerdic lands in Hampshire in with his son Cynric in five ships
508 Fights and defeats a Brittonic king named Natanleod at Natanleaga
514 west Saxon kinsmen, including Stuf and Wihtgar, arrive, settle Wight
519 fought at Cerdicesleag = Charford (Cerdic's Ford)
519 Cerdic and Cynric "begin to reign", suggesting that they ceased being dependent vassals or ealdormen and became independent kings in their own right

Arrives 495, because of Badon remains a vassal foederati
chafes under the terms, fights a minor chieftain in 508
"Arthur" sleeps with his ancestors and in 514 more west Saxons arrive
519 breaks free of vassal foederati status, under say the second high king "from Arthur"

Hampshire is far enough east from Gildas' area of focus that perhaps all accounts are mutually compatible as is
Cerdic's Shore in 495 was almost certainly Dorchester on the upper Thames. Cerdic and Cynric don't take the Isle of Wight until 530. Stuf and Wihtgar are given Wight on Cerdic's death in 534.

Ælle of Sussex, the first Bretwalda, is the prime candidate for Badon, last heard of in 491.