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Arthurian Timeline

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Robin Barquenast
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« on: April 24, 2014, 05:49:43 pm »

Arthurian Timeline
There is much written testimony about the fifth century in Britain. Some of it is contemporary, but, unfortunately, very little of it is indigenous to Britain. Almost all of it, at least in some points, is contradictory. It seems that the farther in time we move away from the period, the more information we get, but we always wonder how reliable the sources are, and what they are really based on.

Any attempt, then, to pin down an exact chronology of the period is a speculative enterprise, at best. Britannia's "Arthurian Timeline" falls into that category, as well. No effort was made to adhere to any traditional dating schemes, except where there is firmly established documentation for them. Nor did we feel it to be incumbent upon us to follow, in every last detail, the viewpoints of the well-known scholars of the period, as their viewpoints are often at variance with one another.

In addition to historical information about the fifth century, we have included, in our Arthurian chronology, information about the fascinating and imaginative legends of Arthur that have developed in the vast body of literature that has been written through the years.

So then, this timeline is an original effort, which is based on the available sources for the period. We have attempted, so far as we are able, to weigh those sources and to assign probable values to them, and, in the end, to put them together into a plausible chronology. Yes, there are some blatant guesses here, which are based on nothing at all, except our logic (which, we admit, may be flawed), but they are all defensible, at least to some degree.

Do not blindly accept what is presented here, as if it were provable, absolute fact, lest you perpetuate a possibly serious error. Instead, use the sources, which we have attempted to gather, to form your own conclusions. And do feel free to challenge us on any point. We will be happy to alter our viewpoint if presented with better information.

33-37 AD - Christianity is said, by Gildas, to have come to Britain sometime during the latter part of the reign of Tiberius Caesar who ruled from 14-37 AD:

    Meanwhile these islands, stiff with cold and frost, and in a distant region of the world, remote from the visible sun, received the beams of light, that is, the holy precepts of Christ, the true Sun, showing to the whole world his splendour, not only from the temporal firmament, but from the height of heaven, which surpasses every thing temporal, at the latter part, as we know, of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, by whom his religion was propagated without impediment, and death threatened to those who interfered with Its professors.

And, since Joseph of Arimathea is often credited with being the one who first introduced Christianity to Britain, then it is not too far-fetched to assume that the two must've arrived together. Christ is believed to have been crucified in 32 AD and allowing a year as a minimum time to organize and launch a mission, then Joseph could have come to Britain, at the very earliest, in 33 AD or at the latest, 37 AD. This assumes, of course, that Gildas can be trusted on this point. We report this not to suggest that it is true, merely to include it in the record for completeness.
63 - Joseph of Arimathea came to Glastonbury on the first Christian mission to Britain. Legend says that he brought with him the Holy Grail, which was either a cup/bowl or two "cruets" thought to contain the blood and sweat of the crucified Christ.

184 - Lucius Artorius Castus, commander of a detachment of Sarmatian conscripts stationed in Britain, led his troops to Gaul to quell a rebellion. This is the first appearance of the name, Artorius, in history and some believe that this Roman military man is the original, or basis, for the Arthurian legend. The theory says that Castus' exploits in Gaul, at the head of a contingent of mounted troops, are the basis for later, similar traditions about "King Arthur," and, further, that the name "Artorius" became a title, or honorific, which was ascribed to a famous warrior in the fifth century.

383 - Magnus Maximus (Macsen Wledig), a Spaniard, was proclaimed Emperor in Britain by the island's Roman garrison. With an army of British volunteers, he quickly conquered Gaul, Spain and Italy.

388 - Maximus occupied Rome itself. Theodosius, the eastern Emperor, defeated him in battle and beheaded him in July, 388, with many of the remnant of Maximus' troops settling in Armorica. The net result to Britain was the loss of many valuable troops needed for the island's defense (the "first migration").

395 - Theodosius, the last emperor to rule an undivided empire, died, leaving his one son, Arcadius, emperor in the East and his other son, the young Honorius, emperor in the West. At this point the office of Roman Emperor changed from a position of absolute power to one of being merely a head of state.

396 - The Roman general, Stilicho, acting as regent in the western empire during Honorius' minority, reorganized British defenses decimated by the Magnus Maximus debacle. Began transfer of military authority from Roman commanders to local British chieftains.

397 - The Roman commander, Stilicho, comes to Britain and repels an attack by Picts, Irish and Saxons.

402 - Events on the continent force Stilicho to recall one of the two British legions to assist with the defense of Italy against Alaric and the Visigoths. The recalled legion, known as the Sixth Victrix, was said by Claudian (in "De Bello Gallico," 416) to be "that legion which is stretched before the remoter Britons, which curbs the Scot, and gazes on the tattoo-marks on the pale face of the dying Pict." The barbarians were defeated, this time, at battle of Pollentia.

403 - Victricius, Bishop of Rouen, visited Britain for the purpose of bringing peace to the island's clergy, who were in the midst of a dispute, possibly over the Pelagian heresy.

405 - The British troops, which had been recalled to assist Stilicho, were never returned to Britain as they had to stay in Italy to fight off another, deeper penetration by the barbarian chieftain, Radagaisus.

406 - In early January, 406, a combined barbarian force (Suevi, Alans, Vandals & Burgundians) swept into central Gaul, severing contact between Rome and Britain. In autumn 406, the remaining Roman army in Britain decided to mutiny. One Marcus was proclaimed emperor in Britain, but was immediately assassinated.

407 - In place of the assassinated Marcus, Gratian was elevated "to the purple," but lasted only four months. Constantine III was hailed as the new emperor by Roman garrison in Britian. He proceeded to follow the example of Magnus Maximus by withdrawing the remaining Roman legion, the Second Augusta, and crossing over into Gaul to rally support for his cause. Constantine's departure could be what Nennius called "the end of the Roman Empire in Britain. . ."

408 - With both Roman legions withdrawn, Britain endures devastating attacks by the Picts, Scots and Saxons.

409 - Prosper, in his chronicle, says, "in the fifteenth year of Honorius and Arcadius (409), on account of the languishing state of the Romans, the strength of the Britons was brought to a desperate pass." Under enormous pressure, Britons take matters into their own hands, expelling weak Roman officials and fighting for themselves.

410 - Britain gains "independence" from Rome. The Goths, under Alaric, sack Rome.

413 - Pelagian heresy said to have begun, by Prosper (Tiro) of Aquitaine in his "Chronicle."

420-30 - Pelagian heresy outlawed in Rome (418), but in Britain, enjoys much support from "pro-Celtic" faction. Traditionalists (pro-Romans) support Roman church. During this time, according to Prosper, Britain is ruled by petty "tyrants."

429 - At the request of Palladius, a British deacon, Pope Celestine I dispatches bishops Germanus of Auxerre and Lupus of Troyes to Britain to combat Pelagian heresy. While in Britain, Germanus, a former military man, leads Britons to "Hallelujah" victory in Wales.

c.438 - Probable birth of Ambrosius Aurelianus, scion of the leading Romano-British family on the island.

c.440-50 - Period of civil war and famine in Britain, caused by ruling council's weakness and inability to deal with Pictish invasions; situation aggravated by tensions between Pelagian/Roman factions. Vacated towns and cities in ruin. Migration of pro-Roman citizens toward west. Country beginning to be divided, geographically, along factional lines.

c.441 - Gallic Chronicle records, prematurely, that "Britain, abandoned by the Romans, passed into the power of the Saxons."

c.445 - Vortigern comes to power in Britain.

446 - Britons (probably the pro-Roman party) appeal to Aetius, Roman governor of Gaul, for military assistance in their struggle against the Picts and the Irish (Scots). No help could be sent, at this time, as Aetius had his hands full with Attila the Hun.

c.446 - Vortigern authorizes the use of Saxon mercenaries, known as foederati, for the defense of the northern parts against barbarian attack. To guard against further Irish incursions, Cunedda and his sons are moved from Manau Gododdin in northern Britain to northwest Wales.

447 - Second visit of St. Germanus (this time accompanied by Severus, Bishop of Trier) to Britain. Was this visit spiritually motivated, to combat a revived Pelagian threat or was Germanus sent in Aetius' stead, to do whatever he could to help the desperate Britons?

c.447 - Britons, aroused to heroic effort, "inflicted a massacre" on their enemies, the Picts and Irish, and were left in peace, for a brief time. Could this heroic effort have been led, again, by St. Germanus?

c.448 - Death of St. Germanus in Ravenna. Civil war and plague ravage Britain.

c.450 - In the first year of Marcian and Valentinian, Hengest arrives on shores of Britain with "3 keels" of warriors, and are welcomed by Vortigern. This event is known in Latin as the "adventus Saxonum," the coming of the Saxons.

c.452 - Increasing Saxon settlement in Britain. Hengest invites his son, Octha, from Germany with "16 keels" of warriors, who occupy the northern lands, to defend against the Picts. Picts never heard from, again.

c.453 - Increasing Saxon unrest. Raids on British towns and cities becoming more frequent.

c.456 - Geoffrey of Monmouth tells us of a probably fictitious, but entirely believable event in which Saxons massacre 300 leading British noblemen at phony "peace" conference. Ambrosius' father, possibly the leader of the pro-Roman faction, may have been killed either during the Saxon uprising or this massacre.

c.457 - Death of Vortigern. Vitalinus (Guitolinus) new leader of pro-Celtic Pelagian faction. Battle of Aylesford (Kent) in which Ambrosius, along with sons of Vortigern, Vortimer and Cateyrn, defeat Hengest for the first time.

c.458 - Saxon uprising in full-swing. Hengest finally conquers Kent, in southeastern Britain.

c.458-60 - Full-scale migration of British aristocrats and city-dwellers across the English Channel to Brittany, in northwestern Gaul (the "second migration"). British contingent led by Riothamus (perhaps a title, not a name), thought by some to be the original figure behind the legends of Arthur.

c.460-70 - Ambrosius Aurelianus takes full control of pro-Roman faction and British resistance effort; leads Britons in years of back-and-forth fighting with Saxons. British strategy seems to have been to allow Saxon landings and to then contain them, there.

c.465 - Arthur probably born around this time.

c.466 - Battle of Wippedesfleot, in which Saxons defeat Britons, but with great slaughter on both sides. Mutual "disgust and sorrow" results in a respite from fighting "for a long time."

c.466-73 - Period of minimal Saxon activity. Refortification of ancient hillforts and construction of the Wansdyke possibly takes place during this time.

c.469 - Roman emperor, Anthemius, appeals to Britons for military help against the Visigoths. Reliable accounts by Sidonius Apolonaris and Jordanes name the leader of the 12,000 man British force, Riothamus. The bulk of the British force was wiped out in battle against Euric, the Visigothic king, and the survivors, including Riothamus, vanished and were never heard from, again.

c.470 - Battle of Wallop (Hampshire) where Ambrosius defeats Vitalinus, head of the opposing faction. Ambrosius assumes High-kingship of Britain.

473 - Men of Kent, under Hengest, move westward, driving Britons back before them "as one flees fire."

477 - Saxon chieftain, Aelle, lands on Sussex coast with his sons. Britons engage him upon landing but his superior force drives them into the forest (Weald). Over next nine years, Saxon coastal holdings are gradually expanded in Sussex.

c.480 - "Vita Germani," the Life of St. Germanus, written by a continental biographer, Constantius.

c.485-96 - Period of Arthur's "twelve battles" during which he gains reputation for invincibility.

486 - Aelle and his sons overreach their normal territory and are engaged by Britons at battle of Mercredesburne. Battle is bloody, but indecisive, and ends with both sides pledging friendship.

c.490 - Hengest dies. His son, Aesc, takes over and rules for 34 years.

c.495 - Cerdic and Cynric, his son, land somewhere on the south coast, probably near the Hampshire-Dorset border.

c.496 - Britons, under overall command of Ambrosius and battlefield command of the "war leader" Arthur, defeat Saxons at the Siege of Mount Badon.

c.496-550 - Following the victory at Mt. Badon, the Saxon advance is halted with the invaders returning to their own enclaves. A generation of peace ensues. Corrupt leadership, more civil turmoil, public forgetfulness and individual apathy further erode Romano-British culture over next fifty years, making Britain ripe for final Saxon "picking."

c.501 - The Battle of Llongborth (probably Portsmouth), where a great British chieftain, Geraint, King of Dumnonia, was killed. Arthur is mentioned in a Welsh poem commemorating the battle.

508 - Cerdic begins to move inland and defeats British king Natanleod near present-day Southampton.

c.515 - Death of Aelle. Kingdom of Sussex passed to his son, Cissa and his descendents, but over time, diminished into insignificance.

519 - Kingdom of the West Saxons (Wessex) founded with Cerdic its first ruler.

c.530-40 - Mass migration of Celtic monks to Brittany (the "third migration").

534 - Death of Cerdic. Cynric takes kingship of Wessex.

c.540 - Probable writing of Gildas' "De Excidio Britanniae."

c.542 - Battle of Camlann, according to Annales Cambriae. Death (or unspecified other demise) of Arthur (according to Geoffrey of Monmouth).

c.547 - "Yellow" Plague hits British territories, causing many deaths. Ireland also affected. Saxons, for whatever reason, are unaffected by it.

c.570 - Probable death of Gildas.

c.600 - Welsh bard, Aneirin, writes poem, Y Gododdin, alluding to Arthur's prowess as a warrior.

c.600-700 - Original Welsh triads probably composed; only later, medieval collections survive.

c.830 - Nennius compiles Historia Brittonum.

c.890 - Compilation of Anglo Saxon Chronicle is begun, perhaps at the direction of Alfred the Great.

c.970 - Annales Cambriae compiled.

c.1019 - Earliest possible date of composition for the Legend of St. Goeznovius, a Breton legend, which, in its preface, mentions Arthur and calls him the King of the Britons. Date is disputed as some scholars think this legend should be dated later than Geoffrey of Monmouth.

c.1090 - Professional hagiographers, such as Caradoc of Llancarfan, Lifris and others, write various saints lives, some (St. Gildas, St. Padarn, St. Cadog, St. Iltud) include mentions of Arthur and his exploits.

Arthurian Timeline, Part 2

1125 - William of Malmesbury completes "Gesta Regum Anglorum" (Deeds of the Kings of England), in which he states,

    "this is that Arthur of whom the trifling of the Britons talks such nonsense, even today; a man clearly worthy not to be dreamed of in fallacious fables, but to be proclaimed in veracious histories. as one who long sustained his tottering country and gave the shattered minds of his fellow citizens an edge for war."

The "Gesta" is significant, not only for the information it contains, but also for the fact that in its later editions (the third edition was written in the 1130's), William includes long passages lifted verbatim from the "De Antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae." All original manuscripts of the "De Antiquitate" are now lost and the only ones that remain are corrupt later interpolations. These interpolations were produced with the idea of supporting Glastonbury Abbey's connections with certain legendary characters (e.g. Joseph of Arimathea, King Arthur, Melkin, St. Patrick). From the "Gesta" we can see what William had actually written in the "De Antiquitate."

c.1129 - William of Malmesbury in residence at Glastonbury Abbey, where he writes "De Antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae," a history of the abbey.

1129 - Henry of Huntingdon's "Historia Anglorum" is based on Bede, Nennius and the AngloSaxon Chronicle.

1136 - Geoffrey of Monmouth publishes the famous "Historia Regum Britanniae" (History of the Kings of Britain), in Latin. His work would be used as the standard text on British history for the next 600 years.

1139 - In a letter to Warinus, Henry of Huntingdon describes Arthur's last battle and mentions that the Bretons say that he didn't die and are still waiting for his return..

c.1145 - Geoffrey Gaimar publishes "Estoire des Angles" (History of the English), a French adaptation of Geoffrey's "History," which is now lost.

1151 - Geoffrey of Monmouth appointed to bishopric of St. Asaph in Wales, but never actually visits there.

1155 - Master (Robert) Wace completes "Roman de Brut," a version of Geoffrey's "History" in French. He dedicated his work to Eleanor of Aquitaine, the wife of Henry II, and is remembered as being the first writer to introduce the concept of the "Round Table" to the Arthurian cycle. Of Arthur, Wace says,

    "I know not if you have heard tell the marvellous gestes and errant deeds related so often of King Arthur. They have been noised about this mighty realm for so great a space that the truth has turned to fable and an idle song. Such rhymes are neither sheer bare lies, nor gospel truths. They should not be considered either an idiot's tale, or given by inspiration. The minstrel has sung his ballad, the storyteller told over his tale so frequently, little by little he has decked and painted, till by reason of his embellishment the truth stands hid in the trappings of a tale. Thus to make a delectable tune to your ear, history goes masking as fable.

c.1160-80 - Marie de France writes "Lais" (Lays), a collection of short poems. Two of the poems, "Chevrefueil" and "Lanval," include Arthurian characters and themes.

c.1160-90 - Chretien de Troyes, the greatest of the medieval romance writers, makes his five contributions to the Arthurian cycle during this period. His Arthurian works are: "Eric et Enide," "Cliges" "Le Chevalier de la Charette" (The Knight of the Cart, or Lancelot), "Yvain" (or Le Chevalier au Lion, The Knight with the Lion) and "Perceval" (Le Conte del Graal, The Story of the Graal).

Chretien's work is noteworthy, not only for its quality, but for the introduction and further development of certain characters and themes into the Arthurian literature. He is, also, the first to apply the literary form of the romance, to the transmission of the stories of Arthur.

It is Chretien who first tells us of the Grail (Graal), but he never equated it with the cup of the Last Supper or the cup used to catch the blood of Christ. The word, grail, a commonly used term in the middle ages, simply referred to a dish or plate of a particular kind. One Helinand of Froidmont wrote in the 13th century ". . .a wide and somewhat deep dish in which expensive meats are customarily placed for the rich. . .and it is commonly called a grail" (Lacy, Norris J., ed., The Arthurian Encyclopedia, Peter Bedrick Books, New York, 1986, p.257). Chretien used the grail as a symbol of beauty and mystery, but he never presented it as an object of religious devotion (the spiritual aspect was introduced by later writers).

Chretien de Troyes is remembered as the first writer to give the name of Camelot to Arthur's headquarters and capital city. He, also, is responsible for the introduction of the famous knights, Lancelot, Gawain and Perceval, into the literature of Arthurian legend.

c.1170 - Beroul, a French poet, writes "Roman de Tristan," believed to be one of the earliest extant versions of the story of Tristan and Yseult, and independent of any other versions. The story, as told by Beroul, is connected with the mainstream of Arthurian legend through its chief antagonist, King Mark of Cornwall. The mention of the church of St. Samson in Cornwall, as the wedding place of Mark and Yseult, provides some basis for localizing the legend around the area of Fowey. Dating of "Roman de Tristan" is somewhat uncertain and may have been written a few years later.

c.1175 - Thomas d'Angleterre, an Anglo-Norman, writing in England, produces poem, "Tristan," which would later inspire Gottfried von Strassburg's poem of the same name. Thomas' poem, with Beroul's, is one of only two twelfth century Old French tellings of the Tristan and Yseult story.

A writer, known as the monk of Ursicampum, enlarged the chronicle of Siegebert of Gembloux and raised, perhaps for the first time, the possibility that King Arthur may have been the historical British king Riothamus. This same equation, although in far less direct terms, was made subsequently by the writers of the "Chronicles of Anjou" and the "Salzbury Annals," and by Albericus Trium Fontium (1227-51), Martinus Polonus (c.1275), Jacques de Guise (late 14th C.) and Philippe de Vigneulles (1525). In a 1799 work called the "History of the Anglo Saxons," Sharon Turner equates Arthur with Riothamus and in modern times, Professor Leon Fleuriot and Geoffrey Ashe are the main champions of the idea.

1184 - Great fire ravages Glastonbury Abbey destroying Old Church.

1190 - Discovery of Arthur's grave between two pyramids in cemetary at Glastonbury Abbey.

c.1190 - Layamon (pronounced "lawmon"), a priest of Arley Regis, Worcestershire, publishes "Brut," an English translation of Wace into alliterative verse. Although the dating of "Brut" is uncertain, his work marks the first appearance of the Arthurian story in English.

1192-3 - Gerald of Wales visits Glastonbury, reports on exhumation of Arthur's grave in "Liber de Principis Instructione."

c.1195-1205 - Hartmann von Aue, a German court poet, produces two Arthurian romances, "Erek" and "Iwein," inspired by Chretien's "Eric et Enide" and "Yvain." Hartmann is the first to introduce Arthurian literature to Germany.

c.1198 - William of Newburgh writes "Historia Rerum Anglicarum," a history of Britain beginning with the Conquest of 1066. The preface, however, tries to place Arthur in a historical context and uses the works of Gildas and Bede to harshly criticize Geoffrey of Monmouth's claims for him, concluding that Arthur and Merlin are fictitious.

c.1200 - "The Dream of Rhonabwy," last of the Mabinogion tales to be completed, takes place in the time of the historical character, Madawg, son of Maredudd, king of Powys, who died in 1159. Tale refers to Arthur as Emperor, and compares glories of his legendary kingdom with hardships of twelfth century Wales.

c.1200-10 - Wolfram von Eschenbach, the greatest of the German epic poets, produces "Parzifal," his masterful expansion of Chretien's "Perceval." Wolfram's epic would, centuries later, become the inspiration for Wagner's 1882 opera, "Parsifal."

c.1210 - Robert de Boron, in "Joseph d'Arimathie" and "Estoire del Saint Graal," is responsible for transforming Chretien's "grail" into "The Holy Grail." Robert saw something spiritual in Chretien's secular grail and transformed it into the cup which Joseph of Arimathea allegedly used to catch the blood dripping from Christ's crucifixion wounds, and the object of many "Quests" undertaken by Arthur's knights. Robert is the first to claim that Joseph and his family brought the Grail to unspecified parts of Britain. Subsequent accounts localized it in the vicinity of Glastonbury.

Gottfried von Strassburg produces, "Tristan," the classic version of the love story, basing it on Thomas d'Angleterre's earlier poem. Wagner would use Gottfried's work as basis for his 1859 opera of the same name.

c.1210-30 - Vulgate (Lancelot-Grail) Cycle, a series of Arthurian tales, in French, which attempt to tell the whole history of the Grail and to recount the quests of the Grail knights. During this period, stories transition from verse to prose, and as change progresses, material takes on more historical and religious overtones. Cycle included: "Estoire del Saint Graal," Estoire de Merlin," "Lancelot du Lac" (also Roman du Lancelot), "Queste del Saint Graal" and "Mort Artu."

c.1216 - Gerald of Wales writes his second, and slightly different, account of the discovery of Arthur's grave in "Speculum Ecclesiae."

c.1220 - Ralph of Coggeshall mentions discovery of Arthur's grave in his "English Chronicle."

c.1250 - Mabinogion, a collection of eleven Welsh folk tales and legends (some of which mention Arthur), takes final form, although some scholars argue for a much earlier date of c.1000. Collection includes such well-known tales as Culhwch and Olwen, "The Dream of Rhonabwy," "Gereint and Enid," "The Dream of Maxen" "Branwen Daughter of Llyr," "Peredur Son of Evrawg," etc.

"Llyfr Du Caerfyrddin" (Black Book of Carmarthen) compiled. Thought to be the work of one scribe, possibly working at the Priory of St John at Carmarthen, it contains 38 items, almost all poetry, including: Englynion y Beddau, Gereint fab Erbin, religious verses and "Merlin" poems.

Interpolated version of William of Malmesbury's "De Antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae" written by Glastonbury monks (probably Adam of Domerham), including much questionable material never included in William's original work.

1278 - Edward I and Queen Eleanor of Castille visit Glastonbury Abbey to officially reinter the remains of Arthur and Guinevere in the new abbey church. King Arthur's cross is placed on top of the black marble tomb. Edward proclaims his son, Edward of Caernarvon, Prince of Wales, and positions himself as the legitimate successor of Arthur.

1300 - In Robert of Gloucester's "Chronicle" he states that the Britons of Wales had been converted to Christianity by Phagan and Deruvian (middle 2nd Century), who had built the first church in England at Glastonbury.

c.1300 - A chronicle of Margam Abbey (Wales) tells of the discovery of Arthur's grave.

1307 - Publication of Peter Langtoft's "Chronicle," which updates Geoffrey of Monmouth's "History" through Edward I's reign. In it he praises Arthur as the greatest of kings.

c.1325 - "Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch" (White Book of Rhydderch), an incomplete version of Mabinogion, contains "Culhwch and Olwen," the "Dream of Macsen Wledig" and many religious texts. A portion of the original manuscript is now lost.

c.1340 - "Joseph of Arimathie," an alliterative poem written in English, pays particular attention to Joseph's activities after the Resurrection of Christ and portrays him as an Apostolic evangelist as well as the keeper of the Grail.

c.1350 - "Cronica sive Antiquitates Glastoniensis Ecclesiae" (Chronicle or Antiquities of the Church of Glastonbury), by John Seen, a monk of Glastonbury, continuing the history of the abbey originally begun by William of Malmesbury 220 years before. Much Arthurian material is here, including an account of the discovery of his grave and a prophecy of Melkin, allegedly a 5th century British bard, in which the grail and the grave of Joseph of Arimathea are said to have been at Glastonbury.

c.1370-90 - Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales" are believed to have been written during this period. Two of the tales, the Squire's and the Wife of Bath's, make direct references to Arthurian characters or themes.

c.1400 - "Llyfr Coch Hergest" (Red Book of Hergest), the earliest complete version of the Mabinogion, is one of the most important Welsh medieval manuscripts. At 362 folios, it is the largest. The manuscript is dated between 1382 and 1410, and contains examples of many kinds of Welsh literature, excepting only the laws and religious texts. It includes: the "History of the Kings of Britain" of Geoffrey of Monmouth, "Brut y Tywysogyon," a series of Triads, "Gereint fab Erbin", "The Dream of Rhonabwy" and others. Its contents are similar to those of Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch.

c.1430 - John Capgrave, a friar at King's Lynn, Norfolk, publishes "De Sancto Joseph ab Aramathea," in which he states, quoting from an unnamed manuscript,

    "Philip sent from a Gaul a hundred and sixty disciples to assist Joseph and his companions."

But, it was not until the third edition (composed in the late 15th c.) of his "Nova Legenda Angliae," printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1516, that a life of St. Joseph of Arimathea was included.

c.1450 - Herry Lovelich's "History of the Holy Grail," the first English translation of the French Vulgate tale, "Estoire del Saint Graal." In the Vulgate, Josephes, Joseph's son is the protagonist in the British portion of the tale. In Lovelich's version, the emphasis is switched to Joseph of Arimathea and his conversion activities in Britain, but his connection with the Grail is diminished. "Llyfr Gwyn Hergest" (the White Book of Hergest) may have been a manuscript of some importance. Several descriptions of its contents indicate that it contained: "Y Bibyl Ynghymraec," the "Laws," a copy of the "Statute of Rhuddlan," and strict metre poetry. It was destroyed by fire in the nineteenth century. Partial transcripts are preserved in both the British Library and the National Library of Wales.

1465 - John Hardyng completes his "Chronicle," blending Glastonbury and Grail traditions in the process. He connects Arthur and Joseph of Arimathea, whom he credits with constructing the original Round Table. The "Chronicle" brings Joseph to Britain in 76 AD, after a 42 year period of imprisonment, and attributes to him the conversion of the land to Christianity. Hardyng's work is an indication of the extent to which the Glastonbury traditions of Joseph and Arthur had integrated themselves into the mainstream.

1469-70 - Completion of "Morte d'Arthur" by Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revel, Warwichshire, while in London's Newgate Prison. Malory's work is the definitive English Arthurian romance and embodies many earlier French and Welsh tradtitions. He accepts Joseph of Arimathea's association with Glastonbury, but distances him from the Grail.

1482 - "Polychronicon," the most popular source of world history available in England, published by Ranulf Higden, a Benedictine monk from Cheshire. In it he questioned Geoffrey of Monmouth's basis for his claims of Arthur's continental conquests.

1485 - William Caxton's first printing of Malory's "Morte d'Arthu," giving wider circulation to the Glastonbury, Arthur and Joseph traditions.
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Robin Barquenast
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2014, 05:51:09 pm »

c.1533-39 - "Itinerary," the modern title given to the collection of notes made by John Leland, Henry VIII's court antiquary, during his extensive travels for the purpose of documenting the historical treasures of England. There are several items of Arthurian significance: in his notes on the county of Somerset, Leland relates a tradition equating the ancient hillfort, Cadbury Castle, with King Arthur's Camelot; also in Somerset, Leland tells us that "a bridge of four stone arches which is known as Pomparles (over the River Brue near Glastonbury) is the place where, "according to legend, that King Arthur cast his sword into it;" in his Cornwall notes, Leland discusses a river in the Camelford area. He says, "in some histories it is called Cablan. It was beside this river that Arthur fought his last battle (Camlann), and evidence of this, in the form of bones and harness, is uncovered when the site is ploughed."

1534 - Polydore Vergil completes "Anglica Historia" in which he is critical of Geoffrey of Monmouth's history, in general, and his portrayal of Arthur, in particular. He even goes so far as to question Arthur's existence.

1539 - Dissolution of Glastonbury Abbey, after which Arthur's burial cross is said to have lain in the "Reverstry" of St. John Baptist, Glastonbury (according to a late 17th century document, Bodleian Rawlinson B.416A, folio 10v) for approximately a hundred years.

1544 - Leland publishes "Assertio Inclytissimi Arturii" (Assertions of the Renowned Arthur), a compilation of most of the archaeological and literary evidence for King Arthur, as it was known in Tudor England. Here, Leland notes the inscription on the burial cross, allegedly belonging to King Arthur's grave, found at Glastonbury. The editor of the "Assertio" commented that "his disquisition upon Arthur is more notable for heat than light."

1599 - Edmund Spenser dies leaving his Arthurian poem, "The Faerie Queene," unfinished. In it Arthur portrays "magnanimity," to Spenser's mind, the leading virtue.

1607 - Publication of William Camden's "Britannia," including illustrations of King Arthur's Burial Cross.

c.1650 - Puritans chop down original Glastonbury Thorn on Wearyall Hill, said to have grown from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea, which, legend says, he planted upon his arrival there in AD 63.

1691 - "King Arthur," an opera written by John Dryden with music by Henry Purcell, told the tale of Arthur's battles with the (fictitious) Saxon leader, Oswald.

1695, 1697 - Richard Blackmore writes "Prince Arthur" and "King Arthur," two transparently allegorical verse epics incorporating Christian moral themes. In the poems, Arthur is William III; his antagonist, Octa, is James II, and so on.

c.1700-20 - The burial cross of King Arthur vanishes from history in the early 18th century. It was last known to be in the possession of one William Hughes, Chancellor of the cathedral of Wells.

1808 - In the preface to William Blake's "Milton," the poet writes:

    And did those feet in ancient time
    Walk upon England's mountains green?
    And was the Holy Lamb of God
    On England's pleasant pastures seen?

    And did the countenance divine
    Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
    And was Jerusalem builded here
    Among these dark satanic mills?

    Bring me my bow of burning gold!
    Bring me my arrows of desire!
    Bring me spear! O clouds, unfold!
    Bring me my chariots of fire!

    I will not cease from mental flight,
    Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
    Till we have built Jerusalem
    In England's green and pleasant land.

It is believed that Blake's words hark back to old tradtions which said that Joseph of Arimathea brought the boy, Jesus, to England in the time, unaccounted for in the Bible, between his 12th and 30th years of age.

These words were later made famous in a hymn entitled, "Jerusalem." The words were set to music in 1916, by the English composer Hubert Hastings Parry, and later orchestrated by Sir Edward Elgar in 1922. "Jerusalem" was first performed at a Votes for Women concert in 1916.

1809 - Sir Walter Scott anonymously publishes "The Bridal of Triermain," a curious blending of Arthurian legend and the Sleeping Beauty story.

1822 - William Wordsworth writes "The Egyptian Maid," a poem featuring Merlin and the Lady of the Lake.

1840 - Arthurian poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Merlin I" and " Merlin II".

c.1850-c.1900 - Gothic Revival inspired many poetic and literary works based on Arthur and Arthurian themes and embodying Victorian moral attitudes and neo-chivalric enthusiasms. Some of the many artists and their works are listed below:

    Matthew Arnold: "Tristram and Iseult"

    Gustave Dore: French illustrator, produced a collection of thirty-six drawings to illustrate an edition of Tennyson's "Idylls of the King."

    William Morris: "The Defense of Guinevere," "King Arthur's Tomb," "Sir Galahad, A Christmas Mystery," " The Chapel in Lyonesse," "Near Avalon"

    Dante Gabriel Rossetti: " God's Graal," an unfinished poem: "King Arthur's Tomb," "Lancelot's Vision of the Sangreal," "Sir Tristram and La Belle Yseult Drink the Love Potion," paintings in the pre-Raphaelite style.

    Algernon Charles Swinburne: "Queen Yseult," "Joyeuse Garde," "Tristram of Lyonesse," "The Tale of Balen," "The Day Before the Trial," "Lancelot."

    Alfred Lord Tennyson: "The Lady of Shalott," "Sir Galahad," "Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere: A Fragment," "Morte d'Arthur," "The Idylls of the King," a cycle of Arthurian poems.

1859 - Richard Wagner completes the opera, "Tristan und Isolde."

1882 - Wagner's opera, "Parsifal," is performed.

1889 - Mark Twain publishes "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court."

1893-4 - Aubrey Beardsley contributes over 400 black and white drawings to illustrate John M. Dent's edition of Malory's Morte d' Arthur.

1903-10 - Howard Pyle illustrates "The Story of King Arthur and His Knights" and other similar stories.

1917 - N.C.Wyeth, star student of Howard Pyle, illustrates "The Boy's King Arthur," an abridgement of Malory.

1923 - Thomas Hardy writes "The Queen of Cornwall," a one-act play based on the Tristan and Isolde story.

1930-44 - Charles Williams produces most important modern reinterpretations of Arthurian mythology in "War in Heaven" (1930), "Taliessin Through Logres" (1938), and "The Region of the Summer Stars" (1944). The three works cover the entire breadth of the traditional Arthurian story, making them into a moral epic of cosmic proportions. Williams deemphasizes the Guinevere-Lancelot affair, and instead focuses on the mystical aspects of the grail quest, comparing it to human spiritual development.

1945 - C.S. Lewis concludes his Space Trilogy with "That Hideous Strength," a tale replete with Arthurian motifs and "grail" characters.

1952 - Lewis publishes "Arthurian Torso," a "double" volume containing his friend, Charles Williams', previously unpublished "Figure of Arthur" and Lewis' commentary, "Williams and the Arthuriad."

1953 - T.H.White completes the "Once and Future King."

1960 - "Camelot," a Lerner and Lowe musical stageplay based on T.H. White's "Once and Future King," is performed on Broadway, starring Richard Burton as King Arthur and Robert Goulet as Lancelot. A Film version, starring Richard Harris as Arthur and Franco Nero as Lancelot, appeared in 1967. Camelot was brought back on stage, this time starring Goulet as Arthur, in a Summer Stock tour of 1996.

1962 - "Castle Dor," an updated version (19th century) of the Tristan and Isolde story originally begun by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1863-1944), was completed from his notes by Daphne du Maurier.

1963 - "Sword at Sunset" by Rosemary Sutcliff, a realistic telling of the Arthurian story from his own viewpoint.

1975 - "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," jokingly said by Geoffrey Ashe to be the most realistic of all celluloid Arthurian depictions, stars Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.

1977 - "The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights," John Steinbeck's attempt at a modernization of Malory, is published posthumously.

1978 - Mary Stewart completes her trilogy of novels focusing on Merlin, "The Crystal Cave" (1970), "The Hollow Hills" (1973) and "The Last Enchantment" (1978).

1981 - "Excalibur," an excellent adaptation of Malory by John Boorman, stars Nicol Williamson as Merlin.

1982 - "The Mists of Avalon," by Marion Zimmer Bradley, adds a new wrinkle to the Arthurian story, by telling it from the point of view of the women involved in the tale: Igraine, wife of Gorlois; Morgaine, the daughter of Igraine and Gorlois; Morgause, Igraine's younger sister; Viviane, the Lady of the Lake and Gwenhwyfar, Arthur's Queen.

1995 - "A Kid in King Arthur's Court," a Disney film recalling Mark Twain's story of a modern who is transported back in time to the days of King Arthur.

1995 - "First Knight," a slick Hollywood production starring Sean Connery as Arthur and Richard Gere as Lancelot.

1998 - "Merlin," a TV mini-series produced by Robert Halmi, starring Sam Neill in the title role; loosely following Geoffrey of Monmouth in some parts and in others, purely original. Nice scenery, interesting characterization of Merlin, great special effects, but a bit too Hollywood.

"Arthurian" Inscription Found at Tintagel - On 6th August 1998, English Heritage revealed that during the last week of digging on the Eastern terraces of Tintagel Island, a broken piece of Cornish slate (8" by 14") was discovered bearing the name "Artognov". It was excavated on July 4th, by Kevin Brady, an archaeologist working with a team from Glasgow University (Scotland). "As the stone came out, when I saw the letters A-R-T, I thought uh-oh..."

The stone apparently bears two inscriptions. The upper strongly incized letters have been broken off and are sadly indecipherable. The lower inscription, though fainter, clearly reads "Pater Coliavificit Artognov", which Professor Charles Thomas of Exeter University has carefully translated as "Artognou, father of a descendant of Coll, has had this built". Possibly written by a Gaulish hand, the style of writing is certainly 6th century, a date confirmed by surrounding fragments of 6th century Mediterranean pottery already well known from the Tintagel site. Also found nearby was the remains of the only Spanish glass flagon known from this period of Britain's history. Chris Morris, who has been leading the Scottish based excavation team for the past eight years, believes that the dedicatory "Arthur Stone," as it has already been christened, was placed in the wall of a 6th century stone building which later collapsed soon after it was built. The slate was then reused as drain cover a century later.

Though "Artognou" (pronounced arth-new) proves that names similar to that of the great King existed in the, so called, Arthurian period, Chris Morris is sceptical about making too much of the obvious link with King Arthur's traditional birthplace. He believes the stone's importance lies in the fact that it is "the first evidence we have that the skills of reading and writing were handed down in a non-religious context". However, Dr Geoffrey Wainwright, chief archaeologist at the, normally cautious, English Heritage declared the newly discovered link should not be dismissed. "Tintagel has presented us with evidence of a Prince of Cornwall, in the Dark Ages, living in a high-status domestic settlement at the time Arthur lived. It has given us the name of a person, Arthnou. Arthnou was here, that is his name on a piece of stone. It is a massive coincidence at the very least. This is where myth meets history. It's the find of a lifetime."

Adrian Gilbert publicises the work of Blackett & Wilson by publishing his 'the Holy Kingdom'.

2000 - Publication of 'The Keys to Avalon' in which Blake & Lloyd attempt to relocate all Arthurian locations in Wales.

2001 - "The Mists of Avalon," a TV mini-series based on the 1982 book by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Beautiful photography and evocative music highlight this Turner Network Television (TNT) production featuring Oscar winner Anjelica Huston, Emmy winner Julianna Margulies and two-time Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee Joan Allen. According to press materials, the series "delves into the romance, bravery and deceit linking the characters of Arthur's Kingdom and exalts the powerful women behind the throne of King Arthur," but in actuality it merely pretends to significance and provides no analysis or insight, at all. In one of the great casting mistakes of all time (rivaling the decision to allow Kevin Costner to play Robin Hood), Arthur is portrayed as a weak, sniveling little wimp (or, perhaps, the decision was intentional given the obvious gender orientation of the program). Much emphasis seems to be placed on promoting goddess worship and in a telling scene at the end of the film, a statue of the Virgin Mary is said to be nothing more than a christianized version of the old goddess.

Establishment of the 'Centre for Arthurian Studies' at the North-East Wales Institute for Higher Education in Wrexham, co-founded by Steve Blake and Scott Lloyd, co-authors of "The Keys of Avalon" (2000) which claims to reveal the "true location of Arthur's kingdom."

2003 - "The Mystery of King Arthur, Vol. 1" is released. A Mick Fowler Productions/British History Club History Club enterprise, this series of DVD's explores Arthurian history and legend as has never been done before on-screen.

2004 - "King Arthur," a Jerry Bruckheimer film, is released with much fanfare and high expectations. The film, while likable enough as pure entertainment, takes impermissible liberties with history and legend (which is really what the film was supposed to be about). Case in point are Arthur's horse soldiers. Historically, these were troops conscripted out of eastern Europe (Sarmatia) by the Romans and sent to remotest Britain to shore up the island's defenses. Their Roman commander is said to have been one Lucius Artorius Castus, the central character in a not-too-widely-held scholarly theory that casts him as the original figure behind the legend of King Arthur (see timeline entry for 184 AD). One problem with this is that these cavalrymen lived in Britain in the latter half of the second century, 300ish years before the movie was supposed to have taken place, and another is that, in the 180's, the Saxons hadn't arrived in Britain, yet, and wouldn't need battling for a long time to come.

Producer Bruckheimer, in his quest to be creatively original, also for the first time in history and legend sees fit to transform the reliably feminine figure of Guinevere into a painted-up, Celtic shield-maiden, fully the equal of any of her male co-combatants in the "manly" arts of war. He might have gotten away with this, had the naturally willowy actress, Keira Knightley, had the physique to make us believe -- but she didn't -- and, as a result, we're left conflicted with memories of what should have been our always-delicate Guinevere, rampaging around a dark age battlefield clad in some of the most improbably revealing and non-protective battle gear in the long history of warfare.

In our view, however glad Arthurians worldwide might have been when they heard that yet another attempt was going to be made by a major Hollywood talent to do justice to their favorite legendary character, they are surely disappointed, now, at having seen just another tarted-up, Hollywood summer "blockbuster".

The release period (late June - early July) was sprinkled with programs attempting to provide serious analysis of the film, "King Arthur", and the man behind the legend. The History Channel had two such shows, totaling 3 hours of air time and ABC-TV had a 20 minute segment on its PrimeTime Friday "20/20" show. The best of the bunch was clearly the History Channel's "Quest for King Arthur" (June 20th), featuring Arthurian academic luminaries Geoffrey Ashe ("The Discovery of King Arthur" and Secretary of the Camelot Research Committee [see entry for 1966-70]), Christopher Snyder ("The World of King Arthur"), Bonnie Wheeler (Editor of the publication, "Arthuriana") and Jeremy Adams (noted medieval historian from Yale and SMU). Although much material was presented that could've been confusing to the uninitiated, this was probably the most authoritative and satisfying treatment of Arthur's historical and legendary background ever done for television...but, then again, all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't make the "King Arthur" film into anything more than another swashbuckling knight movie.

2005 - IBM's business consulting division trades on Arthur's reputation for wisdom and integrity in a series of TV commercials which portray Arthur as a dark-age CEO eliciting advice from his board members (knights) on a series of timeless, but confounding administrative problems.

2006 - The book, "The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived: How Characters of Fiction, Myth, Legends, Television, and Movies Have Shaped Our Society, Changed Our Behavior, and Set the Course of History", is released in paperback. King Arthur comes in at #3, behind "The Marlboro Man" at #1 and George Orwell's "Big Brother" at #2 and just ahead of #4 Santa Claus
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Robin Barquenast
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2014, 05:51:39 pm »
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Robin Barquenast
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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2014, 05:53:31 pm »

The Land of the Mighty
is in bloody strife and turmoil.

"Hear the tides of the godless Saxons,
bringing death and fire.
Hear the silent supplication
of our dead.

"Where are our brave warriors
of the shining helms,
To free us
from pain and shackles?

"Our tears and entreaties
To restore our pride and dignity
remain unheeded.

Why do you mock our prayers, O Lord,
With only a beardless boy
and a sword
As our protectors?"

— Prayers Answered,
from the Book of Heroes.
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