After the Flood, by Bill Cooper


Chapter 5

History of the Early British Kings


What follows is a summary of the history of the early kings of the early Britons as it is given in both Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Welsh chronicles. It is a recorded history that was consigned to oblivion after the massacre, at the instigation of Augustine, of the British monks at Bangor in AD 604 and was thus entirely unknown or ignored by the later Saxon and Norman chroniclers of England. Consequently, it came to be generally and unquestioningly assumed amongst English scholars by the 16th and 17th centuries that no such record had ever existed, and that works such as Geoffrey of Monmouth's or the Welsh chronicle were forgeries and fairy tales. That opinion persists today. We have seen, however, in the previous chapter how these records enjoy a great deal of historical vindication in spite of modernism's cursory and fashionable dismissal of them. But here, plain and unadorned, is the story that the chronicles themselves tell, a story that no child will have learnt at his desk in any school of this land. It spans over two thousand years, and its survival to the present day, being little short of a miracle, is a tribute to those Welsh scholars of old who recognised its importance and preserved it entire for our reading.

Amongst the ancient records that the Britons themselves left behind, there is preserved (in Nennius at least) a list of the ancestors of the early British kings as they were counted generation by generation back to Japheth, the son of Noah. But the history of the Britons as a distinct nation had its beginnings with the fall of Troy, and it is at this point that Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Welsh chronicles take up the story.

Anchises, known to us from other histories, fled with his son, Aeneas, from the burning ruins of Troy, and they made their way to the land that is nowadays called Italy, settling with their people on the banks of the river Tiber around what was later to become Rome. The indigenous population was ruled over by Latinus who received Aeneas and his people with kindness and hospitality, in return for which Aeneas defeated Latinus' foe, Turnus, king of the Rutuli. He then married the daughter of Latinus, Lavinia, from which union came Aeneas Silvius who later rose to rule over all the tribes of Italy. But it was through the line of his brother Ascanius that the royal lineage was presently to be perpetuated, and of this line was born Ascanius' son Silvius. Silvius seduced an unnamed niece of his grandfather's wife, Lavinia, and it was from their union that his son Brutus was born. The mother of Brutus died whilst giving birth to him, and when he was a lad of fifteen years, Brutus accidentally shot his father dead with an arrow whilst out hunting. For having caused the deaths of both his parents, thus fulfilling a prophecy concerning him, Brutus was exiled out of Italy, the royal line of Aeneas passing into the hands of another. And it is at this point that the history of the Britons as a distinct nation begins.

Brutus journeyed from Italy to Greece, and there he came into contact with certain slaves. These were the descendants of the soldiers who had fought against Greece in the Trojan Wars of the 13th century BC. They had been enslaved by Priam, son of Achilles, 'in vengeance for his father's death', and were subsequently to continue their slavery under Pandrasus, king of the Dorian Greeks. Learning that he was descended from their own ancient kings, the Trojans accepted Brutus into their fellowship and elected him as their leader, and under him they successfully rose against their captors. Defeating Pandrasus in battle, they set sail to look for a land in which to settle. Sailing their fleet out of the Mediterranean between the Pillars of Hercules (the Straits of Gibraltar), they came across another group of Trojans led by Corineus, who were likewise escaping abroad from their captors. They combined forces and landed in Gaul with Brutus being acclaimed as their overall king. There they fought and defeated the Picts under king Goffar (Koffarffichti--Goffar the Pict--in the Welsh). The Trojans again set sail, and came ashore at Totnes in Devon at some time in the 12th century BC. The land and its people were subsequently to derive their names from Brutus. Then Brutus founded the city of Trinovantum, or New Troy, which was later to become the city of London. Brutus, the first king of the Britons, reigned over his people in this island for twenty three years, i.e. from ca 1104-1081 BC.

Amongst the spoils that Brutus had taken from Greece was Ignoge, the daughter of Pandrasus, whom he wedded and who was to bear him three sons, Locrinus, Kamber and Albanactus. Upon the death of Brutus, Kamber and Albanactus inherited Wales (Cambria) and Scotland (Albany) respectively, and Locrinus became king of Loegria, the land named after him, which consisted of present-day England minus Cornwall. (The modern Welsh still know England as Loegria). Cornwall was ruled over by Corineus whose daughter, Gwendolen, Locrinus had married. Locrinus, however, had also taken another wife, Estrildis, whom he hid for fear of Corineus. But as soon as Corineus was dead, he made Estrildis his queen and put away Gwendolen, his lawful wife. In vengeance, Gwendolen raised an army in her father's kingdom of Cornwall, killing Locrinus in the ensuing battle. Estrildis and her daughter Habren were drowned on Gwendolen's orders, and Gwendolen herself went on to rule Loegria for the next fifteen years. Then, in ca 1056 BC, she abdicated in favour of her son Maddan and retired to her native Cornwall where she died.

Little is said of Maddan other than that he ruled the land for forty years, i.e. from ca 1056-1016 BC. His sons, on his death, contended for the throne, Main his younger son being murdered by Mempricius, the elder. Mempricius (Meinbyr in the Welsh chronicle) became a noted tyrant who abandoned his wife in pursuit of unnatural vices, and he generally misruled the kingdom. Then, in the twentieth year of his reign, in about 996 BC, he was separated from his companions in a hunting party and was eaten by wolves.

He was succeeded by Ebraucus (Welsh Efrawc) who reigned for the next thirty-nine years from ca 996-957 BC. In an eventful and fondly remembered reign, Ebraucus sacked Gaul and founded the city named after him, Kaerbrauc, which the later Romans were to Latinize as Eboracum, present-day York. On his death, he was succeeded by Brutus Greenshield (Bryttys darian las in the Welsh chronicle) who reigned for the next twelve years until ca 945 BC. Then Leil succeeded to the throne. He founded the city of Kaerleil which still bears his name (Carlisle), but he was a weak and vacillating king whose twenty-five year reign ended in ruin and civil-war.

His son Hudibras, (Run baladr bras in the Welsh), who came to the throne in ca 920 BC, re-established peace in the realm and went on to rule Loegria for the next thirty-nine years. A great builder, he founded the cities of Kaerreint (Canterbury), Kaerguenit (Winchester), and Paladur (Shaftesbury). He was succeeded by his son, Bladud, in ca 881 BC, who ruled the land for twenty years. During that time, he founded the city of Kaerbadum (Bath), the hot springs of which were thought to cure leprosy. At his commandment, necromancy, communicating with the dead, was practised throughout the kingdom, and he was eventually killed in a misguided attempt to fly. At his death, Leir his son took the crown, and he was to enjoy a reign of sixty years, which lasted from ca 861-801 BC. He founded the city of Kaerleir (Leicester) and lost his kingdom when he attempted to divide it amongst his three daughters. Shakespeare tells the story in his celebrated play, King Lear.

Leir's youngest daughter, Cordelia, inherited the crown on her father's death and ruled the land in peace for five years. She was then deposed by her sisters and committed suicide in prison. Marganus I (Morgan in the Welsh) then took the kingdom in the year 796 BC, sharing the kingdom with his cousin Cunedagius (Kynedda). Marganus ruled the land north of the Humber, and Cunedagius ruled the south. Marganus, during the fighting that arose between them, was pursued into Wales by Cunedagius and slain at the place named after him, Margam near present-day Port Talbot. Cunedagius then ruled the whole kingdom for the next thirty-three years. He was succeeded in 761 BC by Rivallo (Rriallon), who reigned wisely and frugally. His reign was particularly remembered for a rain of blood, a great swarm of flies and a plague that took a heavy toll of the population. At his death in 743 BC, there followed the reigns of four kings of whom little is said save their names and their order of succession. And then, in the year 663 BC, Gorboduc (Gwrvyw in the Welsh) came to the throne. In old age he became senile, his dotage giving rise to much quarrelling over the succession between his two sons, Ferrex and Porrex. In the event, Gorboduc was to become the last king of the royal line of Brutus to reign over the Britons.

Gorboduc's queen, Judon was caused much grief over her quarrelling sons. On learning that Porrex had killed Ferrex, her favourite of the two, she became insane and later murdered Porrex in his sleep by hacking him to pieces. (Other accounts tell how she was tied in a sack and thrown into the Thames for the murder of her son). The land was then plunged into the political chaos of a two hundred year civil war. The outcome of the civil war was decided by a final conflict between five kings altogether, and from it all, in ca 440 BC, emerged Pinner, the king of Loegria. He was later slain in a battle by his successor but one, Dunvallo, in about the year 430 BC. Dunvallo's father, Cloten (Klydno in the Welsh), who was the king of Cornwall, ruled for ten years and was finally succeeded by his son, Dunvallo Molmutius (Dyfual moel myd). During a forty-year reign, he codified the Molmutine Laws, a law-code which Geoffrey of Monmouth tells us was still famed and revered in his own day, and which, surprisingly, still survives. (See Probert's Ancient Laws of Cambria. 1823). Crimes of violence were virtually unheard of in his kingdom, such was the severity of punishment meted out to such criminals while he was on the throne. Dunvallo's eldest son, Belinus (the Great), then ruled the kingdom from ca 380-374 BC. He ruled Loegria, Cambria and Cornwall. His brother Brennius held Northumbria and Albany, and eventually led the Celtic sack of Rome in ca 390 BC. Belinus eventually defeated Brennius in battle, and so came to rule all Britain. Geoffrey tells us that Belinus was a great road-builder, and that Billingsgate in London was built by and named after him. In an eventful reign, Belinus subdued the then king of Denmark, exacting from him a great tribute.

He was succeeded by Gurguit (Gwrgant Varf Drwch), whose reign lasted from ca 374-369 BC. The son and successor of Belinus, Gurguit was renowned as a man of peace and justice. During Gurguit's reign, the king of Denmark withdrew the tribute that Belinus had exacted of him, and Gurguit promptly invaded Denmark to assert his authority there. It was during his return from Denmark that Gurguit is said to have intercepted the ships of Partholan and his fellow exiles. He is then stated to have assigned to Partholan the otherwise uninhabited land of Ireland. (This, however, leads us to a problem in chronology. A suggested solution to this is offered in a later chapter.) Gurguit died peacefully and he lies buried in the city of Caerleon-on-Usk. His son Guithelin (Kyhylyn) then held the crown from ca 369-363 BC. Guithelin was a noted and benevolent ruler. He married Marcia, a learned woman who codified the Marcian Laws, the Lex Martiana. Alfred the Great was later to translate the code as the Mercian Laws, believing them to have been named after the much later Saxon kingdom of Mercia.

Queen Marcia ruled Britain for about five years after Guithelin's death because of their son's minority. But he, Sisillius (Saessyllt), came to the throne in ca 358 BC on her death, ruling for the next six years. His reign was followed by those of his sons Kinarius and Danius, and then Morvidus, his great nephew, inherited the crown. Morvidus (Morydd), who ruled from ca 341-336 BC, was the illegitimate son of Danius and Tanguesteaia, but he became king on his father's death. An otherwise heroic ruler, he was noted and feared due to the merciless cruelty that he showed towards those whom he defeated in battle. After one particular attempted invasion of his kingdom, Morvidus, against all the laws of the Celtic Britons regarding warfare, personally put to death many prisoners of war. 'When he became so exhausted that he had to give up for a time, he ordered the remainder to be skinned alive, and in this state he had them burnt'. During his reign, reports of a monstrous animal wreaking havoc in the west reached the king. (In Geoffrey of Monmouth's original Latin, the creature is called a Belua.) With typical, if hasty, bravado Morvidus fought the beast alone, but the monster killed him, and devoured his corpse 'as if he had been a tiny fish.'

Gorbonianus (Gwrviniaw) followed Morvidus in ca 336 BC. He was much renowned for his goodness as a ruler, and was succeeded by Archgallo (Arthal) who reigned from ca 330 -326 BC. He was the very opposite of his elder brother Gorbonianus, and such was his tyranny that he was eventually deposed by the nobility of the realm. His younger brother, Elidurus, was elected king in his place. He was surnamed The Dutiful because of the compassion that he showed towards his deposed elder brother. Elidurus exercised this compassion to the point of abdicating after about five years in favour of a now reformed Archgallo, whose subsequent behaviour as king was a complete reversal of his former reign. Archgallo died after about ten years, at which point Elidurus resumed the crown. However, his reign was to be interrupted once again.

His two younger brothers, Ingenius and Peredurus, rebelled and incarcerated Elidurus in a tower. Dividing the land between them, Ingenius ruled the south whilst Peredurus ruled north of the Humber. Ingenius died seven years later, and Peredurus went on to reign over the whole island for a further three years, being known as a wise and beneficent king. He died in ca 296 BC, and Elidurus came to the throne for a third time. At this point, the order of succession becomes rather complicated, with cousin succeeding cousin. Finally the succession seems to settle down to a father-son order, at least for the next thirty-one reigns, the short length of the average reign (5-6 years) indicating political turmoil for that period of one hundred and seventy years or so, until the accession of Heli (Beli Mawr in the Welsh) in about the year 113 BC. He ruled for forty years until 73 BC when his son Lud became king. Lud rebuilt the city that Brutus had founded and had named New Troy, and renamed it Kaerlud, the city of Lud, after his own name. The name of the city was later corrupted to Kaerlundein, which the Romans took up as Londinium, hence London. At his death, Lud was buried in an entrance to the city that still bears his name, Ludgate. His youngest brother, Nennius (Nynnyaw), fought hand to hand with Julius Caesar on the latter's invasion of Britain in the year 55 BC. The Romans had been trying to set up camp in the Thames estuary when the Britons fell upon them by surprise. Although Nennius was forced away from Caesar by other soldiers, he did manage to capture the emperor's sword. Escaping, Nennius died of his wounds fifteen days later and was buried beside the northern entrance to Trinovantum (modern Bishopsgate in London?). The sword that he took as spoils, and which he had named Yellow Death, was buried with him. But the man who was actually king of the Britons when Caesar landed, was Cassivelaunus (Kasswallawn) who reigned from ca 58-38 BC. Betrayed by Androgeus, his brother Lud's eldest son, Cassivelaunus was eventually starved into submission when the Romans laid siege to his fort.

He was succeeded by Tenvantius, known in other histories as Tasciovanus, who reigned from ca 38-18 BC. And then he was followed by Cymbeline (Kynvelyn who reigned ca 18 BC-AD 12). Known to the Romans as Cunobelinus, he was the son and heir of Tenvantius. Cymbeline had received a Roman upbringing in the Imperial household, and on his succession to the British crown, he reigned for ten years. (His reign was. immortalised in Shakespeare's play, Cymbeline.) The man who succeeded him was Guiderius (Gwydr) who reigned from ca AD 12 - 43. On inheriting the crown, he promptly refused toamp; pay tribute to Rome. The emperor Claudius, on his invasion of Britain in the year AD 43, was attacked by Guiderius' forces at Portchester. During the attack, Guiderius was betrayed and killed. Arvirargus next took the crown reigning from ca AD 43-57. Taking command of the British forces on the death of his brother Guiderius, Arvira emerged as victor from a major skirmish with Claudius' troops. He eventually ruled Britain as the emperor's puppet-king. At his death, he was interred at Gloucester. Marius (Mayric) came next, and ruled from ca AD 57-97. Inheriting the crown from his father, Marius enjoyed friendly relations with Rome. During his reign, he defeated and killed Soderic, king of the Picts, in a great battle. The present county of Westmorland was so named in Marius' honour because of the battle, and Marius accordingly had an inscribed stone set up in the county commemorating his victory.

Coilus, his son, then ruled. He had been raised and educated as a Roman. Coilus was to rule his kingdom in peace and prosperity, being succeeded by his son Lucius. Taking up the crown on his father Coilus' death, Lucius was to send to Rome for teachers of the Christian faith. He in turn passed on the crown to Geta, a son of the Roman Severus. He was elected king of the Britons by the Roman Senate. He was eventually killed by his half-brother Bassianus who reigned from ca AD 221-256. Like Geta, he was a son of Severus, but by a British noblewoman. The Britons elected Bassianus king after he had killed his half-brother. Carausius then took the crown. After raising a fleet of ships with the blessing of the Roman Senate, Carausius invaded Britain. He compelled the Britons to proclaim him king, and killed Bassianus in the ensuing battle. He was eventually murdered by the Roman legate, Allectus, and it was during Allectus' time that a Briton once more held the throne.

Asclepiodotus (Alyssglapitwlws) reigned from ca AD 296-306. He had held the kingdom of Cornwall when he was elected overall king by the Britons. His election to the throne an attempt by the Britons to break the tyranny of the Allectus. Under Allectus, Livius Gallus held the city of London. In the ensuing siege, after he had killed Allectus outside the city, Asclepiodotus promised the Romans that all the garrison would be spared if they surrendered without further resistance. This was agreed to, although the Venedoti men of Gwynedd in Wales decided to put the Romans to by beheading them all. The heads were thrown into the stream called Nantgallum in the British tongue after the name of Livius Gallus. The later Saxons, still perpetuating the Roman leader's name, knew it as Galabroc, and today this name has been further corrupted to Waibrook. As an aside, in the 1860s a large number of skulls were excavated from the bed of the Waibrook before it was built over, being the remnants no doubt of this massacre. It was during the reign of Asclepiodotus that the Diocletian Persecution began in AD 303.

Asclepiodotus was finally defeated and killed by the king whose name has been immortalised in the nursery rhyme, Coel (Old King Cole), who reigned from ca AD 306-309. Known in other histories as Coel Hen Godhebog, Coel founded the city of Colchester that still bears his name (Kaercolim). His daughter, Helen, was married to Constantius, a Roman Senator, who was sent to Britain as legate. He became king on Coel's death. He in turn was succeeded by his son Constantine (I), who ruled Britain from ca AD 312-37. He went on to become the famous emperor of Rome who legalised the Christian religion. Octavius (Eydaf) took the crown in Constantine's absence at Rome, ruling during the periods of ca AD 330-335 and 335-348. He revolted whilst Constantine was in Rome, and assumed the British crown. In AD 348, he was succeeded by Maximianus (Maxen Wledic), the nephew of Coel, who held the crown by virtue of that descent. He eventually left Britain to rule in Gaul and Germany, making Caradocus (Kradawc) king of the Britons in his stead in about the year AD 362. He was later assassinated in Rome (AD 375) by one of the friends of his successor but one, Gracianus. Dionotus (unnamed in the Welsh chronicle) of the kingdom of Cornwall took the crown of Britain and ruled from ca AD 375-389. Then Gracianus reigned from ca AD 389-402. He was originally sent to Britain by Maximianus to fight off an invasion of the Picts and Huns. However, upon successfully repelling the invaders he assumed the crown and ordered the murder of Maximianus. He was later himself to suffer death at the hands of an assassin.

Constanine (II) (Kystennin) then ruled from ca AD 402 -420, having invaded Britain at the request of Guithelinus, the Archbishop of London, and was crowned king at Silchester. He was murdered by an unknown Pict. He was then succeeded by Constans (Konstant Vynarch), ca AD 420-437, Constantine II's eldest son, who had tried to avoid the perils of the crown by becoming a monk at Winchester. He was forcibly removed from the monastery and crowned by Vortigern who, however, later ordered his murder. Vortigern himself (Gwrtheyrn Gwrthenav) ruled for two periods, ca AD 437-455 and 460-480. It was Vortigern who invited the Saxon adventurers, Hengist and Horsa, to Britain to help fight the Picts. At this point, his son Vortimer took over the kingdom, expelling the Saxons after four notable battles, one of them being the battle of Aylesford in Kent where his brother Katigern was slain. Vortimer was eventually poisoned on the orders of his father's new wife, the daughter of Hengist, and Vortigern once again resumed the crown. After a disastrous reign during which the Britons began to lose their land irretrievably to the Saxons, Vortigern was burned alive in a tower by Aurelius Ambrosius. This king (Emrys Wledic in the Welsh) reigned from ca AD 480-501. Surnamed Ainbrosius, he was too young at the death of Constans in AD 437 to take up the crown. He was therefore smuggled abroad, and was raised in the household of king Budicius of Britanny. Eventually declared king of Britain, Ambrosius killed Vortigern and forced the Saxons to retreat to Albany (Scotland), at the same time capturing and executing Hengist at Kaerconan, present-day Conisborough. He was eventually poisoned by Eoppa the Saxon on the orders of Paschent, the youngest son of Vortigern.

Aurelius Ambrosius was succeeded in ca AD 501 by his brother, Uther Pendragon. Named Uther at birth, he was king of the Silures. He assumed the surname pen-Dragon (son of the dragon) after the appearance of a dragon-like comet in the sky. Like his brother Aurelius, he had been smuggled abroad on the murder of Constans. Once king, however, he consorted adulterously with Ygerna (Eigr) the wife of Gorlois, duke of Cornwall. Gorlois was killed by Uther Pendragon's soldiers at Dimiioc (Tinblot in the Welsh chronicle) as Uther Pendragon was seducing Ygerna. But of their union was born the most famous of the British kings, Arthur, who reigned over the Britons from ca AD 521-542. Arthur succeeded his father as. king at only fifteen years of age. His sister Anna married Budicius II of Britanny. The narrative is somewhat confused,. but she seems later to have married Loth of Lodonesia who was later to become king of Norway.

At his death, Arthur passed the crown to Constantine (III), the son of the 'duke' of Cornwall. Constantine, whose reign lasted four years, crushed a revolt of the Saxons, but was later struck down 'by God's vengeance'. He was succeeded in AD 546 by his nephew, Aurelius Conanus (Kynan Wledic in the Welsh), who, however, only came to the throne by imprisoning his unnamed uncle, the son of Constantine, the true heir. His reign was followed in ca 549 very briefly by that of Vortiporius, who repelled an invasion from Germany. His subsequent fate is unrecorded, although he can have reigned for only a year or less. But he was followed by Malgo, whose reign lasted from ca AD 550-555. According to a speech recorded for us by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Malgo had two sons, Ennianus and Run, neither of whom succeeded him. Malgo is elsewhere known as Maelgwn Gwynedd, the king of Gwynedd who died from the Yellow Plague that was ravaging Europe during the 550s. He was succeeded by Keredic, whose origin is unrecorded, who retired into Wales after a battle, and whose reign was followed by those of three unnamed 'tyrants'.

Then, shortly after the year AD 600, came Cadvan. Known in the Welsh chronicles as Cadfan ab lago, king of Gwynedd, he was of north Welsh descent. He began as king of the Venedoti (men of Gwynedd) and succeeded to the kingship of all the Britons by engaging in battle Ethelfrith, the Saxon king of Northumbria, who, with Ethelbert of Kent, carried out the massacre of the British monks at Bangor in AD 604. Ethelfrith and Cadvan divided the country between them, Cadvan ruling over the southern half. His reign lasted until ca AD 625. He married a Saxon noblewoman of the Gewissae. He was followed by Cadwallo who died of old age in the year AD 633. But he was succeeded by Cadwallader (Kydwaladr vendigaid) whose reign was divided into two periods from ca AD 633-643 and 654-664. Twelve years after he inherited the crown, Cadwallader was struck down with an unspecified illness, and during his incapacity the Britons fell to warring amongst themselves. Due to the civil war and due no doubt to the consequent neglect and destruction of the crops, the country was ravaged by a long-remembered famine that was followed by the plague. For safety's sake, Cadwallader sought refuge on the continent, entering Brittany where he was received with much kindness by king Alan II. Eleven years later, Alan persuaded Cadwallader to return to Britain and resume his reign. His stay in Brittany would thus have fallen between the years AD 643-654. He was then followed by Yvor, who, with his cousin Yni, ruled over the remaining Britons who had finally been driven into Wales. It was, indeed, during Yvor's reign that the British came to be known disparagingly as the Welsh, from an ancient Saxon word meaning a barbaric foreigner. Between them, Yvor and Yni became a persistent nuisance to the Saxons, harassing them for many years, ...but little good did it do them!

And that, in a nutshell, is what the early chronicles tell us about the kings of the Britons. The chronicles themselves, of course, tell a much fuller story, but there is little extraordinary in any of it. Indeed, as we saw in the previous chapter, there is much of it that can be historically verified. So we are presented with the simple question as to why a two thousand year recorded history has been so pointedly ignored by modern scholars. Why is it that the history of Britain is an entirely blank page before the year 55 BC in any conventional modern history book when such an easily accessible and informative record is at hand? Could it have anything to do with the fact that the Britons traced their ancestry in these pre-Christian records back to patriarchs that are known to us from the Genesis record but of whom the Britons should have known nothing in their pre-Christian culture if what the modernists have always told us was true? This genealogy is laid out in Appendix 7 of this present book. But this is only part of the great matter that is omitted from modern reckoning and of which the public is unaware. We shall see that there is much else besides regarding the histories and genealogies of other European peoples that is also ignored but which likewise verifies the Genesis account.

Return to Lambert Dolphin's Library