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
- Brutus: Eponym of Britain; origin in Nennius' 9th century Historia Brittonum.
- Locrinus: Eponym of Llogyr (England)
- Queen Gwendolen: probably invented from the male name Gwendoleu, the sixth-seventh century king mentioned in the poems about the Battle of Arthuret.
- Ebraucus: Eponym of York (Eboracum)
- Brutus Greenshield:
- Leil: Eponym of Carlisle (Caer Leil)
- Rud Hud Hudibras: appears in some early genealogies
- Bladud: possibly eponym of Bath
- Leir: Celtic mythic personage Llyr/Ler, aka King Lear; it's likely though that Leil and Leir are the same.
- Queen Cordelia: Creiddylad?
- Marganus I: misplaced king of Glywysing
- Cunedagius: Cunedda--4th/5th century founder of Gwynedd
- Rivallo: Rhiawallawn--a king of Dumnonia
- Sisillius I:
- Porrex I:
- (five unnamed kings)
- Dunvallo Molmutius: Legendary lawgiver Dyfnwal Moelmud; Iolo Morganwg is the likely source for a set of law triads attributed to Dunvallo.
- Belinus: Welsh mythical figure Beli Mawr; Gaulish god Belinus
- Brennius: Welsh mythical figure Bran/Bendigedfran; Gaulish hero Brennus
- Gurguit Barbtruc:
- Queen Marcia:
- Sisillius II:
- Peredurus: Peredur, 6th century hero
- Elidurus: (again)
- Archgallo: (again)
- Elidurus: (again)
- Son of Gorbonianus:
- Marganus II:
- Enniaunus: Einiawn, name from the genealogies
- Runo: the name Rhun is a common one in the genealogies
- Porrex II:
- Urianus: Urien of Rheged
- Clotenus: perhapse an eponym of the river Clyde?
- Bledudo: repeate of Bladud?
- Sisillius III:
- Heli: Beli Mawr repeated, as evidenced that in Welsh literature the father of Lludd and Caswallawn is Beli Mawr.
- Lud: Celtic god Lludd/Nudd/Nodens/Nuada
- Cassivellaunus: Historical chieftain of the Catuvellauni who fought Julius Caesar.
- Tenvantius: Tasciovanus, historical chieftain of the Catuvellauni, father of Cunobelinos
- Cymbeline: Cunobelinos, historical chieftain of the Catuvellauni
- Guiderius: Modern Welsh: Gwydr; may be a reflex of Gwydion fab Don, who appears in the genealogies around the time of Cymbeline. The historical successor of Cunobelinos was Togodumnus.
- Arviragus: the historical Mandubracius, prince of the Trinobantes, usurped by Cassivellaunus
- Coilus: Coel?
- Lucius: (d. 156 AD)
- Carausius: Marcus Aurelius Mausaeus Carausius, Roman usurper
- Allectus: Caius Allectus
- Coel: possibly an early chieftain; later known as Old King Cole
- Constantius: Flavius Valerius Constantius Chlorus
- Constantine I: Constantine the Great, the Roman emperor
- Octavius: Eudaf Hen in The Dream of Maxen
- Maximianus: Magnus Clemens Maximus; based on Maximus, origin of Maxen from the Mabinogion
- Constantine II:
- Vortigern: semi-historical ruler in Sub-Roman Britain; blamed for inviting the Saxons as mercenaries.
- Vortimer: Vortigern's son.
- Aurelius Ambrosius: also called Ambrosius Aurelinus; mentioned by Gildas, likely historical
- Uther Pendragon: father of King Arthur; he appears in some early Welsh poetry, but ultimately is a mystery.
- Arthur: (d. 542?) King Arthur, of course.
- Constantine III: Constantine, king of Dumnonia (modern Cornwall, Devon, and part of Somerset); addressed by Gildas
- Aurelius Conanus: Aurelius Conanus, king of Powys; addressed by Gildas
- Vortiporus: Vortiporus, king of Dyfed; addressed by Gildas
- Malgo: Maelgwn, king of Gwynedd; addressed by Gildas
- (three unnamed tyrants)
- Cadwallader: (d. 689)
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Ralph Holinshed's influential Chronicles borrows and expands on Viterbo's list, making them kings of Britain:
Back to "P" | Back to JCE
Mary Jones © 2008