Geoffrey of Monmouth

1100?-1154, English chronicler.

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died 1155

Medieval British chronicler.

He was probably an Oxford cleric for most of his life. His mostly fictional History of the Kings of Britain (с 1135–39) traced the descent of British princes from the Trojans; it brought the figure of Arthur (see Arthurian legend) into European literature and introduced the enchanter Merlin, whose story Geoffrey related in the Vita Merlini (с 1148–51?). Though denounced from the first by other historians, the History was one of the most popular books of the Middle Ages and had an enormous influence on later chroniclers.

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▪ English bishop and chronicler

died 1155

      medieval English chronicler and bishop of St. Asaph (1152), whose major work, the Historia regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain), brought the figure of Arthur into European literature.

      In three passages of the Historia Geoffrey describes himself as “Galfridus Monemutensis,” an indication that he probably came from Monmouth. Possibly of Breton descent, he appeared as witness to a number of documents in Oxford during the period 1129–51. Geoffrey alleges that the Historia was translated from a “very old book in the British tongue” brought by Walter, archdeacon of Oxford, from Brittany. This seems a pure fabrication, but it is clear that Geoffrey was for most of his life an Oxford cleric, closely connected with Walter and sharing with him a taste for letters. He may have been an Augustinian canon in the secular college of St. George, Oxford, of which Walter was provost.

      The Historia regum Britanniae, published sometime between 1135 and 1139, was one of the most popular books of the Middle Ages, although its historical value is almost nil. The story begins with the settlement of Britain by Brutus the Trojan, great-grandson of Aeneas, and by the Trojan Corineus, the eponymous founder of Cornwall, who exterminate giants inhabiting Britain. Then follow the reigns of the early kings down to the Roman conquest; here are found such well-known episodes as those of Locrine and Sabrina, the founding of Bath by Bladud and of Leicester by Leir (Lear), and the division of Leir's kingdom between the two ungrateful daughters. The story of the Saxon infiltration during the reign of the wicked usurper Vortigern, of the successful resistance of the Saxons by Vortimer, and of the restoration of the rightful line, followed by the great reigns of Aurelius and his brother Uther Pendragon, leads up to the account of Arthur's conquests, the culminating point of the work. Chapters 106–111 introduce the enchanter Merlin, who predicts, in an obscure and apocalyptic manner, the future political history of Britain. These chapters were first published separately, before 1136, and dedicated to Alexander, bishop of Lincoln. They gave rise to the genre of political prophecies attributed to Merlin. Probably between 1148 and 1151, Geoffrey produced a poem in ornate Latin hexameters, the Vita Merlini, which portrays a Merlin whose adventures are based on genuine Celtic material about a madman with a gift for divination.

      Denounced from the first by sober historians, Geoffrey's fictional history nevertheless had an enormous influence on later chroniclers. Romanticized versions in the vernacular, the so-called Bruts, were in circulation from about 1150. Writers of the later Middle Ages gave the material a wide currency; and indeed Geoffrey's influence was at its greatest after the accession of the Tudors. The text, with an English translation, was published in 1929 by Acton Griscom and Robert Ellis Jones. J.J. Parry produced an edition of the Vita Merlini in 1925.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Geoffrey of Monmouth — Geoffrey von Monmouth (wal.: Gruffudd ap Arthur, auch Sieffre o Fynwy; lat. Galfridus Monemutensis) (* um 1100 in Monmouth; † um 1154 in Cardiff) war ein britischer Geistlicher und Gelehrter, der zu einem der ersten Historiker Britanniens wurde.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Geoffrey von Monmouth — (wal.: Gruffudd ap Arthur, auch Sieffre o Fynwy; lat. Galfridus Monemutensis) (* um 1100 in Monmouth; † um 1154 in Cardiff) war ein britischer Geistlicher und Gelehrter, der zu einem der ersten Historiker Britanniens wurde. Geoffrey verfasste die …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Geoffrey of Monmouth — ( cy. Gruffudd ap Arthur or Sieffre o Fynwy) (c. 1100 ndash; c. 1155) was a clergyman and one of the major figures in the development of British history and the popularity of tales of King Arthur.BiographyGeoffrey s birthplace is unknown, but he… …   Wikipedia

  • Geoffrey of Monmouth — • Abbot of St. Alban s, d. at St. Alban s, 26 Feb., 1146 Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Geoffrey of Monmouth     Geoffrey of Monmouth      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Geoffrey of Monmouth — 1100? 54; Brit. bishop & chronicler: preserver of the Arthurian legend …   English World dictionary

  • Geoffrey of Monmouth — (ca. 1100–1155)    Geoffrey of Monmouth was the author of the 12th century HISTORIA REGUM BRITANNIAE (History of the Kings of Britain), a pseudo history in Latin prose that popularized the legendary monarchs of pre Saxon Britain. Geoffrey’s… …   Encyclopedia of medieval literature

  • Geoffrey of Monmouth — noun Welsh chronicler who wrote an account of the kings of Britain which is now believed to contain little historical fact but it is a source of the Arthurian legend (circa 1100 1154) • Instance Hypernyms: ↑chronicler * * * Geoffrey of Monmouth… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Geoffrey de Monmouth — Geoffroy de Monmouth Pour les articles homonymes, voir Monmouth. Geoffroy de Monmouth (Monmouth, vers 1100 St Asaph, 1155), est un évêque et historien anglo normand, écrivant en langue latine et familier du monastère de Glastonbury. Le lieu de sa …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Geoffrey of Monmouth — (?1100 55)    A Benedictine monk attached to the household of Robert, Earl of Gloucester; in 1152 he became Bishop of St Asaph. His Historia Regum Britan niae, written c.1136, claims to be a history of all the kings of Britain from Brutus, the… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

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