The Vulgate HRB version which has the name ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’ attached as opposed to Galfridus Artur is a stroke of genius. The ‘wily’ Henry Blois sees a certain ‘Ralf of Monmouth’ on some existing charters while Henry Blois was in the scriptorium at Oxford after the battle of Wallingford. Since Henry Blois has based his Arthurian epic in Wales, Henry Blois decides to witness with ‘Ralf of Monmouth’ (and Archdeacon Walter), his own signature on the charters as if they were acquaintances both hailing from Monmouth.
To make the mistake of signing Gaufridus electus sancti Asaphi to a document without paying attention to chronology regarding Walter’s successor Robert Foliot, Archdeacon of Oxford; shows in essence, that the charters were stored in one place and chosen randomly by Henry Blois before adding the Galfridian signature to provide his various differing signatures; in effect showing ‘Geoffrey’ had progressed to the station of Bishop over time, while appearing to carry out normal clerical functions through the period he is supposed to have been installed there.
It does not seem silly to suggest that it is from seeing the name Raldolfo de Monmuta on an extant charter that Henry derives his inspiration for his invented persona’s heritage from Monmouth. Galfridus Artur was the composer of the early Primary Historia found at Bec Abbey in 1139 as witnessed by Huntingdon’s EAW, not Galfridus Monemutensis. To veil his authorship, Henry Blois makes the pretence of being a Briton to hide his authorship of both the seditious Merlin Prophecies and the historical misrepresentations portrayed in HRB.
No-one was ever going to uncover the author of HRB. Certain critics of HRB and the prophecies looked for an author and thus the elaborate trail of corroborative evidence which was planted by Henry Blois to suggest the author was ‘Geoffrey’. My suggestion of the sequence of events is that Henry Blois signed the Oxford charters in 1153 after Wallingford and only attached his Geoffrey of Monmouth appellation to the Vulgate and not the First Variant or early variants. Henry may have established the bishop of Asaph before inventing the nom de plume Geoffrey of Monmouth if (as I have suggested) all the charters were signed at one time while Henry sat in a room at Oxford in 1153 or even later when he returned from Clugny in 1158.
It might seem rational to suppose that the Oxford charters coincide chronologically with Huntingdon’s reference to Galfridi Arthuri, and to suppose a real person exists. This is definitively not the case; no Galfridi Artur ever existed! What are the chances that a Welshman from the Welsh Marches has the name of the King on which the hope of the Briton’s rested and coincidentally is the one who writes a fabulous history about him having originally said he had thought about doing such a project previously; and then later on, having to convince us that it was merely a translation of the exact subject he had pondered writing upon? Commentators have thought ‘Artur’ is a patronymic or even a ‘nickname’ based on Galfridus’ renown.320 It is a certain fact that ‘Geoffrey’ was not renowned when Huntingdon discovered his text. Henry Blois chose the Galfridus Artur nom de plume long before he scribbled his signature on a few already completed charters at Oxford in 1153-4.
320Even William of Newburgh writes: This man is called Geoffrey, and his other name is Arthur, because he has taken up the fables about Arthur from the old, British figments, has added to them himself. However, ‘Geoffrey’ had no renown in 1138 when the Primary Historia was finished and deposited at Bec abbey. In 1139 Huntingdon saw the book and subsequently in EAW, Huntingdon named the author of Primary Historia as Galfridus Artur not as hailing from Monmouth. Chronologically the next reference is from Alfred of Beverley and he refers to the author of his copy c.1147 as Britannicus refusing to admit the ridiculous coincidence that the author has the same name as the protagonist of HRB.
It would also be a near impossible chance (which confirms for us the improbable coincidence); if our Galfridus Arthur was capable enough to construct a book and was the one person with a name of the chivalric hero…. who just happened to be the star of the book he had been given by Walter and miraculously from which he was able to translate.
In other words, it would be one almighty coincidence if the figure of Arthur (for whom the Britons held hope of his return) just happened to be the HRB author’s name (remembering he could not have been renowned before 1139). In effect the early script of the Psuedo Historia destined originally for Matilda and Henry Ist gave a reason for writing the HRB. Around 1155, as the seditious prophecies were released, Henry distanced himself further from the manufacture of the book stating that it was merely a translation of a book ex-Brittanica in near contradiction to his original stated purpose for composing the book.
So, if Artur is a concocted name of the author initially of a fabricated story…. why are modern scholars slow not to see it as a pseudonym of a concocted persona designed to hide the real identity of the author. So, if the real author didn’t exist …. how could the bishop of Asaph be real? This idiocy is excused by scholars by informing us it is ‘Geoffrey’s’ prolific fame from which a nick name has been derived. There was no fame in 1139! Why would Huntingdon be ‘amazed’ at finding the book supposedly containing the Merlin prophecies if Huntingdon’s own patron had not mentioned the fame of Galfridus Artur?
What transpired in reality is that Henry Blois, sat in a scriptorium or some such room at Oxford where records and scrolls were stored and picked random charters from a shelf which would put Galfridus in Oxford in a set time frame, as a real person, and then returned the charters to the shelves with varied additional signatures, indicating Galfridus Artur had become the ‘bishop elect’ of St Asaph and then bishop.
There are seven charters signed which pertained to the neighbourhood of Oxford with the Galfridus signature affixed. These are thought by most scholars to have been signed for the purpose of witnessing the pertinent transactions recorded therein; all in a period covering 22 years from 1129 – 1151.
R.S Loomis like all the other previous ‘Arthurian scholars’ pronounces on these grounds:’ During these years 1129-51 he wrote the works by which he is known’. This is inaccurate logically given the late updated Merlin prophecies, unless one believes Merlin’s prophetic ability.
Crick our expert on the ‘Historia’ says that: Henry of Huntingdon’s famous first encounter with it at Le Bec in Normandy took place in January 1139 fewer than four years after the death of Henry I, an event which Geoffrey’s work must itself postdate. Crick’s, position is that it was a Vulgate text which Huntingdon saw at Bec. So, obviously the Lieden manuscript has the updated prophecies attached. To hold this position would necessarily accept that Orderic’s Merlin prophecies could not pre-exist Henry I death as avowed in the interpolation in Orderic’s history, because then Crick would have to believe that ‘Geoffrey’ did not compose the prophecies; and so the ridiculous cycle of erroneous logic goes until scholarship’s teetering edifice crumbles. It is not a credible position that the ‘sixth invading Ireland’ prophecy in Ordderic’s work could have been a genuine prophecy written before Henry Ist death as Crick’s only escape from her position is to aver that there was a Libellus Merlini pre-existing Henry Ist death. But how then is this particular prophecy found in Orderic’s work who died in 1142 unless it is an interpolation.
In the first charter, the foundation charter of Osney abbey, Henry Blois inserts a signature as Galfrido Artur. There are a handful of witnesses both clerks and knights who witness the charter also, but the charter today is a copy and the other charters are found in other cartularies…. so, we cannot see where the name was originally inserted, but Waltero archidiacono is also a signatory. Is it not a strange fact that we know the First Variant stemma is a version of HRB concocted for a specific audience and purpose in 1144 and 1149321 where there is no mention of ‘Walter’ or ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’?
We can conclude the inspiration for the ‘Monmouth’ appellation was derived from Henry having seen Ralph’s provenance by his signatures on the charters at Oxford before Henry added his. The inclusion of Walter’s name as the provider of the source book as put forward by ‘Geoffrey’ in the Vulgate HRB was also inspired in the Vulgate (which followed First Variant) and followed the signing by Henry Blois of the extant charters at Oxford. These charters already had their signatures thereon and Henry was just adding the Galfridus signature. Therefore, we may assume that any volume of HRB that includes the name Geoffrey of Monmouth within it (allowing for overwrites) was composed or circulated after Henry Blois’ signing of the charters at Oxford.
The supposed fact that Walter was an antiquary may only be attested by Henry Blois (in Gaimar’s epilogue or HRB), so we cannot definitively say that the reference to him as the supplier of the supposed ex-Brittanica source book, is based on his interest in things antiquarian or whether this was a genuine fact also. What is certain though, there was no book with the same composition as HRB authored by another and therefore Walter did not hand it to the fictional ‘Geoffrey’. If this logic is followed, Gaimar’s epilogue then also becomes part of the ruse which we shall cover in progression.
It may just be because Walter’s name was also on the charters that Henry had chosen to lead a false trail by using his name. The fact that Osney was founded in 1129 has little bearing upon when the Gaufridus’ signature was applied. This is simply a case of retro-interpolation of a signature into an extant charter long after Huntingdon had witnessed the name (Galfridus Arthur) as attached to the Primary Historia in 1139.
A second charter at St John’s Oxford, in which Robert D’ Oilly confirms to the secular cannons of St George’s in the Castle at Oxford, gifts of land at Wilton, has the slightly different assignation of Galfrido Arthur spelt with an ‘h’, but the name Waltero archidiacono is the same as it is a genuine signature. This is probably from the same period because it has Robert D’Oilly’s earlier seal on it.
There is also a deed recorded in the Godstow Cartulary signed by ‘Geoffrey’ in which Walter the Archdeacon grants to Godstow an exemption from some arch-diaconal payments. The witnesses are Robert Bishop of Exeter and others.
Again, Henry Blois’ edifice of misinformation begins to break down; why, if Bishop Robert of Exeter has met the great ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’, does he then commission John of Cornwall to translate the prophecies of Merlin from British into Latin sometime around 1149-50, (twenty years after the Godstow deed)…. if indeed ‘Geoffrey’, (a person supposedly standing in the same room), has already carried out such a feat…. and people like Orderic already have them in Latin supposedly in 1134. This just defies logic!!
Walter the Archdeacon (standing in the same room), carries out a similar feat322 translating ‘Geoffrey’s’ source book, the same book on which ‘Geoffrey’s’ fame and renown rested. This mis-directional propaganda witnessed in the Gaimar Epilogue and the Book of Hergest makes no sense. It is no wonder that those scholars who believe ‘Geoffrey’ was a real person were unable to rationalise this salad of misinformation.
321This will be covered in a later section on the First Variant version.
322The Book of Hergest has a colophon where Henry’s vague description of ex Britannicus is now understood as Walter’s book having originated from Brittany: The Kings that were from that time forward in Wales, I shall commit to Caradog of Llancarvan, my fellow student, to write about; and the Kings of the English to William Malmesbury and Henry Huntington. I shall desire them to be silent about the Kings of the Britons, since they do not possess this Breton Book, which Walter, archdeacon of Oxford, translated from Breton into Welsh, which is truly a collection of their histories, in honour of the said princes.
Less than a third of John of Cornwall’s verse prophecies match with the HRB prophecies of Merlin. We will get to this variance shortly as the John of Cornwall version of the prophecies also was constructed by Henry Blois around 1156-7. Again, the fact that the Bishop of Exeter is dead has no bearing on the JC commission or its prologue. The same device of backdating a work (by citing a dedicatee or patron) is employed as that which is evident in the HRB. It is the fact that if Bishop Robert of Exeter has met the great ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’ and witnessing this charter why would he employ John of Cornwall to carry out a task that the guy standing next to him has already done being pressed by Bishop Alexander. What a farce!!!
It is in the second charter at St John’s Oxford in which bishop Robert of Exeter signs his name, that we come across for the first time a certain Rad. Monumuta signature. It would seem reasonable to assume that it is the close association with this name, along with Galfridus’, which has convinced commentators (amongst evidences provided by the Book of Llandaff) that ‘Geoffrey’ was genuinely from Monmouth i.e. he had a friend called Ralph, also from the environs.
The area of Southern Wales after Henry Ist time and especially during Stephen’s early reign, was in constant turmoil from incursions by the Welsh against Norman fortifications. Henry Blois undoubtedly knew this area and had witnessed the Roman remains at Caerleon and had located Nennius’ synonymous ‘City of Legions’ there. At the start of GS, much of the action takes place in Southern Wales. The Empress Matilda’s brother was Duke of Gloucester who was Henry and Stephen’s arch enemy, along with Miles of Gloucester, 1st Earl of Hereford and his son Roger. Gloucester and Hereford were both places within a twenty-mile radius of Monmouth and Woodchester and Caerleon.
Henry Blois did know this area as becomes plain when we look at his impersonation of Wace and Wace’s description of the area around Kidwelly, especially as we have identified Henry’s castle at Kidwelly being synonymous with Lidelea.
Henry Blois based his Arthuriad escapades of the Chivalric Arthur in this area of Wales and thus, when Henry Blois saw Ralph of Monmouth’s name (in the charter) he decided on his publication of the Vulgate HRB edition to name himself as Geoffrey of Monmouth (Galfridus Monemutensis) in the preamble making the author of HRB totally elusive i.e. a Briton educated in lofty Latin phraseology lifted from the Latin classics while au courant with Greek classics also. Originally Henry never thought anybody would ever search out the author. His reasoning being that any educated Latin speaker who supposedly held sympathies for the ‘Britons’ would be in the clergy.
In the evolution of the text since the Psuedo Historia (composed for a Norman King) to the addition of Arthur in the Primary Historia (composed for a Norman reading audience) Henry Blois had created differences and contradictions by then pretending to be British. A Briton would certainly not eulogise the chivalric code of the Norman aristocracy as demonstrated at King Arthur’s court. Merlin the Briton would never advocate the acceptance Norman rule as seen in the early prophecies and later when Henry II came to the throne, advocate a completely different position regarding the Britons being extricated from Norman rule; plus the crown of Brutus going to an ‘adopted son’ after the rebellion. Just too many contrary positions were held as Henry Blois’ agenda changed.
Henry Blois had referred to himself originally as Galfridus Arturus, the writer of the first edition Historia Brittonum or as I have named it: Primary Historia to differentiate it from what scholars seem to think is a Vulgate first edition at Bec. Alfred of Beverley only refers to Galfridus as Britannicus, yet rather than this meaning the ‘Welshman’ it probably means not of Saxon (English) or Norman stock but Celtic/Briton; completely according in character to the author of GS, ‘Geoffrey’ uses ‘high brow’ and ‘lofty’ Latin that is a complete hit with the aristocracy and Norman readership.
Geoffrey’ just apes Gildas’ and Bede’s sympathies to create his ideological supportive British persona of Merlin. One would certainly get that impression from the contents of the prophetia and HRB just as most scholars have been duped. But, it is only in the Vulgate version of HRB that the Monmouth appellation is added where ‘Geoffrey’ hails from Monmouth and the Vulgate is titled Historia Regum Britanniae.
Alfred’s copy dates from 1147 and Alfred says that his interest in history in general was first sparked off by reading Galfridus’ ‘Historia Britonum’. So, before the Vulgate arrived the HRB was written by Galfridus Arturus and known as the ‘Historia Britonum (as Huntingdon also refers to it in EAW) and only later do we witness that it was composed by Galfridus Monemutensis in the Vulgate edition called Historia Regum Britanniae, (taking into account overwritten exemplars).
Rad. de Monumuta signs his name…. and just afterwards we see Henry Blois has promoted his bogus persona to be a magister or supposed ‘teacher’ in the environs of Oxford. He signs as magister323 Galf. Arturus. Five different ways of signing one’s name is probably Henry Blois’ way of giving the illusory appearance of a gap of time between each signature. Who has this many permutations to one name: Galfrido Artur, Galfrido Arthur, Galfrido Artour, Galfrido Arturo; and must have signed the Primary Historia as Galfridus Arturus. Crick should understand that if any HRB rubric has Monemutensis, it post dates the battle of Wallingford.
What is ‘Geoffrey’s’ function at Oxford, and why, (when he supposedly becomes bishop elect or bishop itself), does he require a name change. If one were to be cynical, it seems a pointless exercise being Bishop of Asaph and staying in Oxford and especially going all the way from Oxford to Winchester to sign the treaty of Winchester (so far from Asaph). I just wonder when the penny will drop for the next generation of Galfridian scholars if the present generation keep denying what is apparent. Of course there is no source material or evidence to suggest Henry Blois is ‘Geoffrey’; that’s what a false trail is for!!!!
323Henry introduces the Magister when signing the charters at Oxford but never uses Magister or Asaph title in any HRB biographical detail.
The dating of the first deed signed by Ralf at St John’s Oxford is not important, but seems to be dated to 1139, because in the charter which precedes it in the Cartulary, Bishop Alexander states that the grant which Archdeacon Walter made at the abbey of Godstow was made in the presence of King Stephen. It makes no difference in sorting out the time line of ‘Geoffrey’s’ life because the apparent progression in status afforded by the signature has nothing to do with his fictional life!!
Now around the same date, again in the same cartulary is a grant of land in Shillingford signed by Archdeacon Walter with Radulfo de Monumuta and above his name again is inserted Galfrido Arturo.
In the four charters to date, one man has spelt his name four different ways. This is a ploy of variation in spelling used in the HRB and the Vita. It pretends a time span between signing, or in the case of HRB and VM, supposedly we are led to conclude, time has corrupted the spelling.
In 1139, when Stephen and his court are arresting bishops in Oxford in the presence of Henry Blois, at that time, there is a statement in the same cartulary by Archdeacon Walter that when the church of St. Giles, Oxford was founded, he agreed that his Villains (rustici) in Walton should pay their tithes to the new church. When, in 1139, it became the property of Godstow, Walter, in the statement renewed his permission; again, witnessed by Radulfo de Monmuta. Why is ‘Geoffrey’s’ surname, (if it was his patronymic), spelt five different ways. If it is a nickname and transposed onto his persona by public renown, why… if he is scribbling his own signature and it is a real nickname, does he find it necessary to have different forms of it. A man’s name is about the only constant he has yet not so with Geoffrey!!
Also, in the Godstow cartulary there is a grant of land in Knolle by a certain ‘Richard Labanc’, but Henry Blois, keeping track of his fraudulent illusion’s chronological sequence and continuing the pretence that ‘Geoffrey’s’ aspiring ambition is coming to fruition; signs his name as Gaufridus episcopus sancti Asaphi; again, along with a signature of Walter Oxenefordie archdiaconus.
Walter died in 1151 and in the Bittlesden Cartulary there is a charter dated ‘the feast of Remigus (12 May) 1151 and it is attested by Robert Foliot, Archdeacon of Oxford. Robert Foliot had already succeeded Walter by this date; so ‘Geoffrey’s’ supposed friend Walter is definitely dead. So how is it, Henry Blois, (as he signs as ‘Geoffrey’) was now bishop of Asaph? This is not possible…. if we believed any of these signatures reflect a living bishop of Asaph.
The answer might be that Henry Blois, after Walter’s death, forgets the exact date that Walter died when he signs in 1154 as if Galfrido Arthur had attained his ambition. The problem is that the fictitious ‘Geoffrey’ did not get elected until the 24th February 1152…. so how could he be signing alongside a dead person if the signature was from a real extant ‘Geoffrey’!
Modern scholars’ rationalisation is that they now believe the charter is a fake. Rather, instead of saying the charter is a fake they should be understanding that the signature of Galfridus is a fake and so is the person it pretends to represent. The impossible clash of conflicting possibilities is down to the fact that Henry has added the bishop’s name inadvertently, forgetting the chronological sequence of when Walter died and when Henry himself had bogusly improvised the ‘elected’ Geoffrey as Bishop of Asaph.
Henry Blois was fraudulently applying the signatures after the fact because how could a supposed already ordained ‘bishop of Asaph’ apply his signature alongside a Walter that died in 1151 when he only became bishop in 1152. It is ‘Geoffrey’ that is the fake, not the charter. The charter has genuine signatures having been applied by those still living. The charter concerning land in Knolle is too inconsequential to be a fake as the scholars have proposed.
The answer is not that the original charter is a fraud or any of the other six charters; but the signature of ‘Geoffrey’ has been added after the fact. Henry Blois has not considered accurately the date of Walter’s death to coincide with Theobald’s fictitious ordination. It is Henry Blois’ promotion of ‘Geoffrey’ to ‘Bishop’ which is the chronological error, not the charter itself. The mistake just helps to support the point that Henry is inserting Galfridian signatures into extant charters but will Crick open her eyes to this fact???? If Crick is not for bending so appropriately is she named.
Normally with this kind of discrepancy one assumes a fraudulent charter as most scholars have divined, but a Mr. W. Farrer is at pains to clear up the conundrum by showing us with scholarly aplomb that ‘Episcopus’ could be used for one who was only ‘bishop-elect’. This is not a good solution/rationalisation in this case; as there is a charter of Bishop Robert de Chesney in the Thame cartulary upon which Henry Blois bogusly signs as mag. Gaufridus electus sancti Asaphi, alongside a Rob. Oxonefordie archidiaconus. The point being that, (as in this charter), if Henry were going to sign as ‘bishop elect’ to imply Geoffrey’s status, he would have written it as he meant it; just as he had done before. The other point already mentioned is that the charter deed is of such little consequence…. it is hardly a prudent fraud for monetary gain and therefore can not be deemed a forgery itself.
The last, but most important Galfridian signature on a charter puts Henry Blois at the scene of the fraud. It would be a strange quirk of fate, given the evidence so far, if the witness, Galfrido and the bishop of Winchester, signing the same document, were not one and the same because this is not an Oxford based charter and since there is overwhelming other evidence that Henry Blois is ‘Geoffrey’ and we know there is no bishop of Asaph at this period…. one might just hazard the possibility Henry Blois added the signature to the Treaty of Winchester. where ‘Geoffrey’s’ name appears in the form Galfrido de S. Asaph episcopo on the treaty of Winchester.324
As we know, a temporary truce was reached at Wallingford in July on the banks of the Thames as described in the GS and highlighted as a predicted episode in the Merlin prophecies.325 Eustace, Stephen’s son, was annoyed that a deal had been struck, as the Treaty of Winchester essentially removed the crown from his reach. A formal agreement between Stephen and Henry Fitz Empress as the future Henry II was drawn up at Winchester. The probability is that, Henry Blois, as one of the negotiators with Theobald, as both Huntingdon and the GS relate, composed the terms of the document. In the later Treaty of Westminster an undue proportion of it was concerning William, King Stephen’s other son’s inheritance, as Eustace had already (suspiciously) died.
Henry, as we saw earlier had an uncle’s affection for Eustace; evidenced by paying for the pomp of his knighthood. Eustace had a sudden and suspicious death on the 17 August 1153, a month after the truce at Wallingford. The Treaty of Wallingford was initially the agreement. Later at Winchester, Henry would have drawn up a treaty with Eustace’s interests at heart. After his death the treaty of Westminster was signed in November 1153. Henry Blois, in whose possession the treaty was probably left for good keeping…. signed on ‘Bishop Geoffrey’s’ behalf for the last time. There was no Geoffrey!!!
There is no other bishop of that era where no deed or record exists on any document or in any Cartulary. Our bishop of Asaph is a ghost and more specifically there is no mention of him in Asaph. This has always been put down to the impossibility of ‘Geoffrey’ being able to carry out his duties at Asaph due to the Welsh rebellion. Because of the war, Henry chose the location of St Asaph as part of his illusion which could not be verified. As we have already discussed, there was no bishopric at St Asaph at that time.
324See Foedera, conventtiones, Literae, etc. by T. Rymer and R. Sanderson, London, 1704-35, Vol 1,14. Faral, La Légende.ii, 38; J. Parry and R.A. Caldwell, ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’, Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages, ed. R.S. Loomis (Oxford, 1959), 74.
325Two Kings shall encounter in nigh combat over the Lioness at the ford of the staff. The two kings are Stephen and Henry II. The lioness’ rights are what the whole Anarchy has been fought over. Henry Plantagenet (Henry II) and King Stephen agree terms for ending the civil war. Under the terms of the Treaty of Westminster, Stephen is to remain King for the remainder of his life, but thereafter the throne passes to Duke Henry (Henry Plantagenet). The prophecy has a few variations where the bishops (metaphorically the bishop’s staff) were Henry Blois and Theobald of Bec The prophecy must naturally post-date 1153. Two Kings shall encounter in nigh combat over the Lioness at the ford of the staff. The ‘ford’ mentioned is as the GS relates: ‘with only a river between them’. Obviously, the two opposing armies fighting over the Empress also refereed to as the Lioness in VM. Another variation: Two Kings will fight and struggle dealing each other blows like champions at the Ford of the Staff for the sake of the Lioness.
‘Geoffrey’ was fictitiously consecrated at Westminster because the bishop of London had just died and Henry Blois was temporary custodian of the see. If the Bishop of Asaph was a man of such repute, supposedly having come to the attention of the most powerful people in the country, it is a bit strange that no-one knows where he is buried. The only person who had the opportunity to carry out this fraud is Henry Blois. We should not forget concerning ‘Geoffrey’s’ authorship of HRB, Arthur’s continental battle scene involving Autun and Langres…. and the fact it is in Blois territory…. and next to Clugny along with the town of Avallon.
Henry Blois had already lied on such a large-scale re-writing British history in HRB, so what difference would it make to sign a fake name as a witness to some documents and create a persona to hide his authorship; especially if he was ever uncovered as the author of the seditious prophecies. Much of the success of the HRB and its proliferation into posterity would depend upon the ability to propagate copies and we know Henry had charge over several scriptoriums. There seems little doubt to the authorship of the VM being by the same person that wrote the prophecies in Vulgate HRB. The content of the prophecies is so highly relevant to Henry himself. The GS, by its descriptions puts Henry on location where the relevant prophecies are detailed.
Our only evidence that the Bishop of Asaph existed in any sort of reality comes from Gervaise of Canterbury. In his Opera Historica, Gervasii Cantuariensis relates: Obit Robertus Episcopus Londonensis. Septimo kalendas Martii sacravit, Theodbaldus Cantuariensis archiepiscopus apud Lambethe Galfridium electum Sancti Asaph, astantibus et cooperantibus Willelmo Norwicensi, et Walterio Rofensi.326
‘Robert bishop of London died. On the seventh kalends of March (i.e. 23 March) Theobald archbishop of Canterbury consecrated at Lambeth ‘Geoffrey’ as bishop-elect of St Asaph, with the help and attendance of William of Norwich and Walter of Rouen.’
‘Geoffrey’s’ supposed consecration (as above) was attended and helped by a certain Willelmo Norwicensi, William from Norwich and a Walterio Rofensi, Walter from (Rouen) Rochester? Whoever they were is inconsequential…. as no-one records their names again and…. by late 1154 or 1155 they were probably dead if they ever did exist in reality.
In 1153 the enmity between Theobald of Bec and Henry Blois had dissipated. They had been the negotiators of the peace settlement at Wallingford. It is not unreasonable to suggest that Henry after having concocted a profession and consecration document for the bishop of Asaph while at Canterbury (at a future date), deposited them amongst records.
Gervaise records the above consecration 25 years after the event in 1188, amongst a plethora of other material, the extract provided above. The Bishop of London died and we know Henry oversaw the see for a time while King Stephen was alive.
‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’ was supposedly ordained at Westminster on Saturday 16th of February 1152 and consecrated on Sunday the 24th of February a week later. These dates being endorsed on the fake profession.327 It would not be tentative to suggest that Gilbert, Geoffrey’s predecessor at Asaph, is also fictitious as nothing is known of him either.
326Gervasii Cantuariensis, Opera Historica, MCL-XI
327Michael Richter, Canterbury Professions (Boydell and Brewer, 1970), relevant entry is no. 95
Apart from the two witnesses and supposedly Theobald of Bec…. no one ever met Geoffrey in person. One would think Malmesbury might have mentioned him if his history was so prolific as is thought by scholars. More so, one would think Huntigdon might have an anecdote somewhere since he composed EAW. No-one actually met Geoffrey except the two witnesses and Theobald if we believe this or the people standing next to him signing charters in Oxford but strangely one of those was dead ;and we are supposed to believe that Geoffrey’s renown was everywhere… even on the continent in 1139. Wake up Y’all !!!!
The witnesses to the Oxford charters never met him either. How could a living bishop sign next to a dead Walter? One would think if ‘Geoffrey’ were at the signing of the Treaty of Winchester he would emerge on documentation somewhere or by comment of his having been presenTt ‘physically’ somewhere. If he were not in Asaph…. where was he? This is a guy who supposedly dismisses historians of repute and gives permission to dead chroniclers such as Caradoc with haughty overtones…. y’all’d’ve bumped into him somewhere being the most prolific author and of huge intellect.
Apart from Newburgh, only one other contemporary (20 years after Geoffrey’s death) comments on ‘Geoffrey’s’ work. Giraldus Cambrensis was also unconvinced by the veracity of ‘Geoffrey’s’ HRB. Gerald of Wales recounts in his Itinerarium Cambriae the experience of a man called Meilerius possessed by demons and who could pick out false passages in a book: ‘If the evil spirits oppressed him too much, the Gospel of St John was placed on his bosom, when, like birds, they immediately vanished; but when the book was removed, and the History of the Britons by ‘Geoffrey Arthur’ was substituted in its place, they instantly reappeared in greater numbers, and remained a longer time than usual on his body and on the book’.
By the time Giraldus Cambrensis wrote this, Henry Blois was dead, but we should not forget Henry Blois was Giraldus’ patron. It would be safe to assume Henry Blois would have surreptitiously substantiated verbally various parts of ‘Geoffrey’s’ false history about Arthur and may have used reverse physchology on Gerald by recounting the saying above. Henry may have enforced the blief in Gerald of the Arthurian part of the Vulgate and dismissed the rest of the HRB as tentative.
Do not forget that King Arthur’s grave had not been located yet and somebody had primed Gerald to accept the information that was newly inserted into DA. In other words, Henry Blois did not care about the History from the Trojans after 1158; his second agenda is Arthuriana and Grail literature. Giraldus may have been informed of the interpolated propaganda contents of DA before Henry Blois death and Henry as Gerald’s patron may have bolstered Gerald’s belief in the Arthuriad. I shall deal with this point later in the elucidation on Gerald’s testimony of King Arthur’s disinterment.
It is interesting that Gerald, like Huntingdon, refers to ‘Geoffrey’ as ‘Geoffrey Arthur’ not Geoffrey of Monmouth and this form of reference to Geoffrey may well stem from interaction with the bishop of Winchester himself as this might be how Henry Blois referred to ‘Geoffrey’ when in conversation with Gerald. Certainly, Gerald would not have written this about a recently dead bishop of Asaph and would have referred to him as such if ‘Geoffrey’ had ever attained such a position and ‘Geoffrey’s’ position had been common knowledge. It seems to me that the above quote about Meilerius being able to pick out false passages in books, smacks of something that Henry Blois would have used on Gerald as reverse Psychology, enforcing Gerald’s belief in Arthuriana and dismissing obvious passages where the Historicity of HRB was glaringly faulty and did not concur with the annals. One of these chronologically artificial connecting characters which are used to bridge the gap of time is of course Gormundus where we witness The Saxons, having had experience of his shiftiness, went unto Gormundus, King of the Africans, in Ireland, wherein, adventuring thither with a vast fleet, he had conquered the folk of the country. Thereupon, by the treachery of the Saxons, he sailed across with a hundred and sixty-six thousand Africans into Britain… However, the fiction of Gormundus, arrived at from the French Chanson de geste, Gormont et Isembart (doubtfully known by a Welsh Geoffrey), is a part of the fictional pseudo-history of HRB: The Wolf of the sea shall exalt him, unto whom the woods of Africa shall bear company… is the later squew on a previous prophecy.
Henry Blois nurtured the persona of becoming accepted as the venerable statesman when he returned to England in 1158 and had become patron to Gerald. Gerald quoted Merlin prophecies often, but Gerald would never have suspected Henry Blois as author of HRB or the Merlin prophecies. Gerald’s hope of metropolitan for St David’s could well have been encouraged by Henry Blois after Bernard’s death.
It is interesting how David Knowles his biographer, nearly captures the nature of Henry Blois in this post 1158 period until his death. but has no idea of the undercurrents of Henry’s authorial edifice totally overlooked in terms of Grail literature and his effect on Glastonburyana:
All his contemporaries agree that in this last period of his life his character had greatly changed; perhaps it would be more true to say that the deepest potentialities of his personality, long underdeveloped beneath the turmoil of ambitious and worldly activities, now had freedom to spring into life and view. Leaving intrigues and taunts to others, he became to all, a venerable and beloved elder statesman, retiring further and further from his ambitions and even from his riches as he drew nearer to death. Consequently, his direct part in the ‘great controversy’ was not large… one who had known him twenty years before could hardly have imagined him swept along so passively on the stream of events. Partly no doubt this was due to age, partly to a changed spiritual outlook and partly due to deliberate policy, but the deepest reason of all was perhaps a trait of character.
Knowles’ biography nearly captures the essence of Henry’s character on return from Clugny, but what he misses is the fact that Henry has no option but to subjugate himself after his near spiritual collapse in Clugny and the constant fear of getting caught as the author of the updated prophecies, through which he had tried but failed to cause rebellion against Henry II. If only Knowles had understood why he was swept along so passively on the stream of events. Henry Blois was busy composing Perlesvaus, the book of the Grail and the works of Robert de Boron and spreading the fame of Arthur far and wide.
I know few people will get this but Henry Blois having been brought to nought where all his worldly ambitions had been thwarted post 1158. So he resigns himself to develop what he had already started and find fame and perpetual renown through his invention of King Arthur. If one reads his epitaph on the Meusan Plaques my analysis is described by his own words. This is the man who avowed on the Mosan plates that the greatest worth (more than riches) was the art of the Author; the man who compared himself to Cicero. Authorship was the aspiration to which Henry Blois accounted great worth.
In effect, in this post 1158 period until his death, Henry just kept his head down, knowing all thoughts of his ‘regnal’ ambitions were in tatters; so he decides to occupy himself with poetry and establishing his created hero Arthur as a reality. At the end of his endeavours, he accounts himself and his legacy greater than that of Cicero as noted on the ‘Meusan plates’ but certainly no scholar today understands why he should have written such an epitaph himself but all concur the plates were commissioned by Henry Himself.
Scholarship has long been suspicious of ‘Geoffrey’s’ part authorship of the book of Llandaff where corroborative evidence is supplied for the HRB. The same goes for Caradoc of Llancarfan’s so called Gwentian Brut or Brut y Tywysogion; the same supposed author of the Life of Gildas. Henry Blois, as I will show in progression is unequicocally the author of the Life of Gildas. Henry impersonates Caradoc after his death, even though he pointedly steers us away from this possibility by proclaiming through ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’ in the additional colophon to a late HRB that Caradoc is ‘Geoffrey’s’ contemporary.
Henry had vast resources and could pay or commission works by Welsh monks. ‘Geoffrey’ who might have been suspected of such a propaganda exercise was thought to be dead. It is certainly Henry Blois who has interpolated the Book of Llandaff with so much ‘coincidental’ corroborative detail.
Henry Blois has 11 modes of infiltrating his propaganda into the public domain which I can see. The point of the propaganda campaign is to secret his authorship of the many tracts and interpolations itemised below:
1) In the most important case Henry Blois invents a persona as he did with Geoffrey of Monmouth and constructs fictitious intimate material as found in HRB and VM whereby he appears to aspire to rank.
2) Henry Blois may invent an author as he does with Magister Gregorius the author of De mirabilibus urbis Romae, which involves his interest and fascination with the bronze horseman which he includes in the HRB and prophecies, but also shows his fascination with statuary and architecture and Roman works of art.
3) He sometimes interpolates existing work and inserts his own propaganda as we see with the book of Llandaff and Geffrei Gaimar.
4) He may use an existing author’s name who has expired and wholly compose his propaganda under their name as we witness in Caradoc of Llancarfan’s life of Gildas.
5) He will take another’s work such as William of Malmesbury’s Antiquitates and interpolate it. This method was used to best advantage as that book was specifically dedicated to Henry Blois. Henry probably had the only original monograph copy. Henry also interpolates a copy of William of Malmesbury’s GR (version B) with a few details concerning Glastonbury. The interpolations in DA and GR by Henry Blois act to confirm that William believed certain things which sometimes he categorically contradicts elsewhere in his other works. It is only when Henry Blois’ evolving ‘agenda’ is elucidated, that we can date and confirm the reasoning behind the interpolations.
6) Henry Blois also, is known to have started the rumour concerning St Dunstan’s remains at Glastonbury which we shall cover in progression when investigating Eadmer’s letter.
7) Henry Blois invents spurious contemporaneity in antiquity for authors, feigning eyewitness accounts through a certain Turkill in the De Inventione, where the ‘holy cross’ was brought from Montacute to Waltham, where Henry Blois just happens to be Dean of Waltham at the time De Inventione was composed.
8) Henry would have us believe Nennius’ Historia Brittonum was originally written by Gildas. Geoffrey’s work was sometimes referred to as Historia Brittonum, to confuse posterity. Henry Blois knew the Nennius manuscript was a patchwork of older works attributed to Nennius but did not know if there were other copies extant. The author of HRB has an agenda concerning Gildas and Nennius: 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 length328…. yet we know Gildas did not mention it; and we know ‘Geoffrey’ has read Nennius.
9) Henry impersonates Geffrei Gaimar’s work who had already written L’estoire des Engles. This is very useful to Henry Blois as he starts with the pretext of having written a previous volume of a French version of ‘Geoffrey’s’ Historia, the supposed L’ estoire des Bretons: Heretofore in the former book, if you remember it, you have heard how perfectly Constantine held the dominion after Arthur. This volume which supposedly refers to the Chivalric Arthur of HRB is a non-existent manuscript and no-one else refers to it (ever)…. but Henry Blois as the interpolation in Geffrei Gaimar’s existing manuscript pretends that L’Estoire des Engles is a continuation of a previous volume put out by Gaimar called L’ estoire des Bretons. The reasoning, I believe, (apart from the fact that Henry Blois wrote the Roman de Brut not Wace) for implying that such a volume had been written, is that Henry Blois had stated that HRB was a translation of a British book. Supposedly, since the text of Gaimar’s supposed work refers to Constantine holding dominion after King Arthur as HRB portrays; we are supposed to assume ‘Geoffrey’ did not make up these lies because Geffrei Gaimar asserts the same. That is apart from the fact that Wace in versed HRB has the same content as HRB.
The logic goes in Henry’s mind that if this erroneous history is so prevalent, how could ‘Geoffrey’ be blamed for composing these lies. Later as pressure came to bear from contemporary sceptics who were inquiring/searching for ‘Geoffrey’ and substantiating that this source book existed, it became a book ex Britannicus…. now understood as Walter’s book having originated from Brittany.
Henry provides the only substantiation for Walter’s very ancient book in the famed ‘Gaimar’s epilogue’, the very basis which the HRB relies on for its credibility which supposedly Gaimar had used; but the manuscript which he supposedly wrote using this source book and having the same content as HRB, is no-where to be found; just like the very source book itself. It is such an easy illusion to carry out after Gaimar’s death and Henry even has the cheek to state: So that at Winchester, in the cathedral, there is the true history of the Kings. Fancy that coincidence!!! Henry Blois interpolates Gaimar’s L’estoire des Engles while having it copied.
10) Henry also impersonates Wace. In reality Wace only composed the Roman de Rou. Henry Blois altered the preamble and appendix to this work so that it appeared Wace had composed the Roman de Brut also. Henry Blois composes a French version of the HRB in verse called Roman de Brut started before 1155 in rhymed vernacular where he employs the First Variant Version of HRB at the beginning of Roman de Brut as the template upon which he versifies to his prose Latin text. This fact dates the Roman de Brut’ start of composition by Henry Blois before the Vulgate HRB was finished.
Henry Blois adds new detail into his verse version of HRB writing under the name of Wace in the Roman de Brut, concerning the ‘round table’ which was not an Arthurian icon in the HRB. Henry employs his usual ‘obfuscatory’ technique because he does not include the Merlin prophecies and says: “I am not willing to translate his book, because I do not know how to interpret it. I would say nothing that was not exactly as I said.” We should not forget Alfred of Beverley had said the prophecies were ‘too long to go into’…. so omits them also. I will cover Henry’s impersonation of Wace by authoring the Roman de Brut in progression.
Henry Blois sums up the ‘hope of the Britons’ impersonating Wace and feigns recalling what Merlin had predicted of Arthur: So, the chronicle speaks sooth, Arthur himself was wounded in his body to the death. He caused him to be borne to Avalon for the searching of his hurts. He is yet in Avalon, awaited of the Britons; for as they say and deem he will return from whence he went and live again. Master Wace, the writer of this book, cannot add more to this matter of his end than was spoken by Merlin the prophet. Merlin said of Arthur, if I read rightly, that his end should be hidden in doubtfulness. The prophet spoke truly. Men have ever doubted, and, as I am persuaded, will always doubt whether he liveth or is dead. Arthur bade that he should be carried to Avalon in this hope in the year 642 of the Incarnation.
If the reader has read everything up to this point one can see that these highlighted areas of text are purposeful propaganda not the passing comments of a largely very sluggardly and drab poet who composed the Roman de Rou
If one remembers in HRB, Henry had written in reference to the supposed victory over Rome and the death of King Arthur: The house of Romulus shall dread the fierceness of his prowess and doubtful shall be his end…. which in itself shows it is Henry Blois inventing the prophecies and corroborating his own bogus continental Arthurian campaign in HRB.
‘Master Wace the writer of this book’ (who hopes to interpret rightly) implants his name so ridiculously in the text it smacks of the epitaph on the ‘leaden cross’ found at King Arthur’s manufactured gravesite pointing out that Glastonbury is synonymous with the island of Avalon. The gambit seems to have fooled most readers for the past 900 years.
11) Lastly, and most cleverly of all, Henry Blois propagates Grail literature through his Nephew’s wives and in other ways of distribution proliferates his mythology around king Arthur. This agenda concurs with his post 1158 ‘second agenda’ in converting Glastonbury to the Island of Avalon as witnessed in the Island saga in VM. We will cover the two agendas of Henry Blois in progression. An Anagram of Henry Blois’ name in the “Elucidation” is prefixed to the rhymed version of Percival le Gallois under the name of ‘Master Blihis’, which someone has mistaken ‘Monsieur’ for Monsigneur Blois, Master Blehis, Maistre Blohis, Blihos Bliheris, Bledhericus, Breri or Blaise. How this name is associated with the primary sources of Grail literature is discussed in later chapters.
All of these methods of propaganda and authorship under assumed names will be discussed later, along with Henry Blois most successful work, the propagation of the Perlesvaus and the material found in Robert de Boron’s work. Once Henry Blois is understood to be a serial composer of manuscripts under assumed names it unlocks much of the bewilderment in connecting the issues between Arthurian legend, Glastonburyalia and their connection with Grail literature. Once we find out the culprit ‘who’has invented the material that comprises The Matter of Britain, we are then in a better position to assess from where the source material came and fathom which parts are based in reality.
328HRB, Bk I, xvii