Appendix 7
Two hundred monks shall perish in Leicester and the Saxon shall drive out
her ruler and leave vacant her walls.
This prophecy is in reference to the defeat of Brocmail and the slaughter
of the monks at Leicester.
1
‘Geoffrey’ here either makes a mistake regarding
the location of Leicester or as is quite normal, sets up an episode which is
taken from a British annal such as Bede and then relays it incorrectly for his
own ends to bring it in line with a future scenario he is about to concoct.
This is certainly the case here in the HRB where he uses Bede as his
source when relating the massacre of Bangor. Bede in his Historia
Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum is in fact referring to the battle of Chester in
which Brocmail, tasked with protecting the monks, abandons them to be
massacred.
In ‘Geoffrey’s’ rendition of the event Brocmail dies bravely. In both
versions, monks from Bangor die. It is to this historic episode, the location is
wrongly apportioned to Leicester rather than Chester. The confusion may
or may not be deliberate as Bede refers to Chester by its English name
Legacaestir which is strikingly similar to Legecestria the term ‘Geoffrey’
uses for Leicester in the HRB from the Anglo Saxon Laegrecastrescir.
It is the HRBrather than Bede’s historic episode, to which the Vita
Merlini prophecy refers. Regardless of the differences of historic Bede, HRB
and Vita…. ‘Geoffrey‘s number of monks does not agree with the annals,
but it does agree with the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
In this whole section of VM Henry Blois seems to be presenting as
prophecy some areas and topics which he had presented as the course of
history in the HRB. This confirmation does in effect add credence to the
history as presented in theHRB, because Merlin, (as he later attests at the
end of VM), gave all these prophecies in the time of Vortigern. In effect the
reader now sees them as past matter of fact events. We start to see how
clever and conscious of history Henry Blois is. Henry in effect is rewriting it
in the HRB and adding his own later confirmation in the Vita.
1
HRB XI, xiii