Two hundred monks shall perish in Leicester and the Saxon shall drive out her ruler and leave vacant her walls. 

This prophecy is in reference to the defeat of Brocmail and the slaughter of the monks at Leicester. ‘Geoffrey’ here either makes a mistake regarding the location of Leicester893 or as is quite normal, sets up an episode which is taken from a British annal such as Bede and then relays it incorrectly for his own ends to bring it in line with a future scenario he is about to concoct.

This is certainly the case here in the HRB where he uses Bede as his source when relating the massacre of Bangor. Bede in his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum is in fact referring to the battle of Chester in which Brocmail, tasked with protecting the monks, abandons them to be massacred.

  In ‘Geoffrey’s’ rendition of the event, Brocmail dies bravely. In both versions, monks from Bangor die. It is to this historic episode, the location is wrongly apportioned to Leicester rather than Chester.  The confusion may or may not be deliberate as Bede refers to Chester by its English name Legacaestir which is strikingly similar to Legecestria the term ‘Geoffrey’ uses for Leicester in the HRB from the Anglo Saxon Laegrecastrescir.

It is the HRB rather than Bede’s historic episode, to which the Vita Merlini prophecy refers. Regardless of the differences of historic Bede, HRB and Vita…. ‘Geoffrey‘s’ number of monks does not agree with the annals, but it does agree with the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

In this whole section of VM Henry Blois seems to be presenting asa Merlinian prophecy some areas and topics which he had presented as the course of history in the HRB. This confirmation does in effect add credence to the history as presented in the HRB, because Merlin, (as he later attests at the end of VM), gave all these prophecies in the time of Vortigern. In effect the reader now sees the prophecies as past matter of fact events. We start to see how clever and conscious of history Henry Blois is. Henry in effect is rewriting History in the HRB and adding his own later confirmation of that history in the VM by Merlin seeming to prophecy the future event when ‘Geoffrey’ covers it in the course of History.

893HRB XI, xiii

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This