Henry Blois was a genius who died in 1171. He had been brought up by his aristocratic mother until about the age of ten until he became an oblate cloistered at Clugny. He was able to absorb what interested him from a vast Library where he was schooled in the Monastery at Clugny in the county or region of Blois until he was in his twenties. He hailed from one of the richest and noblest families on the continent.
William the Conqueror was Henry Blois’ grandfather. Henry Blois composed The History of the Kings of Britain (HRB) in its original edition for his uncle Henry Ist but a later edition purporting to be written by Glfridus Artur was deposited at Bec by Henry in 1138. It was Henry Blois who firstly interpolated William of Malmesbury’s De Antiquitates (DA) and that manuscript establishes much of the myth surrounding the Glastonbury church, Avalon, King Arthur and Joseph of Arimathea.
I will also set out further on, how Henry Blois concocted the original Grail stories which connect Joseph of Arimathea and the Chivalric King Arthur to Glastonbury and thus by extension the Chivalric King Arthur of HRB to the isle of Avalon. It will become apparent also that Henry Blois composed the prophecies of Merlin.
If one breaks down the false premise from which previous commentators in the past have started, and one is not duped by the apparent fraud which corroborates material from the various genres of investigation; all these subjects interrelate through Henry Blois.
Henry Blois’ genius is in the fact that his greatest coup transpired after his death. This was the disinterment of the ‘Chivalric King Arthur’ at Glastonbury Abbey; Henry Blois while alive had previously manufactured the grave of King Arthur in his lifetime within the confines of the grave yard at Glastonbury Abbey, knowing one day it would be uncovered. It was Henry Blois who alerted those who eventually uncovered the supposed burial site of King Arthur by stipulating where King Arthur was supposedly buried by interpolating this fact into William of Malmesbury’s account of the ‘Antiquities of Glastonbury.’
As we progress through the evidence which puts Henry Blois at the centre of the Matter of Britain, it becomes evident that as a respected Bishop, he had to hide his association with the fraudulent tracts he had authored. Henry Blois’ main defence from discovery was respectability and power. He was King Stephen’s brother and the most powerful prelate in Britain during his Brother King Stephen’s reign. His position, his wealth, power and royal blood, enabled Henry Blois to create a persona to hide behind.
Henry Blois has affected European history by assuming the title of Geoffrey of Monmouth as the author of the ‘History of the Kings of Britain’, while later inventing the first origins of Grail lore. He has accomplished this latter feat under such pseudonyms as Master Blihis, Blaise, Bleheris, Bliho-Bleheris and Bledhericus. In effect Henry Blois’ output has more consequence to history than the writings of Cicero who, as we shall cover shortly, Henry Blois indeed greatly admired and wished to emulate in terms of his great written works.
Historians have had little to relate regarding the biography of Geoffrey of Monmouth. Any personal details are fabricated and based upon a false identity built specifically by Henry Blois to hide his authorship of HRB and the Vita Merlini (VM).
Our only view of the character of Henry Blois is arrived at through the words of contemporary chroniclers and by his known deeds. Once the evidence in these pages is revealed, it will be seen that there is far more to Henry Blois than is commonly understood.
It was not through malice that Henry Blois carried out what many may consider an outright fraud, but some of his actions were dictated by events. Originally, Henry Blois had no intention of creating what has now become known as The Matter of Britain. I will endeavour to lay bare the evolving sequence of events which complemented the formation of The Matter of Britain and the reason for his secretive authorship.
The pseudo-historical account which comprises the First Variant version and Vulgate version of HRB was not authored by the fictional Geoffrey of Monmouth, Bishop of Asaph. I will endeavour to show that Galfridus Artur2 never even existed, even though a trail (of false facts) has been left behind which seemingly provides evidence to the contrary. I will also uncover the reasoning behind the wholly concocted prophecies of Merlin which were latterly added to the First Variant and then the Vulgate HRB after the Primary Historia’s initial discovery at Bec.
‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’s’ pseudo-history has presented us with a colourful History of the Kings of Britain portraying a British heritage stemming from the sack of Troy. Henry Blois has also fabricated legends which go to the heart of the Christian religion in Britain. Much of the Glastonbury myth has been fabricated in William of Malmesbury’s De antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiæ (DA) in fact interpolated and partially added to by Henry Blois.
What has added to the complexity of what appears to have transpired at Glastonbury has its roots with Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea. Joseph of Arimathea’s removal of the body of Jesus from the cross and what transpired afterward to both the body and to Joseph of Arimathea is what gospel writers seem most at odds with. Posterity is left with the disappearance of the body of Jesus and Joseph. It is this confusion which partly leads to the later Grail legends in which ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’s’ King Arthur and his knights seem to be anachronistically connected.
What transpired after the crucifixion are events which eventually lead to Grail legend. The Grail’s relation to Glastonbury is down to a little-known prophecy called the prophecy of Melkin discovered at Glastonbury. Our modern scholars, experts in this field of study, tell us the prophecy, first mentioned by John of Glastonbury, is a fake. This assumption is based upon the fact that there is no previous mention of the prophecy before the fourteenth century.
The scholars who profess this opinion confirm and readily admit that they have no understanding of the Prophecy nor do they understand that the prophecy existed in a book composed by Henry Blois under the assumed authorship of the famed Melkin titled ‘De Regis Arthurii mensa rotunda’ from which JG obtained and recycled the excerpt which constitutes the Prophecy of Melkin.
It is this prophecy and its relation to Glastonbury and Henry Blois which is at the heart of the origins of the Grail legends and our present investigation. This fact only becomes clear after extensive research and careful regard to the train of events presented in the investigation, which concludes that the prophecy of Melkin could not be faked. The Prophecy of Melkin for many reasons logically must have been viewed or uncovered by Henry Blois in his tenure as Abbot of Glastonbury. Turning a blind eye to this fact and wilfully denying this truth is the downfall of modern scholars conclusions and theories surrounding the Matter of Britain.
Augustine, who came to Britain in the year 597 was the first Archbishop of Canterbury and is considered the “Apostle to the English” and a founder of the English Church. Although no Joseph of Arimathea tradition appeared to exist before Henry Blois at Glastonbury; there can be no denial of the fact that there was a Celtic Briton church independent of Rome before the arrival of Augustine. The church of the Britons was originally established with a superior prestige than that of St. Peter prior to the third century and the establishment of this proposition is one outcome of this investigation.
2Gaufridus Arturus was the first appellation that Henry Blois gave the author of the book found at the abbey of Bec. Geoffrey of Monmouth was to become the author’s title at a later date post 1139.
Henry Blois was a serial interpolator, impersonator and author of many fraudulent works. Part of our inquiry involves a charter which grants an Island named ‘Ines Witrin’, donated by a Devonian King to Glastonbury in 601 AD, four years after the Roman church’s envoy Augustine sets foot on British soil. The charter indicates that Glastonbury was already a Christian institution at this early date and somewhat independent of Rome through the dark ages since the crumbling of the Roman Empire. It is the interpretation of this grant mentioned by William of Malmesbury in his Gesta Regum (GR) and DA which is at the heart of our investigation into the Matter of Britain.
Once I have established for the reader that several manuscripts were authored by Henry Blois, we will discover the reasons behind his authorship and anonymity. I will expose the ingenuity of his artifice in creating the persona of ‘Geoffrey’ and his impersonation and interpolation of other known authors after their deaths. These include Caradoc of Llancarfan, William of Malmesbury, Wace and Geffrei Gaimar amongst others.
Few have questioned the forgeries manufactured by what Lot3 calls the ‘officine de faux’ at Glastonbury. The exposing of certain facts within these pages should leave the reader in no doubt that both Vita Merlini and the HRB were written by the Bishop of Winchester, Henry Blois and definitively not by a fictitious Geoffrey of Monmouth.
Henry Blois at the height of his power was Legate to the pope and wielded a vast influence over Britain in the twelfth century. His self-written epitaph on the Meusan plates provides evidence of his regard for the authorship of books as being greater than all things material. Yet, it is the commonly accepted opinion of modern scholars that there is not one work authored by him. The only exception which has been left to posterity is his Libellus which relates to affairs concerning Glastonbury in its bland factual style.
Henry Blois’ most comprehensive biographer to date Michael R Davis has a good grasp on Henry Blois’ character, but has no idea of his authorial edifice which Henry Blois has left to posterity:
Apart from his surviving Libellus and what we can glean from his Acta, Henry remains historically mute to us and thus we are forced to judge Henry by his acts viewed through the lens of others.
Just how wrong can a biographer be? The glaring question which researchers have ignored and is virtually unique historically at this period for such a prominent grandee; is the fact that virtually no correspondence at all remains. Just asking the question provokes the answer found within this work. Yet his works do remain if only scholars would open their eyes!!
Although Henry’s Libellus is a genuine account of Henry Blois’ achievements at Glastonbury, it also acts as a subtle devise meant to deflect any suspicion that his hand or authorship may be involved in other tracts of literature. The illustrious history of Glastonbury abbey lore was concocted for the most part by Henry Blois. The Glastonbury legend is part of the foundation for the Matter of Britain. William of Malmesbury knew Henry Blois well and refers to him as a remarkable man; a man known for his literary skill.4
We shall also understand more of the stages of evolution in the composition and evolving construction of the HRB when we cover the events which occurred at the time the first edition Primary Historia was discovered at the abbey of Bec. We will then better understand the various contradictions of allegiance supposedly portrayed by a Welsh ‘Geoffrey’. It also becomes evident that the first edition of HRB, which I have termed the Primary Historia, related in précis (or synopsis), evidenced in Henry of Huntingdon’s letter to his friend Warin (EAW),5 differs in substantial story-line detail from the First Variant and from the Vulgate version of HRB. We will cover the reasons for the differences in progression.
3Ferdinand Lot. ‘Glastonbury et Avalon’, Romania 27 (1898), p. 537)
4Antiquities of Glastonbury William of Malmesbury Ch.83
5Epistola ad Warinum
Scholars have made presumptions concerning the dating of HRB based on the dedicatees’ life spans mentioned in the few extant editions. Modern scholars have assumed that the copy of the ‘History of the Kings of Britain’ read at Bec by Henry of Huntingdon and Robert of Torigni was substantially the same as the present Vulgate version which has the names of dedicatees attached to that version.
This investigation will elucidate upon the progression of the HRB which went through four stages of evolution which runs contrary to the present views held by modern scholars. We shall discover the reason behind the insertion of the Prophecies of Merlin into the Vulgate HRB. It will become plain why there was a lapse of years before ‘Geoffrey’s’ Vita Merlini was written and why there was the appearance of new prophecies concerning poignant events in the Anarchy (supposedly recounted by Merlin’s sister Ganieda) which relate to Henry Blois very directly. We will investigate why all works written by ‘Geoffrey’ that I propose in this work were written secretively by Henry Blois. I shall also cover why latterly Gaufridus Artur was given the title ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’ and ultimately Bishop of Asaph.
Once I have established for the reader that several works including the anonymously authored Gesta Stephani, Caradoc’s life of Gildas, the interpolations into William of Malmesbury’s DA and GR3 and other works6 emanate from Henry Blois’ hand; we are then in a position to untangle what seemed to be an unsolvable puzzle concerning Glastonbury, its association with Avalon, King Arthur, Joseph of Arimathea and the Holy Grail.
Henry Blois has employed many subtle methods to create his ingenious edifice of fallacious history. The underlying reasons for Henry’s deception will become clear, but his genius and brilliance are evident in the works he authored and in the fact he remained undetected. The means he employed to remain anonymous as the instigator of these works are several and by no certainty are all his works discovered in this present research exposé, as some of his output has not survived to the modern era.
Geoffrey of Monmouth’s epic which brings the ‘chivalric’ King Arthur onto the western historical stage has no mention of Joseph of Arimathea or Glastonbury. Shortly after the book’s proliferation, the Island of Avalon (Insula Avallonis) the place where Arthur was taken after the battle of Camlann in ‘Geoffrey’s’ story book, becomes linked to Glastonbury. A fraudulent unearthing of the bones of King Arthur c.1189-91, found with a bogus ‘leaden cross’ dubiously stating that the burial site is synonymous with Avalon, have (since that time) ensured both Avalon and Glastonbury are identified as the same location.
Glastonbury’s association with Joseph of Arimathea is primarily through the interpolations inserted into DA along with the Insula Avallonis foretold in a prophecy by Melkin. There is also an allusion in Robert de Boron’s Joseph d’Arimathie to the Vaus d’ Avaron.
A fragment of Melkin’s work (i.e. the prophecy), was reproduced in John of Glastonbury’s Cronica sive antiquitates Glastoniensis ecclesie. Many scholars have followed Lagorio in thinking that Melkin’s prophecy is derived as a composite, based on material garnered from Robert de Boron’s Joseph d’ Arimathie which links Glastonbury by way of the Vaus d’Avaron.
6For instance: Wace’s Roman de Brut; Geoffrey Gaimar’s L’Estoire des Bretons which in truth was never even written as is explained further on.
It will become clear to the reader that Glastonbury’s association with the name Avalon was manufactured by Henry Blois’ muses, based on a town of the same name in the county of Blois. The last known location of ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’s’ concocted persona of a chivalric King Arthur in the FV and Vulgate HRB was the Island of Avalon where he was taken grievously wounded. This has been accepted as Insula Pomorum, put forward as an alternative description to Avalon by logical extension in the later composed VM.
Insula Pomorum’ synonymy with the island of Avalon as presented in HRB is confirmed in VM because the wounded Arthur is also taken to that mythical island by Barinthus in the county of Apples i.e. Somerset. As Watkin realises, this establishes Glastonbury as commensurate with Avalon as early as 1155.7
The general acceptance of Arthur’s disinterment at Glastonbury is thought to be a fraudulent staging of the event by Henry de Sully and unconnected to Henry Blois. In fact, the disinterment stems from a polemic and propagandist strategy which was originally fostered by Henry Blois before his death by interpolating William of Malmesbury’s DA and by manufacturing the grave of Arthur in Henry Blois’ lifetime.
This view runs contrary to modern scholarship’s opinion which understands that any mention of Arthur in DA has been interpolated post Arthur’s disinterment in 1189-91.8 I shall adequately show that it was Henry Blois who planted the supposed bones of Arthur and the lock of Guinevere’s hair and had the ‘Leaden cross’ fabricated with its inscription.
These artefacts were uncovered/discovered twenty years after Henry Blois’ death in a grave between the piramides in the Glastonbury cemetery, which had been prepared as a site by Henry Blois with the sole intention that it would be uncovered at a later date. Its location was clearly pointed to in DA (interpolated by Henry Blois after William of Malmesbury’s death).
7Aelred Watkin. The Glastonbury Legends. P.17. If Avalon and the isle of apples are considered to be identical, and here again we are on the verge of identification of Avalon with Glastonbury.
Watkin misunderstands the principle. There is no transitional verge!
The isle of Avalon appears in the First Variant in 1144 (not mentioned in the earliest copy of HRB found at Bec, the synopsis of which is related in EAW). Willam of Malmesbury died in 1143 and William had never mentioned the island of Avalon or intoned that Glastonbury was synonymous with Ineswitrin in his Life of St Dunstan, but Glastonbury’s assimilation of synonymy with Avalon was interpolated into DA by Henry Blois. The island of Avalon became synonymous with Insula Pomorum only when Henry Blois wished to link to Glastonbury abbey, his earlier mythical Island mentioned in the First Variant version of HRB (composed c.1144) as Arthur’s last resort, when he composed the VM in 1155.
8John Scott, The early history of Glastonbury. P.34. Finally, we can be sure that all references to King Arthur must have been written after the purported discovery of his remains buried between the two pyramids in 1190-1. This is the modern scholars view based mainly on Lagorio’s erroneous standpoint; in that Arthuriana and Grail legend appeared at Glastonbury following the advent of continental Grail literature and a fortuitous convergence of factors. Scott’s view, that any mention of Arthur in DA prior to the unearthing of Arthur’s grave site, could not have been interpolated before the event, does not hold true. Scott bases this belief on Lagorio’s analysis. There is ‘Caradoc’s’ association of Arthur to Glastonbury which stems from Henry Blois.
Henry II died on 6 July 1189. If the date for the unearthing is correct in 1190-91, we should ask: how do we account for the reference to King Arthur in association with Glastonbury in a charter written by Henry II granting concessions to Glastonbury while Henry II is still alive. Scholars need to recognise that King Arthur was connected to Glastonbury by Henry Blois’ propaganda interpolated into DA long before Arthur’s disinterment. Carta Henrici Regis Secundi Filii Matildis Imperatricis De Libertatibus Concessis Ecclesie Glaston. Volume 1, P 186. The Great Chartulary of Glastonbury. Dom Aelred Watkin…… Baldredo, Ina, inclito Arthuro, Cuddredo et multis aliis regibus Christianis….
I will also cover the confusion regarding Yniswitrin as being another previous appellation for Glastonbury. This stems from propaganda found in Henry Blois’ impersonation of Caradoc in Henry Blois’ concocted tract titled the Life of Gildas. The Life of Gildas’ mention of Ynis Witrin has direct repercussions on its relation to the 601 Charter concerning Glastonbury, mentioned by William of Malmesbury. The contrived connection of synonymy (i.e. that Glastonbury and Ynis Witrin were one and the same) was driven by Henry Blois’ attempt to gain metropolitan status for the whole of South West England which is elucidated further on. I shall also cover why the etymology concerning Ineswitrin is an additional last paragraph to a book already fraudulently and previously composed by Henry Blois who impersonated Caradoc of Llancarfan. The Life of Gildas’ first aim in composition was to associate King Arthur and Gildas with Glastonbury. It was written c.1139-40. Its additional last paragraph (added in 1144) was composed to contrive a synonymy between Glastonbury and Ineswitrin.
What I intend to show as the reader progresses, is that Glastonbury’s myth of the Grail stems from and can be traced back to icons derived from Melkin’s prophecy. Also, that Grail literature was initially instigated by Henry Blois on the continent in the guise of Master Blihis.
The Melkin prophecy portends the discovery of Joseph of Arimathea’s body in the future. It is this prophecy which speaks of the duo fassula which has associated the ‘cruets’ and Grail with Glastonbury. The duo fassula is said by Melkin to be buried along with Joseph of Arimathea in Insula Avallonis.
At the end of this investigation there is ample evidence provided to show that the Prophecy of Melkin existed at the time Henry Blois was Abbot of Glastonbury and that modern scholars’ imperious pronouncements on the Melkin prophecy are wholly deluded. I also show that the Melkin prophecy is a genuine encrypted document and that it acted as the inspirational template for the prime archetype of the Grail in the sang réal.
After the great fire at Glastonbury in 1184 there was a loss of many books, but the providential find of King Arthur’s remains later in 1189-91 has forevermore provided the erroneous association of Glastonbury with the fictitious Isle of Avalon and thereafter Joseph of Arimathea with the Grail at Glastonbury.
Analysis of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s HRB by Tatlock has shown that virtually every episode, place or person can be uncovered as having a source or a previous association. ‘Geoffrey’s’ inspiration and his natural gift of inventiveness in the narrative story-line and in the characters he unfolds in nearly every case, has a provenance and a purport to carry forward his pseudo-history. His work is based upon sources from which he has provided an echo of history. ‘Geoffrey’s’ attempt at providing a credible provenance for his HRB is insincere as he feigns to be translating the words of a previous writer from the British tongue into Latin or from a book ex Britannia.
Besides the episode which concerns King Lear,9 which might be one of the few tales of the HRB which is thought to be entirely of ‘Geoffrey’s’ own invention; there is an underlying framework which attempts to parallel events portrayed in older sources i.e. extant British annals.
Previous commentators on the existence of ‘Geoffrey’s’ ancient book seem undecided or unconvinced on the ancient book’s existence. Yet other researchers are convinced by the interpolation known as ‘Gaimar’s epilogue’. ‘Geoffrey’ avows the historical substance for his HRB comes from this ancient ex Britannia book procured from the Archdeacon of Oxford wherein it supposedly bears witness to an Island called Avalon. This is absolutely a misdirection invented by Henry Blois!
9The template for Henry Blois inspiration for the story of King Lear is certainly seen to be based upon Henry’s father’s experience, daughters being replaced by the sons of Stephen II Count of Blois and Count of Chartres. Henry’s father was the son of Theobald III, count of Blois. He is numbered Stephen II after Stephen I, Count of Troyes.
One aim of this present work is to uncover the provenance of the Island of Avalon. The Insula Avallonis cited in Melkin’s prophecy is a real location once known as Ineswitrin which has a complicated set of different names due to the meddling of propaganda put out by Henry Blois. The island is unconnected with King Arthur except through the authorship of HRB by Henry Blois.
The goal of clarifying the muddle will be achieved when the reader is fully appraised that Geoffrey of Monmouth did not exist and that he was a fabricated persona invented by Henry Blois, the bishop of Winchester and abbot of Glastonbury.
What appears from the outset is that ‘Geoffrey’s’ basis for writing the HRB is based upon the extensive work he had already done in producing the Psuedo-History for his Uncle in providing a history about the Britons: ‘and it now remains for me to tell how they came and from where and this will be made clear in the following’. Yet fantastically, when certain skeptics c.1155-7 are actively searching for ‘Geoffrey’ he relates in an abridged pre- amble to the Vulgate versions that he was provided with such a book by Walter Archdeacon of Oxford or so he claims!!
We shall cover the formation and development of the original Primary Historia found at Bec from an already created pseudo-history intended for Henry Blois’ Uncle Henry 1st and his daughter the Empress Matilda. To this original draft of HRB, episodes of the Chivalric Arthur were added in 1137-8. ‘Geoffrey’s’ inspirational muses weave scenarios evidently drawn or formatted on previous works of known classical writers.
Henry Blois, as the author of HRB, uses ancient insular British annals as well as contemporary historian’s work as source material to anchor his epic in what may be termed a ‘conflated fabulation of history’. People, along with places, events, and legend, are made to seem as a genuine historical account.
Henry Blois’ genius also capitalises on the sentiment of the insular and Breton populace and its bravado regarding an Arthur which Henry transposes his Norman values upon…. to become the ‘Chivalric King Arthur’. There has never been a trace of the ancient book which ‘Geoffrey’ refers to, or reference to whom may have authored it because it simply did not exist. Even the Gaimar epilogue which confirms the existence of such a book is part of Henry Blois’ deception as I will show in progression.
Henry, writing as Geoffrey of Monmouth in the Vulgate HRB, supposedly cautions three ‘contemporary’ historians, William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon and Caradoc of Llancarfan that his history is more complete by possession of the fictional source book. We shall cover Henry Blois’ impersonation of Caradoc of Llancarfan, and it will become clear that it was after Caradoc’s death that Henry composed the life of Gildas. We will see how the manuscript of the life of Gildas inter-relates to the engravings found on the Modena Archivolt; known to portray the ‘kidnap of Guinevere’.
Although Gildas’ De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae10 does not mention King Arthur, the bogus life of Gildas in effect establishes a relationship in antiquity between Arthur and Gildas through the ‘Kidnap’ episode concerning King Melvas at Glastonbury. We shall uncover that Henry Blois’ assertion that Caradoc is the contemporary of ‘Geoffrey’ in the colophon of the later Vulgate HRB which mentions the three historians is purposeful misdirection. This colophon was inserted into some manuscripts of HRB post 1157 after Huntingdon’s death.
It will be shown in this present work that the device which has caused confusion amongst scholars is the use of retro-dating employed by Henry Blois, specifically using the names of dedicatees and authors which (for the unsuspecting) logically date the work i.e. specifically the Vulgate version. Thus, many of the previous conclusions about the composition and dating of HRB will need to be reassessed.
‘Back dating’ is a ‘primary device’ employed by Henry Blois in secreting his authorship and providing a belief in Merlin’s prescience. It is used by Henry Blois on several occasions to distance himself from the authorship of several works by time and by association.
10Gildas relates frequently to biblical sources and looks on the Britons as descendants of the Israelites, but his works generally bemoan the state of the British nation through the invasions and internal division of the Britons.
Henry interpolates much of William of Malmesbury’s ‘Enquiry into the Antiquity of the Church of Glastonbury’ (DA) by composing most of the first 34 chapters of that book himself. After William’s death, we can also witness other interpolations into the C and B versions of William’s GR3. The tampering with these manuscripts is the root cause of much of the confusion which I hope to clear up satisfactorily.
Henry Blois also spends considerable effort to convince us that the patchwork compilation of the Historia Brittonum ascribed to Nennius (who may have been only a reviser, consolidator or an interpolator)11 is in fact the work of Gildas. The point of this is to convince posterity that Gildas makes reference concerning Arthur…. which we know Gildas did not!
The HRB in effect attempts to persuade us that Nennius’s account is written by Gildas because Nennius’ work is the only pre-twelfth century annal which evidences Arthur apart from a few cursory references in a few accounts mentioned in some tracts concerning the lives of saints12 and the Annales Cambriae. The life of St Cadoc upon which Henry concocted his Life of Gildas is the prime example.
The life of Gildas establishes a bogus association that Gildas is connected to Glastonbury and is partly the reason for Henry’s invention of the Life of Gildas. Gildas’ association with Glastonbury is only otherwise established by what Henry Blois has written in his interpolation of William of Malmesbury’s GR3 and expanded upon in chapter 7 of DA.
However, the Life of Gildas preceded the first interpolations into DA which were made in 1144. Secondary additions to DA which include the St Patrick charter were added c.1149. We shall also discover a tertiary set of additions interpolated into DA c.1160-1170 which incorporate what I have termed Henry Blois’ ‘second agenda’.
Researchers have attempted to ascertain ‘Geoffrey’s’ underlying reason for writing the HRB apart from that stated by ‘Geoffrey’. Scholars have been duped into believing that ‘Geoffrey’ was an aspiring cleric seeking patronage and wherewithal and who professes his reason for writing was that he could find no previous writer who had given an adequate account of British history.
The real reasons are multiple and set out at length further on. They include an account of how the composition of HRB evolved from an unfinished original ‘psuedo–history’ destined for the Empress Matilda pre-1134 which was then spliced together with additional material which became the epic concerning King Arthur written in 1137-8. This became what I have termed the Primary Historia. The Primary Historia is what Huntingdon witnessed at Bec which was then developed into the First Variant and then evolved through variant editions and abridgements to one of the most influential books ever written i.e. the Vulgate HRB. The present assessment among commentators is the assumption that the First Variant post dated the Vulgate version. This view is entirely erroneous.
11However, Grandsen’s Historical Writing in England p.6 does point out stylistic unity and comment upon the preface of Historia Brittonum which accuses the Britons of slothfully neglecting their past and concludes there is no earlier pre-cursor to the Historia from which it might be compiled.
12This mention of Arthur as a named persona in history rebuts the suggestion of Ashe and Padel in assuming that there is a mix up in tradition between Riotamus and Arthur. However, the suggestion that Riotamus’s military expedition to the Continent is the inspiration for the Continental campaign which ‘Geoffrey’ ascribes to Arthur is a very plausible explanation in how Henry Blois (impersonating Geoffrey) allowed himself to stray from what is reliably known in history with the conflation of Riotamus’s expedition. O.J. Padel correctly points out: But it is a long way from this to supposing that Riotamus was the actual prototype of the legendary Arthur. As already mentioned, Arthur was famed in Brittonic folklore and local legend before Geoffrey wrote, and was the inspiration for his figure.
Virtually nothing is known of Geoffrey of Monmouth, but the little that is known has provided a base for scholarship to assume he was a real historical person. Beginning with such a false premise has led to a maze of misinformation concerning Glastonbury and events surrounding King Arthur’s disinterment which ordinarily would be viewed in a different light if ‘Geoffrey’ had been understood as a pen name for Henry Blois. It has also led to the misunderstanding of the inspiration behind the Grail legend material and its connection to Glastonbury and Avalon. As the reader will discover, the basis for the events regarding Joseph of Arimathea in Britain and the true substance of what became known as the Grail, in association with Joseph, are actually based on genuine historical events.
It is a strange circumstance considering the amount written about Geoffrey of Monmouth and his HRB that we have such flimsy biographical details. As far as I know only two commentators13 have questioned the reality of the persona of Galfridus Arthur. ‘Geoffrey’ is only grounded in historical reality by his supposed witness to a few charters and the dubious fact that he became Bishop of St. Asaph and once supposedly stood in front of Theobald of Bec to be ordained.
These fictitious details will be shown to have been concocted by Henry Blois with the intention of secreting Henry’s authorship of what eventually became a contentious book; especially once the updated prophecies of Merlin were added to it. At this time Galfridus Artur became known by his later appellation Geoffrey of Monmouth. Orderic’s reference to the Merlin prophecies and Robert of Torigni’s reference to the Bishop of Asaph also have augmented the belief by commentators that ‘Geoffrey’ existed. These references will be dealt with in the appropriate place in this exposé.
All other reference to Geoffrey is derived from comment about his work regarding the HRB or VM or from spurious personal details divulged by Henry Blois or from the Gwentian Brut. The Brut y Tywysogyon records Geoffrey’s death in 1154-5, but this annal serves as a continuation of Geoffrey’s HRB and is definitively mis-directional regarding details of Geoffrey’s life. The Brut y Tywysogion has survived as several Welsh translations of an original Latin version, which has not itself survived. However, we will see that the original version was a chronicle written by Caradoc of Llancarfan in Latin and Henry Blois interpolated it with propaganda about ‘Geoffrey’.
As we progress, we will understand that the original annal which Caradoc wrote before Henry Blois’ interpolations pre-date’s the HRB and is the main reason why Henry Blois ends his HRB at the point where Caradoc starts his history. The colophon in some versions of HRB mentioning Caradoc’s name is meant to misdirect; creating the sense that Caradoc is alive (along with Huntingdon and Malmesbury) and we are led to believe Caradoc is ‘Geoffrey’s’ contemporary who took up the mantle of bringing Geoffrey’s history up to date. I will show that this colophon was written after 1157.
13De Buck in Acta SS, LVII,94, and D.R. Thomas, Hist. Diocese of St Asaph Oswestry vol I, 33,214 regarding Geoffrey’s episcopate and biography.
Henry Blois who had many Welsh monks14 under his auspices has implanted material which substantiates his HRB in the Book of LLandaff. Many of the places like Fluvium Periron which no-one has definitively located, just happens to be given location in the Book of Llandaff. The subject of Periron is interesting concerning Henry Blois and will be discussed during an examination of why John of Cornwall’s edition of the Merlin prophesies locates Periron at Tintagel. Also, I will elucidate why the Merlin prophecies, although appearing to speak about similar subjects, vary in sense between the versions of JC, VM, and the Merlin prophecies found in Vulgate HRB.
Henry Blois himself publicised ‘Geoffrey’s’ death and it is recorded in the Brut y Tywysogion (1154). We can account for Robert of Torigni’s reference to the bishop of Asaph as having come from Henry Blois himself at a meeting in Mont St Michel in 1155. The Gwentian Brut adds several details about the later period of ‘Geoffrey’s’ life, from his being ordained as bishop onward. None of these details have any substance. It states that Geoffrey died in Llandaff and was buried there, but there is no grave site. Also, it names him a foster son of Uchtryd, archbishop of Llandaff and asserts that Geoffrey taught at, and served as archdeacon of St. Teilo in Llandaff. ‘Geoffrey’s’ death is certainly Henry Blois’ providentially timed invention as Henry II came to the throne as will become clear later.
Admittedly, other material could be accountable to the aggrandising of Llandaff by Welshmen at a later date due to ‘Geoffrey’s’ renown. His personal disclosures like ‘pudibindus Brito’ found in some texts are all part of the illusion invented by Henry Blois that ‘Geoffrey’ could not be Norman. There is simply no contemporary who provides a personal detail of a meeting with Geoffrey of Monmouth in the flesh; except that evidence discussed later which I will show has been provided and planted by Henry Blois…. most obviously as the bishop of Asaph on the Treaty of Winchester; (which itself was put together and the terms drawn up by Henry Blois), which brought the Anarchy to an end.
Before I can begin to untangle a spurious tradition at Glastonbury further on in the exposé, it is necessary firstly to leave the reader in no doubt that the man we think of as Geoffrey of Monmouth is in fact Henry Blois. After this proposition is established beyond doubt or speculation by analysing the HRB and the Vita Merlini, we can then move on to the methods employed and the reasoning’s behind such a deception by Henry Blois. The most difficult task for me is to convince the reader that Geoffrey of Monmouth is Henry Blois in the shortest and quickest way possible, because there is so much other material to cover after that is accepted, to come to a solution of the Matter of Britain.
My task is made harder by the fact that modern scholars insist that Geoffrey existed as a real living person and this a priori is so entrenched in commentator’s minds. Once HRB is understood as having been authored by Henry Blois, the evidence that Geoffrey never existed falls into place as certain other manuscripts authored by Henry Blois are discussed.
14The only reason Gerald of Wales was able to see Merlin prophecies in Welsh is because Henry Blois in one monastery had a Welsh monk transcribe Henry Blois own invented prophecies and then make sure as Gerald’s patron he obtained a copy.
I shall establish his deception through a brief analysis of the HRB Merlin prophecies and those found in Vita Merlini.
Once I have proved beyond reasonable doubt that the prophecies of Merlin were concocted from the mind of Henry Blois, it is just a short step to proving common authorship of the faux-history making up the main body of HRB. I shall then proceed to analyse the Gesta Stephani so that the reader is in no doubt that both HRB and GS were written by Henry Blois.
The events of the Anarchy predicted by Merlin often clearly replicated as events recorded in GS. We can then move swiftly through the tangible material in HRB regarding the continental battle scene in Autun (in the region of Blois) etc…. understanding that Henry Blois is the author. The rest of the material authored by Henry Blois, will become obvious as the deception unfolds.
I will demonstrate the subtlety of his various devices and show how a different ploy in each tract written by Henry is used to prevent his authorship being discovered. Different methods of propagating his agenda enabled him to remain undiscovered. Henry Blois interpolates corroborations into other texts authored previously by other writers; to add credence to his fabricated history of the Britons.
After discussing the Merlin prophecies, VM and the GS, I will explain exactly how Henry went about creating Geoffrey’s persona and show that the Vulgate HRB and the ‘updated’ Merlin prophecies were not brought together until 1155. This has been achieved by Henry Blois grafting icons and personages (in VM especially) from Welsh prophetic material while looking backwards in time to recorded history and linking retrospectively to events recorded in insular annals of the Britons. In effect in places the prophetia act as a corroborative commentary to Henry Blois’ faux History. This is how Henry Blois affects the ‘skimble skamble’ nature of the murky seeings and mutterings of a Dark Age prognosticator called Merlin.
There are many evidences to consider concerning ‘Geoffrey’s’ work. Orderic’s testimony needs to be considered along with Henry of Huntingdon’s précis (EAW) of what I have termed the Primary Historia. Also, we must look at Henry’s relationship with abbot Suger and also investigate John of Cornwall’s testimony regarding the prophecies of Merlin. Robert of Torigni’s testimony regarding the Bishop of Asaph will also be investigated. Also, Alfred of Beverley’s recycled account of Geoffrey’s work. All of this will be dealt with in the appropriate places in this exposé.
The supposed ‘Geoffrey’ had already completed his Primary Historia by the latter half of 1138, but we also will discover that Merlin prophecies existed in an incomplete emerging form c.1139-46 which I have termed the Libellus Merlini. It was the political intent behind these prophecies in 1155 that were Henry’s crafty agenda and their production was inspired by Cicero’s De Divinatione.
15Any reader wishing to follow the trail of the prophecies should read the chapter on John of Cornwall because this has the most certain evidence that Henry Blois wrote that Version. However, I have left that until last so that it explains the progression of the prophecies which the reader will appreciate after having covered much other material.
Henry Blois was a genius, but he was a treacherous and deceitful Machiavellian character with evolving views toward Rome and religion. He was also sagacious, persuasive and an eloquent orator with finely tuned diplomatic skills and political savvy. It is this image which is partly understood by historians.
I hope to expose to the reader another side of his complexity which is secreted in his subtle skill as an author. It should not be forgotten that Henry Blois was known as a scholar, a man who constantly wrote yet ostensibly left no writing of any worth as a legacy. Yet Henry Blois clearly thought his legacy would be greater than that of Cicero16 as he declares in his self-written epitaph inscribed on the Mosan plates/Meusan plaques.
In what way could Henry Blois be equatable to Cicero, a concept put forward by himself in the self composed epitaph on the Meusan plaques, if our modern scholars assessment of Henry Blois is correct?
Cicero’s influence on the Latin Language was so immense and yet scholars believe Henry Blois left to posterity no written material of any importance. It is said that “the influence of Cicero upon the history of European literature and ideas greatly exceeds that of any other prose writer in any language”. So, either Henry Blois is deluded or scholars need to make the connections between the evidences provided in this investigation.
Scholars need to better understand Henry Blois’ own assessment of his authorial output, because Henry’s achievements are greater than those of Cicero once his authorship is established of the various tracts investigated herein. Scholars are still trying to make sense of ‘Geoffrey’s’ legacy. The difference between Henry Blois and his admiration for Cicero is that Cicero spoke the truth and Henry Blois has left us a web of deceit and lies but still keeps us entertained.