RSS

King Arthur – A Provincial Dux, Comes or Tribunus? – Part Four

15 Nov

Provinces based on Anne Dornier's theory with my own thoughts (kindly created for me by Steffon Worthington)

The map above isn’t quite correct in it’s placement of some of the northern tribes and will be updated soon.

In the next three blogs I want to look at the various regions, starting with the north, and how a military commander of some kind could fit into the political situations. (Apologies for its length!)

THE NORTH: BRITANNIA SECUNDA (?) & VALENTIA (?)

The strongest arguer for a provincial dux in the north probably comes from Professor Ken Dark with his theory on the northerly province (or provinces) as possibly retaining (or reattaining) someone who had a similar command in the north to the old dux Britanniarum. (Not to mention those who favour this region as being where Arthur was from). This, he postulates in both Civitas To Kingdom and Britain & The End Of The Roman Empire, is because all but one of the forts under the command of the dux Britanniarum show signs of reuse into this period (this is the only region were Roman forts were reused and not hillforts) as well as the road from York to the Wall appearing to have been maintained.

As explored in my Valentia – The Fifth Romano-British Province’ blog, this northern area was most likely divided into two, with one of these provinces being Valentia and the other either Britannia Secunda or Flavia Caesariensis (depending on which scholar’s theories you go with) as discussed in the last blog. We don’t know what happened to this division after Roman rule ended, but it’s possible they became one again … if they, indeed, survived. There may be more chance for this (or these) surviving in the area in question as it appears to have been made up largely of the very large civitas of the Brigantes (capital at York), and so possibly less likely to fragment at the time, not to mention because the number of descendants of Roman soldiers there. However, with the amount of Roman soldiers (mainly Germanic or Gaulish) that may have been left here, it’s hard to see how they would give it over to a tribal group(s) or leader(s) … although, by the last decade of Roman period there may have to have been British militias to supplement them. (They would also most likely be married to local woman and have ‘British’ offspring). It’s more likely to be governed by whoever was the most powerful militarily. (More on this below).

In fact, Dark’s theory suggests it might have been a Brigantian based hegemony, centred at York, that would have to have done this. This could be why all these civitates tribal names disappeared. There wasn’t just the Brigantes! There were also the Carvetti (may have become Rheged), the Latenses (became Elmet), the Gabrantovices, the Sentantii, the Lopocares, the Corionototae, the Parisi (became Deira) and probably more, including Bryneich (became Bernnicia). It should be noted though, that some other scholars do not see this region as a united area at any time.

There is another factor that Professor Dark doesn’t consider, and that’s the division of the northern province in the mid 4th century. As explored in my Valentia blog, the Roman expert, J C Mann, argues that this division has to have been the splitting of this northern province (rather than between the Walls) because that was Roman policy when creating a new one in an existing diocese. Whether this was done north/south or east/west, he argues that for it to have been given consular status, which it was, its capital must have been York, the second city … unless this had been changed to somewhere like Chester and Anne Dornier’s theory about Valentia being in the west is right. What it means is that the Brigantian civitas must have been divided also. What then happened to the western portion of this, which appears to have been between the Carvetti (northern Cumbria) and Sentantii (southern Lancashire) civitates? Had it been an area that wasn’t actually Brigantian but was under its hegemony, so was happy to be split from it? We’ll never know, but it would have to be ‘reclaimed’ in Dark’s theory, and there’s always the possibility that it was Coel Hen that started this and was the first ‘overlord’ (in whatever form) of the north. There is even a (tenuous) link given for Coel Hen to Arthur, via Coel’s supposed son-in-law, Cunedag (Cunedda). But, let’s not get carried away! (As an aside, the only poem we have about Cunedda – The Death Song of Cunedda – only mentions him fighting in the east (around Durham somewhere) and west (Carlisle) of this area. No mention of Wales).

Perhaps a telling point is the sharp delineation of the ‘Anglian’ and British areas at the River Trent; the river thought to have been the provincial and civitas boundary to the southeast. There’s also what might have been the difference between the Parisi/Deira region and Brigantia with the former containing ‘Anglian’ settlement on a large scale. Of course, there could have been other reasons for the Trent delineation, nothing to do with military unity or strength, but it’s certainly a possibility that it was a strong northern British force (or forces) that kept them at bay. There’s also the possibilities that the province or civitates that bordered to the southeast were just as worried by their powerful northern British neighbours as they were of the Germanic expansion, and placed (more) Germanic and/or Scandinavian mercenaries in them as a safeguard.

POET’S CORNER

Y Gododddin

It may be from north of the Wall (near the Antonine Wall actually) but this is where we get, what some argue to be, the first mention of Arthur in the collection of poems that went up to make the Y Gododdin.

(The next section about Y Gododdin is copied and pasted from an earlier blog. You can aways skip it if you’ve read it)

Attributed to the bard/prince Neirin/Aneirin, ‘Y Gododdin’ (The Gododdin) is a British poem (actually a collection of poems), the originals parts of which are thought to date to the early 7th century. (Koch, 1999).  It tells of a doomed battle at Catraeth (thought by most, but not all, to be Catterick in North Yorkshire) between the men of Gododdin and their allies against the ‘English’ of what would become Northumbria:  the Bernicians and the Deirans.  In it is contained what is thought to be the earliest reference to Arthur:

He charged before three hundred of the finest,

He cut down both centre and wing,

He excelled in the forefront of the noblest host,

he gave gifts of horses from the herd in winter.

He said black ravens on the ramparts of fortress

Though he was no Arthur.

Among the powerful ones in battle, in the front rank, Gwawrddur was a palisade.

(Jarman, 1990, V99, 64)

John Koch in his translation of the work conclude that this section is part of the original B Text and not a later addition, as discussed earlier, although there are other scholars who disagree with him (Isaacs et al). Even if Koch is right, we still can’t be certain, as explored and mentioned in earlier blogs, which Arthur it refers to: an ‘original’ or, possibly, Artúr mac Áedán or even Arthur son of Bicoir, both of whom could have been active in the area.  If we knew the exact date of the battle we might have a better chance of coming to some informed conclusion.  By this I mean If the battle or the poem took place before Dalriada became the enemy then it could indeed be referring to him.  If it happened after, then it is unlikely.  Unless they were in the habit of praising their enemy.

If Y Gododdin is referring to someone other than the Arthur of Badon fame he was obviously gaining public attention in the last quarter of the 6th century (if Koch’s dating is right!) and the fact that most of the Arthur names occur in the North has led some to the conclusion that he must have originally been from there or had been active there.  It would certainly make sense of Aneirin mentioning him if he was also their most famous ‘local’ hero.  But ‘local’ could mean anywhere from the Hadrian’s Wall northwards.

(To read the full blog of the above, click HERE)

WHAT IF?

There are going to be a lot of IFs in the next paragraph, but just bear with me:

If Arthur was a dux for this province or provinces, does this help make any sense of the (meagre) information we have for him, such as the Historia Britonnum  (H.B.) battle list, or any other information above? (See THIS blog for a discussion of the H.B. battle list). Well, firstly, I don’t think him being a dux of some kind would necessarily lead to him being called ‘dux erat bellorum’ (leader of battles). If the H.B list is based on a poem (or poems), then it obviously just called him this (in Brittonic) and not ‘dux Valentium’ or whatever. Secondly, if the battle list is anywhere near the ‘truth’ (and it may not be) there are some who place many of these battles in the north. Many of these would be outside these provinces (to their north and south). Only Camlan, if it was Camboglana (Birdoswald) on the Wall (its border), and Guinnion, if it is Binchester, would be within it … if it was one province. If it was two provinces then one would be in each if they had been divided north to south.

This could mean one of several things if we’re looking at a possible Arthur as dux: he helped those Britons north of the Wall against the Picti and/or Scotti; he fought against Britons north of the Wall (and attacking beyond the border was a usual tactic); the battles were the result of the province being expanded (Coel Hen is supposed to have fought around Strathclyde); he fought for or against Britons to their south (same tactic); he helped Britons to their south against Scotti raiders or in a British civil war … or the H.B. list and those who place them in the north are just wrong! Remembering how Gildas complained about civil wars, it could be any or all of these.

There is a good case for a northern Arthur, but, like everything else Arthurian, it is based on information that may not be accurate or, indeed, true. However, this is just as much about the case for the existence of a military leader in the region in the last quarter of the 5th century, and that is a possibility.

In the the Parts Five and Six we’ll look at the other two regions and conclusion on all this will appear in Part Seven..

Thanks for reading and I look forward to comments, thoughts … and corrections,

Mak

PS: HUGE thanks to the map maker Steffon Worthington for creating the Anne Dornier based map free of charge! There are lovely people at the Facebook King Arthur Group page!

About these ads
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

12 responses to “King Arthur – A Provincial Dux, Comes or Tribunus? – Part Four

  1. Dane Pestano

    November 15, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Hi Mak,

    Very good look at the problems. Re the above poem,The Chair (or Song) of the Sovereign, have you read Tom Greens brief paper on the subject which gives some alternate readings of the Arthur section? Whilst I dont agree with Toms assessment, trying to claim Arthur as some mythologised God hero, because, as I have shown in my studies of Mac Erca, Arthur like tales can equally derive and evolve from a real sixth century character.

    Tom Greens paper:

    http://www.arthuriana.co.uk/papers/Aladur.pdf

    Regards
    Dane

     
    • badonicus

      November 15, 2011 at 1:59 pm

      Thanks for that Dane. I’d read this a while back but totally forgot about him covering this poem. I’ll take a look.

       
  2. badonicus

    November 15, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    After Dane’s comment above and Christopher Gwinn’s comments on the Facebook King Arthur Group page, I’ve removed the said poem, so those two posts above will make absolutely no sense to you! lol

     
  3. Lanark

    November 15, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    The Goddodin were based at Dun Edin. Dun Edin is now known as Edinburgh, and the Goddodin still live on there – surviving in the name of the district of Edinburgh known as Duddingston (or Goddodin’s town). It is at the foot of Arthur’s Seat.
    As for Camlan, why even consider Camboglana or Camulodonum? The most logical option would be Camelon at Falkirk (still pronounced Camlan). A mile from the huge Roman installations at Camelon (on the Antonine Wall) stood a now demolished structure called Arthur’s O’on (or oven). It was the only structure in Britain which resembled the “tabled rotunda” (not a “round table”!) which Arthur is said to have had made (where “all were seated within”). It is more likely that it was a surviving Roman monument which he re-used.
    There is a known battle where the real scottish historical 6th century Arthur fought and died in battle against the Picts. It was a few miles North of the Camelon Roman Fortress on the edge of the kingdom of Mannan (which survives in the names of Clackmannanshire and Sleimannan). The battle is known by two names, the battle of Mannan or Camallan (“Cam from the Brythonic, meaning “winding” (river) Allan) . The battle was fought North of the River Avon near the Allan Water where it enters the River Forth at Stirling. There is a now drained area to the North side of the River Forth bounded on one side by the Allan Water which was once an island. It was up until medieval times called Invalone (Inver-Allan – meaning “confluence of the Allan Water”). “Invalone” is remarkably like “Avalon” (certainly more like “Avalon” than say “Glastonbury”) and makes sense as somewhere close to the battle where the real dying Arthur might have been taken. Remember a real scottish commander called Artur died at this real battle at the end of the 6th Century.
    As for the Historia Britonnum battle list… a quick perusal peels a trail of sites from along (predominately) the Antonine Wall. From the Douglas (Dubglas) in the Lennox (Linnius) to Dun Badon (Dumbarton at the Western end of the Antonine Wall and the centre of the Kingdom of the Britons). With what is now England awash with Saxon invaders for over a hundred and fifty years by the end of the 6th Century, the town we now know as Dumbarton (then Dun Briton) was a stronghold of one of the North British Kings. Remember Nennius points out that “Arthur fought against them (ie the Saxons) with the Kings of the Britons, but he was commander in the battles”.

    The real scottish Arthur also had a half sister (same father, different mother – how times change…). She was called Morgein. I wont even get on to Guanamara (Guinevere) and her Pictish ways. As for the gaelic/latin/norman french translations and their rendering of Aongus (Angus) into Angelus then
    into L’ancelot … maybe I’ll just say Percival Shmercival and leave it at that!
    You have a fascinating blog sir! Keep it up. But keep looking North…

    “Of course, the farther North you go the emptier are the roads… and the wind sings through your helmet plume.” Kipling, Puck of Pook’s Hill, ‘On the Great Wall’.

     
    • badonicus

      November 16, 2011 at 8:03 am

      Thanks for the comments.

      I will answer mainly by pointing to other blogs I’ve done, but to answer “why Camboglana”, well, because it means ‘Camlan’. Those who go for a Welsh Arthur will point to Avon Gamlan in west Wales. I’m not favouring any battle site.

      Please see these blogs:

      http://badonicus.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/a-different-look-at-a-battle-poem-part-one/

      http://badonicus.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/in-search-of-the-original-king-arthur-part-one/

      Specifically the second one.

      Thanks again,

      Mak

      (Edit)Reply

       
    • badonicus

      November 16, 2011 at 8:49 am

      Actually, I am going to have to reply …

      “The Goddodin were based at Dun Edin. Dun Edin is now known as Edinburgh, and the Goddodin still live on there – surviving in the name of the district of Edinburgh known as Duddingston (or Goddodin’s town). It is at the foot of Arthur’s Seat.”

      I’m not sure why you’re telling me this, as I am all too aware of where the Gododdin (and Manau Gododdin) were.

      
“As for Camlan, why even consider Camboglana or Camulodonum? The most logical option would be Camelon at Falkirk (still pronounced Camlan). A mile from the huge Roman installations at Camelon (on the Antonine Wall) stood a now demolished structure called Arthur’s O’on (or oven). It was the only structure in Britain which resembled the “tabled rotunda” (not a “round table”!) which Arthur is said to have had made (where “all were seated within”). It is more likely that it was a surviving Roman monument which he re-used.”

      I replied above as to why, but it could be where you mentioned and this is what I mean by many of these battles being placed (by some) north of the Wall.

      
“There is a known battle where the real scottish historical 6th century Arthur fought and died in battle against the Picts. It was a few miles North of the Camelon Roman Fortress on the edge of the kingdom of Mannan (which survives in the names of Clackmannanshire and Sleimannan). The battle is known by two names, the battle of Mannan or Camallan (“Cam from the Brythonic, meaning “winding” (river) Allan) . The battle was fought North of the River Avon near the Allan Water where it enters the River Forth at Stirling.”

      Well, I’ve never heard of the Battle of Miathi where Artúr mac Áedán died ever been called the battle of Mannan or Camallan. He may have fought with his father at the following:

      582 Áedán mac Gabrán won the Battle of Manann.
      583 Áedán mac Gabrán won the Battle of Manand.

      … if he was old enough. Artúr died in 594 at Circhend (i cath Chirchind). Circhend may have been in the territory of the Miathi, and be located around Stirling.

      “There is a now drained area to the North side of the River Forth bounded on one side by the Allan Water which was once an island. It was up until medieval times called Invalone (Inver-Allan – meaning “confluence of the Allan Water”). “Invalone” is remarkably like “Avalon” (certainly more like “Avalon” than say “Glastonbury”) and makes sense as somewhere close to the battle where the real dying Arthur might have been taken. Remember a real scottish commander called Artur died at this real battle at the end of the 6th Century.”

      The are a couple of other claimants for Avalon (one on the Wall, one in Gaul), but personally I think Geoffrey of Monmouth, or someone before him, used a mythical legend of Ynys Afallach (found both in Britain and Ireland) as Avalon and not a real place.

      “As for the Historia Britonnum battle list… a quick perusal peels a trail of sites from along (predominately) the Antonine Wall. From the Douglas (Dubglas) in the Lennox (Linnius) to Dun Badon (Dumbarton at the Western end of the Antonine Wall and the centre of the Kingdom of the Britons).”

      Dun Badon=Dunbarton?

      “With what is now England awash with Saxon invaders for over a hundred and fifty years by the end of the 6th Century, the town we now know as Dumbarton (then Dun Briton) was a stronghold of one of the North British Kings. Remember Nennius points out that “Arthur fought against them (ie the Saxons) with the Kings of the Britons, but he was commander in the battles”.

      My answer to that is too long and you’d have to look at me Arthurian poem blog.

      “The real scottish Arthur also had a half sister (same father, different mother – how times change…). She was called Morgein.”

      Since the name doesn’t appear in the Arthurian tradition until the early 13th century, I’m not sure how this works, and to quote Michelle Zeigler’s paper (Artúr mac Aedan of Dalriada, The Heroic Age, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 1999):

      The Martyrology of Oengus the Culdee lists a Muirgein (“birth of the sea”) on January 27, which D. F. Carroll has suggested provided inspiration for the linkage of Morgana (Morgan le Fay) and King Arthur as siblings. This assertion is based on Whitley Stokes’s (1905:53) suggested identification of Muirgein as “Muirgein, daughter of Aedan, in Belach Gabrain.” The suggestions for the location of Belach Gabráin are not Dalriadan at all. Belach Gabráin has been identified as a passage between Leinster and Ossory and therefore on the border between Leinster and Munster in Ireland. It is unlikely that Muirgein nic Aedan of Belach Gabráin was related to the family of Aedan mac Gabran of Scottish Dalriada. There is nothing in what can be discerned of her life to suggest that she was the direct inspiration for Morgana, the sister of King Arthur. Belach Gabráin, if it is correctly located at Gowran in southern Ireland, is far inland and should not be associated with the Isle of Avallon.”

      “I wont even get on to Guanamara (Guinevere) and her Pictish ways.”

      You mean the legend of Vinora?

      “As for the gaelic/latin/norman french translations and their rendering of Aongus (Angus) into Angelus then into L’ancelot … maybe I’ll just say Percival Shmercival and leave it at that!”

      Well, Aongus (Angus) into Angelus then into L’ancelot is a first for me.

      
“You have a fascinating blog sir! Keep it up. But keep looking North…”

      Thank you. But as you will see when looking at my other blogs, I keep looking everywhere.

      Thanks again,

      Mak

       
  4. Makhno

    November 17, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I believe the original suggestion was that Geoffrey’s Auguselus (not Angelus) might have been a mid-point between Aonghus and Lancelot. Can’t remember who came up with it; it seems mighty implausible to me, and I do favour a Scottish / Border Arthur.

     
  5. Jonathan Jarrett

    November 22, 2011 at 12:21 am

    There’s also what might have been the difference between the Parisi/Deira region and Brigantia with the former containing ‘Anglian’ settlement on a large scale. Of course, there could have been other reasons for the Trent delineation, nothing to do with military unity or strength, but it’s certainly a possibility that it was a strong northern British force (or forces) that kept them at bay.

    When I think about this I come up with a problem I can’t get round, which is that though I’m not qualified to judge on the possible rearrangement of the provinces, if we’re attempting to argue for some kind of large-scale army continuing, surely its operation would not be confined to its home province. If there are Saxons invading, isn’t the notionally-Roman army going to cross that border and have at them? And if not, well, surely that’s not a large-scale army but already a kingdom separate from a larger political identity. I don’t see how you can have both the province borders lying behind lines of defence and also a war-leader coordinating that defence who fights over a wider area.

    dux erat bellorum

    Also, I’m sure you know this and it’s just a slip, but you don’t need the “erat” there for the title alone: that Latin means “he was leader of battles”. In fact, I’d say that the interspersing of verb between the other two words militates against the author thinking it was a fixed title. “Lord he was of battles” would be a closer translation! But I realise that’s a separate blog-post…

     
    • Jonathan Jarrett

      November 22, 2011 at 12:31 am

      Ah, and I see you’ve touched on some similar alternatives to those in my first paragraph there in Part Six, my apologies.

       
    • badonicus

      November 22, 2011 at 9:29 am

      Thanks Jonathan.

      As to your second paragraph, can I point you to my blog, “dux erat bellorum“, if you haven’t already read it.

      But briefly, I agree with you that it wasn’t a fixed title that the HB was referring to. As I says in the blog,

      “I don’t think him being a dux of some kind would necessarily lead to him being called ‘dux erat bellorum’ (leader of battles). If the H.B list is based on a poem (or poems), then it obviously just called him this [that is 'a leader/lord of battle' and not a dux per se] (in Brittonic) and not ‘dux Valentium’ or whatever.”

      If that isn’t what came across then I need to change the wording.

      Thanks again.

       
      • Jonathan Jarrett

        November 22, 2011 at 8:35 pm

        I’m not sure I’ve made myself clear. Wherever it’s placed “erat” could be no part of the title. It’s the verb of the sentence, third-person singular imperfect tense of `esse’, to be. “Dux erat bellorum“, title or not, doesn’t mean “Lord of Battles”, it means all of, “he was the Lord of Battles”. If you’re just after the title, you probably want to drop the verb out or else quote it as a fully-complete sentence, not just a titular phrase.

         
      • badonicus

        November 23, 2011 at 9:28 am

        Got ya! Thanks Jonathan.

         

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 110 other followers

%d bloggers like this: