Before we look at the VM, my object is to show the reader in the quickest possible way that Henry Blois, as well as writing the HRB, also wrote all the prophecies of Merlin. He uses the prophecies to corroborate his pseudo-history of HRB and to further his political ambitions. Henry Blois who composed the Prophecies of Merlin invented the charachter of Merlin from the Myrrdin of Celtic tradition and from the psuedo- Nennian charachter of Ambrosius in the Historia Brittonum.
Our experts on the prophecies of Merlin i.e. Chambers, San Marte, Faral and Taylor never suspect Henry Blois as author and like modern scholars believe Geoffrey of Monmouth was a real person. The only elucidator of HRB with any insight, (the erudite Tatlock) has no suspicion also that the bishop of Winchester is author of the work but provides the most comprehensive incisive exegeis of the contents of HRB.
There are several reasons for the lack of knowledge about the author of HRB: the main is gullibility by scholars and a lack of ability to conceive of a fraud on the scale Henry Blois has accomplished. Having been taught to accept ‘Geoffrey’ as real, it becomes impossible to conceive otherwise. Scholars such as Tolhurst, Reeve, Crick and Wright are bewildered by the process of the transmission of HRB and its prophecies. They need to accept Henry Blois as author but alas this seems unlikely. At least if you know ‘who’ Geoffrey really is then the swamp of contradictions and silly rationalisations dries up pretty quickly along with their questions.
The early material which pertains to the Matter of Britain i.e. Glastonbury lore, King Arthur legend, and Grail literature is all a product of Henry Blois in its initial form. There would be no ‘Matter of Britain’ as it is generally perceived without Henry Blois’ input; but it is the dark secret which is veiled in Henry Blois’ invention which is the point of this exposé and which modern scholarship needs to comprehend.
It is Henry Blois’ fault that the body of Joseph of Arimathea has remained undiscovered until the present day, as he is mentioned often in Grail literature by Henry Blois the initial author. It is the scholars today who prevent this knowledge being understood by modern students.
Henry’s ability to deceive by seemingly writing from the standpoint of a Briton in the Merlin prophecies and appearing to have insular sympathies while writing as Geoffrey has obscured Henry Blois’ identity along with his use of propaganda. Also, by having effectively backdated the Vulgate Historia so that his audience believes it was published in the time of the cited dedicatees is probably the main reason Henry Blois has remained undiscovered as the author of the constituent parts of HRB which comprise the foundation of the Matter of Britain.
With the addition of updated prophecies C.1155-7, it appears that Merlin did indeed predict things in the future. For this reason, many commentators believe there was a genuine set of prophecies by Merlin. A case in point would be the prophecy concerning the ‘Sixth in Ireland’ (an unknown possibility in 1134) at a time from which some scholars avow that Orderic’s account of Merlin is dated. This inability to understand ‘who’ wrote the prophecies is the crux of modern scholar’s ignorance about the provenance of HRB in all its editions and variants.
Also, there is the added confusion of Henry Blois writing as ‘Geoffrey’ who is posing as Merlin. In early Merlin prophecies i.e. before 1155, we are given the impression that our author was a Briton whose chief antipathy is against the Saxons and favours the Normans as vanquishers of the Saxons.
This viewpoint was true at the time the early prophecies in the Libellus Merlini were constructed, when Henry’s brother Stephen was alive as king of England. The initial Merlin prophecy gave the impression that Merlin, (an ancient Briton) acquiesced in the Norman eradication of the ‘German worm’. However, what has confused scholars like Jean Blacker and Tatlock51 is where the prophecies predicted a restoration of the crown of Brutus for the united Celts; because this is a twisted version of what had been previously stated in a separate early edition of the prophecies known as the Libellus Merlini. We are told Breton, Cornish men, Scots, and Welsh men finally will restore the ‘Crown of Brutus’.
It is not by coincidence that of all the Merlinian prophecies (excepting those in the vague Götterdammerung), the unification of the Celts is one prophecy that is blatantly clear, but strangely enough does not come true.52 The forces do not unite, and Henry II is not overthrown by the Celts. This is simply because both Conan and Cadwallader, the two named in the updated prophecy, came to terms with Henry II. Henry Blois’ plan of trying to create sedition through a Celt rebellion brought about by prophecy,did not materialise in reality.
It is the one prophecy which did not look backward to events concerning his Grandfather or Uncles’…. or the Anarchy; or events recorded in insular annals; or as a prophecy acting as a corroboration of his bogus pseudo-history presented in HRB. The reason for this is that it is the one and only time53 when Henry tried to use a prophecy to dictate events of political change in the short term.54
Most of Merlin’s other prophecies were a pretence looking forward to already transpired history. We cannot say this is the case in appendix 8 or concerning the ‘sixth in Ireland’ prophecy, because Henry Blois expected the invasion of Ireland to take place soon after the council held at Winchester where the conquest of Ireland was discussed in 1155 while Henry Blois was present.
51J.S.P Tatlock, The legendary History of Britain. Strangely enough for someone as incisive as Tatlock, he makes the observation: Geoffrey is at pains to make the city of Winchester prominent and exalted; the prophecies reproach its perjured citizens and threaten its episcopal see with ruin. It is astounding that Tatlock does not put together the fact that the citizens perjured themselves in the Anarchy being convinced by Henry Blois to accept the Empress Matilda as the next Heir. Also, Tatlock missed the fact that it is only highlighted in ‘Geoffrey’s’ pseudo-history that Winchester was a monastic institution at the time Constans was alive. Strangely enough the bishop of Winchester just after the First Variant was first published in 1144 was seeking a metropolitan for Winchester yet not at the time the Primary Historia was written; thus the Three Archbishops are found in First Variant. Yet we can never be sure when the Libellus Merlini or some updated prophecies was spliced into the First Variant. We can only know the First Variant preceeded the Vulgate HRB. With this knowledge alone we can determine if prophecies in the Variant versions were added after 1155.
52There are other Merlin prophecies which I have covered in the Appendices which did not come to fruition, like the navigable channel to Winchester, but the canal project was started.
53Henry did however foretell of the reinstatement of two metropolitans when predicting as Merlin and we may assume these are St David’s and Winchester.
54There were other prophecies like the construction of the ‘holy hole’ at Winchester which were foreseen and came to fruition but other building projects like a canal from Winchester to Southampton which never materialised.
Until one understands Henry Blois’ attempt at sedition and a causation through prophecy of the Celtic rebellion, or studied the Merlin prophecies in the rendition supposedly given by John of Cornwall; it is very difficult to make out why ‘Geoffrey’ (who wrote all the Merlin prophecies) seemingly has a change of stance against Norman rule.
Of course, Geoffrey writing as Merlin the ancient Briton, feigns empathy with the Britons originally in the Libellus Merlini but what confused scholars who understood Henry Blois was in fact ‘Geoffrey’ and that Henry Blois had composed the prophecies, is Geoffrey’s damming of the Neustrians as foreigners.
Until one reads the JC version of the prophecies where Henry Blois sees himself as the seventh King, it is hard to understand that a Norman can be responsible for constructing the prophecies of Merlin. Henry Blois’ vanity and internal thought process obviously forgave his heritage with the rationalisation that He would be thought well of by the populace in Briton having been such a benefactor to the nation.
Genuinely, if the rebellion of the Bretons, Cornish , Welsh and Scotts had succeeded (which was Henry Blois’ intention in composing that prophecy) he thought he could persuade the leaders of the conquering Celts that he would be the best choice for the next King. (probably in his own mind though). This rational also would have been on the assumption that all these Celtic factions would find no consensus, just as Gildas had bemoaned of the Britons fighting amongst themselves.
The first prophecy in HRB is fittingly about the church and Henry Blois’ aim is to run through history as presented in HRB. We are told: religious observance shall be done away and the churches shall stand in ruins. Also, fittingly, in the second prophecy in which we are told what the end result of the prophecies will be concerning the island of Britain.
Merlin foresees: At the last, those that are oppressed (the British) shall arise and resist the cruelty of them that come from without (foreigners). It is the hope of Henry Blois that King Henry II would be unseated. This is Henry Blois’ ultimate aim at the time the Vulgate HRB prophecies were updated while Henry Blois resided at Clugny in 1156-58; to unseat Henry II by inciting insurrection of the Celts through prophecy.
Henry’s aspiration was to return from Clugny as an ‘adopted son’ to rule England. If this proposition seems far-fetched, the reader may turn to the prophecies of John of Cornwall elucidated in this investigation which show clearly this aim. However, it is better for the reader to understand Henry’s many interpolations and ‘agendas’ before moving onto the prophecies of JC and understand the make-up of the earlier Merlin prophecies first.
The Vulgate version of prophecies which follow, run through history as presented in HRB concerning the Saxon invasion. Arthur, the Boar of Cornwall shall bring succour and shall trample their necks beneath his feet. Henry Blois pretends as Merlin to predict as if looking forward from Merlin’s era and foresee events recorded in insular annals (particularly his own), but the aim is to corroborate fictional (unhistorical) events presented in Henry Blois’ own concocted pseudo-historical HRB. In the prophecy above, Henry Blois refers to King Arthur as the Boar of Cornwall as part of a corroborative exercise which confirms his account of events in HRB where King Arthur combats the Saxons and was concieved at Tintagel.
The islands of the ocean shall be subdued unto his (Arthur’s) power, and the forests of Gaul shall he possess. As we know from history, Rome was never subject to British rule, but as ‘Geoffrey’ posits, the Celts in the fourth century BC captured Rome under Brenno. It is a certain fact that King Arthur’s continental battle at Autun never took place as presented in HRB and Arthur never took possession of Gaul. So, by simple deduction from the prophecy above, the author of the prophecies is definitely the author of HRB…. as Merlin is supposedly looking forward from a period c.500-600 AD:55
The house of Romulus shall dread the fierceness of his prowess and doubtful shall be his end. The house of Romulus is Henry Blois’ mystical term for Rome; as if a seer hears things in a different way and understands the truth in the same way as the fictional foundation myth of Diocles of Peparethus. Yet there are still scholars today who believe Merlin possessed prescience or the ability to prognosticate.
55Tatlock comments on his belief that the prophecies and Historia are written by the same person. He comments on the mutual allusions and the echoes all through. P.416
It was Henry Blois posing as Geoffrey who left Arthur’s fate undecided in HRB on the Island of Avalon which our author of the prophecies refers to as a ‘doubtful end’. However, as we shall cover later, it is Henry Blois who plants the bogus body of King Arthur at Glastonbury. Thereafter, Arthur’s end became less doubtful to the gullible. This fact becomes clear in the colophon to the Perlesvaus where Arthur and Guinevere are said to be in a Grave in Avalon which was composed by Henry Blois before King Arthur’s disinterment. Also Arthur’s doubtful end is terminated once Henry Blois fabricates the grave of King Arthur and then interpolates William of Mamesbury’s DA to point out the position of the Grave. As Gerald of Wales confirms and as DA and the Perlesvaus colophon had predicted, Arthur and Guinevere were exhumed from a grave between the Piramides at Glastonbury/Avalon
Arthur’s ‘renown’ amongst the population was recorded by William of Malmesbury in GR1 but as I discuss in the section on the GR, we can see the manuscript has been interpolated. Arthur’s real ‘fame’ is a product of his introduction into the Primary Historia, First Variant and the Vulgate version of HRB…. and ultimately HRB’s translation into french vernacular verse, supposedly having been composed by Wace. But the Roman de Brut could not have been composed by Wace as I will show in the section on Wace and that Wace only composed the Roman de Rou which covers the period of Henry Ist from the battle of Tinchebray. Henry Blois self-perpetuates the ‘Chivalric’ Arthur through Wace and betond 1158 by being the person responsible for originally instigating the Grail stories at his nephew’s court in Champagne. The Chivalric Arthur’s fame is directly linked to Henry Blois and no other author.
So, as we continue on in this section of the prophesies we can plainly see that the prophecies self perpetuate the legend.
He shall be celebrated in the mouth of the peoples, and his deeds shall be as meat unto them that tell thereof.
Ironically, Henry Blois as the inventor of the Chivalric Arthur persona is the one telling of Arthur’s deeds Firstly through the HRB in the monastic system and through courtiers in a latin version and later on through Wace in the vernacular; yet he is predicting that troubadours would relate Arthur’s deeds; even though Henry is the one writing this particular prophecy and pretending to be Merlin.
Six of his successors shall follow his sceptre, but after them the German Worm will rise.
Arthur supposedly has six successors but coincidentally there are six ‘Leonine’ kings numbered in Henry Blois’ era, but we will get to this obfuscation and its reason shortly. In reality, after the Saxons arrive, chronologically the Danes arrive so this particulat prophecy is sqewed from a prophecy in the Libellus Merlini which had the Normans overturning the Saxons. Henry Blois tries to replicate as far as possible, known history from the insular annals of Gildas and Bede in HRB. However, the fiction of Gormundus,56 arrived at from the French Chanson de geste, Gormont et Isembart (doubtfully known by a Welsh Geoffrey), is a part of the fictional pseudo-history of HRB overcomes the chronological discepancies faced by Geoffrey trying to follow historical reality to place King Arthur in the age: The Wolf of the sea shall exalt him, unto whom the woods of Africa shall bear company.
Through the prophecies and the HRB’s (dual) mention of a totally fictional Gormundus and many other allusions57 in the prophecies, we can conclude the author of the prophecies is the same as HRB’s false historicity.
Again, shall religion be done away, and the Sees of the Primates shall be transmuted.
We know Henry Blois is concerned with the state of the church. Henry Blois’ main concern is his obsession with the primacy of Canterbury as it is through this primacy (determined by Rome) that he is subject to Theobald of Bec. This annoys him intensly as in his mind he should be subject to no-one being the Grandson of William the Conqueror and having helped his brother Srephen onto the throne. Originally, Henry Blois had been Archbishop of Canterbury in waiting, until he was spurned by his brother King Stephen and the position given to Theobald instead. This event is one of the main causes of the composition of the First Variant HRB after the loss of the ‘Legation’ by Henry Blois (and made easier by the death of William of Malmesbury) so Henry could pursue his metropolitan ambitions for Winchester.
The First Variant HRB is an expanded redaction of the Primary Historia intended to be presented at Rome as part of Henry Blois’ attempt to get Metropolitan status for the South West of England in 1144.
Henry’s concern with ‘archflamens’ in HRB and the establishment of two metropolitans mentioned in the prophecies are a result of his attempt to obtain metropolitan status for himself. His intention was to gain metropolitan status for southwest England. Henry’s reasoning for the wording of prophecies over time is complicated as he tried to cover his authorship of the Merlin prophecies later in his life when skeptics witnessed the updated prophecies and certainly date to after Henry II came to the throne.
56The Saxons, having had experience of his shiftiness, went unto Gormundus, King of the Africans, in Ireland, wherein, adventuring thither with a vast fleet, he had conquered the folk of the country. Thereupon, by the treachery of the Saxons, he sailed across with a hundred and sixty-six thousand Africans into Britain…HRB. XI, vii.
57For example: The entombment of Caduallo in the brazen statue placed over a London Gate. Also, the emigration and canonization of Cadualadrus.
Henry Blois squewed the updated Merlin prophecies so that London appeared as the new metropolitan site to detract from Winchester when suspicion fell on him as author of the prophecies.
In reality though, his attempt originally was aimed at Winchester, but this can only be understood completely once the prophecies are recognised as having been twisted in a later updated edition which is found in Vulgate HRB. Jean Blacker is suspicious of Geoffrey adding prophecies focusing on the Neustria prophecy. She does not realise that the Alexander dedication could only be post 1148 and that the updated prophecies were added to the First Variant Version after the First Variant had preceded the Vulgate. Researchers to forget that Henry travelled through monasteries in England and on the continent which were full of scribes who could add updated prophecies to older versions at Henry Blois’ behest and he could pay for them. This is how the HRB proliferated!!!
Henry’s polemic which also concerns our investigation of the interpolations in DA, was to show that the Briton archbishopric of London was established long before Augustine’s arrival. The dignity of London shall adorn Dorobernia (Canterbury) and men shall resort unto the seventh shepherd of York in the realm of Armorica. Samson as ‘Archbishop’ of York58 is another of Henry’s conflations, but again proves the prophecies are too aligned with the pseudo-history of HRB to be written by any other than the inventor of the prophecies.
Henry Blois’ attestation is that before the Saxons came there were three Archbishoprics. This point is made plain in the narrative of HRB59 and again in the prophecies of VM. However, here: Menevia shall be robed in the pall of the City of Legions and a preacher of Ireland shall be stricken dumb on account of an infant in the womb. We shall cover the allusion to St Patrick and Henry’s interest in him when we cover the Charter of St Patrick in the section on DA.
If one understands that Henry Blois wrote an initial set of Merlin prophecies and then subsequently wrote another updated set and changed the sense of some of the previous which were in a separated Libellus version, (which were then spliced into the First Variant c.1149) and subsequently squewed again in the Vulgate HRB…. and then twisted slightly again (while other new additional prophecies were then added in the VM)…. it is safe to posit that several of the early prophecies must have been too obvious and were changed as suspicion fell on Henry as the inventor of the prophecies.
To fully explain the meaning of all the prophecies is impossible as many of them now have no meaning. The original prophecies have been squewed to cause confusion and to hide Henry’s authorship. Originally the prophecies published in the separate Libellus Merlini had material which was too easily linked and could be associated with Henry. His authorship needed to be hidden once he had included the prophecies about the Celtic rebellion when Henry II came to the throne.
To accept this will be difficult for modern scholars, because firstly, one has to accept Geoffrey is not real and that the Primary Historia version of HRB found at Bec was not the same as the Vulgate version. However, most important for any researcher to grasp is the fact that the prophecies in Orderic’s chronicle are an interpolation by Henry Blois.
58At that time two of the Metropolitan Sees, York, to wit, and the City of the Legions, were vacant without their shepherds. Wherefore, being minded to consult the common wish of his peoples, he gave York unto Samson…HRB VIII, xii.
Henry’s bogus establishment of a metropolitan in Carleon is based on Rhygyfarch’s Life of David.
59The three archbishops, to wit, he of Caerleon, Theon of London, and Thadioceus of York. HRB. XI, x. However, the archflamens were not mentioned in EAW, which, if they had been present in the Primary Historia, would have been an extraordinary omission on behalf of Henry of Huntingdon.
Primary Historia had no Merlin prophecies attached to it and did not mention Merlin, therefore there is no mention of Merlin or the prophecies in EAW. Once it is understood that the dedicatees have no relevance in dating the Vulgate HRB, one can then understand the Libellus Merlini existing separately and undergoing an update in the Vulgate. Even though the First Variant pre-exists the Vulgate, and originally may have included the prophecies (without dedication and Alexandrine preamble)….the First Variant’s prophecies have been ‘corrected’ with the updated 1155 version of the prophecies found in Vulgate HRB. This again is difficult to accept until it is understood that the extant copies of First Variant today derive from one exemplar in which the prophecies were updated to the more recent version of prophecies found in the Vulgate.
In other words, when the First Variant was first published, it had the same prophecies as the contents of the separate Libellus Merlini. So, until scholars accept that Vulgate was published in 1155 and the dedicatees names (as contemporaries) in effect back date the Vulgate (giving the impression that the later Vulgate version was that edition found at Bec); it is impossible to grasp how the prophecies were updated and their meaning twisted. This is not easy to accept because scholars have been duped by Henry Blois’ artful retro-dating of the Vulgate version which mentions dedicatees and also by the colophon naming contemporary historians; which apart from the discovery date by Huntingdon in 1139…… date the supposed early composition of Vulgate prior to William of Malmesbury death in 1143.
My main attempt in covering this topic is not to elucidate the prophecies but to show that they were written by Henry. Once the reader recognises the authorship of both HRB and the Merlin prophecies have a common author, we can then safely progress knowing HRB and the chivalric Arthur was a Henry Blois invention. Rather than attempt elucidation of each prophecy, it would be more practical to cover the obvious prophecies which show Henry as the author. So, we will progress from the beginning until Henry’s authorship becomes clear.
The German Worm will find no refuge in his caves for the vengeance of his treason that shall overtake him.
Writing as the Briton Merlin, Henry makes out the Saxons will pay for the treachery carried out on the ‘night of the long knives’ drawn upon from Nennius’ Historia Brittonum. Ostensibly Merlin appears to cast his allegiance with the Britons as one would expect.
They will prosper for a short while and shall wax strong, but Neustria’s tithe shall do him a hurt. A people clad in wood and tunics of iron shall come upon him and take vengeance upon him for his wickedness.
Merlin, initially in the Libellus Merlini, sees the Norman’s coming as saviours referring to the Saxons as foreigners. Oddly enough, if Merlin was a Briton, the Normans would just be replacing another lot of conquering foreigners. But as we know, Henry’s polemic for the early prophecies is motivated by a pro-Norman stance… as his brother King Stephen is still alive when they were first composed. Henry’s position changed as King Henry II comes to the throne along with Merlin’s. In the Libellus Merlini the Leonine numbering of Kings originally only went to four. So when we hear of the Sixth and the fifth not being anointed with the oil we know King Stephen is dead.
He shall restore their dwelling-places unto them that did inhabit them aforetime, and the ruin of the foreigner shall be made manifest.
The last thing the Normans did was alleviate the British populace. But again, Henry is a Norman and in the persona of Merlin calls the Saxons foreigner’s and not the Norman’s likewise. This is not a Welshman writing.
The seed of the White Dragon will disappear from our little gardens and the remnant of his generation shall be decimated. The yoke of unending bondage shall they bear their mother by wounding her with hoes and ploughs.
The Saxons will become peasants of the land tilling it in eternal slavery until the Saxon gene is eliminated. What once was their Mother land is now their bondage. This is an odd sentiment for a supposed (Anglo-Norman ‘Geoffrey’) Welshman to have in favour of the Normans. At this stage (when the early prophecies were published), there was no sentiment to reinstall the Britons or bring back the crown of Brutus. In the next prophecy we move onto Henry’s predecessors around whom the earlier prophecies in the Libellus concentrated.
Two dragons will succeed, one of which shall be slain by the darts of malice, while the other shall perish under the shadow of a name.
William Rufus, as Henry of Huntingdon relates in his history is hit by an arrow and as many contemporaries suspect, an arrow of ‘Malice’. Walter Tirel shot him supposedly by accident in an hunting expedition in the new forest on 2nd August 1100. Is it not a strange circumstance that ‘Geoffrey’ calls it an arrow of Malice? i.e. shot with a motive of hatred or envy, meaning he was killed intentionally rather than it being an accident. Alanus states that nearly everyone understood it to be an accident. So, how is it that the author of the Merlin prophecy is more informed than the masses?
Duke Robert after his imprisonment perished under the ‘shadow of a name’ i.e. Duke Robert rather than King Robert. It is not remarkable that prophecies deal with kings, but in consideration of the vast time gap from the sixth century to the time of Henry Blois…. it is not coincidental that our seer refers to the conquest of Henry’s grandfather and then his two uncles. Merlin has an adept ability to focus his seeing powers on the same era his reading audience can appreciate and recall the recent past.
These following prophecies we can assume are part of the original set of prophecies that Henry hands to his good friend Abbot Suger. However, this does not necessarily exclude several other prophecies which were also part of his version which was the original libellus Merlini. Suger includes all the following and comments on them before his death in 1151. This is before the advent of the updated Vulgate version of prophecies:
They shall be succeeded by The Lion of Justice, at whose roar the towers of Gaul and the dragons of the island shall tremble. In those days gold be extracted from the lily and the nettle, and silver shall flow from the hooves of them that low. They that go crisped and curled shall be clad in fleeces of many colours, and the garment without shall betoken that which is within. The feet of them that bark shall be cropped short. The wild deer shall have peace, but humanity shall suffer dole. The shape of commerce shall be cloven in twain; the half shall be round. The ravening of kites shall perish and the teeth of wolves be blunted. The Lion’s whelps shall be transformed into fishes of the sea, and his Eagle build her nest upon Mount Aravius.
I will briefly go through this section elucidating the meaning as we shall have to cover this material in greater length when discussing the interpolation into Orderic’s work
A lion of justice shall succeed, whose roar shall cause the towns of France, and the dragons of the island to tremble.60 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.
60Gildas called Maelgwn insularis draco, a term which Henry transposed to Celtic leaders.
Henry Ist is denoted the ‘Lion of Justice’ in the prophecies (and whose rule stretched over what ‘Merlin’ terms Gaul) to be archaic….and the island dragons (as we know) are the Britons and Saxons. Abbot Suger explains the prophecy as follows, probably having been prompted by the man who delivered the prophecies into his hands: In his days was gold wrung by him out of the lily, that is, from the religious of good odour, and from the nettle, that is from the stinging seculars; his intent being that as he was a profit unto all, so also should all do service unto himself.
To my mind the lilly and the nettle are the highborn and lowborn who all pay tax to the Lion of Justice. Silver is distributed to the favourite Barons (those that low). As Merlin, Henry shows that his uncle ruled with an iron fist and everybody paid their due and was subject to his stern rule. However, it is probably best to defer to Abbot Suger’s elucidation.
Henry of Huntingdon relates that King Henry Ist predecessor William Rufus: ‘wrung thousands of gold and silver from his most powerful vassals, and harassed his subjects with the toil of building castles for himself’.61 King Henry Ist maintained and added to these coffers until King Stephen inherited a full treasury. King Stephen then distributed it amongst what Henry Blois refers to derogatorily as ‘lowing kine’ in the prophecy.
Henry Blois mentions the easy distribution of funds by Stephen to close advisers and Barons….as the author of GS specifies. Stephen in effect buys support and the coffers are soon depleted…. and Henry Blois is dissatisfied by the manipulation of his brother by the Barons. Stephen’s childish piety and sense of honour, and his blindness toward flatterers is ultimately the breakdown of communication between the two brothers which led to Theobald of Bec being elected as archbishop.
However, we may also have to defer to Abbot Suger’s elucidation: Silver flowed from the hooves of them that low when the strength of the castle safeguarded the plenty of the grange, and the plenty of the grange assured abundance of silver in the well-filled coffers’ Abbot Suger sees the meaning of the prophecy as wealth gained from good husbandry once castles were established to protect livestock.
The men with curled hair shall wear clothes of various textures and colours, and their exterior shall betoken their interior.
This ornate dress appeared in the court of Henry Ist and became a ridiculous show of outward vanity in King Stephen’s rule. A few commentators of the time remark upon the adoption of hair style and the vain attire of the barons at court. This specific prophecy refers to foppish or ‘dandyish’ hair styles and ‘peacockish’ dress of effeminate members of the laity. Doubtful it is that a sixth century Merlin or the Welsh cleric Geoffrey would pay much attention to dress code at court.
Henry Blois himself wore a scruffy beard and would have written this to highlight this new vanity at court to shame the very people as they listened to the prophecy. This trend had started in Henry I reign where bishop Serlo of Seez in a sermon at Carentan chastisted the King and his men for their vain apparel.
61Henry of Huntingdon 217
The feet of lurchers shall be cut off.
It is quite unrealistic to think that Merlin is seeing four or five hundred years into the future and bearing witness to the effects of Norman aristocratic sporting pursuits. It is more ridiculous that a Welsh Geoffrey62 would waste his time concocting prophecies predicting events which pertain to the Norman aristocracy’s sporting pastimes. Hunting dogs were maimed in the time of Henry Ist to prevent hunting on the King’s land; so the hunted game subsequently benefitted. King Henry’s cruel hunting and forest laws were such that all dogs within a given radius of royal preserves were forced to suffer amputation of one paw making them unfit for the chase.64 It is known that Henry Blois kept two Lurchers (or wolf-hounds) as pets, and this may be the motivation for mentioning this seemingly random edict of Henry Ist as a prophecy that all could verify came true .
The beasts of chase (or wild deer) shall enjoy peace.
Henry of Huntingdon again states in reference to William Rufus: If any one killed a stag or a wild boar, his eyes were put out, and no one presumed to complain. But beasts of ‘chace’ he cherished as if they were his children; so that to form the hunting ground of the New Forest he caused churches and villages to be destroyed, and, driving out the people, made it an habitation for deer.65
The Normans were keen on hunting as a sport which witnessed their prowess. As another prophecy relates, they left this pastime to besiege and attack each other as the Anarchy took hold. It is a madness to think that any of this, (regardless of the fact that all these are Henry Blois’ forebears to which the prophecies refer), have any bearing on a Welsh cleric in Oxford (since it is obvious the prophecies and HRB have a common author). Why would Merlin foresee the concerns of members of Henry Blois’ family and their sporting practices?
The shape (for trading) of commerce shall be cut in two; the half shall become round.
This is an allusion to the practice which prevailed of splitting the silver pennies into halves and quarters. The latter clause applies to the fact that these halves were called in…… and a coinage of “round” farthings issued instead. Florence of Worcester refers to these triangular pieces. King Henry’s statute, promulgated in 1108, commanded that the ‘abolus’ and the ‘denarius’ should be round. The introduction of the half and quarter was not instigated until much later, which has caused some commentators to think this prophecy a truly prophetic statement by Merlin. Now, if Merlin’s prophecies were written by ‘Geoffrey’…. what is Geoffrey doing concerning himself with affairs of state and the money supply, which would be under the auspices of the crown?
In Henry Blois’ era, dividing of coinage was a big issue as Henry of Huntingdon relates;66 King Henry ‘had almost all the moneyers throughout England castrated and their right hands cut off for secretly debasing the coinage’. At Christmas in 1124 Roger of Salisbury controller of King Henry Ist affairs summoned all the coiners of England to Winchester, and had the coiners of base money punished.
62Geoffrey of Monmouth is a complete fabrication and did not exist.
63Orderic Vitalis. Historiae ecclesiasticae 4:238
64Hammer, commentary 1935
65Henry of Huntingdon Historia Anglorum 217
66Historia Anglorum vii. 36.
Henry Blois was at the centre of government and this was a big issue and even Henry Blois had his own coins minted at York.67 It is he who would be concerned with this issue of the state, not the canon ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’ at Oxford.
This practice of fractioning coins needed solution since Henry Ist reign and was still an issue in King Stephen’s reign, and one that King Stephen did not get around to solving in the Anarchy. However, Henry Blois is at the centre of this issue; especially concerning alms to the church as Legate. In the early prophecies, Henry Blois assumed it was safe for Merlin to use his ‘vaticinatory’ skill because a statute had been issued and it should already have been enacted at the mints, but the Anarchy prevented the statute being put into practice. The fact that Merlin foresees this issue should be enough to negate once and for all, that there is any truth whatsoever in the proposition that the prophecies were archaic.
The greediness of kites will end and the teeth of wolves be blunted.
In King Henry Ist era, he had complete control over the bishops’ greed (the kites) and curtailed the power of the barons (the wolves) so that all knew they were subject to the king and none aspired to rebellion.
The Lion’s cubs shall become fishes of the sea, and his Eagle shall build her nest upon Mount Aravius.
The lion’s whelps shall be transformed into sea-fishes. The allusion is to the drowning of Henry Ist sons on 25 November 1120. William Adelin, Henry Ist legitimate heir and Richard his bastard son both drowned.
The prophecy foretells, with suitable vaticinatory mystique, that those on the ‘white ship’ became fish food as the ship sunk off the rocks just outside Barfleur in Normandy. King Stephen, long before being crowned, had fortunately decided at the last minute, not to embark with the other drunks. Henry Blois’ sister however, Lucia-Mahaut, and her husband Richard d’Avranches, 2nd Earl of Chester, both drowned along with many other young nobles.
In Orderic’s passage on the Merlin prophecies (which was unequivocally interpolated by Henry Blois into Orderic’s book XII), also leads into that interpolation by recounting the death of Duke Robert’s son. He also drowned on the White Ship. Duke Robert too had ‘amazingly’ seen his son’s death in a vision. Henry Blois has a craft for deception. I will show further on that Orderic’s treatment of the prophecies from Merlin can only have been interpolated into Orderic’s history by Henry Blois. What has confused scholars is that the interpolation of the Merlin prophecies into Orderic’s work reflects this clump of prophecies as early unadulterated prophecies, unlike the Merlin prophecies in the later edited prophecies found in the Vulgate HRB.
To any rational investigator this is an impossibility as Orderic mentions the sixth King i.e. King Henry II invasion of Ireland. This proves to the rational mind that the Clump of prophecies in Orderic’s work is an interpolation as I cover in detail in the section on Orderic Vitalis. Now one can see why the scholastic community has been so baffled. If one does not know who composed the prophecies and for what reason one accepts Henry Blois’ propaganda.
Henry Blois was at the centre of government, and had his own coins minted at York.67 It is he who would be concerned with this issue of the state, not the canon ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’ at Oxford. This practice of fractioning coins needed solution since Henry Ist reign and was still an issue in Stephen’s reign, and one that King Stephen did not get around to solving in the Anarchy. However, Henry Blois is at the centre of this issue; especially concerning alms to the church as Legate. In the early prophecies, Henry Blois assumed it was safe for Merlin to use his ‘vaticinatory’ skill because a statute had been issued and it should already have been enacted at the mints, but the Anarchy prevented the statute being put into practice. The fact that Merlin foresees this issue should be enough to negate once and for all, that there is any truth whatsoever in the proposition that the prophecies were archaic.
The greediness of kites will end and the teeth of wolves be blunted.
In King Henry Ist era, he had complete control over the bishops’ greed (the kites) and curtailed the power of the barons (the wolves) so that all knew they were subject to the king and none aspired to rebellion.
The Lion’s cubs shall become fishes of the sea, and his Eagle shall build her nest upon Mount Aravius.
The lion’s whelps shall be transformed into sea-fishes. The allusion is to the drowning of Henry Ist sons on 25 November 1120. William Adelin, Henry Ist legitimate heir and Richard his bastard son both drowned. The prophecy foretells, with suitable vaticinatory mystique, those on the ‘white ship’ became fish food68 as the ship sunk off the rocks just outside Barfleur in Normandy. King Stephen, long before being crowned, had fortunately decided at the last minute, not to embark with the other drunks. Henry Blois’ sister however, Lucia-Mahaut, and her husband Richard d’Avranches, 2nd Earl of Chester, both drowned along with many other young nobles. In Orderic’s passage on the Merlin prophecies (which was unequivocally interpolated by Henry Blois into Orderic’s book XII), also leads into that interpolation by recounting the death of Duke Robert’s son. He also drowned on the White Ship. Duke Robert too had ‘amazingly’ seen his son’s death in a vision. Henry Blois has a craft for deception. I will show further on that Orderic’s treatment of the prophecies from Merlin can only have been interpolated into Orderic’s history by Henry Blois but reflects this clump of prophecies as early unadulterared prophecies unlike the Merlin prophecies in the later edited prophecies found in the Vulgate HRB.
67The royal control over the minting of coins broke down, leading to coins being struck by local barons and bishops across the country c.1141. A coin appears amongst a group of coins struck at York mint. c.1141 and has on the obverse the inscription HEN(RI)CUS EPS with S(TE)PHANUS REX on the reverse. Probably not a coin of Henry Murdac Archbishop of York 1151-53.
68See Note 7
Anyone who read this ‘White ship’ prophecy from ‘Geoffrey’s’ audience (i.e. those reading Merlin prophecies) would know the meaning; and to which princes (lion’s cubs) the prophecy pertained. The accuracy of Merlin and his focus on church affairs, affairs of state, metropolitan Sees, Winchester, Henry’s uncle, and Henry’s family tree (over a supposed period of five hundred years), as he ‘foresaw’ across time, is ridiculous for modern scholars to take seriously or that the prophecies are afforded any credibility.
Merlin’s audience coincidentally understood and interpreted the recent events to which the prophecies referred. This is especially fortuitous when one considers such a diverse number of other events and kings that came and went in the time span which supposedly had transpired since the Merlin prophecies came to be translated supposedly at Alexander’s request.69
Modern scholars should realise that the Merlin prophecies are totally bogus. The propensity of the prophecies to revolve around those related to Henry Blois far outweighs any credence that these are the fanciful inventions of a Welsh cleric from Oxford called Gaufridus Arthur. What is most astounding is that if Merlin could see to the Sixth King i.e. to 1153 when King Henry II came to the throne; and then onto 1155 where Henry Blois finds out King Henry II intention of invading Ireland; how could any scholar like Julia Crick (the self -appointed expert)70 think the dedication to Alexander was real when Alexander died in 1148.
Would the principle of backdating not occur to her as a possibility? That Merlin’s sister Ganieda in VM could see to the battle of Coleshill in 1157 is even more astounding when ‘Geoffrey’ died in 1154-55, yet Henry Blois lived until 1171. If one scholar had bothered to investigate the John of Cornwall prophecies of Merlin, it becomes so blindingly obvious that Henry Blois perceives himself as the next King after he tried to cause insurrection to unseat Henry II. But I am the one labelled as mad and my assessment of our three genres of study is considered incorrect.
Funnily enough, it is R.S Loomis’s observation that makes me smile: Robert died in 1147 and Alexander in 1148 and thereafter a dedication to either would have no point.71 It is for this exact reason in logic that Henry Blois backdates through the dedicatees. But we should not forget R.S. Loomis was the foremost authority on King Arthur and HRB before the present set of hatch-lings of headless chickens were set loose to regurgitate what had been wrongly deduced by the previous generation.
Although Robert of Gloucester probably never saw these prophecies, his son also died in the disaster. Huntingdon and Malmesbury both give account of the ‘White Ship’ disaster. There is a poem about the disaster that was either written by Henry Blois or more possibly inspired the prophecy.
Orderic states: I desire not to dwell on this mournful theme, and will only quote one short poem from a distinguished versifier: (See Note 6)
The next part of the prophecy is probably the most important to understand as Henry Blois does not use the number 5 in his numbering system but refers to the Empress Matilda in an oblique way. Several references to her arev clearly pointed out:
His eagle shall build her nest on the Aravian Mount.
69Modern scholar’s totally misdirected assumption is summed up by Michael Curley: in order to discount Alexander’s interest in the PM, one would have to regard as a blatant fabrication, Geoffrey’s claim that Alexander himself initiated the project. Such a claim was not likely to escape the bishop of Lincoln. The same can be said for his claim that Walter the archdeacon gave him a very ancient book. Not if they are dead Michael!!!
70Julia Crick sits on the editorial boards of Arthurian literature, the very source of the dark utterances of fellow modern scholars.
71Arthurian literature in the middle ages. R.S. Loomis p.81
There has been much discussion about the ‘Montem Aravium’ by scholars. What is certain is that ‘Geoffrey’ never had Snowdon or Eryri in mind when ‘he’ first composed this prophecy as some deluded commentators have suggested. The only reason this was later implied was to intone that ‘Geoffrey’ had a welsh bias.
The Empress Matilda is the Eagle in ‘the third nesting’ prophecy where it applies to her third child William by her husband Geoffrey d’Anjou. The White Ship incident highlighted in the ‘lion’s cubs’ prophecy refers (in the same sentence) to the only legitimate heir which could now follow Henry Ist. The Lion’s whelps became fish food (see Note 7); Henry Ist is the ‘Lion of Justice’. So, it is not by accident that the concern of our mysterious author writing these prophecies is on the Eagle73 since Henry Blois is responsible for putting his brother Stephen on the Throne instead of her i.e. the Empress Matilda.
The ‘Aravis Range’ is located just before entering the Alps 90 miles south east of Clugny where Henry Blois grew up!!!. Henry Blois will have passed through the range of mountainous hills numerous times on his way to Rome as a Bishop and Legate, because they form part of the direct route from Clugny to Rome. Certainly, Henry Blois would have already made the journey across the range himself at the time when the prophecies were composed. Most certainly, a Welsh ‘Geoffrey’ or a cleric at Oxford would not know of this mountain range.
The solution to this reference lies in Henry’s (Geoffrey’s…. read Merlin’s) reference to crossing the Alps, and the Alps themselves being equitable (as a geographical divide) with Rome in the mind of our mystic seer named Merlin. In Henry Blois’ mind, figuratively, the Alps and Aravis range are synonymous with Rome and one would think he derived this assimilation having travelled frequently through this range.
The Merlin prophecy below referring to clerical marriage, (a big issue due to payment of concubinage), in Henry’s time as Legate, refers to Rome in the same way:74 They that wear the cowl shall be provoked unto marriage, and their outcry shall be heard in the mountains of the Alps.75
72In the later Vulgate version Henry Blois is keen to show his partiality to being Welsh to avoid discovery: since he slew the giant Ritho upon Mount Eryri, that had challenged him to fight with him. For this Ritho had fashioned him a furred cloak of the beards of the kings he had slain. Of course, Henry Blois was known for his unkempt beard but in the earlier First Variant where no seditious Merlin prophecies existed because Henry Blois’ brother was still on the throne…. the fight was in the Alps: Dicebat autem se non invenisse alium tantae virtutis, postquam Rithonem gigantem in Aravio monte interfecit, qui ipsum ad proeliandum invitaverat.
73It is extraordinary that Curley in his analysis comments that the Eagle on Mount Aravia may refer to the Empress Matilda’s Marriage; If this identification is correct, the marriage would form a pair of family events along with the episode of the White Ship. Any political bias in this prophecy, if it indeed does refer to Matilda is difficult to perceive. The problem is that scholars tend to perceive nothing; especially of Henry Blois’ input and they do not consider why Merlin focuses on subjects closely allied to Henry Blois. A cleric in oxford would doubtfully know where the Aravian range is, let alone ‘code’ Matilda’s association with Rome or make comment on her third Child.
74It is not by accident that Wace has the same geographical understanding of the Alps as a natural barrier to Rome but instead of montem Aravium, Wace refers to it as ‘Mount Bernard pass’ also in the Alps. This is a clear freudian slip and is a clear indicator that the Brut was composed by the same author as the prophecies. ‘Geoffrey’ pretending to be Merlin earlier, makes plain to what his montem Aravium alludes in the prophecies; but when Henry Blois composes the Roman de Brut pretending to be Wace, he betrays that he is the author of both the Brut and the prophecies. This slip is probably because the reference was so obscure and no commentator or commentary on the prophecies had linked the ‘Bernard pass’ of Wace to Montem Aravian. Tatlock could not work out that it alluded to the crossing of the Alps and is code for Rome. The Empress Matilda married to the Emperor of Rome before he died and thus her title.
75HRB, VII, iii
The same reference to Rome as being equitable to the Alps is again used by Henry in the prophecies: and the report of that work shall pass beyond the Alps76i.e. the news will get to Rome.
The Aravis mounts are part of the French pre-Alps, a lower chain of mountain ranges west of the main chain of the Alps. When it is understood how the Alps and Aravian range equate to Rome (or the passage to it) in Henry’s mind, it is easy to see how Empress Matilda who was regina Romanorum is seen by Merlin to be making her nest on Mount Aravium.
While still a child, Matilda was married to Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor and was crowned queen of the Romans.77 This is the sequence of logic whereby Henry derives: His (Henry Ist) eagle shall build her (Matilda) nest on the Aravian Mount (Rome). Again, I must point out that all the prophecies are highly relevant to Henry Blois, rather than a Welshman from the Welsh Marches.
I suggest that Henry’s first set of prophecies, which we know Abbot Suger possessed, (a good friend of Henry’s) , included this allusion to montem Aravium. When Henry Blois finalised the updated Vulgate HRB prophecies, he tried to hide its obvious poignancy toward Matilda by having the giant Ritho fight Arthur for the mantle made of beards on mount Aravius i.e. for the purpose of deflection. This episode would have detracted at the later date from the association with Rome, whereby his own authorship might be suspected…. having passed through the region several times and because of the prophecy being pertinent to the Empress Matilda who he himself had virtually denied her the throne by manipulating events to install his brother Stephen.
However, there are comments from contemporary commentators on Henry’s beard (which was unruly and long) and thus again connects the ridiculous Ritho episode back to him. We should ask: how is it that Matilda and Henry Blois, who are connected by so many events, are a concern of a certain Merlin who seems to provide prophecies that an audience in the second quarter of the twelfth century would find highly relevant.
Is it really a coincidence that the prophecies just happen to focus on Henry’s arch-enemy Matilda in reality during the Anarchy, and fortuitously get ‘translated’ by ‘Geoffrey’ in this same era? For a scholar to believe the Orderic dealing of the Merlin prophecies is not an interpolation when it is blatantly clear the author of the interpolation is trying to have us believe that the prophecies existed whil King Henry Ist was alive when refering to the sixth King is a ridiculous notion. More silly is the fact that Orderic died in 1142 and is the very reason behind Henry Blois’ Merlinian interpolation into his work.
Venedocia shall be red with a mother’s blood,
Venedocia, as Giraldus Cambrensis informs us, is the ancient name for the region of North Wales. This prophecy plainly alludes to the continual rebellion in the North of Wales from King Henry Ist time through the Anarchy up to Henry II reign. So, really, it is a prophecy of little consequence…. but is true for contemporary Anglo-Norman readers to recognise.
In essence it was the ensuing Welsh war which made Henry Blois choose Asaph as the place for a perfect cover to locate an already dead ‘Geoffrey’ as Bishop. It is probably no coincidence that Asaph78 is the ‘recorder’ of events…. just as Henry has made ‘Geoffrey’. Yet no-one could have verified ‘Geoffrey’s’ existence until long after his supposed death when the Vulgate was ‘made public’.
By then, as we know, there is a trace of a bishopric whereas none was recorded when ‘Geoffrey’ was supposed to be alive. I shall cover this point in detail later.
76HRB, VII, iv
77Later in life, Matilda led Norman chroniclers to believe that she had been crowned by the pope himself.
The house of Corineus will be slayed by six brethren.
Corineus was said to be a companion of Brutus, after which Cornwall takes its name. The six brethren put to death like the six sons of Erectheus, are (according to Alain de Lisle), the six sons of Fremun, who was viscount of Cornwall under Henry Ist. This may be the most likely solution to the prophecy. However, few of Henry’s audience grasped Henry’s Breton and Cornish affiliation which he bestowed on himself and his brother in the earlier prophecies to liken his brother as a returning Arthur.
John of Cornwall’s prophecies (which Henry wrote last), actually sheds a different light on the reference and shows Henry’s ability to ‘confuse’ in the flux of these prophecies: ‘In sex Francigenis unius sanguine matris, Triste rubens solium tot mortes tot mama passum’.
‘there with the six Frenchmen born of the blood of the same mother, the throne, sad and reddened was subjected to so many deaths, so many evils’.
In John of Cornwall’s edition of prophecies, which were Henry Blois’ latest rendition (even though dated before 1156), Henry is pretending to be a Cornishman as author…. and therein the Cornish (house of Corineus) are not being slayed by the six brothers (or six Cornish brothers are slayed) as in Geoffrey’s Version, but the brothers have become French.
We can also see ‘Venedocia’ has disappeared and the ‘throne’ is transposed with the same description. We can see by this example Henry Blois’ method of conflation and warping of the meaning of the original Merlin prophecies that were first put together to make the Libellus Merlini. Henry Blois, posing as John of Cornwall in this context is referring to the six brothers all born of his mother Adela. It also refers to Stephen’s enthroning bringing chaos during the Anarchy. Posing as John of Cornwall, Henry pretends an explanation of this passage by way of the commentary which accompanies the JC edition (also written by Henry).
Henry had five elder brothers all legitimate through his disgraced father Stephen II, of which Henry was the youngest. The eldest was William, Count of Sully, the next in line was Theobald II, aka Thibaud IV Count of Champagne; and one brother Odo of Blois, aka Humbert who died young. King Stephen of England, and Philip Bishop of Châlons-sur-Marne were Henry Blois’ other two brothers. These are the six brothers (including Henry) or Frenchmen to a Briton called Merlin.
John of Cornwall’s prophecies were concocted later than 1155 (even though scholarship is duped by the dedication). So, we can see Henry’s ability, between the different versions, to adapt the meaning for his current propaganda agenda. Originally, the prophecy probably did pertain to the six sons of Fremun, viscount of Cornwall yet after 1155 the prophecy is referring to him as he hopes to return to England as the ‘adopted son’ mentioned so pointedly in the JC prophecies.
Henry’s vanity in recording details of his own presence is also understood by leaving behind the name Master Blehis, and Blihos-Bleheris (anagram H.Blois) in connection to Grail literature. Also, the white haired old man on the ‘snowy white horse’ who becomes ‘adopted’ in the John of Cornwall rendition, but we will get to that eventually when I elucidate the JC prophecies because Henry Blois had a majestic ‘white charger’ horse to carry him in battle armour. Henry created the JC prophecies in the hope he might persuade others of his own suitability to succeed the throne after Henry II had been fortuitously unseated by the Celtic sedition.
However, let us continue on through these Vulgate HRB prophecies.
The island shall be bathed in the tears of night, and thence the people shall be incited to all sorts of villainies.
Henry Blois at the beginning of the GS portrays the state of affairs in England, where, after the reign of Henry Ist and the accession of King Stephen, a lawlessness pervaded throughout England. This was partly caused by the decimation of livestock through disease, but primarily through feudal fighting between the barons during the Anarchy. Henry Blois gives a vivid description of this in GS.
His progeny shall aspire to soar aloft,….
the fact that Matilda is the eagle and tries to soar aloft gives the impression from the prophecy that she tries to regain her position, but new men shall rise to favour and eminence. This speaks specifically of Henry Blois and his brother. At the time of writing of the original prophecies, the expectation was still that Henry’s plans for a church led state would come to fruition.
Wherefore, girdled about with the teeth of wolves, shall he climb over the heights of the mountains and the shadow of him that wears a helmet.
Here again, the heights of the mountains refer to the trip involved getting to Rome and thus the Alps become synonymous with Rome as I have just covered.
Here, we see that Henry Blois (when the prophecies were originally written), sees himself and his brother as a partnership. King Stephen, under the protection of his brother Henry, who was the Wolf from Wolvesey (girdled about);79 using possibly ‘the tooth of the wolf’ (singular) originally. The point Henry was making is that the prophecy alluded to himself by vaticinatory pun, the Wolf from Wolvesey. The Helmeted man is the Pope and Henry as Legate is the shadow of him that wears a helmet. Henry refers to himself in fatuous prophetic imagery as the shadow of the pope i.e. the Legate.
From 1143 to 1963, the papal tiara was solemnly placed on the pope’s head during a papal coronation and resembled a helmet.80 The conclusions we can draw from this are that the original Libellus Merlini prophecies were written after March 1139 when Henry became Legate probably c.1142-3, (not forgetting the Primary Historia was deposited at Bec in 1138 and there were no prophecies in this edition).
Albany shall be moved unto wrath, and calling unto them that are at her side shall busy her only in the shedding of blood.
Albania is employed as the archaic term for Scotland so as to appear as if Merlin is speaking from the past. Henry Blois dislikes both the Welsh and Scots and this is evident through sentiments disclosed when writing as ‘Geoffrey’ and as the author of GS.
79Wolvesey Palace was the residence of Henry Blois. Bishop Æthelwold, Bishop of Winchester 963 – 84, was the one to build the first Bishop’s residence on the small island in the middle of the Itchen. This island was originally called Wulf’s Isle, a name that corrupted in time into Wolvesey.
80See Note 3 Papal Coronation
King David’s hostility to King Stephen can be understood as an effort to uphold the intended inheritance of Henry Ist, i.e. the succession of Matilda. King David joined the Empress Matilda when she arrived in England, and later knighted her son, the future Henry II.
As soon as King Stephen was crowned on 22 December 1135, King David decided to make war on Stephen. King David marched into northern England, and by the end of January 1136 he had taken several castles. A treaty was agreed whereby King David would retain Carlisle and David’s son Henry was granted the Earldom of Huntingdon. However, the first Durham treaty quickly broke down after King David took insult at the treatment of his son Henry at King Stephen’s court. David prepared again to invade England in 1137.
Henry Blois makes it clear in the VM prophecies that he mistrusts the King of the Scots for his ability to break agreements. This point is painfully made clear by Henry Blois as author of the GS also.81
However, the Merlin prophecy above from HRB is a generalised sentiment held by Henry Blois about the fractious warring Scots. Since the early prophecies were not written until c.1141-43, one might assume the prophecy is a reference to the battle of Standard fought in August 1138. The ‘calling in of those who dwell by her side’ is recorded by Ailred of Rievaulx as the Galwegians from Galloway in South-West Scotland, the Cumbrians and Teviotdalesmen; the men of Lothian, the islanders and the men of Lorne in the South-West Highlands and Moravians, men from Moray in North-East Scotland.
A bridle-bit shall be set in her jaws that shall be forged in the heart of Armorica.
This prophecy above is difficult to understand. The obfuscation in this case is overdone. I think it refers to Geoffrey V, who was the Count of Anjou, Touraine, and Maine in the ‘bosom of Brittany’. Perhaps it refers to the husband of Matilda tempering the rash and haughty Empress; especially considering the following:
He will cover the Eagle of the broken covenant (vows of the Barons) and the Eagle shall rejoice in her third nesting.
The allusion is of a copulative nature which is expressed in the resultant third child. The reference is to Matilda as the ‘eagle’. The ‘broken covenant’ pertains to broken oaths of all the Barons who swore to her father Henry Ist that they would remain loyal to her after his death. The ‘third nesting’ is the birth of Matilda’s third child William, on 22 July 1136.82 This event is of vital importance to Henry Blois because of the opportune timing of the pregnancy of Matilda. It was and fateful reason Stephen was able to be crowned King. Matilda, assuming her crown to be secure, was unwilling to make the sea crossing pregnant because of ‘Pregnancy sickness’. Matilda had nearly died while giving birth to her second son. This was the cause of her unwillingness to travel to England at the crucial time allowing Stephen to be crowned in her place by the machinations and manipulations of Henry Blois.
There was not a high expectation for the Empress Matilda’s survival when she became pregnant for the third time after the earlier complications. It is because of this pregnancy that Henry Blois was able to speed Stephen’s usurpation of the crown…. the grounds for which are set out in the apologia of the GS. The GS provides various rationalisations for the crowning of Stephen.
79Wolvesey Palace was the residence of Henry Blois. Bishop Æthelwold, Bishop of Winchester 963 – 84, was the one to build the first Bishop’s residence on the small island in the middle of the Itchen. This island was originally called Wulf’s Isle, a name that corrupted in time into Wolvesey.
80See Note 3 Papal Coronation
81I shall cover this point later when covering Henry Blois disatisfaction at his Brother Stephen letting King David of Scotland free for the ‘third’ time after the rout of Winchester.
82It is preposterous that some modern scholars still believe that the interpolation into Orderic concerning the Merlin prophecies predates 1135.
Why Merlin keeps focusing on events pertinent to Henry Blois must be obvious. But it also substantiates the fact that a living bonefide persona ‘Geoffrey’ is an illusion and Henry Blois is the author of the Merlin prophecies.
The rulers cubs shall awaken and forsaking the forests to hunt within the walls of cities.
This prophecy can doubtless be interpreted as ‘the Normans’ will leave the normal practice of hunting in the woods for the new practice of warring in cities which transpires throughout the Anarchy. This is confirmed in the next sentence where No small slaughter shall they make of them that withstand them.
I am at a loss to give any sure interpretation regarding the tongues of bulls shall they cut out.83
They shall load with chains the necks of them that roar, and the days of their grandsire shall they renew.
The prophecy seems to refer to Henry Blois and King Stephen returning back to the ‘Glory days’ of their Grandfather, William the Conqueror, when all were subject to him. Them that roar are the Norman lion’s cubs i.e. specifically Stephen. The necks of the baronial lords are loaded with chains as chains are a symbolic representation of reward for acceptable and weighty service; often hung in medieval times with a pendant of the coat of Arms. This prophecy would have been one of the original Libellus Merlini prophecies which establishes that Stephen and Henry are rightfully running the country as Grandchildren of William the Conqueror.
For the most part, what I have covered so far existed in the First set of Prophecies, which, I assume, existed as the Libellus Merlini. This circulated separately and was distributed nonchalantly to a select few like Abbot Suger. We might speculate that the Libellus was originally composed to foretell (as if it were fated from long ago) that Stephen would be king; i.e. King Stephen’s rule had been foreseen. Who could challenge what was fated? However, it is difficult to know exactly how Henry has squewed the prophecies in the various versions today.
Thenceforward from the first unto the fourth, from the fourth unto the third, from the third unto the second the thumb shall be rolled in oil. The sixth shall overthrow the walls of Hibernia and change the forests into a plain.
It is not by coincidence there is no ‘fifth’ in the kingship line mentioned; especially not Matilda, even though numerically she is the fifth. She would not be accounted as one of ‘the consecrated’ by oil. So, this passage from the updated Merlin prophecies found in the Vulgate HRB looks as if it has been updated from an original early prophecy which originally spoke of only four i.e. before Matilda and Henry II arrived and the Leonine line were added to with references to Matilda in various ways and of the Sixth being Henry II. I would think that this reflects a purposefull squewing and skimble Skambling of an existing prophecy which refered to the leonine numbering system which originally in the Libellus Merlini only reached four
This is supposition because we know Henry would hardly mention Matilda as the fifth anyway, but one might imagine that because the ‘consecration’ was an issue, it was written after the fact i.e. Matilda was not consecrated (crowned). Matilda was not consecrated with the ‘oil’ which anoints Kings and Queens (since the biblical period); the point is Henry II is the ‘Sixth’ which obviates the fact that the prophecy was written after he was crowned and the fifth which ordinarily would not have been numbered by a dark age seer is enumerated in Henry Blois numbering of his Grandfather’s cubs.
Jean Blacker and Michael Curley our two experts on the Prophetia along with Eckhardt are totally ignorant of the fact that Henry Blois sees himself as the seventh King in JC’S edition which I cover in full later. Modern scholars impossibly rank Stephen as the Fifth being misdirected by the JC commentary. King Stephen is the fourth, Matida the unmentionable fifth and Henry II as the sixth.
Let me make this plain, by understanding that the original prophecies only went to four when Stephen came to the throne. The prophecies were then updated to include the sixth when Henry II came to the throne. In the JC version with Henry’s expectation of revolt by the British tribes, he looked forward to being the ‘seventh’ because he hoped to be a compromise king after Cadwallader and Conan had succeed in their rebellion which was being foretold would succeed as Henry Blois’ updated prophecies foresee the fall of Neustria.
The Empress Matilda was marked in the prophecies as the alliterative ‘fifth’ but she was certainly accounted as ‘not consecrated’ with the oil. But as a cub of King Henry II in the later version of the prophecies marked as the fifth along with all the other references Henry Blois provides for her.
Scholars should realise that the ‘sixth’ has to be king Henry II. Until these ‘scholars’ open their eyes to who wrote the prophecies and even the JC version and the reasoning behind the versions, they will keep asking ‘Who was the seventh king’. Of course the commentary in the JC version misdirects, that is partly why it was written!!!!
83The cutting out of bull’s tongues could have a papal implication concerning Stephen’s attempts at getting Eustace crowned, involved the ignoring of papal instruction. Herbert of Bosham seems to think it has its allusion to silencing the proud. Concerning the tongues of bulls as an alternative interpretation: Nearly all the chroniclers alive at the time, relate that in Britain there was a cattle disease which decimated the cattle stocks just before Stephen’s reign. I suggest this may have been a disease called wooden tongue disease. The disease starts suddenly with the tongue becoming hard, swollen and painful. Affected animals drool saliva and cannot eat. Maybe some barbarous solution was to cut out their tongues. Certainly, Henry Blois has something in mind; and as we have seen ‘lowing kine’ can be obsequious Barons, it is any one’s guess as to what the prophecy alludes to.
Matilda’s aborted crowning means she was never officially crowned. Certainly, the prophecy of the ‘sixth’ overthrowing the walls of Ireland, post-dates 1155. The mystical sounding vacuous first part of the prophecy above counting the four kings seems to me to be attempting to sound the same as the previous (original) prophecy (in counting from Stephen’s Grandfather) originally to only four and most probably would have been in the original libellus Merlini until the update which went to six.
We know the prophecy has been subsequently updated. Whether or not the first sentence was in the original set of Prophecies or not is inconsequential…. as it is obvious the second sentence post-dates the council at Winchester in September 1155. If the first sentence was in the original Libellus, it would indicate that the numbering system of the first four was instigated at that time…. and Matilda was just referred to as the eagle and not numbered because King Stephen was still alive. Hence the ‘Sixth’ becomes apparent when the Vulgate prophecies are updated in 1155.
There is little advantage for us to trawl through all the prophecies as it is plain they were written by Henry Blois. This is not the objective of this exposé. My objective is to show clearly that Henry Blois is an arch interpolator of other manuscripts and once this is established, we can then understand much more about the HRB and its connection to DA and the Prophecy of Melkin and how they relate to Grail literature through Henry Blois.
However, to avoid further misunderstanding by the scholastic community, it is worth briefly looking at the evolving process of the prophecies of Merlin over time, which has overlaid new material on what was originally published as a separate Libellus Merlini. Henry Blois’ illusion was also, at the same time, attempting to make the prophecies seem consistent from the first earlier edition. This is what has confused commentators on the Merlin prophecies in the various redactions of the prophecies found in Vulgate HRB, VM and JC.
As far as I can understand what has transpired is that an original set of prophecies were written. These were then added to and contained allusions to the period in the Anarchy and the period preceding it. Henry thought that some prophecies were found too obvious i.e. they could lead back to Henry as the author. In 1155 a set was produced which squewed the originals and split them up so that the sense was harder to grasp from one prophecy to another and continuity was broken up. However, in 1155 several prophecies were added to predict the fall of the Normans in Britain through the uprising of the combined Celtic nations.
These updated prophecies from 1155 were added to the exemplar of the original First Variant version and over-copied into variants when the Vulgate version of HRB and its updated Merlin prophecies was published. The body of the text of the Vulgate version of HRB varied in structure from First Variant because the Vulgate was no longer aimed at a papal audience. One version of HRB evolved toward the completed Vulgate copy through an edition which Alfred of Beverley copied from. This is why it is more similar to the Vulgate but not as expanded in 1147-51 when it was circulated around York. Obviously the dedicatees and the colophon referring to the historians were added into the Vulgate HRB after all three were dead; essentially to backdate the whole Historia but more importantly its updated seditious prophecies. People were curious as to where the prophecies came from and who Galfridus Arthur was and where he was.
Subsequent to the publishing of the Vulgate HRB, Henry decided to establish a more realistic Merlin who was seen to connect to events through historical figures such as Taliesin and Rhydderch in his new output called the Life of Merlin. Original prophecies were followed nearly verbatim in VM and some from the updated prophecies of HRB were included. Also, Merlin saw/spoke fresh prophecies that had not featured in the HRB. Most of these new visions were localised and gave the impression that Merlin saw into the future concerning Dumbarton, Carlisle, and Camartheon etc. where Merlin had been fictitiously newly installed in the VM. An opaque Merlin Ambrosius became a Merlin Sylvestris from a certain location and attached to a real historical King. So, Henry does a little localising of his prophecies to appear that Merlin now pertains to the North.
I believe Henry contrived to locate Merlin geographically because sceptics asked how it was that there was no previous record of Merlin. The structure and beauty of Vita Merlini had little interest for Henry Blois, as it was specifically composed as a propaganda exercise. When the VM was coposed while Henry Blois was in Clugny, ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’ in 1157 had been supposedly dead three years. A casual scenario for the composition of VM invented by Henry Blois was welded together based upon Irish and Welsh bardic material along with excerpts from Isidore of Seville’s etymologiae.
The one point which positively shows that Henry Blois is the inventor of the prophecies is that a large part of the Anarchy’s most important events are covered by Ganieda (Merlin’s sister). This was obviously done so that Merlin was not accused of updating the material as the recent events (which are so plainly alluded to by Ganieda) had transpired since Henry had first published his Libellus.
Just so we can finish with these prophecies in HRB, I will just cover a few random prophecies to itemise what I have just explained above. It is not by accident that Two cities shall he robe in two palls, where both his friend Bernard at St David’s and Henry himself are petitioning for metropolitans…. and virgin bounties shall he bestow upon virgins most probably refers to Henry’s setting up of a nunnery at Winchester. However, this next piece is purely to aggravate the Celts to unseat Henry II and Henry Blois refers to King Henry II as the Lynx and predicts the downfall of the Normans and refers to the strife amongst the foreigners…. which constituted the Anarchy.
…the Lynx that sees through all things and shall keep watch to bring about the downfall of his own race, for through him shall Neustria lose both islands and be despoiled of her ancient dignity. Then shall the men of the country be turned back into the island for that strife shall be kindled amongst the foreigners.
The Lynx is Henry II and Henry Blois is predicting the the new King is going to be the downfall of his race and the Normans will lose England and Ireland/Scotland. Henry Blois’ actual plan was to get the Celts to rebel while King Henry was supposedly going to be in Ireland as he had heard at the council of Winchester in 1155. This never happened as Henry Blois had thought and understood from the meeting which he had attended in Winchester just before he fled to Clugny; where shortly afterward, he had composed these new seditious Merlin prophecies
As we shall see later, the ‘old man’ is Henry Blois himself who had a white horse and the Periron is the river Parrett on which he built a mill. An old man, moreover, 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. Cadwallader shall call unto Conan and shall receive Albany to his fellowship.
As we shall cover in progression of this exposé, both Cadwallader and Conan are contemporary enemies of Henry II at the time of writing and the prophecy pertains to what Henry Blois is hoping will happen. see appendix 8
Then shall there be slaughter of the foreigners: then shall the rivers run blood: then shall gush forth the fountains of Armorica and shall be crowned with the diadem of Brutus. Cambria shall be filled with gladness and the oaks of Cornwall shall wax green. The island shall be called by the name of Brutus and the name given by foreigners shall be done away.
The allusion to Armorica is directly related to Conan duke of Brittany. Henry Blois even lets us know that Henry II after the Celts overthrow the King will be succeeded by Henry Blois himself (all going to plan) in the JC prophecies.
In the following prophecy though, he alludes to himself as the ‘goat’ probably because of his silver beard and in reference to the Castle of Venus which is Winchester. His word will rule over the land and Henry’s intended prediction is that with himself on the throne, there will at last be peace in Britain.
He will be succeeded by the He-goat of the Castle of Venus having horns of gold and a beard of silver, and a cloud shall he breathe forth of his nostrils so dark as that the face of the island shall be wholly overshadowed. There shall be peace in his time,
The date of the next updated Merlin prophecy which refers to the two kings at Wallingford i.e. the future Henry II and King Stephen, where the bishops (those of the bishop’s pastoral staff)84 were Henry Blois and Theobald of Bec…. must naturally post-date 1153.
Two Kings shall encounter in nigh combat over the Lioness at the ford of the staff.
The two kings are Stephen and Henry II. The lioness’ rights are what the whole Anarchy has been fought over. Henry Plantagenet (Henry II) and King Stephen agree terms for ending the civil war. Under the terms of the Treaty of Westminster,85 Stephen is to remain King for the remainder of his life, but thereafter the throne passes to Duke Henry (Henry Plantagenet).
They that wear the cowl shall be provoked unto marriage, and their outcry shall be heard in the mountains of the Alps.
84The crosier is the symbol of the governing office of a bishop. A bishop or church head bears this staff as “shepherd of the flock of God”.
85The Treaty of Winchester was the agreement ending the Anarchy to which the infamous Bishop of Asaph put his name. The ‘Treaty of Winchester’ seems to be the addendum following in 1153, allowing Stephen to remain King of England for life but appears to be after the death of Eustace as it mainly makes provision for Eustace’s brother. These documents made clear that Stephen had adopted Henry Plantagenet as his heir.
As we have seen, Henry Blois posing as Merlin does not want to refer to Rome but pretends through the mists of time that Merlin sees the Alps as Rome (as I have covered) and literally therefore refers to the pope or Rome often in allegory as the Alps
The question of concubinage and the fact that several clergy were provoked into marriage was dealt with by Henry Blois as Legate and he referred many contentious decisions concerning concubinage to Rome. In 1022 Pope Benedict VIII banned marriages and mistresses for priests. However, at the First Lateran Council of 1123 priests, deacons, subdeacons, and monks were forbidden to have concubines, contract marriage, or even remain married…. and the Clergy were not happy about it. to think Merlin is again seeing the very things Henry Blois is concerned with is ridiculous. But what is more foul is the edict of the Catholic Church in Henry Blois’ era which has caused the abuse of innocent youth across the world by the Roman priesthood buggering small boys until the present era. The Bishop of Gloucester Peter Ball, a predator of young boys grooming and abusing 18 teenagers is the product of the decisions of the catholic church’s First Lateran Council of 1123. At least Henry Blois kept brothals!!!
However, Henry Blois probably attended the second Lateran Council since William of Malmesbury reckons (as far as he can remember) that Henry became Legate in March;86 Canon 6 decrees that: those who in the sub-diaconate and higher orders that have contracted marriage or have concubines, be deprived of their office and ecclesiastical benefice. Thus, the Merlin prophecy:‘provoking marriage of those that wear the cowl’.
Canon 7: commands that: no one attend the masses of those who are known to have wives or concubines. But that the law of continence and purity, so pleasing to God, may become more general among persons constituted in sacred orders, we decree that bishops, priests, deacons, subdeacons, canons regular, monks, and professed clerics (conversi) who, transgressing the holy precept, have dared to contract marriage, shall be separated. For a union of this kind which has been contracted in violation of the ecclesiastical law, we do not regard as matrimony. Those who have been separated from each other, shall do penance commensurate with such excesses.
This Council thus declared clerical marriages not only illicit though valid before, but now invalid (“we do not regard as matrimony”). The marriages in question are those contracted by men who already are “bishops, priests, deacons, subdeacons, canons regular, monks and professed clerics”.
Now, how is it again that Merlin focuses on affairs of the church so pertinent to Henry Blois’ legation?
Three springs shall well forth in the city of Winchester, whereof the streams shall separate the island into three portions.
This could refer to the third Metropolitan originally as it now has Britain divided into three.
Also, Henry foresaw a navigable channel/canal down to Southampton from Winchester supplied by the two rivers and expected the engineering project to come to fruition. The Anarchy prevented the work taking place and Henry Blois’ name is linked with the start of such a work in reality as the prophecy when written had intended to fortell.
This prophecy, which was in the original Libellus Merlini (as it is predicted to happen in the then future) is followed up by skimble skamble devised to disguise the fact the project never came to fruition and Henry’s connection with it. Tradition says it was the Bishop of Winchester that is said to have devised a grand plan for improving the trade both of Winchester and Alresford by the construction of a “navigation” on the river Alre87 and Itchen. Alresford Pond was started by Henry as the prophecy predicts and constructed in order to create a head of water for a canal. This canal is supposed to have run from Alresford Pond to Winchester. It is said to have been constructed on the orders of the Bishop of Winchester.
86The pope presiding the council began on 2 April and it seems to have ended before 17 April 1139
87In some texts it has Fons Annae and we know the camp of Venus (which will be renewed) is Winchester after Henry’s reconstruction and thus we can speculate that Henry had plans for the three springs appearing in Winchester, one of which was to be navigable to Hamo’s port which is Southampton.
That Henry Blois had already devised the production of the VM when he updated the Vulgate HRB Merlin prophecies is obviated by the inclusion of the forest of Colidonis to match with the new location of Merlin in VM.
The next prophecy is about Winchester written after the rout of Winchester where the citizens which Henry Blois had originally persuaded to accept the Empress Matilda as ‘their lady’ subsequently refused to swap allegiance back to Stephen when Henry Blois reverted his own allegiance back to his brother. On the orders of Henry Blois, Winchester was set ablaze. Henry combines his present agenda, (again concerned with unseating Henry II) and blames the woes of Winchester on their perjury…. yet he is fully aware of his instruction to burn Winchester.88
Come together Cambria, and bringing Cornwall with thee at thy side, say unto Winchester: ‘The earth shall swallow thee: transfer the see of the shepherd thither where ships do come to haven, and let the rest of the members follow the head.’ For the day is at hand wherein thy citizens shall perish for their crimes of perjury.
Henry Blois intonates in the prophecy that the destruction of Winchester was because of the townsfolk’s treachery in changing allegiance. Most readers were familiar with the scenario that Henry himself persuaded them at first to accept the Empress Matilda while his brother was in Jail. Henry wants Winchester upgraded to a metropolitan. Henry (latterly) squewes the purport away from Winchester to London in the updated prophecies.
Again, the citizens of Winchester are blamed for the fact that their city was burnt, Woe unto the perjured people, for by reason of them shall the renowned city fall into ruin.
We know that Henry is the Hedgehog with the pun on ‘Hericus’ instead of Henricus and we know he rebuilt the city of Winchester.
The Hedgehog that is laden with apples shall rebuild her.
What is happening here is that Henry has written earlier prophecies about his aspirations to rebuild after the fire. In this version he is updating the prophecies in the HRB in 1155; so, he is trying to make it appear that the updated version still matched the older one. Because the engineering works did not transpire, the whole sense of the prophecy is now associated with the Thames just to confuse the reader, but Henry had in fact boasted in an earlier prophecy that the report of his engineering endeavour at Winchester (having been foreseen by Merlin) would find renown at Rome.
What we do know for certain is that he did have a ‘mighty palace’ at Winchester and we may speculate that he intended to rebuild the city walls with six hundred towers. He shall add thereunto a mighty palace, and wall it around with six hundred towers. London shall behold it with envy and trebly increase her walls.
88William of Malmesbury states: but the people of Winchester gave her (Matilda) their unspoken loyalty, remembering the faith they had pledged to her when they were induced to do it, almost against their will by the Bishop (of Winchester). Meanwhile firebrands flung from the bishop’s tower upon the houses of the citizens, who, as I have said, were more zealous for the Empress’s success than the Bishop’s, caught and burnt an entire nunnery within the city and the monastery called Hyde without. That Henry is responsible for the burning of Winchester is confirmed by John of Worchester’s report: …the bishop is reported to have said to the earl of Northampton, ‘Behold earl, you have my orders, concentrate on razing the city to the ground.’ The rout of Winchester transpired straight after Henry had changed sides back to his brother, after the Empress had left London as we will cover shortly in the exposition of the GS.
The Thames river shall compass her round on every side, and the report of that work shall pass beyond the Alps.
As will become apparent in progression, the current copy of the prophecies comes from the updated Vulgate version of HRB which I will show was written in 1155. As I have suggested, it is likely that a river was previously un-named and the whole prophecy originally applied to Winchester. In the updated version where too much of the previous information seemed too highly pertinent to Henry Blois, he has added the Thames to take the focus from Winchester and himself.
It must not be forgotten that when Henry wrote the previous Libellus Merlini prophecies, he was the King’s brother and Merlin just happened to be focusing on events which ‘coincidentally’ revolved around Henry Blois. In the updated version however in 1155, he is inciting rebellion; so, there was a need for the utmost caution and obfuscation of any evidence that Henry was author of the prophecies. But, at the same time, the prophecies still had to resemble in content the previous set of prophecies. Even though William Newburgh writes 20 years after Henry’s death, Newburgh still knew that: a writer in our times has started up and invented the most ridiculous fictions….
Within her (Winchester Cathedral) shall the Hedgehog hide his apples and shall construct passageways under-ground.
The so-called ‘Holy Hole’ in the retro-choir at Winchester Cathedral which still exists today is a small doorway leading into a short passage which goes nowhere. Originally this was constructed by Henry Blois as a means of increasing alms derived from pilgrims, allowing them to go underground past the crypts of saints and relics.89 The high-water table under the New Minster caused several relics to be moved at the time as related by prior Robert of Winchester. The prophecy may also refer to more practical constructions underground to alleviate the flooding of the crypts which still occurs today.
What seems to have transpired is that Henry is trying to deflect attention from himself. In earlier prophecies (in the libellus Merlini) some of the blatantly obvious prophecies that he has prognosticated could lead back to him as author. Unfortunately, no copy of these have been definitely identified at the present (as an early separate Libellus ), but it seems fair to say with his new updated prophecies which incite the Celts to rebellion, Henry Blois’ older prophecies which were less guarded, needed to be squewed so that no suspicion would lead to Henry now Henry II was on the throne.
Henry Blois tries to deflect any attention he may have focused on himself or Winchester by obfuscating. He predicts (as if he were Merlin) that these things will occur when two unlikely events transpire. Thus any sceptical person who may be suspicious of Henry’s authorship of the prophecies are immediately non-plussed because stones do not speak and neither has the English channel shrunk.
89The small ‘Holy Hole’ was originally a larger passage which enabled pilgrims to crawl from outside the Cathedral of Winchester directly beneath St. Swithun’s Shrine. Bishop Henry also surrounded St. Swithun with the bones of various Saxon Kings and Bishops in lead coffers, which he had removed from their ‘lowly place’ of burial.
In that day shall stones speak, and the sea whereby men sail into Gaul shall become a narrow straight.
Henry Blois then follows this with more ridiculous propositions seemingly seen through a ‘glass darkly’, keeping his obfuscation less like an insertion but more as a train of connected events seen by Merlin.
Men will call from shore to shore, and the soil of the island shall be enlarged. The hidden things that are beneath the sea shall be revealed, and Gaul shall tremble in fear.
There seems little point to continue traipsing through the Merlin prophecies as I will have to cover several later in context. There is such obfuscation and squewing of previous prophecies which Henry is attempting to dissemble, that it seems too uncertain to attempt to find rational meaning in some once they have been altered/updated. The ‘dragon of Worcester’ is Waleran and the ‘dragon of Lincoln’ was Alexander and the ‘ass of wickedness was Theobald of Bec’, but it would be unlikely a sage from the sixth century would focus on those who Henry Blois disliked.