Foreword
This work covers three genres of study which are intricately related. A
purposeful lie has been created and unfortunately accepted by modern
scholars; the roots of which are hidden in layers of misrepresentation. The
genres of study can broadly be described as firstly; the works of Geoffrey of
Monmouth, his Merlin prophecies and the account of his pseudo-history
found in the ‘History of the Kings of Britain’ (HRB). The second area of study
are the events that transpired at Glastonbury which cover the disinterment
of King Arthur and the appearance of Joseph of Arimathea in Glastonbury
lore. This I shall term Glastonburyana. Lastly, my exposé covers early Grail
literature written by Robert de Boron and Chrétien de Troyes. These three
areas of study make up a body of knowledge which is generally refered to
as ‘The Matter of Britain’.
Normally in such studies there is a huge amount of speculation and
conjecture due to the nature of dealing with events portrayed by
chroniclers and manuscripts in an era when fraudulent accounts were
commonplace. However, there is a pervading commonality throughout this
exposé which can ultimately be tested which will show one way or the
other whether the points put forward herein are based in truth.
In such cases of medieval studies, one could sometimes postulate that a
topic has a relation to another where none exists as is seen in several
scholarly works which have appeared over the last hundred years or so as a
solution to the ‘The Matter of Britain’ has been diligently sought. The main
three questions which embody this study of ‘The Matter of Britain’ are: Did
King Arthur really exist? How did Joseph of Arimathea legend start at
Glastonbury abbey? How did Grail literature reflect upon king Arthur and
Joseph of Arimathea and why does this body of literature relate to an island
called Avallon and Glastonbury Church.
I will be accused that the evidence provided in this study essentially pushes
for one type of conclusion where there is no possibility of certainty. I am
accused already that this work has not undergone any kind of peer review.
Modern scholars are so intransigent they could not entertain the idea that
new information has come to light or for one of them to rock the boat. No
scholar has undertaken to find a definitive solution to the ‘Matter of
Britain’, but by purposefully keeping our three genres of study unconnected
they pontificate to no end while they strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.
The main thrust of this work has virtually become an impossible task
i.e. to expose that the prophecy of Melkin was not a fourteenth century
invention as is currently thought and agreed by modern scholars. My aim
toward this goal is achieved in the main by citing fraudulent works
authored and concocted by Henry Blois. These include the impersonation of
Geoffrey of Monmouth, Caradoc of Llancarfan and others.
I have no intention to distort the implications of what is reliably
known. The problem is nothing is reliably known. I try to steer away from
ill-founded or undocumented assertions, but at the same time, many of the
views in this book run contrary to accepted theories put forward by
modern scholarship, which are shown to be founded on incorrect a prioris.
This work has a fresh outlook on many of the accepted assumptions of
modern scholarship. The three genres which are the subject of our
investigation span more material than that which is commonly accepted as
a tolerable area of expertise in the realms of scholarship. This makes for a
lengthy tome, which if the reader is willing to endure to end; He or She will
only be able to draw the same conclusion that I have determined for the
most part. It is the foundation upon which to build and to the present era is
the first understandable and workable solution to the riddle that became
‘The Matter of Britain’. Without linking all three genres of study, the
seemingly disparate nature of their underlying commonality will not be
discovered. It is my intention to uncover a lie
1
which has far reaching
ramifications when exposed.
Commentators interested in Arthuriana recognise the genius of Geoffrey
of Monmouth. The genius is in fact Henry Blois. Geoffrey of Monmouth is a
nom de plume.
1
Cicero. The first duty of a man is the seeking after and the investigation of truth.
The common denominator in all three genres in this investigation i.e.
Arthuriana, Glastonburyana, and early Grail literature is Henry Blois. I do
not set out to prove this as a goal, but it is merely a by-product of the main
thrust of this work. It will become apparent that the concept of the Island of
Avalon is a product of Henry Blois. This island originally an Island called
Ineswitrin donated to Glastonbury in 601 AD is in fact an Island on which
the remains of Joseph of Arimathea are buried.
My qualification is the very fact that I am not a scholar and have not
been primed to accept assumptions. I have not been taught to perceive or
accept a fact or a consensus arrived at by previous researchers on any of
the three genres but I have read nearly every opinion. Neither am I dim
enough to accept that so many facts concerning Glastonbury lore and the
Matière de Bretagne just coincidentally happened as a fortuitous
convergence of factors because a scholar has decreed it so.
My main intent is to expose the fraudulent authorship of several works
back in the twelfth century which were concocted wholly or interpolated by
Henry Blois, the Bishop of Winchester, Abbot of Glastonbury and brother of
King Stephen. This work exposes the existence of an Island in Devon, today
called Burgh Island and its connection to Joseph of Arimathea and a tin
mining heritage existing into antiquity. This work also exposes the island’s
links with the mystical island of Avalon and Henry Blois.
Preface
Henry Blois was a genius who died in 1171. He had been brought up by his
aristocratic mother until about the age of ten. He was able to absorb what
interested him from a vast Library where he was schooled at Clugny in
France until he was in his twenties. He hailed from one of the richest and
noblest families in France. William the Conqueror was his grandfather.
Henry Blois wrote The History of the Kings of Britain (HRB). It was Henry
Blois who firstly interpolated William of Malmesbury’s De Antiquitates (DA)
which establishes much of the myth surrounding Glastonbury. I will set out
below that Henry Blois concocted the original Grail stories which connect
Joseph of Arimathea and Arthur to Glastonbury and the chivalric Arthur of
HRB to Avalon. It will become apparent that Henry Blois also composed the
prophecies of Merlin.
If one breaks down the false premise from which commentators have
started, and one is not duped by the apparent fraud which corroborates
material from the various genres of investigation; all these subjects
interrelate through Henry Blois. Henry Bloisgenius lies in the fact that his
greatest coup transpired after his death. This was the disinterment of the
‘Chivalric King Arthur’ at Glastonbury because Henry Blois had previously
manufactured the grave in his lifetime.
As we progress through the evidence which puts Henry Blois at the
centre of the Matter of Britain, it becomes evident that he had to hide his
association with the fraudulent tracts he had created. Henry Blois’ main
defence from discovery was respectability and power. He was King
Stephen’s brother and the most powerful prelate in Britain during his
Brother Stephen’s reign. His position, his wealth, power and royal blood,
enabled Henry Blois to create a persona to hide behind. He has affected
European history by assuming the title of Geoffrey of Monmouth while
writing the History of the Kings of Britain and inventing the first origins of
Grail lore under such pseudonyms as Master Blihis, Blaise, Bleheris, Bliho-
Bleheris and Bledhericus. In effect his output has more consequence to
history than the writings of Cicero who he greatly admired.
Historians have had little to relate regarding the biography of ‘Geoffrey’.
Any personal details are fabricated and based upon a false identity built
specifically by Henry Blois to hide his authorship of HRB and the Vita
Merlini (VM).
Our only view of the character of Henry Blois is arrived at through the
words of contemporary chroniclers and by his known deeds, but once the
evidence in these pages is revealed, it will be seen that there is far more to
Henry Blois than is commonly understood.
It was not through malice that Henry Blois carried out what many may
consider an outright fraud, but some of his actions were dictated by events.
In the beginning, Henry Blois had no intention of creating what has now
become known as The Matter of Britain. I will endeavour to lay bare the
evolving sequence of events which complemented the formation of The
Matter of Britain and the cause and reason for his secretive authorship.
Few have suspected it was the Bishop of Winchester who was
responsible for the chivalric Arthurian legacy, but no modern scholar yet
has set out to show the evidence in a way which can be substantiated. The
pseudo-historical account which comprises the First Variant version and
Vulgate HRB was not authored by the fictional Geoffrey of Monmouth,
Bishop of Asaph. I will endeavour to show that Galfridus Artur
2
never even
existed, even though a trail has been left behind which seemingly provides
evidence to the contrary. We will also discover the reasoning behind the
wholly concocted prophecies of Merlin which were latterly added to the
Vulgate HRB.
‘Geoffrey of Monmouths’ pseudo-history has presented us with a
colourful History of the Kings of Britain with a heritage stemming from the
sack of Troy. Henry Blois has also fabricated legends which go to the heart
of the Christian religion in Britain. Much of the Glastonbury myth has been
caused by the interpolation of William of Malmesbury’s De antiquitate
Glastoniensis Ecclesiæ (DA) by Henry Blois.
What has added to the complexity of what transpired at Glastonbury has
its roots with Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea. A virgin birth
3
was
2
Gaufridus Arturus was the first appellation that Henry Blois gave the author of the book found at the abbey of
Bec. Geoffrey of Monmouth was to become his name at a later date.
3
The virgin birth as spoken of by the prophets relates to the birth of the spirit in man not the ludicrous notion
that a messiah was born from a single un-impregnated woman.
misinterpreted by the Jews which was prophesied
4
as the Messiah’s destiny.
The Gospel writers had to overcome logistical problems with a certain
‘Joseph’ the mundane father of Jesus. Relevant genealogies were provided
as to the lineage of Joseph
5
the carpenter, but the attempt to reconcile a
heavenly and an earthly father of Jesus has a bearing on the ultimate
conclusion of this study which is the substance of the Grail.
An attempt to overcome the problems of an immaculate conception was
the root of the Gospel writer’s dilemma. The contrived disappearance of
‘carpenter’ Joseph in the gospel accounts is a subtle rationalisation
employed by the Gospel writers following ‘Q’ who misunderstood the
prophets’ words and the meaning of the prophetical virgin birth. The reality
of an earthly father was a difficult conundrum to deal with eschatologically.
A theologically more comprehendible uncle with the same name would
seem a partial solution to the Gospel writer’s dilemma. Joseph of
Arimathea’s removal of the body of Jesus from the cross and what
transpired afterward to both the body and to Joseph of Arimathea is what
gospel writers seem most at odds with. Posterity is left with a disappearance
of the body of Jesus and Joseph and the rationalisations of St Paul’s
eschatology. It is this confusion which partly leads to the later Grail legends
in which ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Arthur and knights seems to be
anachronistically connected.
What transpired after the crucifixion are events which lead to Grail
legend. The Grail’s relation to Glastonbury is down to a little known
prophecy called the prophecy of Melkin discovered at Glastonbury. Our
modern scholars, experts in this field of study, tell us the prophecy, first
mentioned by John of Glastonbury, is a fake. This assumption is based upon
the fact that there is no previous mention of it before the fourteenth
century. The scholars who profess this opinion confirm and readily admit
that they have no understanding of the Prophecy. It is this prophecy and its
relation to Glastonbury and Henry Blois which is at the heart of the Grail
legends and our present investigation.
4
Isaiah 7.14Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son,
and she will call His name Immanuel.
5
Mathew 1.16. Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the
Messiah.
Augustine, who came to Britain in the year 597 was the first Archbishop
of Canterbury and is considered the "Apostle to the English" and a founder
of the English Church. Although no Joseph of Arimathea tradition appeared
before Henry Blois at Glastonbury; there can be no denial of the fact that
there was a Celtic Briton church independent of Rome before the arrival of
Augustine. The church of the Britons was originally established with a
superior prestige than that of St. Peter and the establishment of this
proposition is the ultimate outcome of this book.
Henry Blois was a serial interpolator, impersonator and author of many
fraudulent works. Part of our inquiry involves a charter which grants an
Island named ‘Ines Witrin’, donated by a Devonian King to Glastonbury in
601 AD, four years after the Roman church’s envoy Augustine sets foot on
British soil. The charter indicates that Glastonbury was already a Christian
institution at this early date and somewhat independent of Rome through
the dark ages since the crumbling of the Roman Empire. It is the
interpretation of this grant mentioned by William of Malmesbury in his
Gesta Regum (GR) and DA which is at the heart of our investigation into the
Matter of Britain.
Once I have established for the reader that a number of manuscripts
were authored by Henry Blois, we will discover the reasons behind his
authorship and anonymity. I will expose the ingenuity of his artifice in
creating the persona of ‘Geoffrey’ and his impersonation and interpolation
of other known authors after their deaths. These include Caradoc of
Llancarfan, William of Malmesbury, Wace and Geffrei Gaimar amongst
others.
Few have questioned the forgeries manufactured by what Lot
6
calls the
‘officine de faux’ at Glastonbury. The exposing of certain facts within these
pages should leave the reader in no doubt that both Vita Merlini and the
HRB were written by the Bishop of Winchester, Henry Blois and not
Geoffrey of Monmouth. Henry Blois at the height of his power was Legate to
the pope and wielded a vast influence over Britain. His self-written epitaph
on the Meusan plates provides evidence of his regard for the authorship of
books as being greater than all things material. Yet it is the commonly
accepted opinion of modern scholars that there is not one work authored by
6
Ferdinand Lot. 'Glastonbury et Avalon', Romania 27 (1898), p. 537)
him. The only exception which has been left to posterity is his Libellus
which relates to affairs concerning Glastonbury in its bland factual style.
Although Henry’s Libellus is a genuine account of Henry’s achievements
at Glastonbury, it also acts as a subtle devise meant to deflect any suspicion
that his hand or authorship may be involved in other tracts of literature.
The illustrious history of Glastonbury was concocted for the most part by
Henry Blois and is part of the foundation for the Matter of Britain. William
of Malmesbury knew Henry Blois well and refers to him as a remarkable
man; a man known for his literary skill.
7
We shall also understand more of the stages of evolution in the
construction of the HRB when we cover the events which occurred at the
time the first edition was discovered at Bec. We will then better understand
the various contradictions of allegiance portrayed by ‘Geoffrey’. It also
becomes evident that the first edition of HRB, which I have termed the
Primary Historia, related in précis (or synopsis), evidenced in Henry of
Huntingdon’s letter to his friend Warin (EAW),
8
differs in substantial
storyline detail from the First Variant and from Vulgate version of HRB.
We will cover the reasons for the differences. Scholars have made
presumptions concerning the dating of HRB based on the dedicatees life
spans and have assumed that the copy of the History of the Kings of Britain
found at Bec was substantially the same as the Vulgate version. I shall
elucidate upon the progression of the HRB which went through four stages
of evolution. We shall discover the reason behind the insertion of the
Prophecies of Merlin into the HRB. I will uncover why there was a lapse of
years before ‘Geoffrey’s’ Vita Merlini was written and the appearance of
new prophecies concerning events in the Anarchy (supposedly recounted
by Merlin’s sister). We will investigate why all works written by ‘Geoffrey’
that I propose in this work were written secretively by Henry Blois. I shall
also cover why latterly Gaufridus Artur was given the title ‘Geoffrey of
Monmouth’ and ultimately Bishop of Asaph.
Once we establish that several works including the anonymously
authored Gesta Stephani, Caradoc’s life of Gildas, the interpolations into
William of Malmesbury’s DA and parts of GR3 and other works
9
emanate
7
Antiquities of Glastonbury William of Malmesbury Ch.83
8
Epistola ad Warinum
9
For instance: Wace’s Roman de Brut., Geoffrey Gaimar’s L'Estoire des Bretons which was never even written
from Henry’s hand, we are then in a position to untangle what seemed to be
an unsolvable puzzle concerning Glastonbury, its association with Avalon,
King Arthur, Joseph of Arimathea and the Holy Grail.
Henry Blois has employed many subtle methods to create his ingenious
edifice of fallacious history. The underlying reasons for Henry’s deception
will become clear, but his genius and brilliance are evident in the works he
authored and in the fact he remained undetected. The means he employed
to remain anonymous as the instigator of these works are several and by no
certainty are all his works discovered in this present volume, as some of his
output has not survived to the modern era.
Geoffrey of Monmouth’s epic which brings the ‘chivalric’ King Arthur
onto the western historical stage has no mention of Joseph of Arimathea or
Glastonbury. Shortly after the book’s proliferation, the Island of Avalon
(Insula Avallonis) the place where Arthur was taken after the battle of
Camlann, becomes linked to Glastonbury. A fraudulent unearthing of the
bones of King Arthur, found with a bogus ‘leaden cross’ dubiously stating
that the burial site is synonymous with Avalon, have (since that time)
ensured both Avalon and Glastonbury are identified as the same location.
Glastonbury’s association with Joseph of Arimathea is primarily through
the interpolations inserted into DA, the Insula Avallonis foretold in a
prophecy by Melkin and an allusion in Robert de Boron’s Joseph d’Arimathie
to the Vaus d’ Avaron. A fragment of Melkin’s work (i.e. the prophecy), was
reproduced in John of Glastonbury’s Cronica sive antiquitates Glastoniensis
ecclesie. Many scholars have followed Lagorio in thinking that Melkin’s
prophecy is derived in essence as a composite, based on material derived
from Robert de Boron’s Joseph d’ Arimathie which links Glastonbury by way
of the Vaus d’Avaron.
I shall uncover that Glastonbury’s association with the name Avalon
was manufactured by Henry Blois. The last known location of ‘Geoffrey of
Monmouth’s’ concocted persona of a chivalric King Arthur was the Island of
Avalon where he was taken grievously wounded. This has been accepted as
Insula Pomorum, put forward as an alternative description or appellation to
Avalon in the VM. Its synonymy with the island of Avalon as presented in
HRB is confirmed in VM where the wounded Arthur is taken to the island
by Barinthus. As Watkin realises, this establishes Glastonbury as
commensurate with Avalon as early as 1155.
10
The general acceptance of Arthur’s disinterment at Glastonbury is
thought to be a fraudulent staging of the event by Henry de Sully and
unconnected to Henry Blois. In fact, the disinterment stems from a polemic
and propagandist strategy which was originally fostered by Henry Blois
before his death by interpolating William of Malmesbury’s DA and by
manufacturing the grave of Arthur. This view runs contrary to modern
scholarship’s opinion which understands that any mention of Arthur in DA
has been interpolated post Arthur’s disinterment in 1189-91.
11
I shall
adequately show that it was Henry Blois who planted the supposed bones of
Arthur and the lock of Guinevere’s hair and fabricated the Leaden cross
with its inscription. These were uncovered/ discovered twenty years after
Henry Blois death in a manufactured grave between the piramides in
Glastonbury cemetery.
I will also cover the confusion regarding Yniswitrin as being another
previous appellation of Glastonbury. This stems from propaganda found in
Henry Blois’ impersonation of Caradoc in his concoction of the Life of
Gildas. This tract has direct repercussions on its relation to the 601 Charter
mentioned by William of Malmesbury. It was driven by Henry Blois’
10
Aelred Watkin. The Glastonbury Legends. P.17. If Avalon and the isle of apples are considered to be identical,
and here again we are on the verge of identification of Avalon with Glastonbury. Watkin has misunderstood that
there is no transitional verge!!!
The isle of Avalon appears in the First Variant in 1144 (not mentioned in the copy found at Bec related in
EAW). Willam of Malmesbury died in 1143 and William had never mentioned the place or intoned that
Glastonbury was synonymous with Ineswitrin in his Life of St Dunstan, but Glastonbury’s assimilation of
synonymy with Avalon was interpolated into DA by Henry Blois.
11
John Scott, The early history of Glastonbury. P.34. Finally we can be sure that all references to King Arthur
must have been written after the purported discovery of his remains buried between the two pyramids in 1190-1.
This is the modern scholars view based mainly on Lagorio’s erroneous standpoint in that Arthuriana and Grail
legend appeared at Glastonbury following the advent of continental Grail literature and a fortuitous convergence
of factors. Scott’s view, that any mention of Arthur in DA prior to the unearthing of his gravesite, could not have
been interpolated before the event, does not hold true. There is ‘Caradoc’s’ association of Arthur to Glastonbury
which stems from Henry Blois.
Henry II died on 6 July 1189. If the date for the unearthing is correct in 1190-91, we should ask: how do we
account for the reference to King Arthur in association with Glastonbury in a charter written by Henry II
granting concessions to Glastonbury while still alive. Scholars need to recognise that Arthur was connected to
Glastonbury by Henry Blois’ propaganda interpolated in DA long before Arthur’s disinterment. Carta Henrici
Regis Secundi Filii Matildis Imperatricis De Libertatibus Concessis Ecclesie Glaston. Volume 1, P 186. The
Great Chartulary of Glastonbury. Dom Aelred Watkin…… Baldredo, Ina, inclito Arthuro, Cuddredo et multis
aliis regibus Christianis….
attempt to gain metropolitan status for the whole of South West England. I
shall also cover why the etymology concerning Ineswitrin is an additional
last paragraph to a book already fraudulently written by Henry Blois who
impersonated Caradoc of Llancarfan. The Life of Gildas’ first aim in
composition was to associate King Arthur and Gildas with Glastonbury. It
was written c.1139-40. Its additional last paragraph (added in 1144) was
composed to contrive a synonymy between Glastonbury and Ineswitrin.
What I intend to show is that Glastonbury’s myth of the Grail stems from
Melkin’s prophecy. Grail literature was initially instigated by Henry Blois
on the continent in the guise of Master Blihis. The Melkin prophecy
portends the discovery of Joseph of Arimathea’s body in the future. It is this
prophecy which speaks of the duo fassula which has associated the ‘cruets’
and Grail with Glastonbury. The duo fassula is said by Melkin to be buried
along with Joseph of Arimathea in Insula Avallonis. At the end of this
volume there is ample evidence provided to show that the Prophecy of
Melkin existed at the time Henry Blois was Abbot of Glastonbury. I also
show that the Melkin prophecy is a genuine encrypted document and it
acted as the inspirational template for the prime archetype of the Grail in
the sang réal.
After the great fire at Glastonbury in 1184 there was a loss of many
books, but the providential find of Arthur’s remains later in 1189-91 has
forevermore provided the erroneous association of Glastonbury with the
fictitious Isle of Avalon and thereafter Joseph of Arimathea with the Grail at
Glastonbury.
Analysis of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s HRB has shown that virtually every
episode, place or person can be linked by a previous association. ‘Geoffrey’s’
inspiration and his natural gift of inventiveness in the narrative storyline
and in the characters he unfolds, in nearly every case, has a provenance
and a purport to carry forward his pseudo-history. His work is based upon
sources from which he has provided an echo of history. ‘Geoffrey’sattempt
at providing a credible provenance for his HRB is insincere as he feigns to
be translating the words of a previous writer from the British tongue into
Latin or from a book ex Britannia.
Besides the episode which concerns King Lear,
12
which might be one of
the few tales of the HRB which is thought to be entirely of ‘Geoffrey’sown
invention, there is an underlying framework which attempts to parallel
events portrayed in older sources i.e. extant British annals.
Previous commentators on the existence of ‘Geoffrey’s ancient book
seem undecided or unconvinced on the ancient book’s existence. ‘Geoffrey’
avows the historical substance for his HRB comes from this ancient ex
Britannia book procured from the Archdeacon of Oxford wherein it
supposedly bears witness to an Island called Avalon. One aim of this
present work is to uncover the provenance of the Island of Avalon. The
Insula Avallonis cited in Melkin’s prophecy is a real location (which was
once known as Ineswitrin). The island is unconnected with King Arthur
except through the authorship of HRB by Henry Blois. This goal will be
achieved when the reader is fully appraised that Geoffrey of Monmouth did
not exist and that he was a fabricated persona invented by Henry Blois, the
bishop of Winchester and abbot of Glastonbury.
What appears from the outset is that ‘Geoffrey’s’ basis for writing the
HRB is to provide a history about the Britons: ‘and it now remains for me to
tell how they came and from where and this will be made clear in the
following’. We shall cover the formation and development of the original
Primary Historia found at Bec from an already created pseudo-history
intended for Henry Blois’ Uncle Henry 1st and the Empress Matilda. To this
original draft episodes of the Chivalric Arthur were added in 1137-8.
‘Geoffrey’s’ inspirational muses weave scenarios evidently drawn or
formatted on previous works of known classical writers. Henry Blois as the
author of HRB uses ancient insular annals as well as contemporary
historian’s work as source material to anchor his epic in what may be
termed a ‘conflated fabulation of history’. People, places, events, and
legend, are made to seem as a genuine historical account.
Henry Blois genius also capitalises on the sentiment of the insular and
Breton populace and its bravado regarding an Arthur which Henry
transposes his Norman values upon…. to become the ‘Chivalric King
Arthur’. There has never been a trace of the ancient book which ‘Geoffrey’
refers to or reference to whom may have authored it because it simply did
12
The template for Henry Blois inspiration for the story of King Lear may well be based upon Henry’s father.
not exist. Even the Gaimar epilogue which confirms the existence of such a
book is part of Henry Blois’ deception.
Henry, writing as Geoffrey of Monmouth, supposedly cautions three
‘contemporary’ historians, William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon
and Caradoc of Llancarfan that his history is more complete by possession
of the source book. We shall cover Henry Blois’ impersonation of Caradoc
of Llancarfan, but it was after Caradoc’s death when Henry wrote the life of
Gildas. We will see how that manuscript inter-relates to the engravings
found on the Modena Archivolt known to portray the ‘kidnap of Guinevere’.
Although Gildas’s De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae
13
does not mention
Arthur, the bogus life of Gildas in effect establishes a relationship in
antiquity between Arthur and Gildas through the episode concerning King
Melvas at Glastonbury. We shall uncover that Henry Blois’ assertion that
Caradoc is the contemporary of ‘Geoffrey’ in the colophon which mentions
the three historians is purposeful misdirection. This colophon was inserted
into some manuscripts of HRB post 1157 after Huntingdon’s death.
It will be shown in this present work that the device which has caused
confusion amongst scholars is the use of retro-dating employed by Henry
Blois, specifically employing the names of dedicatees and authors. Thus
many of the previous conclusions about the composition and dating of HRB
will need to be reassessed. ‘Back dating’ is a ‘primary device’ employed by
Henry Blois. It is used by Henry Blois on several occasions to distance
himself from the authorship of several works by time and by association.
Henry interpolates much of William of Malmesbury’s Enquiry into the
Antiquity of the Church of Glastonbury’ (DA) by composing most of the first
34 chapters of that book himself. After William’s death, we can also witness
other interpolations in the C and B versions of William’s GR3. The
tampering with these manuscripts is the root cause of much of the
confusion which I hope to clear up satisfactorily.
Henry Blois also spends considerable effort to convince us that the
patchwork compilation of the Historia Brittonum ascribed to Nennius (who
may have been only a reviser, consolidator or an interpolator)
14
is in fact
13
Gildas relates heavily to biblical sources and looks on the British as descendants of the Israelites, but his works
generally bemoan the state of the British nation through the invasions and internal division of the Britons.
14
However, Grandsens Historical Writing in England p.6 does point out stylistic unity and comment upon the
preface of Historia Brittonum which accuses the Britons of slothfully neglecting their past and concludes there is
no earlier pre-cursor to the Historia from which it might be compiled.
the work of Gildas. The point of this is to convince posterity that Gildas
wrote concerning Arthur…. which we know he did not! The HRB in effect
attempts to persuade us that Nennius’s account is written by Gildas because
it is the only pre-twelfth century annal which evidences Arthur apart from
a few cursory references in a few accounts mentioned in some tracts
concerning the lives of saints
15
and the Annales Cambriae. The life of St
Cadoc upon which Henry concocted his Life of Gildas is the prime example.
The life of Gildas establishes a bogus association that Gildas is connected to
Glastonbury and is partly the reason for Henry’s invention of the Life of
Gildas. Gildas association with Glastonbury is only otherwise established
by what Henry Blois has written in his interpolation of William of
Malmesbury’s GR3 and expanded upon in chapter 7 of DA. However, the
Life of Gildas preceded the first interpolations into DA which were made in
1144. Secondary additions to DA which include the St Patrick charter were
added c.1149. We shall also see a tertiary set of additions interpolated into
DA c.1160-1170 which incorporate what I have termed Henry Blois’ second
agenda.
Researchers have attempted to ascertain ‘Geoffrey’s’ underlying reason
for writing the HRB apart from that stated by ‘Geoffrey’. Scholars have been
duped into believing that ‘Geoffrey was an aspiring cleric seeking
patronage and who professes his reason for writing was that he could find
no previous writer who had given an adequate account of British history.
The real reasons are multiple and set out further on. They include an
account of how the composition of HRB evolved from an unfinished original
faux-history’ destined for the Empress Matilda pre-1134 which was then
spliced together with additional material which became the epic concerning
King Arthur written in 1137-8. This became what I have termed the Primary
Historia. The Primary Historia is what Huntingdon witnessed at Bec which
was then developed into the First Variant and then to one of the most
influential books ever written; the Vulgate HRB. The present assessment
15
This mention of Arthur as a named persona in history rebuts the suggestion of Ashe and Padel in assuming that
there is a mix up in tradition between Riotamus and Arthur. However, the suggestion that Riotamus’s military
expedition to the Continent is the inspiration for the Continental campaign which ‘Geoffrey ascribes to Arthur is
a very plausible explanation in how Henry Blois (impersonating Geoffrey) allowed himself to stray from what is
reliably known in history with the conflation of Riotamus’s expedition. O.J.Padel correctly points out: But it is a
long way from this to supposing that Riotamus was the actual prototype of the legendary Arthur. As already
mentioned, Arthur was famed in Brittonic folklore and local legend before Geoffrey wrote, and was the
inspiration for his figure.
among commentators is the assumption that the First Variant post dated the
Vulgate version. This view is entirely erroneous.
Virtually nothing is known of Geoffrey of Monmouth, but the little that is
known has provided a base for scholarship to assume he was a real
historical person. Beginning with such a false premise has led to a maze of
misinformation concerning Glastonbury and events surrounding King
Arthur’s disinterment. It has also led to the misunderstanding of the
inspiration behind the Grail material. As the reader will discover, the basis
for the events regarding Joseph of Arimathea in Britain and the true
substance of what became known as the Grail in association with Joseph
are based on genuine historical events.
It is a strange circumstance considering the amount written about
Geoffrey of Monmouth and his HRB that we have such flimsy biographical
details. As far as I know only two commentators
16
have questioned the
reality of the persona of Galfridus Arthur. Geoffrey’ is only grounded in
historical reality by his supposed witness to a few charters and the dubious
fact that he became Bishop of St. Asaph and once stood in front of Theobald
of Bec to be ordained.
These fictitious details will be shown to have been concocted by Henry
Blois with the intention of secreting his authorship of what eventually
became a contentious book; especially once the updated prophecies of
Merlin were added to it. At this time Galfridus Artur became known by his
later appellation Geoffrey of Monmouth. Orderic’s reference to the
prophecies and Robert of Torigni’s reference to the Bishop of Asaph also
have augmented the belief by commentators that ‘Geoffrey’ actually existed.
These references will be dealt with in the appropriate place in this expose.
All other reference to Geoffrey is derived from comment about his work
regarding the HRB or VM or from spurious personal details divulged by
Henry Blois or from the Gwentian Brut. The Brut y Tywysogyon records
Geoffrey’s death in 1154-5, but this annal serves as a continuation of
Geoffrey’s HRB and is definitively mis-directional regarding his other
details. The Brut y Tywysogion has survived as several Welsh translations
of an original Latin version, which has not itself survived. However, we will
see that the original version was a chronicle written by Caradoc of
16
De Buck in Acta SS, LVII,94, and D.R. Thomas, Hist. Diocese of St Asaph Oswestry vol I, 33,214 regarding
Geoffreys episcopate and biography
Llancarfan in Latin and Henry Blois interpolated it with propaganda about
‘Geoffrey’.
As we progress we will understand that the original annal which
Caradoc wrote pre-date’s the HRB and is the main reason why Henry Blois
ends his HRB at the point where Caradoc starts his history. The colophon in
some versions of HRB mentioning Caradoc’s name is meant to misdirect;
creating the sense that Caradoc is alive (along with Huntingdon and
Malmesbury) and we are led to believe he is ‘Geoffreys’ contemporary who
took up the mantle of bringing Geoffrey’s history up to date. I will show that
this colophon was written after 1155.
Henry Blois who had many Welsh monks under his auspices has
implanted material which substantiates his HRB in the Book of LLandaff.
Many of the places like Fluvium Periron which no-one has definitively
located, just happens to be given location in the Book of Llandaff. The
subject of Periron is interesting concerning Henry Blois and will be
discussed during an examination of why John of Cornwall’s edition of the
Merlin prophesies locates Periron at Tintagel. Also, I will elucidate why the
Merlin prophecies, although appearing to speak about similar subjects, vary
in sense between the versions of JC, VM, and the Merlin prophecies found in
Vulgate HRB.
Henry Blois himself publicized ‘Geoffrey’s’ death and is recorded in the
Brut y Tywysogion (1154).We can account for Robert of Torigni’s reference
to the bishop of Asaph as having come from Henry Blois himself at a
meeting in Mont St Michel in 1155. The Gwentian Brut adds a number of
details about the later period of ‘Geoffrey’s’ life, from his being ordained as
bishop onwards. None of these details have any substance. It states that
Geoffrey died in Llandaff and was buried there, but there is no grave site.
Also, it names him a foster son of Uchtryd, archbishop of Llandaff and
asserts that Geoffrey taught at, and served as archdeacon of St. Teilo in
Llandaff. ‘Geoffrey’s’ death is certainly Henry Blois’ providentially timed
invention as Henry II came to the throne as will become clear later.
Admittedly, other material could be accountable to the aggrandising of
Llandaff by Welshmen at a later date due to ‘Geoffrey’s renown. His
personal disclosures like ‘pudibindus Brito’ found in some texts are all part
of the illusion that ‘Geoffrey’ could not be Norman. There is simply no
contemporary who provides a personal detail of a meeting with him in the
flesh; except that evidence which I will show has been provided and
planted by Henry Blois. most obviously as the bishop of Asaph on the
Treaty of Winchester; (which itself was put together and the terms drawn up
by Henry Blois), which brought the Anarchy to an end.
Before I can begin to untangle a spurious tradition at Glastonbury later
on, it is necessary firstly to leave the reader in no doubt that the man we
think of as Geoffrey of Monmouth is in fact Henry Blois. After this is
established beyond doubt or speculation by analysing the HRB and the Vita
Merlini, we can then move on to the methods employed and the reasoning’s
behind such a deception. The most difficult task for me is to convince the
reader that Geoffrey of Monmouth is Henry Blois in the shortest and
quickest way possible, because there is so much other material to cover
after that to come to a solution of the Matter of Britain
My task is made harder by the fact that the premise that Geoffrey
existed, as a real living person, is so entrenched in commentator’s minds.
Once HRB is understood as having been authored by Henry Blois, the
evidence falls into place as certain other manuscripts are discussed. I shall
establish his deception through a brief analysis of the HRB prophecies and
those found in Vita Merlini.
17
Afterward having shown the prophecies of Merlin were concocted from
the mind of Henry Blois, it is just a short step to proving common
authorship of the faux-history making up the rest of HRB. I shall then
proceed to analyse the Gesta Stephani so that the reader is in no doubt that
both HRB and GS were written by Henry Blois. We can then move swiftly
through the tangible material in HRB regarding the continental battle scene
in Autun (in the region of Blois) etc…. understanding that Henry is the
author. The rest of the material authored by Henry Blois, will become
obvious as the deception unfolds.
I will demonstrate the subtlety of his various devices and show how a
different ploy in each tract is used to prevent his authorship being
discovered. Different methods of propagating his agenda enabled him to
remain undiscovered. Henry Blois interpolates corroborations into other
17
Any reader wishing to follow the trail of the prophecies should read the chapter on John of Cornwall because
this has the most certain evidence that Henry Blois wrote that Version. However I have left that until last so that
it explains the progression of the prophecies which the reader will appreciate after having covered much other
material.
texts authored previously by other writers to add to his fabricated history
of the Britons. After discussing the Merlin prophecies, VM and the GS, I will
explain exactly how Henry went about creating Geoffrey’s persona and
show that the Vulgate HRB and the updated Merlin prophecies were not
brought together until 1155. This has been achieved by Henry Blois grafting
icons and personages (in VM especially) from Welsh prophetic material
while looking backwards in time to past history and linking retrospectively
to events recorded in insular annals of the Britons. This is how Henry Blois
affects the ‘skimble skamble’ nature of the murky seeings and utterings of a
Dark Age prognosticator called Merlin.
There are many evidences to take into account concerning ‘Geoffrey’s’
work. Orderic’s testimony needs to be considered along with Henry of
Huntingdon’s précis of what I have termed the Primary Historia. Also, we
must look at Henry’s relationship with abbot Suger and also investigate
John of Cornwall’s testimony regarding the prophecies of Merlin. Robert of
Torigni’s testimony regarding the Bishop of Asaph will also be investigated.
Also, Alfred of Beverley’s recycled account of Geoffrey’s work. All of this
will be dealt with in the appropriate places in this exposé.
The supposed ‘Geoffrey’ had already completed his Primary Historia by
the latter half of 1138, but we also will discover that Merlin prophecies
existed in an incomplete emerging form c.1139-46 which I have termed the
Libellus Merlini. It was the political intent behind these prophecies in 1155
that were Henry’s crafty agenda and their production was inspired by
Cicero’s De Divinatione.
Henry Blois was a genius, but he was a treacherous and deceitful
Machiavellian character with evolving views toward Rome and religion. He
was also sagacious, persuasive and an eloquent orator with finely tuned
diplomatic skills and political savvy. It is this image which is partly
understood by historians. I hope to expose to the reader another side of his
complexity which is secreted in his subtle skill as an author. It should not be
forgotten that Henry Blois was known as a scholar, a man who constantly
wrote yet ostensibly left no writing of any worth as a legacy. Yet Henry Blois
clearly thought his legacy would be greater than that of Cicero.
How was this at all going to be possible? Cicero’s influence on the Latin
Language was so immense. It is said that "the influence of Cicero upon the
history of European literature and ideas greatly exceeds that of any other
prose writer in any language". Well, I disagree because Henry’s
achievements are greater than those of Cicero in that we are still in the
twenty first century trying to make sense of his legacy. The difference is
that Cicero spoke the truth and Henry Blois has left us web of deceit and lies
but still keeps us entertained.