Arthur…Was There Only One?


I Googled Annales Cambriae and in the Encyclopedia Mythica entry found this quote:

“The entry on Camlann seems to be myth, for an Arthur still active around 539 does not fit with other historical clues to the era of his reign despite the strong and tragic tradition the Welsh had on the subject.”

The dates for the reign of King Arthur are fuzzy, and this quote from a critique of the Annales Cambriae suggest that the reference to the great King must be mistaken because he couldn’t possibly still be alive when earlier, more reliable references date his primary activities as much earlier. Things like this have been used to refute the very existence of King Arthur. On the other hand, this was very long ago and the records are rather scanty. The nature of legend and folktale, however, could blend together 2 or more people, a great son with a greater father for instance. What if the Annales Cambriae is accurate and is describing one heir fighting another instead of son fighting father? What if Guinevere had a son who inherited and continued Arthur’s reign? What if there were half-brothers or first cousins vying for the throne?

Storytelling is a funny thing. Events get embellished, dates get fudged, and sometimes the deeds of one person or hero are attributed to another. Given the thoroughness and reliability of the journalism at the time it is entirely possible that Arthur had a son, but overshadowed and out shone him. When his son attained the throne, possibly at a mature age, he could have continued the policies and practices of his father seamlessly enough to avoid mention and simply continued the reign. He could also be easy to overlook if he were the ‘spitting image’ of his father, especially if his mother continued to hold a certain amount of power in court. There were, however, continuing frictions between chieftains and clans and a challenge to the throne from others would be surprising in its absence.

In my own family there has been some confusion by genealogically inclined family to overlook the dates and assume certain humorous things about direct ancestors who shared the same name. If this is possible in living memory it’s certainly probable in distant history.

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What Was It Like?


Well, a lot of people think it was like this:

Pray, Attend Their Royal Majesties!

Pray, Attend Their Royal Majesties!

With maybe a little bit of this:

For the Queen's pleasure...
More of this...

More of this...

And lots of this

And lots of this

For the Queen’s pleasure… 

And many would REALLY LOVE to see this:

BUNNYFUR! BUNNYFUR! BUNNYFUR!

BUNNYFUR! BUNNYFUR! BUNNYFUR!

But this is more like what it was…:

CLANG! OOF! BAM! POW! ... OUCH!

CLANG! OOF! BAM! POW! ... OUCH!

With a lot of this in between:

You guys go there while we run over...hell, who's up for a dip in the creek & some beer?

You guys go there while we run over...hell, who's up for a dip in the creek & some beer?

And we lived to tell the tale…many of them…if you dare ask. Hint: A beer or three help to jog the memory.

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Mordred Wasn’t Who You Think He Was


Mordred didn’t have to be Arthur’s son to have a claim on the throne and cause all that trouble. Arthur was a Romanized Celt in a Britain that still observed the old matriarchal inheritance systems. Of course, as a Romanized Briton he just might want his throne to be handed down to a son. His sister, and much of her family,  on the other hand, would expect the throne to go to her son no matter who the father was. You see, inheritance often went through the mother. You know for certain who the Mom is, but you can never be 100% sure about the Father, so many traditional people of the time would expect the throne to go to the chieftain’s sister’s kid. In this scenario Arthur wouldn’t have to sleep with his sister for Mordred to have a legitimate claim on the throne…in Arthur’s time (the 4th/5th/6th century), but by the time the stories were being rewritten for Feudal audiences on both sides of the English Channel (10th-12th century) inheritance followed patriarchal lines, customarily through the father, so there was only one conceivable way for Mordred to have any sort of valid claim on the throne. So, since Arthur was assumed to be the father for Mordred to have a claim, and since he was such an idealized Hero-figure it could only be remotely acceptable if it was by accident as far as the medieval authors saw it, but in his own time the story may have been a bit different.

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Twig the Fairy


So, you think modern fairies aren’t Arthur-related? Well this is my blog and I’m going to stretch this to the modern Renn-Faire (Renaissance Festival) crowd when I feel like. Because I can. And it turns out it really isn’t much of a stretch. About every 100 years since the time of King Arthur there has been a revival of the Round-Table Chivalric…well, everything. Renn-Faires and their Folke recreate our romanticized ideas of what the Middle Ages and Renaissance were like. All of it: accurate or whimsical, romantic and grubby. It’s a good time, it’s hard work (sometimes even if you’re a visitor) it’s hot/cold/wet/sweaty/dirty/noisy and has a timeless magic to it that brings most of us back no matter what, at least in our memories and dreams.

The Arthurian romances were full of magical beings and events. Many of the later versions recounted tales originally told about other, usually earlier heroes but not familiar to the general audience. A traveling troubadour or minstrel might find a story from their childhood back home could be better received by a foreign audience if they took a little literary license and attributed them to the more widely known Arthur and his Knights. So many of those events and magical items and beings hearken back to what we now call fairy tales. That’s why I’m including a link to this beautiful, magical entity’s site. She brings delight to children and reminds adults that it’s good to keep certain parts of childhood alive and with us always.

So, check out her site and start your quest to make your own Twig sighting the next time she materializes at a Renn-Faire near you. By the way, her full name is Twig Oaklyn Flewinia Thistlebottom, but I’m sure she won’t mind if all you can pronounce is Twig. What really matters is kindness, so while you’re waiting for your next Twig sighting practice spreading kindness and wonder, just because. It’s a good way to keep the magic of times past alive and at the very least it will make Twig happy.

http://www.twigthefairy.com

OK, so I don’t know how to put links in my posts. Google Twig the Fairy and you’ll find her right off, just above the Wikipedia article about her.

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Book List


 

A Corner of My Library

A Corner of My Library

Well, I guess I really need to start that reading list I mentioned. The books are divided into sections to make your reading choices easier. I’ll be adding to this from time to time, so check back, but don’t be surprised if there’s no change for long periods. If you know of a great book that I missed, please let me know so I can read it as I think about listing it. Until then, I’ll start with what’s in my own library. And yes, I have read these.

 

ORIGINAL SOURCES

  • The Mabinogion  transl. by Gwyn Jones & Thomas Jones  pub. by Everyman’s Library
  • A Celtic Miscellany  transl. by Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson  pub. by Penguin Classics
  • The Anglo Saxon Chronicle  Transl by G.N. Garmonsway  Pub. by Everyman’s Library
  • The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation  by the Venerable Bede  pub. by Everyman’s Library
  • The History of the Kings of Britain  by Geoffrey of Monmouth  pub. by Penguin Classics
  • Arthurian Chronicles  by Wace & Layamon  pub by Everyman’s Library

HISTORIES

  • Arthur’s Brittain  by Leslie Alcock  pub. by Penguin Books
  • The High Kings  by Joy Chant  pub. by Bantam
  • The Discovery of Arthur  by Geoffrey Ashe  pub. by Anchor Press/Doubleday
  • The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Arthurian Legends  by Ronan Coghlan  pub. by Element
  • Arthurian Myth & Legend, an A-Z of People and Places  by Mike Dixon-Kennedy  pub. by Brockhampton Press

ROMANCES/PRE-1900 FICTION

  • Lays of Marie De France and Others  transl. by Eugene Mason  pub. by Everyman’s Library
  • Arthurian Romances  by Cretien de Troyes  pub. by Everyman’s Library
  • Le Morte de Arthur vol I & II  by Sir Thomas Malory  pub. by Everyman’s Library
  • Lady of the Lake  by Sir Walter Scott  pub. by Maynard, Merrill & Co.
  • Idyls of the King  by Alfred Lord Tennyson  pub. by Signet Classics, New American Library

MODERN FICTION

ARTICLES

CONTEMPORARY AND SIMILAR SOURCES NOT NECESSARILY OF ARTHUR

MOVIES

  • Camelot
  • Excalibur
  • First Knight

MUSIC

  • Camelot

OK, it’s late, I’m tired and want to read some more so good night.

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The Good Potter


 

The woods before the hill

The woods before the hill

Once upon a time, in Ireland, a potter with a crooked back was walking home from a long day at market. Because of the bump on his back he walked more slowly than most folk. Sales hadn’t gone well that day so he had more to carry home than he had hoped. Night fell well before he was home, but the moon was full so the road was well-lit. As Patrick walked he heard music off to the side of the road. He peered over the hill and saw a band of Wise Folk or Gentry (we would, of course, call them faeries) dancing in the moonlight. One, two, one, two… went their happy dance.

 

As he watched Patrick relaxed and dropped his bag. The Fine Lady leading the dance immediately sent her attendants to fetch him into their circle. “Who do we find spying on our dance tonight and what fine should we impose for the interruption of our festivities?” “I’m Patrick, M’lady, and beggin’ your pardon, Ma’m, but the music was so lovely and you all seemed so happy how could I not watch and wonder what it would be like to join such festivities?” “And why hide yourself and spy? Why not simply walk among us and introduce yourself?” Patrick shifted uncomfortably as he replied “You’re all so fine, and I’ve always been told such activities aren’t for the likes o’ me.” Just then Patrick’s pennywhistle fell from his belt, pinging from a stone and landing at the Lady’s feet. She plucked up the humble instrument, examining it briefly. “So, you’re a musician? Then there’s no reason for you not to join our nights merriment. Please, then give us a tune.” The world seemed to disappear except for the elegant, dainty hand returning his whistle to him.

Patrick forgot the stories he’d heard about how dangerous it was to interrupt the Gentry’s gatherings. A strange calm overcame him as he brought the pennywhistle to his lips and began to play a simple waltz tune. The fine people began to dance one, two, three, one, two, three… When the tune was done they all laughed and clapped and instantly requested another, so Patrick played another happy waltz tune…one, two three, one, two, three… and so it went until dawn hinted it’s arrival with the first blush of morning on the horizon. It was time for the good people to return under their hill, but before they did they repaid Patrick by removing the hump from his back and replacing his bag of goods with a sack of gold. In a blink they were gone and he found himself standing alone on the hill.

Patrick ran home for more wares to take to market. It was late so he had to run to market, too. This was the first time in his life he’d been able to run and he found it exhausting but surprisingly pleasurable, none the less. As he set out his pots and dishes the people in the market noticed the change, and realized the fine qualities they’d missed in him before. Although Patrick had more business than ever before, he still found time to fill everyone’s requests, and with money enough to be comfortable without working another day he still supplied the village with fine pottery. Now the girls of the village noticed his fine countenance and vied for his attentions, and while Patrick’s head wasn’t unduly turned by their attentions, William the Dandy of the village was jealous beyond words. If someone like that could benefit from a night with the Gentry, he thought, just imagine what I could get from them! So he then and there resolved to meet with the Gentry and collect his share of fortune that night.

While Patrick and the rest of the village slept peacefully in their comfy beds, William slipped out to seek the favour of the merry dancers. By this time the moon was full again, so he had no trouble finding the hill, and as he approached he heard them dancing one, two, three, one two, three… Without so much as a by-your-leave William strode over the hill, interrupting the dance and angering the fine Lady in the lead. She rose to her whole, terrible height and demanded “Who are you and why do you break our melody?” Not put off by the danger and ignoring his manners, he declared “I’m William of the Village, and I have a new dance for you.” “You do, so you say!? On with it, make us a happy dance for our party tonight!” was her command.

Without a thought William belted out the first song to come to mind, a simple march tune he’d learned in the pub from soldiers he knew. One, two, three, four, one two three four… The fine people fell into rank and file, marching step-in-step to the tune. “NO, NO, NO!” the Lady cried, “this is not fun! Stop! Leave us this instant!” Terribly insulted, William strode into the center of them all and started another bright tune, faster than the one before, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four… The dancers marched again, rank and file, in circles around him, barely keeping up with their feet. The Lady sprang out of the line of dancers marching, marching, landing in a swirl of silken robes and faced William with a countenance of anger that froze the tune in William’s throat mid-note. “Do not impose such lock-step exhaustion upon my people! If we wish to go to war we now know the tune to sing, and just you hope to never anger us again! For now be happy we’ll continue dance to our own pleasant tunes. Leave us and never interrupt our festivities again!” With that her attendants threw the hump onto William’s back and a chamber pot onto his head and in a blink they were gone beneath their hill, leaving William alone in his misfortune to hobble home to meet the laughter of the people in the village market.

William spent all of his remaining days complaining into his beer of his misfortune and never again turned a fair maid’s head or sang so much as a froggy croak. Patrick, now, he eventually chose a fine wife and had good and generous children who added to the quality of life in the village all the generations since Patrick’s night of music. From that time to this, when the moon lights the road, no one of the village dares disturb the Gentry’s merriment, although their music can be clearly heard from over the hill.

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Welcome to Our Avalon


Welcome to my little corner of Avalon! Those of you who know me probably know what to expect. Those who don’t are about to find out. The culture here rather laid back and helpful. There aren’t many of us, but maybe that will change soon. The rules are simple: Be nice, Have fun, Learn a lot, Don’t destroy the Universe. I’ll post a suggested reading list eventually. It will, of course, be heavy on Arthurian history, but one of the first entries will have to be Robert Fulghum’s All I Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten. Some of my kid’s favourite bedtime stories were in it. I originally planned to have sections for food and cooking, handwerks, gardening, critter stuff, maybe opinions and spiritual stuff (look out!) and anything that strikes my fancy. Turns out, that stuff took over so I’ve separated the blog into Brielle’s Avalon for all that and Our Avalon for the original idea. I’ll post less frequently and rather sporadically on this one, but I will be in and out. See you around!

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