In the ‘Dialogue of Arthur and Gwenhwyfar’, Guineviere in the poem thinks she has seen Melwas before at his Court in Devon discussed by Evan Jones966 and Mary Williams.967 The Problem with this poem is that it locates Ines Witrin in Devon. There is only one person who is responsible for inventing the Chivalric Arthur and Guinevere and who knows of Melvas and Arthur’s relationship with him and of the name Ineswitrin…. and is interested in the ‘long’ table of King Arthur. It does not take much (once we know Caradoc’s Life of Gildas is a concoction by Henry) to divine the provenance of this poem regardless of what scholars may say about its dating. Henry Blois knows Ineswitrin is in Devon because it was donated to Glastonbury by the King of Devon on the 601 charter.
Jones has proposed that this is not a conversation including Arthur but holds a more ancient oral tradition between Melwas Guinevere and Cai. It would seem that K. Hurlestone Jackson’s968 independent location for Ynis Witrin in Devon is entirely the same as Melvas’s and the same as the island indicated directionally by Melkin in his prophecy. The context is the abduction scene of Gwenhwyfar by King Melwas coincidentally related by the supposed Caradoc in the ‘Vita Gildae’.
In the Welsh poem there appears to be a basis for Melwas from Ynis Witrin. In reality, in history, Melwas or Melkin had donated the Island in the 601 charter, witnessed by William of Malmesbury as a donation to Glastonbury. As this exposé clearly shows the Island of Ines Witrin was substituted in name by Henry Blois for Avalon on the Prophecy of Melkin. However, the King’s name is said to be illegible on the 601 charter by William. But now Henry (who we know has seen and employed the charter in his pursuit of metropolitan) has in this poem implied that the King of Devon was Melwas. In the ‘Dialogue’, as Jackson points out, Melwas is from Ines Witrin. Gwenhwyfar only partly recognises Melwas, but thinks she has seen him before at his court in Devon. We might speculate that there may have been an original version of the kidnap episode before it’s Glastonburianization by Henry Blois…. but this seems unlikely. Tatlock proves to us that nearly everything Geoffrey (or rather Henry Blois) has composed in HRB can be seen to have a source provenance elsewhere, so the fact that Arthur and Gwenhwyfar had visited Melwas in Devon makes one think that Henry Blois has invented the ‘Dialogue’ because only he is aware that Ineswitrin is in Devon.
966BBCS, viii (1936), 203 ff.
967Spec, xiii (1938), 38 ff.
968Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages. Ed. R.S. Loomis, p19