Pseudohistorical Kings of Britain

Starting with Geoffrey of Monmouth, Britain has been given a long list of "kings" who have little or no basis in historical fact, though they sometimes represent mythical figures or historical petty kings, particularly when we reach the historical period, and figures like Maelgwn Gwynedd are named as kings of Britain, though in reality were only kings of small areas (such as northern Wales). Following on Geoffrey, others invented kings, as seen below, though these are with even less basis in reality.

Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae


Annius Viterbo's pseudo-Berosus Antiquitatum Variarum
Viterbo invented six kings of Gaul:

  • Samothes also called Dis: a son of the biblical Japheth. First king of "Celtica", some 200 years after the Flood. Viterbo claims that Britain was once called Samothes in his honor, but there is no other record of this. Identifying him as Dis shows familiarity with Caesar's claim that the Gauls claimed descent from Dis Pater, as well as an understanding of the common culture between Gaul and Britain.
  • Magus son of Samothes; his name derives from the Latin term for a magic-user.
  • Saron son of Magus
  • Druis son of Saron: credited with founding the Druids; obviously this is the origin of his name.
  • Bardus son of Druis: credited with founding the Bards; again, this is obvious from his name.
  • Albion son of Neptune: for whom the isle is named Albion. The name Albion goes back at least to Ptolemy. He was a giant who invaded Britain, killed Bardus, and ruled the island for forty-four years. At this time, Hercules invaded and overthrew Albion.

Holinshed's Chronicles
Ralph Holinshed's influential Chronicles borrows and expands on Viterbo's list, making them kings of Britain:

  • Samothes

  • Magus

  • Sarronius

  • Druiyus

  • Bardus

  • Longho

  • Bardus Junior

  • Lucus

  • Celtes: Celtes is sometimes mentioned in Roman histories as a supposed ancestor of the Celts.

  • Albion (invaded Samothea)

  • Hercules (defeated Albion)

  • Celtes: in Greek myth, he is the son of Herakles by Keltine, daughter of Bretannus

  • Galates: Galates is named as a son of Herakles in Diodorus' Bibliotheka.

  • Harbon

  • Lugdus: his name likely derrives not from the god Lugus, but from the Gaulish city of Lugdunum.

  • Beligius: probably named for the Belgae, who inhabited both sides of the Channel.

  • Iasius

  • Allobrox

  • Romus

  • Paris: likely named for the Gaulish tribe, who also had a large settlement in northern Britain, namely what became the medieval Cumbrian kingdom of Rheged

  • Lemanus

  • Olbius

  • Galates II

  • Nannes: from Nantes?

  • Remis: presumably for Rheims

  • Francus: Named for France--a painful anachronism, as the Franks don't enter history until the sixth century.

  • Pictus: named for the Picts

  • Brutus: invaded and set up a new succession of kings, as recounted by Geoffrey.

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    Mary Jones 2008