The City of the Legions shall fall into thy bosom, O Severn, and shall lose her citizens for a long time, and these the Bear in the Lamb shall restore to her when he shall come.
Henry Blois switches back in time so that the Vita Merlini and the prophecies within it coincide and corroborate the storyline in HRB. The prophecy supposedly tells of the migration of Britons to Brittany. Caerleon on Usk is by the Severn and the citizens of old Briton who lived in the City of the Legions will lose her citizens for a long time. What or who ‘the bear in the lamb’ refers to is anybody’s guess. Maybe the bogus animal symbolism refers to Uther and Ambrosius or even Henry himself. We know Henry Blois sees himself coming back to England as the ‘adopted son’ at the time of writing VM and JC…. as he is doing his best to incite rebellion against Henry II in this three year period while at Clugny. It is plain to see that Henry Blois, writing as Merlin, sees the Normans originally as saviours overcoming the Saxons in the first set of prophecies he put out. The obvious change of position is c.1156; he is writing in the persona of Merlin and ridding the ‘foreigners’ from ‘our land’ and these are the Normans…. as he tries to incite the rebellion of the Celts against King Henry II. Henry Blois sets up the Britons emigration to Brittany in general as being synonymous with the plight of the citizens of the City of the Legions i.e. the old Britons being forced abroad by the Saxons. The old Britons will be restored when he (Henry) will come (or at least that was the plan at the time of writing).
Amongst others he did lay out one upon the river Usk nigh the Severn sea, that was of many ages called Kaerusk, that was the mother city of Demetia. But after that the Romans came hither, the old name was done away and it was called the City of the Legions.887
Whether or not Nennius’ Urbs legionum was always synonymous with Caerleon is debatable. What we do know is that Caerleon’s grandiose Arthurian history is totally fabricated by ‘Geoffrey’ and his fiction is based on the remnants of Roman architecture that Henry Blois had witnessed at Caerleon in 1136 while fighting the Welsh rebellion:
Howbeit, when he made known his desire unto his familiars, he, by their counsel, made choice of the City of Legions wherein to fulfil his design. For, situate in a passing pleasant position on the river Usk in Glamorgan, not far from the Severn sea, and abounding in wealth above all other cities, it was the place most meet for so high a solemnity.888
887HRB III, x
888HRB IX, xii
‘Geoffrey’ has read Bede and knows of the martyrdom of Saints Julius and Aaron. He connects their names to religious houses in Caerleon for both cannons and nuns in the glorious city of the ‘legantine’889 primatial See. It is not by accident that it so happens to imitate the set up at Winchester with the cathedral and its new minster and its nunnaminster as Tatlock890 observes.
However, Tatlock is far from realising the reasons: Geoffrey shows much more concern, especially with Winchester and its Church. First of all he gives it a distinction which was coveted by other religious houses and which nothing justifies.891
Tatlock seems to think that Winchester is overly glorified because: there was someone at Winchester who was worth pleasing.892 We should not forget one of Uther’s two dragons wrought of Gold was: in ecclesia prime sedis Guintonie, the ‘primatial’ See of Winchester. We should also understand with this glorification of Winchester, there is a marked contrast in ignoring Canterbury in HRB. It does not take much to work out why. What is astounding is that Tatlock discusses the erection of Winchester into an archbishopric through Henry’s friend Pope Innocent II and Henry’s disappointment with not gaining the Archbishopric of Canterbury without any suspicion of the involvement of Henry Blois as author of HRB or the Merlin prophecies. Tatlock like every other scholar before him, assumes that Orderic bears witness before 1142 or c.1140 that the updated prophecy inciting the Celts to rebel in Orderic’s work is not an interpolation. Every Scholar who does not see the artistry of that specific interpolation creates a red line for himself and is unable to scrutinise the Merlin Prophecies further. In fact he is made helpless in any further discovery of the Merlin prophecies. This is Crick’s kryptonite. Orderic’s interpolation has two updated prophecies in the set referenced by Orderic so it is impossible they date to c.1140. This will be explained in progression when we investigate the interpolation into Orderic’s work by Henry Blois.
It is not without irony that Winchester in the prophecies loses its arch-episcopal See and the one person trying to re-establish this fictional standpoint in reality is never suspected as the author of the Merlin prophecies or HRB. Without the obvious corroboration that each gives to the other HRB to VM and vice versa, there would be little historicity to establish either, but the Merlin prophecies add corroborations to both.
However, Henry does betray himself as the author in HRB; he never mentions Glastonbury and Arthur himself is given no connection to Winchester, so as to avoid the very suspicion…. which through his avoidance, highlights Henry Blois involvement as author. Henry’s pursuit of metropolitan is always at the heart of his polemic in the Merlin prophecies establishing the pre-existence and pre-eminence of Winchester before the arrival of Augustine: Afterward Rome shall bring God back through the medium of a monk and a holy priest shall sprinkle the buildings with water and shall restore them again and shall place shepherds in them.
Henry’s polemic is simple: How could Canterbury assume its primacy when Merlin is predicting the coming of Augustine? Especially when, prior to the Saxon invasion, ‘Geoffrey’s’ polemic in HRB makes it abundantly clear through Constans at Winchester that there was already a Briton Church. The reader will come to understand in progression how important GR3 and DA interpolations combine with HRB to add credence to Henry’s request for Metropolitan status to papal authorities at Rome
889It is ridiculous to consider Legates at the time as indicated. By the time Henry finalised the First Variant HRB, Henry had been Legate for a 3 year period.
890The Legendary history of Britain J.S.P. Tatlock p. 70
891The Legendary history of Britain J.S.P. Tatlock p. 36
892The Legendary history of Britain J.S.P. Tatlock p. 37