Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2007-09 > 1189728926

From: WJhonson <>
Subject: Re: Anna of Arimathea - who is HER husband?
Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2007 17:15:26 -0700
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<<In a message dated 09/13/07 16:44:24 Pacific Standard Time, Jwc1870 writes:
I seem to recall reading in the forward of my penguin
paperback edition of Geoffrey of Monmouth`s " History of the Kings of Britain" that
Geoffrey copied a lot of his material from earlier work written by Welsh monks
which doubtless came from the lips of Welsh poets and genealogists who had
it from the lips of their teachers, et cetera. >>


Geoffrey states that he got his material from an old book. The accepted wisdom is either that he made it all up which seems hardly likely if you read it; OR that he was relating actual stories mixed in with some of his own fiction.

Certainly it seems pretty odd that he would believe that King Arthur (who per the loose chronology I've built based on Geoffrey, must have reigned around 500) had actually conquered Paris and all of Gaul, etc, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark....

That part, I can certainly believe, Geoffrey very greatly exaggerated. Arthur it seems, based simply on the *amount* of material he gives him and his exploits, was the main point of the work, although we don't get *to* Arthur until the last few "books" (12 books in all).

He mentions Merlin here and there, but quite a lot of the book is very dry detailing of genealogies, apparently stretching back to perhaps 1500 to 2000 BC, not all of which obviously connect to each other. If this is a work of pure fiction is a very boring one, and judged by the things he says about Arthur he certainly *could* have made up a lot more about everyone else. If you're going to write a whopper of fiction pretending to be fact, why make parts of it dreadfully dull?

In particular, although he claims British lineage for Constantine the Great among others, he doesn't really dwell on what Constantine exactly did. Seems a bit odd to just skip merrily past one of the greatest leaders of the past if your main point is to show how amazing the British were.

Will Johnson

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