The Boar of Brittany, protected by an aged oak, takes away the moon, who brandished swords behind her back.
The Boar of Cornwall was originally Arthur in the Libellus Merlini ‘as the forests of Gaul shall he posses’. The Boar of Brittany may even be King Stephen and the aged oak is Henry Blois after the prophecies have been squewed from an original in the Libellus Merlini.
When the Anarchy came to a head, Henry, again, cast his lot with Stephen having briefly changed allegiance (although not admitted in GS). Having been abused by the Empress Matilda and then begged by his brother’s wife Queen Matilda to aid his imprisoned brother, Henry at this stage sees himself as the ‘protector’ of Stephen. When the Empress Matilda was about to be crowned, Henry was allied with her and learns that the Empress is disrespectful of him and most other lords now that she thinks the crown is a fait accompli.
There is little more stultifying than a vain and arrogant Henry Blois traipsing around in the retinue of a vain and haughty Matilda. But, Henry also finds out in the brief period where he swapped allegiance to her that she could not keep her word; she was not to be trusted and had few feminine or redeeming qualities. The Empress Matilda is outmanoeuvred by Henry Blois and her eventual downfall is the failure to stop Henry at the rout of Winchester where also her own brother was captured.
‘Taking away the moon’ alludes to the fact that Matilda’s power base was in effect removed by the guile and subtlety of Henry Blois’ manipulation of events. The sword behind her back is his allusion to her dishonesty; and may even refer to his own scheming which was the cause of her swift departure from London.
The artifice of Henry Blois in the Prophecies of Merlin is partly to confuse and partly to give the impression and sound like a prophet from the 6th century. It is also partly to employ the devise of using known information about historical events so as to appear as prophetic by giving the prophecies the aura of antiquity. William of Newburgh’s castigation of Geoffrey of Monmouth gives the impression that an original set of prophecies genuinely existed written by Merlin. The prophecies of Merlin were not Merlin’s composition because Merlin himself is a composite himself constructed by Henry Blois and did not exist in antiquity! But there are still scholars today that believe in his prescience and his reality.
Because of Henry’s later updated versions found in Vulgate HRB and VM…. later commentators such as Newburgh assumed that ‘Geoffrey’ had added and changed original verses written by Merlin. What Newburgh did not realise was that the original set which were created separately from the Primary Historia (which Newburgh implies have been manipulated) were in fact written by Henry Blois also.
However, one of these original icons was the ‘boar’ and Henry’s basic use of it changes where individuals are applied specifically to confuse and mix into the ‘soup’ of his later additions…. yet using some earlier icons to seem consistent. To speculate, we might posit that Henry’s understanding of the animal symbol is that of the hereditary line from Arthur which transmuted to Brittany and from thence into Normandy, eventually to be returned back into Britain as William the Conqueror, the first to return the crown of Brutus in its original sense.
So, it is possible that the boar of Brittany refers to his Brother Stephen in this instance. Earlier in the Vita we understood that Stephen and Henry were William the Conqueror’s Nephews, and William the Conqueror was then the Boar of Cornwall.
The nephews of the Boar of Cornwall cast everything into confusion, and setting snares for each other engage in a mutual slaughter with their wicked swords. They do not wish to wait to get possession of the Kingdom lawfully, but seize the crown. However, this might also be understood as Arthur’s nephews.
However, the prophecies have been squewed from the original Libellus to the updated HRB rendition and then in to the VM edition, so that we cannot be certain sometimes to what the icon refers. This may more properly have referred to Arthur’s nephew Mordred.
In this instance the ‘boar’ might be Stephen. Stephen is the fourth as we found earlier, and he is crossing the Legate (the shadow of the helmeted man who is the pope). This is Henry himself at a time when he and his brother were at odds following the election of Theobald of Bec as Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry in the VM prophecies refers to specific events and thus at that time he uses the terminology ‘crossed’ because that was the sentiment that he felt, crossed betrayed: A fourth shall be in authority whom awkward piety shall injure until he shall be clothed in his father, so that girded with boar’s teeth he shall cross the shadow of the helmeted man.
In the Prophecies of Merlin in the HRB the boar seems to apply to Arthur.
For the Boar of Cornwall shall bring succour and shall trample their necks beneath his feet. The islands of the Ocean shall be subdued unto his power, and the forests of Gaul shall he possess.
The Forest of Gaul referring to the fake historicity of HRB’s Authurian dominance in the campaign against Roman poer in ‘Gaul’. However, there is no end of Henry’s subtlety when again in the Prophecies of Merlin from the Vulgate HRB, he refers to himself as the Boar of commerce regaining the misappropriated lands of Glastonbury abbey: Then shall the Boar of commerce arrive in the land, who shall recall the scattered flocks unto the pastures they have lost. His breast shall be meat unto the hungry and his tongue as drink unto them that thirst.
This could also be accounted as an illusion the Roman church and its obvious materialism connected to Augustine’s arrival. Lastly, the appellation of ‘boar’ goes back to Brutus an appellation supposedly because he landed there initially but this may well have been squewed: After him shall succeed the Boar of Totnes, and with baleful tyranny shall he oppress the people.
Just from this brief examination of the ‘boar’ we can see the squewing technique employed by Henry.