Chapter 7
The Interpolation into Orderic’s
book XII
The point of insertion into Orderic’s history of Henry Blois Merlin
prophecies comes just after another short episode in Orederic’s work which
tells us of Duke Robert, while imprisoned at Cardiff. Supposedly the Duke
sees in to the future like a prophet and sees the death of his son in the
‘White Ship’ incident. He says: ‘Alas! My son is dead’. Orderic then tells us
that no messenger could have informed the Duke beforehand, averring the
miraculous foresight of the Duke. Orderic Vitalis ends the account with the
death of the imprisoned Duke ‘six years afterward’ which also sways the
reader’s interpretation of the dating of the Merlin passage i.e. twenty years
before Henry Blois’ prediction of Henry II invasion of Ireland, which as we
know can only be subsequent to 1155.
The entire chapter XLVII in book XII is evidently an interpolation that
Henry Blois has spliced into Orderic’s Chronicle. The choice of insertion is
aproposbecause one of the prophecies speaks of the Duke’s son’s death in
the ‘White Ship’ incident along with Henry I son and heir. The Duke’s
capacity as a seer in this passage where the sliced interpolation occurs
conditions the reader of Orderic to that chronological date and thus sets up
the Merlin passage to be accepted as part of the chronicle. The cleverness of
Henry Blois is in placing the interpolated Merlin prophecies in a
chronological annal, so that it appears to have been written while Henry Ist
was alive by saying: I may therefore be allowed to introduce in this work
some of his predictions which appear to relate to the present era.
It is worth looking at the entire chapter XLVII as a whole because this is the
one chapter which has duped scholars into believing in the veracity of the
prophecies in that they believe the passage was genuinely written by
Orderic while alive in the time of King Henry Ist: See how the prophecy of
Ambrosius Merlin, delivered in the time of Vortigern, King of Britain was
clearly fulfilled in many instances during a period of 600 years. I may
therefore be allowed to introduce in this work some of his predictions
which appear to relate to the present era. Merlin was contemporary with St
Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre. He twice crossed over to England in the time of
the Emperor Valentinian, and, disputing against Pelagius and his disciples,
who cavilled at the doctrine of divine grace, confuted the heretics by many
miracles wrought in the name of the Lord. Then, after devoutly celebrating
the feast of Easter, he fought against the Anglo-Saxons, who being pagans
waged war against the Christian Britons; and prevailing more by his prayers
than his arms, routed the heathen host with an army of newly baptised in the
faith, he himself shouting alleluia during the battle
1
. Should anyone
desire to learn more of these events and the fortunes of the Britons, he should
peruse the books of Gildas the British historian, and Bede the English writer,
in which the reader will find allusive narrative of the acts of Vortimer and his
brothers with those of the valiant Arthur, who fought twelve battles against
the English.
We are told that Merlin showed Vortigern a pond in the middle of the floor,
and in the pond two vessels, and in the vessel's attendant folded up, and in the
tent two worms, one of which was white and the other red. The worms grew
very fast and becoming dragons, fought desperately with each other. At last,
the red dragon conquered and drove the white dragon to the margin of the
pond. The King beholding these things, with the Britons, was sorely distressed
and wept. Merlin, being then interrogated by the astonished spectators,
explained in the spirit of prophecy that the pond in the middle of the floor
signified the world; the two vessels, the British isles ; the tent, the towns and
villages of Britain, the seats of human habitation ; by the two worms were
meant the British and English people, who should harass each other by turns
in fierce conflicts, until the bloody Saxons, who are designated by the red
dragon, had driven into Cornwall, and to the shores of the ocean, the Britons,
who are figured by the white dragon, because they were arrayed in white at
the baptismal font from the times of King Lucius, and pope Eleutherius.
1
This sentence alone confirms that the Vita Merlini had already been composed before the interpolation into
Orderic.
The prophet also predicted the course of events which would occur
in future ages in the islands of the north, and reduced his prophecy to
writing in allegorical language. Having spoken of the Germanic worm and
the decimation of Neustria, which was fulfilled in Alfred, brother of
Edward, the son of King Ethelred and his companions at Guilford; he made
predictions concerning the revolutions of the present age, and the
troublesome vicissitudes of affairs, to the following effect : I will include
that which follows shortly.
We know the interpolation is post 1155 because of the Sixth in Ireland
prophecy and the fact someone is contorting the wording so that the
prophecies appear to have been extant while Henry Ist was still alive. Here
in the preamble Henry is annulling the accusation and derision from the
critics that the prophecies are recently invented. The fact that questions
were being raised also about Merlin being an incubus and prophesying by
the Devil is counteracted above in Merlin’s connection to Christianity….
disputing against Pelagius and his disciples.
For those who were sceptical of the prophecies in VM and the updates
into the Vulgate which could only have been written post 1155….one
wonders who has added the ‘decimation of Neustria’ now Henry II is on the
throne. This prophecy was not in the earlier Libellus when his brother
Stephen was kingand was not a prophecy that Henry would have
entertained while his brother was alive. ‘Germanic worms’ were mentioned
in the original version of prophecies, but the ‘decimation of Neustria’ has
appeared since Henry II has come to power and some are suspicious. When
Henry, in the latter half of 1157, realises the Celtic rebellion is not going to
come to fruition, he tries ambiguously to connect his prophecies intended to
cause sedition back to the time of Alfred feigning comprehension and true
purport of the prophecy by saying it was already fulfilled and we are given
an erroneous trail to follow by an innocent chronichler who has
misinterpreted the obvious.
Another piece of evidence I will show further on (unequivocally) is that
the persona
2
of King Lucius as presented by Geoffrey, as a British king, is
entirely Henry Blois invention in HRB. Therefore, we can establish the
2
‘Geoffrey’ expands upon a mistake made by Bede. It is this purposeful link to King Lucius that Orderic
supposedly makes with Merlin which indicates it must be the inventor of Merlin at work who is interpolating
Orderic.
Merlin passage in Orderic is definitively an interpolation by Henry Blois.
The passage could not have been written by Orderic at the time thought by
scholars because Primary Historia was only finished in 1138. Lucius only
features as a fabricated persona in First Variant from 1144 (as part of the
association with Eleutherius); Orderic died in 1142 and one cannot have the
‘Sixth’ in Ireland prophecy…..so it must postdate 1155 anyway.
After this brief account of events, Orderic then goes on to quote nearly
verbatim the prophecies which I will follow with shortly. King Lucius as
presented in HRB as a King in Britain is entirely the invention of Henry
Blois. Geoffrey’ in HRB employs him as a splice in chronology based upon
Bede’s mistake and the bogus King Lucius is again employed in DA.
The interpolator has purposefully changed the colour of the dragons in
the opposite from that presented in the HRB (and Nennius). bloody Saxons,
who are designated by the red dragon’. It is such an obvious mistake that is
meant to imply that it is an inconsequential muddle of the chronicler
(Orderic)…. and therefore, could not be an interpolation by the very man
who wrote’ the White Dragon is indicative of the Saxons’ in the HRB…. who
had it the same way round as the serpents which are presented in Nennius.
(see appendix 36) An accidental mistake one might think, but don’t forget
Henry Blois in the GS mis-names his own Nephew as the future Bishop of
Durham purposefully to hide his identity as author as well as a few petty
deprecations concerning himself.
We should also be aware that Henry Blois in the Orderic interpolation
employs a gambit found in HRB, where he accredits certain facts to a
historian like Gildas. But what he refers to is not found in Gildas, i.e. he is
trying to establish fact where none exists. Now, why do we see ‘Orderic’ in
this interpolation employing the very same tactic? It is because the writer of
the Merlin interpolation into Orderic is Henry Blois. Orderic mentions
Guortemirus and his brothers and Arthur; along with his twelve battles as
all appearing in Gildas-Nennius and Bede. Henry knows the battles are not
in Bede and yet are in Nennius. He uses the same ploy in HRB several times.
It is hardly likely that Orderic would assert such a thing.
It is Henry establishing corroborative sources, especially by propagating
the work of Nennius under the name of the respected Gildas. This is
evidenced in that we next learn that the Saxons drove the Britons into
Cornwall. This is neither in Nennius or Bede but in the HRB. Also the named
princes in Orderic’s interpolated passage are scattered through Nennius
and Bede, if one can pick them out. Yet in Geoffrey’s HRB all ten princes
exist in the same order as Orderic has them. We may conclude, given the
evidence, Henry Blois is the interpolator into Orderic with one aim in mind:
To make it appear as if Orderic had the ‘Sixth’ in Ireland prophecy mixed
with those that were in the earlier Libellus Merlini …. giving the impression
that all the prophecies in Orderics book XII were extant before Henry Ist
died. Even though it is admitted that Orderic did not write his book
chronologically the passage feigns to be written before december 1135. This
cannot be accepted, as Henry would only have written the prophecy
concerning the ‘Sixth’ once he knew his brother was dead to purposefully
unseat the man who had relieved his of his castles and power; also, only
when Henry was appraised of the intention to invade Ireland in 1155.
Scholars genuinely believe that in the twelfth century certain chroniclers
(Geoffrey being the prime candidate) thought that the authorship of the
work of Nennius was wrongly apportioned to Gildas. Let me state for the
record one absolute certainty. The person responsible for propagating and
copying Nennius’ work and citing the author as Gildas is Henry Blois. Gildas
is put in direct association with Arthur in Life of Gildas which we know was
written by Henry. So it is imperative to understand that neither Bede nor
Gildas mention Arthur by name; and by implicating Nennius’ work as
Gildas’, Henry establishes his own historicity for HRB’s chivalric Arthur.
This foisting of Nennius’ work on Gildas occurs several times in HRB and it
is not a mistake but a deliberate ruse to add credence to a Manuscript that
lists Arthur’s battles. (This is why I just leave Nennius to stand as it is…
because I think it genuinely speaks to Arthur the Warlord). Gildas was
never at Glastonbury and it is Henry Blois who posits that he was at
Glastonbury abbey in interpolations into GR3 and DA to concur with the
episode where Gildas is said to have been present at Glastonbury in Life of
Gildas.
Make no mistake that Nennius work is by Nennius and much of the
inspiration of ‘Geoffrey’ is derived from Nennius. Nennius was a genuine
work which bears witness to Arthur (the un-chivalric) and it also has
Vortigern and two serpents from which Henry is witnessed to have used as
a template for the splice into HRB, for the preamble to the prophecies (see
appendix 36). Nennius does not mention Merlin in connection with these
serpents. This is entirely a case of Henry’s muses which have inspired
‘Geoffrey’ to aver that Merlin’s surname is Ambrosius.
The author of HRB is keen that we should accept Gildas as the real
author of Nennius and so here (in the passage above) in Orderic, the same
polemical gambit is played. But also the author of chapter XLVII of Orderic
would have us believe that Merlin too was mentioned by this book
supposedly written by Gildas. So this paragraph, shown below has exactly
the same polemic as ‘Geoffrey’ and the reason for this is that Henry Blois
wants posterity to believe Gildas referred to Arthur and Merlin and Gildas
was even present at the concocted episode of Guinevere’s kidnap found in
Henry Blois’s composed version of Life of Gildas.
Should anyone desire to learn more of these events and the fortunes of the
Britons, he should peruse the books of Gildas the British historian, and Bede
the English writer, in which the reader will find allusive narrative of the acts
of Vortimer and his brothers with those of the valiant Arthur, who fought
twelve battles against the English. We are told that Merlin showed Vortigern
a pond in the middle of the floor, and in the pond two vessels.
The intention of Henry Blois by citing the historians ‘allusive narrative’
and naming Vortigern is to make the reader believe that Gildas and Bede
did allude to Merlin. They did not!!! Nennius records the passage which was
the inspiration for Geoffrey involving the boy Ambrosius but he does not
mention Merlin. Now we understand why Henry is keen on having Nennius
thought of as a work composed by Gildas the Wise.
Orderic’s passage leads to the mention of King Lucius and Eleutherius.
Although Eleutherius is mentioned first in the Liber Pontificalis and
thereafter in Bede and in Nennius, we can only touch on this at the
moment, because later, we will discover that King Lucius has been given an
entirely fictitious role in HRB. This same connection with Eleutherius has
been contorted so that King Lucius becomes thereafter indellibly associated
with the two preachers Phagan and Deruvian once they become included in
First Variant. What is not surprising is that Henry Blois as the interpolator
of the Merlin passage in Orderic further confirms the fable about King
Lucius that he established in HRB.
The name of Lucius has been used again when interpolated into William
of Malmesbury’s DA by Henry who has made the missionaries Phagan and
Deruvian (another concoction from HRB), sent by Pope Eleutherius, to be
the discoverersof an already established Glastonbury church. Nobody had
heard of the preachers prior to First Variant HRB. It is Henry Blois’ device to
connect them to Eleutherius and by extension King Lucius. All this will
become clear as regards Phagan and Deruvian when we cover this subject
in the chapters on William of Malmesbury’s GR3 and DA. This is Henry
Bloismost elaborate conflation and invention and it is not by coincidence
that the propaganda is set to conflate and corroborate in the interpolation
in Orderic’s chapter XLVII as in the HRB: Their names and acts are to be
found recorded in the book that Gildas wrote as concerning the victory of
Aurelius Ambrosius.
3
It would be silly to think that the man who wrote the life of Gildas is not
the same man who tells us Gildas wrote Nennius. One can see Henry Blois is
up to the same thing in HRB: Whence afterward a contention arose betwixt
him and his brother Nennius, who took it ill that he should be minded to do
away the name of Troy in his own country. But since Gildas, the historian,
hath treated of this contention at sufficient length…
This author of the HRB and ‘coincidentally’ in Orderic is admonishing us
to read Gildas. Why would he do this? Of course to ensure that his readers
think Nennius is written by Gildas. Of course Gildas’ De Excidio et Conquestu
Britanniae does not mention Troy. The Nennius manuscript is an important
source for Henry’s inspiration in HRB. It is the only work apart from a few
saints’ lives and the Annals Cambriae (and in Henry’s own bogus Life of
Gildas) which mentions Arthur. Nennius has no historical traceable
provenance, but because he mentions Arthur and because Henry has
written the life of Gildas (which puts Gildas in direct contact with Arthur at
Glastonbury), Henry Blois wants his audience to confuse Nenniuswork as
that written by Gildas.
Gildas’ genuine work De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae does not
mention Arthur or King Lucius. But the author of the life of Gildas, and the
two interpolated manuscripts of Malmesbury’s DA and GR3 concerning
Lucius is by the same person (Henry) who wrote the HRB and interpolated
Orderic’s passage on Merlin. It is not surprising therefore to see the same
propaganda in all.
3
HRB IV,xx
Five of the seven explicit quotations from Gildas in Geoffrey’s work are
fraudulent i.e. Gildas did not say what is being posited by ‘Geoffrey’. But,
‘Geoffrey’ does quote Gildas in HRB without citing him as a reference.
Geoffrey thus employs a famous name to stamp credibility on his
contortions, conflations and inventions. Henry only respects Gildas without
giving the Nennius historian credit for what parts of his work he used as
inspiration. Yet Henry tries his best to bring their names in association
with each other in HRB causing confusion for posterity. Another thing
which shows the Orderic passage on the Merlin prophecies is an
interpolation is that supposedly we are to believe they were present in the
time of Henry Ist as part of book XII, chronologically providing precience
for Merlin’s predictions.
So, how is it that Guortegirnus and the Britons are moved to tears where
no such thing happens in Nennius and yet coincidentally there is a likeness
in the HRB where Merlin hysterically bursts into tears before beginning the
prophecies?
To grasp the fraud which Henry Blois has perpetrated, one has to
understand that at that era if one had the intent, a person as powerful as
Henry, evidently could concoct his own History. Especially given the
situation where his renown gave him access to so many annals such as
Orderic’s and William’s where he was the one who had copies made of their
work after he had interpolated them. Much of this effort is because of the
seditious prophecies he released in 1155 and King Henry II would want to
know who was releasing these seditious prophecies.
I think now the reader can see why it was so imperative to create the
three most important interpolations, Gaimar’s epilogue, the colophon which
speaks to historians in Vulgate HRB and the interpolation into Orderic.
Those three small insertions would take just folio insertions yet change and
backdate affairs. If you add to that Robert of Torigni’s mention of the
bishop of Asaph and the small bit of paper alluding to ‘Goeffrey’selevation
to bishop, and scribble on 7 extant charters, Henry has totally fooled every
scholar and comtemporary looking for the elusive ‘Geoffrey’.
This is exactly what Henry Blois has set out to do: to propagate a
synthesis of his various agendas throughout his long life at the forefront of
power. This in effect is exemplified by the contents of the first thirty four
chapters of DA. The fact that Henry Blois had the capability and the volition
to interpolate and reproduce so many manuscripts is one way an
investigator can make sense of the salad of material he has left behind. It is
only when political events and the motivation behind the various
interpolations become clear, that Henry Blois is witnessed at centre stage at
every turn.
Once one understands that Henry Blois wrote the Prophecies of Merlin
one can see he sets out purposely to confuse his readers by changing the
form of the prophecies as witnessed in the differences between the Orderic
interpolation, the original prophecies which Suger would have received,
and those written in the Vulgate HRB. Henry then further ‘squewes the
original purport of some prophecies in the later VM as his agenda has
changed. Add to this ‘salad’ of material, John of Cornwall’s rendition of
prophecies, (also crafted by Henry Blois) …. it leaves little that can be relied
upon. The accusation against what I have divined as material interpolated
by Henry will always be dismissed by scholars because their in depth
analysis of our three genres remains devoid of context and usually treated
as unconnected to the other genres of study.
Thrown into this mix is Henry Blois’ interpolations in the first 34
chapters of DA and version B interpolations of William of Malmesbury’s
GR3. If we add to this invention of history that we find in HRB, Henry Blois
leaves no investigator any chance of resolving any of this clutter because he
also impersonates Wace and relates his work as if it were the same as
Gaimar’s brut.
The reader may think that the conspiracy theories have gone too far
already, but to complicate matters further: Henry then composes the
primordial Grail literature which again commences a whole new body of
corroborative Arthurian literature which is then expanded upon by others
such as Chrétien and Robert. All will become clear as we cover each subject
to reveal Henry Blois’ involvement.
It would not be untenable for Henry Blois to be accused of interpolating
the original MS by Nennius. However, to me this seems doubtful as it is the
one main text which corroborated the existence of Arthur as warlord and
existing in genuine History. It would hardly be credible to argue that it is
Henry Blois who is the instigator of the change of authorship from Nennius
to Gildas if indeed he had gone to the effort of interpolating the book of
Nennius. Nennius’ work definitely existed at an earlier date than Geoffrey’s
HRB.
4
Henry may have first come across the Nennius manuscript at
Chartres. Nennius maybe a patchwork compilation, but the Arthurian
section in it is Henry’s anchor point. All he wishes us to believe is that it was
composed by Gildas as some manuscripts in his era did not have the
Nennius name attached.
He is so keen to assign Nennius to Gildas in HRB, VM, and the Orderic
interpolation that we can only assume it was not a general
misunderstanding by medieval chroniclers as modern scholars believe. It
was rather a deliberate attempt to brand the work of Nennius as that of
Gildas.
What is a Nennius’ manuscript doing at Chartres? In the Durham
Cathedral Library MS B.2.35 we find the Nennius edition attributed to
Gildas but ‘coincidentally’ the manuscript of the Life of Gildas by Caradog of
Llancarfan is part of the Gildas-Nennius manuscript. Henry’s sister Agnes
had a son Hugh de Puiset who had been archdeacon in the see of
Winchester, before Henry promoted him to the position of Bishop of
Durham and is probably the link to Durham and the reason the scripts were
combined.
Without the relevant section in Nenniushistory, Henry would have no
foundation as an Arthurian source except a brief mention in Annales
Cambriae upon which to establish his chivalric Arthur. The Gildas and Bede
references are only by association with Ambrosius Aurelianus the Briton
resistance leader which ‘Geoffrey’ purposefully conflates with Arthur’s
existence.
5
The fact that Huntingdon was unperturbed about Arthur as an
invention when writing to Warin means he was acquainted with the Arthur
in Nennius and the ‘Hope’ of the Briton’s as he relates. Huntingdon himself
draws on other parts of Nennius and refers to ‘the famed Arthur in the
letter to Warin. What troubles me is that after Huntingdon’s description of
Arthur’s twelve battles in his last redaction of his chronicle he says: These
battles and battle-fields are described by Gildas the historian. Gildas did not
4
Newell. Problems with Nennius.
5
Henry writing as Geoffrey even has the audacity to conflate Merlin by calling his surname Ambrosius. Gildas
says: Ambrosius Aurelianus, a modest man, who of all the Roman nation was then alone in the confusion of this
troubled period by chance left alive’.
mention Arthur, only Aurelianus and Badon; so has Henry of Huntingdon
used the Gildas-Nennius manuscript which I believe has had its author
changed to appear to be written by Gildas? If mention of Arthur was in the
first 1129 edition of Huntingdon’s history, this would seem unlikely that we
can accuse Henry Blois of the authorial name change. But Huntingdon
included Arthur in his history after 1139 in a later redaction.
We cannot reliably say if Nennius has been altered but it is obvious
through the construction, pasting and rearranging of Nennius versions, it
could not have been written by Gildas.
However, on balance, it is best to leave the evidence in Nennius as it
stands as we cannot know with certainty if or when interpolation occurred.
Elsewhere Henry Blois’ authorial hand is a lot more obvious.
Anachronistically, in ‘Geoffrey’s’ account, it is Nennius who fought Julius
Caesar. Does Nennius invent Arthur’s battle locations as none are
identifiable today? Nennius also advocates a heritage from Troy and this
particular provenance was of Frankish origin as we have covered.
If we know Henry Blois is ‘Geoffrey’ and it was ‘Geoffrey’ who
embellished the Trojan heritage which Huntingdon had not heard about in
1139; why did Huntingdon write to Warin stating he had not heard this
early history if he had read Nennius. We know the HRB Arthurian escapade
is a fantastic concoction and my purpose in this investigation is to highlight
certain manuscripts which Henry Blois has a personal identifiable
attachment to.
However, going back to the Orderic insertion, it is King Lucius’
historically fictitious request for which, Eleutherius sends two missionaries,
Fuganus and Duvianus (an entirely fictitious episode invented by ‘Geoffrey’)
who then turn up at Glastonbury in Henry Blois’ St Patrick Charter…. which
is the main reason the Eleutherius episode is corroborated and highlighted
in the Orderic passage by Henry.
Orderic never mentions Bede or Gildas before in his books, so it makes
one suspicious that also Nennius material (just as it is in HRB) is being
established as material derived from Gildas. Henry, posing as Caradoc
wrote the life of Gildas where Arthuriana and Glastonburyana are woven
into a completely concocted text based on the format found in the life of
Cadoc. The conflation and cross referencing of various tracts is hard to
unpick. As we saw earlier, Henry even has Taliesin returning from Brittany
where he took instruction from Gildas in the VM. It is the incremental
corroboration from the various interpolated manuscripts which has left
scholarship a minefield of false connections to stumble through.
Again we must remember that apart from this passage, Orderic does not
cite Bede or Gildas yet is here witnessed promoting Nennius as Gildas.
Tatlock rightly states that the order of the Kings, given in the interpolated
chapter of Orderic are in the order of the HRB rather than Bede or Nennius,
but in neither of those authors works are the Britons driven into Cornwall
as in HRB. Our impostor of Orderic cleverly portrays in this passage the
appearance that the particular events he is portraying come from three
sources; Bede, Gildas, and the Merlin prophecies with no mention of the
HRB.
Why, if Orderic has read the HRB (obviated by the list of Kings) is there
no other information derived from it? It is this point which confirms along
with the others that it was not Orderic who wrote this passage. Henry knew
the order of Kings!!! Orderic, like Henry Huntingdon, would be very
interested in the HRB and it is likely would have related to another part of it
in his work…. if indeed HRB had been widely published as is commonly
thought.
As Orderic died in 1142 (long before Vulgate was published) it cannot be
established whether he saw HRB in any redaction. But definitely the author
of the Orderic interpolation had. However, Henry Blois would deem it
necessary not to mention HRB material, as his intention is to show in the
Orderic passage these prophecies existed before Henry Ist died…. when
primary historia was not even published. It is for this specific reason Henry
avoids the only prophecy which is so highly specific and seems dubious
vaticinatory material concerning Henry I body parts.
Even the incredulous would not believe a sixth century seer is going to
randomly see into the future, the gruesome details of separating Henry’s
Uncle’s entrails from its body. Woe unto thee, Neustria, for the brain of the
Lion shall be poured forth upon thee; and with mangled limbs shall he be
thrust forth of his native soil.
I am sure that that this particular prophecy was in the early Libellus
Merlini which found its way into the updated Vulgate prophecies which
included events in the Anarchy. Scholarship of course sees the body part
6
prophecy as a later insertion into the HRB prophecies; because it is omitted
in Orderics set of prophecies which by comparison to the prophecies in
HRB…. it is included in this same clump which also derive from the early
Libellus Merlini
Some commentators have reasoned that because it is the only missing
prophecy in Orderic’s work from a mirrored block of prophecies found in
the HRB, this prophecy concerning the embalming process of Henry I must
be a later interpolation into the same set in HRB. It has surely been omitted
from Orderic by Henry because it is the only prophecy which tells of the
gruesome disposing of his Uncle’s remains and the whole point of this
interpolation was that it was supposed to bolster the perception that King
Henry was alive when Orderic wrote this. One should consider the outcome
of deleting this prophecy in Orderic, because it has had the desired effect in
lending credibility to the rest of the prophecies for scholars in the 20
th
century, but it would have been very silly to have included it as it obviously
speaks of Henry Ist death and to the sceptical would be positive proof that it
was written after his death.
Are we really so stupid to believe the prophet Merlin predicts the birth of
Matilda’s third child, the very circumstance which allows Henry Blois to
install his brother as King….and it just so happens, coincidentally, that
Merlin’s prophecies are published in that era.
As Tatlock shows, the author of the Merlin insertion into Orderic’s work
is more than acquainted with the HRB, but many commentators prior to
Tatlock’s proof based their deductions of the existence of an entirely
separate Libellus Merlini on the testimony of Orderic. Their assumption was
that a Libellus Merlini existed in Henry Ist reign as is portrayed in the
Henry’s interpolation itself. It is the main intention of the interpolation i.e.
the prophecies supposedly existed before their predictions came to pass and
they came from Merlin…not ‘Geoffrey’ independent of HRB (HRB not being
mentioned). It had to be as it was not supposedly published. But Henry
6
King Henry Ist (the lion in both HRB and VM) died on 1 December 1135. Henry’s uncle’s corpse was taken to
Rouen accompanied by the barons, where it was embalmed; his entrails were buried locally at Port-du-Salut
Abbey in Normandy, and the body preserved in salt was taken on to England, where it was interred at Reading
Abbey. Henry of Huntingdon, tells us a man named Ewan was paid a large reward to sever the King’s head with
an axe.Therefore, as the supposed prophecy states his soft tissue (brain included) was buried in Normandy and
his mangled limbs (the body), was buried in England (thrust from his native shore) i.e. Normandy.
Blois wrote HRB and that is Tatlock’s conundrum…simply trusting that
Orderic’s work has not been interpolated.
Logically, if the Merlin prophecies already existed in Latin while King
Henry Ist was alive (as the contrivance in the Orderic interpolation
establishes) why is bishop Alexander halting ‘Geoffrey’s’ work…. insisting a
translation be made and especially when scholars assume c.1136-38? Again
there were no prophecies in Primary Historia because Huntingdon has not
heard of Galfridus Arthur a cleric supposedly from Oxford to whom Bishop
Alexander is patron also along with Huntingdon. So, as I have maintained
Alexander’s association to the prophecies transpired after his death in 1148.
If a Latin copy of Merlin’s prophecies exists as scholars insist based on
Orderic’s testimony what is John of Cornwall doing translating them into
Latin for the Bishop of Exeter. Come to that…in reality what are bishop’s
doing paying any attention to the Merlin prophecies.
If there is any work that could be called the Libellus Merlini, it is an early
set of prophecies. But they must have been written by Henry Blois and
circulated separately from the Primary Historia. This would have been the
set of prophecies which Henry’s friend abbot Suger commented upon. If
there is any one specific addition to the early prophecies possessed by Suger
it would have to be the allusion to the ‘sixth’ throwing down the walls of
Ireland. This, as we have explained, can only be dependent on a sixth
(Henry II)…. and his wish to provide his brother William lands in Ireland as
discussed at the Winchester council held in 1155. There is nothing in the
rest of this block of prophecies in the insertion into Orderic or the same
section in HRB prophecies which takes us to a date further than 1139.
Henry, as the pope’s legate, is the ‘shadow of the helmeted man’ in 1139.
What we can conclude then is that there was an earlier Libellus Merlini
which circulated separately before being spliced as an updated version of
the prophecies as found in the Vulgate version of HRB and may have
existed in a primary form in the First Variant in 1144. However, because the
prophecies in the First Variant are seen to be today the updated (corrected)
version we must conclude they have been added to an exemplar of the First
Variant from which the other four copies are derived.
Let us get back to the interpolated passage in Orderic and just briefly
deal with a few of the prophecies themselves. There are a few differences
from Vulgate HRB: A people shall come over, in timber and in coats of iron
who shall execute vengeance for iniquity. It shall restore the ancient
inhabitants to their homes, and the ruin of the strangers shall be made
manifest. Their germs shall be eradicated out of our gardens, and the remains
of that race shall be decimated; they shall bear the yoke of perpetual
servitude, and shall tear their mother with ploughs and harrows. Two
dragons shall succeed, one of whom shall be slain by the darts of malice, and
the other shall perish under the shadow of a name. A lion of justice shall
succeed, whose roar shall cause the towns of France, and the dragons of the
island to tremble. In his days gold shall be extorted from the lily and the
nettle, and silver shall be scattered abroad by the hoofs of lowing kine. The
men with crisped locks shall wear clothes of various textures and colours,
and their exterior shall betoken their interior. The feet of lurchers shall be
struck oft. The beasts of chase shall be undisturbed. Humanity shall mourn
over the punishment. The tokens of commerce shall be cut in sunder, and the
halves shall be round. The rapacious kites shall perish, and the teeth of
wolves be blunted. The lion's whelps shall be transformed into sea-fishes
and his eagle shall build her nest on the Aravian Mountains. Venedocia
shall be red with a mother's blood, and the house of Corineus shall slay six
brethren. The island shall be bathed in the tears of night, and thence the
people shall be incited to all sorts of
villainies.############################################## The men of
after times shall aspire to soar aloft, and new men shall rise to favourand
eminence. Piety shall be turned by the impious to the injury of those who
possess it. Armed therefore with the teeth of the bear, it shall transcend the
summits of the mountains and the shade of the helmed warrior. Albany shall
be roused to fury, and calling in those who dwell by her side shall give herself
up to the shedding of blood. A bit forged on the Amorican sea shall be put into
its jaws; but the eagle that severs the bond shall devour it, and shall exult in
making her nest for the third time. The whelps of the roaring lion shall awake,
and leaving the forests, shall hunt under the walls of towns. They shall make a
great carnage among all who resist, and tear out the tongues of bulls. The
necks of the lions shall be loaded with chains, and ancient times be renewed.
After that, from the first to the fourth, from the fourth to the third, from the
third to the second, the thumb shall be smeared with oil. The sixth shall
throw down the walls of Ireland,' and convert the woods into an open
country. He shall reduce the several portions to one, and shall be crowned
with the lion's head. He shall restore the places of the saints through the
country, and fix pastors in convenient situations. He shall invest two cities
with palls, and confer virgin gifts on virgins. He shall therefore obtain by his
merits the favour of the Thunderer, and shall be crowned among the blessed.
There shall arise from him a pest, which shall penetrate everywhere, and
threaten ruin to his own nation. Through it Neustria shall lose both islands,
and be shorn of her former dignity. Then the citizens shall return to the
island."
Before we look at the prophecies above from Orderic I just want to show
the reader what I mean by a splice and squewing and re-shuffle. Previous to
the addition of the seditious prophecies in the evolved first variant or early
Vulgate the order appears as such to the point I have indicated above where
the body part prophecy is removed. Thus now Henry before when he
referred to himself as the wolf, now becomes the bear in the late Orderic
interpolation because people are getting suspicious of Henry Blois as all the
prophecies focus around him. So this brief section from HRB: The island
shall be drenched in nightly tears, whence all men shall be provoked unto all
things. Woe unto thee, Neustria, for the brain
7
of the Lion shall be poured
forth upon thee; and with mangled limbs shall he be thrust forth of his native
soil. (This is not included in orderic) They that come after shall strive to
outsoar the highest, but the favour of the newcomers shall be exalted. Piety
shall do hurt unto him that doth possess through impiety until he shall have
clad him in his father. Wherefore, girdled about with the teeth of wolves,
shall he climb over the heights of the mountains and the shadow of him that
weareth a helmet.
8
The icon has changed because he is trying to distance
himself from positions previously where he could be easily recognised.
7
Henry of Huntingdon, VIII.Meanwhile, the remains of King Henry unburied in Normandy; for he died on the 1
st
of December, 1135. His corpse was carried to Rouen, where his bowels, with his brain and eyes, were
deposited. The body being slashed by knives, and copiously sprinkled with salt was sewn up in ox hides to
prevent the ill effluvia, which so tainted the air as to be pestilential to the bystanders.
8
HRB VII, iii
Henry Blois posing as Orderic Vitalis, uses the discovery of the dragons, as
told by Nennius; in a folded tent in two jars in the pool amid the pavement,
details mostly not in the HRB. The people coming over are the Norman’s in
their coats of mail, but, as adopted throughout the prophecies, the
descriptions are presented as if the seer were seeing images; all part of
Henry’s deception. It shall restore the ancient inhabitants to their homes, and
the ruin of the strangers shall be made manifest.
As I have discussed, the inspiration to include the prophecies came from
Henry Blois’ having read Cicero of whom he admits in his self-professed
epitaph, he aspires to outshine. The principle is exactly what Quintus says:
‘what nation or what state disregards the prophecies of soothsayers, or of
interpreters of prodigies’.
9
There were other influences and source material
such as corroborating historical detail from Welsh poetry which Henry also
employs in the composition of the prophecies (especially in VM). Henry
employs the tone of Biblical prophecy at times as a template.
‘Geoffrey’ as we know had read the Roman Oracula Sibyllina which
contains animal symbolism and probably the Sibyl Tiburtina with
utterances such as: Then will arise a King of the Greeks whose name is
Constans, which also may have inspired his tone. Similarly the nine globes
in the vision are nine generations, and we can see ‘Geoffrey’s’ or rather
Merlin’s six Kings (or JC’s seven) being employed as the numbered Kings in
the prophecies. Few commentators have allowed that ‘Geoffrey may well
have been influenced by such continental prophecies such as the 8
th
century Vision of Childeric
10
which identifies Clovis as the lion and Dagobert
as the bear and unicorn; using similar animal symbolism to the Merlin
prophecies. Henry Blois, therefore, would have been more acquainted with
this continental material unlike a Welsh Geoffrey of Monmouth (if he had
ever existed). Clugny possessed one of the most extensive libraries on the
continent and may well have had in its collection the Vision of Childeric.
9
‘Geoffrey’ is extremely clever in the way that he indicates major decisions of state are often made by
consulting the oracles. When Cadwallader, contemplated defeat, he consulted Alan, whether or not he should
abandon his Kingdom to the Saxons, as the angels voice had advised him, or could the answer be found in
prophecy. Supposedly he consults the prophecies of the Sibyl, the Prophecy of the Eagle, and the Prophecies of
Merlinus Ambrosius to find the answer. In reality, in the seventh century when Alan is supposed to have
consulted them only the prophecies of the Sibyl existed. The Prophecy of the Eagle, attributed to Merlinus
Sylvester and the Prophecies of Merlin were both concoctions of Henry Blois but he in effect establishes their
authenticity to the reader by referring to them historically.
10
Fredegar, Chronicle III, c.12
Other continental influences not normally considered in the conventional
premise of an exclusively Welsh or insular ‘Geoffrey’ may be the Anchorite
Vision
11
where similarly to Merlin’s insular garden, a vision of a fair
meadow exists where Normandy, full of flowers (churches) are protected by
a wild horse (William the Bastard) and where the cattle are the enemies of
Normandy and the Heifer is Robert Curthose.
Obviously, the prophecies of the Eagle that did prophesy at Shaftesbury,
12
was a similar prophecy to which Geoffrey’s contemporary audience was
acquainted with. Other influences may come from the Vision of the five
Beasts
13
where animals such as a tawny wolf, a white horse, a black hog, a
grey wolf, a flame coloured dog all represent Kings. Henry Blois’ melange of
nonsense in the Merlin prophecies does in fact have a source base for its
construction and it was the same author who composed HRB; where also,
nearly every episode can be traced to a source or is based on a pattern.
Where astrology is concerned, what Tatlock terms a Götterdammerung’
is plainly vaticinatory ‘hodge podge’, the tone of which may be constituted
from anywhere and probably have no meaning to Henry himself. It is
merely an affected form of astrology which feigns future predictions that
are currently unknown and are therefore unclear as they are unspecific….
purely because Henry did not posses prophetic powers.
Henry Blois may even have been inspired by Herodotus’ : an Eagle will
nest in rocks and bring forth a strong and brutal Lion…
14
We should not so
much concern ourselves in the methodology or template which Henry Blois
uses, but be more concerned with his own agenda chronologically as this
dictates the content of the prophecies. ‘Geoffrey’ depicts Merlin Caledonius
as a star-gazing sage, deriving knowledge of future events by observing the
heavens from his mansion of seventy windows…. which ostensibly shows
Merlin’s powers of prediction is based in astrology and hence the
Götterdammerung’.
15
11
Ordericus Vitalis, Historia Ecclesiastica, bk,V c.10
12
HRB XII, xviii
13
Neus Archiv, 37, p.600
14
Herodotus. V, 92
15
The astrological salad of skimble skamble seems to start with what could have been an anagram of Blois in
Stilbon. Possibly he changed the t for an h. giving HN.BLOIS. Henry’s vision of the utopian Arcadia of antiquity
could well be envisaged by himself as the primary shepherd as indicated in the John of Cornwall scenario of a
returning ‘adopted son’ to rule over the united Britons after they have unseated Henry II and the Norman
foreigners: " Stilbon of Arcady shall change his shield, and the helmet of Mars shall call unto Venus. The helmet
I would estimate the first set of prophecies were released by Henry Blois
c. 1139-1143. They in effect comprise the main body of the updated version
found in today’s Vulgate HRB. The sense of some have been squewed
because we are looking at seditious prophecies also and some new added to
those early one’s which constituted the Libellus Merlini. These were then
followed by the VM prophecies and again in the same period 1155-58 by
John of Cornwall’s translation of the supposedly British/Cornish book of
prophecies.
The agenda for the original set when Stephen was alive was to affect the
political climate so that Henry and his brother were received not as
offspring from Norman conquerors, but as saviours like a returning Arthur.
Henry adapted some of the prophecies with a twist so that they had the
appearance of being the same as the original set he had put out for
consistency’s sake but when the metropolitan became an issue these were
added also
The reader of the prophecies is deluded into thinking that if the
prophecies written in the sixth century which correctly predict things that
we know transpired (because they are historically recorded in HRB)…. then
we must conclude that the HRB is not a pseudo-history. It was mainly
Tatlock’s work which shows clearly that ‘Geoffrey’s’ account is a
constructed fabrication, but still some modern scholars view the prophecies
as credible. This is mainly because of Henry’s clever move to splice in
Welsh bardic material in VM.
So, to pick up after that brief digression…. the prophecy above, as I
explained earlier, Henry Blois sees the reintroduction of the Normans as
eradicating the Saxon germ; and they genetically (the Normans), as the
ancient inhabitants are the Britons returned. They are returning home to
the ruin of the strangers (Saxons) as the prophecy above implies. This is
Henry’s political polemic while his brother is still alive. The purport of some
of Mars shall cast a shadow, and the rage of Mercury shall overpass all bounds. Iron Orion shall bare his
sword. Phoebus of the ocean shall torment his clouds. Jupiter shall trespass beyond his appointed bounds, and
Venus forsake the way that hath been ordained unto her. The malignity of Saturn the star shall fall upon the
earth with rain of heaven, and shall slay mankind as it were with a crooked sickle. . . . The tail of the Scorpion
shall breed lightnings, and the Crab fall at strife with the Sun. The Virgin shall forget her maiden shame, and
climb up on the back of the Sagittary. The chariot of the Moon shall disturb the Zodiac, and the Pleiades shall
burst into tears and lamentations."
of the prophecies where positivity is applied to the Norman eradication of
the Saxons were written while Stephen lived. This was supposed to promote
an attitude of acceptance and acquiescence of Norman rule among the
populace. This sometimes applied to Normans and the emigrated Bretons
through proximity. Where there is negativity toward the Normans, we
know Henry Blois’ brother is dead and he wishes the ‘predict and effect’
mechanism of the prophecies to unseat Henry II.
Two dragons shall succeed, one of whom shall be slain by the darts of
malice, and the other shall perish under the shadow of a name.
As I covered this same block of Merlin prophecies in HRB earlier…. many
here are repeated which I shall skip over because their elucidation is the
same as previously.
Orderic’s interpolated passage of Merlin prophecies carries on similarly
as the same block found in Vulgate HRB:
Piety shall be turned by the impious to the injury of those who possess it.
Armed therefore with the teeth of the bear, it shall transcend the summits of
the mountains and the shade of the helmed warrior.
The Latin here is so obtuse that even Orderic’s editor has trouble
following the sense. It has been vastly chopped down and subtly changed
since the publishing of the prophecies in Vulgate HRB.
The HRB is still not much clearer until one knows it is Henry Blois that is
constructing the prophecy. They that come after shall strive to outsoar the
highest, but the favour of the newcomers shall be exalted. Piety shall do hurt
unto him that doth possess through impiety until he shall have clad him in his
father. Wherefore, girdled about with the teeth of wolves, shall he climb over
the heights of the mountains and the shadow of him that weareth a helmet’.
‘They that come after’ are Henry and his brother (following the body
part prophecy) and at the time of the construction of the early Libellus
Merlini prophecies, Henry viewed what he and his brother would
accomplish as newcomers would ‘outsoar’ any previous reign. He refers to
his brother’s piety which should be understood as ‘sense of honour’
(chivalry). Stephen’s sense of honour which is made plain by Henry in the
GS was another reason for the continuation of the Anarchy rather than
dealing mercilessly with opponents. Stephen making a deal with David,
King of Scotland, a prime example as I already covered. The reference to
‘possession through impiety’ is obviously the allusion to the usurpation of
the crown. The fact that Henry mentions Stephen being clad in his father
might suppose this sentence was added after Stephen’s death or have a
church meaning or relates to William the Conqueror.
The bear is usually a Wolf. As explained earlier, it relates directly to
Henry Blois himself as the Bishop of Winchester and the popes Legate. (See
appendix 12). Again we get the sense of what I covered previously about the
Alps being metaphorically synonymous with Rome. Henry’s climbing over
the mountains is his trip to Rome to see the ‘Helmeted man’, the pope. The
‘shadow’ allusion is just his phony vaticinatory way of speaking through
Merlin, but the sense is that his legateship and its power is derived from the
pope.
The whelps of the roaring lion shall awake, and leaving the forests, shall
hunt under the walls of towns. They shall make a great carnage among all
who resist, and tear out the tongues of bulls.
This is a tricky one to decipher. The allusion is to the keen hunting
practice of Norman Kings who hunted in the forests as I referred to earlier.
The lion’s whelps are now besieging towns such as Exeter, Bristol, Oxford to
name but a few. The ‘whelps’ are William the conqueror’s offspring of
which Stephen and Henry both were. The carnage is the Anarchy.
The ‘whelpscould refer to Henry and his brother or William Rufus and
Duke Robert. Leaving the forests and hunting under the walls of towns
seems likely to refer to Stephen besieging towns in the Anarchy. Henry of
Huntingdon records that after banishing Baldwin de Redvers, from England:
Elated by these successes, the King went to him at Brampton, which is about a
mile distant from Huntingdon and there he held pleas of the forests with his
barons; that is, concerning their woods and hunting, in violation of his
promise and vow to God and the people.
The sixth shall throw down the walls of Ireland, can only relate to Henry
II and must date after 1155. It is for this reason we can deduce the
interpolation into Orderic’s work was made not only after King Henry Ist
death (as he was the third) but after 1155. This would essentially have to
take into account Matilda as the fifth’ not being anointed and knowing it
was Henry II’s intention to invade Ireland.
He shall reduce the several portions to one, and shall be crowned with the
lion's head. He shall restore the places of the saints through the country, and
fix pastors in convenient situations. This is a reference also to Ireland in
assuming Henry II brother William will become king as discussed at the
Council at Winchester. Restoring the places of the saints refers to St Patrick.
The fixing of Pastors is the point of the invasion as far as pope Adrian IV is
concerned where his Papal Bull Laudabiliter gave King Henry II the right to
assume control over Ireland and apply the Gregorian reforms,
He shall invest two cities with palls, and confer virgin gifts on virgins. He
shall therefore obtain by his merits the favour of the Thunderer, and shall be
crowned among the blest.
Many have thought that the two cities referred to are the new bishoprics
set up by Henry Ist, Ely in 1109, and Carlisle in 1133. This may be the case or
it may be Henry Blois’ hope that Winchester and St Davids gain
Metropolitan status. As we know from Henry Blois’ personal efforts, he
tried on more than one occasion to have the see of Winchester created as a
separate Metropolitan, so that he would not be subject to Canterbury. He
also promoted St David’s cause in the HRB for his friend Bernard. He saw
the power wielded by Roman Canterbury as having usurped the old Briton
church and brought into subjection by papal control. It is for this reason in
the HRB, St David’s acts as a polemic for his cause and he stresses Dubricius
and Caerleon as the example before the advent of the Roman church and
Augustine.
Henry Blois’ main point is always to infer that the Briton church was
established independent of Roman Canterbury.
16
This is vastly apparent in
Henry’s interpolations in DA. Part of the inspiration for writing the
polemical view that is clearly outlined in the HRB, may have been
formulated as he delved into the history of Glastonbury after having found
the charter which donated Ineswitrin to Glastonbury. This charter which
obviously existed, formed for the most part the evidence Henry Blois
needed for his proof of Antiquity regarding Glastonbury. This is a lengthy
16
The case in point adequately exposes Henry Blois’ bias in that the celebrated massacre at Bangor found in
Bede is wholly taken by ‘Geoffrey’ and changed so that the prayers of the monks which were for the British
army are in the version found in the Historia, due to their refusing subjection to Augustine.
subject which we are working toward which unlocks the reasoning behind
the various interpolations in DA.
Because Joseph is posited as buried in Britain in the Melkin prophecy
one might assume an earlier possible apostolic foundation in Joseph. The
Eleutherius episode mentioned by Bede has little bearing on the truth of
what is said to have transpired when it comes to early foundation myths.
The Eleutherius episode may have stemmed from propaganda purposely
put out by the Roman church which denied primacy for the Briton Church.
The Vatican actually may have caused Bede’s mistake. Bede himself
recounts that he actually went to Rome to see that nothing he had written
had caused offence. Roman Christianity was a monopoly that was not to be
shared with the Britons.
What I am implying is that the mistake by Bede, where he makes Lucius
a British King, could have been inspired by Rome, as this would indicate
that any church in Britain is an offshoot of Rome. Gildas did not mention
Lucius’s request (prior to Augustine) and Bede mentions it afterward. So, it
ispossible that it might be Roman inspired propaganda based on a
misinterpretation of Liber Pontificalis. Again, I will have to deal with this in
the chapter on GR.
However, it is for this reason I believe Chapter 29 of the Acts of the
Apostles
17
at a very early stage was eradicated from the New Testament as it
bore testimony of St Paul’s visit to Britain. If it was not Aristbulous or Philip
who proselytised Britain, maybe the first Christian (or believer that Jesus
was the Messiah) was Joseph of Arimathea. I shall cover this aspect also in
progression because it is evident by the end of this exposé that Joseph’s
remains are still in Britain undiscovered.
Again, returning back to the Orderic interpolation, which could only
have been written after Henry II was on the throne, because King Henry II
is the ‘pest’ in the new updated version which incites rebellion.
There shall arise from him a pest, which shall penetrate everywhere, and
threaten ruin to his own nation. Through it Neustria shall lose both islands,
and be shorn of her former dignity. Then the citizens shall return to the
island.
17
See Chapter 29, The acts of the apostles
The pest is more probably a lynx (following the iconography of cats of
the Leo’s), but Henry is predicting the end of Norman domination because
he is hoping by influencing events by his Merlin prophecy the Celts are
going to unseat Henry II. What needs to be understood by the reader (and
once we cover the JC prophecies, it becomes abundantly clear) is that Henry
Blois in exile at Clugny was doing his best to incite rebellion against Henry
II by feigning that Merlin had seen a Celtic rebellion against the Norman’s.
No such state as Neustria existed of course in Merlin’s day. Henry is
stirring Celtic discontent by citing Conan and Cadwallader to rebel against
Henry II after which Norman rule will end and Henry Blois will rule. Many
have thought this prophecy is derived from the Armes Prydein, (which it
was in the original Libellus), but as usual Henry twists this Brythonic
prediction by Myrddin of the Celtic resurgence against the Saxons which
now applies to the Normans…. and coincidentally the names are relevant
still to the Breton and Welsh leaders. In the Armes Prydein it mentions Aber
Peryddon which is linked to the next verse in the Vulgate prophecies which
is directly linked to Henry Blois as the old man, snowy white, who sits upon a
snow-white horse, shall turn aside the river of Pereiron and with a white staff
shall measure out a mill thereon.
Even though the section of the HRB prophecies related in Orderic is not
exactly mirrored, it tends to show that it is the initiator of the prophecies
writing Orderic’s interpolated passage as it was surely written after 1155
and if these had come from the earlier Merlin prophecies (which could not
have been prior to Henry Ist death), they certainly could not have foreseen
the ‘Sixth’ invading Ireland.
So the discrepancies between the Vulgate version and Orderic
prophecies are therefore thought to be caused by the existence of an earlier
Libellus Merlini. Since Orderic died 1142 the libellus version is supposed to
have existed at the time Orderic is thought to have written the passage. It is
not a case of Orderic mis-copying the prophecies but the originator of them
changing them at will while interpolating Orderic. If Orderic just copied
them they would not differ in form from HRB. So, where many researchers
have thought the Libellus Merlini or book of Merlin which Orderic says he is
quoting from ( supposedly written between 1120 and 1135), based upon a
reference to Henry Ist as being King of England i.e. still alive; this view can
no longer be accepted that Merlin was indeed a prognosticator…. because
the ‘Sixth’ prophecy post dates 1155. There was at this stage no ‘Sixth’ or
Henry II, not forgetting the first set had only evolved to thefourth’ as I
implied previously.
Commentators have believed the veracity of the Merlin prophecies
because the interpolation occurs in the Orderic chronicle at the right point
chronologically. Also Henry Blois adds for good measure: until the times of
Henry and Griffyth, who in the uncertainty of their lot are still
expecting…which establishes in a bone fide chronicle of history that the
prophecies look as though they pre-exist Henry Ist death.
Let us not be duped by such sophistry. We would have to be very
gullible to believe not only can the originator of the passage see past the
fourth and the fifth, but produce an accurate prediction that the ‘Sixth’ will
go to Ireland. How does Merlin’s focus arrive in the precise era of Henry
Blois and how is it that his prophecies corroborate the bogus pseudo-history
found in HRB. The prophecies nearly all connect to Henry and his interests
and matter which affect him and his family?
Henry simply inserted the interpolation after 1155 into a copy of Orderic
and had it copied. Henry was under serious pressure to show that the
prophecies pre-existed the events they supposedly predicted. The obvious
solution was to include a passage on them in a reliable chronicle.
Crick is duped believing that the passage in Orderic was written by
Orderic: the Prophecies provoked the kind of intellectual and political
responses logged by Orderic: they offered reassurance, solace, historical
exegesis, intellectual stimulus, on the one hand, and political direction on the
other. Such conclusions are provisional, of course:
At least there is the understanding of the prophecies role in political
direction. Of course the conclusion can only be provisional, for without
grasping that Orderic’s passage is an interpolation…. how can Crick
18
settle
the conundrum of prophecies transpiring as recognisable events
supposedly predicted by Merlin even after Orderic’s death in 1142. She
would have to believe Merlin is a genuine prognosticator. Of ’s eighy five
18
What annoys me about the experts is that Crick writes: Geoffrey’s intentions remain buried in his work….The
reacton of the immediate audience for which it was intended is unknown etc. etc. And yet if you put forward
what Geoffrey’s intentions were and even offer the solution to who the HRB in its rawest form was intended for ;
the evidence will be ignored like someone going through the motions of searching for a needle in a haystack with
their eyes shut, yet ‘occupationallynot wanting to find it.
copies of the separate prophetia ….a study should be carried out to see how
many are missing the (allowing for corrections) prophecy which appeals to
the Celts to rebel against Henry II and also how many are missing the Sixth
in Ireland. If they are missing, we can assume these copies are earlier than
1155. Only then will she get a clearer picture of what icons are sqewed to
further hide Henry’s authorship; when initially he had been pleased that
people would recognise the prophecy spoke of him. Post 1155 sceptics plus
the king himself were now asking questions and Henry is distancing
himself from obvious references to him.
In the interpolation into Orderic Henry substantiates for posterity the
date of the prophecies while feigning to interpret and add commentary as
the Merlin interpolation into Orderic’s work continues:
I have made these short extracts from Merlin's book and offer them to the
studious who are not acquainted with it. Some of his prophecies I have traced
to events now past, and, if I mistake not, more of them will be verified in
the experience of posterity either with joy or sorrow. Persons acquainted
with history will easily understand the words of Merlin, when they recollect
what happened under Hengist and Catigirn, Pascent and Arthur, Ethilbert and
Edwin, Oswald and Oswy, Cedwal and Alfred, and other princes both English
and British, until the times of Henry and Griffyth, who in the uncertainty of
their lot are still expecting;what may befall them in the ineffable
dispensations of Divine Providence. For instance, it is as clear as light to the
intelligent reader, that Merlin is speaking; of the two sons of William, when
he says: " Two Dragons shall succeed," meaning libertine and fierce princes,
"one of whom," that is William Rufus, '' shall be slain by the darts of malice,"
namely by an arrow in hunting, "the other," that is duke Robert, " shall perish
in the shadows of a dungeon, retaining only his former title," that of duke.
"The lion of justice shall succeed, which refers to Henry," at whose roar the
towers of France and the Island dragons shall tremble ; because in wealth and
power he transcends all who reigned in England before him. In the same
manner, the wise can clearly decipher the rest. I might say more in
explanation, if I undertook to write a commentary on Merlin, but leaving
this; I resume the course of my narrative, and shall faithfully relate the
events which have occurred in my own time.
I hope the reader appreciates the sophistry of Henry Blois attempting to
decipher his own prophecies. He uses the same ploy in John of Cornwall’s
prophecies by writing an interpretive commentary. For me, Henry’s
brilliance is in establishing fact for the reader that he wishes them to
deduce themselves…. without having to state it overtly himself. There is no
better example than the sentence in which he specifically intends us to
understand the prophecies existed in the era in which King Henry Ist was
alive and still expecting what fate might have in store for the King by
positing: Henry and Griffyth, who in the uncertainty of their lot are still
expecting; what may befall themyet, few of his readers would be happy
with the prediction of a Norman down fall: more of them will be verified
in the experience of posterity either with joy or sorrow.
How very fortuitous for posterity that Orderic dates the prophecies to
Henry I era by implying what fate still had in store for the King. Logically,
the only conclusion for scholars such as Crick, is that Merlin was indeed
able to see into the future as not only did he see a sixth King, but Merlin
accurately predicted that the said sixth King would invade Ireland. Such
conclusions are provisional, of course until the passage is understood to be
an interpolation. But scholars are like church fathers unchanging and
blindly following log held beliefs rather remaining ignorant than trying to
find the truth…. and look out anyone who goes against dogma.
The Vulgate redaction of the HRB (with its updated prophecies included)
was published in 1155. So, many of the hopes and predictions that were
posited as prophecy by ‘Merlin’ in the libellus Merlini could not be changed
as they were in the same form that Abbot Suger (and no doubt others who
are unrecorded) had witnessed. But, as we have seen, it was vital for Henry
Blois (posing as Merlin) to establish that it was not an author who composed
the prophecies in the Geoffrey era after the historical events had
transpired. For this reason the Orderic interpolation is so important.
Even though Bishop Alexander died in 1148, the inclusion of the
Alexander dedication in HRB did not occur until after 1155 as Henry of
Huntingdon who dies in 1154 never once comments on his patron’s
affiliation with the prophecies and Alfred of Beverley c.1147-50 does not
mention the part Alexander supposedly played in having the prophecies
translated.
Waleran de Beaumont, Count of Meulan died in 1166 and if he knew of
the HRB and saw a copy dedicated to himself with Robert, he was probably
as bemused as most are today. As we have touched on already, Waleran
was 1st Earl of Worcester and is mentioned by Henry in the Merlin
Prophecies as are many other items and people that have piqued him:
Against him shall rise up the Dragon of Worcester.
Waleran of Meulan, the lay patron of Bec, put his own man Theobald as
Archbishop in England. It is mainly because of this Henry Blois detested
him. Waleran and his twin brother, Robert, Earl of Leicester, were Henry's
chief rivals for Stephen's favour. At the Battle of Lincoln in 1141 Waleran
was one of the royalist earls who fled when they saw that the battle was lost
resulting in Stephen’s capture. Straight afterward Waleran gave up the fight
on Stephen’s side against the Angevin cause 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 we have stated,
the single manuscript with the Stephen and Robert dedications is simply a
devise used by Henry Blois to predate the HRB to 1136.
The dedication to Waleran de Beaumont, Count of Meulan in no way
helps the dating of the HRB as is thought by commentators. As long as we
know Henry is the author there is nothing to counter a position that the
dedication was only added to a copy after Waleran’s death as Henry lived
another five years. Henry does not like Waleran because it was Waleran
who instigated the arrest of the Bishops. Also he dislikes him for the bad
advice Waleran offered his brother. The GS states: The Count of Meulan and
those other adherents of the King who were on terms of the closest intimacy
with him, indignant at the splendid pomp of the bishops…
As for Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford, Henry probably did know him
because Stephen’s base was at Oxford in the early Anarchy. However,
Henry certainly knew of his death in 1151 and his name was employed to
put flesh on the bones of Geoffrey of Monmouth i.e. having a provenance in
and around Oxford, because Henry had also randomly signed some
charters there in the name of Galfridus Artur, (along with those previously
signed by Walter) just after the pact at Wallingford.
Although Walter was already dead, the ruse created the aura of previous
publication just like the use of the dedicatees and provided a relationship to
someone who had known of ‘Geoffrey’. Henry had connected a real person
that ‘Geoffrey’ could be linked to who was probably known for his interest
in antiquities. This link carried out the vital function of being the person
who supplied the book that the whole HRB was supposedly translated from.
Walter died in 1151, so his name (like the dedicatees) was included into the
Vulgate HRB after his death. He was not mentioned in the First Variant used
at Rome in 1144 and 1149.
At this early date Henry had not even assigned his authorship to the
pseudonym of Geoffrey of Monmouth and still used Gaufridus Artur…. and
had not yet added the various signatures to the charters kept at Oxford
Castle which now carry Galfridus’ name. Henry very cleverly also presumes
again on Walter’s name in his concocted epilogue attributed to Gaimar.
Gaimar did write L’estoire des Engles but did not write the epilogue and
certainly there was never any tract called L’estoire des Bretons ever written.
It is a clever ploy, but we shall get to that shortly.
What might have happened if Stephen had lived concerning ‘Geoffrey,
we can only speculate, but soon after Stephen’s death, Henry saw fit to end
Geoffrey’s life in 1154-5 while still producing the VM which posterity can
only assume by logic was written in Geoffrey’s life time. The problem Henry
had is that he could only add so much and squew only so much of the
previous set of prophecies attributed to Merlin found in the separate
Libellus Merlini. These were added to and updated when they were spliced
into the Vulgate HRB as far as possible so that they still resembled the
prophecies in the original Libellus Merlini.
Certainly, the ‘prophetical’ harangue for the Scots, Cornish, Welsh and
Breton’s to unite was Henry’s addition after his brother’s death to incite
rebellion against Henry II. The invention of the VM which essentially has so
much padding in it, as we have covered, was put together to complete
Henry’s look back wards at events in the Anarchy by employing Ganieda as
the new source, but his main intent was the hope that the Celts would rebel.
His secondary agenda also started to germinate as we see Avalon’s first
association through Insula Pomorum.
I think the reception and credibility of the VM was not received without
suspicion as certain of the previous prophecies and icons were twisted to
apply to events that occurred later in the Anarchy and some of them were
startlingly obvious.
Suspicions were probably raised when the intelligence of a few readers
at court reflected upon how it was that a seer in the sixth century saw
history only as events which had occurred to which the annals related and
specifically correlated with history as related in HRB. Also unrealistically,
the prophecies largely referred to the contemporary reader’s era, and had a
deluge of detail concerning the Anarchy. This mass of detail about things
recently transpired was counterbalanced by the meaningless
Götterdammerung extravaganza which had the appearance of future
events. Rydberg
19
showed that the source of the Götterdammerung was an
adapted passage of Lucan’s Pharsalia.
The end of the prophecies, of course, had to be highly unspecific, as
Henry’s powers of prophecy only enabled him to predict (in reality) past
events…. and so, all prophecies which made any sense, were of those events
which had already transpired. Henry tried to apportion the prophecies
equally spread about the Danes and Saxons and the Norman invasion and
the state of the Church and the Anarchy of recent times. At times, even
highly specific references were represented such as Portchester castle being
rebuilt by Henry Blois. But, our seer knew if the prophecies did not
potentially give the air of looking into the future for all of time he would be
discovered as a fake. Hence the reasoning behind fabricating the
Götterdammerung!!
Tatlock
20
noticed that Geoffrey was ‘at pains to make the city of Winchester
prominent and exalted’. Henry Blois requested metropolitan status for
Winchester and this was mentioned along with the fact that one of Arthur’s
dragons was supposedly left in the Cathedral at Winchester etc. This all goes
to indicate there are too many commonalities with Henry Blois. This is
without all the evidence we have yet to cover!! The fact that Henry Blois
impersonates Wace and then introduces the round table which is now in
the Great Hall at Winchester…. is just one of many coincidences that need
further scrutiny. We shall get to the bottom of this in progression.
19
Viktor Rydberg. Astrologien och Merlin
20
Tatlock 415