Appendix 12
Three shall wear the diadem after whom shall be the favour of the
newcomers. A fourth shall be in authority whom awkward piety shall injure
until he shall be clothed in his father, so that girded with boar’s teeth he shall
cross the shadow of the helmeted man.
For consistency’s sake not all prophecies are changed from the original
version but some are squewed in the updated Vulgate HRB prophecies from
the original Libellus Merlini version and then the same words with another
sense may be found in the VM. For instance in HRB we find similar: They
that come after shall strive to outsoar the highest, but the favour of the
newcomers shall be exalted.
Henry Blois is writing prophecies for consistency’s sake for HRB and the VM
which originally had occurred in Libellus Merlini. Prophecies have been
subsequently alteredlong after they have lost their usefulness. So, whereas
Henry Blois may have composed a prophecy during the early reign of
Stephen which spoke of three wearing the diadem of Brutus, to be followed
by a fourth, and he and his brother were looked upon as new men or
newcomers…. Henry has now diluted the meaning in VM, now his brother
is dead; while mixing these with more pertinent prophecies from the
anarchy which his audience can now recognize as having transpired.
The earliest set of prophecies which were in the Libellus Merlini which
circulated separately were those which Abbot Suger refers to; and
concerned themselves with recent historical events such as the white ship
sinking, the cut of coins, and dress code of the outer apparel etc. etc.
However, we will go back to the VM prophecy above concerning the
three wearing the crown. These are William the Conqueror, William Rufus
and Henry Ist up until the fourth which is Stephen. To understand this fully,
the prophecies found in the Libellus Merlini and those found in the Vulgate
HRB are used as a device by Henry Blois to expand upon and redeploy
prophecies which have their sense changed or perhaps have been outdated
and not come to fruition.
Henry ostensibly displays to his Anglo-Norman readers that the
prophecies of Merlin in the Vulgate HRB are spoken of by the same person
as those found in the VM….so a level of consistency is required. Any update
or additional detail to the prophecy is still linked back to the concept of an
original sixth century seer, but the reader allows discrepancy having had
the sense of his prophecies slightly mistranslated or misunderstood.
The extract below from theHRB prophesiesto which the one above is
intrinsically linked back (to events at the Norman invasion of his
Grandfather William the Conqueror)…. is so that both the updated HRB
prophecies and VM prophecies seem to come from and are consistent with
the earlier Libellus Merlini. It also relates to how Henry Bloisview of the
world stood, 10 years before Henry wrote the Vita Merlini
The island shall be drenched in nightly tears, whence all men shall be
provoked unto all things. Woe unto thee, Neustria, for the brain
of the Lion
shall be poured forth upon thee; and with mangled limbs shall he be thrust
forth of his native soil. They that come after shall strive to outsoar the
highest, but the favour of the newcomers shall be exalted. Piety shall do hurt
unto him that doth possess through impiety until he shall have clad him in his
father. Wherefore, girdled about with the teeth of wolves, shall he climb over
the heights of the mountains and the shadow of him that weareth a helmet.
The island of Britain is in tears because of the bedlam caused by the
invasion. Referring to the Normans as if the author (i.e. Merlin) were not a
part of their heritage…. Henry Blois posing as Merlin then turns to the
episode of his uncle Henry Ist body being readied for burial.
King Henry Ist (the lion in both HRB and VM) died on 1 December 1135.
Henry’s uncle’s corpse was taken to Rouen accompanied by the barons,
where it was embalmed; his entrails were buried locally at Port-du-Salut
Abbey in Normandy, and the body preserved in salt was taken on to
England, where it was interred at Reading Abbey. Henry of Huntingdon,
tells us a man named Ewan was paid a large reward to sever the King’s
head with an axe.
Henry of Huntingdon, VIII. Meanwhile, the remains of King Henry unburied in Normandy; for he died on the
of December, 1135. His corpse was carried to Rouen, where his bowels, with his brain and eyes, were
deposited. The body being slashed by knives, and copiously sprinkled with salt was sewn up in ox hides to
prevent the ill effluvia, which so tainted the air as to be pestilential to the bystanders.
HRB VII, iii
Therefore, as the supposed prophecy states his soft tissue (brain
included) was buried in Normandy and his mangled limbs (the body), was
buried in England (thrust from his native shore) i.e. Normandy. We are
appraised that Henry Blois (through the voice of Merlin) is referring to his
ancestors and what is common knowledge to his readership. He now turns
to himself and his brother as he betrays his expectancy of future
events:They that come after shall strive to outsoar the highest, but the favour
of the newcomers shall be exalted.
The Anarchy was unfinished at the time these were originally written.
Henry expects great things as he will be in charge of spiritual affairs
(Legate) of the church and his brother those of state. As a team of
‘newcomers’, he envisages a new system of Gregorian values or Cluniac
vision; of both state and church existing together, perhaps without papal
Henry Blois envisions his brother accepting piety even though it was
through impiety his brother gained the crown and predicts that his brother
will be clothed in the father i.e. will embrace the church. Piety shall do hurt
unto him that doth possess through impiety until he shall have clad him in his
father. Henry Blois then refers to himself as his brother’s
protector:Wherefore, girdled about with the teeth of wolves, from Wolvesey
using possibly ‘the tooth of the wolf’ originally.
The point Henry was making is that the prophecy alluded to himself by
vaticinatory pun, the Wolf from Wolvesey. Henry Blois wrote the original
Libellus Merlini c.1141-5 a copy of which he had given to his friend Abbot
Suger. When Henry brought out the updated version of prophecies found
in the Vulgate HRB, some of his future expectations written at that earlier
time for the Libellus Merlini had not come to fruition in 1155.
These were now squewed in the later Vulgate edition, but seemingly
(appeared to all) to have remained consistent with the Libellus edition. We
can speculate that in the interim period the First Variant had a set of the
Libellus Merlini prophecies added which have since been substituted to the
updated version from Vulgate.
Wolvesey Palace is the residence of Henry Blois. Bishop Æthelwold, Bishop of Winchester 963 - 84, was the
one to build the first Bishop's Residence on the small island in the middle of the Itchen. This island was
originally called Wulf's Isle, a name that corrupted in time into Wolvesey.
The prophecy concerning the ‘Sixth’ was never even thought about in
the numbering system of Kings when the original Libellus was handed to a
few of Henry’s circle. The numbering system in the Libellus Merlini only
went to 4. No original First Variant has survived all copies have the
corrected and updated 1155 prophecies in all four copies.
The next sentence is one of the most important in the HRB and
prophecies as it dates the prophecies not before 1st march 1139. Briefly, as I
shall discuss this later, so as not to be led into digression, the first reference
to the Primary Historia is in 1139 at Bec but the man crossing the mountains
(the Alps) is Henry Blois to receive his legateship from the ‘Helmeted man’
i.e. the Pope.
Henry refers to himself in fatuous vaticinatory language as the shadow
of the pope i.e. the Legate. From 1143 to 1963, the papal tiara was solemnly
placed on the pope's head during a papal coronation and resembled a
Wherefore, girdled about with the teeth of wolves, shall he climb over
the heights of the mountains and the shadow of him that weareth a helmet.
On 1 March 1139, during the reign of his brother Stephen, Henry
obtained a commission as papal legate, which in effect gave him higher
rank than Theobald of Bec and therefore rule over the English church.
What I want to make plain to the reader, as we have just covered this
prophecy from the HRB, is to show Henry Blois artifice in anchoring one
point, person, location, icon or episode to appear consistent with what he
had written many years before in the Vita Merlini or first set of prophecies.
Here in the Vita Merlin it still talks in the same vein as if the sense had
not changed but with Stephen’s death in the past now the prophecy is
squewed: The fourth in power will be harmed by his clumsy piety until he
puts on his father's clothes and so, girt with boar's teeth, crosses the shadow
of the Helmeted Man.
Any person who studied the prophecies in the late twelfth century would
cross reference this with the passage from the HRB or the Libellus thinking
the sense had changed through interpretation of the oblique Latin and
skimble skamble nature of the way the prophecies were written. This
essentially highlights the erratic way in which Henry’s mind works and
See Note 3, Papal Coronation
HRB VII, iii
why little sense has been made by comparison of the two sets of Merlin
prophecies in the Vita and those in Vulgate HRB.
Even if they had been compared and the icons changed no commentator
has taken into account that essentially three versions were written.
commentators have allowed the inaccuracies and inconsistencies and
blatant addition because they have been duped into believing the
prophecies were written by Merlin at one time long ago in the distant past.
The fourth version is that of John of Cornwall, written also by Henry Blois.