Geoffrey of Monmouth

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Geoffrey of Monmouth
Occupation
Cleric
Known for His chronicle Historia Regum Britanniae

Geoffrey of Monmouth

(mŏn`məth), c.1100–1154, English author. He was probably born at Monmouth and was of either Breton or Welsh descent. In 1152 he was named bishop of St. Asaph in Wales. His Historia regum Britanniae (written c.1135), supposedly a chronicle of the kings of Britain, is one of the chief sources of the Arthurian legendArthurian legend,
the mass of legend, popular in medieval lore, concerning King Arthur of Britain and his knights. Medieval Sources

The battle of Mt. Badon—in which, according to the Annales Cambriae (c.
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. Geoffrey was the first to write a coherent account of Arthur, establishing the great warrior as a national hero, the conqueror of Western Europe. He drew information from the writings of BedeBede, Saint
, or Baeda
(St. Bede the Venerable), 673?–735, English historian and Benedictine monk, Doctor of the Church, also called the Venerable Bede. He spent his whole life at the monasteries of Wearmouth (at Sunderland) and Jarrow and became probably the
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, GildasGildas, Saint
, d. 570, British historian, possibly a Welsh monk. Shortly before 547 he wrote the De excidio et conquestu Britanniae, a Latin history of Britain dealing with the Roman invasion and the Anglo-Saxon conquest of England, the earliest authority for the period.
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, NenniusNennius
, fl. 796, Welsh writer, to whom is ascribed the Historia Britonum. He lived on the borders of Mercia and probably was a pupil of Elbod, bishop of Bangor.
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, the Welsh chronicles, and folklore, and imaginatively wove the whole into a fictional narrative in the form of a history. His work had great influence on WaceWace
, c.1100–1174, Norman-French poet of Jersey. King Henry II made him canon of Bayeux. His Roman de Brut (1155) is a long, rhymed chronicle of British history based on the Historia of Geoffrey of Monmouth.
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, LayamonLayamon
, fl. c.1200, first prominent Middle English poet. He described himself as a humble priest attached to the church at Ernley (Arley Regis) near Radstone. His Brut
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, and many chroniclers of the Middle Ages. Another work attributed to him, the Vita Merlini (1148), also influenced later stories of Arthur and MerlinMerlin,
in Arthurian legend, magician, seer, and teacher at the court of King Vortigern and later at the court of King Arthur. He was a bard and culture hero in early Celtic folklore. In Arthurian legend he is famous as a magician and as the counselor of King Arthur.
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.

Bibliography

See his History of the Kings of Britain, tr. by L. Thorpe (1966); study by J. S. P. Tatlock (1950).

Geoffrey of Monmouth

 

(Galfridus Monemutensis). Born circa 1100; died circa 1154. English chronicler.

Geoffrey’s main work, History of the Kings of Britain (circa 1137), covering the period up to the end of the seventh century, draws heavily from Celtic legend. One of its sources is History of the Britons by Nennius, a Welsh chronicler of the late eighth and early ninth century. Geoffrey’s chronicle influenced Medieval European literature and chronicles. Many later English writers, including Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, and Tennyson, relied upon Geoffrey’s work for source material.

WORKS

Historia Regum Britanniae. Edited by A. Griscom. London, 1929.

Geoffrey of Monmouth

?1100--54, Welsh bishop and chronicler; author of Historia Regum Britanniae, the chief source of Arthurian legends