Chronology Legend History Pseudo-History Timeline
Legends Modena Cathedral in Italy Mabinogion – Merlin – Arthur
Mabinogion Once thought to date to 10 th C with stories dating much earlier. – Culhwch and Olwen often accepted as the oldest story to feature Arthur. – It shows him as already ruling all of Britain and having a group of knights ready to go on quests Now established as written around 1100 AD with details added later
Gildas De Excidio Britanniae 548 AD Confirms the battle of Mt. Badon Does not mention Arthur perhaps for political reasons Describes a dux bellorum named Aurelius Ambrosius who is English
Nennius Historia Brittonum 830 Welsh text commissioned by King 12 th C tradition names writer as Nennius First clearly dated text to mention Arthur by name Description of his “twelve battles” Despite authorial hints, the Historia has no known sources
Welsh Annals In Latin, Annales Cambriae 950 AD First attempt to place Arthur in a specific time period Describes Arthur at the battles of Badon and Camlann
Geoffrey of Monmouth Twelfth Century Writer Most Influential on later Arthurian writers Three Books – Prophecies of Merlin – The History of the Kings of Britain – Vita Merlini
Wace French Translated and expanded Geoffrey Roman de Brut Much less bellicose than Geoffrey First mentions the Round Table Influenced by Capellanus’ Art of Courtly Love
Layamon Translates Wace into English and expands The Brut Returns to celebration of war Uses Anglo-Saxon alliterative form
CHRONICLES Definition: presents the story of Arthur as history Written with a political and/or religious agenda Includes works by Gildas, Nennius, (Bede), Annales Cambriae, (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle), by Geoffrey, Wace, and Layamon
Legends and Lays “Lanval” by Marie de France points to Arthurian influences in Breton songs. The Mabinogion connects Irish and Welsh mythology to the story of Arthur.
Romances Definition: – Adventure chosen vs. survival demanded – Tests values of chivalry and service to ladies – Leads to personal perfection – Elements of marvelous or supernatural – Hero’s inner consciousness is explored
History of Romance Begins with Chrétien de Troyes in France – Lancelot – Grail Legend – Other romances Robert de Boron associates Grail with cup of the last supper Vulgate Cycle vastly expands especially Grail Spreads to the Continent outside France
Themes Journey of the Hero Chain of Being seen in the Three Estates – Spiritual/Contemplative vs. Secular/Active Life Nature of Love (esp. Courtly Love) Fisher King Other
Odds and Ends Reflecting my Biases Knighthood as created around 1240 to refer to mounted military forces. References to earlier military are anachronistic even in the legend as a whole. “Feudalism” was invented in 1839 by historians disdainful of the social structures in the Middle Ages.