Appendix 31
He conquered the people of the Gauls after killing Frollo to whom the Roman
power had given the care of that country; the Romans, too, who were seeking
to make war on his country, he fought against and conquered, and killed the
Procurator Hiberius Lucius who was then a colleague of Legnis the general,
and who by the command of the Senate had come to bring the territories of
the Gauls under their power.
It would be ludicrous, as most commentators assume, when referring to
Geoffrey of Monmouth, that Henry Blois writing as ‘Geoffreyhas not read
Tacitus’ account of Agricola, Tacitus’ father in law. The De vita et moribus
Iulii Agricolae concerns the Roman conquest of Britain.
Henry Blois is the master of deception and has certainly read Suetonius’
the Lives of the Twelve Caesars. Adam of Damerham attests that Henry Blois
left the book to Glastonbury abbey amongst the other books. Henry is
steeped in learning and probably the best informed on Roman and Gallic
history.
Posing as Master Gregorius,
1
one might even accuse him of infatuation
with things Roman.Much of the sentiment in the HRB and VM is too
coincidental for it not to have been written by the same hand as the Gesta
Stephani. Henry Blois rarely invents without basis or a tie to something
historical in the construction of both the HRB and Vita. His continental
escapade of Arthur is the most difficult to anchor historically because the
events are his own invention.
Henry Blois has a problem when it comes to Arthur in Gaul. Arthur on
the continent may have some substance in Breton sources
2
but his
appearance against a Roman army at Langres and Autun is complete
fiction. The landscape in which he set his battle scene, is 35 miles distant
from Cluny. This is why Arthur is put on the continent by ‘Geoffrey’ in that
location. Otherwise it is a difficult concept to deliver without a good
knowledge of the region and its peoples.
1
See chapter on Henry Blois and Master Gregorius
2
See appendix 20
Being well informed of genuine Roman history, without any credible
anchor to historical events, Geoffrey employs his usual discord…. deriving
names out of tentative connections. Henry Blois’ aim in the Vita in the
passage above is to make a quick transit into the Arthurian continental
episode and onto Mordred, just as a reassertion of the HRB’s historicity.
Even Henry would know Tacitus and the Lives of the Caesars presents a
very different picture of History than he concocts in the HRB; especially
since there are other sources available of events in Gaul. Henry’s main
gambit in this passage is to introduce more confusion into the Gallic episode
by introducing Frollo instead of Flollo, while at the same time linking back
to his fictional character Lucius Hiberius and that of Leo who is now Legnis.
Let us deal with Frollo first. Henry Blois’ mode of construction in both
Vita and HRB employs what should be termed a ‘conflationary anchor’. Any
one pursuing his inventions will usually find a discernible attachment or
basis and it is for this reason Geoffrey leaves a trail of doubt in all his
material. Acceptable historical proximity is usually maintained which
provides enough credibility for the reader to accept that which is being
proposed. Frollo or Flollo is purposely confused with Rollo because
‘Geoffrey’ has provided a name in Gaul which aids to anchor in location an
entirely spurious episode.
Gregory of Tours’ history ends in the latter half of the fifth century
without mention of continental Arthur; but Henry Blois needs a name that
he can link to his spurious Gallic campaign of Arthur. Even though
anachronistic, Rollo is nevertheless a grandee in Gaul. Rollo is a Latin
translation from the Old Norse name Hrólfr or Rollo (c.846931). He was
numbered Robert I and was a Norse nobleman of Danish or Norwegian
descent who was the first ruler of the Viking principality which became
known as Normandy. His descendants were the Dukes of Normandy.
Rollo is the great-great-great-grandfather of William the Conqueror. This
is probably as far back as Henry Blois could trace his ancestry and thus
invents Frollo and Flollo just to add flavour of historical inaccuracy or
scribal error. His seemingly misconstrued name acts as a confirmatory tie
to a name in the region. Frollo hitherto had no existence in Gaul prior to the
HRB, especially in the 6
th
century. Henry understands who he is basing
Frollo or Flollo on, because two sentences before the following extract he
states that Arthur had brought into submission and had dominion over both
Norway and Denmark.
The province of Gaul at that time had been committed to the charge of
Flollo, Tribune of Rome, who ruled it under the Emperor Leo.
3
Henry does not
care that the Vita is set around Rhydderch Hael c.580614; Rollo, Flollo or
Frollo becomes part of the soup which now ties in to the fictitious names of
Lucius Hiberius and Legnis or Leo in Gaul. Legnis, the General referred to
as a colleague of Lucius Hiberius in the VM (as above) might be a mis-
reading for the genitive Leonis since the HRB already makes Leo a colleague
of Lucius, but it is probably purposeful confusion on the part of Henry Blois
as he also changes Flollo to Frollo in VM.
So soon therefore, as the infamy of the aforesaid crime did reach his ears,
he (Arthur) forthwith deferred the expedition he had enterprised against Leo,
the King of the Romans, and sending Hoel, Duke of the Armoricans, with the
Gaulish army to restore peace in those parts, he straightway hastened back to
Britain with none save the island Kings and their armies. Now, that most
detestable traitor Mordred…..
4
The Emperor Leo, as a colleague of Lucius Hiberius in the Vita, is merely
Geoffrey’s ploy to anchor back to his spurious episode in Gaul in the HRB. A
credible re-affirmation now in the Vita through the words of Merlin
himself…. recounting Geoffrey’s dubious account in the HRB set 35 miles
from Clugny with Langres not that much further away.
Lucius Hiberius meanwhile, taking these disasters sorely to heart, was
mightily perplexed and distressed to make resolve whether it were better for
him to hazard a general engagement with Arthur, or to throw himself into
Autun and there await assistance from the Emperor Leo. In the end he took
counsel of his fears, and on the night following, marched his armies into
Langres on his way to Autun.
5
Loomis, Parry, Griscom, Zimmer, Tatlock, etc, all argue a hypothesis
which assumes Geoffrey of Monmouth existed and some are much bemused
that a man from the Welsh Marches has good topographical information in
the region of Burgundy. It would be reasonable to assert that Henry Blois
would have travelled to both Autun and Langres on several occasions, and
3
HRB IX, xi
4
HRB XI,i
5
HRB X, vi
it would be an ideal stage for Arthur’s campaign in an area, steeped in
Roman ruins on lands controlled by Cluniacs in the region of Blois. Henry
based the utopian Caerleon as Arthur’s court mainly for archaeological
reasons and also Nennius mention of Urbs Legionum being synonymous
with Caerleon.