It is a little known fact that Henry Blois wrote all the material in the Prophecies of Merlin found in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s HRB. All the prophetic words of Taliesin, Ganieda and Merlin which are also found in the Vita Merlini supposedly composed by Geoffrey of Monmouth were in fact also authored by Henry Blois. Henry Blois also composed the Cornish rendition of John of Cornwall’s Merlini prophetia cum expositione, known from a unique 14th century manuscript in the Vatican Library.
In essence, there would be no Merlin prophecies in the History of the Kings of Britain or the later Vita Merlini of ‘Geoffrey’ or even the John of Cornwall version of the prophecies of Merlin, if Henry Blois had not authored them himself.
It should be plain to the reader at this late stage in our investigation that Henry Blois writing as Geoffrey of Monmouth understands the importance of prophecy in political destiny. Even Hoel in the HRB responds to Arthur’s own claim to divine destiny based on the prophecy of Sybil.
It should not be lost on the reader that my proposition for Henry Blois’ introduction to the John of Cornwall edition of the prophecies, was in essence, to back up Henry’s ambition of trying to de-throne Henry II through the cajoling of the Celts (Scots Cornish Welsh and Breton) to up-rise against the king through the Merlinian prophecy.
In fact, it is not accepted by modern scholars that after Henry Blois had been threatened by the loss of his power base of castles by King Henry II, it was Henry Blois’ Machiavellian hand at work provoking through his latest updated prophecies the precept…. (thought being the father of deed): It is the will of the most high Judge that the British shall be without their Kingdom for many years and remain weak, until Conan in his chariot arrive from Brittany, and that revered leader of the Welsh, Cadwalader. They will create an alliance, a firm league of the Scots, the Welsh, the Cornish and the men of Brittany. Then they will restore to the natives the crown that had been lost. The enemy will be driven out and the time of Brutus will be back once more.
The Prophecy was supposed to inspire the warring Celts to overthrow Henry II based upon a conflation with Armes Prydein.
Henry Blois as the author of the prophecy of the ‘Seven kings’ sees himself as the seventh King and through the updated prophecies in the Vulgate version and through the JC version he corroborates the potential uprising. Henry still sees himself as a potential heir being the last surviving grandson of William the Conqueror. The JC version merely establishes credibility that the updated prophecies found in the Vulgate version of HRB which were not in the libellus Merlini really were ancient prophecy and not newly invented. However, one new addition to this new version is that Henry Blois becomes the seventh King in the leonine line of Merlinian prophecy.
It should be understood by the reader that there was tradition or prophecies from the Welsh Myrddin before ‘Geoffrey’. Geoffrey merely uses the early Libellus Merlini to establish his brother’s fated succesion of the throne by prophecy based on a completely fictitious Merlin Ambrosius. Certainly, the Caledonian Merlin in the VM appears to be based upon a more north Welsh and southern Scottish prophetic figure than the Ambrosian Merlin of HRB…. but both were concocted by Henry Blois Bishop of Winchester. The Caledonian Merlin supposedly driven mad after the battle of Arfdderydd is a complete literary concoction.
Certainly, Caledonian Merlin has commonalities with Armes Prydain Fawr and other points of reference are found in examples such as Afallennau (with its introduction of apples tying in with Glastonbury lore), Oianau, and the Gwasgargerdd Myrddin. Maybe the Welsh Myrddin did inspire ‘Geoffrey’, but I believe it was the words of Quintus in Cicero that wholly brought about the introduction of the first edition of Merlin prophecies which were witnessed by Abbot Suger before 1151; and these were partly used politically when King Stephen was still alive.
The first set of prophecies, as we have covered, were mainly brought into existence to show that Merlin had foreseen King Stephen’s reign and therefore, since it was fated, the populace and barons should accept more readily what has been pre-ordained. Of course, Henry Blois would have read the Biblical prophets, but there were prophetical poets among the Greeks such as Orpheus, Linus, Homer, Hesiod and amongst the Latins, Publius Virgilius, Maro etc. which we know Henry had read; so, he was aware of how prophecy worked as propaganda.
The sense of some prophecies changed subtly from the original Libellus Merlini first published independently of Gaufridus’ Primary Historia. These original prophecies which Henry Blois’ friend Suger witnessed were the basis of those expanded and updated found in Vulgate HRB, where the sense has been squewed.
The one particular prophecy which then established Merlin definitively as a seer was his prediction of the invasion of Ireland by the ‘sixth’ of the Leonine line, when the small band of Norman Knight’s arrived there in 1161 (even though Henry Blois had thought the invasion was going to take place more immediately and on a larger scale).
There were however, several prophecies which did not happen which Henry Blois had hoped would transpire when he first wrote the separate libellus Merlini. These were then included in the HRB version to maintain consistency in what was originally posited. Some prophecies concerning building works and engineering projects intended to be completed by Henry Blois were interrupted by events of the Anarchy and never got off the ground. Some of these prophecies of intended projects Suger would have witnessed in his copy of Libellus Merlini. Some of these were then eventually twisted in both HRB and VM.
It is this subtle twisting between HRB and VM and JC which identifies Henry as the author. Those Prophecies where he identifies too strongly with himself or leaves a trace whereby he may be accused as author, were obfuscated further in VM and then again in JC. Also, where prophecies were no longer poignant, of value, or did not come to fruition, these were scrambled in the 1155 updated Vulgate version…. but, because many saw the same words employed they assumed the change in sense was down to translation or misunderstanding.
However, Newburgh writing about 1170, a year before Henry’s death, seems to accept that the prophecies were translated from a Celtic language by ‘Geoffrey’ but his accusation seems to be that Geoffrey adds to them. He seemingly has no problem accepting the prophecies existed as a separate work on their own; and originally came from Merlin.
One of the reasons Newburgh thought this is because of the existence of the Libellus Merlini i.e. the first set of prophecies, and it is likely Newburgh had read Henry Blois’ Merlinian interpolation into Orderic. Also, the reason Newburgh thinks there have been additions to the prophecies is because of the existence of HRB’s rebellious prophecies, which certainly were not in the first set of prophecies and also because of newly invented prophecies found in VM and those of JC’s version. Newburgh also would have recognised the original four Kings in the Libellus Merlini had extended to six Kings after the inclusion of additional prophecies. Even though Matilda is in the numbering system of the leonine line, it is poignantly pointed out in the prophecies that that she was not anointed but she is still accounted as number 5.
Many commentators have thought the Bishop of Exeter must have possessed a version of the prophecies written in Brythonic. The Bishop of Exeter supposedly asked John of Cornwall to translate the present JC version (supposedly written in Cornish) into Latin for him. This is unequivocally not how events transpired. Henry Blois has used this same gambit of backdating dedications before (and the ruse of an aracane source book) just as we saw witnessed in HRB. The John of Cornwall prophecies were written between 1155 and 1157-8.
Robert de Warelwast, Bishop of Exeter died March 28th 1155, the same year the Vulgate HRB was published with the updated prophetia included. (This is not to say that a First Variant version did not exist with non-updated prophecies). Most scholars and commentators assume that the supposed original Celtic/Brittonic manuscript from which the translation was composed, actually existed. It is also assumed around 1138 or thereafter, the JC edition was in the public domain. This assumption is based upon the dedication or commission of the translation i.e. prior to Warelwast’s death. By lending credence to the dedication assumes Warelwast is alive much like the dedications in HRB imply, but this simply cannot be; because the vital ‘Sixth in Ireland’ prophecy is present in JC. Henry, just as he had done with HRB uses the same devises to backdate the prophecies with the pretence that Warelwast is still alive.
It is certainly no coincidence that Robert Warelwast of Exeter (1138-55), dedicatee of JC’s Prophetia Merlini is chosen as dedicatee as he had just died. Three other of Henry Blois’ circle cited the prophecies before 1170 as Henry distributed his updated version. Arnulf, bishop of Lisieux808 (1141-81), Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury (1162-70) and Gilbert Foliot, bishop of London (1163-87), (Nephew of Robert Chesney), all in Henry’s sway (once he assumed the persona of the ‘venerated Bishop’ post 1158). These people were all intricately in the same sphere with Henry as history records. Also, Étienne de Rouen’s (d.1169) Draco Normannicus alluded to the dragons of Merlin’s prophecy and quoted individual prophecies in connection with events including the death of King Stephen (1154), so those too had been updated since Merlin’s original set.
808Arnulf, bishop of Lisieux, remained neutral in the Becket dispute but wrote a secret letter of advice to Becket in 1165 which relates to King Henry’s campaigns and his belief in Merlin’s prophecy concerning the Celts rebellion long after its creation (c.1155-7) by Henry Blois to incite rebellion. He even wrote after the prophecy had become redundant: King Henry was even disposed, so they say, to act more mildly in many ways, so that he can quickly return to put down the audacity of the Welsh before the Scots and the Bretons make an alliance with them and Albion, as prophesied….
As Henry Blois is masquerading as Geoffrey of Monmouth, so too, he is John of Cornwall; how else could it be? Henry Blois knew of Henry II’s intention to invade Ireland and this could only be known after 1155. Only a fool would think the prophecies are vaticinatory, so how come John of Cornwall is writing for a dead person. The implication is that John is being impostered and we do not have to look too far to realise who it is. It is so blatantly obvious in the text.
Too many of Merlin’s prophecies in JC are contemporary and come from ‘Geoffrey’. So, it can only be Henry Blois who is the author; unless of course you believe in Merlin’s ability to foretell the future. Warelwast was a good friend of Henry’s also and Henry had spent time with him after the siege of Exeter as stated in the GS. The previous Bishop of Exeter, also named Warelwast, died in 1137 and was the founder of the Augustinian Priory of Plympton; and it was at Plympton we found Henry Blois as an eyewitness in GS.
Henry Blois knew Devon and Cornwall well and had no problem injecting a few colloquialisms and locations (known personally) into the script like Tamar and Brentigia, just to give the prophecies the authentic air as a direct translation from Cornish. (It should not be forgotten Henry would certainly know monks of Cornish origin). Brentigia is Henry’s feigned archaic word for ‘Brent moor’ which, as the prophecy states is by the Tamar and in reality, just behind Plympton, and Brent moor extends toward south Brent on Southern Dartmoor.
Logically, the present day South Brent is ‘south of Brent’ or Brentigia, as southern Dartmoor was known in Henry Blois’ day. JC states: qua spectat Plaustrum, qua Tamarus exit in austrum, per iuga Brentigie… Which faces Plymouth (aestuarium) from which the Tamar exits to the south through the ridges of Brent moor. The above is a fairly apt description from a visiting Henry Blois, possibly from twenty years previously; who even mentions the river Tavy which runs beside Brent Moor.
In the Afallennau, Myrddin prophesy’s that the victory of the Cymry over the Saxons will take place when Cadwaladr comes from Rhyd Rheon to meet Kynan. Of course, the rousing to rebellion of the Celts (in Henry’s era) is aimed to mirror Cynan of Armes Prydein fame, but it has been twisted as if to foretell of Conan and Cadwalader of 1155. As we have seen Cadwallader and Conan are Henry Blois’ contemporaries both in contention against King Henry II. Rhyd Rheon could now be misconstrued with Red Ruth in Cornwall especially with the mention of Fawi-mor.
Of course, no Cornish Celtic original existed, as these are prophecies entirely invented from the mind of Henry Blois and the reason for changes in prophecies which seem to have the same ‘icon subject’ is purely based upon Henry’s changing agenda. Only 38 of the 139 prophecies in JC are directly related to ‘Geoffrey’s’ prophecies. This of course gave the impression to some commentators, the appearance that the prophecies come from a larger extant body of Celtic material. This would then lead anyone scrutinising the prophecies to think the parallel prophecies seemingly originate in material not ascribed to ‘Geoffrey’; who, some sceptics like Newburgh suspected of inventing.
As we covered already, Adrian IV published the Papal Bull Laudabiliter, which was issued in 1155 whereby the English pope Adrian IV gave King Henry II the right to assume control over Ireland and apply the Gregorian reforms. The pope urged Henry Plantagenet to invade Ireland; the object of which was to bring its Celtic Christian Church under Roman Catholic rule.
We have established that Henry Blois knew of this intention to invade and published this prophecy concerning the ‘sixth’ invading Ireland as vaticinatory prophecy which could only have been after the council held at Winchester. He thought the invasion was expected imminently as discussed at the council. JC has this ‘sixth in Ireland’ prophecy along with other HRB prophecies which we know came from Henry Blois; so, it is only logical that JC is either published at the same time as the updated prophecies in Vulgate HRB or shortly thereafter using his friends name in the prologue.
If we just assume that he used the same principle employed in HRB by dedicating the work to dead people…. it is not surprising he would use a friend’s name who had only just expired in March 1155.
One reason for producing the fraudulent JC version of prophecies was to add credence to the assertion found in Vulgate HRB which insisted that the Historia was merely a translation of an ancient book where the prophecies to a large extent confirm the erroneous historicity; where Geoffrey had on the request of Alexander halted his translation and merely inserted the translated prophecies given to him by Alexander. These new prophecies in the Vulgate HRB were being scrutinized and Henry needed to allay accusations of new prophecies appearing by producing an independent copy also from a Brythonic source which showed that his new set in the Vulgate HRB were not recently concocted there appeared to be an entirely independent set.
Many of the Merlin prophecies corroborated the fabricated history of HRB originally and they were partly employed by ‘Geoffrey’ to that end. If Henry could produce a Celtic source for the Merlin prophecies and show they contained even the updated prophecies before Warlewast’s death, then there could be no accusation of additions or squewing of previous prophecies by those who suspected that additions had been made.
More specifically, JC verifies for the gullible that the book of Merlin really did exist and so, Alexander must have had a similar copy. ‘Geoffrey’ had made the point that he had to break off from writing the Historia at the request of Alexander to translate a book of British prophecies; and now through coincidental good fortune, we have independent verification of another translation of Merlin’s prophecies through JC.
We (posterity and contemporaneous sceptics) had all assumed the pretence that ‘Geoffrey’ was able to translate the prophecies from the Brittonic tongue of the ancient Britain because Henry Blois had guided us to believe that ‘Geoffrey’ was from Wales. Now, through the advent of prophecies appearing in a Celtic language appears to corroborate ‘Geoffrey’s’ assertion. The logical conclusion is that the book must exist and must have been in Celtic tradition because the translation was carried out by a Cornishman named John of Cornwall translating a similar version of it into Latin. Guess what… The seditious prophecies rousing the celts to action and the prophetic words implying the Sixth Leonine King would invade Ireland were in this other Celtic prophecies which to all would plainly not have been translated up to now since The Fifth or sixth century; so how possibly could these same prophecies which looked as if they had been added be written by a contemporary person?
Henry was not concerned what drivel he included, but the essentials were that the subject matter reflected the same as found in the Vulgate HRB rendition and that of the original Libellus Merlini. The reader would assume, over a span of six hundred years, that the Welsh version had somewhat differed from the separated Cornish version. The faked commentary (written by Henry to accompany the JC version as if they were John’s insights) was either used to point out certain features which contemporary twelfth century commentators had misunderstood; or it was used to confuse them by laying a false scent where earlier prophecies were too closely linked to Henry Blois. Either way, the concept of writing an appended commentary was genius.
Henry Blois in JC becomes unambiguously British as he is allowed to do the speaking as John of Cornwall and relating by phony commentary what is supposed to be a Brittonic prophecy. Of course, a modern scholar would not recognise the genius of such a ruse because why suspect anything about ‘Geoffrey’ or Henry Blois!!
Henry, writing as JC, at times, pretends to critique and correct ‘Geoffrey’s’ material, but his real desire, like passages in VM, is to cause insurrection against Henry II. In the JC version, Henry Blois allows himself to seemingly express his Celtic polemic in a much more overt way, but still combining the politics with the same known subject matter of the Vulgate HRB prophecies which link back to the Libellus Merlini prophecies which Suger possessed. Some of these Merlin prophecies seem to be the same subject matter as in VM but are subtly changed in purport and then twisted further in JC.
The dedication of the JC version is to: Venerated Robert, Prelate of Exeter…. I John of Cornwall, having been commanded to set forth the prophecy of Merlin in our British Tongue, and also esteeming your affection for me more than my ability, have attempted in my humble style to elucidate it in a scholarly manner. No matter how I have fashioned my work, I have achieved nothing without labour. I did however strive to render it, according to the law of translation, word for word.
There is simply not one word of truth in the prologue. Notice how Henry Blois affects he is of Celtic background and has an affinity with Brittania or the ‘Britons’ who were the Celtic occupants before the Saxon invasion. ‘Geoffrey’ does the same in HRB using the word ‘our’ as pertaining to be of British descent. This also helps to explain why the Normans are considered allies in ridding Britain of the Saxons at certain times in HRB prophecies when reflecting the early Libellus Merlini sentiment, but this sentiment is never expressed in JC. The prologue feigns false humility just like the dedication to Robert of Gloucester and Alexander in Vulgate HRB. The same faked humility is found also in the faux prologue to Gildas-Nennius.
The coincidence is that John of Cornwall was a student of Thierry of Chartres and it was at Chartres where a copy of Nennius was found. Henry may also have chosen to impersonate John having met him there. John says he is leaving out events following Conani’s lamentable exit up to William I’s time, ‘until he knew how his work was received’. So how come he is translating word for word?
John of Cornwall’s commentary notes are a devise used by Henry Blois to seem as if he (as JC) is having trouble with unravelling the meaning; while at the same time, seeming to give a slightly different translation than that of ‘Geoffrey’s’ attempt at translation. Another motive for the production of the JC prophecies is to corroborate narrative found in HRB. The effect is that, the gullible are accepting of the proposition that Merlin’s words were indeed Celtic and that John is indeed translating them; and of course HRB’s historicity seems more valid by corroboration.
However, Henry Blois only gives sporadic interlinear details and notes in the commentary, not conclusive elucidation or interpretation. In fact, any number of interpretations are admissible often on grammatical grounds and on historical grounds; ambiguity being Henry’s mode d’emploi.
I think it pertinent to inform the reader that the attached commentary in no way narrows the interpretations; as the commentary’s own assessments supposed to be written by a hapless JC are often so far from the mark in their elucidation so as to appear genuine commentary. The commentary is purely a devise used by Henry Blois and has little value as an aid in understanding or interpreting the prophecies and deflects from the underlying reasons for Henry Blois concocting and impersonating JC. Often the comments in the commentary are inutile and create the aura of a translator struggling to interpret the manuscript he is transcribing into Latin. Another artifice is used where corroborative material is supplied which backs up or could be conflated with HRB.
Throughout the HRB, VM and JC prophecies, part of Henry Blois’ artifice is a studied ambiguity or he employs obscurantist constructions; but when the three works are taken together as a whole, much more can be gleaned when it is realised they are by the same author. For example, this becomes clearer as we interpret JC in relation to the man on the white horse, always associated with Periron, where a different perspective is added.
We should now as briefly as possible see what changes Henry affects between the updated Vulgate HRB prophecies, VM and JC.
In the HRB version we have Dragons: The seed of the White Dragon shall be rooted out of our little gardens and the remnant of his generation shall be decimated.
- JC: the East wind will be rooted out by the south wind and their young shoots will be decimated from our gardens.
Henry’s intention here is to seem as if the prophecy is genuine, but ‘Geoffrey’ might have mistranslated it (or even embellished Nennius’ version); or it is intended to give the air that through Celtic translations in a Welsh and Cornish version there has been confusion; or in general, the Welsh and Cornish Britons will be rooted out by the Normans. Henry’s gambit is to make the reader accept that from antiquity translation differences have occurred, but the essence of the Vulgate prophecies are the same.
In HRB we have: For a people in wood and jerkins of iron shall come upon him and take vengeance upon him for his wickedness. He shall restore their dwelling-places unto them that did inhabit them before, and the ruin of the foreigner shall be made manifest
2) JC: Crossing over in timber, his people in iron coats who shall war in the field, protected by triple arms, a nation eager to do battle, to slaughter the Saxons. Later those who used the plough and the rake should not spare their mother (earth) by tending his own heart as their servile yolk they owe for their treachery, and I am not ashamed to recall it.
In Vulgate HRB, even though published in 1155 after Stephen was dead; there was a necessity for Henry Blois to hold to a commonality with those prophecies already published in the earlier libellus Merlini. In this case of the early libellus Merlini, Henry Blois is politically charging the prophecy so that the Normans are seen as the rescuers of the Celts who had been oppressed by the Saxons. This of course was part of his initial reason for writing the prophecies to show the Normans in a good light (especially since his brother was King at the time). It is the Saxons who pay for their treachery (night of the long knives) just as ‘Geoffrey’ has posited; to till the earth in slavery.
3) JC: To the restoration of our prince how many years will he live? Twice seven and the same again is the number reckoned. Savage Normandy, parents of a fruitful seed rejoice, vindictive Heirs, two burning dragons the first of the two died in contention with a bow, the other got rid of passing mournfully under the shadow of a name. Four times two and five years shall he be feared.
HRB: Two dragons shall succeed, whereof the one shall be slain by the arrow of envy, but he other shall return under the shadow of a name.
William Rufus ruled for thirteen years and was killed by an arrow in the New Forest on 2nd August 1100. ‘The other’ was Duke Robert who was eradicated by jailing him until his death, dying mournfully in a dungeon in Cardiff. The shadow of a name, as I have covered already, is the fact that he is Duke of Normandy and not King of England and neither King of Jerusalem as he could have been. Henry in JC is really playing the part of the ancient seer providing a hocus pocus twice seven and the same again; so that it appears that Merlin is receiving his prophecies in such form. Henry Blois is saying 2 multiplied by 7=14 and add the same again = 21. It is certainly not by coincidence that his grandfather, William the conqueror, reigned 21 years from 1066- 9 September 1087. Nor is it by coincidence that his Grandfather’s coming is seen by Merlin as the restoration of our prince.
4) JC: The four times two and five years are the years in this skimble skamble, faux-vaticinatory way, of pretending how the prophecy is received. Essentially, the meaning is 4 multiplied by 2 + 5 = 13. William Rufus reigned from 1087-1100 i.e. 13 years. One would have to be a fool to accept John of Cornwall is translating anything!!! Henry Blois has in fact introduced the dates at this point. The reader will find out why when we get to the last sentence at the end of the entire JC prophecy. That sentence then does not seem to be out of place. We will see it defines the advent of the Seventh king. In other words, it pre-empts the supposed counting of the years of Kings Rule. We know there is no seventh King found in HRB or VM. Before the prophecies were updated from the early Libellus Merlini there were only four leonine Kings. For the moment, let the reader be aware that even though King Stephen is dead when these prophecies were constructed and Henry II is on the throne, Henry Blois has not given up his ambitions or the pursuit of regaining power in dislodging Henry II from the throne.
5) JC: But the Lion of Justice, who truly excels all others, shall add twice seven over eight.
HRB: The Lion of Justice shall succeed, at whose warning the towers of Gaul and the dragons of the island shall tremble.
Henry continues to count the years of his own ancestor’s reigns in this same pretentious hocus pocus fashion. We know from the HRB prophecies already covered that the ‘Lion of Justice’ is Henry Ist. The wording shall add twice seven over eight is just more mumbo jumbo; Henry is merely seeming to be prophetic as if math were perceived differently while perceived in the dark art of the Dark Age seer. It is quite ridiculous that any person with a modicum of common sense should accept this as prophecy.
2 multiplied by 7+8 = 22. With the word ‘add’, Henry Blois means Henry Ist shall reign 22 years more than the thirteen years of William Rufus. Henry Ist ruled 1100-1135 i.e. thirty-five years. So, here in effect Henry Blois’ is pretending to see by means of the dark art of prophetic foresight…. numbers representing the 13 years of William Rufus and 22 years of King Henry Ist…. which of course brings us up to his brother’s accession.
6) JC: Trimming the claws of Kites and the teeth of Wolves, he provides security in the forests and harbours everywhere. Whenever this one roars the towers which are washed by Sequana shall tremble and the islands of the dragons in the ocean.
HRB: The ravening of kites shall perish and the teeth of wolves be blunted.
Henry has decided to mix up and interchange certain clauses which appeared next to other subjects in HRB. The towers of Gaul become those of the River Seine, (an impossible mistranslation). Sequana was the goddess of the river Seine, particularly the springs at the source of the Seine, and the Gaulish tribe in the area were the Sequani. One thing ‘Geoffrey’ seems to have a good handle on is the tribal or regional people of France as witnessed in HRB and elucidated by Tatlock. Strangely enough, Merlin seems to have that same attribute. A Welsh ‘Geoffrey’ would simply not know this detailed information as we have already covered. Experts on ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth need to realise ‘Geoffrey’ is also JC.
Again, Henry is trying to appear archaic and seem to be using forms or names from Merlin’s era. In either case, the ‘towers of Gaul’ or ‘Paris trembling’ is the allusion to King Philip’s fear of Henry Ist. As we saw in the VM the wolf sometimes means Henry Blois, but the icon is interchangeable with the intention of confusing the reader. Here it would seem to mean the kites are the Barons and the Wolves are the Bishops. King Henry Ist, as we saw, had stringent rules concerning forests and secured the ports in both Normandy and England. JC gives in the commentary ‘because of pir
ates’. The Seine is a reference by location to the Frankish fear of King Henry’s power. The Islands of the Dragons are the Celtic islands of Britannia and Ireland and is probably meant to include Scotland; as some in antiquity assumed Scotland was a separate Island as we covered while elucidating the VM. Is it not strange that the writer of VM, who we know to be Henry, who has gleaned this geographical error from Isidore, is now positing the same fictional position concerning Scotland; when the author i.e. Henry Blois in reality, knows full well Scotland is part of mainland Britain. ‘John of Cornwall’ in his feigned commentary also suggests Norwallia, north Wales and Ybernia Ireland.
7) JC: Then he with crimped hair and multi coloure d garments; his scandalous clothes will not be protection from a crooked mind.
HRB: They that go crisped and curled shall be clad in fleeces of many colours, and the garment without shall betoken that which is within.
It becomes apparent that the inter-relation of these prophecies are confused on purpose. John’s commentary occasionally aids in elucidation, but also posits obviously erroneous deductions. These are made for the most part so that no affiliation is made between ‘Geoffrey’ and ‘John’ and to hide their common authorship. The prophecies are interchanged in JC from the order they appear in Vulgate HRB. This is perhaps so that it appears they have come from different traditions (i.e. Cornish and Welsh), and their sense has been mistranslated from different translations. The sense of the prophecy above is that in Henry Ist reign, a fashion started which Henry Blois strongly disapproved of and which continued throughout his life. Henry Blois was making the point that the outside ‘dandy’ clothing, should in no way be taken as representative of the filth and corruption which went on in the mind of the wearer. Mostly aimed at the courtiers.
8) JC: Gold will be squeezed from the narcissus and the shrub and will pour from the hooves of grazing cattle.
HRB: In his days shall gold be wrung from the lily and the nettle, and silver shall flow from the hooves of them that low.
As we covered before, Henry definitely has something in mind. It could be some sort of tax on cattle instigated by Henry Ist. However, it might have been a tax proposed in Stephen’s time which never came to fruition. If the prophecy was posited as a future event in the early Libellus Merlini; it would therefore be included for authenticity’s sake thereafter in HRB. Henry Blois kindly suggests in his commentary while posing as John of Cornwall that ‘this kind of metaphor is common in our poems’ i.e. ‘from the good and the bad’. It just shows that Henry is out to obfuscate, and one person alone is generating these prophecies as Gold and Silver are not interchangeable nor specifically Lilly and nettle interchangeable with Narcissus. This is not a translational error but a deliberate change in the latter set of prophecies found in JC. ‘John’ admits in the commentary to having abbreviated the Merlin original in this case so that his narcissus and thorn represent the idea of good and evil. The commentary references Geoffrey’s ‘nettle and Lilly’ however, which shows that Henry’s intention is that JC’s translation should be accepted as authoritative and implies a position that ‘Geoffrey’ might not have truly represented the intended sentiment of Merlin. This is part of Henry’s ploy in providing the commentary.
He poses as a first-hand translator of Merlin’s words, but states in his introductory letter of his intention to suppress some of the material of the prophecy especially concerning Conan. Yet the question is why would he expose or elucidate material he was supposedly supressing? He is merely pointing to his purpose by his pretence. Why suppress what Merlin wrote concerning Conan if indeed it related to the Saxon era? His very mention and sham of reticence concerning Conan shows his contemporaneous political relevance. The whole is a ploy; both commentary and the idea of a translation from Brittonic language. John is careful to mix anti-Saxon sentiment so that it applies to anti-Norman sentiment with the pretence of suppressing what might be politically volatile material.
9) JC: Like it or not, a paw will be chopped off; those that bark make a treaty with the stag.
HRB: The feet of them that bark shall be cut off. The wild deer shall have peace, but humanity shall suffer the dole.
We have already covered this point while elucidating the passage in HRB prophecies and the Orderic interpolation concerning Henry Ist hunting laws and the crippling of hunting dogs. The pact the dog makes with the stag is merely that it is now constrained and unable to hunt. The content of the prophecy here is not consequential but relevant to his present audience and recognisable to the present generation. That Merlin might have seen through the mists of time to hit on all these events relevant to the present audience is silly; but this is the bogus ‘hocus pocus’ that Henry affects while composing the prophecies. The above prophecy like some others adds nothing new and is included just to corroborate those prophecies found in the earlier Libellus Merlini which were originally published before Vulgate HRB version; i.e. Henry includes them here just for consistency’s sake. The fact that Merlin is foreseeing grave events concerning the Saxons and then turns his attention to mundane forest laws and comments on fashion and the money supply really shows that the subjects of the prophecies were chosen as historic events which were supposed to have the appearance of predictions…. but recognisable by the contemporaneous audience. It is amazing Merlin is able to focus on events concerning the era of Henry’s ancestors and nothing further beyond 1157 in the VM and 1159 in JC.
10) JC: The shape of money shall be divided and this too shall become a round form.
HRB: The shape of commerce shall be split in two; the half shall become round.
We covered this earlier also as pertaining to a statute of King Henry’s in 1108. Henry Blois obviously thought this was going to happen in Stephen’s reign and was certainly minting coin in York of his own. Misguidedly, Mathew Paris took the reference to apply to monetary reforms by King John c. 1210. But there are many more commentators who believe the prophecies are credible…. and worse, they are anciently from Merlin. John of Cornwall fortuitously helps us in the commentary suggesting ‘plans to introduce the half penny’ as if the contemporary audience were not aware of the acute problem of splitting coins.
11) JC: Afterwards, on top of Aravium the famous bird will seize her nest and England will weep for her cubs.
HRB: and his Eagle build her nest upon Mount Aravius.
Alani de Insulis seems to have a different reading Morianum montem which he took as a reference to the Alps. As I have covered earlier, while elucidating the passage, this is in reference to a mountain boundary implying Rome and Matilda being Empress of Rome. Rome for Henry was across the Alps and the Aravis range. This would be a prophecy written by Henry during the Anarchy like the others in the Libellus Merlini and we can witness how the prophecies are written by one person and could not interrelate purely on translational errors. We should not forget either the coincidence of ‘Wace’ referring to the St Bernard pass also as a geographical reference (on the same terms) to Rome. The ‘Third Nesting’ applies to Matilda and so do the prophecies above concerning Aravium. In this case in JC the sense is changed; Matilda is seizing her nest and England’s cubs are in Henry Blois’s mind, himself and his brother. Anyhow, one can witness the subtle changes which appear, but they all inter-relate. The nest applies to Matilda and the eagle of HRB now morphs into a ‘famous’ bird; certainly not translational differences but purposeful obfuscation.
12) JC: Alas, the sea criminal comes in the third year and he that has no pity will be infamous for his triple cruelty.
HRB: Wolf of the sea.
Henry Blois, feigning that he is non-plussed by the prophecy, pretends as John of Cornwall to explain that the prophecy applies to prince William (Clito)…’the third year of his reign was the last of his life’. The sometimes-spurious commentary in effect neutralises any suspicion that JC was written by ‘Geoffrey’/Henry Blois. Many commentators believe the prophecy applies to William’s third year based upon ‘John’s’ fatuous suggestion; i.e. just because many had sworn fealty to him three years before the white ship disaster. In the VM and HRB, the relevance to the Danish invasion found in the libellus Merlini has been squewed and made (in both) to appear to refer to Robert of Gloucester: The fourth from them shall be more cruel and more harsh still; a wolf from the sea he will conquer in fight and shall drive defeated beyond the Severn through the kingdoms of the barbarians.
The ‘Sea Criminal’ in JC is now definitively Robert of Gloucester (and Matilda) who invades in 1139, the ‘third year’ (as above) of Stephen’s reign (which as we can see in the VM also related to the fourth King as Stephen). Henry Blois, as we discussed earlier, now decides in this prophecy to include the triple fault of Malcolm of Scotland which he introduced into a VM prophecy. Henry Blois was obviously annoyed about Malcolm’s treachery, mentioning it twice in GS and then showing his annoyance here again. The original ‘sea wolf’ in HRB was changed to apply to Robert of Gloucester/Matilda in VM in relation to the ‘fourth’ which is Stephen; and now in JC, it is King Stephen’s third year on the throne in which the Sea Criminal comes. This squewing of the prophecies has made them inpenetrable unless one knows who is composing them and why they have been squewed in different versions.
Henry Blois has put out four sets of Prophecies. The original set which comprised the Libellus Merlini, is updated and squewed and added to; where Icons in previous prophecies are now applied to different people in more updated versions. Libellus Merlini prophecies included events up to 1139-43 and were constructed to substantiate the pseudo-history as seen in the Primary Historia and to pretend to foresee various events up to c.1139-43. The Libellus Merlini version separate from Primary Historia. These prophecies foresaw some building projects in the future. Obviously, the canal system around Winchester did not transpire and the ‘Holy hole’ did. As I have covered already; these surfaced around 1144. These were added without dedication to First Variant but have since been updated with the more recent set found in the Vulgate HRB i.e. the whole of the First Variant set of prophecies has been updated to be synonymous with the Vulgate version…. but this now has the dedication added.
The original set which were in the First Variant HRB were the prophecies which Abbot Suger witnessed. The Vulgate prophecies were basically the same, but some were up dated, up to 1155 and others introduced. The original prophecies corroborated historic details in the Primary Historia i.e. the prophecies seemingly predicted a recap of certain events in ‘Geoffrey’s’ pseudo-history of Britain, couched in skimble skamble oblique allusions. Because the prophecies were presented by ‘Geoffrey’ as a seemingly separate extant body of work from antiquity, the prophecies then added corroborative credibility to details found in ‘Geoffrey’s’ history and appeared to coincide with information provided in Nennius.
However, the VM prophecies were drawn up to appear to be the same prophecies but were designed to unseat Henry II in a work which was also written by ‘Geoffrey’ (which to all intents and purposes, ostensibly proved they existed before ‘Geoffrey’ died and therefore are prophetic). At the same time though, Henry Blois thought it propitious to cover more events in the ‘Anarchy’ through the prophetic talents of Ganieda,809 which, Merlin had not covered in Libellus Merlini or in the Vulgate HRB version. The JC edition or set of prophecies is even later in production and date; and is mainly designed to substantiate the Brythonic rebellion and to set the scene for Henry Blois’s takeover of the English throne should the insurrection be successful. This will become apparent shortly in progression.
809Henry actually felt confident releasing Ganieda’s prophecies because ‘Geoffrey’ was supposedly now dead.
13) JC: Six Frenchmen united in the blood of their Mother, sorrowful and blushing at the throne, so many deaths, so many evils will cry out and exclaim, Oh Normandy do you know what happened, how recently I have suffered and spilt my guts, there are only funerals to console the agonies.
HRB: Venedotia shall be red with mother’s blood and six brethren shall the house of Corineus slay.
JC’s commentary, which exists just to give the impression of a curious Cornish translator, explains that the prophecy applies to Frewinus Vicecomes. As we have discussed this is who it originally pertained to when the Libellus Merlini was written by Henry Blois and was pointed out by Alain de Lisle as pertaining to the six sons of Fremun, who was viscount of Cornwall under Henry Ist (the house of Corineus). More importantly since it is Henry Blois writing the commentary, we know that this is who he originally had in mind when the prophecy existed in the Libellus Merlini
Dr Padel thinks the six French born brothers were sons of a certain Toki and were killed at Treruf also mentioned by JC. It is all part of Henry’s device to mislead the reader into thinking the prophecies are derived from a Cornish Brythonic tradition. Dr Padel may well be right about Toki and the death of Toki’s six sons. This was the Toki, whose renown was for supplying a horse for a desperate king William at the battle of Gerberoi in 1080. The Viscount of Cornwall tends to fit better with the Corineus allusion, and it is definitely the original sense.810 But, here in JC, Henry is continuing the practice of squewing prophecies. Frewinus and Toki have little to do with the ‘throne’ (as mentioned in the JC prophecy above) and six French brothers…. as posited in the JC version only.
810What is lovely is that Michael Curley makes the comment: the prophecies concerning Vendotia and the house of Corineus are the last prophecies in the PM based on actual events. Everything that follows is truly visionary. I cannot understand the naivety of such a position because it is obvious to all that the prophecies are fake; so how could they be visionary? If certain are corroborating fake historicity and others refer to Henry’s ancestors and the anarchy and the birth of Matilda’s third child etc. would not any rational person consider how prophecies came to fruition in the future except by a process of backdating. This process is evident anyway in the way a sixth century seer is made to appear to see future events which are already past in the corroboration process of HRB’S historicity, which Curley certainly understands!!!
Henry Blois affects being a Cornishman by calling the brothers French. Given that Henry is the author, it can only have two referential advantages for him. The reader needs to understand the concept that this newest squew is intended so that when Henry Blois’s wish (of Henry II’s demise) came to fruition, it could be understood to have been fated; it would be accepted more readily as it was ‘predicted’ in the Merlin prophecies. It is a reference to himself and his five brothers; overtly made plain now in JC, as it introduces the word ‘throne’. Henry twists and intermingles both subject and object clauses from the original sense in the Libellus Merlini. In the early Libellus Merlini the Kings were numbered only to 4 as Stephen was alive. So, in the Libellus version the original meaning of the prophecy in all likelihood pertained as we have said to the Viscount of Cornwall. However, when the numbering of 5 and 6 in reference to the ‘Leonine line’ was introduced at a later date the sense was twisted.
14) JC: Oh island soaked with tears, scarcely is there a king who uses the sword sparingly. Here the possessor is compassed by disloyal horrors. Dark nights (days) have closed off the head of the Lion. New rebels strive to make new the stars.
This is one of Henry’s new prophecies injected into JC which form propaganda against Matilda and Henry II implying that Henry II is king against what is preordained. It essentially shows disfavour against the ‘rebellion’ of Matilda and portrays that Henry II should not be the rightful inheritor. I think Henry Blois sees himself as the rightful inheritor and this sentiment comes more to the fore as we continue through the JC prophecies….until at the end it is blatantly obvious.
15) JC: with the eagle of the broken covenant calling out in anger to the whelp, those who lurk in the forests will come close to the city ramparts and those who hated the bull will one day fear him.
HRB: This shall the Eagle of the broken covenant gild over, and the Eagle shall rejoice in her third nesting. The roaring whelps shall keep vigil, and forsaking the forests shall follow the chase within the walls of cities.
One can see Henry’s method of mixing up the prophecies. But instead of ‘cutting out the tongues of bulls’, I believe Henry is now the bull in JC. The broken covenant alludes to breaking the oath sworn by Barons to Matilda and the whelp is obviously Henry II. Henry’s aspirations went as far as being elected pope. If he got to this position or indeed unseated King Henry by inciting rebellion this interpretation would make the most sense.
16) JC: No love for a brother or true loyalty existed between allies, no rest or at least hardly any; and that even precarious.
Henry Blois was shocked that his brother betrayed him so easily over the election to Archbishop of Canterbury of Theobald of Bec. King Stephen’s opinion was poisoned by advisers adverse to church power. Mainly it was the Beaumont brothers who thought Henry the powerful bishop of Winchester wielded too much power two years into Stephen’s reign. However, Henry was shocked at one the lack of loyalty and no love from a brother who had, put him on the throne. If he and Stephen had worked as allies (as per their pact at coronation), there may not have been the ‘Anarchy’. For those years of cicil war, there was little rest for Stephen as the prophecy alludes to. This is another biographical detail not in the HRB or in Libellus Merlini, but is clearly perceived by the peeved slant in words of Henry Blois in GS. Henry Blois opines in the GS that Stephen had to deal with various anxieties and tasks of many kinds which continually dragged him hither and thither all over England. It was like what we read of the fabled hydra of Hercules; when one head was cut off two or more grew in its place. That is precisely what we must feel about King Stephen’s labours, because when one was finished others more burdensome kept on taking its place without end and like another Hercules he always girded himself bravely and unconquerably to endure each.
17) JC: Thorns will overgrow the willow. Alas, too much power will be given to the Kites and Wolves, Three times six revolutions and three more shall this age last.
Henry is injecting more specifics into his vaticinatory skimble skamble. The thorns are the Angevins overgrowing the Blois reign. The Kites and Wolves are the opposition to Stephen most probably Barons and clergy.
3 multiplied by 6 + 3 = 21. As the reader will recall from VM, Henry accounts the years of Stephen as 19 years: Here once there stood nineteen apple trees bearing apples every year; now they are not standing. So, if we were to use Dec 1135-1154 there are the 19 years of Stephen’s reign. If we start at 1136 because it was only a few days before the end of 1135 when Stephen was crowned, this will now bring us to 19+2 years, to make up the 21 revolutions and a date of 1157-8. We can conclude therefore that the JC prophecies were probably written just after VM because (as we will get to shortly)…. the last prophecy foretells of Henry Blois as King in 1159 (because the assumption is at this stage of composing the prophecy Henry II is going over to Ireland as planned and at this stage there will be an uprising of the Celts). This in Henry’s mind was dependent upon a successful rebellion by the Celts. It is plain to see that the ‘age’ referred to is plainly the age before Henry Blois sees himself as returning as the ‘adopted son’, as the reader will see in progression.
18) JC: Oh thou, house of Arthur, subjected to a treacherous people, can you not see the robbery of cattle on the plain of Reontis.
‘John’ in his commentary says ‘it is not useful for me to define this treachery’ but says it concerns a raid by the ‘men of Devon’. He does not want to enlighten us ‘so as not to seem abusive’. Rhyd Reont is mentioned in a few Welsh poems and is probably included in the prophecies just to provide the reader with a conflation with a possible ‘Redruth’. Henry’s gambit throughout is to provide a tenable correlation, now linking Welsh Arthurian with Cornish Arthurian and Welsh Rhyd Reont with Cornish Rhyd-ruth. Henry Blois has a specific event in mind which he hopes his contemporary audience identifies with. This unidentifiable event could have been that which Henry witnessed while in the southwest after the siege of Exeter. I will just say here that if it had not been for the GS and knowing that Henry authored it; many of the Ganieda prophecies in VM would not have been openly exposed as pertaining to events in the Anarchy had Henry himself not given account of the same events in prophecy and to which he referred to in GS so explicitly. Our scholars still don’t accept GS as Henry’s apologia and until such time ‘Geoffrey’ will be referred tto by them for years to come.
19) JC: but what can be done against the Victorious for these times to cease. Why are we in colored yarn like women and in curls. Oh lost nation, whose abuse of clothing is like the barbaric veneration of the circles; what accustomed love of the trivial! Your punishment is a plague, a pain caused by the almighty. Your solemn cubes (rooms of solace) are desolate, your only government in flames, fasting and disease will be your final fate; you conspire to strike your allies.
Henry starts the prophecy with the subject foremost in his mind at the time of composition, asking himself what can be done against the Angevins. In the JC commentary, Henry feigns misunderstanding of orbiculata thinking it has to do with patterning on clothing. This is not easy to make sense of, yet I think Henry as the writer is equating with Merlin’s Giant’s dance in HRB or stone circles and yet he knows that his desolate cubes are churches. Henry writing as JC, feigns quoting his Cornish source ‘guent dehil’ as meaning venti excussio a wind which shakes off the leaves. I think the gist is: the state of affairs in Britain is just like the foreboding of the biblical east wind.
20) JC: All at once in a hard thunderbolt, despoiled by his father, it is made ready for the excellent head of the peaked helmeted one.
This again is tricky in translation, but I think the gist is that after Stephen’s death Henry sees himself as a future King. But this could just be a squew on the ‘Helmeted one’ from earlier prophecies for consistency’s sake, which as we know referred to the pope. Henry had already referred to himself in the earlier prophecies as the shadow of the ‘Helmeted one’ in HRB and Libellus Merlini probably indicating the prophecy hailed back to when he was Legate.
Is he now referring to a hope he has for himself in JC; the prophecy aiding in bringing his wish to fruition? Henry is the ‘white haired’ ‘adopted man’ who becomes King as will become apparent.
Henry Blois when posing as John, also terms this set of prophecies by John ‘the prophecy of Ambrosius Merlinus concerning the seven Kings’, when he terminates the JC prophecies. Henry II is the sixth King and Henry Blois sees himself as the automatic choice of the seventh as he is the last surviving Grandson of William the Conqueror.
I can find no proof from a chronicler that Henry Blois had a white horse. We can speculate with Henry’s love of beautiful things that he had a beautiful horse (as this was the main mode of transport for a Bishop Knight), and one could speculate it was white. If we assume that the River Parrett is Merlin’s Periron (probably in the Libellus Merlini originally ‘Periton’ but then changed) then we can now see the association of the ‘mill’ being built on it and the association of the river with the ‘venerable man on the white horse’ which is found in HRB and JC. Originally Henry might have alluded to himself in no uncertain terms and then tried to cover it up. What we do know is that the bishop Henry Blois built a mill on the Parratt, so we can guess his horse was white.
21) JC: The adopted venerable old man is walking up and down where the ‘Perironis’ springs up.
HRB: An old man, moreover, snowy white, that sits upon a snow-white horse, shall turn aside the river of Pereiron and with a white wand shall measure out a mill thereon.
Hyreglas of Periron811 was one of Arthur’s fictitious British nobles and maybe there is the clue in ‘glas’. Possibly the earlier Libellus Merlini prophecy originally referred to Henry at Glastonbury because in the earlier set he was much less guarded. Maybe the original was Hirenglas because it would not be the first time Henri has made an anagram of his name henriglas.
811HRB X, v. I would not be surprised if it was indicative of Henry Rex from Glastonbury just as we have already come across Blihos Bliheris resembling an anagram of H. Blois but it’s a long shot.
However, as there was much work done in Henry’s life time concerning the drainage around Glastonbury, Henry did in fact make a mill on the Parrett. I think this early prophecy was so highly poignant toward Henry, a definite squewing of the sense was carried out subsequently. Many suspect ‘Geoffrey’ made additions to the book of Llandaff which has located the river of Pereiron near Monmouth, but we know by the time ‘Monmouth’ was in use in HRB, Henry Blois was really trying to cover his tracks. This is case of Henry Blois, smothering his tracks from the obvious mill on the river Parret to looking as if this prophecy has more in common with Geoffrey of Monmouth.
To allay any further suspicion that this might at one time have refered to him too closely in the libellus Merlini; subsequently, when Henry interpolated the book of Llandaff establishing ‘Geoffrey’ as flesh and blood and Caradoc as continuator of HRB…. Henry also steered suspicious minds away from the Mill on the river Parret prophecy and the fact he had built a mill on it and had a white horse; to subsequently have those chasing down Geoffrey make Periron near Monmouth. Scholars today do not connect the dots!!
Since Henry had moved Periron once already to Monmouth, he writing as JC now locates the river at Tintagel which matches snugly with the Cornish provenance of the book he is now translating from Cornish.
Is Henry Blois backtracking in case people associate a mill built by him on the river Parrett? Don’t forget the white-haired old man diverts the course of the Periron and is mentioned after the Sixth and the lynx (Henry II) and measures a mill on its banks. In other words, the man on the white horse is important to our author and important enough to get a mention in the Merlin prophecies along with the grandees like Kings and some other hated adversaries of Henry Blois whoalso feature in the Merlin prophecies.
The book of Llandaff locates the ‘aper periron’ not far from the town of Monmouth but no-one has located it. Unlike most modern scholars on the heels of Geoffrey of Monmouth, I believe it was not ‘Geoffrey’ but Henry Blois who interpolated the book of Llandaff. Henry had back peddled after writing too specifically about himself in the original prophecies. ‘John’ shows his innovativeness in randomly stating the prophecy refers to the venerable adopted man’s ‘entry into Cornwall, for he then laid siege to the castle by the Periron, that is Tintagel’. In JC Henry locates Periron at (Dindaiol), Tintagel which has confused everyone that believes the commentary is ’John’s’ genuine attempt at elucidating or interpreting the prophecies. Tintagel as a posited location for Periron confirms this is Henry Blois mixing the salad.
Henry Blois knows that any interested reader will conflate the castle at Periron to Arthur’s Castle. This highlights the authorship of Henry Blois, in that it is JC’s commentary which redirects us to this conflation. It is also pertinent that Henry Blois is author of Perlesvaus where the castle at Tintagel is mentioned. It is all part of Henry’s artifice; while appearing to supply the ancient Cornish rendition of the name of Tintagel; especially when it is ‘Geoffrey’ who has Tintagel Castle being the site of Arthur’s conception.
If John of Cornwall were really writing this manuscript, why is JC trying to connect this Periron to the castle where Arthur supposedly held his court? Obviously, it is a direct attempt to substantiate the fictional court at Tintagel. The logical answer would be that the author of both fictions is one and the same person. The spelling of Dindaiol was not then and never was the accepted spelling of Tintagel. Henry is affecting an air of antiquity and ‘Cornishness’ to his manuscript.
Also, the castle in GS named as Lidelea is synonymous with Kidwelly, so, we may posit Henry’s use of Kaer Belli as an alternative name for the Castle in JC’s commentary. Henry’s gambit is not dependent upon accuracy. His whole edifice is propped up by conflation and tentative correlation and corroboration.
Scholars will flatly deny my position concerning the invention of chivalric Arthur by Henry Blois because none of them have ever bothered to think if HRB is full of lies so may be the persona of ‘Geofffrey’. But while on the subject of Tintagel, it seems pertinent to inform them that the original Latin text of Tristan and Iseult812 (which modern scholars deny existed) was also written by Henry Blois in his first attempt at an histoire before he dreamed up the Chivalric Arthur at Tintagel:
In Parmenie, a domain in Brittany, there lived a noble lord named Rivalin. Wishing to gain the experience and learning that can only be obtained by foreign travel, Rivalin set sail for the mighty castle Tintagel in Cornwall, where he wished to join the court of King Mark, whose chivalry, polish, and courtly grace were known well beyond his double realm of Cornwall and England. Rivalin participated in a great jousting festival held by King Mark, where he proved himself both a paragon of courtly charm and a champion of knightly skills. Hence, he was well received by King Mark’s royal court, and very cordially welcomed by King Mark’s beautiful sister Princess Blancheflor. During Rivalin’s stay at Tintagel an enemy invaded Cornwall. Noble Rivalin joined his host in defending his realm. He fought bravely, but while repelling the invaders he was severely wounded. King Mark’s men carried him, half dead, back to Tintagel.
812There are some astounding similarities to other parts of Henry’s output (Wace’s Roman de Brut) which makes me think that Tristan and Iseult was Henry’s first foray into Romance stories. Tristan fights a giant on an Island in Cornwall and also slays a dragon which just happens to be near a pool…. and Isolde’s hair is emblematic of Guinevere’s and then both are buried together like Arthur and Guinevere. The Chess game also and Tintagel are common Icons. The Tristan-story Chevrefoil by Marie de France (Marie of Champagne) follows Tristan and Iseult also.
However, the point of writing JC’s rendition of the prophecies of Merlin is that Henry achieves his goal of stirring up insurrection and positing himself by prophecy as a future replacement for Henry II. The JC rendition of prophecies also acts as corroborative evidence to the prophecies in HRB. Henry also likes to give the impression that he is translating from an ancient Britannic or Celtic tongue. His previous hoary old man on a white horse he re-works now with ‘Canus adoptatus’ or with a Cornish take in the commentary: michtien luchd mal igasuet. Our Henry Blois is the master of illusion and obviously knows Cornish monks who may indeed have translated his new array of prophecies into Cornish from which he has included a few examples in his commentary.
Niveus quoque senex in niveo equo was Henry Blois’ depiction of himself. The fact that the hoary, venerable, white bearded old man has now become ‘canus adoptatus’ is fascinating. This is no trick of translation. JC in his prologue warns us he might change a few things. The ‘adopted’ one then becomes king by implication from the Cornish quoted above which is subtly made plain in the commentary…. as if it had come from the original Cornish manuscript.
If we take into account that the six kings in Henry’s numbering system starts with William the Conqueror and goes up to Henry II; it really looks as if ‘John’ is following Henry Blois’ (Geoffrey’s) or more correctly Merlin’s numbering system. Especially, if one follows the reasoning behind the production of JC…. and Henry Blois posits himself as the seventh in the leonine line of Kings. After all why not!! He was afterall the last surviving grandson of the first of the Leonine King line i.e. William the Conqueror.
Logically, the only way John of Cornwall can have the same numbering system is if Merlin really existed and really wrote these prophecies. If so, why in HRB and VM does the numbering system stop with the sixth King? The simple reason is that John of Cornwall’s rendition is the latest and counts on the rebellion of the Celtic tribes defeating Henry II.
The person in exile (because of the King Henry II) is more likely to be seen as a ‘returning adopted son’ when the King is defeated by the Celts if he was a churchman; a Bishop that had been banished who had his castles siezed and especially, if he was rich enough to create a power base and knew every baron in the land. This would of course be facilitated if two sets of prophecies upheld that a man on a white horse was returning to be the seventh King. If there was an anecdote which shows Henry Blois had a white horse, I think this would vindicate my assumption that originally the prophecy defined Henry too precisely.
22) JC: What is his condition? What is the hope for our offspring? Serving or perishing, if he loses his fame or fortune the nobles of England will be weakened.
Henry’s own epitaph on the Meusan Plates is witness to the similarity with the prophecy above. Henry believes his importance and role that he foresees for himself in the outcome of English affairs: 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.
JC actually wrote colles Albani translaterales which means ‘hills that straddle England,’ but JC in his notes shows the meaning as ‘nobles of England’. Henry had definitely lost his fame. By goading Conan and Cadwallader to rebel against Henry II along with the Scots through these prophecies of Merlin, Henry foresees a way back into power as King once he is ‘adopted’ as the new heir; once Henry II is unseated. The simple way to cause rebellion is to make this happen while HenryII is out of the country. On the advice of Matilda his mother, Henry II did not leave just yet, because of this very prophetical threat and instead made peace with Conan and Cadwallader.
In the last prophecy, Henry foresees himself becoming King and this he thinks will transpire in 1159. Henry Blois now reverts to ‘hocus pocus’ in the next part of the prophecy which correlate to prophecies in HRB and VM. Is it a coincidence that JC asks what is his condition, mentioning a loss of fortune?
23) JC: From the shores of Armonicis (Armorica) the brazen pest will be formed. The winged one of the third nesting will bridle the boar and bring back the time of her ancestor.
JC lets us know the ancestor is Henry Ist and infers the enea pestis is ‘war’. Previously, the ‘pest’ had become a ‘lynx’ through scribal error or purposeful twisting, but it is Henry’s first introduction of a ‘brazen pest’ just so that it fits with the ‘forged’ mentioned in the HRB prophecies. However, originally in the Libellus Merlini, the allusion was to Matilda being bridled (by her husband) ‘quod in Armorico sinu fabricatur’ as Geoffrey V was Count of Anjou, Touraine, and Maine i.e. on the inward parts of Armorica (not the bay). That has now been squewed to allude to Henry II as the ‘pest’. One mind is generating these prophecies and as we have established, it is not Merlin; but someone living in the twelfth century, so all a modern scholar would need to ask is how come one prophecy refers to the Sixth in Ireland. Obviously, the response would be Merlin was a prophet!!! and it still is.
In this prophecy above, Henry is telling of Matilda’s (JC writes Aquila) arrival, but it is interesting that the boar is now here confirmed as being Stephen, which, as I posited earlier; Henry saw himself and Stephen as the offspring of the Boar of Cornwall which is of course the appellation he gives Arthur when pretending to affect prophecies pertaining back to sixth century events in HRB.
Henry Blois would have us believe that John of Cornwall in his commentary interprets Armonicis as Armon in North Wales. The mention of his brother’s capture at Lincoln is all part of the act of feigning geographical ignorance along with a phony interpretation. However, from the original rendition of this specific prophecy in the Libellus Merlini which held continuity into HRB: A bridle-bit shall be set in her jaws that shall be forged in the Bay of Armorica. This shall the Eagle of the broken covenant gild over, and the Eagle shall rejoice in her third nesting… we now have a rendition which refers to Henry II. The way the subjects or icons are swapped and interchanged, and the sense warped or completely changed…. implicates a living Henry Blois as the impostor of John of Cornwall as he distorts his own original prophecy.
24)JC: She will make all fall, everything for a second time round. What is left of the year will be turned over, the sceptre of London ruling.
John of Cornwall in the commentary proffers his interpretation that the prophecy speaks of ‘when England was without a king for a year’. Why does no-one seem to find it ridiculous that a prophet in the sixth century called Merlin is focusing on minutae concerning Henry Blois’ brother? It is quite simple; we know whoever wrote the prophecies wrote HRB.
Even our expert Crick understands that the prophecies corroborate the erroneous history of HRB and could only come from one common author. How is it that in this case John of Cornwall interprets correctly an obtuse prophecy found nowhere previously and it just happens to refer to Henry’s brother and his capture and refer to the time in the Anarchy when Henry trailed around after a haughty Matilda, while his brother was in prison?
JC goes on to feign ignorance of the interpretation in the commentary, positing that the ‘third’ nest was Matilda’s attempt on the English crown, the ‘second’, her marriage to Geoffrey of Anjou. As we know from my own elucidation of the prophecies in VM that we covered earlier, the ‘third nesting’ is Matilda’s third child, the very cause of Stephen becoming King; and so we can see it is direct obfuscation on Henry’s, part posing as John of Cornwall, to suggest the second or third is anything else but the birth (referred to in the early libellus)…. which in fact (by pregnancy worries that Matilda had) led to the circumstance which allowed Henry to manipulate his brother onto the throne of England.
The commentary is just a ruse so that the JC manuscript seems to be authentically from a different source, other than ‘Geoffrey’… and ‘really genuinely Celtic’ if one is gullible. The logical assumption for the reader of JC is that ‘Geoffrey’s’ assertion in HRB in his dedication to Alexander is true; that he is translating and setting his rustic reed to the writing of these little books and have interpreted for thee this unknown language.
The fact that Merlin’s existence is even substantiated by JC’s supposed Celtic tract supports the erroneous position held by modern scholars that ‘Geoffrey’s’ Merlin actually existed. An oversight even worse than believing Merlin was real is that Henry Blois’ pseudo-history featured in a certain most ancient book in the British language which ‘Geoffrey’ had borrowed from Walter and was literally translating could corroborate the the prophecies of Merlin in places. The fact that we are not deluded and Merlin is focusing on the year that came to an end through the Londoners chasing Matilda from London…..is mentioned at the end also, which leads back into the second half of the Anarchy and: She will make all fall, everything for a second time round.
25) JC: The first wonder provides the second marvel, the fourth or fifth will soon rise from fortress Britonum, truly the dart will increase to become a lance.
How could scholars really believe John of Cornwall to be translating from an ancient Merlin script. ‘Geoffrey’s’ Merlin did not exist apart from being formed in HRB in one character and another in VM. So why would anyone be credulous and naive to believe Merlin’s prophecies focusing on the ancestors of William the Conqueror (all being numbered or identified), focusing on events in the Anarchy and in the early set, mundane events in Henry Ist era? How is it possible not to understand the improbability of this being a sixth century seer and the likelihood of the author living in the twelfth century?
The first wonder is Matilda and the second her son eventually taking over from Stephen the fourth to become the fifth. JC in the interlinear notes implies ‘fortress Britonum’ is London (Lundonia). The whole point of including this last prophecy is to appear to mirror another prophecy in the HRB where ‘Geoffrey’ (Merlin) has overstated his case: 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. In actuality, when the libellus was first composed and this prophecy was pronounced c.1144 only the first ‘four’ were mentioned. It just so happens they were anointed in the original Libellus Merlini. Obviously in the updated version the fifth which was Matilda, never specified but implied in that she was never anointed, thus not numbered. Is it not by coincidence that in the updated version of the Vulgate prophecies; no fifth is mentioned and then we have the sixth invading Ireland?
In this HRB prophecy, suspicion might be falling on Henry as to who might be the promulgator of these prophecies. It is too obvious that all the first four were anointed (thumb rolled in oil). Matilda never gets mentioned and we know she was not anointed or referred to as the fifth; just counted as part of the sequence. The sixth is obviously her son Henry II, the new king; and the Irish issue is fresh in people’s minds. Nobles, clerics and certain of the intelligentsia must be thinking, how is it that Merlin has focused his visions in our era? We could speculate that Henry, imitating the prophecy in HRB, now makes the same passage more obtuse in JC. He decides by way of commentary to obfuscate more by positing that Henry Ist son William is now counted among the kings of England when so obviously he is not.
Henry is clever in writing a commentary which at once makes one believe he, as John of Cornwall, (a mere translator), is as much in the dark as to the interpretation of the prophecies. Yet we know full well John of Cornwall’s prophecies exist side by side with the fabricated prophecies in HRB; they (coincidentally) surface in the same era and were supposedly commissioned by a friend of Henry Blois (just like Sugar another commentator). If we understand HRB’s prophecies were written by Henry, why would someone parallel many of those and write new ones which coincidentally seem to pertain to Henry Blois’ agenda also.
Stephen is definitely not the ‘fifth’, Stephen is the fourth otherwise VM and updated HRB prophecies would not make sense. JC’s suggestion that the fourth is William is purely to obfuscate and prove to the gullible that John himself is not inventing the prophecies, rather he through commentary is trying to find meaning. However, if the insurrectionby the Celtic tribes had been successful, the ‘seventh’ would be abundantly clear (based on HRB’s numbering) and could then be confirmed pointing to Henry Blois as an ‘adopted’ Norman. Henry only wanted this to be fully understood and confirmable (by reference to the JC version) once the rebellion was successful. He did not want to be in any way culpable for inciting rebellion by way of prophecy. What one has to understand throughout these prophecies, is the changing agenda and how the prophecies are twisted (but not through translation).
26) JC: Everyone who is entombed in the woeful machine is eliminated, death will be envied; nor will the form of money be simple.
Henry Blois in the sporadic interlinear commentary of JC, after letting us know the ‘fortress’ is in London, implies the machine is in a ‘towne’ and those living in the machine envy the dead. Henry, the author of both commentary and prophecy text, follows on with ‘all will keep their money in his castle’. There is absolutely no way that this money part of the prophecy, correlating tentatively in HRB could ever be linked to the newly introduced ‘machine’. Henry Blois again is purposely obfuscating and affects the aura of the mystical Merlin ‘looking through a glass darkly’, having an imperfect vision of the future reality.
The prophecy is about the Tower of London. Henry Blois pretending to be Merlin prophesying, affects the position of never having seen a stone castle, so to seem anciently vaticinatory, he calls it a ‘machine’. The tower is mentioned in HRB: … a tree will rise up above the Tower of London, that thrusting forth three branches only shall overshadow all the face of the whole island…
Henry’s fascination with the Tower of London is that it was the first stone castle built in England and it was built by his Grandfather William the Conqueror. He also has a fascination with construction of fortifications as we saw in the GS and comments on Robert of Gloucester’s more recently built castle at Devises.
As the Tower of London was considered an impregnable fortress in a strategically important position, it also played a vital role in securing London when Stephen first came from the continent when it was in the charge of William de Mandeville. It played an important part in the Anarchy, Mandeville swapping sides and then back again selling his allegiance to Matilda after Stephen was captured in 1141. Once Matilda’s support waned, the following year he resold his loyalty to Stephen. Mandeville was Constable of the Tower and had control of the city and was responsible for levying taxes, enforcing the law and maintaining order. Once freed, Stephen changed this hereditary position to someone more loyal. The part of the prophecy about envying death is pointed out by JC in that those consigned as inmates preferred death to being entombed in its bowels.
27) JC: When all is done you will learn Cornwall, you will learn to labour; we will be forced again from our grieving cradles as it was with the Saxons.
This prophecy intonates that the Cornish will again be enslaved by the Normans the commentary giving ‘reproving their greed who take our freedoms’. The prophecy is directly anti-Norman which puts their invasion in exactly the same category as that of the Saxons. Whereas, the Libellus Merlini saw the Normans as saviours (while Stephen reigned)…. they are now accounted as foreigners now he is dead and Henry is in self imposed exile trying to manipulate events to regain his power. This is all part of the effort to entice the Celts to revolt, but is aimed at the Cornish because the prophecy is supposed to have been written in Cornish. The next prophecy establishes that Henry is trying to make his prophecies genuinely appear to have come from Cornish tradition.
28) JC: Why are we so generous? From now on, who shall be considered free. Where we can see Plymouth, whereby the Tamar exits to the south through the high ridges of Brentigie where the Gauls (French/Norman) rule is everywhere.
Here again, Henry is affecting being Cornish by referring to the Norman overlords as Gauls. JC in his commentary says the Tamar separates Cornwall and Devon. Brentigie, however, we are told is a deserted place in Cornwall and ‘called in our language goen bren and in Anglo Saxon Fawi Mor’.
We know full well that the commentary is part of the device in which Henry feigns being Cornish and so little credence should be given to Fawi-mor (obviously Bodmin) being synonymous with Goen Bren or Henry’s Brentigie. Henry is merely connecting the name he knows for Bodmin moor with Dartmoor. We know Henry Blois has been to Plympton and he is our only source for Plaustrum, which must be a pretence at a seemingly parallel name from antiquity. It is Henry Blois’ invention of an archaic name for Plymouth. Plaustrum is usually defined as a cart or Wagon and therefore some commentators have associated Plaustrum with the astrological constellation of the ‘Plough’. The astrological ‘Plough’ has little to do with where the Tamar exits or Brentegia. I believe Henry is trying to imply it is the ancient name for Plymouth which was Plymentun c. 900.
Henry, in the GS, calls Plympton Plintona. Henry, in the GS, gives a detailed account (which must be eyewitness) about a large body of archers arriving at Plympton at dawn and taking Baldwin’s castle there by surprise. Henry knows this area and by the GS description knows the locale from the tribulations in settling the unrest in early 1136 when his brother first came to the throne.
South Brent and Brent moor are on the southern part of Dartmoor and is probably from where Henry derived his name Brentigie for Dartmoor. The River Tavy is one of the main tributaries running down from Dartmoor and joining the Tamar at Plymouth. Making a pretence of being Cornish, Henry Blois says the area is dominated by French people; and whether Angevin or supporters of Stephen, Henry affects a collective name of Frenchmen (Gauls), just as a Devonian or Cornish native would perceive them. Henry attempts to feign empathy with the southern inhabitants so that the manuscript appears to be not only translated by a Cornishman but also originated from a Celtic background which has the vestiges of Brittonic names embedded in the text.
29) JC: If you wish to live on Oh Queen! you will need to plough and sow; At which cost the cats trap you and your goats stirring the winds of madness and the rebellion of every one of your citizens since you were woefully afflicted and enraged by the Thunderer.
HRB: Wherefore the vengeance of the Thunderer shall overtake him, for that every field shall fail the tiller of the soil.
Again, this is hard to translate…. to make sense, as it is all part of the salad. The Queen would appear to be in reference to Matilda and JC’s commentary does not help much in clarifying the issue; but we are told that Merlin’s word ‘Ventorum’ was awel garu or the wild wind. The ploy is of course to have the reader believe the document is a direct translation of Merlin’s. The prophecy was created to mirror words like the Thunderer found in the previous version and probably has no great purport but is mere skimble skamble about how Matildas citizens rebelled which we get from GS and have covered already but Henry understood she was woefully afflicted with a dreadful haughtiness that became her downfall so it would seem the thunderer may be God’s judgements on her. Obviously, the earlier prophecy that this is attempting to mirror in word only applied to a confirmation from Henry to Stephen of events happening. i.e. fields were empty due to the Anarchy and again in GS Henry explains all of Stephen’s misfortune as God’s judgements on him.
30) JC: Divided are the poor people not esteemed; the popular man of the people is approved and during that time he does not keep his vows.
It is not coincidence that much of the prophecy in HRB and VM is about Stephen and Matilda. What is stranger (if JC were truly genuine) is that the same sentiments found in JC are found in GS. Henry makes plain what he sees as the fault in his brother in GS. Stephen did not keep his vows. Henry pretends as JC that Stephen was approved as a popular man of the people. During the anarchy the peasants’ ‘allegiances’ were divided and were dependent upon who the nearest baron was and where his allegiance lay.
31) JC: Religion weeps, those who wear the cloth pray in vain. Thou who makes the heavens revolve, hear us! Thou who wields the thunderbolts, hear us!
Throughout the Anarchy there was decimation of the churches. Is it not strange how Merlin is concerned about the changing of Sees, palliums, the state of religion, legates, archbishoprics, Winchester’s Holy hole and now priests’ prayers being heard? One might be tempted to think that the author of Merlin was a twelfth century cleric. So was ‘Geoffrey’!!!
In the following prophecy, we have the defining prophecy. Do not be fooled into thinking any of these are real prophecies. Henry Blois included this in HRB believing the Irish expedition was about to take place. This could in no way be Celtic by translation and most certainly is not a prophetic word from antiquity.
32) JC: Under the western sun Ireland (Ybernia) will fall to the Sixth.
One will find that nearly all sensible commentators assume this to be an insertion in JC because they are taken in by the ruse that JC’s rendition was derived from a Cornish version of Merlin prophecies. It is astounding that scholars don’t apply the same skepticism to those prophecies thought to be generated by Geoffrey. The same statement is found in HRB, VM, JC and the interpolation into Orderic. One knows now that all these versions (even the interpolation into Orderic) is post 1155. One would have to be dim to believe this prophecy was truly a prediction…. given the nature of the rest of the prophecies and for the most part their focus on events concerning Henry Blois’ family and the Anarchy.
This prophecy was the one prophecy with which Henry was to establish Merlin as a seer into the future because at publication of Vulgate HRB in 1155 the event had not transpired. Even more conclusive in adding to the public delusion (contemporary and in posterity) was the fact that many of the other prophecies concerning the Anarchy had also been foreseen by Merlin. This backdating effect, giving the illusion of genuine prophecy, can only be believed by contemporary readers and posterity, by what was avowed in the dedications to dedicatees all of whom were already dead and none ever read what was dedicated to them
In other words, the date is assumed by belief that the dedicatees were alive at the time the dedication was written. The ‘sixth in Ireland’ prophecy was updated included in VM around 1156 and also interpolated into Orderic’s chronicle as we covered earlier, sometime after 1155. However, I have dated JC to be subsequent to these works; written around 1157 as the reader will realize shortly. The VM concurs with JC in the aim that it is intended to incite rebellion; but only JC goes as far as to proffer Henry Blois’s candidacy for the throne as the seventh King.
33) JC: To the West (Western wind) the descendants of the North reach out.
Henry Blois is re-iterating what he believes is a certain fact…. having heard it as a plan which was to be put into action. JC in the commentary spells out the phony vaticinatory symbolism supposedly derived from Aquilonaris or Aquilonius both having a connotation of ‘North’, we are told now symbolizes the Normans; hence Aquilone creati are Normans; a name from antiquity and the nation of Neustria. This is invention of course by the master of invention; a hocus pocus of ‘Northmen’ and certainly not a deduction of John of Cornwall. The prophecy is a new (corroborative) invention and so is unsurprisingly not mentioned by Merlin in connection to the Irish campaign in either HRB, VM or in the interpolation into Orderic …. and does indicate that JC prophecies were the last to be created.
34) JC: and why is it so they are fatally hung in a row at the castle and a lawful belonging made possible the payment of the fare for the sea passage.
It is difficult to know what Henry has in mind here. JC’S explanation of Naulum is ‘Precium mais’ and has nothing to do with financing the Ireland affair. This prophecy may be about some personal detail which has not been related by chroniclers which relates to the seizing of Henry Blois’ castles while he was in self-imposed exile at Clugny. One incident is specified by a contemporary chronicler where a castle of Henry’s did not surrender after he had been ordered to surrender then to King Henry II at the Winchester council; and when besieged, the occupants were eventually hanged from the walls for resisting the King. Henry is also thinking when composing this prophecy that the trip to Ireland by Henry II has been financed from the seizure of his castles; his ‘lawful belongings’.
Some castles were destroyed. Henry Blois knew that such highly specific details would cause worry to Henry II when he read them especially if the castles ‘lawfully belonged’. King Henry II had carefully studied Roman history. He had noted the way Emperor Augustus had successfully managed to gain control over the Roman Empire and realised, like Augustus, his first task must be to tackle those that had the power to remove him. This is why Henry Blois had indeed fled without licence from the King. Henry Blois fled from a Devon or Cornish port to land at Mont. St Michel without passing through Normady on his way to Clugny. All his moveable wealth had gone before him transported to Clugny by Peter the Venerable. Henry got the gist of what was going to happen to him at the council of Winchester when he got told by Henry II to hand over his castles. In Henry Blois’ mind this upstart should not even be King and these events only transpired because of Wallingford. Probably then, as the peacemaker, he was ok with the deal his brother had made with Duke Henry at the time, but Henry Blois was definitely not ok with this son of Matilda breaking down his power base now he was flexing his muscles as king and Henry felt threatened. As we saw in the beginning of VM, his melancholy was transferred onto Merlin bemoaning the last 19 years of his life as he went into reclusion at Clugny surrounded by the forests portrayed in the poem of VM.
It is obviously one of these Castles at which occupants loyal to him got hung in a row to which the prophecy alludes. Henry himself in his apologia of GS does not express his anger at the loss of all that property otherwise his authorship would be uncovered; and on his return in 1158 all had been acquired or burnt by King Henry II during his exile.
JC’s seeming innocence at the interpretation is conveyed as he pretends in his commentary to interpret the castle as that of a ‘fatal castle’ which in English is called Ashbiri. Henry Blois in a pretence gets his message across to Henry II but gives the appearance that the castle referred to is that of King Alfred’s at Ashbury; foreseen by Merlin. King Alfred won a great victory against the Danes at the Battle of Ashdown, in AD 871 at Ashberry camp in Oxfordshire. Henry then goes further in providing erroneous clues that the castle is synonymous with Kair Belli or Castel uchel coed, the ‘castle in the wood’. Is this Henry’s castle at Kidwelly?
35) JC: Even more controversial is that piety approves his raising to arms leaving the walls destitute, turning forests into plains, he will lay bare the hills and renew the laws and regulations. He who at first had his wings clipped from around his sides, now has his hair set like a lion’s mane and having obtained the peoples affection shall fly (high) up to the highlands, for the holy men are separated from their temples, lest the Dragon kings send out the watchmen into the pastures.
We are pointed in the right direction by JC’s commentary that this prophecy pertains to Henry II. Certainly, this did not need establishing nor pointing out to his contemporary audience. The ‘forest into plains’ allusion is matched to the sixth in Ireland prophecy in HRB and VM; so, we know what Henry Blois in the JC version is alluding to. What Henry finds controversial is that ‘piety’ i.e. the popes Laudabiliter813 approves of the invasion of Ireland.
813The Laudabiliter was issued in 1155 whereby the English pope Adrian IV gave King Henry II the right to assume control over Ireland.
There are two scenarios here that the prophecy alludes to. Firstly, the reference is to the young Henry Fitz Empress who in the beginning had his wings clipped but then went up to Scotland and was knighted by his Uncle. There is only one holy man separated from his temple that Henry Blois is concerned about and that is the bishop of Winchester on the continent at Clugny. The tone is very anti Henry II. Again, I stress that this is not from a Cornish angle and specifically not ancient…. but specifically, from the hand of Henry Blois; politically motivated and intended for the public domain. Secondly, Henry Blois as JC is alluding to Henry II leaving the Britain and going to Ireland raising to arms leaving the walls destitute i.e open to Henry to come back. I am fairly sure this was his plan when he left. To keep his castles loyal to him until Henry II left for Ireland and then He would come back and renew the laws and regulations. He who at first had his wings clipped from around his sides, now has his hair set like a lion’s mane and having obtained the peoples affection shall fly (high) up to the highlands, for the holy men are separated from their temples, lest the Dragon kings send out the watchmen into the pastures. One can take a pick at either option; but when one considers the next verse:
36) JC: Cities and gems are profitably fitted out by his kindness, and to his virgins, gifts are distributed happily.
Henry Blois contributed much architecture in England. It is this rebuild of Winchester along with costly gifts he sees as an act of kindness as is made out in the epitaph on the Meusan plate. In regard to gems he gave one to St Albans and also feigned the find of a gem at Glastonbury which supposedly had been hidden there and belonged to St David (but more probably came from Waltham). I believe these and other gems possibly from Hyde are the gems he refers to. The Virgins allude to the nunnery at Winchester set up by him that he has specifically donated to. The ‘Gifts’ in general ring true of his epitaph on the Meusan plates where Henry is ‘giving gifts’.
37) JC: Out of which he will ask one of them to gladly marry himself.
Being highly speculative, I would say Henry Blois has fallen for a nun having just alluded to virgins and possible gifts to the nunnery he established at Winchester. One must have an Heir.
38) JC: This will be brief in his hastening years, for the little ones.
Henry Blois is putting this in the public domain so that when the time comes and the prophecy has come to fruition and he becomes king, he can marry and create an heir (in his hastening years); and guess what: the great prophet Merlin has foreseen it all.
39) JC: Gone are the days of the Lynx. The German worm will be ashamed, you and your gods are ended and devoured by ours.
Henry Blois associates the lynx with Henry II, so we cannot get clearer than this. He is likening or confusing the reader into thinking the reference is mixed up with prophecies concerning the Saxons. But for those of his audience who are perceptive reading the JC prophecies the lynx can only be Henry II and now ‘his days are gone’. Henry wants the Scots, the Welsh and the Cornish to understand this is what will happen should they rebel i.e. ‘our’ God’s will rule.
40) JC: These rages will be of his own making. Why are the Normans drawn out so slowly?
We know in the early Libellus Merlini version (when Henry’s brother Stephen was alive), the Normans were saviours. Now the lynx’s days are hoped to be over by our author and in keeping with Merlin’s nationalistic tendencies, the Normans are drawn out of the land and Merlin even calls them foreigners now. How else, but to explain this volte face except through Henry inciting rebellion!!
Henry Blois is still referring to King Henry II. He appeals to the Celts (Scottish, Cornish, Welsh and Breton) to get rid of the Normans. Speaking as a native Briton of course in the guise of Merlin he asks…. why it is that it takes the Celts so long to rid themselves of the Normans.
41) JC: like an old buttress, Anglia will put on its old name. This is how it is, may my race exterminate theirs.
Henry Blois speaking in character as Merlin, harks back to the days when Britain was named of Brutus i.e. Britain…. not named of the Angles i.e. England. As Merlin, Henry feigns that the Celts are ‘his’ race. He makes it perfectly clear now of his intention to get rid of Henry II by inciting Conan and Cadwallader.
42) JC: May the weather be fine for Conan to sail on the waves; may Kadwalader be on his side against those who command to the East.
May there also be no contention about Henry Blois’ motives. As we have covered already, it is Conan IV that Henry Blois sees as the person to re-establish the ‘Crown of Brutus’ in HRB and VM. (Originally, as we have covered, this could have been Cynan in the Libellus Merlini). Henry Blois is the powerbroker who brings Conan from Brittany together with Welsh and Scotts under one crown.
HRB: Cadwallader shall call unto Conan,and shall receive Albany to his fellowship. 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.
VM: it is the will of the highest Judge that the Britons shall through weakness lose their noble kingdom for a long time, until Conan shall come in his chariot from Brittany, and Cadwalader the venerated leader of the Welsh, who shall join together Scots and Cumbrians (Welsh), Cornishmen and men of Brittany in a firm league, and shall return to their people their lost crown, expelling the enemy and renewing the times of Brutus…
The confusion of course is one of conflation and caused purposefully by Henry Blois. Welsh poetry814 possibly from the tenth century has Cynan and Cadwaladr as restorers of British sovereignty and as conquerors of the Saxons, but the Welsh poetry does not have Cynan hailing from Brittany. This contortion is left to ‘Merlin’.
814Armes Prydein, Williams 11, 89, 163, 182.
Conan had inherited the title Earl of Richmond from his father Alan the Black and became duke of Brittany when his mother died in 1156. This in conjunction with the final prophecy of JC helps to date JC to late 1157 or early 1158. By the end of 1158, Henry II finally received submission, from Conan of Brittany as Robert of Torigni relates. This was the end of Henry Blois’ attempt at sedition and he returned to Winchester; yet he had already released the date at which he thought Conan and Cadwalader would have beaten the Normans/Plantagenets out of Britain.
Henry Blois as the ‘adopted venerable old man’ would have taken rule as the seventh king. Even though a number of Welsh Myrddin poems put Cynan and Cadwalader as allies, it is fortuitous for Henry Blois in his devise of conflation between Cynan and Conan. Certainly, Conan comes from Armorica if he needs fair weather to sail, but Welsh Cynan did not come from Brittany. In HRB however, Cynan Meiriadog was ancestor to the kings of Brittany and an ally of Maximian, who was rewarded by him with the lands of Brittany. It is only when sedition is on Henry Blois’ mind that contemporary Conan is purposefully conflated with Cynan of old.
43) JC: The face of the knight on a snowy white horse as a taskmaster of so many together, he officiates the changes to the course of the Perironis, with his white staff held in the middle, the river flow circulates around as he measures out the place for the Mill. Oris eques niuei niueo dans lora iugali totus in officio Perironis gurgite uerso.
With the translation as I have rendered it (probably not well), it sounds like an engineering feat. However, we are now getting closer to my suggestion which posits that Henry Blois is the ‘white horseman’ and we shall get to Perironis shortly. The reader will remember in the translation of JC, which I have numbered 21 above previously…. that the adopted venerable old man is walking up and down where the ‘Perironis’ springs up. Then in the HRB, which for consistency’s sake mirrored what was written in the Libellus Merlini, we see the parallel to that which Henry had written originally: An old man, moreover, snowy white, that sits upon a snow-white horse, shall turn aside the river of Periron and with a white staff shall measure out a mill thereon.
We are not informed who the horseman is. I linked him tentatively through the ‘glas’ of Hyreglas of Periron to Glastonbury where I suggested Henry Blois built a water driven mill; and therefore, the mill’s inclusion in the previous HRB version from the original Libellus version. Now, the reader will remember, that in John’s commentary, when the adopted venerable old man or ‘Canus adoptatus’ was mentioned, John tells us in his commentary that in ‘Britannico’ i.e. the Cornish Celtic language, michtien luchd mal igaset was how he derived ‘Canus adoptatus’. One cannot be derived from the other. So, what is Henry up to?
I think the answer lies in the fact that Henry has asked a Cornish monk to translate his new version of Latin prophecies into Cornish or has asked how to translate certain sentences or phrases. This is the reason he is able to refer back to certain clauses in ‘Britannico’.
Now, a certain Leon Flobert has found that Myghtern loes avel y Gasek which means ‘a king as grey as his mare’ in today’s Cornish, is what Henry’s michtien luchd mal igaset was meant to convey in John’s commentary. With this in mind we have a completely different take on the personality of the horse rider; he is the King; (and don’t forget the JC set of prophecies is known as the prophecy of the Seven kings)…. and the present ruler at the time of writing is King number six, Henry II.
It seems fair to speculate that Henry Blois sees himself as king number seven. I also believe Perironis was meant to be the river Parrett near Glastonbury on which Henry built a mill, mentioned in its original sense in the Libellus Merlini. The name was changed before publication of the updated prophecies included in Vulgate HRB because the association was too obvious. Given the manner of the trickery and subtlety used so far, I do not think it unreasonable to suggest that Perironis never existed either in Monmouth (Book of Llandaff) or in Dindaiol as suggested randomly by John. However, perhaps the man on the White horse rode up and down the river Parrett, and the same man built a mill on it; and the same man was venerable and hopefully going to be adopted; and at the same time it is implied by what is written in Cornish (which Henry has purposefully included) that this person is a King.
44) JC: After great disasters and so much repeated suffering, the river Severn (Sabrinum) will hear the sound like of old with so many warriors mixing in battle; they will laugh at the river Tavy and the spikes of the twins tents will be ripped up and transplanted.
Southern Wales was in flux between Norman and Welsh forces and the southern side of the Severn was also likewise with Angevin supporters. It is mainly a ‘Mumbo Jumbo’ prophecy which is designed to indicate where the prophecies derive from. The river Tavy is known by Henry Blois as it runs down as a tributary to the Tamar into Plymouth. Henry knew this area and knew Dartmoor as Brentigia. He is just including the name Tavy to give the appearance of translation from the Cornish or Dumnonian document which has localised names in it (and probably to conflate with Teiffi). The ‘twins’ are unclear as to whom the word refers to. It is either Conan and Cadwalladr at a guess…. but more likely the Beaumont twins. The Beaumont twins through pressures on their Norman lands, defected to Matilda. Robert de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Leicester and his twin brother Waleran defected and took up with Henry Fitz Empress on his return to England. Maybe these pivotal players in the Anarchy were the twins whose tents (lands/loyalties) were transplanted.
45) JC: Firstly, payment is due to Reont; then elsewhere. Spears, stakes, swords and arrows shall the foreign enemy receive in their warm ribs. Their blood will flow and discolour the rivers, the waves in the current will be joyous and the happy sand banks will testify to it.
We know the name Reont came from Welsh literature and Henry now applies it to Cornwall. The reason for including this prophecy is that it provides a generalised assertion that the rebellion will start in Cornwall and spread. This is supposedly where Henry imagines Conan will land in his ships. The intention is to bolster confidence in the rebellion.
46) JC: It would have been preferable if the Teuton tyrants (Saxons) had yielded long ago. Those who were strengthened with horses and held well in close quarters with their lances, they vanquished those who yielded and left behind only a few to torment. Oh, Shame on us. Out of eighteen thousand who were there moments before, four remained to turn their backs and flee in disgrace.
The Prophesy of Britain or Armes Prydein, is an early 10th-century Welsh prophetic poem from the Book of Taliesin as we have covered previously. The exact figure of eighteen thousand and the four remaining derive from the poem. It is not coincidence that Henry Blois had used this source as its sentiments coincided with his agenda of seeming empathetic with the Briton demise. In a rousing style, characteristic of Welsh heroic poetry, the poem describes a future where all of the Brythonic peoples are allied together, succeeding in driving the Anglo-Saxons from Britain forever. Henry’s gambit is to use this Brythonic resentment to foreign occupation to incite rebellion against Henry II; but his aim was to use this prophetic hope expressed in the poem as a means to carry forward his agenda. Yet, it was necessary to hide his intentions by making it seem as if he is just paralleling or reiterating the hope of the poem. More correctly, the poem supposedly reflects the sentiment of a much older Merlin tradition. The reader of ‘Geoffrey’s’ prophecies is confused by a pretence of referring to the Saxons; a purposeful conflation. This in no way diminishes but parallels the contemporary sentiment held against the Norman invaders; but, by naming Cadwalladr and Conan, Henry brings the prophecy of sedition into contemporaneity with his era. The Armes Prydein is also significant as one of the earliest mentions of the prophet Myrddin Wyllt and it is probably where Henry derived his Merlin. We should also consider Henry being aware of this literature in the construction of VM where Taliesin is a friend of Merlin.
47) JC: This is what Venedotia (north Wales) wishes for, to flourish again with a glittering leader of the people; one who brings them together. Women will exchange their fleeces for purple cloth; Men will wear the silver which was stolen from Urbs Legionum.
I hope now the reader is no longer taken in by the format in which Henry interweaves segments of his prophecies together from various versions and injects totally new meaning into some. It should be noted the new material is usually connected to the new agenda. The mention of Urbs Legionum or Caerleon, the Arthurian centre of government, whose glory and importance were entirely fabricated by ‘Geoffrey’, shows that ‘Geoffrey and John’ have a common author in Henry Blois. We must remember that even though ‘Geoffrey’ cast a spell on the ninth city named in Nennius, ‘the City of Legion which is called Cair Lion’; we still should be aware that Arthur’s royal court there with all kings and leaders in subjection is historical piffle. So, why is John advocating a location of Arthurian splendour when we know it is a ‘Geoffrey’ invention? Why is it mixed in with the verse with the dress code imagery from the Libellus Merlini which Suger had? The only answer is that ‘Geoffrey’ who wrote the Arthuriana (who we know by the corroboration of backward-looking spurious history) also wrote the prophecies…. and this must also be the person inventing the John of Cornwall prophecies. It is not ‘Geoffrey’ but Henry. However, even if Nennius did name the two places as coinciding (because the legions wintered in ‘Car Lion’, it was ‘Geoffrey’ who brought both to fame. How could John possibly be translating a genuine Cornish Merlin script? If John was genuinely translating a Cornish tract, how is it that it correlates with ‘Geoffrey’s’ fantasia.
It does not take too much imagination to work out who might be the glittering leader he has in mind, once Conan and Cadwaladr have been convinced to form an alliance and rout the Norman King. This prophecy is in fact a harangue in prophetic form to uplift the Brythonic people to realize Henry Blois’ will, with the admonishment of a better living standard (if they would only take up the fight); to flourish again from foreign suppression.
48) JC: The valleys shall rise up and the oaks too shall be verdant; the mountains of Arfon will reach the clouds with their peaks.
This is just Mumbo Jumbo prophecy employing biblical motifs of valleys and mountains with a biblical sounding grandeur and expectation. If Merlin had existed and Cornish John was really translating Merlin’s words, why would he miss the fact that the oaks were Cornish as in HRB? As the reader will remember from VM, Henry was in fact the oak when he had squewed the prophecy so that his brother would represent the boar of Brittany: The Boar of Brittany, protected by an aged oak, takes away the moon, brandishing swords behind her back. The moon of course is Matilda. The mediaeval Welsh cantref of Arfon however, is in north-west Wales opposite Anglesey and was the core of the Kingdom of Gwynedd and later became part of Caernarvonshire.
49) JC: Posterity will raise up the royal diadem of the Britons, the stature of our wonderful leader will merit deserved praise in the middle of the wonderful two who have granted him by virtue this benefit.
If the reader is still in doubt that Henry is improvising to make sure his Celtic audience understands that his future position has been foreseen by Merlin, we should understand that Henry Blois takes up the crown of the Britons as a ‘wonderful leader’ raised there by Conan and Cadwaladr as he ascends the throne as the adopted venerable old man. Is there any further doubt that JC has been written with a political motive in mind? How is it that this incitement to rebellion which is in VM and Vulgate HRB prophecies now has a specified unifier of the people; he is venerable and going to be ‘adopted’ and the two leaders named and appealed to, to carry out this rebellion (we are forewarned), have granted this ‘wonderful leader’ the crown ‘granted him by virtue’.
50) JC: Three hundred and sixty-three years will be the finish of these years when the heavens will be free and the sky brightly coloured. Here endeth the prophecy of Ambrosius Merlinus concerning the Seven Kings.
Why does John see fit to Latinize Merlin’s name, who, (if he had any substance), so readily accepts ‘Geoffrey’s’ version of the Nennian boy prophet into Ambrosius. We know in Gildas’ De Excidio Britanniae where Ambrosius Aurelianus organized a British resistance is where ‘Geoffrey’ does his best to conflate Ambrosius with Arthur. When Geoffrey invents Merlin, he even has the audacity to conflate Merlin with the name ‘Ambrosius’ Merlinus. We know Nennius has Badon as the place of King Arthur’s last battle and Ambrosius Aurelianus fought at Badon. So, if Merlin Ambrosius is a ‘Geoffrey’ invention’; how is it at all possible that ‘John of Cornwall’ is translating a book which could not have been written…. because logically, the person purported to have written it is an invention. Henry Blois is the only person who foresees himself as the seventh King. The whole tract is a clever hoax.
Finally, to put Henry Blois chronology in perspective and to show how I am not mistaken that he is behind the prediction of himself as the seventh King…. let us see how he arrives at the figure of three hundred and sixty-three years.
King Offa ruled from 757-796 and was the last of the house of Mercia. It is the formation of the house of Wessex from which Henry Blois starts his three hundred and sixty-three years until he foresees that he is going to take the throne of England as the seventh king…. the ‘adopted venerable old man’. Henry sees himself as a continuation of his Grandfather’s line superseding the house of Wessex.
So, from 796 the house of Wessex ruled until the Danes came. From 1016- 1035 Cnut ruled the house of Denmark with Harold Harefoot taking over…. up until 1040. Harthacanut then ruled from 1040-1042, before rule returned to the house of Wessex with Edward the Confessor, followed by Harold II, until the battle of Hastings in 1066.
From then on, commencing with Henry Blois’ Grandfather, the Normans ruled England and Wales and Henry, prophesying up to his own era of the composition of the JC prophecies, foresees himself as the Seventh king; the natural successor of this line of Kings.815 If we fast forward 363 years (Three hundred and sixty three years will be the finish of these years) from the end of Offa’s rule i.e. the start of the house of Wessex, up until when Henry’s prophecy is supposed to come to fruition, we arrive at the year 1159. It is for this reason I posited an 1157 date for composing JC. We can see why the manuscript is called ‘The prophecy of the seven Kings’.
815Contrary to the attitude put forward in his pseudo-history created for Matilda which had many fictitious Queens, and originally posited that the Britons held the Trojan custom of primogeniture, this changed as his brother became King. Henry’s later attitude was that the hereditary Norman line was Patriarchal since he was not writing now for a future Queen
Henry Blois while still at Clugny hoped that by his prediction and the success of the Celtic rebellion, all and sundry would recognise the natural successor as Henry Blois, the ‘venerable old man’, the ‘adopted one’; especially as the Briton Merlin had foreseen it and therefore it was fated. Henry was to be adopted! As I have already stated: ‘there is no objectivity found in the vain’.
As we know, Henry’s scheming seditious plot never came to fruition. Conan submitted in 1158 and Henry Blois under intense pressure, returned to England under the orders of the King to his post at Winchester. However, Henry Blois had stirred up the Welsh and Henry II had continual problems with them…. and in future decisions was always aware of this prophecy and made sure it never came true.
We can see by Theobald’s letters to Henry Blois at Clugny that Henry Blois is worried about his return to England and we know he has desperately attempted to avoid his authorship of these prophecies being unveiled through the back dating of dedications, the invention of the HRB colophon, and even going to the extent of inventing Gaimar’s epilogue. He also has provided a complete persona for ‘Geoffrey’. If Henry had been found out as the author of these Merlin prophecies, he would have been put to death and ridiculed.
Modern scholars’ view that both ‘Geoffrey’ and ‘John’ have two Brittonic versions of a real Libellus Merlin and their prophecies are derived from a common exemplar is a ridiculous notion, once Henry Blois is recognised as the author. Myrddin may well have prophesied, but both of ‘Geoffrey’s’ and ‘John’s’ versions of prophecies were concocted from the mind of Henry Blois for political ends. The prophecies in HRB, VM, and JC are not prophecies and the two Merlin’s as presented by ‘Geoffrey’ are entirely concocted from the mind of Henry Blois. John’s Cornish glosses are a Philological hoax designed to corroborate ‘Geoffrey’s’ position of a Brythonic tradition and the prophecies were constructed for political purposes. They have no validity as prophecies and any notion put forward that they have any predictive ability in the events of insular Britain beyond 1159 is plainly unfounded. Any modern scholar advocating that ‘Geoffrey’s’ Merlin had a sense of prescience and genuinely predicted events from the Dark ages and teaches this to impressionable medievalist students today should be clapped in the laughing stocks.
One accomplishment achieved as a by-product of the composition of JC, VM and the updated HRB prophecies…. is in bolstering ‘Geoffrey’s’ status as an historian. Henry’s whole edifice corroborates his assertion that all information is derived from an ancient source. When William of Malmesbury’s DA is also employed, we can see how scholars have been unable to see the wood for the trees because no-one could imagine a corroborative fraud on this scale. This is the foundation upon which the edifice of HRB and the Matter of Britain is built. Is it not strange that Gildas, Bede, nor Nennius had come across this ancient source or material before ‘Geoffrey’?
When Henry returns to England in 1158, all of his previous material which created a fictional history for Britain (this monstrous lie of Henry’s) is now mixed with his real Brythonic source.
Henry’s Grail material melded with his previous lie. Henry Blois’ authorial edifice became known as the Matter of Britain and most definitely had an architect up to the point where continuators of Grail material and monk craft, furthering Glastonburyana, carried on from Henry’s propaganda concerning King Arthur and Joseph of Arimathea. The one vital fact that has a major bearing on the rest of our investigation is that instead of fabricating history and passing it off as truth, where Joseph is concerned, Henry Blois uses the truth contained within the Prophecy of Melkin and passes it off as a tale.
Any modern scholar who still advocates that Henry Blois did not have a copy of the Melkin prophecy and advocates the Melkin prophecy a fake, should first ask himself how did the Grail relate to Glastonbury and whose name is best known as the originator of Grail literature. If Master Blehis, Breri, Blaise Bledhericus, Bleheris, Blihos Bleheris and material seen in the Bliocadran don’t in anyway give a clue that ‘Blihos’ might make an anagram of H. Blois and H Blois was Abbot of Glastonbury whose family are the only known Grail propagators…. then of course you too are in the hallowed company of Lagorio and Carley and Crick and Shoaf etc. etc. etc.