There is a set of Merlin prophecies that have been inserted into Orderic Vitalis’ chronicle. It was interpolated by Henry Blois and the proof of this fact is set out below.
The point of insertion into Orderic’s history is at chapter XLVII in book XII. The Henry Blois insertion of the Merlin prophecies comes just after another short episode in Orderic’s work which tells us of Duke Robert, while imprisoned at Cardiff.
Supposedly, the Duke, who is King Stephen’s cousin, sees into the future like a prophet and sees the death of his son in the ‘White Ship’ incident. In the passage the Duke says: ‘Alas! My son is dead’. Orderic then tells us that no messenger could have informed the Duke beforehand, averring the miraculous foresight of the Duke.
This specific interpolation has confused nearly every researcher trying to find the truth about the Merlin Prophecies and Geoffrey of Monmouth’s date for publishing the Merlin prophecies. The whole section devoted to Merlin’s prophecies is an interpolation and in effect does the same as I have shown previously; it cleverly backdates the prophecies to a period before King Henry Ist death.
Orderic Vitalis ends the account with the death of the imprisoned Duke six years afterwards, which also sways the reader’s interpretation of the dating of the interpolated Merlin passage in Orderic’s work.
Supposedly, twenty years before Henry Blois’ prediction of Henry II invasion of Ireland, a certain prophecy found in the ‘updated’ prophecies in HRB and also in VM, which I have previously shown can only be dated after the council at Winchester at Michaelmas in 1155 where the invasion of Ireland was discussed …..now incredibly appears in a work where we know the author died in 1142
The entire chapter XLVII in book XII is evidently an interpolation that Henry Blois has spliced into Orderic’s Chronicle.296 The choice of insertion is apropos because one of the prophecies speaks of the Duke’s son’s death in the ‘White Ship’ incident along with Henry Ist son and heir. Duke Robert’s capacity as a seer in this passage where the spliced interpolation occurs, conditions the reader of Orderic’s chronicle to that chronological date and thus sets up the Merlin passage to be accepted as part of the chronicle.
In this case of interpolation a simple folio insertion into Orderic’s chronicle is not exactly a huge undertaking given what is at stake, should Henry Blois be discovered as the composer of the Merlin prophecies. The cleverness of Henry Blois is in placing the interpolated Merlin prophecies in a chronological annal, so that it appears to have been written while Henry Ist was alive by saying: I may therefore be allowed to introduce in this work some of his predictions which appear to relate to the present era.
296Crick is completely taken in by the insertion into Orderic saying: Orderic Vitalis first known reader of Geoffrey’s Merlinian prophecies understood their function immediately. The shame is that our expert does not understand ‘Geoffrey’, who he really is, or why he interpolated Orderic’s work!!
I just want to make this brief point; Henry Blois refers to himself in fatuous vaticinatory language in a Merlin Prophecy as the ‘shadow of the pope’ i.e. the Legate. He did this in the Libellus Merlini edition while his brother was on the throne and long before he updated the Merlin prophecies in 1155 with seditious content. Only after that time was he trying to cover his tracks. From 1143 to 1963, the papal tiara was solemnly placed on the pope’s head during a papal coronation and resembled a helmet:297 Wherefore, girdled about with the teeth of wolves, shall he climb over the heights of the mountains and the shadow of him that weareth a helmet.298
On 1 March 1139, during the reign of his brother Stephen, Henry obtained a commission as papal legate, which in effect gave him higher rank than Theobald of Bec and therefore rule over the English church. Logically, as long as one has understood that Henry Blois is composing these prophecies a terminus post quem must be after 1139 for the composition of the original Libellus Merlini. see appendix 12
One can’t have the ‘sixth in Ireland’ prophecy and one can’t have the seditious prophecy inciting the Celts to rebellion in Orderic’s chronicle because both of these Merlinian prophecies post date 1155 and thus the terminus ad quem for the final Vulgate version of HRB. Why do you think Henry Blois is making such a point in this interpolation about Henry Ist still being alive at the time when Orderic is supposed to be commenting on the prophecies?
This is very important because the supposed Orderic testimony is like kryptonite to a scholar’s logic in the search for the elusive ‘Geoffrey’ or for working out the date that the original prophecies were composed.
If one accepts Orderic’s testimony (even excluding the very exclusion of the body part prophecy in this section), the Merlin prophecies would ostensibly then predate Henry Ist death. Scholars need to understand that this is the very reason for the insertion and interpolation. Logically, if one does not accept that the updated prophecies could only have been composed after 1155, then Merlin really would appear to possess the power of prescience. We know ‘Geoffrey’ did not possess this power and and as a general rule the prophecies were composed retrospectively.
Therefore, the terminus a quo for the Orderic insertion is 1155 because of the inclusion of the two updated prophecies and shows categorically that those prophecies post date 1155. This point is so important because it then defines so many other evidences like the dedications to the HRB and the evolving nature of the editions of prophecies. The understanding of this fact also shows which Variant editions of the HRB have also had updated prophecies overwritten into them.
It is worth looking at the entire chapter XLVII as a whole because this is the one chapter which has duped scholars into believing in the veracity of the Merlin prophecies in that they believe the passage below was genuinely written by Orderic while alive in the time of King Henry Ist:
See how the prophecy of Ambrosius Merlin, delivered in the time of Vortigern, King of Britain was clearly fulfilled in many instances during a period of 600 years. I may therefore be allowed to introduce in this work some of his predictions which appear to relate to the present era. Merlin was contemporary with St Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre. He twice crossed over to England in the time of the Emperor Valentinian, and, disputing against Pelagius and his disciples, who cavilled at the doctrine of divine grace, confuted the heretics by many miracles wrought in the name of the Lord. Then, after devoutly celebrating the feast of Easter, he fought against the Anglo-Saxons, who being pagans waged war against the Christian Britons; and prevailing more by his prayers than his arms, routed the heathen host with an army of newly baptised in the faith, he himself shouting alleluia during the battle.299 Should anyone desire to learn more of these events and the fortunes of the Britons, he should peruse the books of Gildas the British historian, and Bede the English writer, in which the reader will find allusive narrative of the acts of Vortimer and his brothers with those of the valiant Arthur, who fought twelve battles against the English.
297See Note 3, Papal Coronation
298HRB VII, iii
299This sentence alone confirms that the Vita Merlini had already been composed before the interpolation into Orderic. The VM was composed after 1155 while Henry Blois was in Clugny.
We are told that Merlin showed Vortigern a pond in the middle of the floor, and in the pond two vessels, and in the vessel’s attendant folded up, and in the tent two worms, one of which was white and the other red. The worms grew very fast and becoming dragons, fought desperately with each other. At last, the red dragon conquered and drove the white dragon to the margin of the pond. The King beholding these things, with the Britons, was sorely distressed and wept. Merlin, being then interrogated by the astonished spectators, explained in the spirit of prophecy that the pond in the middle of the floor signified the world; the two vessels, the British isles; the tent, the towns and villages of Britain, the seats of human habitation ; by the two worms were meant the British and English people, who should harass each other by turns in fierce conflicts, until the bloody Saxons, who are designated by the red dragon, had driven into Cornwall, and to the shores of the ocean, the Britons, who are figured by the white dragon, because they were arrayed in white at the baptismal font from the times of King Lucius, and pope Eleutherius.
The prophet also predicted the course of events which would occur in future ages in the islands of the north and reduced his prophecy to writing in allegorical language. Having spoken of the Germanic worm and the decimation of Neustria, which was fulfilled in Alfred, brother of Edward, the son of King Ethelred and his companions at Guilford; he made predictions concerning the revolutions of the present age, and the troublesome vicissitudes of affairs, to the following effect:
— I will include the rest of the interpolated insertion into Orderic’s work after I have briefly discussed the above.
We know the interpolation is post 1155 because of the inclusion of the ‘Sixth in Ireland’ prophecy and the fact someone is contorting the wording so that the prophecies appear to have been extant while Henry Ist was still alive. Here in the preamble of the Orderic insertion, Henry Blois is annulling the accusation and derision from the critics that the prophecies are recently invented and Henry II is trying to find who was inciting the Celts to rebellion. The fact that questions were being raised also about Merlin being an incubus and prophesying by the Devil is counteracted above in Merlin’s connection to Christianity…. disputing against Pelagius and his disciples.
For those who were sceptical of the prophecies in VM and the updates into the Vulgate version of HRB (which could only have been written post 1155)….one wonders who has added the ‘decimation of Neustria’ now Henry II is on the throne. This prophecy was not in the earlier Libellus Merlini when Henry Blois’ brother Stephen was king and was not a prophecy that Henry would have entertained while his brother was alive. ‘Germanic worms’ were mentioned in the original version of prophecies, but the ‘decimation of Neustria’ has appeared since Henry II has come to power and some people are getting irritated and suspicious. see appendix 8
When Henry, in the latter half of 1157, while still at Clugny, realises the Celtic rebellion is not going to come to fruition; he tries ambiguously to connect his prophecies intended to cause sedition back to the time of Alfred, feigning comprehension and the true purport of the prophecy by saying (in pretence) the prophecy was already fulfilled and we are supposedly given an erroneous trail to follow by an innocent chronicler who has misinterpreted the obvious.
Another piece of evidence I will show further on (unequivocally) is that the persona300 of King Lucius as presented by ‘Geoffrey’, as a British king, is entirely Henry Blois’ invention in HRB and found in interpolations in DA, also which in itself provides more evidence in support that the interpolations into the Glastonbury DA were added by Henry Blois.
300‘Geoffrey’ expands upon a mistake made by Bede. It is this purposeful link to King Lucius that Orderic supposedly makes with Merlin which indicates it must be the inventor of Merlin at work who is interpolating Orderic’s work; unless of course one refuses to see that the author of HRB is the same as the person inventing the Merlin prophecies and also the author of the interpolations into DA.
Therefore, we can establish the Merlin passage in Orderic is definitively an interpolation by Henry Blois. The passage could not have been written by Orderic at the time thought by scholars because Primary Historia was only finished in 1138. It could not have been finished in 1136 as most scholars seem to concur; because Henry would not have had the topographical detail of Wales at that stage to base the Arthuriad at Caerleon.
King Lucius first features as a fabricated persona in First Variant from 1144 (as part of the association with Eleutherius) to bolster the position toward a Roman audience evidencing that Briton was Christianised before Augustine’s arrival. As I have covered, Orderic died in 1142 and one cannot have the ‘Sixth’ in Ireland prophecy included in this apparently old set of prophecies concurring for the most part with the Libellus Merlini prophecies, appearing to date from Henry I reign. Logically, this whole set must postdate 1155 anyway and postdate VM’s composition.
King Lucius as presented in HRB as a King in Britain is entirely the invention of Henry Blois. ‘Geoffrey’ in HRB employs him as a splice in chronology based upon a mistake made by Bede in his history and the bogus King Lucius is again employed in DA.
Henry Blois as interpolator into Orderic’s work has purposefully changed the colour of the dragons to the opposite from that presented in the HRB prophecies (and Nennius). ‘bloody Saxons, who are designated by the red dragon’. It is such an obvious mistake that the colours are ‘vice versa’ which by such a misrepresentation is meant to imply that it is an inconsequential muddle of the chronicler (Orderic)…. and therefore, could not be an interpolation by the very man who wrote’ the White Dragon is indicative of the Saxons’ in the HRB. The HRB merlin prophecies had it the same way around as the serpents which are presented in Nennius. (see appendix 35).
An accidental mistake one might think, but don’t forget Henry Blois in the GS mis-names his own Nephew as the future Bishop of Durham purposefully to hide his identity as author as well as a few petty deprecations concerning himself.
We should also be aware that Henry Blois in the Orderic interpolation employs a gambit found in HRB, where he accredits certain facts to a historian like Gildas. But what he refers to is not found in Gildas, i.e. he is trying to establish fact where none exists.
Now, why do we see ‘Orderic’ in this interpolation employing the very same tactic? It is because the writer of the Merlin interpolation into Orderic is Henry Blois. Orderic mentions Guortemirus and his brothers and Arthur; along with his twelve battles as all appearing in Gildas-Nennius and Bede. Henry knows the battles are not in Bede and yet are in Nennius. He uses the same ploy in HRB several times trying to establish what is in the Nennius manuscript was in fact authored by Gildas. It is hardly likely that Orderic would assert such a thing. The only person to propagate these inaccuracies establishing a corroborative false history in different manuscripts is Henry Blois.
It is Henry Blois establishing corroborative sources, especially by propagating the work of Nennius under the name of the respected Gildas. This is evidenced in that we next learn that the Saxons drove the Britons into Cornwall. This is neither in Nennius or Bede but in the HRB.
Also, the named princes in Orderic’s interpolated passage are scattered through Nennius and Bede, if one can pick them out. Yet in Geoffrey’s HRB all ten princes exist in the same order as Orderic has them. We may conclude, given the evidence, Henry Blois is the interpolator into Orderic with one aim in mind: To make it appear as if Orderic had the ‘Sixth’ in Ireland prophecy and the seditious prophecy mixed with those that were in the earlier Libellus Merlini.
This then gives the impression that all the prophecies in Orderic’s book XII were extant before Henry Ist died. Even though it is admitted that Orderic did not write his book chronologically, the passage feigns to be written before December 1135. This cannot be accepted, as Henry would only have written the prophecy concerning the ‘Sixth’ once he knew his brother was dead to purposefully unseat the man who had relieved him of his castles and power; also, to make such a prediction could only transpire when Henry was appraised of the intention to invade Ireland in 1155 at the Winchester council.
The same logic should be applied for this next prophecy found in the Orderic section on Merlin which is implying Henry II is going to loose Britain; which is definitely written after Henry Blois’ brother is dead:
There shall arise from him a pest/ Lynx, which shall penetrate everywhere, and threaten ruin to his own nation. Through it Neustria shall lose both islands, and be shorn of her former dignity. Then the citizens shall return to the island.” see appendix 8
Scholars still to this day genuinely believe that in the twelfth century certain chroniclers (Geoffrey being the prime candidate) thought that the authorship of the work of Nennius was wrongly apportioned to Gildas. Let me state for the record one absolute certainty; the person responsible for propagating and copying Nennius’ work and citing the author as Gildas is Henry Blois.
Gildas is put in direct association with Arthur in the Life of Gildas which we know was composed by Henry. The evidence for this fact is explained in the section on the Antiquity of Glastonbury church. So, it is imperative to understand that neither Bede nor Gildas mention Arthur by name; and by implicating Nennius’ work as Gildas’ work several times in HRB, Henry establishes his own historicity for HRB’s chivalric Arthur. This foisting of Nennius’ work on Gildas occurs more than a few times in HRB and it is not a mistake; but a deliberate ruse to add credence to a manuscript that lists Arthur’s battles. (This is why I just leave Nennius to stand as it is… because I think it genuinely speaks to Arthur the Warlord).
Gildas was never at Glastonbury and it is Henry Blois who posits that he was at Glastonbury abbey in interpolations into GR3 and DA to concur with the episode where Gildas is said to have been present at Glastonbury in Life of Gildas as a contemporary of King Arthur. Yet there are those scholars who do realise that the chivalric King Arthur did not exist and nor did Guinevere so the depiction of the scene at Glastonbury on the Modena Archivolt can also be chalked up to Henry Blois who is the composer of the Life of Gildas. See the section on the Modena Archivolt
Make no mistake that Nennius’ work is by Nennius and the germs of inspiration of ‘Geoffrey’s’ muses for the introduction of Arthuriana into the HRB is derived from Nennius. Nennius’ manuscript was a genuine work which bears witness to Arthur (the un-chivalric) and it also has Vortigern and two serpents from which Henry is witnessed to have used as a template for the splice into HRB, for the preamble to the prophecies (see appendix 35) even before the Alexandrine dedication was added to HRB. Nennius does not mention Merlin in connection with these serpents. This is entirely a case of Henry’s muses which have inspired ‘Geoffrey’ to aver that Merlin’s surname is Ambrosius.
The author of HRB is keen that we should accept Gildas as the real author of Nennius. We can witness the same polemic (in the passage above) interpolated into Orderic’s work i.e. the same polemical gambit is played in HRB and in the Orderic interpolation. But also, the author of chapter XLVII in Orderic would have us believe that Merlin too was mentioned by this book supposedly written by Gildas. So, one can understand this paragraph, shown below has the same polemic as ‘Geoffrey’s’ proposes. The reason for this is that Henry Blois wants posterity to believe Gildas referred to Arthur and Merlin in the HRB text, and that Gildas was even present at the concocted episode of Guinevere’s kidnap found in Henry Blois’ composed version of Life of Gildas.
Should anyone desire to learn more of these events and the fortunes of the Britons, he should peruse the books of Gildas the British historian, and Bede the English writer, in which the reader will find allusive narrative of the acts of Vortimer and his brothers with those of the valiant Arthur, who fought twelve battles against the English. We are told that Merlin showed Vortigern a pond in the middle of the floor, and in the pond two vessels.
The intention of Henry Blois by citing the historians ‘allusive narrative’ and naming Vortigern is to make the reader believe that Gildas and Bede did allude to Merlin. They did not!!! Nennius records the passage which was the inspiration for ‘Geoffrey’ involving the boy Ambrosius but he does not mention Merlin. Now we understand why Henry is keen on having Nennius thought of as a work composed by Gildas the Wise.
Orderic’s passage leads to the mention of King Lucius and Eleutherius. Although Eleutherius is mentioned first in the Liber Pontificalis and thereafter in Bede and in Nennius, we can only touch on this at the moment, because later, we will discover that King Lucius has been given an entirely fictitious role in HRB. This same connection with Eleutherius has been contorted so that King Lucius becomes thereafter indellibly associated with the two preachers Phagan and Deruvian once they become included in First Variant and corroborated in the interpolated section in the DA. What is not surprising is that Henry Blois as the interpolator of the Merlin passage in Orderic further confirms the fable about King Lucius that he (Henry Blois) established in HRB.
The name of Lucius has been used again when interpolated into William of Malmesbury’s DA by Henry, who has made the missionaries Phagan and Deruvian (another concoction from HRB), sent by Pope Eleutherius, to be the discoverers of an already established Glastonbury church.
Nobody had heard of the two previously un-named preachers prior to First Variant HRB. It is Henry Blois’ device to connect them to Eleutherius and by extension King Lucius. All this will become clear as regards Phagan, Deruvian and King Lucius when we cover this subject in the chapters on William of Malmesbury’s GR3 and DA. This is Henry Blois’ most elaborate conflation and invention and it is not by coincidence that the propaganda is set to conflate and corroborate in the interpolation in Orderic’s chapter XLVII to concur in the HRB: Their names and acts are to be found recorded in the book that Gildas wrote as concerning the victory of Aurelius Ambrosius.301
301HRB IV, xx
It would be silly to think that the man who wrote the life of Gildas is not the same man who tells us Gildas wrote Nennius. One can see Henry Blois is up to the same thing in HRB: Whence afterward a contention arose betwixt him and his brother 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 length…
What scholars need to understand is that Henry Blois wanted to establish a real historicity for King Arthur and Merlin and for his composition as a whole. It would be unwise of scholars given the information we have covered already to suppose that because of the few copies of Nennius’ manuscripts that are extant and yet do have the authorship ascribed to Gildas, there should be any merit in the confusion of authorship so clearly seen as a polemic.
Henry Blois had control over many scriptoriums and what is certain is that he is the source of this purposeful conflation. So, it is not so much a confusion in the middle ages of Nennius’ work sometimes being ascribed to Gildas as the author, but a purposeful misdirection started by Henry Blois to add credence and weight to his historical invention of the Chivalric King Arthur and his invention of Merlin witnessed in the HRB and VM.
This author of the HRB and ‘coincidentally’ in the interpolation into Orderic is admonishing us to read Gildas. Why would he do this? Of course, to ensure that his readers think Nennius’ work was composed by Gildas. Of course, Gildas’ De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae does not mention Troy as the extract above would have us believe.
The Nennius manuscript is an important source for Henry’s inspiration in HRB. It is the only work apart from a few saints’ lives and the Annals Cambriae (and in Henry’s own bogus Life of Gildas) which mentions Arthur. Nennius has no historical traceable provenance, but because he mentions Arthur Henry tries to coincide Gildas and Arthur because Henry has composed the life of Gildas (which puts Gildas in direct contact with Arthur at Glastonbury). Henry Blois wants his audience to confuse Nennius’ work as that written by Gildas and from his polemis scholars now believe in the middle ages there was a genuine mix up but I can assure the reader that Before Henry Blois, there was none..
Gildas’ genuine work De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae does not mention Arthur or King Lucius. But, the author of the life of Gildas, and the two interpolated manuscripts of Malmesbury’s DA and GR3 concerning Lucius is authored by the same person i.e.Henry Blois, who evidently composed the HRB and interpolated Orderic’s passage on Merlin. It is not surprising therefore to see the same propaganda in all.
Five of the seven explicit quotations from Gildas in Geoffrey’s work are fraudulent i.e. Gildas did not say what is being posited by ‘Geoffrey’. Why can’t scholars recognise fraud and polemic? However, ‘Geoffrey’ does quote Gildas in HRB without citing him as a reference. Geoffrey thus employs a famous name to stamp credibility on his contortions, conflations and inventions. Henry only respects Gildas without giving the Nennius historian credit for what parts of his work he used for his own inspiration. Yet, Henry Blois tries his best to bring their names into association with each other in HRB, causing confusion for posterity.
How is it that Guortegirnus and the Britons are moved to tears where no such thing happens in Nennius and yet coincidentally there is a likeness in the HRB where Merlin hysterically bursts into tears before beginning the prophecies? What a quagmire and simply there is no way through it without the people who profess to have knowledge on this subject re-boot all previous endeavours but rid themselves of their debilitating misconception that Geoffrey actually lived and start with the premise that Henry Blois is Geoffrey.
To grasp the fraud which Henry Blois has perpetrated, one has to understand that at that era when a blank canvas existed about British History, if one had the intent, a person as powerful as Henry, evidently could concoct his own History. Especially given the situation where his renown gave him access to so many annals such as Orderic’s and William’s where he was the one who had copies made of their work after he had interpolated them.
Much of his effort in causing the confusion should be understood as a reaction firstly, to the suspicion that the seditious prophecies were recent and meant to cause rebellion and secondly to bolster his invented set of events and characters witnessed in the text of HRB, to be formally recognised as a true portrayal of historical events.
So, the main reason for the late additions become clear in the Vulgate HRB. The misdirecting colophon concerning the historians essentially backdates the contemporaneity of the authorship of HRB. The invention of Walter the Archdeacon (obviously inspired by Walter’s name being seen as a signatory to one of the Oxford Charters) in effect denies responsibility for the content of the HRB (should Henry ever be rumbled as author). After the introduction of Walter into the HRB, the whole historicity of the HRB ostensibly just became a translation of a history composed by another.
Concerning the introduction of the Alexandine dedication, it shows that not only did the prophecies confirm the historical narrative in the HRB, but the reasoning behind their introduction (where copies of HRB had existed without the prophecies attached previously) was to add credence to them by having a Bishop that had ‘pressed’ Geoffrey to translate them. Conveniently though, now the prophecies fulfilled what appeared to be just a chronicle of events. The prophecies confirm the totally invented parts of the history. Whatever the reason for the late propaganda of misdirection, King Henry II would want to know who was releasing these seditious prophecies.
How much of a genius is Henry Blois can only be gauged by the fact that those today who profess to be experts on Geoffrey, still do not see through what Henry Blois has left us. If they can’t grasp the first part of this investigation and recognise Henry Blois as the author of the HRB, how will they ever grasp his authorship of Grail legend and the appearance of the manufactured Grave of Arthur at Glastonbury.
I think now the reader can see why it was so imperative to create the three most important interpolations, Gaimar’s epilogue, the colophon which speaks to historians in Vulgate HRB and the interpolation into Orderic. Those three small insertions would take just folio insertions yet change and backdate the publication of HRB and the Merlin prophecies found therein. If one could add to that propaganda Robert of Torigni’s mention of the bishop of Asaph and the small bit of paper alluding to ‘Goeffrey’s’ elevation to bishop, and the scribble on seven charters in the Oxford area, Henry has totally fooled every researcher and contemporary trying to plough the quagmire to place the elusive ‘Geoffrey’ that Henry Blois has left to posterity.
This is exactly what Henry Blois has set out to do: to propagate a synthesis of his various agendas throughout his long life at the forefront of power. This in effect is exemplified by the contents of the first thirty-four chapters of DA. The fact that Henry Blois had the capability and the volition to interpolate and reproduce so many manuscripts….. is one perspective. Modern scholars can make little sense of the salad of material Henry Blois has left behind. It is only when political events and the motivation behind the various interpolations become clear, that Henry Blois is witnessed at centre stage at every turn.
Once one understands that Henry Blois wrote the Prophecies of Merlin one can see he sets out purposely to confuse his readers by changing the form of the prophecies as witnessed in the differences between the Orderic interpolation, the original prophecies which Suger would have received, and those written in the Vulgate HRB. Henry then further ‘squewes’ the original purport of some prophecies in the later VM as his agenda has changed. Add to this ‘salad’ of material, John of Cornwall’s rendition of prophecies, (also crafted by Henry Blois) …. it leaves little that can be relied upon unless one understands his ‘agendas’.
The accusation by scholars against what I have divined as material interpolated or authored by Henry will always be dismissed by this generation of researchers because their in-depth analysis of the three genres of study in this investigation remains devoid of context and is usually treated as unconnected to the other genres of study. It is only by linking Glastonburyalia, ‘Geoffrey’s’ Arthuriana and the Prophecies of Merlin with Grail literature, that someone who purposefully set out to obscure his connection to all three will ever be discovered.
Thrown into this mix is Henry Blois’ interpolations in the first 34 chapters of DA and version B interpolations of William of Malmesbury’s GR3. If we add to this invention of history that we find in HRB, Henry Blois leaves no investigator any chance of resolving any of this clutter because Henry so obviously also impersonates Wace and relates Wace’s work as if it were the same as Gaimar’s Brut.
The reader may think that the conspiracy theories I have postulated regarding Henry Blois interference in manuscripts in Medieval times have gone too far already, but to complicate matters further: Henry then composes the primordial Grail literature which again commences a whole new body of corroborative Arthurian literature which is then expanded upon by others such as Chrétien and Robert. All will become clear as we cover each subject to reveal Henry Blois’ involvement.
It would not be untenable for Henry Blois to be accused of interpolating the original MS by Nennius. However, to me this seems doubtful as it is the one main text which corroborated the existence of Arthur as warlord and an Arthur persona existing in genuine History. It would hardly be credible to argue that it is Henry Blois who is the instigator of the change of authorship from Nennius to Gildas if indeed he had gone to the effort of interpolating the Nennius’ manuscript. Nennius’ work definitely existed at an earlier date than Geoffrey’s HRB.302 Henry may have first come across the Nennius manuscript at Chartres. Nennius maybe a patchwork compilation, but the Arthurian section in it is Henry’s anchor point for Arthur and the boy Ambrosius for the commencement of the Merlin myth. He wishes us to believe is that the work of Nennius was composed by Gildas as some manuscripts in his era did not have the Nennius name attached.
302Newell. Problems with Nennius.
He is so keen to assign Nennius to Gildas in HRB, VM, and the Orderic interpolation that we can only assume it was not a general misunderstanding by medieval chroniclers as modern scholars seem to have rationalised. It was rather a deliberate attempt to brand the work of Nennius as that of Gildas for reasons of respectability and reliability.
What is a Nennius’ manuscript doing at Chartres? In the Durham Cathedral Library MS B.2.35 we find the Nennius edition attributed to Gildas but ‘coincidentally’ the manuscript of the Life of Gildas by Caradog of Llancarfan is part of the Gildas-Nennius manuscript. Henry’s sister Agnes had a son Hugh de Puiset who had been archdeacon in the see of Winchester, before Henry promoted him to the position of Bishop of Durham and is probably the link to Durham and the reason the scripts were combined.
Without the relevant section in Nennius’ history, Henry would have no foundation as an Arthurian source except a brief mention in Annales Cambriae upon which to establish his chivalric Arthur. The Gildas and Bede references are only by association with Ambrosius Aurelianus the Briton resistance leader which ‘Geoffrey’ purposefully conflates with Arthur’s existence.303 The fact that Huntingdon was unperturbed about Arthur as an invention when writing to Warin means he was acquainted with the Arthur in Nennius and the ‘Hope’ of the Briton’s as he relates to Warin but never saw any of the later expansions to Arthuriana as witnessed in the First Variant and then the final Vulgate version
303Henry, writing as Geoffrey, even has the audacity to conflate Merlin by calling his surname Ambrosius. Gildas says: Ambrosius Aurelianus, a modest man, who of all the Roman nation was then alone in the confusion of this troubled period by chance left alive’.
Huntingdon himself draws on other parts of Nennius and refers to ‘the famed Arthur’ in the letter to Warin. What troubles me is that after Huntingdon’s description of Arthur’s twelve battles in his last redaction of his chronicle he says: These battles and battle-fields are described by Gildas the historian, so either Henry Blois propaganda had worked on Huntingdon or Huntingdon used the Gildas-Nennius manuscript which I believe has had its author changed to appear to be written by Gildas? If mention of Arthur was in the first 1129 edition of Huntingdon’s history, this would seem unlikely that we can accuse Henry Blois of the authorial name change. But Huntingdon included Arthur in his history after 1139 in a later redaction. What is certain though,Gildas did not mention Arthur, He only wrote about Aurelianus and the battle of Badon.
I do not think it possible to state reliably if the Nennius text has been altered, but it is obvious through the construction, pasting and rearranging of Nennius versions, it could not have been written by Gildas.
However, on balance, it is best to leave the evidence in Nennius as it stands as we cannot know with certainty if or when interpolation occurred. Elsewhere, Henry Blois’ authorial hand is a lot more obvious.
Anachronistically, in ‘Geoffrey’s’ account, it is Nennius who fought Julius Caesar. Does Nennius invent Arthur’s battle locations as none are identifiable today? Nennius also advocates a heritage from Troy and this particular provenance was of Frankish origin as we have covered.
If we know Henry Blois is ‘Geoffrey’ and it was ‘Geoffrey’ who embellished the Trojan heritage which Huntingdon had not heard about in 1139; why did Huntingdon write to Warin stating he had not heard this early history if he had read Nennius. We know the HRB Arthurian escapade is a fantastic concoction and my purpose in this investigation is to highlight certain manuscripts which Henry Blois has a personal identifiable attachment to.
However, going back to the Orderic insertion, it is King Lucius’ historically fictitious request for which, Eleutherius sends two missionaries, Fuganus and Duvianus (an entirely fictitious episode invented by ‘Geoffrey’) who then turn up at Glastonbury in Henry Blois’ St Patrick Charter…. which is the main reason the Eleutherius episode is corroborated and highlighted in the Orderic passage by Henry. Scholrs just won’t get this as it has been wrognly deduced that the St Parick charter was introduced into the DA after Henry Blois death and was forged during the dispute Glastonbury had with Wells. Their analysis is wrong and is explained in the section on the DA
Orderic never mentions Bede or Gildas before in his books or unadulterated text, so it makes one suspicious that the polemic which avers the Nennius material was composed by Gildas (just as it is in HRB) is being re-established again in the interpolation into Orderic’s Merlin passage.
Henry, posing as Caradoc wrote the life of Gildas where Arthuriana and Glastonburyana are woven into a completely concocted text based on the format found in the life of St. Cadoc. The conflation and cross referencing of various tracts is hard to unpick in all this conflated material but Henry used Carado’s name as the author of his propaganda involving a dispute with Canterbury which only becomes evident after reading the section on Eadmer’s letter.
As we saw earlier, Henry even has Taliesin returning from Brittany where he took instruction from Gildas in the VM script. It is the incremental corroboration from the various interpolated manuscripts which has left scholarship a minefield of false connections to stumble through.
Again, we must remember that apart from this passage in Orderic where the Merlin prophecies are featured, Orderic does not cite Bede or Gildas elsewhere in his history yet is here witnessed promoting Nennius’ actual writing as having been written by Gildas as ‘Geoffrey’ does in HRB. Tatlock rightly states that the order of the Kings, given in the interpolated chapter of Orderic are in the order of the HRB rather than Bede or Nennius, but in neither of those authors works are the Britons driven into Cornwall as in HRB. Our impostor of Orderic cleverly portrays in this passage the appearance that the particular events he is portraying come from three sources; Bede, Gildas, and the Merlin prophecies with no mention of the HRB.
Why, if Orderic had in reality read the HRB (obviated by the list of Kings) is there no other information derived from it in the rest of his chronicle? It is this point which confirms along with the others that it was not Orderic who wrote this passage. Henry Blois knew the order of Kings!!! Orderic, like Henry of Huntingdon, would be very interested in the HRB and it is likely would have related to another part of it in his work…. if indeed HRB had been widely published as is commonly thought at the time Orderic composed his history to 1141. He died in 1142 and Henry picked up the only copy added his Merlin interpolation and then had several copies run off in his scriptoriums.
As Orderic died in 1142 (long before Vulgate HRB was published) it cannot be established whether he saw HRB in the redaction I have called the Primary Historia. But definitely the author of the Orderic ‘interpolation’ had seen the updated Merlin prophecies found in HRB and they were certainly not in evidence in 1142. However, Henry Blois would deem it necessary not to mention HRB material, as his intention is to show in the Orderic passage these prophecies existed before Henry Ist died…. when the primary historia was not even published.
It is for this specific reason, Henry avoids the only prophecy which is so highly specific and seems dubious vaticinatory material concerning Henry Ist body parts which information as a prophecy was in the Libellus Merlini script quoted by Abbot Suger. This is why modern scholars think the Vulgate edition is the first edition HRB as they conclude the body part prophecy was an addition to the Vulgate set of prophecies. It is plain to see that when you go offtrack into this quagmire no amount of red lines or rationalisations is ever going to extricate you.
Even the incredulous would not believe a sixth century seer is going to randomly see into the future, the gruesome details of separating Henry Blois’ Uncle’s entrails from its body. Woe unto thee, Neustria, for the brain of the Lion shall be poured forth upon thee; and with mangled limbs shall he be thrust forth of his native soil.
I am sure that that this particular prophecy was in the early Libellus Merlini which found its way into the updated Vulgate prophecies which included events in the Anarchy. Scholarship of course sees the body part304 prophecy as a later insertion into the HRB prophecies; because it is omitted in Orderic’s set of prophecies. This view will obviously be upturned when they open their eyes to the Primary Historia being the edition Huntingdon saw at Le Bec.
304King Henry Ist (the lion in both HRB and VM) died on 1 December 1135. Henry’s uncle’s corpse was taken to Rouen accompanied by the barons, where it was embalmed. His entrails were buried locally at Port-du-Salut Abbey in Normandy, and the body preserved in salt was taken on to England, where it was interred at Reading Abbey. Henry of Huntingdon tells us a man named Ewan was paid a large reward to sever the King’s head with an axe. Therefore, as the supposed prophecy states his soft tissue (brain included) was buried in Normandy and his mangled limbs (the body), was buried in England (thrust from his native soil) i.e. Normandy.
Some commentators have reasoned that because it is the only missing prophecy in Orderic’s work from a mirrored block of prophecies found in the HRB, this prophecy concerning the embalming process of Henry I must be a later interpolation into the same set in HRB. It has surely been omitted from the interpolation into Orderic’s work by Henry, because it is the only prophecy which tells of the gruesome disposing of his Uncle’s remains; and the whole point of this interpolation into Orderic’s history was that it was supposed to bolster the perception that King Henry was alive when Orderic wrote this section. This specific prophecy contradicted the very reason for his propaganda and therefore was eliminated.
One should consider the outcome of deleting this prophecy in Orderic, because it has had the desired effect in lending credibility to the rest of the prophecies having been genuinely composed by Merlin or even Geoffrey…. for scholars in the 20th century. It would have been very silly to have included it as it obviously speaks of Henry Ist death and to the sceptical would be positive proof that it was written after his death. This logic in effect establishes my position that the Orderic insertion was mainly instigated to show that ‘the sixth invading Ireland’ prophecy which sceptics were trying to prove was an updated prophecy was in fact present in the Merlin prophecies in Henry I era. the same also goes for this updated prophecy which predicts Henry II downfall:
There shall arise from him a pest/Lynx, which shall penetrate everywhere, and threaten ruin to his own nation.
The interpolation into Orderic certainly had the desired effect on those contemporaries doubting Merlin’s prophecies and for modern scholars who have been duped by the insertion.
Are we really so stupid to believe the prophet Merlin predicts the birth of Matilda’s third child, the very circumstance which allows Henry Blois to install his brother as King….and it just so happens, coincidentally, that Merlin’s prophecies are published in that era. These prophecies in the Orderic text covering the Merlin prophecies are highlighted just shortly.
As Tatlock shows, the author of the Merlin insertion into Orderic’s work is more than acquainted with the HRB, but many commentators prior to Tatlock’s proof, based their deductions of the existence of an entirely separate Libellus Merlini on the testimony of Orderic. Their assumption was that a Libellus Merlini existed in Henry Ist reign as is portrayed in Henry’s interpolation itself. It is the main intention of the interpolation i.e. the prophecies supposedly existed before their predictions came to pass and they came from Merlin…not ‘Geoffrey’ independent of HRB (HRB not being mentioned). It had to be rationalised as if a separate Libellus Merlini existed as the HRB discovered only in 1139 (supposedly with prophecies according to modern scholars) was not supposedly published in Henry Ist era. But Henry Blois wrote HRB and that is Tatlock’s conundrum…simply trusting that Orderic’s work has not been interpolated.
Logically, if the Merlin prophecies already existed in Latin while King Henry Ist was alive (as the contrivance in the Orderic interpolation establishes) why is bishop Alexander halting ‘Geoffrey’s’ work…. insisting a translation be made and especially when scholars assume c.1136-38? Why is the very dubious John of Cornwall doing the same?
Again, the whole salad defies logic unless interpolations and concocted manuscripts by Henry Blois are accepted. This is anathema to a modern scholar who has relied on Knowles’ biography of Henry Blois to gauge the man and has never contemplated the resources in terms of scriptoriums in the various ecclesiastical institutions over which he had control. No context has ever been interlinked with the reasoning of why no-one to date has solved the glaring inconsistencies of Geoffrey and his work simply swallowing Henry Blois propaganda.
If a Latin copy of Merlin’s prophecies exists as scholars insist, based on Orderic’s testimony; what is John of Cornwall doing translating them into Latin for the Bishop of Exeter. Come to that…in reality what are bishop’s doing paying any attention to the Merlin prophecies. Geoffrey started this whole interest in the middle ages by distributing the Libellus Merlini to the likes of Abbot Suger to reaffirm the historicity of the HRB and to show that the Norman conquest was fated as certain prophecies actually highlight by a prophet 600 years prior to the events predicting what was pre-ordained and the reading audience witnessing their veracity as the events had already unfolded.
If there is any work that could be called the Libellus Merlini, it is an early set of prophecies. But they must have been written by Henry Blois and circulated separately from the Primary Historia. This would have been the set of prophecies which Henry’s friend abbot Suger commented upon. If there is any one specific addition to the early prophecies possessed by Suger it would have to be the allusion to the ‘sixth’ throwing down the walls of Ireland. This, as we have explained, can only be dependent on a ‘sixth’ in the numbering system employed by Henry Blois i.e. (Henry II)…. through Henry II’s wish to provide his brother William lands in Ireland, as discussed at the Winchester council held in 1155.
Daphne Oosterhout in her ‘Classical sources of the Vita Merlini’ understands this point about the prophecy concerning Ireland and even has a suspicion about someone other than Geoffrey composing the VM because all rationales are constrained by the red line of Geoffrey’s death in 1154-5.
Nevertheless, arguments have been raised in the past against attributing the poem to Geoffrey. Chief among these are the allusions to Henry II and the conquest of Ireland, which did not occur until after Geoffrey’s death and the double character of Merlin Ambrosius in the HRB and Merlin Calidonius of the VM. These objections have already been met by J.J. Parry, who has stated that the allusions were already present in the HRB (which is undoubtedly by Geoffrey) and that Geoffrey in all probability met other traditions from 1140 onwards, which he turned into the VM.
Without the understanding that the Vulgate version was not the version read at Le Bec by Huntingdon, Parry’s logic would hold and this is why scholars have chosen to ignore the differences in text and story line between EAW and Vulgate and rationalise to any position no matter how untenable like Crick.
Now do you get my point about cherry picking evidence and not seeing in context. If scholars genuinely believe the set of Merlin prophecies were inserted by Orderic which has to be before his death in 1142, there is only one conclusion if the experts deny the block of prophecies in Orderic are an interpolation. It can only mean Merlin really is a prophet and that means ‘Geoffrey’ did not compose the prophecies which logically means ‘Geoffrey did ‘translate’ a real British book. You can see what a knot can be tied if the experts still deny that Henry Blois interpolated Orderic’s work and they block out all the evidences I have laid out that the Primary Historia was seen by Huntingdon… not a Vulgate Version.
But still there is the naivety problem of scholars swallowing every piece of propaganda and therefore another major factor is of course the propaganda that Orderic’s set of prophecies existed in Henry Ist era…. and some actually believe this!!! Henry Blois is Geoffrey, neither the Vulgate edition of HRB nor its updated prophecies predated the Primary Historia and Henry Blois interpolated Orderic’s work. If these three things are not understood, any reasercher of Geoffrey is hit by scholastic Kryptonite.
However, the prophecy from the interpolation into Orderic’s work which predicts the lynx who will threaten ruin to his own nation. Through it Neustria shall lose both islands, and be shorn of her former dignity. This is also about Henry II and could not possibly be of the earlier set (i.e. these given to Suger) which the rest of the Merlin prophecies in the interpolation into Orderic try to mirror.
But, unless the reader has read the section on the John of Cornwall prophecies it is probably a bit too soon to understand how, in this Orderic section of the Merlin prophecies, we can see what Henry Blois’ intent is. His intent is to be crowned after bringing together all the tribes of the BritIsh which he hopes will have listened to his seditious prophecy and rebelled and overthrown Henry II. This next prophecy in the Orderic block of prophecies is unequivocally about being the next King and bring the whole of Britain together and restoring the independence of the church without the popes meddling. He shall reduce the several portions to one, and shall be crowned with the lion’s head. He shall restore the places of the saints through the country, and fix pastors in convenient situations.
There is nothing in the rest of this block of prophecies in the insertion into Orderic’s work or the same section in HRB prophecies which takes us to a date further than 1139 except the updates explained above.
What we can conclude then is that there was an earlier Libellus Merlini which circulated separately before being spliced as an updated version of the prophecies as found in the Vulgate version of HRB and may have existed in a primary form in the First Variant in 1149. However, because the prophecies in the First Variant are seen to be today the updated (corrected) version we must conclude they have been added to an exemplar of the First Variant from which the other copies are derived.
Let us get back to the interpolated passage in Orderic and just briefly deal with a few of the prophecies themselves. There are a few differences from Vulgate HRB:
A people shall come over, in timber and in coats of iron who shall execute vengeance for iniquity. It shall restore the ancient inhabitants to their homes, and the ruin of the strangers shall be made manifest. Their germs shall be eradicated out of our gardens, and the remains of that race shall be decimated; they shall bear the yoke of perpetual servitude, and shall tear their mother with ploughs and harrows. Two dragons shall succeed, one of whom shall be slain by the darts of malice, and the other shall perish under the shadow of a name. A lion of justice shall succeed, whose roar shall cause the towns of France, and the dragons of the island to tremble. In his days gold shall be extorted from the lily and the nettle, and silver shall be scattered abroad by the hoofs of lowing kine. The men with crisped locks shall wear clothes of various textures and colours, and their exterior shall betoken their interior. The feet of lurchers shall be struck oft. The beasts of chase shall be undisturbed. Humanity shall mourn over the punishment. The tokens of commerce shall be cut in sunder, and the halves shall be round. The rapacious kites shall perish, and the teeth of wolves be blunted. The lion’s whelps shall be transformed into sea-fishes and his eagle shall build her nest on the Aravian Mountains. Venedocia shall be red with a mother’s blood, and the house of Corineus shall slay six brethren. The island shall be bathed in the tears of night, and thence the people shall be incited to all sorts of villainies.
The men of after times shall aspire to soar aloft, and new men shall rise to favour and eminence. Piety shall be turned by the impious to the injury of those who possess it. Armed therefore with the teeth of the bear, it shall transcend the summits of the mountains and the shade of the helmed warrior. Albany shall be roused to fury and calling in those who dwell by her side shall give herself up to the shedding of blood. A bit forged on the Amorican sea shall be put into its jaws; but the eagle that severs the bond shall devour it, and shall exult in making her nest for the third time. The whelps of the roaring lion shall awake, and leaving the forests, shall hunt under the walls of towns. They shall make a great carnage among all who resist, and tear out the tongues of bulls. The necks of the lions shall be loaded with chains, and ancient times be renewed. After that, from the first to the fourth, from the fourth to the third, from the third to the second, the thumb shall be smeared with oil. The sixth shall throw down the walls of Ireland,’ and convert the woods into an open country. He shall reduce the several portions to one, and shall be crowned with the lion’s head. He shall restore the places of the saints through the country, and fix pastors in convenient situations. He shall invest two cities with palls, and confer virgin gifts on virgins. He shall therefore obtain by his merits the favour of the Thunderer, and shall be crowned among the blessed. There shall arise from him a pest/Lynx, which shall penetrate everywhere, and threaten ruin to his own nation. Through it Neustria shall lose both islands, and be shorn of her former dignity. Then the citizens shall return to the island.”
Before we look at the prophecies above from Orderic, I just want to show the reader what I mean by a splice and squewing and re-shuffle. Previous to the addition of the seditious prophecies in the evolved First Variant in 1149 or evolving Vulgate, the order of the prophecies appears as above to the point I have indicated a break with the (###). This is the point where the body part prophecy is removed. Thus, where Henry had previously referred to himself as the wolf (derived from Wolvesey), he now becomes the bear in the late Orderic interpolation because people are getting suspicious of Henry Blois as all the prophecies seem to focus around him. Look at this brief section derived from the Vulgate HRB:
The island shall be drenched in nightly tears, whence all men shall be provoked unto all things. Woe unto thee, Neustria, for the brain305 of the Lion shall be poured forth upon thee; and with mangled limbs shall he be thrust forth of his native soil. (This is not included in orderic) They that come after shall strive to outsoar the highest, but the favour of the newcomers shall be exalted. Piety shall do hurt unto him that doth possess through impiety until he shall have clad him in his father. Wherefore, girdled about with the teeth of wolves, shall he climb over the heights of the mountains and the shadow of him that weareth a helmet.306
The icon has changed because Henry is trying to distance himself from positions previously where he could be easily recognised.
305Henry of Huntingdon, VIII. Meanwhile, the remains of King Henry unburied in Normandy; for he died on the 1st of December 1135. His corpse was carried to Rouen, where his bowels, with his brain and eyes, were deposited. The body being slashed by knives, and copiously sprinkled with salt was sewn up in ox hides to prevent the ill effluvia, which so tainted the air as to be pestilential to the bystanders.
306HRB VII, iii
Henry Blois posing as Orderic Vitalis, uses the discovery of the dragons, as told by Nennius; in a folded tent in two jars in the pool amid the pavement, details mostly not in the HRB. The people coming over are the Norman’s in their coats of mail, but, as adopted throughout the prophecies, the descriptions are presented as if the seer were seeing images; all part of Henry’s deception. It shall restore the ancient inhabitants to their homes, and the ruin of the strangers shall be made manifest.
As I have discussed, the inspiration for the prophecies came from Henry Blois’ having read Cicero of whom he admits in his self-professed epitaph, he aspires to outshine. The principle is exactly what Quintus says: ‘what nation or what state disregards the prophecies of soothsayers, or of interpreters of prodigies’.307There were other influences in the construction of prophecies and source material such as corroborating historical detail from Welsh poetry which Henry also employs in the composition of the prophecies (especially in VM). Henry employs the tone of Biblical prophecy at times as a template.
‘Geoffrey’ as we know had read the Roman Oracula Sibyllina which contains animal symbolism and probably the Sibyl Tiburtina with utterances such as: Then will arise a King of the Greeks whose name is Constans, which also may have inspired his tone. Similarly, the nine globes in the vision are nine generations, and we can see ‘Geoffrey’s’ or rather Merlin’s six Kings (or JC’s seven) being employed as the numbered Kings in the prophecies.
Few commentators have allowed that ‘Geoffrey’ may well have been influenced by such continental prophecies such as the 8th century Vision of Childeric308which identifies Clovis as the ‘lion’ and Dagobert as the ‘bear’ and ‘unicorn’; using similar animal symbolism to the Merlin prophecies. Henry Blois, therefore, would have been more acquainted with this continental material unlike a Welsh Geoffrey of Monmouth (if he had ever existed). If the reader can remember my proposition that Huntingdon’s Someone’ reciting the geneology of the Franks to Henry Ist was Henry Blois, is it not a huge coincidence that in the Merlin prophecies just as it is in the Vision of Childeric which identifies Clovis as the lion and Dagobert as the bear and unicorn we get both all these names Childeric, Clovis and Dagobert appearing in the Frankish recital..
Clugny possessed one of the most extensive libraries on the continent and may well have had in its collection the Vision of Childeric. Other continental influences not normally considered in the conventional premise of an exclusively Welsh or insular ‘Geoffrey’ may be the Anchorite Vision309 where similarly to Merlin’s insular garden, a vision of a fair meadow exists where Normandy, full of flowers (churches) are protected by a wild horse (William the Bastard) and where the cattle are the enemies of Normandy and the Heifer is Robert Curthose.
307‘Geoffrey’ is extremely clever in the way that he indicates major decisions of state are often made by consulting the oracles. When Cadwallader, contemplated defeat, he consulted Alan, whether or not he should abandon his Kingdom to the Saxons, as the angels voice had advised him, or could the answer be found in prophecy. Supposedly he consults the prophecies of the Sibyl, the Prophecy of the Eagle, and the Prophecies of Merlinus Ambrosius to find the answer. In reality, in the seventh century when Alan is supposed to have consulted them, only the prophecies of the Sibyl existed at that time. The Prophecy of the Eagle, attributed to Merlinus Sylvester and the Prophecies of Merlin were both concoctions of Henry Blois but he in effect establishes their authenticity to the reader by referring to them historically. Crick seems to think Geoffrey has carried out political sophistry but she does not understand that ‘Geoffrey’ had already written the’history part’ of the Psuedo Historia before the first set of prophecies, so she questions why Cadwallader goes to Rome to die on the advice of Alan and then is befuddled why Merlin predicts if Cadwallader gets together with the other Celtic nations he will return the crown of Brutus to the Celts. Simply because; it is a different Cadwallder contemporaneous with Henry II and Henry Blois is trying to cause insurrection through the updated prophecies in 1155. Basically Henry Blois writing his updated Merlin prophecies is trying to seem as if he accords with maybe his early set of prophecies by mentioning Cadwallader and what was written in ‘Geoffrey’s’ history. Crick’s analysis is too deep and in the void not realising the author and the reasoning behind the Merlin prophecies.Her rationalisations become irrerelevant when analysing the prophetic tradition. Henry Blois simply updated the prophecies in 1155
308Fredegar, Chronicle III, c.12
309Ordericus Vitalis, Historia Ecclesiastica, bk,V c.10
Obviously, the prophecies of the Eagle that did prophesy at Shaftesbury,310 was a similar prophecy to which Geoffrey’s contemporary audience was acquainted with. Other influences in Geoffrey’s prophetical output may come from the Vision of the five Beasts311 where animals such as a tawny wolf, a white horse, a black hog, a grey wolf, a flame coloured dog all represent Kings. Henry Blois’ melange of nonsense in the Merlin prophecies does in fact have a source base for its construction and obviously there is a common author to HRB and the prophecies; where nearly every episode can be traced to a source or is based on a pattern.
Where astrology is concerned, what Tatlock terms a ‘Götterdammerung’ is plainly vaticinatory ‘hodge podge’, the tone of which may be constituted from anywhere, plucked out of thin air and probably have no meaning to Henry himself. It is merely an affected form of astrology which feigns future predictions that are currently unknown and are therefore unclear as they are unspecific…. purely because Henry did not possess prophetic powers.
Henry Blois may even have been inspired by Herodotus’: an Eagle will nest in rocks and bring forth a strong and brutal Lion… We should not so much concern ourselves in the methodology or template which Henry Blois uses, but be more concerned with his own agenda chronologically as this dictates the content of the prophecies. ‘Geoffrey’ depicts Merlin Caledonius as a star-gazing sage, deriving knowledge of future events by observing the heavens from his mansion of seventy windows…. which ostensibly shows Merlin’s powers of prediction is based in astrology and hence the ‘Götterdammerung’.313
The first set of prophecies were released by Henry Blois c. 1139-1143. They in effect comprise the main body of the updated version found in today’s Vulgate HRB. The sense of some have been squewed because we are looking at seditious prophecies also and some new ones added to those early one’s which constituted the Libellus Merlini. These were then followed by the VM prophecies and again in the same period 1155-58 by John of Cornwall’s translation of the ‘supposedly’ British/Cornish book of prophecies.
310HRB XII, xviii
311Neus Archiv, 37, p.600
312Herodotus. V, 92
313The astrological salad of skimble skamble seems to start with what could have been an anagram of Blois in Stilbon. Possibly he changed the t for an h. giving HN.BLOIS. it could be an anagram for Stephen Blois. Anyway Henry’s vision of the utopian Arcadia of antiquity could well be envisaged by himself as the primary shepherd as indicated in the John of Cornwall scenario of a returning ‘adopted son’ to rule over the united Britons after they have unseated Henry II and the Norman foreigners: ” Stilbon of Arcady shall change his shield, and the helmet of Mars shall call unto Venus. The helmet of Mars shall cast a shadow, and the rage of Mercury shall overpass all bounds. Iron Orion shall bare his sword. Phoebus of the ocean shall torment his clouds. Jupiter shall trespass beyond his appointed bounds, and Venus forsake the way that hath been ordained unto her. The malignity of Saturn the star shall fall upon the earth with rain of heaven, and shall slay mankind as it were with a crooked sickle. . . . The tail of the Scorpion shall breed lightnings, and the Crab fall at strife with the Sun. The Virgin shall forget her maiden shame, and climb up on the back of the Sagittary. The chariot of the Moon shall disturb the Zodiac, and the Pleiades shall burst into tears and lamentations.”
The agenda for the original set i.e. the libellus Merlini when King Stephen was alive, are essentially employed to affect the political climate so that Henry and his brother were received not as offspring from Norman conquerors, but as pre-ordained saviours. Henry adapted some of the prophecies with a twist so that they had the appearance for consistency’s sake of being the same as the original set he had put out, but when the metropolitan became an issue, these prognostications regarding a Metropolitan/new See were added also.
The reader of the prophecies is deluded into thinking that the prophecies were duly composed in the sixth century and the prophecies correctly predict things that the reader can know transpired (cleverly, because they are historically recorded in HRB)…. then they must conclude that the HRB is not a pseudo-history. That is until some clever scholars concluded that both HRB and the prophecies had a common author and it was a stunt pulled by ‘Geoffrey’.
It was mainly Tatlock’s work which shows clearly that ‘Geoffrey’s’ account is a constructed fabrication, but still some modern scholars view the prophecies as credible. This is mainly because of Henry’s clever move to splice in Welsh bardic material in VM from Lailoken and a body of Welsh prophetic poetry associated with Myrddin Gwyllt along with the belief that Merlin is Welsh and present at the Battle of Arfderydd where Henry Blois has set the stage for Merlin at the beginning of the VM poem dating Merlin to about 573-7. Another major factor in convincing scholars of existing material mirroring ‘Geoffrey’s’ representation of the prophecies is of course the propaganda that Orderic’s set of prophecies existed in Henry Ist era.
So, to pick up the whole block of prophecy above found in Orderic’s work after that brief digression; as I explained earlier, Henry Blois sees the reintroduction of the Normans as eradicating the Saxon germ. They as saviours returning ‘home’ to the ruin of the strangers (Saxons) as the prophecy above implies. This is Henry’s political polemic while his brother is still alive. The purport of some of the prophecies where ‘positivity’ is applied to the Norman eradication of the Saxons were composed while Stephen lived and were composed as an affirmation of a pre-ordained Norman rule and since the prophecies went up to the number four i.e. Stephen they confirmed his right and not the right of the ‘eagle in her third nesting’ i.e. Matilda of ‘the broken covenant’. It is hardly a coincidence that the early prophecies also spoke of Henry Blois going over the Alps to become Legate i.e. the shadow of the Helmeted man i.e.the pope: Wherefore, girdled about with the teeth of wolves (Wolvesy), shall he climb over the heights of the mountains and the shadow of him that weareth a helmet. see note 3
The prophecies of the Libellus Merlini were supposed to promote an attitude of acceptance and acquiescence of Norman rule among the populace and specifically Stephen. The covenant had been broken to Matilda because of Henry Blois’ manipulation of his brother onto the throne but Stephen had as much right as he was born of Henry Ist sister Adela. We can see as we progress Henry Blois thought he had that right too had not his brother Stephen given the throne to the Lynx i.e. Henry II. It is plain to see in the JC prophecies that Henry Blois’ intention is to sit on the throne of England after a rebellion of his making.
Scholars will always be non-plussed by ‘Geoffrey’s’ treatment of the Bretons giving them a status above others in the HRB. In the Breton-Norman war of 1064–1065 Henry’ grandfather William the Conqueror support of rebels in Brittany against Alan’s maternal uncle, Conan II. There are common family ties to Henry Blois’ father with Brittany. Where there is negativity toward the Normans in the prophecies though, we know Henry Blois’ brother Stephen is dead. Henry Blois wishes the ‘predict and effect’ mechanism of the seditious prophecies rallying the Celts to rebel against Henry II to unseat him
Two dragons shall succeed, one of whom shall be slain by the darts of malice, and the other shall perish under the shadow of a name.
As I covered this same block of Merlin prophecies in HRB earlier…. many here are repeated which I shall skip over because their elucidation is the same as previously.
Orderic’s interpolated passage of Merlin prophecies carries on similarly as the same block found in Vulgate HRB:
Piety shall be turned by the impious to the injury of those who possess it. Armed therefore with the teeth of the bear, it shall transcend the summits of the mountains and the shade of the helmed warrior.
The Latin here is so obtuse that even Orderic’s editor has trouble following the sense. It has been vastly chopped down and subtly changed since the publishing of the prophecies in Vulgate HRB.
The HRB is still not much clearer until one knows it is Henry Blois who is constructing the prophecy. ‘They that come after shall strive to outsoar the highest, but the favour of the newcomers shall be exalted. Piety shall do hurt unto him that doth possess through impiety until he shall have clad him in his father. Wherefore, girdled about with the teeth of wolves, shall he climb over the heights of the mountains and the shadow of him that weareth a helmet’.
‘They that come after’ are Henry and his brother (following the body part prophecy) and at the time of the construction of the early Libellus Merlini prophecies, Henry viewed what he and his brother would accomplish as newcomers would ‘outsoar’ any previous reign.
Henry refers to his brother’s piety which should be understood as ‘sense of honour’ (chivalry). King Stephen’s sense of honour which is made plain by Henry in the GS was another reason for the continuation of the Anarchy rather than dealing mercilessly with opponents. Stephen making a deal with David, King of Scotland, a prime example as I already covered. The reference to ‘possession through impiety’ is obviously the allusion to the usurpation of the crown.
The ‘bear’ is usually a Wolf. As explained earlier, it relates directly to Henry Blois himself as the Bishop of Winchester and the popes Legate. (See appendix 12). Again, we get the sense of what I covered previously about the Alps being metaphorically synonymous with Rome. Henry’s climbing over the mountains is his trip to Rome to see the ‘Helmeted man’, the pope. The ‘shadow’ allusion is just his phony vaticinatory way of speaking through Merlin, but the sense is that his legateship and its power is derived from the ‘shadow’ of the pope.
The whelps of the roaring lion shall awake, and leaving the forests, shall hunt under the walls of towns. They shall make a great carnage among all who resist, and tear out the tongues of bulls.
The allusion is to the keen hunting practice of Norman Kings who hunted in the forests as I referred to earlier. The lion’s whelps are now besieging towns such as Exeter, Bristol, Oxford to name but a few in the Anarchy. The ‘whelps’ are William the conqueror’s offspring, of which Stephen and Henry both were. The carnage is the result of continual destruction and pillage of the populace during the Anarchy.
The ‘whelps’ could refer to Henry and his brother or William Rufus and Duke Robert. Leaving the forests and hunting under the walls of towns seems likely to refer to Stephen besieging towns in the Anarchy. Henry of Huntingdon records that after banishing Baldwin de Redvers, from England: Elated by these successes, the King went to him at Brampton, which is about a mile distant from Huntingdon and there he held pleas of the forests with his barons; that is, concerning their woods and hunting, in violation of his promise and vow to God and the people.
The sixth shall throw down the walls of Ireland, can only relate to Henry II and must date after 1155. It is for this reason we can deduce the interpolation into Orderic’s work was made not only after King Henry Ist death (as he was the third) but after 1155. This would essentially have to take into account Matilda as the ‘fifth’ in truth ‘not being anointed’ and knowing it was Henry II’s intention to invade Ireland. But, in the prophecies she is referred to in several ways, so she does not warrant a number 5 and we all understand who the ‘sixth’ is.
He shall reduce the several portions to one, and shall be crowned with the lion’s head. He shall restore the places of the saints through the country, and fix pastors in convenient situations.Since this is an updated prophecy it refers to Henry Blois uniting Britain.
He shall invest two cities with palls and confer virgin gifts on virgins. He shall therefore obtain by his merits the favour of the Thunderer, and shall be crowned among the blest.
Many have thought that the two cities referred to are the new bishoprics set up by Henry Ist, Ely in 1109, and Carlisle in 1133. This may be the case or it may be Henry Blois’ hope that Winchester and St David’s gain Metropolitan status. As we know from Henry Blois’ personal efforts, he tried on more than one occasion to have the see of Winchester created as a separate Metropolitan, so that he would not be subject to Canterbury after his legation became void. Henry also promoted St David’s cause in the HRB for his friend Bernard in the Merlin prophecies. He saw the power wielded by Roman Canterbury as having usurped the old Briton church and brought into subjection by papal control. It is for this reason in the HRB, St David’s acts as a polemic for his cause and he stresses Dubricius and Caerleon as the example before the advent of the Roman church and Augustine.
Henry Blois’ point is always to infer that the Briton church was established independent of Roman Canterbury.314 This is vastly apparent in Henry’s interpolations in DA. Part of the inspiration for writing the polemical view that is clearly outlined in the HRB, may have been formulated as he delved into the history of Glastonbury after having found the charter which donated Ineswitrin to Glastonbury. This charter which obviously existed and is recycled by William of Malmesbury, formed a major indication for the the evidence Henry Blois needed for his proof of Antiquity regarding Glastonbury. This is a lengthy subject which I am working toward which unlocks the reasoning behind the various interpolations in DA.
Because Joseph of Arimathea is posited as buried in Britain in the Melkin prophecy, one might assume an earlier possible apostolic foundation in Joseph. The Eleutherius episode mentioned by Bede has little bearing on the truth of what is said to have transpired when it comes to early foundation myths of the British church. The Eleutherius episode may have stemmed from propaganda purposely put out by the Roman church which denied primacy for the Briton Church. The Vatican actually may have caused Bede’s mistake. Bede himself recounts that he actually went to Rome to see that nothing he had written had caused offence to the Vatican. Roman Christianity was a monopoly that was not to be shared with the Britons.
What I am implying is that the mistake by Bede, where he makes Lucius a British King, could have been inspired by Rome, as this would indicate that any church in Britain is an offshoot of Rome. Gildas did not mention Lucius’s request (prior to Augustine) and Bede mentions it afterward. So, it is possible that it might be Roman inspired propaganda based on a misinterpretation of Liber Pontificalis. Again, I will have to deal with this in the chapter on GR.
However, it is for this reason I believe Chapter 29 of the Acts of the Apostles315 at a very early stage was eradicated from the New Testament as it bore testimony of St Paul’s visit to Britain. If it was not Aristobulus or Philip who proselytised Britain, maybe the first Christian (or believer that Jesus was the Messiah) was Joseph of Arimathea. I shall cover this aspect also in progression, because it is evident by the end of this exposé that Joseph’s remains are still in Britain undiscovered.
314The case in point adequately exposes Henry Blois’ bias in that the celebrated massacre at Bangor found in Bede is wholly taken by ‘Geoffrey’ and changed so that the prayers of the monks which were for the British army are in the version found in the HRB, due to their refusing subjection to Augustine.
315See Chapter 29, The acts of the apostles
Again, returning back to the Orderic interpolation, which could only have been written after Henry II was on the throne, because King Henry II is the ‘pest’ or more likely ‘Lynx’ in the new updated version which incites rebellion.
There shall arise from him a pest, which shall penetrate everywhere, and threaten ruin to his own nation. Through it Neustria shall lose both islands, and be shorn of her former dignity. Then the citizens shall return to the island.
The pest is more probably a lynx (following the iconography of the cats of the ‘Leonine’ line), but Henry Blois through this prophecy is predicting the end of Norman domination because he is hoping, by influencing events due to his Merlin prophecy, the Celts are going to unseat Henry II.
What needs to be understood by the reader (and once we cover the JC prophecies, it becomes abundantly clear) is that Henry Blois, while in exile at Clugny, was doing his best to incite rebellion against Henry II by feigning that Merlin had seen a Celtic rebellion against the Norman’s.
This seems hard to grasp that Henry Blois is such a manipulative and duplicitous person given the various biographers insights into his character, but they have missed Henry’s dishonesty throughout his early life and based their opinion on the deeds of his later life as a venerable old stalwart of the church. If one puts oneself in Henry Blois’ place, in that he is grandson of William the conqueror and has spent 15 years underhandedly manipulating events against the Empress Matilda’s efforts to regain her birthright; he is now confronted on the English throne with an upstart. Henry II and his mother distrusted Henry Blois and needed to curb his power immediately. The upstart new King has replaced Eustace who Henry had been grooming for years waiting for him to become King. Henry Blois’ hope was that when Eustace came to the throne Henry would be able to influence him to carry out all that his Uncle wished.
The situation in 1155 was that the son of Matilda his arch enemy has stripped him of all that he loved, power, respect, wealth, castles; and he has had to seek safety at Clugny, fleeing without permission because he is not going to accept Henry II as king. Hence the seditious Merlin prophecies and his depression as represented by the madness of Merlin as witnessed in the story-line of VM.
No such state as Neustria existed of course in Merlin’s day but this ploy of making names more archaic is part of his mode d’emploi. Henry is stirring Celtic discontent by citing Conan and Cadwallader to rebel against Henry II after which Norman rule will end and Henry Blois will rule.
Many commentators have thought this prophecy is derived from the Armes Prydein, (which it was in the original Libellus), but as usual Henry twists this Brythonic prediction by Myrddin, about the Celtic resurgence against the Saxons…. which now in the updated prophecies applies to the Normans…. and coincidentally the names are relevant still to the Breton and Welsh leaders. Henry Blois’ Machiavellian hand is seen to be at work, provoking through his latest updated prophecies the precept…. ‘thought being the father of deed’ backed up by a belief by contemporaries that what is fated and seen by a ‘Seer’:
It is the will of the most high Judge that the British shall be without their Kingdom for many years and remain weak, until Conan in his chariot arrive from Brittany, and that revered leader of the Welsh, Cadwalader. They will create an alliance, a firm league of the Scots, the Welsh, the Cornish and the men of Brittany. Then they will restore to the natives the crown that had been lost. The enemy will be driven out and the time of Brutus will be back once more.
The Prophecy was supposed to inspire the warring Celts to overthrow Henry II based upon a conflation with Armes Prydein. Henry’s plan failed, but this is the reason for the inspired return of Conan which fortuitously is mirrored in the Armes Prydein through Myrddin in the book of Taliesin which relates to Cadwaladyr and Cynan (not Conan from Brittany).
It is upon this conflation Henry incites the rebellion against Henry II; except, in the present era of 1155-1157, he includes the Scots and the Cornish as the Celts against ‘foreign’ invaders i.e. the Normans.
In the Armes Prydein it mentions Aber Peryddon which is linked to the next verse in the Vulgate prophecies which is directly linked to Henry Blois as the old man, snowy white, who sits upon a snow-white horse, shall turn aside the river of Pereiron and with a white staff shall measure out a mill thereon.
This is a direct reference to Henry Blois. In John of Cornwall’s version we get the version: The adopted venerable old man is walking up and down where the ‘Perironis’ springs up. In the HRB set of prophecies it is a slightly different version: An old man, moreover, snowy white, that sits upon a snow-white horse, shall turn aside the river of Pereiron and with a white wand shall measure out a mill thereon.
The River Parrett is Merlin’s Periron. This prophecy was probably in the original Libellus Merlini as ‘Periton’ but then changed when updated. So, we can now see the association of the ‘mill’ being built on it and the association of the river with the ‘venerable man on the white horse’ which is found in HRB and JC. Originally Henry might have alluded to himself in no uncertain terms and then tried to cover it up. What we do know is that bishop Henry Blois built a mill on the Parratt, so we can guess his horse was white.
Hyreglas of Periron was one of Arthur’s fictitious British nobles and maybe there is the clue in ‘glas’. Possibly the earlier Libellus Merlini prophecy originally referred to Henry at Glastonbury because in the earlier set Henry was much less guarded in his composition of the prophecies. Maybe the original was Hirenglas because it would not be the first time Henri has made an anagram of his name Henriglas.
I would not be surprised if it was indicative of Henry Rex from Glastonbury just as we have already come across Blihos Bliheris resembling an anagram of H. Blois but it’s a long shot.
So, the discrepancies between the Vulgate version and Orderic’s clump of Merlin prophecies are therefore thought to be caused by the existence of an earlier Libellus Merlini where inaccuracies have crept in rather than deliberate obfuscation by Henry Blois. Since Orderic died 1142 when the libellus version was in the public domain, scholars now think the clump of prophecies inserted into Orderic’s work existed at the time Orderic is thought to have written or even more fantastically, when Henry Ist was alive. It is not a case of Orderic mis-copying the prophecies but the originator of them changing them at will while interpolating Orderic. But no scholar to date recognises these updates and the reasoning behind them.
If Orderic just copied the prophecies, they would not differ in form from HRB. Researchers have thought the Libellus Merlini or book of Merlin which Orderic says he is quoting from (supposedly written between 1120 and 1135), based upon a reference to Henry Ist as being King of England i.e. the King was still alive when Orderic’s text was composed is a correct analysis. This view can no longer be accepted and becomes illogical unless one accepts that Merlin was indeed a prognosticator. The first set of prophecies had only evolved to the ‘fourth’ in the line of Kings i.e. there was no ‘Sixth’ or Henry II, so how could it mention the ‘sixth King’ if it was genuinely recycled from the Libellus Merlini before 1142 when Orderic died. The updates prove the block is an insertion quod erat demonstrandum.
Commentators have believed the veracity of Merlin’s prophecies because the interpolation occurs in the Orderic chronicle at the right point chronologically. Also Henry Blois adds for good measure: until the times of Henry and Griffyth, who in the uncertainty of their lot are still expecting…which establishes in a bone fide chronicle of history that the prophecies look as though they pre-exist Henry Ist death.
Let us not be duped by such sophistry. We would have to be very gullible to believe not only can the originator of the passage see past the fourth and the fifth (having a third baby), but produce an accurate prediction that the ‘Sixth’ will go to Ireland. How does Merlin’s focus arrive in the precise era of Henry Blois? How is it that his prophecies corroborate the bogus pseudo-history found in HRB? The prophecies nearly all connect to Henry and his interests and matters which affect him and his family? not to mention links to Glastonbury and and Winchester. When put into context with other evidence, the propagators of Grail lore being Henry’s close family in the county of Blois, the interpolations in DA etc, all the evidence mounts up.
Henry simply inserted the interpolation after 1155 into a copy of Orderic and had the only copy at that time copied in one of his scriptorums. Henry was under serious pressure to show that the Merlin prophecies pre-existed the events they supposedly predicted. The obvious solution was to include a passage on them in a reliable chronicle showing they were extant 20 years before Henry II came to the throne.
Crick is duped, believing that the interpolated Merlin passage in Orderic was written by Orderic: the Prophecies provoked the kind of intellectual and political responses logged by Orderic: they offered reassurance, solace, historical exegesis, intellectual stimulus, on the one hand, and political direction on the other. Such conclusions are provisional, of course.
At least there is the understanding of the prophecies’ role in political direction. Of course, the conclusion can only be provisional, for without grasping that Orderic’s passage is an interpolation…. how can Crick316 settle the conundrum of prophecies transpiring as recognisable events supposedly predicted by Merlin, even after Orderic’s death in 1142. Julia Crick would have to believe Merlin is a genuine prognosticator.
Of the eighty five copies of the separate prophetia ….a study should be carried out to see in how many copies is the omission of the ‘sixth’ in conjunction with the same block Orderic recycles (allowing for corrections). This needs to be carried out with the prophecy which appeals to the Celts to rebel against Henry II. If these prophecies are lacking, we can assume the copies are earlier than 1155. Only then will Julia Crick get a clearer picture of what icons employed in the prophecies are sqewed to further hide Henry’s authorship.
Crick needs to understand that initially Henry had been pleased that in some prophecies readers would recognise the prophecies could be identified with Henry. Post 1155, sceptics, plus the king himself were now asking questions and Henry is distancing himself from obvious references to himself. I think even Crick recognises the reasoning behind some of the propaganda in the HRB, but she needs to graduate to the principles of backdating and understand that people wanted to know who had predicted the fall of the Normans and Henry II.
316What annoys me about the experts is that Crick writes: Geoffrey’s intentions remain buried in his work….The reacton of the immediate audience for which it was intended is unknown etc. etc. And yet if a commentator like me puts forward what Geoffrey’s intentions were and even offers the solution to who the HRB in its rawest form was intended for; the evidence will be ignored like someone going through the motions of searching for a needle in a haystack with their eyes shut, yet ‘occupationally’ not wanting to find it for risk of upsetting the apple cart of pointless endeavor. There can be no apology for Modern Medieval scholar’s ‘Gravytrain’ of erroneous regurgitation of previous dogma concerning Glastonburyalia, Arthuriana and the origins of Grail lore.
In the interpolation into Orderic, Henry substantiates for posterity the date of the prophecies while feigning to interpret and add commentary as the Merlin interpolation into Orderic’s work continues:
I have made these short extracts from Merlin’s book and offer them to the studious who are not acquainted with it. Some of his prophecies I have traced to events now past, and, if I mistake not, more of them will be verified in the experience of posterity either with joy or sorrow. Persons acquainted with history will easily understand the words of Merlin, when they recollect what happened under Hengist and Catigirn, Pascent and Arthur, Ethilbert and Edwin, Oswald and Oswy, Cedwal and Alfred, and other princes both English and British, until the times of Henry and Griffyth, who in the uncertainty of their lot are still expecting; what may befall them in the ineffable dispensations of Divine Providence. For instance, it is as clear as light to the intelligent reader, that Merlin is speaking; of the two sons of William, when he says: ” Two Dragons shall succeed,” meaning libertine and fierce princes, “one of whom,” that is William Rufus, ” shall be slain by the darts of malice,” namely by an arrow in hunting, “the other,” that is duke Robert, ” shall perish in the shadows of a dungeon, retaining only his former title,” that of duke. “The lion of justice shall succeed, which refers to Henry,” at whose roar the towers of France and the Island dragons shall tremble; because in wealth and power he transcends all who reigned in England before him. In the same manner, the wise can clearly decipher the rest. I might say more in explanation, if I undertook to write a commentary on Merlin, but leaving this; I resume the course of my narrative, and shall faithfully relate the events which have occurred in my own time.
I hope the reader appreciates the sophistry of Henry Blois attempting to decipher his own prophecies. Henry Blois uses the same ploy in John of Cornwall’s set of Merlin prophecies but instead of implying if I undertook to write a commentary on Merlin, Henry Blois actually composes an interpretive commentary.
For me, Henry’s brilliance is in establishing fact for the reader that he wishes them to deduce themselves…. without having to state it overtly himself. There is no better example than the sentence in which he specifically intends us to understand the prophecies existed in the era in which King Henry Ist was alive by implying the King is expecting what fate might have in store: Henry and Griffyth, who in the uncertainty of their lot are still expecting; what may befall them… yet, few of his readers would be happy with the prediction of a Norman down fall: more of them will be verified in the experience of posterity either with joy or sorrow.
How very fortuitous for posterity that Orderic, by composing such sophistry as a King waiting in expectation to see what fate ‘still’ had in store for him; innocuously and seemingly by chance dates the prophecies to Henry I era. Orderic has nowhere else in his history written any such other banality.
Logically, the only conclusion for scholars such as Crick, is that Merlin was indeed able to see into the future as not only did he see a sixth King, but Merlin accurately predicted that the said sixth King would invade Ireland. Such conclusions are provisional, of course until the passage is understood to be an interpolation.
Medieval scholars are like church fathers, unchanging and blindly following long held beliefs, rather remaining ignorant, than trying to find the truth…. but ‘be warned’ anyone who goes against the dogma of the empirical construct of scholars over the last 200 years, as I cover later while dealing with the arrogance of Judy Shoaf. English may not be my natural language, but they can reasonably understand what is written, but they choose not to because it involves admitting the unutterable. Geoffrey is not real!!!
The Vulgate redaction of the HRB (with its updated prophecies included) was published in 1155. So, many of the hopes and predictions that were posited as prophecy by ‘Merlin’ in the libellus Merlini could not be changed as they were in the same form that Abbot Suger (and no doubt others who are unrecorded) had witnessed. But, as we have seen, it was vital for Henry Blois (posing as Merlin) to establish that it was not an author who composed the prophecies in ‘Geoffrey’s’ era after the historical events to which they supposedly relate had transpired. For this reason, the Orderic interpolation is so important.
Even though Bishop Alexander of Blois died in 1148, the inclusion of the Alexander dedication in HRB did not occur until after 1149 or later as Henry of Huntingdon who dies in 1154 never once comments on his patron’s affiliation with the prophecies and Alfred of Beverley c.1147-50 does not mention the part Alexander supposedly played in having the prophecies translated.
Waleran de Beaumont, Count of Meulan died in 1166 and if he knew of the HRB and saw a copy dedicated to himself with Robert, he was probably as bemused as most are today. As we have touched on already, Waleran was 1st Earl of Worcester and is mentioned by Henry in the Merlin Prophecies as are many other items, events and people that have piqued him: Against him shall rise up the Dragon of Worcester.
Waleran of Meulan, the lay patron of the Abbey at Bec, put his own man Theobald as Archbishop in England, persuading King Stephen that Henry Blois was becoming too powerful. It is mainly because of this fact that Henry Blois detested Waleran of Meulan. Waleran and his twin brother, Robert, Earl of Leicester, were Henry’s main rivals for King Stephen’s favour. At the Battle of Lincoln in 1141 Waleran was one of the royalist Earls who fled when they saw that the battle was lost resulting in Stephen’s capture. Straight afterwards, Waleran gave up the fight on Stephen’s side against the Angevin cause, as his Norman lands were being taken over by the invading Angevin army. Waleran of Meulan surrendered to the Empress Matilda and so in Henry’s mind was a traitor. As I have stated, the single manuscript with the Stephen and Robert dedications is simply a devise used by Henry Blois to predate the HRB to 1136.
The dedication to Waleran de Beaumont, Count of Meulan in no way helps the dating of the HRB as is thought by commentators such as Crick. As long as we know Henry is the author, there is nothing to counter a position that the dedication was only added to a copy after Waleran’s death, because Henry lived another five years. Henry does not like Waleran because it was Waleran who instigated the arrest of the Bishops. Also, he dislikes him for the bad advice Waleran offered his brother. The GS states: The Count of Meulan and those other adherents of the King who were on terms of the closest intimacy with him, indignant at the splendid pomp of the bishops…
As for Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford, Henry probably did know him because Stephen’s base was at Oxford in the early Anarchy. However, Henry certainly knew of his death in 1151 and his name was employed to put flesh on the bones of Geoffrey of Monmouth i.e. having a provenance in and around Oxford. Henry Blois had randomly signed some charters there in the name of Galfridus Artur, just after the pact at Wallingford giving the illusion of the evolving Geoffrey from ‘bishop elect’ to actual ‘bishop of Asaph’ along with another person of similar circumstance from Monmouth called Ralf. This is real genius of ingenuity giving the impression that over a time span ‘Geoffrey’ lived and climbed the ladder of respect and was a part of Archdeacon Walter’s life as he signed mundane charters alongside him.
Although Walter was already dead, the ruse created the aura of previous publication of HRB and the prophecies, just like the use of the dedicatees and provided a relationship to someone who had known of ‘Geoffrey’. Henry had connected a real person that ‘Geoffrey’ could be linked to who was probably known for his interest in antiquities. This link carried out the vital function of being the person who supplied the book that the whole HRB was supposedly translated from. Walter died in 1151, so his name (like the dedicatees) was included into the Vulgate HRB after his death. He was not mentioned in the First Variant used at Rome in 1144 and 1149 or in Alfred’s edition dating from around 1147
At this early date, Henry had not even assigned his authorship to the pseudonym of Geoffrey of Monmouth and still used Gaufridus Artur…. and had not yet added the various signatures to the charters kept at Oxford Castle which now carry Galfridus’ name. Henry, very cleverly also presumes again on Walter’s name in his concocted epilogue attributed to Geffrei Gaimar. Gaimar did write L’estoire des Engles but he did not write the epilogue and certainly there was never any tract called L’estoire des Bretons ever written. It is a clever ploy, but we shall get to that shortly in the section on Geffrei Gaimar.
What might have happened if Stephen had lived concerning ‘Geoffrey’, we can only speculate, but soon after Stephen’s death, Henry saw fit to end ‘Geoffrey’s’ life in 1154-5 while still producing the VM which posterity and modern scholars can only assume by logic was composed by ‘Geoffrey’ in his life time. The problem was that Henry Blois could only add so much and squew only so much of the previous set of prophecies attributed to Merlin found in the separate Libellus Merlini. These were added to and updated when they were spliced into the Vulgate HRB as far as possible so that they still resembled the prophecies in the original Libellus Merlini.
Certainly, the ‘prophetical’ harangue for the Scots, Cornish, Welsh and Breton’s to unite was Henry Blois’ addition after his brother’s death to incite rebellion against Henry II. The invention of the VM which essentially has so much padding in it, as we have covered, was put together to complete Henry’s look backwards at events in the Anarchy by employing Ganieda as the new source of prophecy, but Henry’s main intent in this era of self imposed exile was the hope that the Celts would rebel against the King who had just confiscated Henry’s castles.
Henry Blois had to show by writing VM that ‘Geoffrey’ (even though dead) had written another book with the same updated seditious prophecies before he had died thus proving the updated prophecies ‘now made public’ in the recently published Vulgate were written before ‘Geoffrey’ had died. Hence why Henry pads out VM and seems unconnected to the development of the plot where the long monologues rather transfer a polemic. The real reason for composing VM was simply a proof of ‘Geoffrey’ having written these seditious prophecies before 1154 but also the education of his audience in becoming aware of Avalon being situated at Glastonbury. Henry’s ‘second agenda’ also started to germinate in the era in self imposed exile at Clugny as we see Avalon’s first association through Insula Pomorum being established in VM.
I think the reception and credibility of the VM was not received without suspicion as certain of the previous prophecies and icons were twisted to apply to events that occurred later in the Anarchy and some of them were startlingly obvious. Also judging by the correlation of existing manuscripts of VM being mostly found on the continent, the publishing of ‘Geoffrey’s’ most recent work i.e. VM, was also a progression on the versed HRB i.e. The Roman de Brut under Wace’s name, which had no Merlin prophecies included. In the section on Wace it is easily established that Henry had already started this versified work using First Variant as a template for The Roman de Brut but then while finishing it he switches to using the later composed Vulgate HRB version.
Suspicions were probably raised about Merlin’s prognostications when the intelligence of a few readers at court reflected upon how it was that a seer in the sixth century saw history only as events which had occurred to which the annals related and specifically correlated with history as related in HRB. Also, unrealistically, the prophecies largely referred to the contemporary reader’s era, and had a deluge of detail concerning the Anarchy. This mass of detail about things recently transpired was counterbalanced by the meaningless Götterdammerung extravaganza which had the appearance of future events. Rydberg317 showed that the source of the Götterdammerung was an adapted passage of Lucan’s Pharsalia. It is in fact just mindless ‘hodge podge’.
The end of the prophecies, of course, had to be highly unspecific, as Henry’s powers of prophecy only enabled him to predict (in reality) past events…. and so, all prophecies which made any sense, were of those events which had already transpired. Henry tried to apportion the prophecies equally spread out in terms of history, about the Danes and Saxons and the Norman invasion and the state of the Church and the Anarchy of recent times. At times, even highly specific references were represented such as Portchester castle being rebuilt by Henry Blois . But, our seer knew if the prophecies did not potentially give the air of looking into the future for all of time, he would be discovered as a fake. Hence the reasoning behind fabricating the Götterdammerung!!
Tatlock318 noticed that Geoffrey was ‘at pains to make the city of Winchester prominent and exalted’. Henry Blois requested metropolitan status for Winchester and this was mentioned along with the fact that one of Arthur’s dragons was supposedly left in the Cathedral at Winchester etc. This all goes to indicate there are too many commonalities with Henry Blois. This is without all the evidence we have yet to cover!! The fact that Henry Blois impersonates Wace and then introduces the ’round table’ which is now in the Great Hall at Winchester…. is just one of many coincidences that need further scrutiny. We shall get to the bottom of this in progression.
317Viktor Rydberg. Astrologien och Merlin