In The Name Of ‘Arthur’

08 Sep
Concept for ebook cover

Concept for ebook cover

Firstly, apologies for any subscriber who received that last rouge post. I was trying out a new piece of software and it published the image without me realising I wasn’t going to be asked if I was sure I wanted it published!

Secondly, apologies for the massive gaps between these blogs, but this has been due to work, ill health and working on the eBook whilst recovering from an operation. That has been the one positive side to all this and it is a lot further on.

However, as you can see from the image, the title of the book has changed. Not only the title, but the whole theme of it. Rather than just dealing with whether there was a historical Arthur of the 5th and 6th centuries I decided to expand it to include, not only the various candidates for the derivation of the name and the myths, but all the known ‘Arthurs’ from 8th century BC Greece to a Duke of Brittany in the Late-12th century. In fact, the eBook, or, rather, eTome, now goes from 800BC to AD1200. It not only covers all the known ‘Arthurs’ but the history of Britannia at the time they are said to have existed, whether that be in physical or story form. This has, of course, expanded it somewhat and also created a great deal more work for myself, but it has been worth it as the whole point of this exercise was as a detailed research document to help with a screen- or radio play. It has worked, and I am also (finally) currently developing the latter.

Below is part of the Introduction:

When it comes to Arthurian scholarship there are two main schools of thought with regards to the Arthur who allegedly fought as the Siege of Mount Badon in the Late-5th or Early 6th centuries (an Arthur that will become known in this work as ‘Arthur’ III): the first school argues that he was a mythological figure (an Arthur who will become known to us as ‘Arthur’ X) from the early Welsh tradition who was historicised (an ‘Arthur’ X who was made into an ‘Arthur’ III) . The second school says that he was a historical figure who was later mythologised (an ‘Arthur’ III who became an ‘Arthur’ X). Both arguments have sub-groups within them. The historicised mythical school gives the original, if not of the myth then the name, as a Greek and Roman demi-god (Arktouros/Arcturus – who I will call ‘Arthur’ I); or a Roman general (Lucius Artorius Castus – ‘Arthur’ II), or some unknown British deity or folk hero. The mythologised historical Arthur school are divided between when an ‘Arthur’ III lived? where he lived? this not being his name but an epithet for another name, such as Ambrosius Aurelianus; Arthur was his name but he was known by an epithet, such as Riothamus; or him actually being a later Arthur, such as Artúr mac Áedán (‘Arthur’ IV) of what is now Argyle in the Western Isles of Scotland or Arthur map Pedr (‘Arthur’ VII) from what is now Dyfed in southwest Wales; and they are also broken up into the various arguments given as to how this Arthur was mythologised. We can add to this lot a third school, who see Arthur as mainly a literary figure. This is the strange world you have just entered in to!

Those who follow the Arthurian question either fall in to one school or the other. You will be very hard pressed to find someone who thinks he could have been both – that is a completely separate ‘Arthur’ III and an ‘Arthur’ X, related only in name - but this is what this present work will also explore: could there have been a mythical character and historical figure, who fought at Badon, whose commonality was only their name? However, it is about far more than that. It is about the history of the isles of Britannia during the periods covered but especially from the 4th century to the 12th century AD. (In brief form of course!). To understand an ‘Arthur’ III, if he existed, we must understand the Britain in which he is said to have lived and the Britain in which his fame developed and would fashion him into a medieval king in shining armour.

So, besides covering the usual questions around if there was a historical figure of the Late-5th to Early-6th centuries, this work covers all the aspects of the Arthurian mythologies from 800BC up to AD1200 as well, including one of the candidates for not only his name, but, in at least one scholars eyes [1], the inspiration for some of earliest Welsh stories: Zeus’ bastard offspring-come-star and constellation, Arktouros/Arcturus. The constellation is now known as Boötes, ‘The Ploughman‘, but the star Arcturus (the Latin version of the name) is still called such, forming his knee and being the fourth brightest in the Northern Hemisphere. Not only may this have been the origin of the name (one of several others possibilities) but in medieval times one of the constellations associated with him, The Plough (Ursa Major), had the name Arthur’s Wain (Arthur’s Wagon). So this is why we start our story in  ancient Greece. But this is only one small aspect of the mythological Arthur and we will look at the early Welsh tradition that showed an Arthur not only different from his later Anglo-Norman guise but from the one in the Welsh, 9th century ‘Historia Brittonum’ (‘History of the Britons’). Not a Saxon fighter but a killer of giants, witches and magical boars.

We will, of course, explore all of Arcturus’ Earthly counterparts. That is in the plural because, as you now know, there were several historical figures named Arthur, or variants thereof, such as the Gaelic equivalents of Artúr/Artur/Artuir, some of whom with this name have been argued to be the ‘original’. It is an odd fact that it was Gaelic speaking or cultural influenced areas of Britain that used the name (as well as Ireland) when no royal British or later Welshmen would give their sons this name. Even the British descended Bretons would christen their sons Arthur. Why not the Britons?

We will also look to the earth and examine the archaeology of the periods covered; a science from which we have gained a great deal of our information about the so called ‘Dark Ages'; better known to archaeologist as Sub- or Post-Roman and Early Medieval Britain. Archaeology’s view of Early Medieval Britannia seems to be a little different to that portrayed by the (very limited) texts we have. Which are right? Is our interpretation wrong?

Every text examined is in the chronological order in which it is thought to have appeared and not in the order of the events and the peoples’ lives it describes. This is important because we need to be aware of how long after the events a work was written, how this affected what was reported and how these authors influenced future works? I will, now and again come out of this chronology where it’s necessary, especially in the case of forwarding modern scholarly and archaeological discoveries and opinions.

The ebook is designed so those with more knowledge of either ancient British history or Arthuriana can jump to any relevant sections by clicking on them in the Contents. Those about or related to an Arthur are in purple, whilst those about Britannia or its archaeology are in black. I have also given the most relevant Arthurian related sections an asterix  (*) listing next to them, with *** being the most relevant or of interest, in my opinion. So, to break the four parts down:

… and I will break the four parts down in another post.

Thanks for reading and any comments,


[1]: Professor Graham Anderson, ‘King Arthur of Antiquity’ (2004)


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11 responses to “In The Name Of ‘Arthur’

  1. ritaroberts

    September 8, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Hello ! glad you are back and hope that your health continues to improve. Your blog posts about Arthur are so very interesting and such a lot of work you have put into this project so thank you for sharing. I don’t have an e book but I think I must get one so that I can study all you have written. Its a fascinating subject.

  2. badonicus

    September 8, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Thanks for the comments Rita.

    It’ll be easy enough to read the ebook when it (eventually) comes out as it will be in PDF format, not the Kindle or Kobo kind. All you will need is Adobe Acrobat, which you most likely have. It will be quite a size though. At present it is about 550 pages and 110Mb in size, but there are a lot of images in there too, so it’s not all text! Having said that, at present, in its unedited form, it is around 220,000 words.

  3. ritaroberts

    September 8, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Actually ! I meant I hadn’t got Kindle. So I will have to read the PDF bit by bit when its ready. Thanks for that info.

    • badonicus

      September 9, 2013 at 9:05 am

      You probably know this, but you can get Kindle for the Mac or PC. I’ve been using a lot of Kindle books, and the great thing about them is, if you want to use any pieces from them, any highlighted text you make is saved at Amazon and you just go to your account, which lists all those highlights and bookmarks, and copy any paste them. Good for long quotes.

      • ritaroberts

        September 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm

        No I didn’t know that so thanks again for info.

  4. Nicole Evelina

    September 9, 2013 at 2:12 am

    Can’t wait to read it! Hope you’re back to full health soon.

    • badonicus

      September 9, 2013 at 9:02 am

      Thanks Nicole. It’ll take another few months but it gives me the chance to try and finish the book. Looks like you had a great Arthurian journey around Britain!

  5. Ruth Nestvold

    September 9, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Oh, wow, the book sounds fascinating! Can’t wait to read it. Wishing you a speedy recovery so you can finish your book. *g*

  6. Tim

    September 14, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Good to see you back in the blogosphere, Mak. The expanded book sounds like a useful and comprehensive resource for scholars of Arthuriana, whatever camp they belong to.

    • badonicus

      September 14, 2013 at 8:26 am

      Nice to be back Tim. I hope it will be a good resource to those interested in the subject, but also hope that it contains some new theories and often overlooked information that will not only be thought provoking to those in the know but help those undecided on the subjected of a historical Arthur come to a more informed opinion.

  7. djalmabina

    April 25, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Reblogged this on VinLand Blog and commented:
    Very great book about this glorius Arthurian legend !@


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