Chapter 20
Henry Blois’ interpolations and
There are several tracts composed by Henry Blois which fall under our
investigation before Henry left England in self-imposed exile to his old
monastery at Clugny in 1155. There are additional later interpolations to
certain manuscripts i.e. DA…. and others entirely composed from scratch.
All the manuscripts are very different. The impersonation which concerns
us for the moment includes the books supposedly written by Geoffrey of
Monmouth. These, as we have covered, are Henry’s Primary Historia
deposited at Bec which is followed by the First Variant and Variant version
with an early set of prophecies resulting in the eventual production of the
Vulgate HRB with fully updated prophecies.
Henry writing as Gaufridus entitled his work De Gestis Britonum and he
refers to it by this title rather than by what it is termed in the Vulgate
version. Presently modern scholars assume little difference between those
editions. They do not understand the evolving progression of the Historia in
its three forms (or four if one includes the initial pseudo-history) and why
the First Variant is less anti-Roman and contains more biblical
Neil Wright has the backward premise when referring to Geoffreys First Variant writes: his fondness for
biblical allusion lends the First Variant in many passages (especially speeches) a tone rather more moral than
that of Geoffrey’s original. In sum, the first variant does not abbreviate its source slavishly, but often recasts the
historia freely in a manner quite different from that of Geoffrey himself.The old adage remains that ’if one starts
with a faulty premise the conclusion is going to be even more inaccurate’. Does Neil not think Geoffrey wrote
the First Variant. This ridiculous premise (Hammer’s) exists solely because scholars have never put ‘Geoffrey’
in context. Neither Wright nor Crick will change their stance or ever accept Henry Blois as ‘Geoffrey’ even
when Wright commences his analysis of the Variant with: there has thus far been no consensus of opinion on
such fundamental issues as exactly how the texts of this Variant relates to that of the vulgate, when and with
what motives the Variant was composed, and who was responsible for it. I have supplied motive, who wrote it,
and how it relates to Vulgate.
than the Vulgate version. Nor can they account for the modification of
several speeches made by Geoffreys characters. Scholarship has not
understood the progression and warping of the prophecies from an original
libellus through to the inclusion of prophecies which spoke of events in the
Anarchy which date to around 1149 and the further warping of those
prophecies and the addition of new ones up until 1155.
Another impersonation by Henry Blois is evident in Caradoc of
Llancarfan’s life of Gildas where Arthur is brought into association with
Glastonbury and so is Gildas. The two other tracts which concern us are by
William of Malmesbury. There are small scale Glastonbury interpolations
into William of Malmesbury’s Gesta Regum which I will show complement
the interpolations in DA.
The very influential interpolations are found in the first 34 chapters of
DA. The interpolations into DA constitute two phases of interpolation at
different times and for different purposes…. both by Henry Blois. Henry
Blois first agenda is simply in pursuit of metropolitan status for himself.
Henry combines interpolations in DA with his other interpolations of
William’s work which concern Glastonbury found in GR3 and were
composed pre-1155. A second set of interpolations are seen in DA and
involves the glorification of Henry’s own invention in HRB in the persona of
the chivalric Arthur.
Henry’s latter agenda also concerns Joseph of Arimathea. The
introduction of Joseph into Grail lore and his presence in Glastonbury lore
was a consequence of Henry’s knowledge of two factors. Firstly, Henry
knew Cornish tradition concerning Joseph of Arimathea.
Secondly, Henry
had seen the prophecy of Melkin which made mention of the future
discovery of Joseph of Arimathea on Ineswitrin.
Henry knew that Ineswitrin was in the old Dumnonia as the 601 charter
plainly reveals. This was deduced on the fact that a Dumnonian King had
donated an island with the same name in the 601 charter to the Old church
at Glastonbury. Glastonbury was never part of Dumnonia. Henry believed
what the prophecy foretold was true, but could not unlock its meaning. He
had gone looking for the body thinking it really was at Montacute (guided
by the same ‘carefully hidden’ information which much later Father Good
Looe Island was appropriated by Glastonbury in Henry Blois’ tenure before 1144 when it appeared in a list of
the abbeys possessions, found in a confirmation of pope Lucius II.
confirmed); and Henry had also thought the body might be on Looe Island
as this had an extant Joseph tradition in his era and it was in the old
Dumnonia when Devon and Cornwall were one. We must remember Henry
Blois knew he was looking for an island because it was him who swapped
the name of Ineswitrin on the prophecy for Avalon.
Henry had demeaned himself with his previous petitions to Rome and its
popes… in an attempt to gain metropolitan status. He had once thought of
setting up a Gregorian state in Britain with his brother as King.
Ever since, he had been thwarted by his brother over the position of
Archbishop of Canterbury and subsequently lost his ‘Legation’, he had been
struggling to establish his own powerbase. Henry understood that if the
body of Joseph of Arimathea was found, Rome would no longer have the
self-professed primacy and authority over the church in Britain. This factor
should be considered when (as I covered earlier), Henry Blois is the first
person to define that the ‘New Jerusalem’ is in Britain. This, again, is partly
intonated in the Prophecy of Melkin.
It must have been Henry who made
the addition to his VM, (a copy of which is no longer extant) but from which
John of Glastonbury copied when quoting a verse from VM
which likened
Glastonbury to the New Jerusalem through the implication that Glastonbury
Tor is the holy hill. ‘This was the New Jerusalem, the faith’s refinement, a
holy hill, celebrated as the ladder of Heaven. He scarcely pays the penalty of
hell who lies buried here’.
My point is that Henry did believe the Melkin prophecy and the fact that
the ‘Uncle’ of Jesus brought an object to Britain and that Joseph’s sepulchre
was on an island somewhere. Once he had invented his Avalon in HRB,
inspired indirectly by the prophecy from the ‘Ines’ or Island of ‘Witrin’
found in the original Prophecy; Henry then converted both Ineswitrin and
his name for Arthur’s island i.e. Avalon to be commensurate with
Per multum tempus ante diem Judioialem in iosaphat erunt aperta haec, & viventibus declarata.
Leland saw the copy that John of Glastonbury probably quotes from: Vita Merlini Sylvestris carmine scriptore
Galfredo Monemutensi. Carley says about the extra three lines: My suspicion is that they were added to
Glastonbury’s copy of the VM in the mid-twelfth century, at approximately the same period as the interpolations
about Avalon were made in DA.1)DA’s interpolations concerning Arthur and Joseph were made before Henry
Blois died in 1171. 2) Avalon in the form of Insulam pomorum was in the VM in 1155. For Carley to maintain
the above i.e. in the mid-twelfth century is in direct contradiction to everything he has stated before because he
has held that Avalon only materialised after the Leaden cross was revealed c.1190. But by making this statement
it puts Henry Blois in an era where he could indeed be responsible for the construct of Avalon becoming the
New Jerusalem at Glastonbury.
Glastonbury. Henry’s second agenda entailed introducing Joseph into
Glastonbury lore; just as he propagated Joseph material into continental
Grail literature and orally implanted storyline elements at the court of
Champagne. These elements were then confirmed and partially
corroborated through his interpolations in DA.
As we covered, Henry decided he would provide a noble pre-history for
the Britons which ran contrary to what he knew from Roman annals. His
pseudo-history, (originally destined for Matilda) was expanded to include
the Arthuriad. He set out to expand and romanticize the briefly mentioned
Celtic Briton hero of Arthur found in the saints lives, the echo of which
remained in popular culture in the form of an oral tradition of the ‘hope of
the Britons’. Henry used as a template for the Life of Gildas the genuine life
of St Cadoc, one of the few saint’s lives mentioning Arthurus. Henry also
knew of the French rumours of a descendant heritage from Troy (after all,
Henry’s father was the Count of Troyes). Henry also had read Nennius’ slim
mention of Arthur and the brief reference in AC and probably Lambert’s
work; and it is upon this flimsy foundation that the chivalric Arthur of HRB
was constructed along with the bogus inter-relation of Ambrosius from the
insular annals of Bede and Gildas.
One must understand that if ‘Geoffrey’ was in mid flow in the
composition of his historia (in reality), when Alexander pressed him to
translate the prophecies of Merlin, (and we know the composition of the
prophecies are entirely a medieval construct)…. how is it that the
prophecies so neatly align with the second half of Geoffrey’s history?
Geoffrey sets us up in the Vulgate version by saying: I had not come so
far as this place of my history, when by reason of the much talk that was
made about Merlin, my contemporaries did on every side press me to make
public an edition of his prophecies, and more especially Alexander, Bishop of
Lincoln, a man of the highest piety and wisdom. Nor was there none other,
whether he were cleric or layman, that did retain so many knights or nobles
in his household, whom his gentle holiness of life and bountiful kindliness did
allure into his service. Wherefore, for that he it was whom I did most
earnestly desire to please above all other, I did translate the prophecies and
did send them unto him along with a letter unto this effect.
There are few other contemporaries that pressed Henry Blois on every
side. Henry detested Alexander. Simply by backdating the ‘translation’ of
the prophecies to appear to have been written under Alexander’s
commission he averts suspicion that some prophecies were more modern
and were current in Alexander’s lifetime. The flattery is entirely a ploy.
Henry hated and mistrusted Alexander…. so how could any one suspect him
of authorship of VM or HRB, especially when the commission is so adeptly
retro dated by years backward from 1155 when dedicatees of Vulgate HRB
were also produced…. knowing Alexander died in 1148.
Similar ploys are utilised in the colophon establishing contemporaneity
with Caradoc and are found in the GS where Henry Blois implicates himself
in attempting to bribe the keeper of Henry Ist treasure
at Winchester…. to
avoid suspicion of authorship. We can see the same obfuscatory device
being used in that…. the last person who would be suspected of earnestly
desiring to please Alexander i.e. Henry Blois. Again in another version, who
would ever be suspected of writing:
The affection I bear unto thy nobility, Alexander, Prelate of Lincoln, hath
compelled me to translate the Prophecies of Merlin out of the British into
Latin before I had made an end of the History I had begun as concerning the
acts of the British Kings; for my purpose was to have finished that first, and
afterward to have published this present work, for fear lest, both labours
hanging on my hands at once, my wit should scarce be sufficient for either.
Henry Blois may be responding to general inquiry about why there was
no Merlin or prophecies mentioned in the Primary historia and how come
they were now spliced into the Vulgate HRB.
It need not be explained that it would be truly fortuitous that
Alexander’s commission transpired at the very point in the text at which we
chronologically reach Vortigern. As I have maintained, Geoffrey had
constructed his Historia to that point and adjoined (or more probably
expanded) the Arthuriad after having been to Wales in 1136 and while
taking care of troubles in Normandy in 1137.
The resultant Primary Historia was deposited at Bec in 1138 and
discovered in January 1139. Merlin or his prophecies did not exist in the
copy seen by Huntingdon. We know that Henry Blois was back in England
William de Pont de l’Arche.
at this time at the siege of Bedford probably 1138 from the eyewitness
detailed descriptions in the GS. Merlin and the prophecies existed as a
separate libellus. The First Variant version (not dedicated) which dates from
1144 probably existed with the first set of prophecies which did not include
the prophecies connected to the later part of the Anarchy and certainly not
the ‘sixth in Ireland’ prophecy and certainly not the dedication to
What we can conclude from this is that the exemplar from which all the
eight subsequent copies of the First Variant derive, have had the latest set of
prophecies added which must post date 1155. There is no doubt that that
the Exeter copy has had later additions at the beginning (1-3) and with the
dedication to Alexander (109-110) which could not have been in any
manuscript until after Alexander had died in 1148. The Cardiff manuscript
has the full prologue dedication to Gloucester so is most likely a correction.
Because Alexander is not mentioned in the Exeter, Trinity College, Harley or
Panton First Variant manuscripts….they were written before Alexander
died. However, Henry could have made any adjustment (Variant) or added
the updated prophecies to the First Variant at any stage post 1155.
In Huntingdon’s précis of the Primary Historia there is no mention of
Archflamens…. only the twenty eight bishops; and certainly no mention of
Phagan and Deruvian. The reason for this is because as far as Henry Blois
knows, when he is writing the Primary Historia in 1137 and at the time he
deposits the book at Bec in 1138…. he is going to be Archbishop of
Therefore we can deduce the subsequent mention of Archbishops
(archflamens) is bound up with his polemic of a third archbishopric at
Winchester. We can also deduce that if Phagan and Deruvian had been
mentioned in the Primary Historia Huntingdon would definitely have
related to his friend Warin who was responsible for proselytising Britain.
Huntingdon, in the entourage of the newly appointed Archbishop Theobald,
on a trip to pick up the pallium from Rome, was the first who commented
on the Primary Historia which had been put there just six months before by
Henry; either secretively, or donating it as having been written by one
Galfridus Arthur.
We can assume Robert of Torigni had already read it and commended
its contents to Huntingdon. We do not know how Henry Blois delivered his
Primary Historia to Bec. It could have been secretively deposited by Henry
Blois while staying there or passing through on his way back to Britain in
1138. I have an unfounded speculation that Henry had left it there not
thinking that anything would transpire out of the Normal. But with the
return of Theodore of Bec as Archbisop to the Monastery of Bec in January
1139 along with Huntingdon who was very keen to know where Galfridus
had got his information things got complicated.
What is certain is that Huntingdon dislikes and mistrusts Henry Blois,
but even if he did know that Henry was the one who delivered Galfridus’
work to Bec and had later suspicions regarding Henry Blois as the Author, a
mere cleric would not accuse the brother of the King or the grandchild of
William the Conqueror. Since Huntingdon died in 1157 and the seditious
prophecies surfaced 1155-56 the connection may never have been made as
Henry Blois was at Clugny and ‘Geoffrey’ was dead. What is for sure, the
seditious prophecies were out and Henry II wanted to see a copy and find
out who had written them. So any scholar thinking that I have implied that
scripts have been altered by Henry Blois without sound reason should
really understand that Henry Blois was in a precarious position and needed
to be sure that his entire backdating scenario was watertight.
The banality of providing the author of the Primary Historia with a
surname of the main protagonist of HRB is indicative that Henry Blois
never expected he would employ the tract in a fraud of such huge scale
later in life or spend time having to cover his own tracks as the author of
the prophecies and HRB by inventing such a detailed proof of a persona in
‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’. Hence, Henry’s later attempt to put flesh on
Gaufridus’ bones as ‘Geoffrey’ and the more respectable and credible
author, the bishop of Asaph.
Both Phagan and Deruvian and the three archflamens only become
useful to the polemic of the storyline when the First Variant version was
presented at Rome putting forward a case for metropolitan. This could only
be done once Malmesbury was dead. The First Variant showed that there
had been three metropolitans at an earlier date. Phagan and Deruvian were
obviously put forward in the Charter of St Patrick and their existence
corroborated elsewhere in DA. Only when Henry is in pursuit of
metropolitan status does he contrive St. Patrick’s charter in DA along with
Phagan and Deruvian; and then insert their names into First Variant HRB
along with the precedent of an ancient and third metropolitan in
So, no third metropolitan is an issue at the time of
composition of the Primary Historia and therefore: archflamens do not
appear as a topic (just 28 bishops
) in Huntingdon’s letter to Warin.
We will never know the exact chronology of when St Patrick’s charter
was written because in the GR3 (Glastonbury interpolations) Henry sets out
an apostolic foundation at Glastonbury as grounds for metropolitan status
in the early successful petition to the pope in 1144.
The several attempts at gaining Metropolitan status are the reason for
contradictory Glastonbury foundation material in DA. The Apostolic
foundation followed by the Phagan and Deruvian foundation was again
later contradicted as Henry introduced Joseph into lore post 1158 and thus,
we have three separate foundation possibilities for Glastonbury.
It is therefore probable that Henry presented (the first time) his case to
pope Lucius with his initial gambit of an apostolic foundation at
Glastonbury interpolated into DA. It is surely the reason for the GR3
(version B) Glastonbury interpolations. Phagan and Deruvian’s names as
envoys and citing the three archbishops which are included in the First
Variant (not in Primary Historia) is a direct result of Henry Bloisagenda in
gaining metropolitan.
First Variant was presented and was combined with corroborating
evidence in DA. The First Variant probably contained a prophecy foretelling
of the reinstatement of the third metropolitan also. There is a possibility
that the initial form of the First Variant was presented to papal authorities
without Merlin or prophecies included but these were then added to that
evolving exemplar after 1144. Whether or not Merlin was a part of the
(first) First Variant can only be conjectured. Certainly at some stage after
1139 Merlin and his prophecies were added to Primary Historia to become
part of the evolving First Variant.
It was probably after the metropolitan was denied by Eugenius that the
Patrick charter was concocted. The only reason I posit this is that the GR3
apostolic foundation seems to illogically contradict the grounds for Lucius’
need to send missionaries. But, as it stands, Phagan and Deruvian are the
This becomes clearer in a later chapter in our investigation into the life of St David by Rhygyfarch where he
ascribes the foundation of Glastonbury to St David.
Presumably, ‘Geoffrey’ derives his 28 bishoprics from Gildas’ twenty eight cities.
‘restorers’ of an existing Church and part of Henry’s original interpolation
meant to convince the pope of Glastonbury’s early establishment which
would confirm its Primacy over Canterbury.
I will cover this in detail under the chapter on DA, because another fact
would indicate the St Patrick charter was not put forward to the pope as
evidence. Firstly the ridiculous indulgences found therein and secondly the
fact that the pope could check records whether a grant was given. At least
we know the charter of St Patrick was originally a Blois invention by use of
his names Phagan and Deruvian inserted in HRB…. and the charter actually
existed (in gold lettering). Most commentators have thought Wellias’s name
relevant to the dispute of the Bishop of Wells’ authority over Glastonbury.
Even that is uncertain…. as Wellias provides substance to the supposed
antiquity of the charter in that it gives the eponym of a town nearby to
Glastonbury. One thing we know about Henry in his impersonation of
Geoffrey…. is his love of providing eponyms in HRB.
However, it is entirely possible that the St Patrick charter was only
produced at Glastonbury and was never used as evidence, but this is
slightly illogical as the charter was said to have been ‘copied in gold
lettering so it would seem as if it existed (as a copy) but was originally a
composition of Henry’s.
Scott’s assessment that the keeping of two copies indicates a date of
composition after the fire does not hold as definitive. Scott assumes the
reasoning behind stating a copy was made, explains how the St Patrick
charter had turned up at Glastonbury abbey. Presumably (in reality), we
are supposed to believe the copy was found after William searched the
chest of old charters. Logically, the St Patrick charter could not be posited as
having come from the St Michael chapel on the tor from such an ancient
date and therefore the need for a copy and its survival, because it was
written in Gold.
One certainty is that it is Henry Blois who includes the St Patrick Charter
in DA…. just as it is Henry that coalesces its postscript concerning Avalon
when he does his final consolidation in DA…. after his introduction of
Joseph lore at Glastonbury and his final consolidation of the various
agendas which are witnessed in chapters 1&2 of DA.
Henry had heard much about Arthur and read a vague tradition
concerning him in saints’ lives and in Nennius while researching his initial
pseudo-history for Matilda. Originally, for the recently conquered populace
in Britain, Arthur was someone who was a warlord who Henry Blois
transposes from Gildas and Bedes
account of Ambrosius Aurelianus to a
King of Briton. Even though many readers of ‘Geoffreywere descendant of
the Saxons and Normans, Henry is careful to relate that his Arthur was
against the Romans. This change from the First Variant (where there is little
anti-Roman sentiment witnessed in the speeches) is opened up to vitriolic
national pride in several speeches in the later Vulgate. It is not coincidental
that this change of attitude is reflected to incorporate the Gauls as party to
Arthur’s efforts against the Romans and could be a reflection of why Henry
(when impersonating Wace by writing the Roman de Brut), finishes what he
had already started (a French vernacular versified version) by completing
his vernacular edition with the Vulgate version of speeches and anti Roman
sentiment etc. This storyline would have been more inclusive toward the
continental audience to which the work was aimed.
Henry’s original pseudo-history (destined for Matilda) would probably
have been less detrimental to the Saxons as Matilda’s mother was one; and
obviously references such as the German worm found in the prophecies
were not even thought of at that stage. The original pseudo-history evolved
to the Primary Historia. With the introduction of the prophecies once
Stephen became King, the Saxons were looked upon with such scathing
distain. Henry presents the Normans as the saviours of Britain in the early
prophecies when King Stephen is alive. After his death in the recently
updated set of prophecies in 1155 when he incites a rebellion against Henry
II by the Celts, it is predicted the Normans will be replaced by the original
inhabitants i.e. the Celts with their adopted son (Henry Blois) in charge. This
becomes painfully obvious in the JC version, which I shall cover in chapter
Henry aggrandises Arthur’s status and embellishes his acts and
purposely conflates his persona with Gildas’ and Bedes Ambrosius. This
could only be achieved by someone who knew that there was little more
information to be collated than that found in GR and who had the
education, craft, wit, artistic temperament and opportunity to carry out an
endeavour which innocently started as a romanticized history of Britain
Bede reiterates Gildas' account of Ambrosius Aurelianus in his Ecclesiastical History, but in his Chronica
Majora he dates Ambrosius' victory to the reign of the Emperor Zeno (474491).
destined for the future Queen. Eventually it turned into a fraud, especially,
by assuming the authorial pseudonym of Galfridus Artur.
The creation of the persona of ‘Geoffrey’ and the background details to
cover Henry’s tracks was probably due to Henry having written the
updated prophecies c.1155. Certainly ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’ is a
subsequent appellation invented after Galfridus Artur. It seems a
remarkable coincidence that ‘Geoffrey dies the same year that the most
recent prophecies are proliferated which incite rebellion. No-one prior to
1155 mentions Geoffrey of Monmouth by that name. As we covered, the act
of ‘Geoffrey’ signing all those charters in Oxford in 1153 transpired after
Alfred of Beverley writing in 1148-51 calls ‘Geoffrey’ ‘Brittanicus’
probably because of the ‘Brito’ reference and the fact that Henry appears to
be taking the partisan view of a pro-Briton by recording such an illustrious
history for the Britons. We could speculate that ‘Geoffrey’s’ supposed
elevation to Bishop in 1152 and his death in 1155 were brought about and
deemed timely, because the final Vulgate version was born with newly
reworked prophecies along with the incendiary calls for insurrection by the
Celts against Henry II. Also Ganieda’s prophecies in VM were just too
incredible about recent events in the Anarchy. I feel sure Geoffrey was
being held to account but no-one could locate him.
Hence, when the finalised and updated version of the prophetia (i.e.
inclusive of the sixth in Ireland) were spliced into the present Vulgate
Historia ( which was in essence an evolved re-crafted Primary Historia and
First Variant), the ‘bona fide’ and respectable, but untraceable Bishop of
Asaph as author had already expired. In other words, post 1149 (Henry’s
last attempt at metropolitan) the First Variant became less ‘highbrow’ and
‘churchy’ and more of a history novel in the form of the Vulgate in which
the fiction came to be a history which was pro-British along with pro-Celtic
Henry disregarded the necessity to chime with previous histories and
his attempt to parallel known chronologies and events in annals as he had
tried to maintain in the First Variant. He re-worked the religious tone and
quotes and the speeches were re-crafted to a more fictional history where
no consideration was taken to avoid offence to Roman sensitivity.
Furthermore, what innocently started as an innocuous endeavour as a
pseudo-history c.1128-29, was first employed as evidence in gaining
metropolitan and latterly used by a disempowered Henry Blois between the
years of 1155-1158 as an attempt (through the Merlin Prophecies) to de-
throne Henry II without any trace of such a design or culpability sticking to
Henry was in an opportune position to make it appear as if the HRB was
written by Gaufridus Artur (who had then become known as Geoffrey of
Monmouth) who had subsequently become bishop of Asaph and was a
party to the signing of the Winchester treaty. It was believed by most due to
the backdating process of citing dead dedicatees that the prophecies must
have been translated by ‘Geoffrey’ as they were dedicated to Alexander
before 1148, but both Alexander and the Bishop of Asaph were now dead.
The dedications in the HRB proved ostensibly that the book had been
written long before 1148. But, there were no dedications in the First
Variant simply because the dedicatees were still alive, but importantly,
Henry at this stage had only produced a few copies. It was only at the
inclusion of the malicious prophecies that Henry really started to cover his
tracks…. as the author was now already dead.
Henry’s cleverness at back dating was the main reason no suspicion ever
fell upon him during his lifetime and because he made a very believable
persona for Geoffrey. He had also substantiated in several ways the
credibility of some of the History in HRB by corroborating it in other tracts.
However, when we look at the Blois-Glastonbury interpolations in version B
of GR3 we can see they pertain to a period straight after William’s death
and coincide with the earliest corroborative interpolations in DA which
posit an apostolic foundation. The cause of much of the confusion is that in
two of the charters in the C version of GR3 there is even later interpolation
after Henry’s death which adds even further leaf to the salad…. and this is
why modern scholarship has apportioned all interpolations in DA after the
fire, never considering the author of Arthuriana and interpolated
Glastonburyana in DA were by the same man. To put things in historical
perspective; there were no less than eight popes from the time Henry Blois
was made Bishop of Winchester.
1)15 December 1124 13 February 1130: Honorius II
2) 14 February 1130 24 September 1143: Innocent II (Anacletus
3) 26 September 1143 8 March 1144: Celestine II
4) 12 March 1144 15 February 1145: Lucius II
5) 15 February 1145 8 July 1153: Eugene III
6) 8 July 1153 3 December 1154: Anastasius IV
7) 4 December 1154 1 September 1159: Adrian IV
8) 7 September 1159 30 August 1181: Alexander III
Henry held the post of Legate from 1139-43 granted by Innocent II.
Before the news arrived in England of Innocent’s death, Henry was holding
a legatine council in London in November but then set out immediately for
Rome in the hope of renewing the legation. Archbishop Theobald had
already set out having had enough of his suffragan bishop as legate and
tried to obtain the Legation for himself. Pope Celestine had been educated
amongst the inhabitants of Anjou and designed to strengthen their hands by
the abasement of King Stephen; on which ground he was excited to a dislike of
Henry Bishop of Winchester.
Henry was not given the legation and stayed at Clugny for a while
probably annoyed at events and those of the Cistercians that conspired
against him. However, Celestine lived just a short while and Lucius II was
more amenable to Henry Blois. Henry of course wanted the legation but
realised that it was only for the life of the pope and to be more secure in his
powerbase, attempted to raise Winchester into a metropolitan See over
Salisbury, Exeter, Wells, and Chichester, Hereford and Worcester and also
creating a new bishopric for Hyde abbey. Now, to convince pope Lucius of
Henry’s worthiness to be granted metropolitan status, certain proofs would
be necessary and this is the main cause of Henry’s interpolative endeavour
into William of Malmesbury’s GR and DA. I shall cover why and when
certain interpolations were added to William’s work in the next chapters.
GR3 (with interpolations) and DA (with apostolic foundation
interpolations) were produced in a case put forward as a proof of antiquity.
Further evidential support probably backed up by much which was written
In 1130, just after Henry Blois was elevated to the Bishopric of Winchester, Peter the venerable, Henry’s
mentor and confidant was the most prominent to acknowledge Gregorio Papareschi (Innocent II) against
Anacletus otherwise known as Cardinal Pietro Pierleone, thus averting a long-term schism in the Roman Church.
John of Hexham .22
about Winchester and its early monastic roots (in HRB) and the fact there
were three Archflamens etc. found in First Variant were duly provided as
evidence of primacy.
Pope Lucius, as well as granting Henry his metropolitan over the
western part of England, also conferred papal privileges at the same time
on Glastonbury itself, obviously convinced of its great antiquity by the
written evidences put forward by Henry of Western Britain’s right to
So as John of Hexham relates: Bishop Henry found favour in his
sight, and refuted the criminal charges of those whom the empress had sent
against him, but nevertheless, he did not continue to hold the title and office of
Lucius II however, denied the legation to Theobald also, because of
the endless enmity that existed between them. As I covered earlier, the
enmity was initially caused by Henry’s brother Stephen having given the
Archbishopric of Canterbury to Theobald of Bec in late 1138, after Henry
had stood in as Archbishop since 1136 since William of Corbeil had died.
The blame for this underhanded volte face by his brother and the pique it
caused Henry could not be suppressed, as we saw in GS. The cause was the
Beaumont twins, whispering in the ear of Stephen, guarding him against
giving Henry too much power. Henry felt, after having installed his brother
as King, that he deserved the highest position in the church as they had
initially agreed.
Now, we must just deviate slightly, because, as I have maintained, Henry
Blois wrote the Life of Gildas. We know that Henry is the one who
commissioned the ‘Kidnap of Guinevere’ engraving on the Modena
Archivolt…. and the Cathedral itself was finished by 1140 (according to the
experts). William’s unadulterated DA had not proven such a success in
providing adequate proof of Antiquity for Glastonbury except for the
evidence provided by the 601 charter. So, an earlier date of antiquity could
be more easily believed if a datable Gildas was known to be at Glastonbury
and preceded Augustines arrival.
The Life of Gildas also provided the added benefit of building more of an
authenticated credible historicity for the chivalric King Arthur by the
testimony of another author validating the existence of chivalric Arthur
with wife. These illusions were easily fabricated by using the name of a now
Monasticum Anglicanum. I, 37
John of Hexham 22-23
dead Caradoc. ‘Caradoc’s Life of Gildas was written before 1144
because Henry’s interpolation into GR3 casually mentions Gildas at
Glastonbury as if such a detail were inconsequential Malmesbury id dead.
We know the GR3 interpolations were realised to coincide with the
apostolic foundation interpolations in DA in 1144. Gildas at Glastonbury
was expanded upon in DA, but let it be understood that Gildas was never at
Glastonbury writing his De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae. Gildas had
already emigrated to Brittany where he founded a monastery known as St
Gildas de Rhuys. The 9th century Rhuys Life of Gildas is generally accepted
as being an accurate account of Gildas’ life and Caradoc’s version should be
looked upon as having no validity at all…. but is an invention of Henry’s.
The point of mentioning this is that if the date for the completion of the
archivolt is correct, Henry must have drummed up his Melvas and Arthur
concoction in which Gildas intervenes in the fictional episode at
Glastonbury, prior to when he had the opportunity to interpolate William’s
work after his death in 1143. So, we can deduce that the fabricated Life of
Gildas was concocted in response to Canterbury taunts about the abbey
lacking antiquity. Life of Gildas originally was composed then as a rebuttal
to ostensibly prove an ecclesiastical establishment at Glastonbury (with an
abbot) in antiquity…. but opportunely bolstered the historical persona of
the chivalric Arthur.
Logically, the Life of Gildas must pre date the 1144 interpolations of
William’s work if the dates for the archivolt completion of 1140 are correct.
Also, one telling sign that the Life of Gildas was fabricated as one of the first
of Henry’s forays into the dark art of forgery is the fact that the etymology
of Ineswitrin can be easily recognised as an addition to the main Life of
Gildas manuscript. The last paragraph which contains the bogus etymology
is a later insertion, tagged on to a previously written Life of Gildas. The last
paragraph only has one use…. and that is to substantiate the 601 charter.
Because, in effect through the etymology, Ineswitrin becomes an estate on
the island of Glastonbury; the charter donating a Devonian Island, appears
to relate to the locality of Glastonbury. The same polemic concerning
Ineswitrin at Glastonbury is obviously re-introduced later by Henry at the
concoction of the charter of St Patrick just for the appearance of continuity.
According to the date of completion for Modena, one must assume Life of Gildas written 1139-40
In other words in 1144, the 601 charter was hugely important in
establishing the antiquity of Glastonbury, but only if it were understood
that Ineswitrin was the old name for Glastonbury. However, it was not!
Initially the reasoning behind the composition of the Life of Gildas had
nothing to do with a pursuit of metropolitan. At this early stage William of
Malmesbury would have uncovered the 601 charter around 1127-34 and
only later was the etymological corroboration employed in Life of Gildas to
substantiate the 601 charter. So it appears that Life of Gildas was employed
before William’s death and after William’s researches at Glastonbury were
concluded. In my opinion Life of Gildas was written after William had
moved away from Glastonbury between 1135-9.
However, after William’s death, Henry had the time to interpolate
William’s most recent version of GR. This is the version which contains the
Glastonbury interpolations in version B of GR3 which modern scholars
naively believe are William’s words. Henry also concocted an amazing
array of evidence in DA showing the pre-existence of a church in Western
England prior to St Augustine’s arrival. The arrival of Augustine in 597 AD
is what Canterbury’s primacy was founded upon.
Since Pope Lucius II only held the post of pope just over a year from
1144-1145, it shows that there was ample time to concoct evidence in
William’s GR3 and DA before a presentation in Rome. It required only a few
insertions into GR and in all probability Henry had the only copy of DA to
exist after William had presented it to him. Bishop Henry…set out for Rome,
the year of his departure I cannot definitely place. But he obtained from the
pope that the bishopric of Winchester should be created an archbishopric, the
abbey of Hyde a bishopric and the bishop of Chichester should be subject to
him. He did this on account of the incessant strife which continued between
the bishop and the archbishop of Canterbury. For the legate wished to be
considered greater than the archbishop and the archbishop greater than the
The continual struggle between Theobald and Henry went on for years
each time the pope changed: before the completion of this year the
archbishop of Canterbury having had ordinary jurisdiction over the bishop of
Winchester and he exercising the power of his legation from Rome over the
Annales Monastici, II, 53
archbishop, these two persons clashed against each other; and the peace of
the churches being disturbed, they repaired to the Roman pontiff, bringing a
question grateful to the Roman ear, in proportion to its weight. One of them
indeed gained the cause; but neither returned without exhausted purse.
Ralph de Diceto relates that pope Lucius sent a pall to Henry bishop of
Winchester to whom he had proposed to assign seven bishops.
Roger of
Wendover puts the year at 1143, but this hardly seems time enough to re-
arrange William of Malmesbury’s work in DA and GR to provide a
convincing case for metropolitan: To this Henry, pope Lucius sent the pall,
wishing to erect a new archbishopric at Winchester, and to place under him
seven bishops.
When Lucius died on February 25
1145, Eugenius III, a Cistercian and
friend of Bernard of Clairvaux was against Henry’s struggle for
metropolitan. Metropolitan status had been instituted officially but the
investiture had not transpired before pope Lucius’s death and it was
certainly not going to happen under Eugenius III.
When Eugenius summoned all the bishops to a council in Rheims in
March 1148 King Stephen had the pope’s envoys delivering the summons
expelled from England. It was also Pope Eugene III who presided over
Canterbury's claim to primacy over the Welsh in Theobald's term of office.
Eugene IIIdecided in 1148 in Canterbury's favour against Henry’s friend
Bernard who was after the same metropolitan status.
Bernard died in 1148 and this is why both Sees are mentioned in the
prophecies updated version of 1155 because they had existed in the version
which was present in the First Variant. However, King Stephen went to
Canterbury and tried to prevent archbishop Theobald attending the council
at Rheims. Gervaise rightly attributes this intervention to Henry Blois.
Henry obviously got his way for a time, as Archbishop Theobald was
banished and a rapprochement took place between Henry and his brother
Stephen. Theobald slipped out at night and crossed the channel to attend
the council even though Stephen had the ports watched. Those that did not
attend were suspended from office by Eugene III. Even though the other
insular ecclesiastics were reinstated by Theobald the archbishop when he
William of Newburgh. 415
Radulti de Diceto 255
Roger of Wendover
returned to England…. Henry Blois was singled out and could only be
absolved by the pope. He therefore had to make another trip to Rome.
Henry Blois’ other brother, Count Theobald of Blois, was on friendly terms
with the Cistercians and he negotiated that Henry would be able within a
six month period to seek absolution from the pope for his meddling.
So, Henry arrived in front of the pope in 1149 and received absolution,
but his plans to revive the already granted metropolitan were refused.
Henry requested that he be freed from the jurisdiction of Canterbury
obviously showing the evidence of proofs of primacy in support of his
metropolitan with which he had convinced Lucius. On this second attempt
in 1149 he may have thought it prudent to add more flesh to the claim by
adding St. Patrick’s charter to DA. This is the most probable reason it seems
to follow subsequently a previous apostolic polemic found posited in GR3
and fully embellished in DA i.e. this was the reason Phagan and Deruvian
were employed in a second attempt.
The Patrick charter would of course coincide with author B’s tentative
testimony of Patrick at Glastonbury. Henry would of course have Caradoc’s
Life of Gildas testimony with the Ineswitrin etymology which substantiates
the 601 charter. There would also be corroboration of Phagan and Deruvian
from the First Variant HRB. If one adds this to both interpolated works of
William of Malmesbury it must have made a compelling case.
However, Eugene III was not going to dilute Canterbury’s primacy or
authority and Henry Blois was refused. Because of the personal envy
between Henry and Theobald, Henry then asked for personal exemption
from Theobald’s jurisdiction but this was also refused and it was obvious
Eugene III was out to curb Henry’s power and ambitions spurred on by
Bernard of Clairvaux. John of Salisbury writes on Henry’s trip to Rome in
1149: After being publicly received back into favour, he began to intrigue with
Guy of Summa, bishop of Ostia
, Gregory of St Angelo
and other friends (as
On September 23, 1149 Eugenius III consecrated Guido de Summa Bishop of Ostia. He died in 1151.
It would be interesting to know the relationship between Guy of Summa, bishop of Ostia and Gregory of St
Angelo and Henry Blois; and especially, of what their ‘intrigue’ consisted. How were they originally to help
Henry? Is it that Gregory of St Angelo was so named after the Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as Castel
Sant' Angelo in Rome? Hadrian's ashes were placed here in 138 AD along with his first adopted son, Lucius
Aelius, who also died in 138 AD. Now it would not surprise me that Gregory of St Angelo’s involvement had to
do with the planting of evidence in the mausoleum which had something to do with an apostolic foundation in
Britain or at least Lucius being made to appear as the King Lucius in Bede. (A King Lucius biography in Britain
they afterward confessed) to secure a pallium for himself and become
archbishop of western England.
Just before this, (as I mentioned)…. because Archbishop Theobald had
disobeyed King Stephen’s orders and attended the council of Rheims, he
was ordered to leave the country upon his return…. and this was all driven
by Henry Blois not obtaining his metropolitan and as John of Salisbury
records for this period; Henry was believed to be instigating his brother the
King against the church.
Archbishop Theobald, through much wrangling and possible threats
from the pope concerning the succession of King Stephen’s son Eustace, was
allowed to return to England. However, Theobald was also granted the
legation by Eugene III. It was during these turbulent times that the DA took
on its first interpolations to comply with what I have called Henry’s ‘first
To think the First Variant was not presented as a proof to papal
authorities would be silly given that Henry had already written the Primary
Historia and with a few changes…. it could act as historical evidence in his
case for metropolitan. Glastonbury was not mentioned in HRB; Caradoc was
a known historian, and William of Malmesbury’s work was well respected.
Who would suspect Henry’s authorial input as the author/interpolator of
these tracts?
In many places, Henry refers to Winchester in HRB so that its antiquity
is established. It was even founded at the same time as Canterbury should
that be an objection in the contention over primacy: After him, reigned his
son Hudibras nine-and-thirty years, who, after the civil dissensions, did
restore concord among the people and founded Kaerlem, that is, Canterbury.
He also founded Kaerguen, which is Winchester.
That Winchester had an ancient church was attested to by Henry’s
bogus History: Constans, the eldest born, he made over to the church of
is entirely concocted in HRB as we shall cover and has no historic truth). Gregory of St Angelo having anything
to do with Henry Blois’ substantiation of King Lucius is of course speculation. Let us not forget that not only
was Henry Blois set on being metropolitan bishop of Western England, he also would have had one eye on the
position of pope and this may have been the intrigue.
Historia Pontificalis,78
HRB. II, ix
Amphibalus in Winchester.
If popes Lucius II or Eugenius III had any
doubts about whether the metropolitan should be granted, the most famous
of British prophets had predicted such an occurrence: Hither, thou Cambria,
and bringing Cornwall with thee at thy side, say unto Winchester: 'The earth
shall swallow thee: transfer the See of the shepherd thither….
Examples of
Henry’s polemic are many in both the prophetia and the narrative of HRB,
but one should not forget he actually could show a very archaic 601 charter
which proved the pre-existence of a religious institution at Glastonbury
prior to Augustine.
After all his attempts had been thwarted, post 1158 to re-establish his
power in Britain, Henry hatched the plan to create a history that would
challenge the primacy of Rome itself.
One of the main tasks of this investigation is to answer the question;
how did Henry Blois light upon the name of Joseph of Arimathea? Joseph of
Arimathea lore at Glastonbury did not materialise as the present scholastic
community assumes. Joseph lore at Glastonbury originated from the
prophecy of Melkin. But if the stupidity persists in denying the existence of
the validity of the prophecy, the blind will continue to lead the blind. But, in
Melkin’s prophecy is the twist of fate that until now has prevented anyone
finding Ineswitrin, yet (through Henry Blois authorial inventions) has
perpetuated the original reason for Joseph’s connection with the British
Ineswitrin was not a known or identifiable location until Henry
associated it with Glastonbury. So, Henry posing as Caradoc in his Life of
Gildas had stated Ineswitrin is the ancient name for Glastonbury. However,
Henry changed the truth of what the Melkin prophecy originally stated,
purely in association with his ‘second agenda’, which concerns Avalon. So,
what was in essence a real Island in Devon called Ineswitrin with the
remains of Joseph buried within it, became a fictionally named Insulla
Avallonis which was now commensurate with Arthur’s last known location
and then Glastonbury. The initial objective of composing the etymology in
Life of Gildas was to add credence to the 601 charter. However, what can
HRB. V, viii
HRB. VII, iv
also be seen is Henry’s cleverness in his interpolation of William
where he
provides a proof and reasoning behind the etymological swap by having us
believe that when the Saxons came they initially grabbed land that they
were later to give back; and hence (we are led to understand) the reasoning
that the five cassates on Ineswitrin were in fact at Glastonbury originally.
This in effect nullifies any enquiry into why no-one refers to
Glastonbury by the name of Ineswitrin in any previous manuscript. In
effect, Henry had trans-located Ineswitrin in Devon to be understood as
synonymous with Glastonbury. As we covered earlier, not even Grimmer is
duped by Henry Blois’ translocation of the Devonian island to Glastonbury.
Henry’s initial propaganda which converts Glastonbury as synonymous
with Ineswitrin became a problem of consistency later for Henry, especially
when he set about his second agenda; the establishing of Avalon to be
synonymous with Glastonbury. Logically, if Avalon were the previous name
of Glastonbury at the time of King Arthur, and St Patrick, how had it
become Ineswitrin in the 601 era soon after it was supposedly called
Let there be no further misunderstanding; Henry Blois is the instigator
behind locating a fictionally named Avalon at Glastonbury. It is his change
of agendas which has caused such confusion, his coalescing and
consolidating evidences in DA which tie together contradictions…. not the
work of a later consolidating editor. If Gildas was at Glastonbury in the
bogus Life of Gildas and Ineswitrin was established as Glastonbury therein
in a rendition byHenry Blois’ (supposedly by Caradoc)…. the St Patrick
charter as well as corroborating this fact converts it back to Avalon to fulfil
the second agenda i.e. the St Patrick charter corroborates Henry’s previous
insinuation by seamlessly making all three names appear to be in one
This appears more unclear than it really is. Henry’s second agenda was
to have HRB’s chivalric Arthur found at Avalon which would be made clear
(confirmed for posterity) by the discovery of the leaden cross. However, as
we have established, Henry had based his Avalon Island idea in HRB from
the Island found in the prophecy of Melkin. The real problem arrives when
DA. Chap 35… although that estate (Ineswitrin) and many others were granted to Glastonbury in the time of
the Britons, as is plain from the preceding, yet when the English drove out the Britons they, being pagans, seized
the lands that had been granted to the churches before finally restoring the stolen lands….
Henry starts to integrate Joseph into Glastonbury lore in the first two
chapters of DA, which were added last. It is this coalescing of different
agendas in Henry’s lifetime which has confounded modern scholars in the
assessment of interpolations in DA…. which they assume is dependent upon
the emergence of Grail stories from the continent after Henry had died.
The prophecy of Melkin is the key, but Henry did not want to be found
holding it or associated with it, as much of his inspiration came from it. If
the link was discovered, it would lead back to him. However, since the
Melkin prophecy itself was the root cause of inspiration to Henry’s muses in
the evolving construction of the Matter of Britain and Henry understood
the prophecy was not a fake; he was not going to destroy it, but placed the
Melkin prophecy in some literature which has not come down to posterity.
This is how it came to be recorded by John of Glastonbury.
The one auspicious change in fortune is that it has now got Henry’s
handprint on it with the change of name to his fictional Avalon. The
invented name of Avalon had first appeared in Henry’s concoction of the
First Variant and variant HRB.
After the introduction of a Joseph foundation at Glastonbury in Henry’s
second agenda, it was necessary to change the name on the prophecy from
Ineswitrin to comply with Henry’s completely concocted Avalon, which as
we know, was based on a town name in Burgundy. Hence, this is why we
have a completely fictitious name on an absolutely accurate set of
directions to Joseph’s tomb. The reasons why Henry did not include the
Melkin prophecy in the DA are many but all have to do with the traceability
to him and I will deal with this under the section on DA.
It is safe to assume that the Matter of Britain and specifically Joseph
lore at Glastonbury did not happen as a fortuitous set of circumstances as
certain scholars attest. Also on Giraldus’s testimony it becomes evident the
tomb of Arthur was planted by Henry Blois long before its discovery. The
reader should be aware that St. Patrick’s charter predates any mention of
Joseph as his name is not in the charter. Certainly the charter pre-dates the
inclusion of Joseph into DA…. (It is not at all certain that the St Patrick
charter was part of Henry’s evidence provided to papal authorities,
however it seems likely).
We can posit therefore Joseph would not have been in Henry’s earlier
redaction of William’s DA which was presented to the pope. However since
a passage in chap 21 of GR3 exists which is the same in chap 31 of DA where
Arthur’s burial place is posited; it seems unlikely that Henry, while
pursuing metropolitan status at Rome, had decided at that era, to plant a set
of bones in a grave at Glastonbury. By the casual addition to the similar
passage which states where Arthur is located in DA… it evidences that the
planting of Arthur’s grave to be discovered in Avalon is all part of Henry’s
second agenda. Yet, the initial interpolations had been composed anyway in
GR3 and DA by Henry for the earlier agenda. Confirmation of this reverse in
chronology is evidenced in that…. the two first chapters in DA which
essentially consolidate all previous contradictions were inserted last and
introduce Joseph into Glastonbury Lore.
It is plain from the St Patrick’s charter and Alfred of Beverley’s mention
of Avalon that before 1150, Henry had come up with the name Avalon and
we know it was in the First Variant which preceded Vulgate.
As we have
discussed Huntingdon would have mentioned Avalon if it had been in the
Primary Historia and is a definitive indicator of the two agendas of Henry
separated over time.
However, the Primary Historia was not the finished product of what is
now commonly understood as the Vulgate HRB. The Vulgate edition stems
from c.1155 (certainly the updated prophecies found within it cannot be
earlier) and we can understand through what Alfred of Beverley relates
that up until that date the Historia was in a state of transition. As we have
said, the pseudo-history, (the pre-cursor to the Primary Historia) was
started as a potential presentation copy to the future queen Matilda.
William’s GR was similarly destined to her. The difference between GR and
Primary Historia was one volume was interesting and a highly entertaining
novel and portrayed a bogus precedent of past queens in insular history….
the other was a serious conscientious account of History. One indicator for
the commencement of the pseudo-history work is the inclusion of the
traitor Anacletus. Antigonus and his comrade Anacletus found in book one
of HRB helps us to find a date not before 1130.
The fact that Anacletus
The First Variant is in fact a misnomer in that it is not a variant on what is presumed to be the Vulgate which
scholarship assumes preceded it. The First Variant evolved from the Bec Primary Historia
Anacletus II an Antipope who ruled from 1130 and died January 25, 1138. He became the Antipope in a
schism against the contested, hasty election of Pope Innocent II. One can be sure that if Henry’s pursuit of
Metropolitan was possible to be obtained, he would have gone to Anacletus as he had also been at the abbey of
Cluny. It was not until William of Malmesbury had died in 1143 that the evidence provided in DA and GR could
died in 1138 has little to do with the pseudo-history’s development into the
Primary Historia; as we know in 1138 Henry was splicing his Welsh
Arthuriad into an already completed pseudo-history which had been put on
hold since Henry Ist death because it had become redundant now Stephen
was King.
William’s GR completion and his relation to Henry Blois at Glastonbury
were probably the germs for Henry’s planning and undertaking the similar
endeavour of the pseudo-history. This then evolved into the Primary
Historia. Henry had written part of the book i.e. the pseudo-history before
going to Normandy in 1137-8. It was in 1137-8 Henry concocted or
expanded the Arthurian epic and spliced this onto a Brutus history up to
Vortigern. Yet after the Variant versions Arthur material was further
expanded. Henry ended his history to where the recently dead Caradoc had
started his chronological history. Caradoc died c.1129-30. As we have
mentioned, the Welsh topography and geography displayed in HRB was
derived from Henry Blois’travails against the warring Welsh in 1136.
Henry had thought he was going to be metropolitan archbishop of
Canterbury after William of Corbeil had died. Orderic Vitalis relates: Henry
was elected as metropolitan. But since by canon law a bishop can only be
translated from his own see to another church by the authority of the pope….
In order to get consent in 1137 for his translation from Winchester to
Canterbury from pope Innocent, Henry set off to meet the pope at Pisa, but
luckily for us, he was side-tracked into acting as vice-regent or envoy in
Normandy for King Stephen sorting out the rebellious Baldwin who was
being supported by Matilda causing mayhem to supporters of Stephen. If it
had not been for this twist of fate, I doubt we would have had a Primary
Historia deposited at Bec.
Anyway, because of this twist of fate and the Beaumont’s jealousy of
Henry, Theobald was elected and the rest is history. We could speculate that
the reason Stephen passed over Henry’s election as Archbishop is because
of what transpired in Normandy. It is a possibility that Henry might have
done some deal while in Normandy with Matilda. This is hinted at in
be concocted. In 1130, Pope Honorius II lay dying and the cardinals decided that they would entrust the election
to a commission of eight men, led by papal chancellor Haimeric, who had his candidate hastily elected as Pope
Innocent II. He was consecrated on February 14, the day after Honorius' death. On the same day, the other
cardinals announced that Innocent had not been canonically elected and chose Anacletus.
various chronicles and Henry spends his time in GS dissuading us from this
point of view. We know Henry was at Bedford anyway, so, what I am
suggesting is that because Henry was delayed seeing the pope he got wind
in the first half of 1138 that events were happening behind his back and
returned to England to be present at the siege.
Just before his return to
England Henry must have deposited the Primary Historia at Bec and
coincidentally (or not), it was Theobald of Bec that was given his position as
Archbishop. Henry could not believe his brother could have been so
ungrateful and deceitful especially as he thought they were working as
siblings in trust. Without Henry’s efforts, the crown would never have
lighted upon Stephen’s head.
If Henry could show that ‘Western England’s first church was founded
by Eleutherius’s preachers in 166 AD, because this had been researched by
a credible historian, the value of Henry’s first agenda which included a
Phagan and Deruvian foundation is openly exposed in its intent because
and their names were added as an addition to the First Variant. Phagan and
Deruvian had not been mentioned in Primary Historia in Huntingdon’s
For clarity’s sake, it is worth noting that what I have termed Henry’s
first agenda can be classified into two portions. It involves Henry’s
obsession with obtaining metropolitan status for western England. The lines
are slightly blurred in that the purpose behind the concoction of Life of
Gildas concerning Gildas and the abbot at Glastonbury at the kidnap of
Guineveredid not have anything to do with Henry’s metropolitan agenda in
its initial composition. The reason for Henry’s composition and
impersonation of Caradoc of Llancarfan may have been incidentally to
substantiate Arthurian lore from his recently finished Primary Historia but
Bedford castle was controlled by Simon de Beauchamp, the son of Hugh de Beauchamp.Simon died in 1137,
and King Stephen agreed that Simon's daughter should marry Hugh the Pauper. The castle would be passed to
Hugh, in exchange for King Stephen giving Miles certain compensation and additional honours. Miles and Payn
de Beauchamp, the children of Simon's brother, Robert de Beauchamp, refused to hand the castle over to Hugh
saying that the castle was rightfully Miles'. Even though Miles de Beauchamp declared himself in support of
Stephen, in the contention with Matilda, the King decided to take Bedford Castle before marching north to deal
with the invasion of David from Scotland. Stephen besieged the castle but Miles was prepared for a long siege.
Stephen could not enter the castle so left a force to starve it into submission whilst he went north to tackle
David’s Scottish invasion. Henry intervened to produce a negotiated settlement. Henry reached an agreement
whereby after five weeks, the castle finally surrendered. The occupants were allowed to leave, but the castle was
handed over to Stephen. Miles and Henry had made an agreement, but in 1141 Miles retook the castle and
because of this Henry as author of GS has little favourable to say of Miles.
the main purpose of composition originally (without etymological later
addition) was to counter Osbern’s claim that Dunstan was the first Abbot
just by association Gildas.
Caradoc’s concocted account makes plain through its polemic that there
was an abbot in Gildas’ era. The other two parts to what I have termed
Henry’s ‘first agenda’, specifically constitute the interpolations in GR3 and
DA concerning an apostolic or disciplic foundation at Glastonbury. This
took place in 1144 after William of Malmesbury’s death. However, there is a
second part of Henry’s ‘first agenda’ which took place in 1149 and most
likely specifically includes the fabrication or addition to DA of the St Patrick
What I have termed Henry’s ‘second agenda’ transpires post 1155 and
apart from Henry’s efforts to cause rebellion as seen in the Merlin
prophecies, the secondary agenda concerns itself mainly in the
transposition, translocation, or conversion
of Henry Blois’ invention of a
non-locational Avalon from HRB to locating Avalon at Glastonbury. The
ultimate fulfilment of this illusion is of course Arthur’s disinterment and
the very reason for planting the leaden cross near to Arthur’s supposed
bones and then pointing out the location where to dig between the
pyramides in DA. Also the ‘second agenda’ includes the propagation of
Joseph lore at Glastonbury and Joseph’s role in the Matter of Britain
propagated through DA and corroborated in Grail literature, which was
retold through Robert de Boron and Chrétien de Troyes directly from
‘Master Blihis’ who they had witnessed at the court of Champagne.
It could be that Henry in a very clever sleight of hand attempts to show
that the GR was already finished before 1126 (which it was but not with
Glastonbury additions) and before Henry’s own arrival at Glastonbury; so
he has William advocating an apostolic foundation and yet saying in GR3 he
has no idea of the later missionary’s names. As we covered, this is an
indication of a later introduction of their names in First Variant.
Yet Henry’s polemical intention would be to create the appearance that
William having searched out all the old charters while researching and
What Henry actually accomplishes, in effect is trans-locating Ineswitrin to be synonymous with Glastonbury
and yet the name Avalon (which is fictitious), is itself based on Ineswitrin from the Melkin Prophecy; and Henry
Blois is more concerned in his second agenda with converting the fictional Avalon to appear as synonymous
with Glastonbury.
compiling the DA, he is now in a position to state the names of the
missionaries having found the Patrick charter as appears to be the case in
DA because they are named on it. Maybe the First Variant version which
includes their names was only used in Henry’s application case for
Metropolitan subsequently at Rome in 1149 in conjunction with the St
Patrick charter and DA. (I shall cover this later).
I have been criticized already by modern scholars who think what I
claim is Henry’s output would be too much to accept for the Bishop of
Winchester as he is commonly perceived; i.e. the amount of interpolations I
am claiming were made by Henry seems impossible. Don’t forget that most
of the tracts I claim were interpolated could have just had a few folio’s
rewritten and inserted. The largest output is that of ‘Geoffrey’ i.e. the
prophecies of Merlin in HRB and VM and the faux history in HRB. The
material from HRB versified is his most skillful endeavour in what is
accounted as Wace’s work. The only other lengthy tome is GS which is more
a chronicle of the Anarchy. The works of Robert de Boron most definitely
are accountable to Henry but we shall discuss their propagation in
The B version of GR3 is undoubtedly interpolated by Henry Blois and
may only have been used in the first metropolitan case put forward which
attempted to posit an apostolic foundation of Glastonbury. The insertion in
GR3 tells us that the names of the missionaries sent by pope Eleutherius to
King Lucius are lost in the mists of antiquity. But in the DA their names are
given as Phagan and Deruvian, on the authority of the Charter of St Patrick
and the First Variant. There is another indication that the GR3
interpolations indicating apostolic foundation for Glastonbury were made
before the invention of the St Patrick charter;the St Patrick charter applied
to the later metropolitan attempt in 1149. The two sets of interpolations in
DA and GR run together and for the most part concur; the GR obviously
understated without the later invention of St Patrick’s charter says: 'and
there he (Patrick) became monk and abbot, and after some years paid the
debt of nature'. Once GR3 was interpolated to coincide with the first disciplic
or apostolic foundation fraud, it was not updated thereafter
in stark
contrast to the DA which was updated on two further occasions while
Version C of GR has later interpolations made after Henry’s death.
Henry was alive. We must conclude that the consolidation of DA was
carried out later and the possibility that the St Patrick charter (copy) may
have been presented as a separate faked document in Rome and then only
later to have been included in DA by Henry.
Essentially, there is a contradiction between the Eleutherius
missionaries coming to an already apostolically established church. It is
difficult to see if one preceded the other or they were used to together. It
seems to me, one is a reflection of the 1144 attempt and the other which
included the addition of the Patrick charter pertains to Henry’s 1149
attempt with pope Eugenius. William of Malmesbury does not elsewhere in
his historical works refer to the mission sent by Eleutherius at the request
of King Lucius. Henry sourced their names (as they may originally have
been the founders of Winchester) and attached a date to their bogus deeds
i.e. A.D. 167 in DA at Glastonbury. Phagan and Deruvian’s names were
attached to the storyline of the request of King Lucius which came from
Bede’s mistaken identity of Britain in a misinterpretation of the Liber
Pontificalis, which I will get to.
Essentially, Henry’s attempts to reinstate his legation had failed and he
was annoyed at being subordinate to archbishop Theobald. A legation only
survived the life of a pope before it was consigned to another or
reappointed. Henry and Theobald of Bec sought to be Legate to counter
each other’s power. Henry’s best strategy, since the popes at this period
seemed to die in quick succession, was to obtain a metropolitan which was
permanent and did not involve further supplication upon the death of each
Henry, also, being a Cluniac had the Cistercians against him. But, pope
Lucius liked Henry Blois and Bernard of Clairvaux’s ‘Whore of Winchester’
letter did not stop Henry Blois being granted the Metropolitan at last. Bishop
Henry…set out for Rome, the year of his departure I cannot definitely place.
But he obtained from the pope that the bishopric of Winchester should be
created an archbishopric, the abbey of Hyde a bishopric and that the bishop of
Chichester should be subject to him. He did this on account of the incessant
strife which continued between the bishop and the arch bishop of Canterbury;
for the legate wished to be considered greater that the Archbishop and the
Archbishop greater than the legate.
Through St Patrick’s charter and by their introduction into First Variant,
Phagan and Deruvian became the founders of Glastonbury as recounted in
DA. It is not by accident that Phagan and Deruvian are named in HRB…. nor
is it by accident that the names of the preachers of Eleutherius are feigned
to have been lost in time in GR3.
Does it not seem odd that our
interpolator even has to mention that their names are lost and then
produce them in DA? Therein is the adage ‘by hiding the truth is the hidden
truth revealed’.
Yet, only the gullible would believe that, William who composed his
VSD II after DA…. (this new information supposedly found out while
researching DA), reveals nothing of the illustrious foundation of
Glastonbury in that composition. VSD II was completed after the main
content of DA was already finished. It should be made clear to the reader
that William was never aware that he was in the future to be the witness of
an apostolic foundation or that there were named missionaries from Rome
or even that he has found a charter of St Patrick.
It is ludicrous to think so and once scholarship understands Henry Blois
device of writing history retrospectively, a greater insight will be achieved
concerning GR3 and DA, HRB and the prophecies of Merlin.
There is no concern for the old church’s ‘rude’ construction of wattle, or
its apostolic foundation found in VSD II. The only reference is not to
apostolic or the Phagan and Deruvian foundation, but merely that the first
foundation transpired before Dunstan which is the main thrust of the
argument against Osbern’s accusation: It was an ancient place as I have said,
going back well beyond his time; but though it owes its first foundation to
earlier benefactors, it is indebted to Dunstan for its new pre-eminence.
Henry keeps his threads of evidence and propaganda separated so they
do not lead back to him. This has caused much confusion in the scholastic
community. Henry makes no mention of Joseph until his post 1158 second
agenda. Joseph is grafted as part of Grail lore on the continent to meld into
Annales Monastici, ii, 53. However, the writer has confused Innocent II with pope Lucius.
The common opinion is that it was written by William and then a later interpolator supplied the names. Not so,
as we shall cover later.
William of Malmesbury, Life of Dunstan book ii 10.4
Glastonbury lore. Melkin is never associated with Joseph by Henry in his
propaganda but Melvas is associated with Arthur and Arthur with Avalon
and Avalon with Joseph and Joseph (in reality) with the prophecy of
Melkin…. without the connection of Ineswitrin to Joseph (originally in the
prophecy). So the veil of confusion blurs the association of the 601 charter
of Ineswitrin with the genuine Island in Devon on which Joseph’s relics
reside…. by Henry’s ingenious etymological farce found in Caradoc’s Life of
Gildas which transposes Ineswitrin to Glastonbury
No commentator has suspected Henry Blois as the prolific interpolator of
DA. Most scholars assume the DA interpolations were concocted after the
fire, but none explain the various contradictory foundation myths. The
clever construction of the Patrick charter is clearly evidenced in the
backdating through Patrick which leads back to Phagan and Deruvian who
appear and are apparently corroborated in the First Variant. What is
evident in VM, written between 1155 and 1158 is that Henry had given up
continuing his quest for metropolitan status; as neither Merlin, Ganieda nor
Taliesin in their predictions in VM mention the word metropolitan, yet it
appears 11 times in First Variant and Vulgate.
Once Henry had given up on obtaining a metropolitan, his attitude to
Rome was subsequently unveiled in the Vulgate version of HRB. Anti-
Roman sentiment which was not present in the First Variant is now
displayed as part of the invective in speeches. We have Hoel’s speech as an
example. This, for obvious reasons is not in the Variant version but it would
seem that with Henry’s dealings with the Roman Church he no longer
courted favour with the papacy and thus included such insults against
Rome as:
For if, in accordance with thine argument, thou art minded to go to Rome,
I doubt not that the victory shall be ours, seeing that what we do justly
demand of our enemies they did first begin to demand of us. Wherefore, since
the Romans do desire to take from us that which is our own, beyond all doubt
we shall take their own from them, so only we be allowed to meet them in the
field. Behold, this is the battle most to be desired by all Britons. Behold the
prophecies of the Sibyl that are witnessed by tokens true, that for the third
time shall one of British race be born that shall obtain the empire of Rome.
HRB IX, xvii
We also witness another example in Auguselus’s speech: ….that we have
done to me seems as nought so long as the Romans and the Germans remain
unharmed, and we revenge not like men the slaughter they have formerly
inflicted upon our fellow-countrymen.
One of the most interesting
concoctions which Henry cleverly devises is found in the next piece below
which will be well covered in the following chapters.
Henry Blois provides us in HRB with the same story line as that found in
DA. Supposedly, the Christianity of the Britons flourished because of the
mission of Pope Eleutherius…. mistakenly posited by Bede. The original
foundation myth of Glastonbury is fabricated on this with Phagan and
Deruvian added for good measure along with the disciplic foundation.
After 1158an apostolic foundation became a Josephian foundation.
Henry’s second agenda is cleverly built upon his first agenda of the
apostolic/disciplic foundation for Glastonbury. Henry’s gambit is to show
the Britons were not subject to Rome or Augustine (read Canterbury):
Meanwhile Augustine was sent by the blessed Pope Gregory into Britain to
preach the Word of God unto the English, who, blinded by heathen
superstition, had wholly done away with Christianity in that part of the island
which they held. Howbeit, in the part belonging to the Britons the Christianity
still flourished which had been held there from the days of Pope Eleutherius
and had never failed amongst them. But after Augustine came, he found in
their province seven bishoprics
and an archbishopric provided with most
godly prelates besides a number of abbacies wherein the Lord's flock held
right order. Amongst others there was in the city of Bangor a certain most
noble church wherein was said to be such a number of monks that when the
monastery was divided into seven portions with a prior set over each, not one
of them had less than three hundred monks, who did all live by the labour of
their own hands. Their abbot was called Dinoot, and was in marvellous wise
learned in the liberal arts. He, when Augustine did demand subjection from
the British bishops, in order that they might undertake in common the task of
preaching the Gospel unto the English people, made answer with divers
arguments, that they owed no subjection unto him as of right, nor were they
HRB IX xviii
It just so happens, Henry attempted to raise Winchester into a metropolitan See over Salisbury, Exeter, Wells,
and Chichester, Hereford and Worcester and also creating a new bishopric for Hyde abbey. Not by coincidence,
Ralph de Diceto relates that pope Lucius sent a pall to Henry bishop of Winchester to whom he had proposed to
assign seven bishops.
minded to bestow their preaching upon their enemies, seeing that they had an
archbishop of their own, and that the nations of the Saxons did persist in
withholding their own.
I will cover in progression that Wace’s Roman de Brut was started in
translation from Latin to vernacular verse by Henry Blois using the
template of the First Variant and since the Variant was used to gain
Metropolitan the Archbishopric and seven bishoprics are first seen here.
Wace’s version which used as a template the First variant version does not
mention the altars of Jove and Mercury when Brutus consults the oracle of
Diana. This is simply because the First Variant is aimed at the Roman
Christian audience of the Vatican and Henry started to compose his
versified version of HRB before the final expanded Vulgate version was
composed. Also in the First Variant, there is a general toning down of
sexuality. For example Membricus’s homosexuality is not mentioned and
other religious details which would offend papal authorities such as souls
being sent to ‘ad tartara’ are also omitted.
Henry Blois tailored the First Variant copy using more Biblical
and phraseology, omitting offensive material on homosexuality
and rape and even gory details, and generally presenting a copy which had
less anti-Roman sentiment than the succeeding Vulgate version.
of these attempts to tone down unpalatable details can be witnessed in the
conversation between Bedwer, Arthur’s butler and Helen’s nurse and also
in the omission of the fantastic story of Brian cutting off a slice of his thigh,
roasting it and serving it to King Cadwallo in place of venison. These were
additional fictional parts of the storyline to fascinate and were
HRB XI,xii
To give a few examples of the variant version’s fondness for biblical phraseology: King Dumwallo fought so
bravely that “terra . . . siluit in conspectu eius.”In speaking of Belinus, “nec cessavit gladius eius a mane usque
ad vesperam Romanos caedere.” KingMorwinus meets the invading enemy “cum manu valida.” To the envoys
of Cassibelaunus who plead with Androgeus to arrange peace for him with Caesar, Androgeus replies that he
does not intend to repay him with “malum pro malo”and pleading Cassibelaunus’ cause with Caesar he implores
him not to punish Cassibelaunus “iuxta sua scelera.”King Uther’s love for Igerna is compared to that of King
David for Bathsheba and the army of Aurelius Ambrosius was so great “ut arenae maris comparari posset.”All
these biblical allusions are absent in the vulgate text.
It is not silly to speculate that the later Vulgate version, which has such blatant anti-Roman speeches in it, are a
reflection of the time when Stephen had attempted to have his son Eustace crowned King and was denied by
Rome. Henry himself as a Cluniac had little allegiance to Rome and the Vulgate version of HRB may reflect an
attitude of British independence from Rome. In this case since Winchester was long established as a monastic
house in antiquity by what was written in HRB, if Rome’s authority were excluded, Henry would have
precedence over Canterbury.
embellishments in the yet unfinished Vulgate version, not omissions from a
latterly composed Variant!
The alterations of many of the speeches and sections regarding
personages in history is primarily due to the fact that Henry in 1144 is
attempting to concord or parallel as closely as possible to known facts in
annals. At the same time he is also trying to skew history so that the
fictitious semblance of his history is maintained so that his propaganda
about the Britons is tenable. Such variances involve the transference of
power from the Britons and so Gormandus is invented to bridge from
known history to Henry’s fanciful portrayal of it.
‘Geoffrey’ in the First Variant version, curtails some of the speeches that
have anti-Roman rhetoric found in Vulgate HRB…. such as we saw in Hoel’s
speech. In the Variant version some of the speeches are thought to be
slightly abbreviated or paraphrased, for example, the short speech of
Membricius, or the plea of Conwenna; but these are examples of less
embellishment (not yet fully expanded), not a case of a cut down First
Variant as is assumed by modern scholars. Other speeches are omitted like
that of Maurice, son of Caradoc, duke of Cornwall, to Maximianus, inviting
him to come to Britain because Henry has not completely developed this
historical transition as yet.
Anything that blatantly runs contrary to Roman annals or might offend
Roman sentiment is omitted rather than polemically expanded as in the
later Vulgate version. In the Vulgate text Maurice, upon arriving at Rome,
delivers an address to Maximianus in which he points out all the reasons
why Maximianus should accept the crown of Britain. In the Variant it is
vastly unexpanded (rather than reduced). The lack of manuscript evidence
for the First Variant indicates it was the precursor of the massively copied
In the Vulgate Historia, Geoffrey’ implies that about 250 years have
transpired between the death of Cadwallader and the exile of the Britons to
Armorica which marks the end of British dominion. Henry makes out that
definitive Anglo Saxon rule is in Athelstan’s reign from 924-39 which is at
variance with the gist that British dominion ended around the seventh
century. For obvious reasons Henry Blois in the First Variant has to keep
Cadwallader at the Arthurian end of the Historia but he changes chronology
between the end of British rule and beginning of the Saxon by having the
tenth century Athelstan as a contemporary of Cadwallader. This whole re-
think is from a Primary Historia framework which allows all sorts of
anachronisms to a First Variant which was going to be scrutinised by Papal
authorities as Henry Blois tries to bring the Bedan chronology of Anglo-
Saxon dominion to synchronise with his case for the Early Christian church
in Britain. It is plainly the reasoning behind such changes. However, as we
shall discuss in the chapter on Henry Blois’ impersonation of Wace, we can
see why Wace attempts to reconcile ‘Geoffrey’s’ Vulgate HRB with the First
Variant by providing Aethelstan with the correct Genealogy. Also, we can
see traces of ‘Wace’s chronology attempting to reconcile Henry’s first
storyline of Stonehenge with Uther Pendragon found in the Primary
Historia related by Huntingdon in EAW.
What may have been Henry’s initial storyline needs adjusting for
purpose…. that of convincing the pope to award Henry the metropolitan. It
is for this reason the speech of Caradoc to King Octavius, advising him to
appoint Maximianus his successor is omitted on these grounds also.
speech of archbishop Guithelinus metropolitan of London to his
countrymen is omitted as the similarity to Henry Blois is too obvious.
Guithelinus formed from Guitolinus in Nennius is the statesman and
‘Warrior Ecclesiastic’ like Henry himself and coincidentally a man of great
eloquence. Other addresses in First Variant such as that of Gorlois, duke of
Cornwall and the speech of Auguselus, King of Albania are so different
(unexpanded) both in form and content that they hardly resemble their
counterparts in the fully developed Vulgate text.
Since the aim of Henry Blois is to convince papal authorities of Western
England’s long tradition of Christianity, he follows more closely the
historical annals of Bede and introduces pertinent extracts based on
Landolfus Sagax which help to substantiate his case and also follows Roman
Annals more closely. The only problem with trying to align with known
history in the storyline of the First Variant is that it throws up some
contradictions which are then ignored in Vulgate HRB as Henry no longer
becomes a slave to corroboration, liberalising the storyline from historical
Modern scholars are still bemused as to why the First Variant version
follows closely known sources. Henry Blois is merely falling in with the
annals so that the pseudo-history seems to parallel the histories and
chronicles seeming less like a concoction, but a true historical account. In
the Vulgate text the opening lines of the fourth book read as follows: Interea
contigit, ut in Romanis reperitur historiis, Iulium Caesarem, subiugata Gallia,
ad litus Rutenorum venisse.
The text of the Variant Version reads: Interea contigit, ut in Romanis
reperitur historiis, Iulium Caesarem, subiugata Gallia, in Britanniam
transisse; sic enim scriptum est anno ab Urbe Condita sescentesimo
nonagesimo tertio, ante vero Incarnationem Domini sexagesimo anno. Iulius
Caesar, primus Romanorum, Britones bello pulsavit, in navibus onerariis et
actuariis circiter octoginta advectus.
The Variant Version adds the date of Caesar’s invasion of Britain and the
number of his ships. The source is obviously Bede, Eccl. Hist. 1.2.
Henry is just reiterating known events to establish his historicity for
HRB. The idea of a source book had not yet revealed itself to Henry Blois’s
muses as the providential source of the HRB. Archdeacon Walter dies in
1151. We know therefore that if any Variant has a dedication to Robert
Duke of Gloucester it must post date 1147. If any copy of HRB mentions
Walter it must postdate 1151 or have corrections if written beforehand.
Hammer’s version
has the dedication at the beginning and so must have
had it added or been distributed later than 1151.
However, there is no Alexander dedication affixed to the updated set of
prophecies now in the Cistercian fourteenth century copies. As we have
said, the most likely reasoning is that there was a basic early set of
prophecies in the First Variant (not dedicated), which, as a block, was
updated at a later date. As we have covered, to have the ‘Sixth’ (which is
Henry II), in Ireland can only occur after the council which Henry attended
in 1155 at Michaelmas in Winchester.
The tendency of the Variant to go back to older sources is purely so that
Henry’s dubious yet unexpanded Arthuriana splice and concocted history
seems more plausible to those considering the merits of awarding the
Hammer’s view is that the Variant version arranged for a papal eye was written by some other than ‘Geoffrey’:
who, then, is responsible for this recension which heretofore found shelter sub umbra Galfredi? Who is this
mysterious writer who adorned his product with so many biblical quotations who knew Terence, Vergil, Bede
and others and who must have had access to some Welsh material as well? That he must have been a man of
learning cannot be denied. The facility with which he quotes the Scriptures suggests a cleric who, fascinated
by Geoffrey’s Historiaand sharing its point of view, decided to refashion it in his own way and in the process of
doing so, left on the new product the imprint of his own personality.
metropolitan status for Southern England based on this fabrication of
history. This is clearly witnessed in the description of Britain; the
composition of which ‘Geoffrey’ used passages from Bede, Gildas and
Nennius which he had skilfully woven together with elegance and style. A
comparison, however, between the description of Britain in the Vulgate text
with that of the First Variant version shows that, except for a few phrases in
the Vulgate text, the First Variant version is an almost literal transcript of
passages from Bede.
Of the eight MSS of the First Variant…. they can all be put down to
redactions stemming from Henry’s changing agenda’s. Of the five pure and
three conflated First Variants when compared to the Vulgate; virtually the
only part remaining constant are the prophecies. This backs up my
summation which harks back to the late insertion of the updated
prophecies in the exemplar of the First Variant to the time the updated
prophecies were spliced into the Vulgate. But this throws up further
complications (concerning the Durham cathedral chapter Library MS
C.iv.27), (which will be discussed in the chapter on Wace), as the versified
Merlin prophecies which accompany Wace (even though he says he has not
bothered to translate them) can be seen to be a versified form emanating
from Henry Blois of what was the separate libellus Merlini before it was
updated. What makes this dateable is that the allusions to Henry Blois and
his agendas are many regarding Metropolitan but there is no mention of the
Sixth in Ireland in the versified Durham set.
The First Variant has no dedications, (except one which is probably a
later correction) and no reference to Walter. Passages from Orosius and
Landolfus Sagax dealing with the Roman period are nearly verbatim as
papal authorities can verify (or would know) synchronicity. The Variant in
many cases employs reported discourse rather than the more dramatic
direct speech in the Vulgate HRB. This again, would provide more the air of
a history than a good read. It also lends to the proposition that the Vulgate
HRB was created more as an interesting historic novel for entertainment
rather than the more formal First Variant which tried to pass itself off as
historically accurate.
It would be silly, given the fact that Henry composed the First Variant
version specifically for his case of metropolitan (and given that we know
the Vulgate was not fully completed until 1155), to assume that the First and
hybrid Variants are anything other than a less developed and less expanded
earlier version of the Vulgate. Hammer’s notion that the variants were not
written by Henry (Geoffrey) is as blind as not understanding that the
French vernacular version was started (by Henry before he later posed as
Wace), based upon the First Variant storyline as a template, because it was
a work in progress; and therefore Henry finished off Roman de Brut with
the later Vulgate version some years after having originally commencing
his huge task of verifying the Latin First Variant. Once he had expanded
Arthuriana in Vulgate and the speeches etc. he then completes his Wace
version mirroring Vulgate in the latter part of his versification process. It is
ridiculous to think Wace could plagiarise such a recently composed and
expanded Arthuriana section. Crick and her previous mentors should have
understood that Wace’s versified Roman de Brut was composed by Henry
Blois and the reason most commentators believe Gaimar’s Roman de Breton
did not survive (because it was outclassed by Wace’s work) is a scholastic
rationale. Roman de Breton was never written. This is the reason every
Geoffrey scholar needs to stop being so naïve regarding what is a glaring
interpolation (or even bogus composition), known as Gaimar’s epilogue.
It was 1156-7 when Henry completed Wace’s Roman de Brut. Henry had
already completed the Vulgate, as the Roman de Brut parallels it in its
second half. The First Variant is not an inferior recension of the Vulgate, it
was composed for a different audience (in 1144) under different
circumstances and earlier than the 1155 finalised Vulgate. It is illogical to
think that ‘Geoffrey’ would remove his artistry rather than build upon it as
the Historia evolved.
The Vulgate is a reflection of a portrayal of the Primary Historia mixed
with the First Variant slant, fully developed with no constraint in its
language or attitude. As we covered already, Adrian IV published the Papal
Bull Laudabiliter, which was issued in 1155 whereby the English pope
Adrian IV gave King Henry II the right to assume control over Ireland and
apply the Gregorian reforms, and therefore…. since we know Henry
Bloiswas at the meeting at Winchester, we can date the version of
prophecies in the Vulgate to after that date. Henry had refined First Variant
to Vulgate in the years 1149 (Alfred’s copy?) to 1155, when the updated
prophecies were added. The updated version of the prophecies (as we have
covered) also included the prophecies which incite rebellion against Henry
As long as we know to disregard Gaimar’s testimony, which is another of
Henry’s ploys…. one can confidently say that Walter never gave a fictitious
‘Geoffrey’ any old book in the British language or obtained it from Brittany.
Walter was dead and ‘Geoffrey’ never lived.
Henry, it seems, was under pressure as the seditious prophecies were
published. Henry devised a plan to make it appear that ‘Geoffrey’ had
worked with others of reputation like Walter, Robert of Gloucester and
Alexander. The last thing Henry Blois wants is a witness who is alive.
Therefore, Walter is not mentioned at the start of Chapter eleven or 177 in
the First Variant because Henry has not conceived of Walter as a
corroborative and collaborative witness, from whom the source book was
No blame can be foisted upon the dead bishop of Asaph for having
merely translated an old book or an archdeacon for supplying it.
Unfortunately no-one has ever been able to verify what HRB pretends….
because by the time the First Variant has evolved to Vulgate HRB, there is
no-one alive to whom a sceptic might enquire.
After 1155 when ‘Geoffrey
had been consigned to death, those that did make enquiries assumed he had
resided in Asaph.
Walter’s role is fabricated in the Vulgate: Geoffrey of Monmouth will not
stay silent even about this, most noble earl, but according as he has found it in
the British book mentioned before, and has heard from Walter of Oxford, a
man familiar with many histories, he will tell in his own mean style of the
battles which that renowned King upon his return to Britain after this victory
did fight with his nephew.
We know the First Variant was employed earlier than 1151 and thus we
can conclude that because Walter’s name is absent from the First Variant
text; he is alive and his fame as provider of the book is not yet bestowed
upon him. Henry only uses Walter as his stooge after he is dead.
The only exception to this rule is Robert de Chesney as dedicatee of VM. However, since Henry outlived de
Chesney (D.1166), the prologue in which the dedication is found could well have been added after his death or
we can assume since ‘Geoffrey’ was dead at the advent of VM, the new bishop of Lincoln accepted the honour
without complaint following a previous Alexander tradition of patronising ‘Geoffrey.
HRB, XI, i.
I must remind the reader that no-one ever met ‘Geoffrey’ and his work
was not widely read until post 1155, except for the one recorded copy
provided by Henry’s nephew (which found its way to Beverley) and since
this existed c.1147 certainly ‘Geoffrey of Monmouthas a name had not yet
been concocted.A few other variants probably circulated in this era before
the expanded Vulgate got widely copied. Admittedly Henry’s friend Abbot
Suger had been passed some prophecies and Alfred of Beverley had
procured his copy from William of York, but to think any version was
widely distributed before 1155 is inaccurate. Alfred when re-cycling HRB
merely names the author as Britannicus because he knows Galfridus Artur
is a pseudonym and the author is obviously pro- the Britons
The modern concept of the proliferation of ‘Geoffrey’s’ work is simply
misunderstood and is based entirely on the date parameters of when the
dedicatees lived and the assumption that a Vulgate version appeared in
1139 at Bec. Modern scholars also need to accept that Merlin is not a
prophet. To maintain such a position is foolish given that most of the
content of the prophecies revolves around looking backward to events close
to Henry Blois and his family and the anarchy.
It is a madness to think that the chief aim of the First Variant is to
abbreviate HRB. It appears less expanded because it is earlier and the
frequent reminiscences of the Bible and classical texts, independent of the
Vulgate…. indicate that it was tailored to an ecclesiastical audience, written
with a more moralising tone. It is simply not feasible that the First Variant
was written by someone other than ‘Geoffrey’. Considering that the Vulgate
version was in progress of being written before 1155 we might conclude it
evolved through the copy that Alfred of Beverley possessed and as such had
material that Alfred relates which is exclusive to Vulgate and also to First
Variant. In other words Alfred’s copy was neither. The original First
variant (1143-44) was written 10 years before the final Vulgate Version and
may explain some differences in style, but essentially, they were composed
for two different audiences. It is obvious that the Wace version because of
its composition and because of the time involved in versifying HRB that it
Geoffreys seemingly pro-Briton stance mainly comes from the origins of HRB having been written as a faux
history inclusive of the many queens not forgetting it was aimed at currying favour with the potential new queen
Matida; and not forgetting The Empress Matilda was the daughter of Matilda the wife of King Henry I and she
was the daughter of the English princess saint Margaret and the Scottish king Malcolm III.
was composed over a long period of time where the transition to include
the expanded Arthuriad took place.
Hammer considered the Variant to be a reworking of the Vulgate for
which Geoffrey of Monmouth was not responsible; but as soon as the
motives for the Variant are established, there is no doubt as to who
composed and was responsible for it. If the frequency of incompatibility
which exist in Huntingdon’s synopsis were expanded from the short précis
that constitutes the letter to Warin…. it could not be thought possible that a
Vulgate version was the same as that found at Bec. Huntingdon’s précis
never mentions Avalon…. and Alfred, in his reworking of the passage
concerning Caliburnus (where it is forged in the island of Avallon in HRB)
omits mention of Avallon. It shows Henry has not yet evolved his plan and
hisaggrandisementfor Avalon.
Caldwell said that the Variant looks like an early draft put together from
original sources. He misunderstands the Variant was an evolving work
toward Vulgate HRB, but had been employed at one time for a specific
purpose. Caldwell argued that the absence from the Vulgate of some
material found in the Variant and the inclusion in the Variant alone of some
passages drawn directly from prior sources i.e. Bede and Landolfus Sagax
could be explained if the Vulgate were regarded as a reworking of the
Variant. In other words, the Vulgate was a deliberate revision. He was right,
but he did not understand why historical personages are changed and
chronological episodes re-aligned or the difference in moral tone; British
anti-roman sentiment in speech was redacted and battle scenes from
Vulgate appeared to be removed, and that Wace, Variant and Vulgate had a
single author. The difficulty of our experts have is that they do not
understand that the Vulgate version was not published in 1138, but the
book found at bec was a first edition ‘Primary Historia’. It is silly to think
that the Variant represented a version of the Historia composed by an
unknown author at some time before Geoffrey compiled the Vulgate as
some scholars suggest.
Pierre Gallais, another commentator duped by Henry’s fraud, thought
Caldwell's claim that the Variant version preceded the Roman de Brut, saw
Caldwell’s position as a serious challenge to Wace's originality…. since it
threatened to reduce the status of the poet to that of a compilateur or
copyist. Again just Scholastic rationalisation!!
Pierre Gallais reckoned the Variant’s style signalled it could not have
been written by Geoffrey himself…. but, trying to fit the jigsaw together, he
rejected the proposition that an unknown author could produce such a
version prior to the appearance of the Vulgate text. So, Gallais thought the
Variant must have been composed after 1138 when he though Vulgate
appeared; which led him to believe that the author of the first variant drew
on Wace’s Roman de Brut and therefore must be the latter composition. As
states: The diverse nature of these various hypotheses serves to
underline the great difficulties with which questions about the date,
authorship and purpose of the First Variant version present us.I just do not
understand given the differences found in EAW why every scholar blindly
follows the assumption that EAW is a synopsis of Vulgate.
The situation will never change until scholars free themselves of several
a priori positions which (if maintained) obscure the right conclusions to the
three genres of study under investigation!!!
It is silly to think that a revision of the Historia by an author other than
Geoffrey would have been made so soon after the publication of the Vulgate
text. Especially, if we consider modern scholarship’s view that the Vulgate
was the same edition as the Primary Historia and was first seen in 1139.
Why would one think another author would replicate the Vulgate with
minor differences giving a much reduced First Variant version…. even if we
genuinely believed ‘Geoffrey’ had existed as a real person?
Another confused commentator, Hans Erich Keller, thought that the
Variant was not written by Geoffrey but ante-dated the Vulgate. Keller
thought that Gaimar referred to the Vulgate as le livier of Walter Espec and
to the Variant version as the ‘good book of Oxford’ by Walter the
Archdeacon. Therefore, Keller’s logic concluded that the source of the HRB
Neil Wright after pages discussing the self-contradictory arguments of Calwell and Gallais concludes: the
combined weight of the preceding argumentsmust tip the scalesconclusively against Gallaisand in favour of
Caldwell’s assertion that the variant version of the historia was Wace’s source. Hence the variant was in
existence in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s lifetime, since he died probably in 1155, the year of the completion of the
Roman de Brut. What I have never understood about researchers into Geoffrey’s work is how one could accept
that firstly Geoffrey was real when nearly everything he states, or is circumstantially established in a personal
context, falls apart under scrutiny; yet all and sundry accept there is little truth in his historical fact in HRB.
Secondly, how is it that commentators think Wace or the supposed author of the Variant and Geoffrey all seem
to interchange each others work at will all before 1155 when Geoffrey supposedly died. There are no scales to
tip as Wright puts it, because Henry started the Roman de Brut c.1149-50 with a cross over between Primary
Historia and Variant versions as his source and finished the versified version with the expansions found common
to Vulgate; all versions common to one man as is evident in this analysis.
was not as Geoffrey alleged i.e. an ancient Briton or Breton book in the
possession of Walter Archdeacon of Oxford, but it was the Variant itself and
composed before 1138. To complete the jigsaw of ignorance; Keller
reckoned the Variant must have been written by Archdeacon Walter
himself. Until it is understood that Henry Blois interpolated Gaimar, no
correct conclusion will be found. The Gaimar epilogue is purposeful
misdirection and is the key to unlocking the evolution of Geoffrey’s work in
making plain that Wace’s work was written by Henry Blois.
Wright hits the nail on the head: a comprehensive approach must be
directed to answering three questions. Was the variant version composed
before or after the vulgate? Was the variant written by Geoffrey or by another
author? And was the variant used by Wace or does it rather reflect the
influence of the Roman de Brut and consequently postdate that text?
The Variant was written beforehand in 1144 so it was the template for
the influence of the Roman de Brut. All HRB texts including that of Wace and
Vulgate were authored by Henry Blois before his death. No further textual
analysis by Crick or Wright will contradict this position.
Let it be established once and for all, Walter never had a book and never
had any association with the composition of the Historia and his name was
never seen in the Vulgate until after his death. Henry Blois is the author of
HRB and the prophecies of Merlin.
As we shall see in the next section, Gaimar’s epilogue, upon which Keller
attaches his reasonings, is most certainly written by Henry Blois, along
with several other small interpolations into Gaimar’s work which
corroborate the historicity of HRB. After stating that Wace’s work (which
was lengthy labour in time) was composed by ‘Geoffrey’, I will surely be
accused for citing Gaimar’s epilogue as a Henry Blois interpolation also; but,
by comparison to several years work in versifying the Historia, Gaimar’s
epilogue and associated minor interpolations could be made in less than a
Leckie also thought the First Variant was a later recension compiled by
an unknown redactor. Yet he recognised that the Roman de Brut could not
have arisen independently. He thought it must represent an attempt to
modify the Variant. One of the reasons Henry Blois created Wace’s Roman
de Brut in the first place apart from opening up his sensational book to a
wider audience, was so that ‘Geoffrey’ remained ostensibly Welsh. The fact
that ‘Wace’ found the Merlin prophecies incomprehensible may portend
that Henry Blois completed Roman de Brut when there was no efficacy or
further use of the prophetia. Therefore, I believe Henry released the Roman
de Brut c.1158 when he returned to England probably after havingmet
Wace at Caen.
The conclusion is that the Wace’s Roman de Brut was started before the
fully evolved Vulgate HRB and hence it follows the Vulgate version more
closely at the end where the expanded Arturiana is an obvious addition to
the Variant. We might propose that Henry found it too difficult to include
the prophetia without exposing himself by translating them i.e. by
versifying the prose. Much of the skimble skamble and obfuscatory content
would be too difficult to portray without exposing his obvious
understanding of their content. There are many other alternative scenarios
as to why Henry makes a point of omitting the prophecies when he
impersonates Wace. However, we will see that Roman de Brut was written
later than is normally thought and therefore the prophecies have no further
use as Henry completes the vernacular edition of Roman de Brut in 1158-59
and certainly Marie of France at the court of Champagne has heard of
Avalon and the round table c.1165-70. Shoaf’s unyielding position in
maintaining that Marie of France who composed the Lais is different from
the Marie of France who became Marie of Champagnemarried to Henry
Bloisnephew is typical of the blindness of modern scholarship. I will get to
this in the chapter on Marie of Champagne.
However, to grasp the finer points on the reasoning behind why the
prophetia were left out in Wace I will discuss later also, but it is necessary to
understand that both Wace and Gaimar were impersonated by Henry Blois,
yet were both poets already. Neither of them in anyway as artful as Henry
Blois which is obviated in Wace’s sluggish Roman de Rou and Gaimar’s
ploddingL'Estoire des Engles.
Another astonishing thing is that no commentator has ever remarked at
how sedentary the Roman de Rou comes across. One would think that with
all Gallais’ praise for Wace, he might have noticed that the author of Roman
de Brut could never be the same mind; even though Wace is supposedly
using a contemporary ‘Geoffrey’ as a source for his material. It is not the
material at fault it is the versification!!!
How is it possible that after spending years putting the Historia together a
comparative dullard is allowed with supposed complete knowledge and co-
operation from ‘Geoffrey’ up in Oxford, to versify the best literature since
Cicero; especially if we take into account the scarcity of references to
Geoffrey’s work before 1150. This whole shambolic mess regarding
Geoffrey’s work starts with Lloyd and Petrie and Chambers and Griscom
amongst many others and is now perpetuated by Crick.