Chapter 6
Henry Blois as Geoffrey of
As we have covered, the initial pseudo-history destined for Matilda which
was the pre-cursor of the Primary Historia was finished whilst Henry Blois
was in Normandy. There is no record as to where he spent nearly a year in
Normandy but it would be no surprise if some time was spent at the abbey
of Bec. The initial pseudo-history underwent a drastic change where
Arthuriana was added. Since Henry Blois had decided to throw caution to
the wind and write under a nom de plume, there were probably many more
embellishments added to the initial pseudo-history.
Modern scholars seem to think today’s Vulgate HRB is identical to what I
have termed the Primary Historia found at Bec. The Primary Historia
precedes what scholarship has termed the First Variant. In effect scholars
need to understand that the First Variant is not a variant which followed
the Vulgate version but in fact preceded it and was first published in 1144.
The first time Primary Historia is referred to was when Henry of
Huntingdon accompanied the newly elected Theobald, Archbishop of
Canterbury on his way to Rome to collect his Pallium after being
consecrated on January 8th 1139. William of Malmesbury ‘as far as he can
remember’, recalls Henry Blois was appointed Legate on March 1st. If
Theobald left in late January with Henry Huntingdon, it would take him the
whole of February at least to get to Rome. It is known that Henry Blois was
piqued at being overlooked for the position of archbishop.
What Huntingdon saw was not the Leiden manuscript but a first edition
Primary Historia which excluded Merlin and his prophecies.
Julia Crick has observed Henry of Huntingdon’s silence has been interpreted as incredulity. However, it does
not explain why the persona of Merlin is thus expunged from EAW. The Primary Historia never had any
Theobald of Bec had previously been the Abbot at Bec, shortly before his
election, his reason for stopping over, on his way to Rome was to tide over,
breaking his journey and to visit fellow brothers. It is here that Henry of
Huntingdon, a canon of Lincoln and chronicler, one of Theobald’s
entourage, receives and reads with astonishment, the book written by a
certain Galfridus Artur, the first rendition of the name of Henry Blois’
phantom persona.
According to scholars like Crick, we are to believe that Gaufridus Artur
as a ‘supposed’ Welshman from Monmouth, had a readership in Normandy
in 1138. The book was as yet un-noticed by any contemporary in Britain.
Huntingdon is an archdeacon with Alexander of Lincoln as patron and
Huntingdon first published his Historia Anglorum, c.1129. Theobald, who
had been abbot of Bec only a few months previously, has Huntingdon
accompanying him as part of his suite. More strange is that Henry of
Huntingdon’s patron, Bishop Alexander, who supposedly commissioned the
prophecies of Merlin to be translated by ‘Geoffrey’, had not informed Henry
of Huntingdon of either the prophesies or the HRB in which his name had
supposedly appeared as a dedicatee.
By Huntingdon’s own account he was
‘amazed’ to find such an account of insular history as Huntingdon too was a
historian himself and the majority of the content he had never come across
Julia Crick in her thesis on dissemination and reception of Geoffrey’s
HRB, like all previous Galfridian scholarship, assumes the a priori
acceptance that Geoffrey of Monmouth was a real person. It can only lead to
unfounded conclusions. Many commentators have based their deductions
on the various dedications found in HRB manuscripts and the presumption
mention of Merlin or his prophecies. The reason is simply because Henry Blois had not thought of the
prophecies in 1138. Merlin and his prophecies were a later development. Crick’s belief that Henry
of Huntingdon failed to report the prophecies at all in the letter which he wrote to the Breton Warin’, I think is
entirely erroneous…. implying it was a conscious decision by Huntingdon. It is evident the Primary Historia
found at Bec significantly differed from the First Variant and Vulgate in storyline, even though we only have
Huntingdon’s précis from which to divine the differences..
Prof. O.J. Padel understands this discrepancy: Henry and Geoffrey lived within the same diocese in England,
and they moved in the same circles; they even addressed the same person, Alexander Bishop of Lincoln (1123
48), in their respective works…. How, then, could Henry have been ignorant that Geoffrey was at work on his
History, or (once it was completed) how could he not have heard of it before being shown a copy at Bec? This
problem has been raised, though not solved…. It simply will not be solved until the scholars realise the
dedications were written into Vulgate HRB after the dedicatees death.It was a device to back date the apparent
time HRB was first published to obscure authorship and lend credence to the prophecies.
that Geoffrey of Monmouth was Welsh. A new perspective needs to be
To do this I have just shown the reader, that where the GS is concerned
the author is Henry Blois. The authorship is plainly to hide the deception of
presenting a glossed polemic of Henry’s place in history, an apologia for his
actions in the Anarchy and as a memorial for his brother written probably
on his return to England c.1158. I have also shown that the author of the VM
and its prophecies have a high incidence of similar attitude and material in
common with Henry Blois. Certain episodes parallel to events, where we
know from the GS, Henry was either heavily involved in, or at which he was
present. Contemporary historians even convey Henry Blois’ wily nature.
If there was one person who was in a position to carry out such an
authorial fraud creating the false persona of Geoffrey of Monmouth it
would be the most powerful man in Britain who ranks the author before
everything’. There are two principles which need to be established at the
outset so that the pieces of the puzzle fall into place and we can work
toward a comprehensive solution to the Matter of Britain.
Firstly, there is no Geoffrey of Monmouth and secondly the Prophecies of
Merlin in HRB and their offshoots, such as those found in the VM and John
of Cornwall’s rendition, all derive from Henry Blois.
Tatlock understands that there is virtually not one episode in the HRB
that is not traceable or derived from some other source. The prophecies
were constructed in a different manner and for a specific purpose. They
substantiate the specious historicity found in the HRB by a method of
confirmation which is essentially that same fallacious history written
backwards. Their intent is to astound the audience by predictions that seem
accurate…. many of which are conveniently verifiable as they have come to
fruition in the lifetime of those reading the prophecies; others seeming to
have come true by the historical account found in HRB. As long as we know
the author of HRB, we know the author of all the prophecies.
It is a coincidence that the first charter that ‘Galfrido Artur’ signs, relates
to 1129, the same year, Henry Blois becomes Bishop of Winchester. The
foundation charter of Oseney Abbey is a copy of the original foundation
charter signed in 1129 and of the six or seven subsequent charters with the
Galfridian name affixed which are found in cartularies,
all could have had
the name added to complete the façade of a fake persona.
These were all original charters kept at Oxford and Henry Blois, who we
know was at Oxford on several occasions, added the Galfridus signatures to
the various charters at the earliest in 1153 after Wallingford or just after
the treaty of Winchester had been signed; or at the latest in 1158 when he
returned from Clugny.
The HRB with the updated seditious prophecies might have been the
catalyst to secure and hide a trail back to Henry and so ‘Geoffrey’ may even
have been consigned to death retrospectively. The differentiated signatures
were fraudulently applied in one sitting in a room where the charters were
kept. What exactly Galfridus’ name contributes to the charters by
comparison with the other traceable and relevant witnesses, in part adds to
the reasoning in deducing that the charters are genuine…. but his name is
Given the content of the Primary Historia, it would certainly lead to
ridicule if the Trojan history and Arthurian saga were found to be an
invention of the Bishop of Winchester. The tongue in cheek name of Galfridi
Arturi was hazarded upon as a pen name in the copy of HRB left at Bec. This
is the name Huntingdon found attached to the copy at Bec. Geoffrey of
Monmouth was the later appellation for the final Vulgate HRB which
included the prophecies. The inspiration for his name GOM came from the
signature of Ralph of Monmouth found on the same charters at Oxford he
was intent on altering. We also see at a later date he even decides to include
Walter as a patsy a signatory also to some of the charters.
What we do know is that in January 1139 a manuscript was seen at Bec,
a precursor to Crick’s 76&77. The Leiden manuscript from Bec Abbey is a
final Vulgate version which superseded the Galfridus Arthur version now
lost (which I have termed the Primary Historia) …. most probably discarded
as the Vulgate version was circulated by Henry Blois. Crick’s version
purportedly written by Geoffrey or Gaufridi Monimutensis with a dedication
to Rodbertum comitem Claudiocestrie differs from the name given by Henry
of Huntingdon as Galfridi Arturi. Most commentators assume it was
The English Historical review, vol 34, No 135 (July 1919. Pp.382-385
‘Geoffrey’s’ fame and the inclusion of the heroic Arthur which warranted
Huntingdon’s reference to Galfridus Arthur.
This assumption is wrong because ‘Geoffrey had no fame in 1139 and
Huntingdon used the name because it was the author’s signed name in the
Primary Historia.‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’ as an appellation had not been
considered as an authorial title until the later Vulgate HRB was published.
As I have stated, Galfridi Arturi became Geoffrey of Monmouth…. inspired
by Henry signing his name next to a Ralph of Monmouth. I want to make
this clear; there was no Geoffrey of Monmouth before 1154. Huntingdon did
not mention Walter the archdeacon or any dedication, and he did not know
of the charters at Oxford or of an existing Galfridus Arthur with any
reference to locate him. Crick’s 76 is entirely different from Huntingdon’s
copy which he refers to in his letter to Warin (EAW).
Henry Blois presented known history in reverse as prophecy and he has
done something similar in the publication of the HRB in presenting it as a
book relevant to the dedicatees. Let me be clear about this also. The
dedicatees were dead before the Vulgate version which includes their
names was published. Henry Blois has also created Geoffrey as the bishop
of Asaph, an author of rank. The bishop of Asaph was probably consigned
to death before the Vulgate HRB (as we know it today) was published. This I
believe was done for no other reason than to ensure posterity and his
readers visualised a real credible person who had the social and moral
standing of a bishop. A bishop would not invent a fallacious history nor
could it be conceivable that a consecrated and attested bishop could be a
hoaxer. There may indeed be another reason and this may be that the
author of the prophecies and HRB is too obviously written by someone with
a keen interest in the church.
Henry Blois by the invention of the colophon and its seeming effect of
back-dating the Vulgate version to a time of contemporaneity with Caradoc,
Malmesbury and Huntingdon, is obviously responding to a pressure exerted
by curiosity to find the author. If Henry could plant the paperwork to hoax
posterity, then no-one would ever know that the bishopric of Asaph did not
exist at that time. Even if the bishopric did exist, no Anglo Norman could get
near the place with the Welsh rebellion taking place.
In that part of Henry of Huntingdon’s work which covers the period up
to the death of Henry Ist, Huntingdon tells us that in Wales at that time
there were only three bishoprics, Bangor, Glamorgan and St David’s. There
was no mention of Asaph or ‘Geoffrey’s’ predecessor, the supposed Gilbert.
It is suspicious that both Gilbert and ‘Geoffrey were both consecrated in
Lambeth by Archbishop Theobald, yet there is not one iota of a record of
either of their deeds at Asaph. It is not until Gervaise records c.1188 that
‘Geoffrey’ was bishop of Asaph, that there actually was a bishopric.
Robert of Torigni’s attestation regarding Geoffrey of Monmouth
becoming bishop was informed by Henry Blois himself on a visit to Mont St
Michel in 1155 or on an earlier trip over to the continent. William Lloyd
who was Dean of Bangor became Bishop of Asaph from 1680 to 1692. He
was aware of Gervaise’s record but he is suspicious also of Geoffrey’s
predecessor Gilbert: I conclude, that there was no bishop there at the time
when our Jeffrey writ his history. It is very possible that so ignorant a …… as
he was, might not know there ever had been a Bishop of that See. And I dare
say he was no prophet, though I believe as Nubrigensis (Newburgh) did, that
he made those prophecies himself, which he fathered upon Merlin.
Modern scholarship is also aware that ‘Geoffrey’s’ HRB is not a correct
rendition of British history. It is obvious that Merlin’s prophecies are
comprised in part of events concerning the Anarchy, and some prophecies
are constituted retrospectively to concur with an already established bogus
history mixed with known history found in HRB partially sourced from
British annals. So, why does anyone give credence to the existence of
Geoffrey when all is an apparent fraud?
Bishop Lloyd is confused as he believes ‘Geoffrey’ wrote the Vulgate
HRB in 1138 and has not considered the dedications being a device which
‘backdated’ the Vulgate HRB. Retrospective dedication gives the appearance
that HRB was written while the dedicatees were alive. Bishop Lloyd, much
like modern scholars has not considered the power that the real author of
HRB wielded in setting up a bishopric to corroborate Geoffrey’s phantom’s
Bishop Lloyd is amazed at how ‘Geoffrey’ could follow a bogus Gilbert
into the position of Bishop of Asaph: Yet I believe he could not foresee that
there would be a bishop of St Asaph within five years after, much less that he
should be Bishop of that see within twelve years after the writing of his
Supposedly, Geoffrey became bishop elect of St Asaph and was ordained
a priest at Westminster in mid-February 1152 and a week later in Lambeth
he was consecrated by Archbishop Theobald, but there is no record of him
ever visiting St Asaph. The accepted reason for there being no record of
Geoffrey at his bishopric is that the Welsh rebellion prevented his arrival. I
would posit that this is precisely the reason that Henry Blois chose such a
Henry Blois had presented Geoffrey’s persona as being Welsh. Asaph
was positioned in the rebellious North of Wales and none reading the
Vulgate HRB first published in 1155 were going to care about the author if
he was already dead. Like most, they assumed by the persons mentioned in
the dedications that the book had been around for some time. However,
some time before 24
March 1152, and Geoffrey of Monmouth
both recorded as being consecrated in Lambeth which is suspicious in itself
and nothing is known about either at Asaph. In Gilbert’s time it was still
called the church of Llanelwy, after the Elwy River and thus it is very
suspect that Geoffrey was the first ever to be called bishop of St. Asaph.
There is absolutely no record of him after the faked ordination except of
course his faked signature on the charters at Oxford and the treaty of
Whoever followed ‘Geoffreyas bishop of Asaph seems spurious also, a
certain ‘Richard’ seems to be another invention until another ‘Gilbert
curiously left his see to become an abbot of Abingdon in 1165. He was
removed from that office in 1175. There was no Anglo Norman presence
and no-one with Anglo Norman interests could verify anything about St
Asaph. It seems an ideal safe place for Henry Blois to create a bishopric for
an aspiring writer c.1152. It is unlikely if anyone but Robert of Torigni was
even informed of ‘Geoffrey’s’ bogus appointment on mainland Britain. To
understand the sequence in which the HRB was composed, we need to
understand that there was firstly a Primary Historia followed by what is
now known as the First Variant version which was followed by the Vulgate
version. The First Variant was updated and embellished from the Primary
Historia and evolved. Its most significant update was the inclusion of
Gerv. Cant. I 126; Cant. Profs. no. 93
Gerv. Cant. I 142; Cant. Profs. no. 95
Avalon as Arthur’s last resting place which was not mentioned by
The First Variant was used for the purpose of gaining metropolitan
status by Henry Blois in Rome in 1144. It contained limited prophecies and
no dedications in its original form. Updated prophecies were at a later date
added to the exemplar of the First Variant version after 1155. Also, the
Vulgate version of HRB was never fully published with the updated
prophecies until 1155. The method of dating used by scholars based on the
dedications is futile. All the dedications are backdated so that the
publication of Vulgate HRB is made to appear as being composed at an
earlier date when the dedicatees were alive. As we can see there are no
dedications in First Variant and none related to have been in Primary
Historia by Huntingdon.
In the Bern MS 568 it has a dedication addressed to Robert of Gloucester.
Robert is generally believed to have died in 1147 or even 1146 according to
Gervaise. The Bern MS. includes the prophecies of Merlin and the
dedication to Book VII in which Geoffrey speaks of Alexander as dead at the
time he writes. The HRB can’t be dedicated to a living Robert of Gloucester
if Alexander in the dedication was dead. Alexander died in 1148 the year
after Robert. This should already have alerted the antenna to backdating for
Southwark, where Henry Blois had a palace, may be the reason he chose
Lambeth for ‘Geoffrey’ to become a priest. Henry Blois at one stage has
control over Theobald’s affairs at Canterbury and also was bishop of
London for a time,
so it was within his ability to fabricate the election of a
bishop that would only sign one document of significance, (the Winchester
charter). That document was drawn up and probably held by Henry at
Winchester. ‘Geoffrey’s’ ‘profession’ as bishop still exists, but it still does not
preclude the most powerful man in Britain carrying out a fraud to prevent
himself being found out as the author of a book which has seditious
prophecies in it by creating a fake persona.
Henry in effect administered the bishopric of London between 1138 and 1141. Henry Blois in his capacity of
sub-dean was in effect the bishop of London as the see became vacant in 1160. He consecrated Thomas Becket
as archbishop of Canterbury on 3
June 1162 as Bishop of London. There was plenty of opportunity to carry out
his fraud concerning the consecration of the Bishop of Asaph.
Henry could be accused of treason if his identity were discovered. Not
only would he be ridiculed, but any contemporary would soon work out
that he had vainly included himself in some of the prophecies of Merlin if
he had not squewed the updated prophecies in the Vulgate version. It is
because he was not discovered as the author of HRB that he went one stage
further in promoting rebellion against Henry II…. now that the supposed
author of HRB was dead. Nearly all the prophecies in the Vita Merlini have a
high relevancy to Henry Blois and to contemporary events surrounding
him. By the time Henry had covered his tracks ‘Geoffrey’ could be allowed
to speak again. Henry could not be accused as the author of VM even
though prophecies went up to 1157 as the book supposedly and logically’,
must have been written in the author’s lifetime. ‘Geoffrey’ supposedly died
in 1154-5.
Robert of Torigni became the prior of Bec in 1149 but it was he who had
originally showed the Primary Historia to Huntingdon. Huntingdon did
make a copy from Bec of Geoffrey’s Primary Historia. He certainly made a
précis of its contents which is now EAW.
Most deductions are that Robert of Torigni was writing after 1152 when
he relates that the new Bishop Geoffrey Arthur had translated the history
of the Kings of Britain from British into Latin’. The mere suggestion that
Robert of Torigni, (a historian also), believes that ‘Geoffrey’ had translated
the book from an original (which never existed) indicates two things.
Firstly, we should be aware that Walter’s book was never mentioned in the
First Variant version in 1144 (which is the successor to the Primary
Historia). So Robert of Torigni must have been told by Henry Blois that it
was a translation of a previous work and also informed of the bishop of
Asaph’s death. The fact it was a supposed translation of a British book was
not mentioned in EAW or First Variant; and any lucid person at the end of
this discourse will know there certainly was no book’. So I think because
there are just two pieces of vital information passed to a historian of note
and an acquaintance of Henry Blois and neither of those bits of information
are true we can assume it came by way of Geoffrey directly.
Secondly, the information concerning Walter’s mysterious book could
only come from Henry Blois who has recently fled the country avoiding
EAW. But this year, when I was on the way to Rome, to my amazement I discovered, at the abbey of Bec, a
written account of those very matters.
Normandy on his way to Clugny in 1155. Any mention of Walter would
certainly be dated after Walter’s death in 1151. It is only in conjunction with
Walter that the ancient book is posited as the source from which HRB is
translated and this is only mentioned in the Vulgate version. Alfred of
Beverly does not mention the fact that the copy of Galfridus’ book is derived
from a translation of Walter’s supposed British book. The fact that all the
information in HRB supposedly came from a book lent to ‘Geoffrey’ by
Walter does not appear before Walter’s death or before the Vulgate version
was published. Alfred of Beverly did not use the Vulgate version as his
source but a transitional copy without the GOM title given to it and a few
quirks different from Vulgate HRB.
It is Henry Blois who has landed at Mont. St Michel and conveyed the
news to Robert of Torigni himself (now abbot of Mont St Michel) in 1155.
Robert of Torigni and Henry Blois were probably about the same age,
acquainted, with similar interests and must have met previously in
Normandy in 1137 and thereafter with Henry’s frequent trips to Rome and
passing through Bec when Robert of Torigni was a monk there.
Henry Blois, after the council held by Henry II at Winchester in 1155,
had fled shortly afterward from the southwest of England without the
King’s permission (as all ports were being watched) and landed at Mont St
Michel. This is the reason Robert of Torigni is aware of not only the bogus
elevation of Galfridus to bishop, but also of the bishop’s recent demise. If
the grandson of William the conqueror told Robert that the author of the
book he had seen at Bec had become bishop of Asaph why would Robert not
believe him.
Henry may have told him that the bishop of Asaph was dead. It may be
that the death of the fictitious bishop was not published abroad until
Henry’s return to England. The point being that Robert of Torigni and
Henry knew each other and if Henry had said that ‘Geoffrey’ had been
consecrated Bishop of Asaph in 1152 it would be taken on good authority.
Robert of Torigni, is understandably disconcerted by ‘Geoffrey's’
account, and is happy to make use of Huntingdon’s précis to escape the
evident pitfalls of having to piece together extracts from the chronicles of
Eusebius and Jerome with Geoffrey’s rendition of historical events. A copy
of Huntingdon’s letter to Warin is in Robert’s possession in which
flatteringly Huntingdon’s name is mentioned as being the discoverer of the
Bec HRB (Primary Historia)….referred to in terms of being a most studious
searcher after and collector of books both sacred and profane.
Henry Blois also passes on verbally, news of the formerly known
Galfridus Arthur (now better known as Geoffrey of Monmouth) and the
spurious election of Geoffrey to a non-existent bishopric. Robert of Torigni
writes in his prologue: 'But, for that meseemeth it is unbecoming to make
addition of aught extraneous unto the writings of men of so high authority, to
wit, Eusebius and Jerome, yet natheless, for the satisfaction of the curious,
will I add unto this prologue a letter of Archdeacon Henry, wherein he doth
briefly enumerate all the Kings of the Britons from Brutus as far as Cadwallo,
who was the last of the puissant Kings of the Britons and was father of
Cadwallader whom Bede calleth Cedwalla. This epistle, as will be found
therein, the said Henry did excerpt at Bec, where I offered him the use of a
copy of the whole history of the Britons when he was on his way to Rome.'
Robert of Torigini goes on to explain the scope of his own history from
Julius Cæsar to the death of Henry Ist in 1135, while acknowledging his
indebtedness to the History of Henry of Huntingdon. Robert of Torigni
derives information in other parts of his chronicle from Huntingdon’s
history which is not in Warin’s letter. If we consider that Huntingdon died
in 1154 and consider that the Merlin prophecies have an intricate relation
to Arthur in the Vulgate prophecies, does it not seem strange that
Huntingdon does not mention Merlin in later editions of his chronicle
regardless of his omission of mentioning him in EAW?
If, as scholars believe, the Vulgate version of HRB, which Huntingdon
had initially seen at Bec had been inclusive of prophetia….why is there no
mention of Merlin in Huntingdon’s later redactions of his history.
Especially, if the Vulgate had been widely read and distributed in the public
domain between 1138-1154. It is not understood by most commentators that
Merlin was a later addition after the Primary Historia had existed without
prophecies or any mention of Merlin. It is possible Merlin and the early set
of prophecies existed in the First Variant in 1144, but these prophecies were
later corrected to the updated version from HRB, but without the dedication
which only existed in the Vulgate after Alexander had died.
If one considers that First Variant was designed for a papal glance I
would not think that Henry Blois had spliced the prophecies into the
Historia. They were probably separate but I think part of the package of
convincing evidence because of the prophecies predicting Metropolitan
change. What is definite is that the splice would have been difficult without
the Alexander preamble and he was still alive. So no prophecies in HRB
until Alexander had died in 1148. I think it was here that the original
Libellus Merlini prophecies got updated to a point. There was an evolving of
prophecies and HRB up to the last edition c.1155, which is the common
Vulgate rendition we have today which was copied by Henry with
backdated dedications.
We should note the change in storyline concerning Merlin and
Stanheng. Neither Robert of Torigni nor Henry of Huntingdon makes
mention of Merlin which also implies (even though Robert is recounting
EAW) that the prophetia and Historia + Arthuriad were not combined until
later. It seems to me that Robert of Torigni, whose quote under the year
1152 in the Bern MS that 'Geoffrey Arthur, who had translated the History of
the Kings of the Britons out of the British into Latin, is made Bishop of St.
Asaph in North Wales’ has been informed of this fictitious event and the
most likely candidate to promote such a falsity is Henry Blois. As we have
already speculated, Henry Blois probably does not plant the evidence of
Geoffrey’s death or promote the composition of the book of Llandaff until
after his return to England in 1158.
Most commentators have assumed that the prophecies of Merlin
preceded Henry Ist death because an extract of the Merlin prophecies was
found in Orderic Vitalis’ Historia Ecclesiastica and they have deduced that
there was a separate Libellus Merlini. This theory was refuted by Tatloc:
since there is no evidence or antecedent probability for an earlier version of
the prophecies, and since all the evidence in Ordericus points to the use of
Nennius, Bede and Geoffrey’s complete HRB, the soundest conclusion is that
Ordericus used the prophecies of Merlin merely as found in the HRB and there
is no ground for believing in an earlier version’.
Tatlock’s deduction concerning Orderic’s use of Vulgate HRB is correct.
The one thing he has not considered is that the whole section in Orderic’s
work is an interpolation by Henry Blois who wrote Vulgate HRB.
However, the fact that Abbot Suger had a copy of the first set of
prophetia i.e. the Libellus Merlini, is indicative of the existence of prophecies
separate from HRB (he does not mention it) which were later to be included
in First Variant. The only extant exemplar of First Variant had its
prophecies up dated which now form the present four versions. For
example, the ‘sixth’ in Ireland prediction could not have been known prior
to 1151 (when Suger died) and does not exist in Suger’s excerpt from the
However, as is evident and noted by Orderic’s editor Auguste le Prévost,
Orderic’s book XII was written in 1136-7. It would mean Orderic saw a
Primary Historia before it was written (if we wish to counteract Tatlock’s
insistence that Orderic sourced his list of Kings from it). But then we need to
explain the Sixth in Ireland’ in Orderic’s report (which we know can only
post date the discussion on the invasion of Ireland held at the council in
Winchester in 1155 just before Henry went into self imposed exile).
The entire chapter XLVII in book XII is evidently an interpolation by
Henry Blois himself after 1155. The signs are evident if one is not to be
duped by his interpolation. Tatlock, however, is only trying to prove that
there was no separate Libellus Merlini and that the interpolated passage
came from the Historia. Tatlock believed that Historia and prophetia were
at that time always spliced together as do most commentators. This position
is largely maintained by scholars because they have not understood that the
prophecies did not exist in Primary Historia and as for the prophecies
presence in the First Variant version did not originally exist as the updated
set found in Vulgate HRB when the First Variant was first composed in
The First Variant contained just those prophecies which made up the
Libellus Merlini. All four First Variant manuscripts come from one exemplar
which have had the updated version of the prophecies added which can
only be after 1155 as they also include the ‘sixth in Ireland prophecy.
Modern scholarship’s assumption is even more flawed in the fact that they
consider the Vulgate version a pre-cursor of the First Variant.
Tatlock, does however, point out that the thirteen books of Orderic’s
history were not written in the same order that they stand and Orderic also
made various insertions himself, but Orderic died in 1142 and Henry Blois
(the inventor of the prophecies) could not have known of a sixth king i.e.
Henry II. He would certainly not have guessed Henry II plans to invade
Ireland at this date as the Anarchy was still to play out for another 10 years.
In the same Book VII in which we find the Merlin insertion, Orderic
retrospectively writes about Adeliza of Louvain: and the queen was crowned
by the ministrations of the priesthood. She adorned the court and Kingdom
for fifteen years, but though richly endowed in other respects, to this day she
has borne the King no child.
Adeliza was married to Henry Ist in 1121. This would indicate this part of
the book was written in 1136, if we were to add on the 15 years. Henry Blois
has inserted the Merlin passage at an àpropos place so that the prophecies
give the impression of foretelling events still in the future based on the
chronology of Orderic’s history. This is achieved by placing the prophecies
in book XII at a chronological contemporaneous period before Henry Ist
If we needed to allow Tatlock’s theory, concerning kings; Henry wrote
the list of kings anyway. It does not detract from the fact that we even have
the Primary Historia in 1139, 30 miles from St Evroult where Orderic was
composing his History…. but he could not possibly have news of the ‘sixth in
Ireland until after 1155. The insertion of the Merlin passage into Orderic
was essential for Henry Blois. It is the earliest confirmable evidence which
substantiates a vaticinatory nature to the Merlin prophecies. The
prophecies are added to a section in Orderic which implies Henry Ist is still
alive; so I will cover the entire section in detail in a moment.
Tatlock, like most commentators is duped by the seeming veracity of the
dedications in Vulgate HRB, which logically indicate the time parameters in
which the Vulgate HRB was first published.
No commentators have allowed for fraud on a grand scale and most
commentators have excluded this as an option, yet most recognize the
actual work of HRB and the prophetical musings of Merlin and Ganieda as a
fraud. All have been misled by Henry Blois in a convincing portrayal of a
parochial and struggling ‘Geoffrey’. One obvious ploy was to write a
dedication to one’s arch-enemy flattering him, calling Robert of Gloucester
‘another Henry’ (King). Henry Blois was Robert of Gloucester’s enemy
throughout the Anarchy, so not one person would suspect his authorship
after lauding praise on Robert of Gloucester. Only one First Variant edition
is dedicated to Robert, but that addition will certainly have transpired after
his death as the dedication is not expanded as in HRB.
The point of the dedications in the Vulgate version of HRB was to
backdate the work to avoid Henry Blois been discovered as the author.
Where the Merlin prophecies are concerned, it gave the aura of accurate
prescience…. predicting some events which had already recently transpired
in the Anarchy. Funnily enough, it is R.S Loomis’s observation that is ironic:
Robert died in 1147 and Alexander in 1148 and thereafter a dedication to
either would have no point.
It is for this exact reason in logic that Henry
Blois carried out such a ploy.
Henry Blois had composed an earlier set of prophecies which were
passed to his friend Abbot Suger c.1144-5. These were then added to First
Variant. At a later date these early prophecies must have been substituted
for the later version found in the Vulgate edition of prophecies. The John of
Cornwall edition of prophecies which we shall discuss at length uses the
same fictional dedication method as HRB and was written by Henry himself
around the same time the VM was written c.1156-7. The JC version goes
even further in its seditious content than the Vulgate HRB prophecies or the
VM prophecies.
It is the interpolation into Orderic which has convinced researchers of
Merlin’s predictive powers. Much stead has been put in the Merlin passage
in Orderic, as to dating the prophecies of Merlin, since Orderic died in 1142.
The main thing to hold in mind is that the prophecies of Merlin are in no
way prophetic, but are the invention of one man writing history
retrospectively. Henry Blois was certainly not a prophet! The next thing to
understand is that the dedications in all their forms have no bearing on the
dating of the HRB.
Dedicating the HRB to Waleran, Stephen or Robert is bound to help
circulate the book in court or gain credence in clerical circles as a worthy
read, but the dedicatees names were primarily used as a gambit to pretend
that the Vulgate HRB was in circulation earlier than it actually was. The
same argument holds for the colophon concerning the contemporaneity of
Caradoc, Malmesbury and Huntingdon. Only a few copies of HRB existed
prior to 1155 in which there were no dedications (maybe the unexpanded
dedication to Robert found in the Exeter version of First Variant), but it
must be understood by the reader that the various dedications found in the
Vulgate HRB were not included until all dedicatees were dead.
Arthurian literature in the middle ages. R.S. Loomis p.81
The most common dedication found in the various manuscripts is to
Robert of Gloucester alone. The dedication below to both Stephen and
Robert was composed after both of their deaths even though it has the
standard retro device to confute the reader: the issue of my book now made
public. Many commentators believe the Vulgate HRB was written in 1136-7
at the only time Stephen and Robert the two dedicatees were not against
each other…. or marginally later as Robert’s conditional oath of allegiance
to Stephen was formally renounced in 1138. The dedication adds
importance to the HRB in showing that the most noble were accountable for
its patronage, production and interest. However, the dedications are a farce.
The Primary Historia was not complete until the first half of 1138 and we
know Huntingdon would have remarked on the dedications if there had
been any.
'Unto this little work of mine, therefore, do thou, Stephen, King of England,
show favour in such sort that with thee for teacher and adviser it may be held
to have sprung not from the poor little fountain of Geoffrey of Monmouth, but
from thine own sea of knowledge, and to savour of thy salt, so that it may be
said to be thine offspringthine, whose uncle was Henry the illustrious King
of England, whom philosophy hath nurtured in the liberal arts, whom thine
own inborn prowess of knighthood hath called unto the command of our
armies, and whom the island of Britain doth now in these our days hail
with heart-felt affection, as if in thee she had been vouchsafed a second Henry.
Do thou, also, Robert, Earl of Gloucester, our other pillar of the realm, lend
thine assistance that, under the combined direction of ye both, the issue of
my book now made public may shine forth in an even fairer light. For thee,
unto whom was sire that same most renowned King Henry, hath thy mother,
Philosophy, taken unto her bosom and indoctrinated thee in the subtleties of
her sciences and afterward directed thee unto the camps of Kings that thou
mightest achieve renown in knightly exercises, wherein, valiantly surpassing
thy comrades-in-arms, thou hast learnt to stand forth as a terror unto thine
enemies and under thy father's auspices as a protection unto thine own
people. Being, therefore, as thou art, the trusty protection of them that are
thine own, receive myself, thy prophet-bard, and this my book, issued for
thine own delectation, under thy protection, so that lying at mine ease
beneath the guardianship of so far-spreading a tree, I may be able to pipe my
lays upon the reed of mine own muse in safe security even in the face of the
envious and the wicked.'
It is a ruse that these dedications had any truth to them, that Geoffrey
would refer to Robert as thou thyself art offspring of the illustrious Henry,
King of the English in one dedication and again as above use the same
reference to Stephen being a second Henry when the dedication is to both
of them.
The whole point of this particular dedication is artifice, to date the work
before 1138. Contemporaries would be well aware that the dedication
indicates a date before the Anarchy if it is to Stephen and Robert and this
date (ante 1138) would add credence to many of the prophecies. Why
indeed, before the Primary Historia was even discovered at Bec, would
‘Geoffrey’ need security in the face of the envious and wicked? This is a
Freudian slip by Henry in that it is the reason behind the dedication. This
dedication is composed post 1155 because people are getting suspicious and
Henry Blois needs to distance the updated seditious prophecies fabricated
by himself.
In a separate dedication to Robert of Gloucester alone, Henry Blois is
reacting to suspicions by others that the whole historicity of HRB is dubious;
therefore he reacts by giving his history credence by establishing a source:
Now, whilst, I was thinking upon such matters, Walter, Archdeacon of
Oxford, a man learned not only in the art of eloquence, but in the histories of
foreign lands, offered me a certain most ancient book in the British language.
This as we shall cover shortly expands into creating the Gaimar epilogue.
There is no-one more likely to possess such a copy of a Stephen
dedicated HRB and who could produce it for propagation in any of his
scriptoriums than Henry of Blois. Henry could claim it had come from
Stephen’s effects after his death.
There is not one shred of evidence which shows that the Vulgate HRB
with any dedication is in the public domain before 1155. Alexander of
Lincoln died February 1148. Scholars are duped into believing that the
dedication to Alexander is real because of the abrupt way in which Geoffrey
beaks off the HRB purely at Alexander’s request. This is how he wishes his
audience to perceive the action. The Alexander dedication is obviously not
in the First Variant produced in 1144 as Alexander is still alive.
In reality, Henry Blois is just inserting or splicing his prophecies into
the HRB which he had initially concocted to affect the political climate: 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.
There were no contemporaries pressing ‘Geoffrey’ because ‘Geoffrey
never existed. The only pressing factor was certain people trying to find out
who had written this book as no-one could locate Galfridus Arthur,
‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’ or the Bishop of Asaph.
These prophecies which existed as a separate body were then updated to
the moment of inclusion in the Vulgate HRB but did exist in a separate
libellus Merlini prior to 1150. We know no-one was pressing Henry Blois to
publish. Instead he introduced into circulation versions of the prophecies
up to the point in time of composition of the Vulgate and we can witness
this by the ‘exclusion’ of the prophecy about thesixth in Ireland’ in the
copy of Merlin’s prophecies he had passed to his friend abbot Suger. The
discussion had not yet transpired at court in Winchester in 1155.
Henry knows his ‘fifth’ in his royal numbering system (Matilda), who he
assigns no action under that number, (yet specifies she was not anointed in
one prophecy) has been superseded in his numbering system by the sixth. It
would be fairly obvious that the numbering system in the early libellus
edition of prophecies only went to ‘four’.
This ‘Sixth’ (on its own) could easily be predicted after the treaty of
Wallingford in the summer of 1153. As we have discussed, the council
which debated the invasion of Ireland did not happen until 1155,
immediately before Henry left for Clugny. The fact that the reference to the
invasion of Ireland occurs in the Chronicle of Clugny xxxviii and attests to
the fact that knowledge of this conference was known at Clugny indicates
the source of such knowledge is Henry Blois. Also, Peter the Venerable
travelled to Clugny with Henry’s transferable wealth and Henry Blois
followed soon after the court meeting by way of Mont St. Michel. It would
have been at this court held at Winchester that Henry Blois was ordered to
The Laudabiliter was issued in 1155 whereby the English pope Adrian IV gave King Henry II the right to
assume control over Ireland.
surrender his castles to King Henry II. Henry Blois understood the power
dynamic was shifting against him. Rather than comply, he fled to Cluny and
thereby the Irish information is referenced in their chronicle. As Robert of
Torigni dates this Irish discussion to Christmas 1155,
he also would have
heard this most probably from Henry Blois who landed at the island where
Robert of Torigni was newly established as Abbot.
At this time the fraudulent news was conveyed that Geoffrey Arthur who
had translated the history of the Kings of Britain from British into Latin, as
stated in Robert’s chronicle, was now Bishop of Asaph. Most commentators
believe it was general knowledge, but there is no other record of it in
Britain except that which was planted by Henry Blois i.e. no contemporary
chronicler until Gervaise makes any record of our Bishop of Asaph. Henry’s
subtlety must not be underestimated and must be taken into account.
Robert of Torigni took it upon himself to publish an edition of Sigebert’s
Chronicon within which he interpolated accounts of the Dukes and bishops
of Normandy which were, at the time of publishing, also the Kings of
England; those that reigned after Bede’s time up until 1150. Since Robert
referred to Galfridus Arthur rather than Geoffrey of Monmouth we might
also assume he has not seen a Vulgate version with dedications. Don’t forget
he was the one who introduced the Primary Historia to Huntingdon while
passing through Bec.
Robert of Torigni of Torigni in his preface says that Sigebert mentions
not one King of Britain but Aurelius Ambrosius which must be derived from
Bede; all the rest are from Geoffrey. Robert of Torigni was happy to make
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. We have established that Henry Blois knew of this intention to invade and published the prophecy
concerning the ‘sixth’ as vaticinatory prophecy. Henry thought the invasion was expected imminently. The
Normans did eventually invade Ireland, but not until 1 May 1169 long after the Vita Merlini and HRB
prophecies were written. It was not until the 18 October 1171, however, (two months after Henry Blois’ death)
that Henry II landed an army in Waterford. Initially the topic was discussed at the court in Winchester by Henry
II as he was hoping to give Ireland to William his younger brother, making him King. The plans were abandoned
when their mother, the Empress Matilda, objected.
Henry Blois had to wait four years from the time he wrote the prophecy concerning the ‘Sixth and the Irish
invasion’ until a partial realization of Merlin’s prediction became fact when a small band of Norman Knights
arrived in 1161. However, the vaticinatory vision in the VM (which differs in HRB)The sixth shall overthrow the
Irish and their walls, and pious and prudent shall renew the people and the cities, was based upon what Henry
Blois understood in the Laudabiliter and were going to be the implementations of Gregorian reform within
Ireland which were proposed at Winchester at Michaelmas in 1155.
known the letter to Warin from Huntingdon by publishing it in his
chronicle as it was Robert who discovered the Primary Historia to
Huntingdon in the first place. Robert’s reason for publishing the letter was
to make known the high standing to which Huntingdon refers to Robert in
the letter: a most studious searcher after and collector of books both sacred
and profane. Both Huntingdon and Robert are apparently not incredulous
to Geoffrey’s history and include ‘Geoffrey’s’ fabulations in their own
Histories. Incredibly neither ever discuss how come the book was found at
Bec in the first place. Obviously put in the Library by Henry during his time
in Normandy.
It can be asserted that Robert of Torigni would definitely have read the
‘ex-prophetia’ Primary Historia at Bec and would be eager to hear of the
news about the author of that book. The question is whether Henry Blois
created Geoffrey of Monmouth’s persona in the Vulgate HRB prior to
‘Geoffrey’s’ fictional death. Certainly, Alfred of Beverley does not refer to a
‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’ specifically.
Henry Blois ploy, as we will uncover later in the propagation of Grail
literature, is that he journeys to locations, continental and insular to spread
different propaganda that only later collides. So, notice of ‘Geoffrey’s’ death,
as we have already mentioned, was probably established in England on his
return in 1158.
John of Cornwall’s translation of the Merlin prophecies for Robert
Waleran, Bishop of Exeter who died in March 1155 was fabricated after that
date by Henry Blois and certainly does not establish a primary source from
which both ‘Geoffrey’ and John worked. It was Henry Blois’ intention that
posterity should believe that the Merlin prophecies might be Cornish,
falsely establishing a Celtic source in antiquity. These prophecies were
composed as a propaganda exercise. Since Robert Waleran was a personal
friend of Henry Blois, it is not difficult to understand (with the usual retro-
dating he employs), how Henry Blois makes it appear as if the Bishop of
Exeter possessed the Cornish version of prophecies before his death.
Henry Blois managed to interpolate Orderic’s work with the chapter on
the Merlin prophecies. He could have retrieved Orderic original history as
Henry has passed by the abbey of St Evroult, in which was found Orderic’s
manuscript…. any time after 1143 when Orderid died. This is not a silly
speculation because there are only three copies reaching the present era
which indicates that for some reason its proliferation was stifled at the time
‘Geoffrey’s’ work was propagating through the monastic system which by
contrast we presently have 215 copies. Henry is on the way to Rome that
year to secure the Pallium for his Nephew William, who Henry has elevated
to Archbishop of York. Henry Blois on previous trips to Rome, probably had
conversations with Orderic about his history being a fellow monk and
interested in history.
Henry Blois is of royal blood and arguably the most powerful man in
England and renowned in Normandy. While breaking his journey and
tiding over at St Evroult, he hears of Orderic’s death. He asks the abbot to
borrow the manuscripts as yet unduplicated since Orderic’s death. He
promises to return them on his return Journey. He obviously does not since
the prophecy about the ‘sixth in Ireland’ is included. Therefore the
interpolation must ante-date the Winchester council of 1155.
Henry understands any historian’s works endure. Henry thus
interpolates one small passage concerning Merlin’s prophecies in the
appropriate section of Orderic in book XII. To most observers, given the
surrounding material, it appears that the prophecies must date prior to
Henry Ist death. Henry Blois, clever as always, leaves out the one prophecy
concerning Henry Ist death from an already extant block of prophecies he
has composed earlier.
The Prophecy concerning the death of Henry Ist is too highly specific
and if employed makes the rest of the prophecies too obviously fraudulent
to an audience that know the details of Henry I burial. By leaving it out, it
appears that the block of prophecies were truly made before the King’s
death. Some scholars actually think that because this particular prophecy
was left out of Orderic that it must be a late insertion. Again they have it the
wrong way round. It is left out because Henry wishes to show this block pre
dated Henry Ist death; which in itself proves the point that the whole
insertion is a Henry Blois interpolation.
The missing prophecy concerning the King’s body parts, is in the Vulgate
prophecies. This has also added credence to the prophetic powers of Merlin
in that commentators now believe the interpolation to be a genuine part of
Orderic’s work. They have considered the prophecy which is not included
in Orderic’s work concerning the body parts to have been inserted by a
subsequent interpolator in the Vulgate version. Not so! Henry when he
interpolated Orderic’s work left it out on purpose.
I know I labour this point, but it is most critical in dating the prophecies
(see appendix 14). Henry Blois could not be able to predict the ‘Sixth in
Ireland’ until after 1155. Not only is the prophecy highly specific, but it
obeys Henry Blois’ numbering system found in Vulgate version and VM and
it could only exist after two events; the death of Stephen (before which, the
libellus numbering only went to four) and the said council in which the
invasion of Ireland was discussed.
When this evidence is added to the fact that the record of these events is
recorded at Clugny where Henry fled after the council at Winchester, it
provides a strong case for the ‘Sixth in Ireland prophecyonly existing post
September 1155.
Because this is one of the prophecies found in
Orderic’s work it is obvious that the interpolation must post date the
council at Winchester. We must not be fooled by Henry Blois’ cleverness
inserting the Merlin passage in Orderic’s book XII. I will go through the
whole Orderic interpolation shortly, but the main accusation against me in
pointing out these inserts by Henry Blois into other authors manuscripts is
thought by some to be too prevalent. My accusation is that I appear as a
type of conspiracy fiend who garners anything that counteracts my
evidential support of Henry Blois as an Arch interpolator by simply stating
it must be an interpolation. In the case of Orderic it is simply a couple of
folio’s inserted.
Anyway, Leo iusticiae is Henry’s vaticinatory name for his uncle King
Henry Ist of whom he cleverly speaks in the Orderic insertion in the present
tense. as if still alive. In the interpolation into Orderic, King Henry Ist is
cleverly posited as awaiting his divinely ordained but uncertain destiny’.
Really!! Which other chroniclers, assuming the death of a king is a natural
event, would string this sentence together? Only an interpolater wishing to
establish that King Henry is still alive at the date of writing
Henry Blois in reality was at odds with the HRB dedicatees, Waleran and
Robert. Robert of Gloucester became a permanent enemy from the time he
and others had convinced Stephen to free the occupants at Exeter castle.
Robert of Torigni: At Winchester about the time of Michaelmas in 1155, Henry II holds a council with his
nobles to discuss the conquest of Ireland which he seems to have desired to give his younger brother William on
terms of homage.
Robert then went to Normandy and returned as the leader of the Angevin
cause. Waleran was different in the fact that he was on Stephen’s side to
begin with, but Henry Blois was wildly jealous of the sway the Beaumont
twins had sway over his brother. Henry blamed Waleran and his twin
brother for planting doubt in Stephen’s mind which led to the arrest of
Roger Bishop of Salisbury, one of the main causes of the Anarchy.
Henry of Blois dislikes Waleran so much that he refers to him as the
Dragon of Worcester
in the prophecies was married to Matilda de Blois,
daughter of King Stephen. In 1141 Waleran gave up the struggle alongside
Stephen as his Norman lands were being taken over by the invading
Angevin army. He surrendered to the Empress Matilda and so in Henry’s
mind was a traitor.
As I have mentioned, the single manuscript with Stephen and Robert as
dedicatees is simply a devise used by Henry Blois to predate the HRB to
1136-8. What supplicant author vying for a patron’s approval dedicates his
work to patrons who are at war with each other? The evidence for dating
of Vulgate is found in the updated version of the prophecies and not
through the bogus dedications.
We can assume (considering references to metropolitan) that the very
first version of First Variant which was presented to papal authorities had
the prophetia presented with it. This assumption is made on the basis that
the copy which we have today would have entailed too much reworking of
the body of the text to have included the Merlin Prophecies as an addition.
One could speculate that only subsequently the prophecies were added to
the First Variant version and then the prophecies were updated later. There
are so many possible scenarios. We can see how the evolved First Variant
found its way to Beverley. We know the First Variant ante-dates the Vulgate
as it was used by Henry in 1144; but if the ‘Sixth in Ireland’ prophecy is
included in any version, it certainly post-dates 1155.
There is still nothing to prove that the HRB and Prophetia have been
spliced by 1147 because Alfred of Beverleys work was finished after this
Suger, abbot of St Denis was a friend of Henry Blois.
Henry and
Suger were both scholars, historians, and passionate about architecture.
However, it would be strange that the prophecies which speak of Metropolitans were not used in First variant.
See note 4, ‘venerable brother and dearest friend Suger Abbot of St Denis’.
Abbot Suger, wrote a panegyric on Louis VI, Le Gros in his Vita Ludovici
regis around 1150. In the manuscript he gives an extract from the
prophecies beginning at The Lion of Justice… and ending at, Mount Aravias,
as found in as a clump in Vulgate HRB. Orderic’s interpolated passage
which post-dates these prophecies is the first supposed reference to Merlin
apart from Alfred of Beverley’s mention of him. Abbot Suger must have
been presented a copy of the libellus Merlini by Henry Blois. The gullible
abbot Suger, refers to Merlin as veracious’ and says that not one word of
the prophecy has proved untrue. One would assume he has no idea the
prophecies were constructed by his friend.
Henry Blois finished the Primary Historia in 1138 and left a copy of it at
Bec while he was in Normandy.
The Primary Historia at Bec did not
contain the prophecies of Merlin. There is no contrary evidence to this
position and in fact all the evidence points to confirming this statement.
However, scholars believe that the Primary Historia (i.e. that book found at
Bec from which EAW is derived) is the same as the Vulgate. This position
has led them to believe the prophecies existed in the Bec version. The Bec
version is plainly a first edition and this can be easily established by story-
line variance in the summary of Geoffrey’s history found in Huntingdon’s
letter to Warin.
Henry of Huntingdon’s and Warin’s correspondence shows no mention
of Merlin in 1139. Tatlock puts this down to Huntingdon’s uneasiness as a
Christian, being unable to mention supernatural prophecies; but this does
not explain the occurrence of Arthur’s different speech and the ‘Breton
hope’ of Arthur’s return found in EAW and other substantial story line
differences. Logically if the Primary Historia had included the prophecies,
Alexander who was patron to Henry of Huntingdon would surely have been
mentioned in the letter to Warin because of Alexander’s influence in having
the prophecies translated. There was no dedication to Alexander in the
The GS written by Henry Blois: When the King had learnt more fully that these things were happening in
Normandy, He sent envoys across the sea (for he could not go there so quickly himself on account of the heavy
burden of pressing affairs). It was Henry Blois as Stephen’s envoy who left for Normandy in lent that year. If the
pages of GS which immediately follow were not missing, we might have read an account of the affairs in
version at Bec because there were no prophecies attached.
has not informed Warin of the prophecies or mentioned Merlin simply
because Alexander has nothing to do with the Primary Historia.
Alexander’s name as dedicatee in the Vulgate HRB was simply a device
employed to explain the introduction of the prophecies which were not in
the first redaction. Huntingdon of course is ignorant of his patron’s
supposed commissioning of the translation of the prophecies. There is not a
comment, then or subsequently. Henry of Huntingdon would never have an
opportunity to comment on the dedication to Alexander because
Huntingdon died in 1154 and the Alexander dedication was not included
until the updated prophecies were added to Vulgate HRB the next year.
You would think Alfred of Beverley might have mentioned Alexander
c.1150. If the Primary Historia had a dedication to Robert of Gloucester, this
fact is also not mentioned by Alfred of Beverley or Huntingdon. Neither is
the name of the Archdeacon Walter mentioned. Huntingdon had no way to
track how this wondrous volume came into existence in Normandy. Henry
Blois must have secretively deposited it at Bec in the library to be
discovered after he returned to England or nonchalantly said it was from
some Welsh author called Galfridus Arthur. I believe the book was just
discovered after Henry’s visit. Henry Blois could create any story since
there were no references in the book except to a certain Galfridus Artur as
Alexander was dead before the updated prophecies and their dedication
were added to the Vulgate HRB and so was Huntingdon. It is impossible to
say when the prophecies were added to First Variant but knowing first
variant was produced as evidence to papal authorities and knowing the
prophecies were advocating a futuristic metropolitan at Winchester it is
hard to say if they were conjoined or still seperated. If they were… the
splice concerning the Alexander preamble certainly was not in Alfred of
Beverley’s copy c.1147-50.
Michael Curley p.49, is duped by Henry Blois’ illusion: Given such a milieu, Geoffrey probably would not
have concocted the story of Bishop Alexander’s urging him to provide a translation of the prophecies and then
gone on to publish a dedicatory epistle containing such a lie. As soon as retrospective dedications and a late
publication of Vulgate HRB is considered, Curley’s point is negated.
No-one knew where to find ‘Geoffrey’ to ask about the old book he had
translated and by the time Walter is mentioned in the Vulgate post 1155,
Walter had been dead four years. Surely an intelligent mind like
Huntingdon’s would have mentioned either Merlin or his Patron bishop
Alexander in the dedication or even Walter…. if any of their names had
existed in the Primary Historia. Tatlock puts Huntingdon’s uneasiness as a
Christian as an excuse for the omission of the mention of Merlin. Tatlock’s
view is that the Primary Historia (copy found at Bec) was synonymous with
Vulgate HRB, without mentioning the obvious differences in story line
detail witnessed in EAW.
There is no evidence to the contrary to oppose my view that the
dedications are all late additions and this devise of backdating used by
Henry Blois is prevalent in that he does the same with Caradoc and other
manuscripts. Neither should we consider the evidence provided in the
epilogue of L'estoire des Engleis concerning Walter in Geffrei Gaimar’s
account as having any bearing on the dating of the Vulgate HRB…. or to the
veracity that HRB was a translation of the ‘Good book of Oxford’. I will
cover this shortly, but the Gaimar epilogue is a fantastic ploy designed to
mislead posterity and is again just a small insert of a couple of foilios
L'estoire des Bretons was never written contrary to what we are led to
believe. Henry attaches his fabricated epilogue to the L'estoire des Engleis
which was genuinely written by Gaimar. There will be readers who doubt
that one man could get up to so much tampering with manuscripts and that
I am a conspiracy theorist gone mad. One must understand that firstly
Henry was laying a false trail to preserve his anonymity, people like Henry
II were looking for the author of the updated seditious prophecies. Secondly
he enjoyed leaving to posterity what he had created: a near fairy-tale
history of the British Isles. The prophecy of Melkin was extant in the era
that Henry Blois was at Glastonbury and was a major influence on the way
our three genres under investigation inter-relate. Once this fact is
uncovered in progression, the reader will then understand why it is so
necessary now to plough through such seemingly innocuous detail
concerning Henry Blois as author of HRB. The passage in Orderic’s book XII
on the prophecies can only be a genuine part of Orderic’s work if one
believes the prophecies are truly vaticinatory. This is not a tenable position!
Abbot Suger must have had a first edition of the prophetia judging by the
content of the block of prophecies he comments on. But Suger, who died in
1151, did not mention the HRB as being part of the work that embodied the
prophecies. The most important fact which pertains to Suger in this
instance is that he did not quote the prophecy which involved the Sixth (i.e.
Henry II) in Ireland. How could he?
A preliminary version of the prophecies could have been part of the
First Variant version which was employed for the purpose of obtaining
metropolitan status for Winchester in 1144 at Rome. We can assume they
were employed to that end based on the fact that the metropolitan of
Winchester is foreseen (before the sense of the prophecy was twisted). Also,
it was prophesied that it would lose its episcopal/metropolitan see (which
intonates that it must have historically had one to lose) or maybe this was
added while Henry was in Clugny. But, the loss of a metropolitan would
more likely have been included to influence Rome.
We know the First Variant was designed to lean toward a clerical
audience and obviously the main body of text infers that Winchester had a
monastery and a bishop long before Augustine’s arrival. This should be
taken into account with the fact that the author of HRB ignores Canterbury,
while understanding Henry’s enmity with Canterbury which we will cover
later when discussing Eadmer’s letter and Henry’s enmity with Theobald of
Commentators have been duped by Henry Blois’ fraud. Henry makes
pretence to stop halfway through his Vulgate HRB (at a place where the
Merlinian insertion has been made at the historical point of Vortigern in
contrast to the Primary Historia) to accommodate Alexander’s supposed
request. The insertion is based loosely on Nennius’ template of the boy
Ambrosius before introducing the prophetia.
One can see the original
pseudo-history had the Arthuriad spliced on to it in the Primary Historia at
the same point. This is indicated by Huntingdon’s portrayal of an relatively
‘unexpanded’ Arthurian epic given the relative space apportioned to it in
the précis. The Arthuriad was added to the initial pseudo history (intended
See Appendix 36.
for Matilda and King Henry) after Henry had been to Wales and was not
part of the original pseudo history.
Henry uses the same point at a later date to splice in the prophetia which
splits Arthuriana from the pseudo-history and Henry cleverly contrives this
insert by reason of having been compelled by Alexander. Henry also
pretends in the VM to be looking for more positive recognition
Robert de Chesney as patron than he had received from Alexander
previously giving the impression of seeking advancement.
The picture painted which forms the persona of ‘Geoffrey is so
thoroughly covered and contrived that we must understand Henry’s
determination in creating a bogus history which has no attachment to his
name as author. We must also consider the pressures which caused him not
only to add the contrivance of Walter and his book, providing HRB with a
credible provenance for its material. Also, Henry’s thoroughness is seen in
his effort to compose Gaimar’s epilogue. Henry Blois employs Robert de
Chesney in VM because it appears that his patronage is continuous in the
same bishopric.
It makes no difference that Robert de Chesney lived until
1166 as the VM was published on the continent
and ‘Geoffrey’ was already
supposedly dead. If Robert de Chesney did see a copy he would assume
‘Geoffrey’ had died before presenting it to him. Perhaps and more likely the
dedication in VM was added after 1166 as Henry lived until 1171.
The dedications are worthless as a method of dating the text as Crick
attempts to do. In reality Henry Blois needed no patron but financed his
own distribution of HRB. It is no wonder that the Vulgate HRB proliferated
so quickly. Henry could have copies made by any of the many scriptoriums
over which he had control and distribute copies to monasteries as a
presentation. He could distribute copies feigning nonchalance at the
content by passing off HRB as an interesting read.
The dedications are a ruse and make no difference to the dating of the
Vulgate HRB but rather by their absence in First Variant and no mention of
VM prologue: Therefore may you favour my attempt, and see fit to look upon the poet with better auspices
than did that other whom you have just succeeded.
In the charters that Henry signed at Oxford one is co-signed with Robert de Chesney which helps the illusion.
Curley p 49
VM is where Marie of France, Countess of Champagne in her lais gets her idea of an island, very dim and very
fair, known as Avalon, which is not given any description in HRB
them in EAW’s précis of Primary Historia….add credence to the position
that the Vulgate edition came out last.
The most frequent dedication is to his arch-enemy Robert of Gloucester;
the surest way to deflect any suspicion of authorship. Robert died in 1147 so
any contemporary would think the Vulgate HRB is at least eight years old in
1155 (the real publication date). ‘Geoffrey’ could not be located (for obvious
reasons) plus he was supposedly dead when his book became widely read.
It was only c.1153 when Henry Blois started laying a paper trail that implied
Geoffrey had lived and was a real person. It was not common knowledge
that there was a Bishop of Asaph and no-body cared if there was. Before
anybody knew ‘Geoffrey’ was a bishop…. he had been consigned to death.
The question as to why there is no comment from any of the dedicatees
or comment about such dedications defies normal referencing by
chroniclers if the book had been in the public domain since 1136 as modern
scholars believe. The reason no one really pursued the trail is that the trail
was laid retrospectively and it is impossible to find someone who does not
The version found at Beverley which Alfred uses arrived there through
the family contact of Hugh de Puiset Nephew of Henry Blois. The
prophecies and the HRB are not referred to together until the copy that
Alfred recycles from is passed around among the monks there. Why is it
that Huntingdon’s third and last edition of Historia Anglorum in 1154 still
makes no mention of Merlin even though he discovered the Primary
Historia 15 years ago? You would think that a man who was ‘astonishedto
find what could be a bogus history (when he first set eyes on it) would
certainly relate that his patron’s endeavours had brought the prophecies of
Merlin to be added into this book. If the Historia were so widely read….
why is Alfred from 1139 when the Primary Historia is discovered up…. until
c.1150-1 the first to mention HRB and Merlin together? Why is it only
Alfred, who, (by his account probably had a copy in 1147), was the only
writer who comments on HRB; as scholars believe…. if HRB was circulated
so widely? The simple fact is that it was not!
Alfred wrote the first Latin chronicle to incorporate extracts from HRB
into its narrative fabric, but it was not based on the Vulgate version as
Alfred does not refer to ‘Geoffrey’ but calls him Britannicus. Alfred knows
the author is bogus, naming himself as Galfridus Artur. So, Alfred just refers
to him as Britannicus rather than using the obviously bogus surname of
Artur. Alfred’s work includes an unadulterated copy of Huntingdon’s EAW.
Who would have the effrontery to inform three insular historians,
William of Malmesbury d.1143 and Henry of Huntingdon d.1154 and
Caradoc of Lancarfan (probably died c. 1129), to be silent as to the Kings of
the Britons, seeing that they have not that fictional ancient book by which
‘Geoffrey’s’ authority is established. Who in their right mind would consider
the HRB a translation of another book; where it is so obvious that the
prophetia and VM are partly designed to bolster its erroneous historicity?
The historian’s that ‘Geoffrey’ is supposedly addressing are low born in
Henry’s eyes and probably considered by him as plodding chroniclers. One
of them would have made comment if they were alive to do so…. even to a
haughty bishop of Asaph. This epilogue/colophon, found in a few MSS, has
been understood by commentators as a reaction to criticism regarding the
veracity of the HRB. Some commentators have determined a later date of
publication for the MSS which have this inclusion.
Again, it is purely a devise which procures contemporaneity with the
historians mentioned just as Henry employs the same device with the
dedicatees. This is mainly designed to counteract the new seditious
prophecies in the updated Vulgate. It is only modern scholars who do not
recognise the contrived dis-ingenuineness that Caradoc is Geoffrey’s
Caradoc was already dead c1130. Henry had assumed his name to write
the Life of Gildas in 1139-40; being evidenced by the Modena Archivolt.
William of Malmesbury died in 1143 without comment and never
mentioned the life of Gildas. Henry Blois turns his hand briefly to compose
the Life of Gildas; probably while the construction of the Primary Historia
was in progress or just after. This is before Henry turned his hand to
interpolating GR3 and DA which only transpired after William of
Malmesbury’s death in 1143. Scholars are duped by Henry’s interpolations
into GR3 and DA. William may have known of Caradoc.
It would be astounding if Huntingdon made no comment from 1139
until 1154 concerning the addition of the Merlin prophecies if they had
See chapter 13
been combined early in that era and the work was widely published
(especially as one of those named in the colophon). If ‘Geoffrey was an
Oxford canon or Bishop of Asaph…. someone other than Robert of Torigni
would have mentioned his position in Britain. Especially, considering the
contentious and totally novel content concerning insular British history!
Some critic would have wanted to verify the source i.e. Walter’s ancient
book. The simple reason no one comments is because no one can until
much later. Newburgh works out that the prophecies have been altered
(from the initial Libellus Merlini), but may be referring to the VM alterations
The illusion created where the author is now dead…. and so are the
dedicatees (and especially Walter), is a masterstroke in retrospective
publication and deflection of scrutiny. We are left with the impression that
the Vulgate HRB came into the public domain 15 years before it actually did.
It is only later that Gerald of Wales and Newburgh comment years
The reader may recall that in a previous letter, written in 1135 to
another friend called Walter, (not Warin), Huntingdon, when referring to
Winchester and its two previous Bishops, writes: In their seat is occupied by
Henry, the King’s sons, who promises to exhibit a monstrous spectacle,
compounded of purity and corruption, half a monk, half a knight.
Henry of
Huntingdon, who is a serious historian, does not like Henry Blois because
he sees Henry as architect of Stephen’s usurpation of the crown: He had as
his helper Henry, Bishop of Winchester, who earlier had thrown the realm
into grievous disorder, delivering the crown of the Kingdom to his brother
We have already covered that William of Malmesbury not only slighted
Henry’s father, but also let the world know just how duplicitous Henry was
in HN. It is not surprising therefore that both historians are seemingly
dismissed with distain. It made no difference anyway because both
Malmesbury and Huntingdon were dead when the colophon in HRB was
added. There could be no challenge to Henry’s offhanded distain for their
authority as historians. Caradoc is only mentioned with these two others
Henry of Huntigdon V, 15
Henry of Huntigdon IV, 37
because it is made to appear as if Caradoc continues Geoffreys History
from the point where he left off.
It is plain that the writer of the HRB and Vita Merlini, as we have
previously commented, is versed in the classics. Therefore, anyone
undertaking such a venture as the composition of HRB is knowledgeable
about history. But, to recall all the various sources and make voluminous
conflatory connections would require an immense memory bordering on
the photographic. We also witness Henry’s ability to construct chronologies
with names that mirror possible history. Henry of Huntingdon in 1128 had
not formed a dislike for the newly installed Abbot of Glastonbury because
he had not at that point helped his brother Stephen usurp the crown. So, it
is worth mentioning again that Huntingdon relates a rather strange
anecdotal episode concerning King Henry Ist while in Normandy in 1128:
while King Henry abode there he made enquiries concerning the origin and
progress of the reign of the Franks; upon which someone present who was
not ill informed (uneducated) thus replied:
Most powerful King, the Franks like most European nations sprung from
the Trojans. For Antenor and his followers becoming fugitive's after the fall
of Troy, founded the city on the borders of Pannoia called Siccambria. After
the death of Antenor, these people set up two of their chiefs as governors
whose names were Turgotum and Franctionem, from whom the Franks derive
their name. After their deaths, Marcomirus was elected: he was the father of
Faramond, the first King of the Franks. King Faramond was the father of
Clovis the long-haired, from whence the Frank Kings were called ‘long-haired’.
On the death of Clovis he was succeeded by Merové from whom the Frank
Kings were called Merovignians. Merové begat Childeric; Childeric, Clovis,
who was baptised by St. Remi; Clovis, Clothaire; Clothaire, Chilperic;
Chilperic, ClothaireII; ClothaireII begat Dagobert, a King of great renown and
much beloved; Dagobert begat Clovis II. Clovis had three sons by his pious
Queen Bathilde, viz Clothaire, Childeric, and Theoderic; King Theoderic begat
Childebert; Childebert Dagobert II, Dagobert, TheodericII; Theoderic,
Clothaire III, the last King of this line. Hilderic the next King, received the
tonsure, and was shut up in a monastery. In another line, Osbert was the
father of Arnold, my daughter of King Clothaire; Arnold begat St Arnulf who
was afterwards Bishop of Metz; St Arnulf, Anchises; Anchises, Pepin, the
Mayor of the palace, Pepin, Charles Martel, Charles, King Pepin; King Pepin,
Charles the Great, the Emperor, a bright star, which eclipsed the last year of
all his predecessors and all his posterity; Charles begat Lewis the Emperor;
Lewis the Emperor, Charles the Bald, Charles, King Lewis, father of Charles
the Simple; Charles the Simple, Lewis II; Lewis, Lothaire; Lothaire,, Lewis, the
last King of this line. On the death of Lewis, the Frank nobles chose for their
King, Hugh, who was the son of Hugh the Great. Hugh begat pious King
Robert. Robert had three sons, Hugh, the beloved Duke; Henry, most clement
King; and Robert, Duke of Burgundy. Henry begat King Philip, who ultimately
became a monk, and Hugh the great, who in the holy wars joined the other
princes of Europe, and rescue Jerusalem from the infidels in the year of our
Lord 1095. Philip was the father of Louis, the King at present reigning. If he
trod in the footsteps of his warlike ancestors, you, Oh King, would not rest so
safely in his dominions. After this King Henry withdrew into Normandy.
There is good reason to suspect that it is Henry Blois reciting the above,
showing off his acumen to his uncle. Firstly, this is a genealogy which
Henry would have learnt on his father’s side. We should not forget his
relationship to King Henry was through his mother. Henry Blois is the
King’s nephew, a rising star…. probably in his early to mid-twenties, son of
Adela the King’s sister…. of noble origin, grandson of William the
conqueror, son of the Count of Troyes
Henry had recently gained repute for putting in order a great
monastery. Is Huntingdon the historian miffed or jealous that ‘someoneof
such high breeding, impeccably educated, born to prosper, can recount the
names of the Frankish Kings in chronological order with such ease?
Huntingdon is supposedly the historian. My point is that Henry Blois is
with his uncle as part of Knight’s service from Glastonbury…. as a new and
promising knight attending as a favoured Nephew. It is a coincidence that
our Leiden manuscript from Bec is the only one to have a brief history of
the Frankish Kings beginning with ‘Antenor et alii profugi’. ‘Antenor’ is not
found with any other HRB manuscript. It also contains, incidentally, Crick’s
F-redaction of the Gesta Normannorum Ducum, a chronicle originally
created by William of Jumièges to which, Orderic Vitalis and Robert of
Torigni extended the volumes to include history up until Henry Ist.
Henry of Huntingdon. Historia Anglorum VII.38.
Henry Blois’ brother Stephen is recorded in Normandy in 1128 with King
Henry at the time of Henry’s proposed Frankish recital…. so why not his
younger brother with knights from Glastonbury? It certainly sounds like
Henry Blois…. because like the HRB, it is wildly inaccurate, but has all the
right sounding names.
Again, we see Henry’s penchant for eponym’s so widely peppered
throughout HRB. Henry Blois, from Royal descent would have studied Blois
and Frankish history while a student at Clugny and might have developed
delusions concerning Troy and his own genealogy. Henry’s father was
numbered Stephen II, Count of Troyes. Troyes is not far from the towns of
Autun, Langres, Avallon, and Clugny, all of them in the region of Blois.
As the ‘someone’ in Huntingdon’s account states, there certainly was an
existing tradition that the European people were descended from ancient
Troy. Therefore, it is not too unreasonable to suggest that Henry growing up
at Clugny researched the history of the Franks and was able to relate a
chronological sequence, even if it were partly fabricated. Did he not do
exactly that for the Kings of Britain in the HRB? It seems as if Huntingdon’s
‘someone’ ….the one who divulges the account, is in fact Henry Blois.
Henry’s thought process for instigating the composition of the HRB started
while he worked at Glastonbury with William of Malmesbury in 1126-9, but
we shall get to that soon
Let us return to look briefly at the letter to Warin related by Robert of
Torigni: ’Here beginneth the epistle of Henry the Archdeacon unto Warin as
concerning the Kings of the Britons. ‘Thou dost ask of me, Warin the Briton,
courteous man as thou art, and witty withal, wherefore, in telling the story of
our country, I should have begun with the times of Julius Cæsar and omitted
those most flourishing reigns that were betwixt Brute and the days of Julius?
Mine answer is that albeit I have many a time and oft made enquiry as to
those ages, yet never have I found none that could tell me, nor no book
wherein was written aught about them. Even thus in the illimitable
succession of years doth the destruction of oblivion overshadow and
extinguish the glory of mortality! Howbeit, in this very year, which is the
eleven hundred and thirty-ninth from the Incarnation of our Lord, when I was
journeying to Rome with Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, at Bec, where
the said Archbishop had formerly been Abbot, to my amazement I found the
written record of these events. For there I met with Robert of Torigni, a monk
of that place, a most studious searcher after and collector of books both
sacred and profane. He, when he had questioned me as to the plan of the
History of the Kings of the English issued by me, and had eagerly heard what I
had to say in answer, offered unto me a book to read as concerning those
Kings of the Britons who held our island before the English. These extracts
therefrom, my best-beloved, I do therefore send unto thee, albeit they be of the
briefest, as becometh a mere friendly letter.’
Huntingdon then follows with a précis of the earlier chapters, in which
Huntingdon quotes the two first lines of Brute's prayer to Diana and the
first four of her response. Condensing as he goes towards the end and
showing no marked interest in Arthur. Huntingdon relates the more
romantic episodes in the first part at disproportionate length concerning
Brutus, Leir, Belinus and Brennus, Arthgallo and Elidurus, Androgeus.
The fact that Henry of Huntingdon saw a copy of what I have termed the
Primary Historia, a pre-cursor to both First Variant and Vulgate HRB which
records differences in storyline by comparison with First Variant and
Vulgate HRB…. is the evidence for assuming HRB was an evolving work.
Primary Historia was not widely read and few copies were made. Any that
existed were superseded by Vulgate. Even though, understanding it was
constrained by brevity, Henry of Huntingdon’s précis rearranges material
at times indicating that Primary Historia is a different edition from First
Variant and Vulgate; and there are significant changes in actions and
anecdotes and the spelling of names unaccountable as transcription
Primary Historia was as different as First Variant was from Vulgate.
To prevent Brutus’s landing, the giant natives of Albion wade out into
the sea, rather than the conventional landing at Totnes noted in HRB.
Lucrinus is shot in a battle by his wife Gondolovea herself. The Saxons in
Arthur's time destroy ‘Caerleon on the Severn’ and the beast that eats
Morvid is sent from hell, which is not in the Vulgate that we know. King of
the Bretons, Budicius brought up Constans and Aurelius Ambrosius in
Huntingdon’s rendition. In the Vulgate HRB Budicius brings up
Utherpendragon and Aurelius Ambrosius, not Constans. Witelinus,
archbishop of London becomes Guithelinus in HRB where he is termed
Metropolitanus. This in effect witnesses Henry Blois’ enmity with
Historia Anglorum, Diana Greenway, p.558-583
Canterbury and Theobald by implying that before Augustine, London was
already a metropolitan. More importantly the development of storyline is
evidenced in the evolution of HRB relative to events concerning Henry
One can witness between the Primary Historia in 1138 to the First
Variant in 1144 a difference in storyline where three archbishops
(archflamens and metropolitans are referred to where they surely would
have been mentioned (both absent in EAW) by Huntingdon, if they had
been noted in the original Primary Historia. There is also the appearance of
Phagan and Deruvian which surely would have been noted by
as this was the first time he would have come across their
names as the proselytisers of Britain. This becomes a crucial point when we
look at how the First Variant was employed by Henry Blois at Rome in his
pursuit of metropolitan status.
Huntingdon must have loved this book. Huntingdon himself describes
Stonehenge in his Historia Anglorum, first published c.1129, as one of the
four wonders of England, before having read the Primary Historia at Bec.
Undoubtedly, Henry Blois had read Huntingdon’s work in the process of
constructing his initial pseudo-history for Matilda.
To find Uther Pendragon had erected Stonehenge must have been
puzzling for Huntingdon. But, note again my proposition that Merlin was
not mentioned in Primary Historia
. It is only later that ‘Geoffrey’ (not
Galfridus) decides that Merlin erected Stonehenge. It seems that, at the
introduction of Merlin, (after the Primary Historia at Bec had been found)
the most mystifying object on the British landscape was then accounted to
Merlin having erected it; not as Galfridus Arthur had previously composed
(before ‘Geoffrey’ had even invented Merlin).
Henry of Huntingdon wrote: During the reign, Eleutherius being the pontiff who governed the Roman Church,
Lucius the British King implored him by letter to take measures for his conversion to Christianity. His embassy
was successful and the Britons retained the Faith they received inviolate and undisturbed until the time of
Diocletian. If Phagan and Deruvian had been mentioned in the Primary Historia, surely Huntingdon would have
mentioned their names.
Henry Of Huntingdon writes: The second is at Stonehenge, where stones of extraordinary dimensions are
raised as columns and others are fixed above, like lintels of immense portals and no one has been able to
discover by what mechanism such vast masses of stone were elevated nor for what purpose they were designed.
If Merlin had been mentioned in the Primary Historia EAW would have included Merlin’s name. But Geoffrey
tells us later on how the stones arrive and what they were for to counter Huntingdon’s inquiry.
It is no wonder that Henry introduces giants with the abundance of
megaliths across the British landscape. In Huntingdon’s summary of the
book he read we can see what was originally in the Primary Historia : 'Uter
Pendragon, that is, Dragon's head, a most excellent youth, the son of Aurelius,
brought from Ireland the Dance of Giants (giants circle) which is now called
Stanhenges’. We can witness Henry’s conflated construction here and his
clever introduction of Merlin based on Nennius’ boy Ambrosius who is
perhaps purposefully conflated from Ambrosius Aurelianus; one of the few
people that Gildas identifies by name in his sermon De Excidio et Conquestu
Britanniae. and the only hero named from the 5th century.
Basically, Henry had posited the son of Aurelius as having brought the
Giants Dance from Ireland in the Primary Historia. Latterly when
introducing Merlin in First Variant as a character before the prophetia
Henry calls him Ambrosius (surname) as he conflated Merlin on Nennius’
passage (shown in appendix 36). where Ambrosius is named rather than
Utherpendragon as Henry had previously recorded in Primary Historia.
Also in Huntingdon’s précis, Pascent, the son of Vortigern, had Aurelius
Huntingdon is hardly going to trifle in making up these differences. He
has read them as they exist…. he was not revising the details. Modern
scholars would have us believe that Huntingdon saw a version of Vulgate
HRB as we know it today. It is Gaufridus Artur, who then becomes
‘Geoffrey’ who then becomes Bishop of Asaph, AKA Henry Blois who makes
the changes as part of an evolution of HRB in later editions. The Allobroges
of the later version are the Senones; Brennius is Brennus "the supreme of
men, the glory of the brave, the eternal star of Britain"; Tenuantius is
Themantius, and a few other names are differently spelt just as we find in
the VM by comparison with the HRB.
Henry’s invention of Merlin, where he weaves him into HRB at some
period after the appearance of the Primary Historia probably transpired
after the release of the Libellus Merlini. This was introduced into or to exist
alongside First Variant because of the need to insert the first edition of
prophecies which now concern themselves with aspects of metropolitan
status in ancient Britain and the predictive reinstatement of two
metropolitans were not necessary while Henry was legate. At the same
time, other pertinent storyline changes occur such as the invention of
Avalon which is not mentioned in the Primary Historia either.
Why does Huntingdon not include Merlin the prophet’s name?... at least
if not the prophecies themselves? The answer is simple. Henry Blois had not
conceived of Merlin’s prophecies in 1137-38. The break in the Vulgate HRB
where Henry Blois inserts the dedication to Alexander and the prophetia is
so obviously not a break in an ongoing work as is portrayed by ‘Geoffrey.’ It
is a clumsy insertion which would have required editing to the First Variant
so that Merlin became spliced into the story. Is it not strange that Arthur
and Merlin never meet? I would suggest the reason for this was that editing
was not extensive but mainly constituted an insertion. The splice is again
made where originally Henry had added Arthuriana to the original pseudo-
history. The Alexander dedication (not in First Variant) shows Henry Blois’
genius ploy of backdating the spliced Vulgate HRB…. so that the prophecies
appeared to have been in the book prior to some of the events they pretend
to predict. That ‘Geoffrey’ had been a Bishop in a location few Anglo
Normans had any interest in and the fact that ‘Geoffrey’ was already dead
when the Vulgate edition is widely published, prevents any sensorial
retribution. This is why none appears amongst his contemporaries and only
later by commentators such as Giraldus and Newburgh.
If Huntingdon had really read the Vulgate HRB in 1139…. why would he
not mention the marvellous prediction of King Stephen as ‘four’ and the
astonishment that the actions of ‘five’ (which was Matilda) were
undisclosed and a future ‘Sixth’ King was going to invade Ireland. All of this
was highly relevant because he surely would have been able to recognise
the first three Kings. Huntingdon had written accounts about them in his
own history. To see that the predictions were true about them would have
fascinated him.
Huntingdon simply never saw the prophecies in 1139, never saw his
patrons name attached to them…. and the prophetia was not part of the
Primary Historia. Why if his patron commissioned such a translation on the
prophetia is it ignored as part of his exposé to Warin? Why, instead, would
Huntingdon invent a new storyline with Uther Pendragon filling Merlin’s
shoes? Some scholars have attempted to implicate Huntingdon’s invention
of his own variation of storyline by implying he was addressing a fictitious
person rather than a real Breton called Warin to justify the epistolary form
of the piece. This is scholastic rationalisation. In the brief reference to
Arthur’s wounds and how he fell (with no mention of Avalon)
he says in
reference to Warin: But the Bretons, your ancestors, refuse to believe that he
died. Huntingdon is writing to a friend being as informative as such a brief
précis allows. But, to not mention Merlin is a gross oversight…. if indeed
Merlin and his prophetia were included in the Primary Historia, given
Huntingdon’s relation to Alexander and the fact that the Anarchy was about
to take place. All of this had been predicted and was easily understood from
the prophecies. Not even Huntingdon would misunderstand that the ‘eagle’
pertained to Matilda of the broken covenant and she had just had her third
Huntingdon would be negligent in not mentioning this prophecy as it
affected everyone in Britain. It is not as if he did not know where mount
Aravius was either as he was just about to pass through that range on his
way to Rome with Theobald and his suite. All evidence shows Merlin and
his prophecies were not in the Bec copy in 1139…. but still scholars assume
the book which Robert of Torigini handed Huntingdon was that which we
know today as the Vulgate version.
It is because of this precarious assumption, so many subsequent
deductions become inaccurate. Don’t forget also that Robert of Torigini says
Henry actually ‘extracted it at Bec, so it is not as if he was working from
memory to create EAW. The simple fact is that Huntingdon did not see the
fully evolved Vulgate HRB with updated prophecies, but a Primary Historia,
which, because of its lack of copies, has not survived as an exemplar of
HRB. In fact it would be a useful exercise to unscramble what seems to me
to be three or four sets of prophecies from the first in the Libellus Merlini
and between HRB andVM (excluding JC’s version) because it is plain in the
following sets an icon is being used in one prophecy then the same icon
differently in another set changing the sense, but what has bemused those
In Arthurian Literature XV edited by Prof. James P. Carley, Felicity Riddy, we are informed by our Arthurian
experts (by Watkin): in 1138 Geoffrey of Monmouth had already said that Arthur was taken to the Isle of Avalon
to be healed p.81. This is incorrect as EAW does not mention Avalon. Watkin assumes that what I have termed
the Primary Historia (i.e. that book found at Bec), is synonymous with the Vulgate.
even interested is that the icons have remained the same and Henry has
shuffled the pack and only certain make sense at any given time. The
sqewing process can only be divined when you know at what period and
for what reason they were written.
It is from the Primary Historia that the First Variant evolved to become
the Vulgate not vice versa. Huntingdon would not presume to have the
artistic licence of a conteur. He is a recognised historian. It was Merlin in a
specific episode who brought the Giants Dance to Britain in our version of
HRB. This is not confusion on Huntingdon’s part, but reflects an evolving
introduction of Merlin into the story line after the copy found at Bec.
The answers of Lear's three daughters also vary from our HRB. Thus
Goneril is made to say: 'Beneath the moon that marketh the boundaries
betwixt things mutable and things eternal, nought is there that can ever be so
much unto me;' and Regan: 'My love for thee is more precious than all riches,
and all things desirable are as nought in comparison therewithal.' Cordelia,
the only sister named, gives her answer: 'So much as thou hast, so much art
thou worth, and so much do I love thee,' without any preface to soften the
bluntness of her speech. The moral of the tale is thus rendered: 'accordingly,
hence hath been derived the saying, "Things moderately said are ever the
more to be appreciated."
Huntingdon is an accurate chronicler of events and not an inventor of
fiction. It is impossible to have the many discrepancies without assuming a
different version. At the siege of Lincoln a Keldricus arrives with a
countless English host only to be thwarted by the arrival from Brittany of
Hoelus, son of Arthurs sister and Budicius and the siege of Lincoln was
dispersed by agreement. In HRB it is Cheldricus at the siege of Lindocoliam
instead of the more obvious Lincoliam and the siege ends in great slaughter,
not concord.
Most poignantly of all, Huntingdon provides a speech by Arthur which
relates to the ‘Britons hope of Arthur's return as well as having just
reminded Warin about the Breton’s refusal to believe Arthur is dead. What
is important is that Huntingdon follows on to say and they (the Bretons)
traditionally await his return.
This ‘hope’ of the Bretons is the very reason
that when Henry Blois first concocts the story of the Chivalric Arthur, no
Historia Anglorum, Diane Greenway. P. 589 c.9.
place of burial is given nor suggestion that Arthur arrives on Avalon
mortally wounded.
Nor is it overtly stated that he died. This perpetuates an
already existent folk belief, which, for no other reason, Huntingdon makes
plain is current and traditionally held. Most importantly of all is that it
shows the progression and evolution between Primary Historia and the
First Variant, in that, Insula Avallonis is then mentioned in First Variant.
Now, if the name had been present in Primary Historia it also would
have been mentioned by Huntingdon…. if not only because it would be the
first location to search. One could verify and prevent any further rumour of
an Arthurian return. Anyhow, this ‘hope’ and Arthur’s legendary status was
prevalent among the Celts as is alluded to by William of Malmesbury in his
and was genuinely part of insular Brythonic/Celtic zeitgeist at the
The critical point which shows Huntingdon has read a different version
from our Vulgate HRB is highlighted in this next extract from the letter to
Warin: 'When he was about to cross over the Alps, an envoy said unto him,
"Modred, your nephew, has put your crown upon his own head with the
assistance of Keldricus, King of the English, and has taken your wife unto
himself”. Arthur, thereupon, boiling over with wondrous rage, returning into
England, conquered Modred in battle, and after pursuing him as far as into
Cornwall, with a few men fell upon him in the midst of many, and when he
saw that he could not turn back said, "Comrades, let us sell our death dear. I,
for my part, will smite off the head of my nephew and my betrayer, after
which death will be a delight unto me." Thus spake he, and hewing a way for
himself with his sword through the press, dragged Modred by the helmet into
the midst of his own men and cut through his mailed neck as through a straw.
Nonetheless, as he went, and as he did the deed, so many wounds did he
receive that he fell, albeit that his kinsmen the Britons deny that he is dead,
In a later chapter (32) concerning the death of Arthur found in a First Variant version we see an initial
proposition that: although it was not bringing an immediate death, nevertheless boded ill for the near future,
which allows for the arrival on Avalon. However, in this version known as Vera Historia de morte Arthuri,
Arthur is actually killed by a spear. Now you cant fake a grave in Avalon if King Arthur isn’t dead. The beauty
about the Vera Historia de morte Arthuri is that Arthur is dead or is he? This is Henry’s work in an evolved First
Variant even locating a possible grave near St Marys church.
Gesta Regum Anglorum, Thompson and Winterbottom. P.27 8.2. This Arthur is the hero of many wild tales
among the Britons even in our own day, but assuredly deserves to be the subject of reliable history rather than of
false and dreaming fable.
and do even yet solemnly await his coming again. He was, indeed, the very
first man of his time in warlike prowess, bounty and wit.'
It is Henry Blois’ changing circumstances between 1138 and 1158 which
ties the evidence together as his agenda alters after the death of his brother.
Why, for example, are there three different accounts of Arthur’s demise;
one in the version above in the Primary Historia another in HRB and
another in VM. It evidences one of Henry Blois’ secondary designs behind
writing the version involving Avalon…. and then while at Clugny after 1155
semantically transforming that same Island through linguistic contortions
and misdirection in the Vita Merlini to establish a previously geographically
unknown location of Avalon…. to locate it at Glastonbury as Insula
The complimentary fictions (corroborative evidences) which bolster this
transformation and translocation of Avalon are by Henry’s hand in DA. To
avoid digression here, Henry Blois’ supporting evidence which is unfolded
in DA, through several clever devices, will be dealt with in progression.
Henry Huntingdon then wraps up his epistle: 'These, then, my best-
beloved Warin the Briton, are in brief that which I did promise you, whereof,
if you desire to read the whole at length, make diligent enquiry after the great
book of Galfridi Arturi which I found at the Abbey of Le Bec, wherein you may
find the aforesaid treated with sufficient fullness and clearness. Fare thee
The enquiry which Warin makes to Huntingdon (previously) is, why did
he (Huntingdon) start his history with Caesar rather than with the Trojan
Brutus? We know by his reply that Huntingdon had searched but found
nothing. The question to Huntingdon was specifically about insular
history…. so Warin was aware of Nennius’s account of Brutus.
Nennius’ material about Brutus would indicate such a history existed prior to Geoffrey. Nennius starts his
history by saying: ‘the Island of Britain derives its name from Brutus a Roman Consul rather than a Trojan’. He
also states that ‘We have obtained this information respecting the original inhabitants of Britain from ancient
tradition. The Britons were thus called from Brutus: Brutus was the son of Hisicion’. This history by Nennius’
admission was written in the 838 year of our Lords incarnation and in the 24
year of Mervin, King of the’
Britons’. The story of Brutus thus, precedes Geoffrey’s account by three hundred years…. if we are to believe no
interpolation has taken place in Nennius. He also says the Saxons were received by Vortigern, four hundred and
forty seven years after the passion of Christ’ and other similar material that Geoffrey professed to have found in
his fictitious book using all the insular annals as source material. There are problems with Nennius as Newell
discusses but my suspicion of interpolation into Nennius is that I believe (and it is clearly attested) that it is
Henry Blois as the main promoter of the misunderstanding that the Nennius MS was written by Gildas as he
even includes this in his interpolation into Orderic.
‘someone’ knew of the Frankish descendants from Troy, so Geoffrey’s’
invention was not a totally new fictitious historical fabrication that was
new to Huntingdon or Warin. Henry of Huntingdon, as we have discussed,
does not like Henry Blois and as a slight to him, refers to him as ‘someone’
in the incident I mentioned earlier with King Henry I. In his letter to Walter
(not Warin) in Huntingdon’s pontifications ‘on contempt for the world’, he
says about the bishops of Winchester and Henry Blois, as I have previously
related “now there sits in their place Henry, (of Blois), nephew of King Henry,
who will be a new kind of monster, composed part pure and part corrupt, I
mean part monk and part knight.”
The point is that the reference to Henry Blois written to Walter by Henry
Huntingdon is obviously soon after Henry’s appointment to Winchester.
Huntingdon is relating to a friend the prospect of what might become of
Henry Blois. It is an ominous prediction, perceived through a trait or
character defect that Huntingdon has observed first hand in the ambitious
Henry Blois. It may have been written before Stephen became King because
the reference to King Henry Ist. So, why is Henry of Huntingdon referring to
Henry Blois as part Knight, if the Anarchy has not started as yet unless it
alludes to his time at Epernon where he refers to Henry Blois as ‘someone’.
It seems fair to suppose that Huntingdon witnessed Henry Blois’
demonstration of ‘educated’ genius in his recital of the History of the Franks
from Troy. He was there as an eyewitness to make the character prediction
based on what he had witnessed of Henry Blois.
Huntingdon knows Henry Ist is staying at Epernon in Normandy for
eight days as safely as if he were in his Kingdom.
Huntingdon’s pique is
somewhat of professional jealousy. Huntingdon’s observation as to Henry’s
character, it is not so far from the mark. If it had not been for Henry Blois’
position, (already established in Britain as Bishop of Winchester), it seems
unlikely that Stephen would have been crowned within three weeks of
Henry Ist death. Henry Blois is not without guile and Huntingdon’s
assessment is real. He even states a similar attitude about Henry much later
in life as we have seen when relating about Theobald of Bec: He had as his
Historia Anglorum. Diane Greenway. P. 479 chap 38
helper Henry, bishop of Winchester, who earlier had thrown the realm into
grievous disorder, delivering the crown of the Kingdom to his brother
Stephen, but now seeing everything destroyed by robbery, fire and slaughter,
he was moved to repentance…
The only reason I have laboured this point is that, if we consider Henry
Blois implication in the Trojan-Frankish recital; it is just another piece of
the puzzle which fits as an able composer of HRB which features Brutus.
William of Malmesbury has not accepted the Brutus story.
It is doubtful that William of Malmesbury ever saw a copy of the Primary
Historia and certainly never saw the First Variant as that was used in
conjunction with the first interpolations into Malmesbury’s DA and GR3 as
part of the case Henry presents at Rome…. to show that a metropolitan had
long existed in southern England prior to Augustine’s arrival.
Concerning the colophon,
in HRB, Henry Blois (or ‘Geoffrey’) had
conceded that he would hand over as continuator, in the matter of writing
the Saxon’s history to William of Malmesbury. It was already written!!! But
just to confirm that which I postulated above about the relationship
between Blois and Huntingdon…. ‘Geoffrey’ is not so kind to Henry of
Huntingdon and he is singled out for abuse. As I have covered, all three
were dead when the colophon in Vulgate HRB was added, so no umbrage
was felt by Huntingdon, but the return insult was conveyed to posterity.
This would never have been written with dismissive condescension to two
very well connected and sincere historians when they were living….
especially by an unimportant prior in Oxford. The point is that even if the
bishop of Asaph were real and signed the treaty of Winchester (which he
did not in reality) as co-signatory with Henry Blois…. ‘Geoffrey is hardly
going to dismissively consign to silence with such effrontery, the historian
who has Bishop Alexander
as patron also.
Historia Anglorum, Henry of Huntingdon, X, 37, p. 771
GR. I 68.3
I hand over in the matter of writing unto Karadoc of Llancarvan, my contemporary, as do I those of the Saxons
unto William of Malmesbury and Henry of Huntingdon, whom I bid be silent as to the Kings of the Britons,
seeing that they have not that book.
It is indicative of scholarships loss of direction where Michael Curley in his book on Geoffrey states: we
puzzle over the eagerness of a sophisticated and worldly Norman administrator such as bishop Alexander of
Lincoln to possess a collection of Merlin’s prophecies. Why would not someone intelligent enough to realise
that the prophecies validating false historicity in HRB and both known to be written by Geoffrey’ could not see
Essentially the Vulgate colophon is an artful display which retro-dates
the HRB. It is artful in confirming the source book as if indirectly. Henry
Blois would have seen Huntingdon’s references to the bishop of Winchester.
This fact should be taken into consideration and understood by the reader,
as Henry Bloispartial catalyst for setting out his own subtle apologia in GS.
As we have covered, Henry becomes a much nobler Henry of Winchester
for posterity, softening his own character and excusing/rationalising his
deeds in the GS.
Both Malmesbury and Huntingdon had left a negative impression for
posterity concerning Henry Blois in their writings. For a man of such vanity
who knew that future historians would judge by what chroniclers have
recorded, this was essential to rectify. But, one can see from ‘Geoffrey’s tone
he cares little for Malmesbury or Huntingdon.
Huntingdon relates an account of Brutus from the Primary Historia to
Warin. The brief passage which Huntingdon relates in his Historia
Anglorum about Arthur’s twelve battles comes from the Vatican recension
of Nennius, but in Huntingdon’s history there is no mention of the Brutus
material or Troy. An odd turn of events, since he had read Henry’s Primary
Historia in 1139, but makes no addition into the Historia Anglorum in his
final recension mentioning Troy.
the Introduction of Alexander is only a splice mechanism; and this had to be after Alexander was dead
otherwise it would be found to be a lie. Same with Walter!!!!