There are two enamel plaques in the British Museum which were made in the Meuse valley in modern day Belgium, with a very high degree of skill, from copper alloy and enamel. These are semi-circular dished plaques usually referred to as the Mosan plaques. On one of these plaques, Henry of Blois is depicted prostrating himself, offering what looks to be a very large book and underneath described by a Latin inscription as HENRICVS EPISCOP (‘Henry the bishop’).
On the other, there are two angels depicted protruding from the clouds, both swinging fragrance censors indicating the benevolence from heaven upon mankind. One of the angels is holding a golden chalice. Both have further inscriptions in Latin running along the borders of the plaques. They describe a gift to God and a donor on whom England depends for stability and a statement implying that there is nothing greater than an ‘Author’.
When the plaques came to the British Museum in 1852, the plaques were joined together, and had been previously sold as an alms dish. However, it was clear that this was not their original state or intended purpose. Henry Blois’ name is chronicled in connection with four episodes in which crosses play a large part. It is my belief that these plaques may have been attached to a cross on or above an altar. The reason for thinking this is that, as seen in the photo above, they are indented in a convex form with fixing holes to mount top and bottom of an object. It would seem, the most likely place they would fit is top and bottom on the sculpted ends of a wooden vertical upright of a cross. There may well have been similar plates made for the horizontal ends of the crossbeam, but the wording, if in the same design would have been difficult to read as the present ones have the script upright, as long as one plate is placed at the top and the other at the bottom.
Some commentators have posited that the plates comprise Henry’s own text for celebrating his time as Legate. What is written does not to me seem a personal statement regarding his time as ‘papal legate’. The sense of the words do not correlate to a middle aged Henry as the expiration of Henry’s Legatine commission was in September 1143. Nor would it be apparent at this stage that the peace of England was within his power. This would seem to me to be an ornament to be affixed to a cross to remind future generations of Henry, like a perpetually viewed epitaph.
One might suppose that Henry is depicted holding the Winchester Bible, presented in supplication…. the largest illustrated Bible ever produced. This Bible is a huge folio edition standing nearly three feet in height commissioned by Henry himself and is still on display at Winchester, although it was never fully finished because of Henry’s death. His production of the Winchester Psalter, also known as the Blois Psalter is another art work sponsored by Henry and given the workmanship of the sumptuous decorated initials of the Bible, it was made at great expense. Henry was an appreciator of art in all forms and it seems that Henry, as he passed through Flanders, commissioned these plates on the way to Rome and may well have picked them up on one of his many journeys through there.
The Meusan plates were a copper alloy different from bronze. The plates are of a specific artful skill practiced at Meuse and would not be of Insular origin. An artful object, so skilfully made, which refers to Henry in such laudatory terms can only have been commissioned by himself to perpetuate a lasting memory of him, given that the wording on the plates only he himself would fully understand the sense. What is written panders to his innate narcissistic vanity which sees his place in the world as pivotal. Also, as we have seen by the composition the GS apologia, Henry Blois wishes his memorial of himself to be recorded reverentially in perpetuity as a good man…. and his contribution to the world as of high worth.
Henry may well have made at least 7-10 trips to Rome, but a particular trip is documented by letter where Henry seeks clear passage through Flanders.340 If one disembarked in Flanders rather than Normandy on the way to Rome from England, one would pass by Meuse on the way to Rome. These particular craftsmen were in Meuse and were adept in enamelling.
Abbot Suger, (the same as had an early copy of the prophecies of Merlin) to whom the letter referred to above is written, died in 1151. If Henry Blois’ passage through Meuse was at this date, it might seem a little premature to be thinking of one’s own epitaph to future generations. The Meusan plates could have been commissioned on any of the several trips to Rome.
On the first plate, where Henry is prostrate and where HENRICUS EPISCOP is inscribed within the scene, the border inscription reads:
+ ARS AVRO GEMMISQ (UE) PRIOR, PRIOR OMNIBVS AVTOR. DONA DAT HENRICVS VIVVS IN ERE DEO, MENTE PAREM MVSIS (ET) MARCO VOCE PRIOREM. FAME VIRIS, MORES CONCILIANT SUPERIS.
The usual translation goes: Art comes before gold and gems, the author before everything. Henry, alive in bronze, gives gifts to god. Henry, whose fame commends him to men, whose character commends him to the heavens, a man equal in mind to the muses and in eloquence higher than Marcus. (Marcus Tullius Cicero.)341
340See Note 4
341Stratford in Zarnecki, 1984, 261
Art is above gold and gems, but an ‘author’ before everything. The word author in no way substitutes in meaning for a fabricator of Art but specifically relates to the composer of a book by the singular reference to Cicero. We can see the object which he presents is a book. Some have translated this as: Art ranks above gold and gems; the maker ranks above the work. If this were the intended meaning, a host of other words would apply such as fabricator, artificer, maker etc.
If the word AVTOR had the meaning of ‘maker’, why would the purport of the rest of the epitaph refer to the greatest and most renowned Roman author? The eloquence referred to is a comparison with the way Cicero wrote and spoke with eloquence. The reference to ‘muses’ confirms the reference is not to worked art by an artificer but a composed piece of work by an author by his ‘muses’.
Henry Blois is plain in what he says of the enduring word because he has read books of events a thousand years old from which he has on occasion used as a source for the construction of HRB and it is this point that he makes. The author is more enduring than transitory art and acquired wealth because his words endure through generations.
Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote on a wide range of subjects, but the substance of his thoughts on politics, law, philosophy etc. have been responsible for the attitudes of others which lived subsequently. Henry Blois has certainly read Cicero’s vast output, but his own vanity states that his work i.e.that of the HRB and other authored work compares with Cicero’s. Cicero is arguably the most famous thinker of the ancient world. The statement on the plate is an odd autobiographical statement when no written work is evident except Henry Blois’s Libellus concerning his work at Glastonbury.
Yet, Henry Blois’ work is not so much voluminous in what is ascribed to him. Scholars will never accept that Henry Blois has written many manuscripts assigned to others because they have completely swallowed the propaganda that Geoffrey of Monmouth really existed. Scholars just miss the point of Henry Blois laying bare how he is most emphatically (in his own eyes) by his output, comparable with Cicero. In Henry’s great speech by Hoel as witnessed in the HRB, the Sibylline prophecies are referred to inaccurately (by ‘Geoffrey’) to supposedly highlight King Arthur’s fated move against Rome. In fact the Sibylline prophecies do not even mention three British Kings.
In the Meusan plate Henry Blois refers to himself as comparable with Cicero. Are we really supposed to believe a Welsh cleric called ‘Geoffrey’ would be knowledgeable of Cicero’s works or his opinions on the prophecy of Cybil.
In reality the real reason we find this mentioned by Geoffrey is because Henry Blois is a fan of Cicero. Cicero in his De Divinatione discusses that luck or fortune rather than any law of nature accounts for the apparent fulfilment of many prophecies saying ‘it was clever of the author to take care that whatever happened should appear foretold because all reference to persons or time had been omitted. The author also employed a maze of obscurity so that the same verses might be adapted to different situations at different times’.
As I have tried to make plain to the reader in showing that the prophecies of Merlin have been ‘squewed’ at a later date in the Vulgate HRB and in the updated set in the VM from the original set found in the earlier published Libellus Merlini; is it not apparent that Henry Blois uses the same method in mixing up the icons of the Merlin prophecies by changing their inter-dependence on certain other icons mentioned in a different context in an earlier version to establish a change of time and meaning, just as Cicero accuses Cibyl???
The very methodology is described by Cicero that Henry Blois accomplishes. Logically, and this is a very important point; if the prophecies had been written by a real Geoffrey rather than Henry Blois….. there would be no reason to run amok changing Icons in the Vulgate version of the prophecies and in the set found in VM, rather than those icons which correlated with each other when initially put out in the Anarchy in the original Libellus Merlini.
The real reasoning behind such a mixing up of the meaning of the Merlin prophecies was because Henry Blois had included the ‘seditious prophecies’ and the ‘sixth in Ireland’ prophecy in the updated set and the original icons were jumbled to make it harder to read the sense. This jumbled set then appeared to be using the same icons but now made less obvious sense and now included the seditious prophecies. Later when Henry became under pressure from people including Henry II looking for the author of the prophecies…. Henry Blois had found it necessary to employ this ploy of Cicero’s to distant any suspicion from himself.
Anyway, a Welsh cleric hardly seems a likely proponent of the works of Cicero, but more so Virgil. Henry’s mention of Cicero on the Mosan plate known to have been commissioned by him, ostensibly shows Henry Blois’ vanity. In essence he slips-off the mask and helps us identify Henry Blois’ regard for Cicero; just as Henry Blois’ association is laid bare by the same facet as we saw when he authored GS and again when he refers to Cicero in the VM.
Henry Blois did author manuscripts and interpolate texts to build an authorial edifice which is the basis for the Matter of Britain, but unfortunately our current scholars today refuse to recognise Henry Blois is at the heart of all things Arthurian.
The tales Henry Blois left behind on the European tapestry of Medieval literature were Grail lore, Arthuriana and Glastonburyana and that is what makes him (in his own eyes) comparable with Cicero. Henry has had a greater impact on the European stage than anything Cicero ever wrote. Henry Blois was a scholar and left behind an array of material in one form or another. As we proceed through the evidence it will become plain what may be ascribed to his output. William of Malmesbury in the unadulterated section of DA writes: This man, of illustrious birth, is also distinguished in his knowledge of letters…
Henry was very eloquent as several chroniclers attest in different instances. Henry thought he had a mind equal to the classical muses and eloquence greater than Cicero. If Muses are accounted as the inspiration of man’s thoughts, we need only look at HRB to see Henry’s mind is equal to them or at least inspired by them. Stratford concludes of the Meusan plaques: All that can be said with certainty is that the inscriptions are not posthumous and that the plaques therefore date from the period when Henry was bishop of Winchester. So Why does Henry think he ranks equatable with Cicero if he has left no written work behind? Why rank authorship above all material things.
Why would no scholar up to this moment ask that question? I will tell you why: if they admit that it is a possibility that Geoffrey is the author of HRB, then a flood of evidences start appearing as rocks in front of the ship that has sailed aimlessly for over a hundred years. Basically, they would have to re-evaluate every position and when the ship starts to sink what is left to ‘learn’ except that which I have posited.
Why would Henry Blois accredit so much that is desirable to the person of an author? In plain speak, one can see it is the expression of an accolade or personal self-acclaim – an aspiration of worth like musical notes from a great composer. If great composers like Mozart had existed before Henry Blois’ era, of course he would have included their works alongside that of great literature. More importantly, if Henry realised that the written word left to posterity is far more desirable or greater than riches or of higher worth than the manufacture of any kind of art form, architectural work or Jewels; what evidence is there that he, likening himself to Cicero, has also left any such works to posterity?
What works could be accountable in his own mind that ranks him comparable with Cicero? The HRB was the world’s first ‘best seller’ and anyone who was anyone had read it. Grail literature has given pleasure to all generations and classes and languages.
Homer begins the Odyssey and the lliad with an invocation of the Muses as does ‘Geoffrey’. The Muses were the Greek poets’ divined conceptions of the faculties which blessed poets in reciting or composing their work. Henry Blois was steeped in the classics and is not referring to the maker of an ‘artifact’ but the author of books and poetry. But, unless we uncover his authorial edifice left to posterity, no-one will understand to what he himself is referring.
The Meusan plates were surely commissioned by Henry Blois himself and transported back to Winchester after a continental journey to Rome. There is no evidence that anyone else ever suspected Henry’s authorship of several works yet he bears testimony of this truth.
Therefore, the very words found on the Meusan plates would be redundant or senseless in the context of another person having designed the epitaph in memoriam of Henry. Even if his image is that of a ‘venerable statesman’ at best, as Knowles describes him; where is there any connection whatsoever to things literary for a comparison with Cicero as an author?
Henry Blois eloquence is recorded in GS at the Legatine council and thereafter at the court in Winchester where his sophistry is picked up by William of Malmesbury, but his greatest speech in HRB is his retort to Lucius Hiberius’ presumption of tribute to Rome. Henry formulates a great speech of defiance from the mouth of King Arthur in front of his barons. It is this which inspires Hoel to say: For so exactly hath thy provident forethought anticipated our desire, and with such Tullian dew of eloquence hast thou besprinkled it withal.342(Marcus Tullius Cicero)
342HRB IX xvii
Carol Martin in her comparison of the two speeches of Hoel found in’ Wace’s’ Roman de Brut and HRB, completely skips over the real reasons for the Tullian reference in her ignorance of the author of both manuscripts. She misses the point completely that King Stephen on account of the ‘leonine’ numbering system to 4 in the Libellus Merlini originally only went that far. Also, she is oblivious to the fact that Henry Blois is Geoffrey and so proposes arguments for the difference in the two versions of Heol’s speech which can be wholly attributed to Henry Blois’ timing of the composition of the speech i.e. when it was composed and then modified. Geoffrey’s Hoel in light of the Anarchy and Wace’s once it had finished. Henry Blois, now given a second chance to re-evaluate previous contradictions or tautologies related in Hoel’s speech by Geoffrey now corrects them as Wace.
However, let there be no question that Henry Blois’ epitaph was written by himself; the Meusan plates were manufactured by his design. It is the bold statement that the ‘author is before everything’ which is baffling if Henry Blois left nothing authored by him.
If he authored nothing, why would he compare himself with Cicero? More importantly, why if he held this view that a great literary work has more value than the more commonly accepted material artefacts which are lusted after by mankind generally…. why would he hold such a view, if it has no basis in reality? a great author writes a great book and they are timeless and appreciated by many across generations just as Henry Blois appreciated the work of Cicero who wrote the thoughts of a great man over one thousand years before henry Blois lived.
Michael R Davis, Henry Blois’ biographer confirms that these self commissioned plaques do provide a view of Henry Blois but Davis, like all other commentators is unacquainted with the secretive authorship of Henry Blois. Whatever their origins, the Henry Blois plaques provide us with a magnificent example of the art commissioned by Henry Blois as well as providing an understanding into his view of himself.
It is this logical sequence of questions and suppositions which point to the authorship of a great work paralleled or surpassing that of any of the works of Cicero in the mind of the ‘author’ who commissioned the epitaph. Certainly, HRB is a work which aspires to such greatness and to the ignorant has the stamp of authority…. without pretension or condescension, which is the mark of a great work.
No other person could be responsible for the wording on the Meusan plates. No-one else but Henry himself has any idea of Henry Blois’ authorship of a hugely successful work or who was the primordial promulgator of Grail Literature in the guise of Master Blehis; and no-one else would know of his aspirations. This is the idea behind his propaganda in persuading others that works can be ascribed to anyone but himself.
Henry has two founts for his self-image and vanity; one which is witnessed here, stems from his immense learning, the other from his high birth. Not only is he seeking his place in history, but he actually attempts to establish his own version of it. What must be understood about Henry Blois is how he wishes to be perceived by posterity and his understanding of how history is transferred into posterity; but did he really think his fame and character would ‘commend him to the heavens’?
Henry has vainly composed his own ‘living’ epitaph. Much like the GS acts as an apologia for Henry Blois actions as much as his brother’s deeds; the GS is couched as a memorial to his brother, but Henry Blois is already adorning the memory of himself to posterity. The GS’s ulterior motive is to paint a glossed image of himself for posterity. The HRB however, changes the way posterity sees or understands itself. The composition of HRB is a vain action, although unpretentious in its high Latin style it pretends to pass itself off as credible history. Henry through his learning has understood how a place in history is attained by great men and is passed down by chroniclers.
History usually only records the deeds of Kings; and therefore, Henry uses Stephen’s acts (GS) to implant a record of his own deeds. This is so that History may account him as a great and influential man and his own name is recorded in the dust of history. The substance of man is conveyed into posterity through forms such as buildings or artworks and it is Henry’s preoccupation with making his mark in history (which is dictated by his own vanity) which ultimately led him to construct the Vulgate HRB.
I cannot think of any literary work which has had such an enduring effect on any nation (disregarding the religions), other than the ‘History of the Kings of Britain’; its Arthuriana and the subsequent Grail legends; the germs of which all derived from Henry Blois. This man has studied the classical philosophers and orators which is evident from the sources used in the construction of HRB. His rousing speeches put in the mouths of others, polished in style, rhetorical with their balance and oratorical questions are highly sophisticated; reworking the speeches of great men from antiquity and grafting them into the mouths of the heroes of the HRB. When Arthur has given his reply to the Romans regarding the non-payment of tribute, Hoel commends Arthur’s speech with the words ‘your speech, adorned as it was with Ciceronian eloquence, has anticipated exactly what we all think”.
If the reader now understands that the GS was written as an apologia for Henry’s actions and understands Henry’s vanity; portraying himself as a pious and venerable man who did great deeds for England…. one should understand that a poem written about Henry Blois was written by himself for posterity, (See Note 5). In this same poem we can understand from a small extract how he perceives himself: He was the Cicero of our time, son of the generous stock of Kings, gem of parents and he was a glory of the world, the summit of religion. The guide of the Kingdom, the defence and hope of the powerful; staff of the weak and lover of covenants of peace. Rome, head of the world, rich in foreign treasures has been made wealthier by his gift.
Rome was certainly rich in treasure and Henry Blois itemises some of these in his book written under the pseudonym of Master Gregorius which I shall cover shortly, but how Rome has been made richer by him is debatable except through ecclesiastical change i.e, Cluniac reforms.
Anyway, there is little doubt that no other person would have written such flattering words about Henry and we can assume about the poem, like the epitaph on the Meusan plates, the words are his own.
In Greek mythology, poetry and literature, ‘Muses’ were thought to be the goddesses of the inspiration of that literature. A mountain in the region in Boeotia, celebrated in Greek mythology, where two springs sacred to the Muses were located are reminiscent of the Vita Merlini’s land of Boeotia where it is said to have two fountains; the one makes the drinker forgetful, the other makes them remember. However, in the Vita Merlini we have an example of where both Cicero and the Muses, (or at least the land of Boeotia) betray Henry’s mental associations as both muses and Cicero are mentioned on the plaque by Henry Blois together in the same sentence. Henry’s underlying considerations and ponderings likewise are derived from insight and inspiration which is a necessary precursor to eloquence in oratorical form or the written word, which he himself was blessed with, as was Cicero.
Henry betrays himself as the author of the VM through this previous thought pattern i.e. through his association of muses and Boeotia, with Cicero. In the dedication of the Vita Merlini, Geoffrey calls upon the Muses and compares himself (in false self-deprecation) to Orpheus and a group of Augustan epic poets: Thus I should wish to embrace you with a worthy song, but I am not able to, even if Orpheus and Camerinus and Macer and Marius and Rabirius of the great voice altogether would sing with my mouth while the Muses accompanied me.
The reference to the poets Camerinus and Rabirius could be derived from a passage in Ovid’s ‘Letters from Pontus’, (mostly unknown) but for Ovid’s mention of them. Most scholars today misunderstand ‘Geoffrey’ and think he only had a passing knowledge of most of his references and they think that ‘Geoffrey’ was showing off by referring to famous Greek or Latin poets. This is totally a misrepresentation of the delight Henry Blois had for poetry and the classics.
Henry, as we will discover in a discussion of the HRB itself, must have a photographic memory, as many of the classical tracts which he quotes from, or from which he draws inspiration, would have been found on the continent while he was at Clugny,343 but certainly not at Glastonbury, where Henry’s initial pseudo-history destined for Matilda and his uncle initially began its composition. Henry’s mind needed classical manuscripts to feed it; along with chronicles to provide the epic ‘literature of British history’ that we have in the Vulgate HRB today.
343We do not know where Henry stayed in Normandy in 1137-8 but it is likely he resided at times in a monastic house and possibly even Le Bec.
Griscom makes a certain point which involves ‘Geoffrey’s’ photographic memory and concerns information found at Glastonbury where Griscom could not understand its provenance: Geoffrey could not have invented such a mass of material. Nor have ‘expanded’ the meagre entries of Nennius, the AC, or Gildas and Bede into stories, incidents of which are found nowhere else, but which are substantiated by archealogical research.
Griscom then gives the example of ‘Pascentius’ son of Vortigern who invited the Saxons into England as allies against the Picts and the Scots and how ‘Geoffrey’ relates that he went to Ireland to obtain assistance where he was well received. Griscom is fascinated that six miles north of Cork at Ballybank there is a stone inscribed in ogham characters, which is deciphered to read ‘Ailella maqi Vorrtigurn’, while another at ‘Knockaboy’, county Waterford bears the single ogham name Vortigurn.
Then Griscom says ‘No other record of this King having any connection with Ireland outside of Geoffrey’s account is known’. Griscom then says ‘Geoffrey’ must have had some native account behind it. What Griscom does not realise is that the muniments of Glastonbury that William of Malmesbury and obviously Henry Blois perused were extensive c.1126-33. This fact which ‘Geoffrey’ expands upon with his muses would obviously have derived from Irish pilgrims as witnessed in author ‘B’s Life of Dunstan: ‘that Irish pilgrims as well as other crowds of the faithful had a great veneration for Glastonbury’. It should also never be forgotten that in this period at Glastonbury in Henry’s youth while constructing the pseudo-historia, Henry was very personable (as William confirms) with all the monks and they would have been Irish and Welsh and Breton amongst others.
It is examples like this and the fact that Welsh bardic material is also known by ‘Geoffrey’ which leads scholars to add credence to a source book, especially after Henry Blois’ interpolation known as Gaimar’s Epilogue. Essentially all researchers have underestimated Henry Blois’ genius of propaganda and the fact he had a photographic memory.
One last comment on this first plaque from Meuse is about the inscription: Henry, alive in bronze, gives gifts to god.
It is my belief, (which is purely conjecture), Henry had planned some brass effigy of himself so that posterity would be reminded of him. I would even hazard that it was along the lines of Cadwallo’s bronze. This image, (unlike most episodes or icons of the HRB which can be traced to a previous source), came directly from Henry’s mind…. as there is no reference to any such embalming within brass elsewhere in classical literature: The Britons embalmed his body with balsams and sweet-scented condiments, and set it with marvellous art within a brazen image cast to the measure of his stature. This image, moreover, in armour of wondrous beauty and craftsmanship, they set upon a brazen horse above the West Gate of London in token of the victory I have spoken of, and as a terror unto the Saxons.344
This bronze statue will become more relevant to the reader when we cover Gregorius’ study of the bronze horseman Marcus Aurelius in Rome. It is my belief also that on Henry’s first trip to Rome to pick up his pallium, he was so struck by the Horseman (supposedly Marcus Aurelius) outside the Vatican that it was the inspiration for Cadwallo’s embalmed bronze.
344HRB XI, xiii
With the Anarchy followed by his self-imposed exile, I expect Henry envisaged many projects that never came to fruition. Maybe Henry was going to produce one of the pair of Dragons (banners345) which Arthur used and it was going to appear at Winchester just as David’s sapphire appeared at Glastonbury. We might suggest that as an heirloom Harold’s dragon banner became the fictional other half of the Arthur banners.346
On the second Meusan plaque, where two censing angels are emerging from the clouds, the border has inscribed on it:
+ MVNERA GRATA DEO PREMISSVS VERNA FIGVRAT. ANGELVS AD CELVM RAPIAT POST DONA DATOREM; NE TAMEN ACCELERET NE SVSCITET ANGLIA LVCTVS, CVI PXA VEL BELLVM MOTVSVE QVIESVE PER ILLUM.
In Translation: The aforementioned slave shapes gifts pleasing to God. May the angel take the giver to Heaven after his gifts, but not just yet, lest England groan for it, since on him it depends for peace or war, agitation or rest.
The aforementioned is ‘Henricus episcop’ on the first Meusan plate as seen above. ‘May the Angels take him to Heaven after he has given his gifts’, indicates that Henry firmly believes he is part of the divine plan, and his part is important. The angels sprinkling their heavenly aroma upon men, is how Henry Blois sees the world; all of mankind in a giant drama coordinated in a heavenly script. Henry hopes his actions on earth are in accordance with those in heaven and asks a little more time to sort things out.
I hope now the reader sees how complex Henry Blois is; vain enough to think it is through him that England’s war or peace depends. The contradiction is that he is a resolute believer and yet a manipulative liar i.e. a split personality.347 In the Merlin prophecies in the VM concerning Cadwalladr and Conan rebelling against Henry II, we can see why at this later stage in life he still thinks the state of war and peace in England are dependent upon his actions; because it is he who attempts through the prophecy concerning the Celts to bring about an uprising of the Cornish, Breton, Welsh and Scottish tribes. Anyone doubtful of this fact just needs to read John of Cornwall’s rendition of the Merlin prophecies.
Henry hopes in the inscription (which is indicative it was composed by him while alive) for a longer sojourn on earth and hopes his lifespan is extended before death arrives; but not too quickly, not before England is roused up from its struggle, since on him it depends for peace or war, agitation or rest.
In the wording on the Meusan plaques, there is a correlation to authorship. These plates are commissioned so that in memoriam his ‘persona’ does not slip into obscurity. The Meusan plates must have been made after Stephen’s death to even consider an epitaph. But at this stage the interpretation of certain prophecies that incite rebellion ring true in the plaque’s prophetic overtones in that war and peace in England are dependent upon Henry Blois.
345The Legendary history of Britain J. S. P. Tatlock p. 38 seems to think that Harold’s Dragon may be at Winchester and this is what ‘Geoffrey’ is constructing his storyline upon i.e. about the two dragons fabricari by Arthur. It is not beyond reasonable conjecture that William the Conqueror, Henry Blois’ Grandfather, put the captured dragon portrayed in the Bayeaux tapestry at Winchester. Tatlock posits that ‘Geoffrey’ might have seen it there. It seems relatively certain that Henry Blois would not incorporate it in the story-line of First Variant if it did not exist in his day. However, in one later text of HRB we can see an addition evolving from First Variant where Henry is explaining the influence of Uther Pendragon upon military culture as an expansion to chime with this physical proof: up until this day it has been the custom for the kings of this land to carry a dragon before them as a standard in military expeditions
346In the seventeenth century Henry Blois’ unadorned slab of Purbeck marble was removed to expose his bones buried before the high altar in Winchester Cathedral. It is reported that a chalice was discovered along with some fragments of textiles including fine silks and braids with brocading of a very high quality. It would not surprise me, if indeed this was the cup which was promulgated as the Grail cup and the textile was the remains of a disintegrated banner, considering that Henry was well accustomed to disinterring the dead and could foresee the opening of graves by posterity!!!
347Dom David Knowles, The Monastic Order in England: Henry of Blois, though not precisely a complex character…. for throughout all his activities there is the same stamp of energy and directness of purpose… was certainly a man of many-sided qualities. Without knowledge of Henry’s authorship of HRB, few scholars have any real idea of Henry Blois’ true character. Voss’s montage of his character of course omits his authorial prowess and split personality.