Chapter 3
The prophecies of Merlin from the
HRB
Before we look at the VM, my object is to show the reader in the quickest
possible way that Henry Blois, as well as writing the HRB, also wrote all the
prophecies of Merlin. He uses the prophecies to corroborate his pseudo-
history of HRB and to further his political ambitions. Our experts on the
prophecies of Merlin i.e. Chambers, San Marte, Faral and Taylor never
suspect Henry Blois as author. The only elucidator of HRB with any insight,
(the erudite Tatlock) has no suspicion that the bishop of Winchester is
author of the work either. There are several reasons for this: the main is
gullibility and a lack of ability to conceive a fraud on the scale Henry Blois
has accomplished. The early material that pertains to the Matter of Britain
is nearly all a product of Henry Blois. There would be no ‘Matter of Britain’
as it is generally perceived without Henry Blois’ input, but it is the dark
secret which is veiled in Henry Blois’s invention which is the point of this
exposé. It is Henry Blois’ fault that the body of Joseph of Arimathea has
remained undiscovered until the present day.
Henry’s ability to deceive by seemingly writing from the standpoint of a
Briton in the prophecies and appearing to have insular sympathies while
writing as Geoffrey has obscured his identity. Also, by having effectively
backdated the Vulgate Historia so that his audience believes it was
published in the time of the cited dedicatees is probably the main reason
Henry Blois has remained undiscovered as the author of the constituent
parts which comprise the foundation of the Matter of Britain. With the
addition of updated prophecies, it appears that Merlin did indeed predict
things in the future. For this reason many commentators believe there was
a genuine set of prophecies by Merlin. A case in point would be the
prophecy concerning the ‘Sixth in Ireland’ (an unknown possibility in 1134)
at a time from which some scholars avow that Orderic’s account of Merlin
dates.
Also, there is the added confusion of Henry Blois writing as ‘Geoffrey
who is posing as Merlin. In early prophecies i.e. before 1155, we are given
the impression that our author was a Briton whose chief antipathy is
against the Saxons and favours the Normans as vanquishers of the Saxons.
This viewpoint was true at the time the early prophecies were constructed
and when Henry’s brother was alive as king of England. It gave the
impression that Merlin, (an ancient Briton) acquiesced in the Norman
eradication of the ‘German worm’. However, what has confused scholars
like Tatlock
1
is where the prophecies predicted a restoration of the crown of
Brutus for the united Celts because this is a twisted version of what had
been previously stated in a separate early edition of the prophecies know as
the Libellus Merlini. We are told Breton, Cornishman, Scot, and Welshman
finally will restore the crown of Brutus. It is not by coincidence that of all
the prophecies (excepting those in the vague Götterdammerung), the
unification of the Celts is one that is blatantly clear, but strangely enough
does not come true.
2
The forces do not unite and Henry II is not beaten by
the Celts. This is simply because both Conan and Cadwallader came to terms
with Henry II and Henry Blois’ plan of sedition did not pan out.
It is the one prophecy which did not look backward to events concerning
his Grandfather or Uncles’…. or the Anarchy; or events recorded in insular
annals; or as a prophecy acting as a corroboration of his bogus pseudo-
history presented in HRB. The reason for this is that it is the one and only
time
3
when Henry tried to use a prophecy to dictate events of political
1
J.S.P Tatlock, The legendary History of Britain. Strangely enough for someone as clever as Tatlock, he makes
the observation: Geoffrey is at pains to make the city of Winchester prominent and exalted; the prophecies
reproach its perjured citizens and threaten its episcopal see with ruin. It is astounding that he does not put
together the fact that the citizens perjured themselves in the Anarchy (being convinced by Henry Blois to join
Matilda) and the fact that it is only highlighted inGeoffreys’ pseudo-history that it was a monastic institution at
the time Constans was alive…. and the bishop of Winchester just after HRB appeared was seeking a
metropolitan for Winchester.
2
There are other prophecies which did not come to fruition like the navigable channel to Winchester, but the
canal project was started.
3
Henry did however foretell of the reinstatement of two metropolitans when predicting as Merlin and we may
assume these are St David’s and Winchester.
change in the short term.
4
Most of Merlin’s other prophecies were a
pretence looking forward to already transpired history. We cannot say this
is the case concerning the ‘sixth in Ireland’ prophecy as Henry expected the
invasion of Ireland to take place soon after the council held at Winchester
where it was discussed in 1155 with him present.
Until one understands Henry Blois’ attempt at sedition and one has
studied the Merlin prophecies in the rendition supposedly given by John of
Cornwall, it is very difficult to make out why ‘Geoffrey’ (who wrote the
Merlin prophecies) seemingly has a change of stance against Norman rule.
The first prophecy in HRB is fittingly about the church and Henry Blois’
aim is to run through history as presented in HRB. We are told: religious
observance shall be done away and the churches shall stand in ruins. Also,
fittingly, in the second prophecy in which we are told what the end result of
the prophecies will be concerning the island of Britain.
Merlin foresees: At the last, those that are oppressed (the British) shall
arise and resist the cruelty of them that come from without (foreigners). It is
the hope of Henry Blois that King Henry II would be unseated. This is Henry
Bloisultimate aim at the time the Vulgate HRB prophecies were updated; to
unseat Henry II by inciting insurrection of the Celts through prophecy.
Henry’s aspiration was to return from Clugny as an ‘adopted son to rule
England. If this proposition seems far-fetched, the reader may turn to the
prophecies of John of Cornwall which show clearly this aim. However, it is
better for the reader to understand Henry’s many interpolations and
agendas before moving onto the prophecies of JC and understand the make-
up of the earlier Merlin prophecies.
The Vulgate version of prophecies which follow, run through history as
presented in HRB concerning the Saxon invasion. Arthur, the Boar of
Cornwall shall bring succour and shall trample their necks beneath his feet.
Henry Blois pretends as Merlin to predict as if looking forward from
Merlin’s era and foresee events recorded in insular annals, but the aim is to
corroborate fictional (unhistorical) events presented in Henry Blois’ own
concocted pseudo-historical HRB. In the prophecy above Henry Blois refers
to Arthur as the Boar of Cornwall as part of a corroborative exercise which
4
There were other prophecies like the construction of the ‘holy hole’ at Winchester which were foreseen and
came to fruition but other building projects like a canal from Winchester to Southampton which never
materialised.
confirms his account of events in HRB where King Arthur combats the
Saxons.
The islands of the ocean shall be subdued unto his (Arthur’s) power, and
the forests of Gaul shall he possess. As we know from history, Rome was
never subject to British rule, but as ‘Geoffrey’ posits, the Celts in the fourth
century BC captured Rome under Brenno…. but Arthur’s continental battle
never took place as presented in HRB and Arthur never took possession of
Gaul. So, the author of the prophecies is definitely the author of HRB…. as
Merlin is supposedly looking forward from a period c.500-600 AD:
5
The
house of Romulus shall dread the fierceness of his prowess and doubtful shall
be his end. The house of Romulus is Henry’s mystical term for Rome; as if a
seer hears things in a different way and understands the truth in the same
way as the fictional foundation myth of Diocles of Peparethus.
It was Henry Blois posing as Geoffrey who left Arthur’s fate undecided in
HRB on the Island of Avalon which our author of the prophecies refers to as
a ‘doubtful end’. However, as we shall cover later, it is Henry Blois who
plants the bogus body of Arthur at Glastonbury. Thereafter, Arthur’s end
became less doubtful to the gullible.
Arthur’s ‘renown’ amongst the population was recorded by William of
Malmesbury in GR1. Arthur’s real ‘fame’ is a product of his introduction
into the Primary Historia and the Vulgate version of HRB…. and ultimately
HRB’s translation into verse supposedly written by Wace. Henry Blois self-
perpetuates the chivalric Arthur through Wace and by being the person
responsible for originally instigating the Grail stories at his nephew’s court
in Champagne. The chivalric Arthur’s fame is directly linked to Henry Blois.
He shall be celebrated in the mouth of the peoples, and his deeds shall be
as meat unto them that tell thereof.
Ironically, Henry Blois as the inventor of the chivalric Arthur persona is
the one telling of Arthur’s deeds; yet he is predicting that troubadours
would relate Arthur’s deeds; even though Henry is the one writing this
particular prophecy and pretending to be Merlin.
Arthur supposedly has six successors but coincidentally there are six
kings numbered in Henry Bloisera, but we will get to this obfuscation and
its reason shortly: Six of his successors shall follow his sceptre, but after them
5
Tatlock comments on his belief that the prophecies and Historia are written by the same person. He comments
on the mutual allusions and the echoes all through. P.416
the German Worm will rise. After the Saxons, chronologically the Danes
arrive. Henry Blois tries to replicate as far as possible, known history from
the insular annals of Gildas and Bede. However, the fiction of Gormundus,
6
arrived at from the French chanson de geste Gormont et Isembart
(doubtfully known by a Welsh Geoffrey), is a part of the fictional pseudo-
history of HRB: The Wolf of the sea shall exalt him, unto whom the woods of
Africa shall bear company.
Through the prophecies and HRB’s (dual) mention of a totally fictional
Gormundus and many other allusions
7
in the prophecies, we can conclude
the author of the prophecies is the same as the composer of HRB. We know
Henry is concerned with the state of the church: Again shall religion be done
away, and the Sees of the Primates shall be transmuted. Henry Blois’ main
concern is his obsession with the primacy of Canterbury as it is through this
primacy (determined by Rome) that he is subject to Theobald of Bec.
Originally he had been Archbishop of Canterbury in waiting, until he was
spurned by his brother and the position given to Theobald. This event is one
of the main causes of the composition of the First Variant HRB after the loss
of the legation and the death of William of Malmesbury.
The First Variant HRB is an expanded redaction of the Primary Historia.
Henry’s concern with ‘archflamens’ in HRB and the establishment of two
metropolitans in the prophecies are a result of his attempt to obtain
metropolitan status for himself. His intention was to gain metropolitan
status for southwest England. Henry’s reasoning for changing prophecies is
complicated as he tried to cover his authorship later in his life.
He later squewed prophecies so that London appeared as the new
metropolitan site to detract from Winchester when suspicion fell on him as
author of the prophecies. In reality though, his attempt was aimed at
Winchester, but this can only be understood completely once the
prophecies are recognised as having been twisted in a later updated edition
which is found in Vulgate HRB. Henry’s polemic which also concerns us in
the interpolations in DA was to show that the Briton archbishopric of
6
The Saxons, having had experience of his shiftiness, went unto Gormundus, King of the Africans, in Ireland,
wherein, adventuring thither with a vast fleet, he had conquered the folk of the country. Thereupon, by the
treachery of the Saxons, he sailed across with a hundred and sixty-six thousand Africans into Britain…HRB. XI,
vii.
7
For example: The entombment of Caduallo in the brazen statue placed over a London Gate. Also, the
emigration and canonization of Cadualadrus.
London was established long before Augustine’s arrival. The dignity of
London shall adorn Dorobernia (Canterbury) and men shall resort unto the
seventh shepherd of York in the realm of Armorica. Samson as ‘Archbishop’
of York
8
is another of Henry’s conflations, but again proves the prophecies
are too aligned with the pseudo-history of HRB to be written by any other
than the inventor of the prophecies. Henry Blois’ attestation is that before
the Saxons came there were three Archbishoprics. This point is made plain
in the narrative of HRB
9
and again in the prophecies of VM. However, here:
Menevia shall be robed in the pall of the City of Legions and a preacher of
Ireland shall be stricken dumb on account of an infant in the womb. We shall
cover the allusion to St Patrick and Henry’s interest in him when we cover
the Charter of St Patrick in the chapter on DA.
If one understands that Henry wrote an initial set of prophecies and then
subsequently wrote another updated set and changed the sense of some of
the previous which were in a separated Libellus version, (which were
spliced into First Variant) and subsequently squewed in Vulgate HRB…. and
then twisted slightly again (while others were added in VM)…. it is safe to
posit that several of the early prophecies must have been too obvious and
were changed as suspicion fell on Henry as the inventor of the prophecies.
To fully explain the meaning of all the prophecies is impossible as many
of them now have no meaning. The original prophecies have been squewed
to cause confusion and to hide Henry’s authorship. Originally the
prophecies published in the separate Libellus had material which was too
easily linked and could be associated with Henry. His authorship needed to
be hidden once he had included the prophecies about the Celtic rebellion
when Henry II came to the throne. To accept this will be difficult for
modern scholars, because firstly, one has to accept Geoffrey is not real and
the Primary Historia version found at Bec was not the same as Vulgate
version.
8
At that time two of the Metropolitan Sees, York, to wit, and the City of the Legions, were vacant without their
shepherds. Wherefore, being minded to consult the common wish of his peoples, he gave York unto
Samson….HRB VIII,xii.
Henry’s bogus establishment of a metropolitan in Carleon is based on Rhygyfarchs Life of David.
9
The three archbishops, to wit, he of Caerleon, Theon of London, and Thadioceus of York. HRB. XI, x.However,
the archflamens were not mentioned in EAW, which, if they had been present in the Primary Historia,would
have been an extraordinary omission on behalf of Henry of Huntingdon.
Primary Historia had no prophecies in it and did not mention Merlin.
Once it is understood that the dedicatees have no relevance in dating
Vulgate HRB, one can understand the Libellus Merlini existing separately
and undergoing an update in the Vulgate. Even though the First Variant
pre-exists the Vulgate, and originally included the prophecies (without
dedication and preamble)…. its prophecies have been ‘corrected with the
updated 1155 version of the prophecies found in Vulgate HRB. This again is
difficult to accept until it is understood that the extant copies of First
Variant today derive from one exemplar in which the prophecies were
updated to the more recent version of prophecies found in the Vulgate.
In other words, when the First Variant was first published, it had the
same prophecies as the contents of the separate Libellus Merlini. So, until
scholars accept that Vulgate was published in 1155 and the dedicatees
names (as contemporaries) in effect back date the Vulgate (giving the
impression that the later Vulgate version was that found at Bec), it is
impossible to grasp how the prophecies were updated and their meaning
twisted. This is not easy to accept because scholars have been duped by
Henry Blois artful retro-dating of the Vulgate version which mentions
dedicatees and also by the colophon naming contemporary historians.
My main attempt in covering this topic is not to elucidate the prophecies
but to show that they were written by Henry. Once the reader recognises
the authorship of both HRB and the prophecies have a common author, we
can then safely progress knowing HRB and the chivalric Arthur was a Blois
invention. Rather than attempt elucidation of each prophecy, it would be
more practical to cover the obvious prophecies which show Henry as the
author. So we will progress from the beginning until Henry’s authorship
becomes clear.
The German Worm will find no refuge in his caves for the vengeance of his
treason that shall overtake him.
Writing as the Briton Merlin, Henry makes out the Saxons will pay for
the treachery carried out on the night of the long knives and so appears to
cast his allegiance with the Britons.
They will prosper for a short while and shall wax strong, but Neustria’s
tithe shall do him a hurt. A people clad in wood and tunics of iron shall come
upon him and take vengeance upon him for his wickedness.
Merlin sees the Norman’s coming as saviours referring to the Saxons as
foreigners. Oddly enough, if Merlin was a Briton, the Normans would just
be replacing another lot of conquering foreigners. But as we know, Henry’s
polemic for the early prophecies is motivated by a pro-Norman stanceas
his brother Stephen is still alive. His position changed as King Henry II
comes to the throne.
He shall restore their dwelling-places unto them that did inhabit them
aforetime, and the ruin of the foreigner shall be made manifest.
The last thing the Normans did was alleviate the British populace. But
again Henry is a Norman and in the persona of Merlin calls the Saxons
foreigner’s and not the Norman’s likewise. This is not a Welshman writing.
The seed of the White Dragon will disappear from our little gardens and
the remnant of his generation shall be decimated. The yoke of unending
bondage shall they bear their mother by wounding her with hoes and ploughs.
The Saxons will become peasants of the land tilling it in eternal slavery
until the Saxon gene is eliminated. What once was their Mother land is now
their bondage. This is an odd sentiment for a supposed (Anglo-Norman
‘Geoffrey’) Welshman to have in favour of the Normans. At this stage (when
the early prophecies were published), there was no sentiment to reinstall
the Britons or bring back the crown of Brutus. In the next prophecy we
move onto Henry’s predecessors around whom the earlier prophecies in the
Libellus concentrated.
Two dragons will succeed, one of which shall be slain by the darts of
malice, while the other shall perish under the shadow of a name.
William Rufus, as Henry of Huntingdon relates in his history is hit by an
arrow and as many contemporaries suspect, an arrow of ‘Malice’. Walter
Tirel shot him supposedly by accident in a hunting expedition in the new
forest on 2
nd
august 1100. Is it not a strange circumstance that ‘Geoffrey’
calls it an arrow of Malice i.e. shot with a motive of hatred or envy,
meaning he was killed intentionally rather than it being an accident. Alanus
states that nearly everyone understood it to be an accident. So, how is it that
the author of the Merlin prophecy is more informed than the masses?
Duke Robert after his imprisonment perished under the ‘shadow of a
name’ i.e. Duke Robert rather than King Robert. It is not remarkable that
prophecies deal with kings, but in consideration of the vast time gap from
the sixth century to the time of Henry Blois…. it is not coincidental that our
seer refers to the conquest of Henry’s grandfather and then his two uncles.
Merlin has an adept ability to focus his seeing powers on the same era his
reading audience can appreciate and recall the recent past.
These following prophecies we can assume are part of the original set of
prophecies that Henry hands to his good friend Abbot Suger. However, this
does not necessarily exclude several other prophecies which were also part
of his version which was the original libellus Merlini. Suger includes all the
following and comments on them before his death in 1151. This is before
the advent of the updated Vulgate version of prophecies:
They shall be succeeded by The Lion of Justice, at whose roar the towers of
Gaul and the dragons of the island shall tremble. In those days gold be
extracted from the lily and the nettle, and silver shall flow from the hooves of
them that low. They that go crisped and curled shall be clad in fleeces of many
colours, and the garment without shall betoken that which is within. The feet
of them that bark shall be cropped short. The wild deer shall have peace, but
humanity shall suffer dole. The shape of commerce shall be cloven in twain;
the half shall be round. The ravening of kites shall perish and the teeth of
wolves be blunted. The Lion's whelps shall be transformed into fishes of the
sea, and his Eagle build her nest upon Mount Aravius.
I will briefly go through this section elucidating the meaning.
A lion of justice shall succeed, whose roar shall cause the towns of France,
and the dragons of the island to tremble.
10
In his days gold shall be extorted
from the lily and the nettle, and silver shall be scattered abroad by the hoofs
of lowing kine.
Henry Ist is denoted the ‘Lion of Justice’ in the prophecies (and whose
rule stretched over what ‘Merlin’ terms Gaul) to be archaic….and the island
dragons (as we know) are the Britons and Saxons. Abbot Suger explains the
prophecy as follows, probably having been prompted by the man who
delivered the prophecies into his hands: In his days was gold wrung by him
out of the lily, that is, from the religious of good odour, and from the nettle,
that is from the stinging seculars; his intent being that as he was a profit unto
all, so also should all do service unto himself.
10
Gildas called Maelgwn insularis draco, a term which Henry transposed to Celtic leaders.
To my mind the lilly and the nettle are the highborn and lowborn who
all pay tax to the Lion of Justice. Silver is distributed to the favourite Barons
(those that low). As Merlin, Henry shows that his uncle ruled with an iron
fist and everybody paid their due and was subject to his stern rule.
However, it is probably best to defer to Suger’s elucidation.
Henry of Huntingdon relates that King Henry Ist predecessor William
Rufus: ‘wrung thousands of gold and silver from his most powerful vassals,
and harassed his subjects with the toil of building castles for himself’.
11
King
Henry Ist maintained and added to these coffers until King Stephen
inherited a full treasury. He then distributed it amongst what Henry Blois
refers to derogatorily as ‘lowing kine’ in the prophecy. Henry mentions the
easy distribution of funds by Stephen to close advisors and Barons….as the
author of GS specifies. Stephen in effect buys support and the coffers are
soon depleted…. and Henry Blois is dissatisfied by the manipulation of his
brother. Stephen’s childish piety and sense of honour, and his blindness
toward flatterers is ultimately the breakdown of communication between
the two brothers which led to Theobald of Bec being elected as archbishop.
However, we may also have to defer to Abbot Suger’s elucidation: Silver
flowed from the hooves of them that low when the strength of the castle
safeguarded the plenty of the grange, and the plenty of the grange assured
abundance of silver in the well-filled coffers Abbot Suger sees the meaning
of the prophecy as wealth gained from good husbandry once castles were
established to protect livestock.
The men with curled hair shall wear clothes of various textures and
colours, and their exterior shall betoken their interior.
This ornate dress appeared in the court of Henry Ist and became a
ridiculous show of outward vanity in Stephen’s rule. A few commentators
of the time remark upon the adoption of hair style and the vain attire of the
barons at court. It refers to foppish or dandyish hair styles and ‘peacockish’
dress of effeminate members of the laity. Doubtful it is that a sixth century
Merlin or the Welsh cleric Geoffrey would pay much attention to dress code
at court. Henry himself wore a scruffy beard and would have written this to
highlight this new vanity at court to shame the very people as they listened.
11
Henry of Huntingdon 217
This trend had started in Henry I reign where bishop Serlo of Seez in a
sermon at Carentan chastised the King and his men for their vain apparel.
The feet of lurchers shall be cut off. It is quite unrealistic to think that
Merlin is seeing four or five hundred years into the future and bearing
witness to the effects of Norman aristocratic sporting pursuits. It is more
ridiculous that a Welsh Geoffrey
12
would waste his time concocting
prophecies predicting events which pertain to the Norman aristocracy’s
sporting pastimes. Hunting dogs
13
were maimed in the time of Henry Ist to
prevent hunting on the King’s land…. so the hunted game subsequently
benefitted. King Henry’s cruel hunting and forest laws were such that all
dogs within a given radius of royal preserves were forced to suffer
amputation of one paw making them unfit for the chase.
14
It is known that
Henry Blois kept two Lurchers (or greyhounds) as pets, and this may be the
motivation for mentioning this seemingly random edict of Henry Ist.
The beasts of chase (or wild deer) shall enjoy peace.
Henry of Huntingdon again states in reference to William Rufus: If any
one killed a stag or a wild boar, his eyes were put out, and no one presumed
to complain. But beasts of ‘chace’ he cherished as if they were his children; so
that to form the hunting ground of the New Forest he caused churches and
villages to be destroyed, and, driving out the people, made it an habitation for
deer.
15
The Normans were keen on hunting as a sport which witnessed their
prowess. As another prophecy relates, they left this pastime to besiege and
attack each other as the Anarchy took hold. It is a madness to think that any
of this, (regardless of the fact that all these are Henry Blois’ forebears to
which the prophecies refer), have any bearing on a Welsh cleric in Oxford
(since it is obvious the prophecies and HRB have a common author). Why
would Merlin foresee the concerns of members of Henry Bloisfamily and
their sporting practices?
12
Geoffrey of Monmouth is a complete fabrication and did not exist.
13
Orderic Vitalis. Historiae ecclesiasticae 4:238
14
Hammer, commentary 1935
15
Henry Of Huntingdon Historia Anglorum 217
The shape (for trading) of commerce shall be cut in two; the half shall
become round.
This is an allusion to the practice which prevailed of splitting the silver
pennies into halves and quarters. The latter clause applies to the fact that
these halves were called in…… and a coinage of "round" farthings issued
instead. Florence of Worcester refers to these triangular pieces. King
Henry’s statute, promulgated in 1108, commanded that the ‘abolus’ and the
‘denarius’ should be round. The introduction of the half and quarter was
not instigated until much later, which has caused some commentators to
think this prophecy a truly prophetic statement by Merlin. Now, if Merlin’s
prophecies were written by ‘Geoffrey’…. what is Geoffrey doing concerning
himself with affairs of state and the money supply, which would be under
the auspices of the crown?
In Henry Blois’ era it was a big issue as Henry of Huntingdon relates;
16
King Henry had almost all the moneyers throughout England castrated and
their right hands cut off for secretly debasing the coinage’.
Henry Blois was at the centre of government, and had his own coins
minted at York.
17
It is he who would be concerned with this issue of the
state, not the canon ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’ at Oxford. This practice of
fractioning coins needed solution since Henry Ist reign and was still an
issue in Stephen’s reign, and one that Stephen did not get around to solving
in the Anarchy. However, Henry Blois is at the centre of this issue;
especially concerning alms to the church as Legate. In the early prophecies,
Henry Blois assumed it was safe for Merlin to use his ‘vaticinatory’ skill
because a statute had been issued and it should already have been enacted
at the mints, but the Anarchy prevented the statute being put into practice.
The fact that Merlin foresees this issue should be enough to negate once and
for all, that there is any truth whatsoever in the proposition that the
prophecies were archaic.
The greediness of kites will end and the teeth of wolves be blunted.
16
Historia Anglorum vii. 36.
17
The royal control over the minting of coins broke down, leading to coins being struck by local barons and
bishops across the country c.1141. A coin appears amongst a group of coins struck at York mint. c.1141 and has
on the obverse the inscription HEN(RI)CUS EPS with S(TE)PHANUS REX on the reverse. Probably not a coin
of Henry Murdac Archbishop of York 1151-53.
In King Henry Ist era, he had complete control over the bishops’ greed
(the kites) and curtailed the power of the barons (the wolves) so that all
knew they were subject to the king and none aspired to rebellion.
The Lion's cubs shall become fishes of the sea, and his Eagle shall build her
nest upon Mount Aravius.
The lion's whelps shall be transformed into sea-fishes. The allusion is to
the drowning of Henry Ist sons on 25 November 1120. William Adelin, his
legitimate heir and Richard his bastard both drowned. The prophecy
foretells, with suitable vaticinatory mystique, those on the ‘white ship’
became fish food
18
as the ship sunk off the rocks just outside Barfleur in
Normandy. King Stephen, long before being crowned, had fortunately
decided at the last minute, not to embark with the other drunks. Henry
Bloissister however, Lucia-Mahaut, and her husband Richard d'Avranches,
2nd Earl of Chester, both drowned along with many other young nobles. In
Orderic’s passage on the Merlin prophecies (which was unequivocally
interpolated by Henry Blois into Orderic’s book XII), also leads into that
interpolation by recounting the death of Duke Robert’s son. He also
drowned on the white ship. Duke Robert too had ‘amazingly’ seen his son’s
death in a vision. Henry Blois has a craft for deception. I will show further
on that Orderic’s Merlin passage can only have been written by Henry but
reflects this clump as early prophecies.
Anyone who read this ‘White ship’ prophecy from ‘Geoffrey’s’ audience
(i.e. those reading Merlin prophecies) would know the meaning; and to
which princes (lion’s cubs) the prophecy pertained. The accuracy of Merlin
and his focus on church affairs, affairs of state, metropolitan Sees,
Winchester, Henry’s uncle, and Henry’s family tree (over a supposed period
of five hundred years), as he ‘foresaw’ across time, is ridiculous that the
prophecies are afforded any credibility. Merlin’s audience coincidentally
understood and interpreted the recent events to which the prophecies
referred. This is especially fortuitous when one considers such a diverse
number of other events and kings that came and went in the time span
18
See note 6
which supposedly had transpired since the prophecies came to be
translated at Alexander’s request
19
.
Modern scholars should realize that the prophecies are totally bogus.
The propensity of the prophecies to revolve around those related to Henry
Blois far outweighs any credence that these are the fanciful inventions of a
Welsh cleric from Oxford called Gaufridus Arthur. What is most astounding
is that if Merlin could see to the Sixth King i.e. to 1153 when King Henry II came
to the throne; and then onto 1155 where Henry Blois finds out his intention of
invading Ireland; how could any scholar like Crick think the dedication to
Alexander was real when Alexander died in 1148. Would the principle of
backdating not occur as a possibility? That Merlin’s sister Ganieda in VM could
see to the battle of Coleshill in 1157 is even more astounding when Geoffrey
died in 1154-55. Funnily enough, it is R.S Loomis’s observation that makes
me smile: Robert died in 1147 and Alexander in 1148 and thereafter a
dedication to either would have no point.
20
It is for this exact reason in logic
that Henry Blois backdates through the dedicatees.
Although Robert of Gloucester probably never saw these prophecies, his
son also died in the disaster. Huntingdon and Malmesbury both give
account of the ‘White Ship’ disaster. There is a poem about the disaster that
was either written by Henry Blois or more possibly inspired the prophecy.
Orderic states: I desire not to dwell on this mournful theme, and will only
quote one short poem from a distinguished versifier: (See note 6)
His eagle shall build her nest on the Aravian Mount.
There has been much discussion about the ‘Montem Aravium’ by
scholars. What is certain is that ‘Geoffrey’ never had Snowdon or Eryri
21
in
19
Modern scholars totally misdirected assumption is summed up by Michael Curley: in order to discount
Alexander’s interest in the PM, one would have to regard as a blatant fabrication, Geoffrey’s claim that
Alexander himself initiated the project. Such a claim was not likely to escape the bishop of Lincoln. The same
can be said for his claim that Walter the archdeacon gave him a very ancient book.Not if they are dead
Michael!!!
20
Arthurian literature in the middle ages. R.S. Loomis p.81
21
In the later Vulgate version Henry Blois is keen to show his partiality to being Welsh to avoid discovery:
since he slew the giant Ritho upon Mount Eryri, that had challenged him to fight with him. For this Ritho had
fashioned him a furred cloak of the beards of the kings he had slain. Of course Henry Blois was known for his
unkempt beard but in the earlier First Variant where no seditious prophecies were found the fight was in the Alps
:Dicebat autem se non invenisse alium tantae virtutis, postquam Rithonem gigantem in Aravio monte interfecit,
qui ipsum ad proeliandum invitaverat.
mind when ‘he’ first composed this prophecy as some deluded
commentators have suggested. The only reason this was later implied was
to intone that ‘Geoffreyhad a welsh bias. The Empress Matilda is the Eagle
in ‘the third nesting’ prophecy where it applies to her third child William by
her husband Geoffrey. The white ship incident highlighted in the ‘lion’s
cubs’ prophecy refers (in the same sentence) to the only legitimate heir
which could now follow Henry Ist. The Lion’s whelps became fish food (see
note 6); Henry Ist is the ‘Lion of Justice’. So, it is not by accident that the
concern of our mysterious author is on the Eagle
22
.
The ‘Aravis Range’ is located just before entering the Alps 90 miles south
east of Clugny. Henry Blois will have passed through them numerous times
on his way to Rome because they form part of the direct route from Clugny.
Certainly, he would have already made the journey across the range
himself at the time of composing the prophecies. Most certainly, a Welsh
‘Geoffrey’ would not know of this mountain range. The solution to this
reference lies in Henry’s (Geoffrey’s…. read Merlin’s) reference to crossing
the Alps, and the Alps themselves being equitable (as a geographical divide)
with Rome in the mind of our mystic seer named Merlin. In Henry Blois’
mind, figuratively, the Alps and Aravis range are synonymous with Rome
and one would think he derived this assimilation having travelled
frequently through this range. The Merlin prophecy below referring to
clerical marriage, (a big issue due to payment of concubinage), in Henry’s
time as Legate, refers to Rome in the same way:
23
They that wear the cowl
shall be provoked unto marriage, and their outcry shall be heard in the
mountains of the Alps.
24
22
It is extraordinary that Curley in his analysis comments that the Eagle on Mount Aravia may refer to the
Empress Matilda’s Marriage; If this identification is correct, the marriage would form a pair of family events
along with the episode of the White Ship. Any political bias in this prophecy, if it indeed does refer to Matilda is
difficult to perceive. The problem is that scholars tend to perceive nothing of Henry Blois’ input and why Merlin
focuses on subjects closely allied to Henry Blois. A cleric in oxford would doubtfully know where the Aravian
range is, let alone code Matilda’s association with Rome or make comment on her third Child.
23
It is not by accident that Wace has the same geographical understanding of the Alps as a natural barrier to
Rome but instead of montem aravium Wace refers to it as ‘Mount Bernard pass’ also in the Alps. ‘Geoffrey’
pretending to be Merlin earlier makes plain to what his montem aravium alludes when he writes as Wace;
probably, because the reference was so obscure. Tatlock could not work out that it alluded to the crossing of the
Alps
24
HRB, VII, iii
The same reference to Rome as being equitable to the Alps is again used
by Henry in the prophecies: and the report of that work shall pass beyond
the Alps
25
i.e. the news will get to Rome.
The Aravis mounts are part of the French pre-alps, a lower chain of
mountain ranges west of the main chain of the Alps. When it is understood
how the Alps and Aravian range equate to Rome in Henry’s mind, it is easy
to see how Empress Matilda who was regina Romanorum is making her nest
on Mount Aravium. While still a child, Matilda was married to Henry V,
Holy Roman Emperor and was crowned queen of the Romans.
26
This is the
sequence of logic whereby Henry derives: His (Henry Ist) eagle shall build
her (Matilda) nest on the Aravian Mount (Rome). Again, I must point out that
all the prophecies are highly relevant to Henry Blois, rather than a
Welshman from the Welsh marches.
I suggest that Henry’s first set of prophecies, which we know Abbot
Suger possessed, included this allusion to montem Aravium and I think
when Henry finalised the vulgate HRB prophecies, he tried to hide its
obvious poignancy to Matilda by having the giant Ritho fight Arthur for the
mantle made of beards on mount Aravius i.e. for the purpose of deflection.
This episode detracted from the association with Rome whereby his own
authorship might be suspected…. having passed through the region several
times and because of the prophecy being pertinent to Matilda. However,
there are comments on Henry’s beard (which was unruly and long) and
thus connects the ridiculous Ritho episode back to him. We should ask: how
is it that Matilda and Henry Blois, who are connected by so many events,
are a concern of a certain Merlin who seems to provide prophecies that an
audience in the second quarter of the twelfth century would find highly
relevant. Is it really a coincidence that the prophecies just happen to focus
on Henry’s arch-enemy in reality, and fortuitously get translated in this
same era? Especially, when we know ‘fictionally’ there is someone trying to
associate Arthur to Glastonbury and it is painfully obvious the writer of the
prophecies is the Abbot of Glastonbury.
Venedocia shall be red with a mother's blood,
25
HRB, VII, iv
26
Later in life, Matilda led Norman chroniclers to believe that she had been crowned by the pope himself.
Venedocia, as Giraldus Cambrensis informs us, is the ancient name for
the region of North Wales. This prophecy plainly alludes to the continual
rebellion in the North of Wales from King Henry Ist time through the
Anarchy up to Henry II reign. So, really, it is a prophecy of little
consequence. but is true for contemporary Anglo-Norman readers to
recognise. Because of the ensuing Welsh war, Henry Blois chose Asaph as
the place for a perfect cover to locate an already dead ‘Geoffrey’. It is
probably no coincidence that Asaph
27
is the ‘recorder’ of events…. just as
Henry has made ‘Geoffrey’. Yet no-one could have verified ‘Geoffrey’s’
existence until long after his supposed death. By then, as we know, there is
a trace of a bishopric whereas none was recorded when ‘Geoffrey’ was
supposed to be alive. I shall cover this point in detail later.
The house of Corineus will be slayed by six brethren.
Corineus was said to be a companion of Brutus, after which Cornwall
takes its name. The six brethren put to death like the six sons of Erectheus,
are (according to Alain de Lisle), the six sons of Fremun, who was viscount
of Cornwall under Henry Ist. This may be the most likely solution. However,
few of Henry’s audience grasped Henry’s Breton and Cornish affiliation
which he bestowed on himself and his brother in the earlier prophecies to
liken his brother as a returning Arthur. John of Cornwall’s prophecies
(which Henry wrote last), actually sheds a different light on the reference
and shows Henry’s ability to confuse in the flux of these prophecies: ‘In sex
Francigenis unius sanguine matris, Triste rubens solium tot mortes tot mama
passum’.
‘there with the six Frenchmen born of the blood of the same mother, the
throne, sad and reddened was subjected to so many deaths, so many evils.
In John of Cornwall’s edition of prophecies, which were Henry Blois’
latest rendition (even though dated before 1156), Henry is pretending to be
a Cornishman as author…. and therein the Cornish (house of Corineus) are
not being slayed by the six brothers (or six Cornish brothers are slayed) as
in Geoffrey’s Version, but the brothers have become French. We can also
see ‘Venedocia’ has disappeared and the ‘throne’ is transposed with the
27
Isaiah 36:1
same description. We can see by this example Henry Blois’ method of
conflation and warping of the meaning of the original. Henry, posing as
John of Cornwall in this context is referring to the six brothers all born of
his mother Adela. It also refers to Stephen’s enthroning bringing chaos
during the Anarchy. Posing as John of Cornwall, Henry pretends an
explanation of this passage by way of commentary which accompanies the
JC edition.
Henry had five elder brothers all legitimate through his disgraced father
Stephen II, of which Henry was the youngest. The eldest was William, Count
of Sully, the next in line was Theobald II, aka Thibaud IV Count of
Champagne; and one brother Odo of Blois, aka Humbert who died young.
King Stephen of England, and Philip Bishop of Châlons-sur-Marne were his
other two brothers. These are the six brothers (including Henry) or
Frenchmen. John of Cornwall’s prophecies were concocted later than 1155
(even though scholarship is duped by the dedication). So, we can see
Henry’s ability, between the different versions, to adapt the meaning for his
current propaganda agenda. Originally, the prophecy probably did pertain
to the six sons of Fremun, viscount of Cornwall yet after 1155 the prophecy
is referring to him as he hopes to return to England as the adopted son.
Henry’s vanity in recording details of his own presence is also
understood by leaving behind the name Master Blehis in connection to
Grail literature. Also the white haired old man on the ‘snowy white horse’
who becomes ‘adoptedin the John of Cornwall rendition, but we will get to
that soon when I elucidate the JC prophecies. Henry created the JC
prophecies in the hope he might persuade others of his own suitability to
succeed the throne after Henry II had been fortuitously unseated by the
Celtic sedition as the last Grandson of William the Conqueror.
However, let us continue on through these Vulgate HRB prophecies:
The island shall be bathed in the tears of night, and thence the people shall
be incited to all sorts of villainies.
Henry Blois at the beginning of the GS portrays the state of affairs in
England, where, after the reign of Henry Ist and the accession of Stephen, a
lawlessness pervaded throughout England. This was partly caused by the
decimation of livestock through disease, but primarily through feudal
fighting between the barons during the Anarchy. Henry Blois gives a vivid
description of this in GS.
His progeny shall aspire to soar aloft,…. the fact that Matilda is the eagle
and tries to soar aloft gives the impression from the prophecy that she tries
to regain her position, but new men shall rise to favour and eminence. This
speaks specifically of Henry Blois and his brother. At the time of writing of
the original prophecies, the expectation was still that Henry’s plans for a
church led state would come to fruition.
Wherefore, girdled about with the teeth of wolves, shall he climb over the
heights of the mountains and the shadow of him that wears a helmet.
Here again, the heights of the mountains refers to the trip involved
getting to Rome and thus the Alps become Rome.
Here, we see that Henry Blois (when the prophecies were originally
written), sees himself and his brother as a partnership. King Stephen, under
the protection of his brother Henry, who was the Wolf from Wolvesey
(girdled about);
28
using possibly ‘the tooth of the wolf’ (singular) originally.
The point Henry was making is that the prophecy alluded to himself by
vaticinatory pun, the Wolf from Wolvesey. The Helmeted man is the Pope
and Henry as Legate is the shadow of him that wears a helmet. Henry refers
to himself in fatuous prophetic imagery as the shadow of the pope i.e. the
Legate.
From 1143 to 1963, the papal tiara was solemnly placed on the pope's
head during a papal coronation and resembled a helmet.
29
The conclusions
we can draw from this are that the original Libellus Merlini prophecies
were written after March 1139 when Henry became Legate probably
c.1142-3.
Albany shall be moved unto wrath, and calling unto them that are at her
side shall busy her only in the shedding of blood.
28
Wolvesey Palace was the residence of Henry Blois. Bishop Æthelwold, Bishop of Winchester 963 - 84, was
the one to build the first Bishop's residence on the small island in the middle of the Itchen. This island was
originally called Wulf's Isle, a name that corrupted in time into Wolvesey.
29
See Note 3Papal Coronation
Albania is employed as the archaic term for Scotland so as to appear as if
Merlin is speaking from the past. Henry Blois dislikes both the Welsh and
Scots and this is evident through ‘Geoffrey’ and as the author of GS.
King David’s hostility to Stephen can be understood as an effort to
uphold the intended inheritance of Henry Ist, i.e. the succession of Matilda.
King David joined her when she arrived in England, and later knighted her
son, the future Henry II. As soon as Stephen was crowned on 22 December
1135 King David decided to make war on Stephen. King David marched into
northern England, and by the end of January he had taken several castles. A
treaty was agreed whereby David would retain Carlisle and David's son
Henry was granted the earldom of Huntingdon. However, the first Durham
treaty quickly broke down after David took insult at the treatment of his
son Henry at Stephen's court.
David prepared again to invade England in 1137. Henry Blois makes it
clear in the VM prophecies that he mistrusts the King of the Scots for his
ability to break agreements. This is painfully clear in GS also.
30
However,
the prophecy here in HRB is a generalized sentiment held by Henry Blois
about the fractious warring Scots. Since the early prophecies were not
written until c.1141-43, one might assume the prophecy is a reference to the
battle of Standard fought in August 1138. The ‘calling in of those who dwell
by her side’ is recorded by Ailred of Rievaulx as the Galwegians from
Galloway in South-West Scotland, the Cumbrians and Teviotdalesmen; the
men of Lothian, the islanders and the men of Lorne in the South-West
Highlands and Moravians, men from Moray in North-East Scotland.
A bridle-bit shall be set in her jaws that shall be forged in the heart of
Armorica.
This prophecy above is difficult to understand. The obfuscation in this
case is overdone. I think it refers to Geoffrey V, who was the Count of
Anjou, Touraine, and Maine in the ‘bosom of Brittany’. Perhaps it refers to
the husband of Matilda tempering the rash and haughty Empress;
especially considering the following:
He will cover the Eagle of the broken covenant (vows) and the Eagle shall
rejoice in her third nesting.
30
I shall cover this point later.
The allusion is of a copulative nature which is expressed in the resultant
third child. The reference is to Matilda as the ‘eagle’. The ‘broken covenant
pertains to broken oaths of all the Barons who swore to her father that they
would remain loyal to her after his death. The ‘third nesting’ is the birth of
Matilda’s third child William, on 22 July 1136.
31
This is important to Henry
Blois because of its opportune timing and the fateful reason Stephen was
able to be crowned King. Matilda had nearly died while giving birth to her
second son. This was the cause of her unwillingness to travel to England at
the time Stephen was crowned.
There was not a high expectation for Empress Matilda’s survival when
she became pregnant for the third time after the earlier complications.
Matilda was not going to risk crossing the channel because she was
probably already suffering ‘morning sickness and unwilling to make the
sea voyage. It is because of this pregnancy that Henry Blois was able to
speed Stephen’s usurpation of the crown…. the grounds for which are set
out in the apologia of the GS. The GS provides various rationalizations for
the crowning of Stephen. Why Merlin keeps focusing on events pertinent to
Henry Blois must be obvious. But it also substantiates the fact that a living
bonefide persona ‘Geoffrey’ is an illusion and Henry Blois is the author of
the prophecies.
The rulers cubs shall awaken and forsaking the forests to hunt within the
walls of cities.
It doubtless can be interpreted as ‘the Normans’ will leave the normal
practice of hunting in the woods for the new practice of warring in cities
which transpires throughout the anarchy. This is confirmed in the next
sentence where No small slaughter shall they make of them that withstand
them.
I am at a loss to give any sure interpretation regarding the tongues of
bulls shall they cut out.
32
31
It is preposterous that some modern scholars still believe that the interpolation into Orderic concerning the
Merlin prophecies predates 1135.
32
The cutting out of bull’s tongues could have a papal implication concerning Stephen’s attempts at getting
Eustace crowned, involved the ignoring of papal instruction. Concerning the tongues of bulls as an alternative
interpretation: Nearly all the chroniclers alive at the time, relate that in Britain there was a cattle disease which
decimated the cattle stocks just before Stephen’s reign. I suggest this may have been a disease called wooden
tongue disease. The disease starts suddenly with the tongue becoming hard, swollen and painful. Affected
animals drool saliva and cannot eat. Maybe some barbarous solution was to cut out their tongues. Certainly
They shall load with chains the necks of them that roar, and the days of
their grandsire shall they renew.
The prophecy seems to refer to Henry and Stephen returning back to the
‘Glory days’ of their Grandfather, William the Conqueror, when all were
subject to him. Them that roar are the Norman lion’s cubs i.e. specifically
Stephen. The necks of the baronial lords are loaded with chains as chains
are a symbolic representation of reward for acceptable and weighty
service; often hung in medieval times with a pendant of the coat of Arms.
This prophecy would have been one of the original Libellus Merlini
prophecies which establishes that Stephen and Henry are rightfully
running the country as grandchildren of William the Conqueror.
For the most part, what I have covered so far existed in the First set of
Prophecies, which, I assume, existed as the Libellus Merlini. This circulated
separately and was distributed nonchalantly to a select few like Abbot
Suger. We might speculate that the Libellus was originally composed to
foretell (as if it were fated from long ago) that Stephen would be king; i.e.
King Stephen’s rule had been foreseen. Who could challenge what was
fated? However, it is difficult to know exactly how Henry has squewed the
prophecies.
Thenceforward from the first unto the fourth, from the fourth unto the
third, from the third unto the second the thumb shall be rolled in oil. The sixth
shall overthrow the walls of Hibernia and change the forests into a plain.
It is not by coincidence there is no ‘fifth’ in the kingship line mentioned;
especially not Matilda, even though numerically she is the fifth. She would
not be accounted as one of ‘the consecrated by oil. So, this passage from
Vulgate looks as if it has been updated from an original early prophecy
which originally spoke of only four i.e. before Matilda and Henry II arrived.
This is supposition because we know Henry would hardly mention Matilda
as the fifth anyway, but one might imagine that because the consecration
was an issue, it was written after the fact i.e. Matilda was not consecrated
(crowned). If Matilda was not consecrated, the point is Henry II is the ‘Sixth’
which obviates the fact that the prophecy was written after he was
crowned.
Henry Blois has something in mind; and as we have seen ‘lowing kine’ can be obsequious Barons, it is any one’s
guess as to what the prophecy alludes to.
Matilda’s aborted crowning means she was never officially crowned.
Certainly the prophecy of the ‘sixth’ overthrowing the walls of Ireland, post-
dates 1155. The mystical sounding vacuous first part of the prophecy above
counting the four kings seems to me to be attempting to sound the same as
the previous (original) prophecy (in counting from Stephen’s Grandfather)
originally to only 4 and most probably would have been in the original
libellus Merlini until the update which went to six.
We know the prophecy has been subsequently updated. Whether or not
the first sentence was in the original set of Prophecies or not is
inconsequential…. as it is obvious the second sentence post-dates the
council at Winchester in September 1155. If the first sentence was in the
original Libellus it would indicate that the numbering system of the first
four was instigated at that time…. and Matilda was just referred to as the
eagle and not numbered because Stephen was still alive. Hence the ‘Sixth’
becomes apparent when the Vulgate prophecies are updated in 1155.
There is little advantage for us to trawl through all the prophecies as it is
plain they were written by Henry Blois. This is not the objective of this
exposé. My objective is to show clearly that Henry Blois is an arch
interpolator of other manuscripts and once this is established, we can then
understand much more about the HRB and its connection to DA and the
Prophecy of Melkin and how they relate to Grail literature through Henry
Blois.
However, to avoid further misunderstanding by the scholastic
community, it is worth briefly looking at the evolving process of the
prophecies of Merlin over time, which in essence has overlaid new material
on what was originally published as a separate Libellus Merlini. Henry
Bloisillusion was also, at the same time, attempting to make the prophecies
seem consistent from the first earlier edition. This is what has confused
commentators on the Merlin prophecies in the various redactions of the
prophecies found in Vulgate HRB, VM and JC.
As far as I can understand what has transpired is that an original set of
prophecies were written. These were then added to and contained allusions
to the period in the Anarchy and the period preceding it. Henry thought
that some prophecies were found too obvious i.e. they could lead back to
Henry as the author. In 1155 a set was produced which squewed the
originals and split them up so that the sense was harder to grasp from one
prophecy to another and continuity was broken up. However, in 1155
several prophecies were added to predict the fall of the Normans in Britain
through the uprising of the combined Celtic nations.
These updated prophecies were added to the exemplar of the original
First Variant version when the Vulgate version was published. The body of
the Vulgate version varied in structure from First Variant because it was no
longer aimed at a papal audience, so the dedicatees and colophon were
added into the Vulgate essentially to backdate it. People were curious as to
where the prophecies came from and who Galfidus Arthur was and where
he was.
Subsequent to the publishing of the Vulgate, Henry decided to establish
a more realistic Merlin who was seen to connect to events through
historical figures such as Taliesin and Rhydderch in his new output called
the Life of Merlin. Original prophecies were followed nearly verbatim in VM
and some from the updated prophecies of HRB were included. Also, Merlin
saw/spoke fresh prophecies that had not featured in the HRB. Most of these
new visions were localised and gave the impression that Merlin saw into
the future concerning Dumbarton, Carlisle, and Camartheon etc. where
Merlin had been fictitiously newly installed for VM. So, Henry does a little
localising of his prophecies to appear that Merlin now pertains to the North.
I believe Henry contrived to locate Merlin because sceptics asked how it
was that there was no previous record of Merlin. The structure and beauty
of Vita Merlini had little interest for Henry, as it was specifically composed
as a propaganda exercise. ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’ in 1157 had been
supposedly dead three years and a casual scenario for the composition of
VM invented by Henry Blois was welded together based upon Irish and
Welsh bardic material along with excerpts from Isidore of Seville’s
etymologiae. The one point which positively shows that Henry Blois is the
inventor of the prophecies is that a large part of the Anarchy’s most
important events are covered by Ganieda (Merlin’s sister). This was
obviously done so that Merlin was not accused of updating the material as
the recent events had transpired since Henry had first published his
Libellus.
Just so we can finish with these prophecies in HRB, I will just cover a few
random prophecies to itemise what I have just explained above. It is not by
accident that Two cities shall he robe in two palls, where both his friend
Bernard at St David’s and Henry himself are petitioning for metropolitans….
and virgin bounties shall he bestow upon virgins most probably refers to
Henry’s setting up of a nunnery at Winchester. However, this next piece is
purely to aggravate the Celts to unseat Henry II and Henry Blois refers to
King Henry II as the Lynx and predicts the downfall of the Normans and
refers to the strife amongst the foreigners…. which constituted the Anarchy.
…the Lynx that sees through all things, and shall keep watch to bring
about the downfall of his own race, for through him shall Neustria lose both
islands and be despoiled of her ancient dignity. Then shall the men of the
country be turned back into the island for that strife shall be kindled amongst
the foreigners.
The Lynx is Henry II and Henry Blois is predicting he is going to be the
downfall of his race and the Normans will lose England and Ireland.
Henry’s actual plan was to get the Celts to rebel while Henry was in Ireland.
This never happened
As we shall see later, the old man is Henry Blois himself who had a white
horse and the Periron is the river Parrett on which he built a mill. An old
man, moreover, snowy white, who sits upon a snow-white horse, shall turn
aside the river of Pereiron and with a white staff shall measure out a mill
thereon. Cadwallader shall call unto Conan, and shall receive Albany to his
fellowship.
As we shall cover, both Cadwallader and Conan are contemporary
enemies of Henry II at the time of writing and pertains to what Henry Blois
is hoping will happen.
Then shall there be slaughter of the foreigners: then shall the rivers run
blood: then shall gush forth the fountains of Armorica and shall be crowned
with the diadem of Brutus. Cambria shall be filled with gladness and the oaks
of Cornwall shall wax green. The island shall be called by the name of Brutus
and the name given by foreigners shall be done away.
The allusion to Armorica is directly related to Conan duke of Brittany.
Henry Blois even lets us know that Henry II will be succeeded by himself
(all going to plan) in the JC prophecies. In the following though, he alludes
to himself as the goat probably because of his beard and in reference to the
camp of Venus which is Winchester. His word will rule over the land and
Henry’s intended prediction is that with himself on the throne, there will at
last be peace in Britain.
He will be succeeded by the He-goat of the Castle of Venus having horns of
gold and a beard of silver, and a cloud shall he breathe forth of his nostrils so
dark as that the face of the island shall be wholly overshadowed. There shall
be peace in his time,
The date of the next prophecy which refers to the two kings at
Wallingford where the bishops (those of the bishop’s staff) were Henry
Blois and Theobald of Bec…. must post-date 1153.
Two Kings shall encounter in nigh combat over the Lioness at the ford of
the staff.
The two kings are Stephen and Henry II. The lioness’ rights are what the
whole Anarchy has been fought over. Henry Plantagenet (Henry II) and
Stephen agree terms for ending the civil war. Under the terms of the Treaty
of Westminster,
33
Stephen is to remain King for life, but thereafter the
throne passes to Duke Henry.
They that wear the cowl shall be provoked unto marriage, and their outcry
shall be heard in the mountains of the Alps.
As we have seen Henry Blois posing as Merlin does not want to refer to
Rome but pretends through the mists of time and refers to pope or Rome
often in allegory as the Alps
The question of concubinage and the fact that several clergy were
provoked into marriage was dealt with by Henry Blois as Legate and he
referred many contentious decisions concerning concubinage to Rome. In
1022 Pope Benedict VIII banned marriages and mistresses for priests.
However, at the First Lateran Council of 1123 priests, deacons, subdeacons,
and monks were forbidden to have concubines, contract marriage, or even
remain married…. and the Clergy were not happy about it. It is the
ridiculous edict of the Catholic Church which has caused the abuse of
innocent youth across the world by the Roman priesthood until the present
era.
However, Henry Blois probably attended the second Lateran Council
since William of Malmesbury reckons (as far as he can remember) that
Henry became Legate in March.
34
Canon 6 decrees that those who in the
33
The Treaty of Winchester was the agreement ending the Anarchy to which the infamous Bishop of Asaph put
his name. The Treaty of Winchester seems to be the addendum following in 1153, allowing Stephen to remain
King of England for life but appears to be after the death of Eustace as it mainly makes provision for Eustace’s
brother. These documents made clear that Stephen had adopted Henry Plantagenet as his heir.
34
The pope presiding the council began on 2 April and it seems to have ended before 17 April 1139
sub-diaconate and higher orders have contracted marriage or have
concubines, be deprived of their office and ecclesiastical benefice. Thus the
Prophecy:‘provoking marriage of those that wear the cowl’.
Canon 7: commands that no one attend the masses of those who are
known to have wives or concubines. But that the law of continence and
purity, so pleasing to God, may become more general among persons
constituted in sacred orders, we decree that bishops, priests, deacons,
subdeacons, canons regular, monks, and professed clerics (conversi) who,
transgressing the holy precept, have dared to contract marriage, shall be
separated. For a union of this kind which has been contracted in violation
of the ecclesiastical law, we do not regard as matrimony. Those who have
been separated from each other, shall do penance commensurate with such
excesses.
This Council thus declared clerical marriages not only illicit though valid
before, but now invalid ("we do not regard as matrimony"). The marriages
in question are those contracted by men who already are "bishops, priests,
deacons, subdeacons, canons regular, monks and professed clerics”.
Now, how is it again that Merlin focuses on affairs of the church so
pertinent to Henry Blois’ legation?
Three springs shall well forth in the city of Winchester, whereof the
streams shall separate the island into three portions.
This could refer to the third Metropolitan originally as it now has Britain
divided into three
Also, Henry foresaw a navigable channel/canal down to Southampton
from Winchester supplied by the two rivers and expected the engineering
project to come to fruition. The Anarchy prevented it and his name is linked
with the start of such a work in reality.
This prophecy, which was in the original Libellus Merlini (as it is
predicted to happen in the then future) is followed up by skimble skamble
devised to disguise the fact the project never came to fruition and Henry’s
connection with it. Tradition says it was the Bishop of Winchester that is
said to have devised a grand plan for improving the trade both of
Winchester and Alresford by the construction of a "navigation" on the river
Alre
35
and Itchen. Alresford Pond was started by Henry as the prophecy
predicts and constructed in order to create a head of water for a canal. This
canal is supposed to have run from Alresford Pond to Winchester. It is said
to have been constructed on the orders of the Bishop of Winchester.
That Henry had already devised the production of the VM when he
updated the Vulgate prophecies is obviated by the inclusion of the forest of
Colidonis to match with the new location of Merlin in VM.
The next prophecy is about Winchester written after the rout of
Winchester where the citizens which Henry Blois had originally persuaded
to accept Matilda astheir lady’ subsequently refused to swap allegiance
back to Stephen when Henry Blois reverted his own allegiance back to his
brother. On the orders of Henry Blois, Winchester was set ablaze. Henry
combines his present agenda, (again concerned with unseating Henry II)
and blames the woes of Winchester on their perjury…. yet he is fully aware
of his own instruction to burn Winchester.
36
Come together Cambria, and bringing Cornwall with thee at thy side, say
unto Winchester: 'The earth shall swallow thee: transfer the see of the
shepherd thither where ships do come to haven, and let the rest of the
members follow the head.' For the day is at hand wherein thy citizens shall
perish for their crimes of perjury.
Henry Blois intonates in the prophecy that the destruction of Winchester
was because of the townsfolk’s treachery in changing allegiance. Most
readers were familiar with the scenario that Henry himself persuaded them
at first to accept Matilda. Henry wants Winchester upgraded to a
metropolitan. Henry (latterly) squewes the purport away from Winchester
to London.
35
In some texts it has Fons Annae and we know the camp of Venus (which will be renewed) is Winchester after
Henry’s reconstruction and thus we can speculate that Henry had plans for the three springs appearing in
Winchester, one of which was to be navigable to Hamo’s port which is Southampton.
36
William of Malmesbury states: …..but the people of Winchester gave her (Matilda) their unspoken loyalty,
remembering the faith they had pledged to her when they were induced to do it, almost against their will by the
Bishop. Meanwhile firebrands flung from the bishop’s tower upon the houses of the citizens, who, as I have said,
were more zealous for the Empress's success than the Bishop’s, caught and burnt an entire nunnery within the
city and the monastery called Hyde without. That Henry is responsible for the burning of Winchester is
confirmed by John of Worchester’s report: …the bishop is reported to have said to the earl of Northampton,
‘Behold earl, you have my orders, concentrate on razing the city to the ground.’
Again the citizens of Winchester are blamed for the fact that their city
was burnt, Woe unto the perjured people, for by reason of them shall the
renowned city fall into ruin.
We know that Henry is the Hedgehog with the pun on Hericus instead of
Henricus and we know he rebuilt the city.
The Hedgehog that is laden with apples shall rebuild her.
What is happening here is that Henry has written earlier prophecies
about his aspirations to rebuild after the fire. In this version he is updating
the prophecies in the HRB in 1155; so, he is trying to make it appear that the
updated version still matched the older one. Because the engineering works
did not transpire, the whole sense of the prophecy is now associated with
the Thames just to confuse the reader, but Henry had in fact boasted in an
earlier prophecy that the report of his engineering endeavour at
Winchester (having been foreseen by Merlin) would find renown at Rome.
What we do know for certain is that he did have a ‘mighty palace’ at
Winchester and we may speculate that he intended to rebuild the city walls
with six hundred towers. He shall add thereunto a mighty palace, and wall it
around with six hundred towers. London shall behold it with envy and trebly
increase her walls.
The Thames river shall compass her round on every side, and the report of
that work shall pass beyond the Alps.
As will become apparent in progression, the current copy of the
prophecies comes from the updated Vulgate version of HRB which I will
show was written in 1155. As I have suggested, it is likely that a river was
previously un-named and the whole prophecy originally applied to
Winchester. In the updated version where too much of the previous
information seemed too highly pertinent to Henry Blois he has added the
Thames to take the focus from Winchester and himself. It must not be
forgotten that when Henry wrote the previous Libellus Merlini prophecies,
he was the King’s brother and Merlin just happened to be focusing on
events which ‘coincidentally’ revolved around Henry Blois. In the updated
version however in 1155, he is inciting rebellion; so there was a need for
the utmost caution and obfuscation of any evidence that Henry was author
of the prophecies. But, at the same time, the prophecies still had to resemble
in content the previous set of prophecies. Even though William Newburgh
writes 20 years after Henry’s death, Newburgh still knew that: a writer in
our times has started up and invented the most ridiculous fictions….
Within her (Winchester Cathedral) shall the Hedgehog hide his apples and
shall construct passageways under-ground.
The so-called 'Holy Hole' in the retro-choir at Winchester Cathedral
which still exists today is a small doorway leading into a short passage
which goes nowhere. Originally this was constructed by Henry Blois as a
means of increasing alms derived from pilgrims, allowing them to go
underground past the crypts of saints and relics.
37
The high water table
under the New Minster caused several relics to be moved at the time as
related by prior Robert of Winchester. The prophecy may also refer to
more practical constructions underground to alleviate the flooding of the
crypts which still occurs today.
What seems to have transpired is that Henry is trying to deflect attention
from himself. In earlier prophecies (in the libellus Merlini) some of the
blatantly obvious prophecies that he has prognosticated could lead back to
him as author. Unfortunately no copy of these have been definitely
identified at the present (as an early separate Libellus), but it seems fair to
say with his new updated prophecies which incite the Celts to rebellion, his
older prophecies which were less guarded, needed to be squewed so no
suspicion would lead to Henry. Henry tries to deflect any attention he may
have focused on himself or Winchester by obfuscating. He predicts (as if he
were Merlin) that these things will occur when two unlikely events
transpire. Thus any sceptical person who may be suspicious of Henry’s
authorship of the prophecies are immediately non-plussed because stones
do not speak and neither has the English channel shrunk.
In that day shall stones speak, and the sea whereby men sail into Gaul
shall become a narrow straight.
Henry Blois then follows this with more ridiculous propositions
seemingly seen through a glass darkly, keeping his obfuscation less like an
insertion but more as a train of connected events seen by Merlin.
37
The small 'Holy Hole' was originally a larger passage which enabled pilgrims to crawl from outside the
cathedral directly beneath St. Swithun's Shrine. Bishop Henry also surrounded Swithun with the bones of
various Saxon Kings and Bishops in lead coffers, which he had removed from their 'lowly place' of burial.
Men will call from shore to shore, and the soil of the island shall be
enlarged. The hidden things that are beneath the sea shall be revealed, and
Gaul shall tremble in fear.
There seems little point in continuing because there is such obfuscation and
squewing of previous prophecies which Henry is attempting to dissemble,
that it seems too uncertain to attempt to find rational meaning. The dragon
of Worcester is Waleran and the dragon of Lincoln was Alexander and the
ass of wickedness was Theobald of Bec, but it would be unlikely a sage from
the sixth century would focus on those who Henry Blois disliked.