Tintagel Christmas 2002
Tintagel Christmas 2002
THE PARENTS OF KING ARTHUR
from "Lakes Parochial History of the County of Cornwall" by
Polsue, 1868-1872 ...... my facsimile copy by Archive CD Books, extracts by
kind permission of Rod Neep (see below for details).
After the death of Ambrosius Aurelius, anno Dom. 497, succeeded to the dominion of Britain, some say his brother, others a Britain named Uter, alias Uter-Pendragon; that is to say in British the terrible or dreadful head or chief dragon, so called, as our historians tells us, from a direful,
bloody, or red dragon, pourtrayed in his banners of war with a golden head, as is to this day borne in our imperial standards of war, in memory doubtless of the red dragon mentioned in Merlinıs prophecy, by which the British nation is figured. For his paternal coat armour, as Upton saith, was in a field of Vert, a plain cross argent; in the dexter quarter the image of the blessed Virgin Mary holding the image of her blessed Son in her right hand proper. He likewise gave for his cognizance of Britain.
Prince, about the fourth year of his reign, having had divers notable victories
over his enemies the Saxons, killing Pascentrus, the son of Hengist, and
Grellimore, King of Ireland, taken Octa and another son of Hengist, and Cossa,
his nephew, prisoners, and routed their fortresses; he resolved the Easter after
to make a kind of triumphal feast and solemnity for the principal nobility,
gentry and soldiers of his kingdom; and ordered likewise that their wives and
daughters should also be invited to his court, to congratulate his victories
against his pagan enemies. Now this feast was to be kept at
Caer-Segont, i.e., the city or castle of conquest or victory afterwards called,
by the Saxons, Cell-Cestor, i.e. Great Castle, now Winn-Chester, as much as to
say, the overcoming, conquering, or winning castle as before; the place where
the Emperor Constantine first put on the purple robes, in order to his dignity.
Amongst other princes and confederates that attended this solemnity Goth-lois or Goth-Louis, id est, purple, back or spear Prince, King or Earl of Cornwall, with Igerna, his lady, graced the same with their presence. And it was observable that in this great assembly, the said lady, for
beauty, port and mien, exceeded all the other women then present. With whose unparalelled demeanour and charms King Uter was so much taken and delighted, or intoxicated rather, that for several days he omitted all other most necessary affairs of his kingdom, in order to enjoy her company. Yea, so violent was his affection, that he could not restrain or curb his passion, but kissed and courted her openly, even in sight of her lord and others. Whereupon Gothlouis was so possessed with jealousy that he took the first opportunity, without leave taken of the King or the nobility, together with his duchess and servants, and posted from Winchester, towards his own
country of Devon and Cornwall. He had not been long gone, but the notice thereof was soon brought to the king, who took it in so ill a part, by reason of his inordinate affection to his lady, that forthwith he sent messengers after him to let him know that he had further occasion to use his counsel about affairs of the nation.
But Gothlouis so highly prized his lady, who by this artifice he fore-saw would be exposed to the kingıs attempts, that he sent back positive answer that he wouId not come. At which return the King grew more enraged, and sent the Prince of Cornwall word, that if he presisted in his obstinacy, he would invade his country, ancl beat his towns and castles about his ears ; but in vain were his menaces, for Gothlouis returned him word that he was, as his predecessors time out of mind had been, a free prince, and owed him neither homage nor allegiance. Nevertheless, as his countryman, he acknowledged himself his ally and confederate against all foreign opposers,
and would keep his articles of agreement ; but if Uter were not contented with this answer, but would forcibly invade his country and property, he would endeavour to keep and preserve the same against him and his adherents. Whereupon King Uter denounced hostility against him, and sent him defiance as an enemy, and forthwith set all things in a posture of war against him.
Nieither was Gothlouis 1899 solicitous to keep his country and duchess from Uterıs possession or indeed vile usurpation.
In brief, therefore, as aforesaid, Ring Uter having raised a great army of soldiers, under pretence of chastising the pride and contempt of Gothlouis, marched with them towards his territories, which extended as far as Axminster, where he no sooner arrived than he falls a plundering the
country, and burning the houses of the inhabitants, with the terror whereof some fled away, and others submitted to his mercy. Gothlouis being then at his chief palace and castle of Caer-Iske, id est, the Fish Castle or city, situate upon the Fish River, now called Exe, as the City is Exeter, and
hearing of this affrightment and revolt of the people on the east part of his dominions, and fearing the cowardice of his citizens of Caer-Iske, he quitted the same upon Uterıs approach with his army, and fled from thence with his lady, and posted themselves in this castle of Dundngell, where he left his duchess, himself retiring to Dameliock Castle, now in S. Udey, or S. Kewe, There his army lay entrenched within a treble walled fortification of earth, still extant, and retaining its name, wherein he had laid up sufficient provision and ammunition for his camp and soldiers, etc... And there also he was promised to receive assistance of soldiers from one of
the five Kings of Ireland, which were daily expected.
King Uter understanding of Gothlouisı departure from Caer-Iske, soon marched after him with his army into Cornwall and laid siege to the castle of Dumeliook, that is to say, the house or place of skirmish, battle, or hazard of war, and no sooner approached the lines, but he sent an herald or trumpet to Gothlouis, demanding the surrender of himself and castle on mercy. Gothlouis, rewarding the trumpet, returned answer, ³that he gave Uter no just cause of war, or for breaking the league or invading his country, and wasting the same in such barbarous manner. But especially he being a free prince, neither could nor would betray his trust, or give up his
dominions and subjects to an unjust invader.² At which answer King Uter was so enraged, that he gave order for a straight siege of the castle, and forthwith made many violent assaults by storm in several places thereof; but he was as stoutly repulsed and driven back by the besieged. In this manner, with various success, for many days the siege and was continued, which
occasioned the many camps, fortifications, and intrenchments in those parts, called Castle Kitty, Biny, Castle Kynven, etc.
Whereupon Ring Uter being more desirous to obtain the Lady Igerna, than to shed blood, or take the fort of Dameliock, thought of nothing more than how to get possession of her. In order to which, he was so vain as to inquire whether the said lady was within the said castle, and whether she was in so good state of health as when he saw her at Cuersegant. To which question answer was made, that same reported nothing to the contrary as to her health, but for her person, that was not in Dameliock Castle, but kept in a much more secure place, within the impregnable fort of Dundagell. Then, inquiring further of a deserter what manner of place that was, he was told it was a castle munified by art and nature and of so narrow entrance over the sea and rocks by a drawbridge, that three armed men at once would keep out his whole army, rnaugre all there skill and strength. At the relation of which circumstances, King Uter seemed mightily dismayed, so that his countenance changed through anguish and perplexity of mind, which put him into such great anxiety as was Ahab for want of Nabothıs vineyard, David for Bathsheba, and Nero for Sabina Popeia, other menıs wives.
King Uter Pendragon, in this extremity, as not being able to reduce Dameliock Castle by storm, nor, if he could, would that redress his grief, by procuring the slight of Igerna, resolves upon this expedient, to dislodge part of his soldiers and troops from Dameliock, and march with them to
Dundagall, in order to try the fortune of war in both places. But as soon as he came in sight thereof, the same appeared more formidable, tremendous, and invincible, that what report or fame had spoken of. For in those days the wit and force of man, could not oblige that castle to a surrender unless through bribery or treachery of itıs defendants, for that the same could neither be scaled, battered or starved.
"The consideration of which put Pendragon into greater sadness and perplexity of mind, through the charge and fatigues of war, the stain of his honour in these unsuccessful attempts, but chiefly for that he could not obtain the fair Igerna; whereupon he grew sickly and took his bed and
physicians despairing of his life. When it happened, as historians tell us, that one Ursan, Of Richardock, a place near Dameliock or Dundagell, one of King Uterıs cabinet council advised him to send into Wales for the old British prophet Merlin, and try whether he could do that by his magic art which neither the art or courage of men of war could effect ; whereupon Pendragon sent for the prophet, who, when arrived to his camp, was made acquainted with the premises, and immediately bid the King to be of good comfort, for that he doubted not but in short time he would introduce him to the company of Igerna, without further bloodshed or hostility.
The King gladly heard this discourse and promised to follow any expedient that he should prescribe In order to obtain the lady ; and further assured him of a good reward, in case his project succeeded. Whereupon Merlin ordered the King, together with Ursun, of Richardock, to attend him one night in the twilight, with whom in secret manner be went towards the drawbridge gate of Dundagell Castle, where making a noise, the sentinel or porter demanded in the dark who they were? Merlin being transformed into the shape of Bricot, a servant that waited on Gothlouis, and layin his chamber, made answer that his master, Duke Gothlouis, cscaped from the siege of Dameliock, was at the gate for entrance. The porter apprehending he heard the very voice of Bricot, and seeing at some distance two persons talking together, the one King Uter metamorphosed into the shape of Duke Gothlouis, and another, viz., Ursan, of Richardock, transformed into the shape of Jordon, of Dundagell, he let down the drawbridge, and so gave them opportunity to enter into the insular castle aforesaid, where he had further confirmation of the identity or reality of their persons, by their speech and apparel, as far as the night would permit him.
Whereupon he forthwith joyfully conducted King Uter to Igernaıs chamber, who not discovering the fraud, gladly received him as her lord ; when that very night was begotten that valiant, noble and religious Prince Arthur, who, for his brave, facinourous, and heroic achievements, made his name glorious in his days, as it is still the paragon of ours.
Now on that. same night his soldiers were so careful and valiant in the siege of Dameliock Castle,that they stormed it with their scaling ladders, but were as stoutly driven back by the besieged; whereupon, Duke Gothlouis resolved no longer to be thus cooped up or confined in wall s or trenches, but either to conquer or die, rind the next morning sallied forth with a
party of soldiers, and assaulted his enemies in their quarters by surprise: but alas? the success was not answerable to his courage and resolution, for King Uterıs men were all in readiness to receive his charge and onset, so that in the brunt of the first encounter Gothlouis was killed on the spot, his party slain or routed, and all that were taken in arms put to the sword. The castle of Dameliock yielded on condition of life, though some say otherwise, the plunder to the Kingıs
Early on the same morning, before King Uter and the duchess were out of their chamber, or had on their wearing apparel to the great astonishment of the porter, centinel, and the garrison, a messenger arrived at Dundagell Castle, giving a full account of the tragical fact. But when he was admitted to the Duchessıs bedchamber and saw as he verily believed, Duke Gothlouis in her company, he could hardly credit his own report: especially the Duchess Igerna being of the same opinion. But then alas! so unavoidable a thing is fortune or fate, the prophet Merlin began to un-charm and dissolve his former spells and incantations, so that King Uter appeared no longer as Gothlouis, Duke of Cornwall, but sole monarch of Britain; his companion not Jordan of
Dundagell but Ursan of Richardock; and the third not Bricot, but Merlin the prophet, to the great admiration of all spectators.
Whereupon the king took leave of the Duchess, and posted to his army then in possession of DameIiock Castle and ordered search to be made for the dead body of the duke; where at length it was found in common soldiersı apparel, extreme bloody, mangled and cut. Whereupon he called an embalmer, who forthwith embalmed the body with salt and aromatic spices, to prevent putrefaction till a military internment could be prepared for him, which a month after was splendidly provided, the King und Duchess being chief mourners; when a few days after King Uter publicaly married Igerna,t he duchess, by whom, as aforesaid, he had a son Arthur and a daughter named Amye.
Lastly, it is observed by our annalists upon the forgoing history that after this bloody war, and unjust fact of King Uterıs, he never had any tolerable success against his Saxon enemies; but in many battles was worsted by them, and finally, some of them understanding of a good spring, or well of water, whereof he usually drank, they secretly envenoned the same so that afterwards the King, drinking his customary draught thereof, soon after, with intolerable pain died in the fifteenth year of his reign, and the flower of his age, anno Dom. 515, fulfilling the saying in the Sacred
Writings, ³the same measure that you mete shall be measured to you again, brimful and running over.
King Arthurıs usual place of Residence, where he kept his court (as Hennis the Briton tells us, who flourished anno Dom. 600) was East or West Camellot, near Cadbury, in Wiltshire.
There was extant in the Welsh tongue, in bardsıs verses, 1170, temp. Hen, II., a song which said that the body of King Arthur was buried at the Isle of Avallan, near Glastonbury, between two pyramids. Whereupon King Henry order a search to be made after his corpse, as that most classical and authentic author Giraldus Cumbrensis, who was an eye witness thereof saith, who relates, that after the pioneers had sunk about seven foot deep, they lighted,upon a stone in form of a cross, to the back part thereof was fastened a rude leaden cross, something broad, with those letters inscribed Hic jacet sepultis jnclitus Rex Arturius in Insula, Avalonia,²
Two feet beneath this cross they then also found two coffins made of hollow oak, wherein were the bones and skeletons of King Arthur and of Genevour, his wife, the hair of the said lady being then whole and of fresh colour, as Fabian saith, but ns soon as touched it fell to powder. This history, for substance is gathered out of Galfridus and other chronologers; John Trevisaıg book of the Acts of King Arthur, temp. Henry 1V,; John Lidgate, a monk of S. Edmondsbury, who wrote a tract of King Arthurıs Round Table, anno Dom. 1470; William Caxton, the author of that Chronicle called Fructus Temporum, who also wrote the history of King Arthur, 1484; Nicholas Upton, Canon of the Cathedral Church of Wells, 1440; and others,
King Arthurıs three admirals at sea, as appears from the book of Thriades in British, were Garint ab Erbyn, a nobleman of Cornwall, for then Cornwall and Devon were one oounty slain at Lhongporth, now London, by the Saxons, anno Dom. 540; March ab Meircyon, and Gwenwynwyn ab Nau.
There is yet extant in the British tongue an elegy upon the death of this Gerint, which among others contains those words. Ray Ratharmaur mab Erbin.
Yn Longborth yllas Gerint,
Gur deur o godir Dyfneint,
Wyntwys yn Lladhgyt as ledeint
Yn Llongborth llas yıArthur,
Guyr deur Kymmuvint o dur
Amheravdyr Ilywyadyr llauur.
In Longporth was slain Gerint,
A man beloved of Devon,
Overcome in fight or vanquished
In Longporth where he was slain for Arthur,
A man beloved, that commanded over the water,
Admiral or General of a fleet great.
King Arthur also, by reason of the great schism in the church between the Britain and Catholic Clergy, instituted the order of Knights of the Holy Trinity, and built the Chapel of Trinity at Restormell.
Pierce Gaveston being made Earl of Cornwall by King Edward II. and afterwards banished for his wicked practices, and put to death by licence of that king, took out of the jewel house a table of gold and tressells of the same, that once belonged to King Arthur, and delivered them to Amery of Friscoband, a merchant, to be carried into Gascoigne, where they were sold at a great price to his own private advantage, as our chronologers tell us.
But in memory of King Arthur, Roger Mortimer, soon after, at such time as he and Queen Eleanor his concubine, wife of Edward II., governed this kingdom, in imitation of him, kept a round table, to which many noble knights belonged and frequented, to his infinite cost and expense, which by him were called Knights of the Round Table.
The Isle of Man being conquered by William Monticute, Earl of Salisbury, temp. Edward 111, he caused him to be styled King of Man, and gave him leave to institute at Windsor, in a chamber two hundred feet round, in imitation of King Arthur, a society of Knights of the Round Table.
TONKIN - I shall offer a conjecture touching the name of this place, which I will not say is right but only probable. Tin is the same as Din, Dinas; and Dixeth deceit ; so that Tindixeth turned for the easier pronounciation to Tintagel, Dindagel, or Daundagel, signifies the castle of Deceit, which name might be aptly given to it from the famous deceit practised here by Uter
Pendragon, by the help of Merlinıs enchantment.
The manor of Tintagel was very anciently demesne land of the crown, and famous for its castle, and Browne Willis says the castle, manor, and borough of Tintagel, were settled by Edward the third on his son Prince Edward, whom he created Duke of Cornwall, and continued it to his heirs, the succeeding Dukes of Cornwall, before which this kingıs brother, John of Eltham, Earl of Cornwell, held it. This castle boasts much greater antiquity, and is said to have been the seat of the Dukes of Cornwall, and pretends to have been the birthplace of the famous King Arthur, which happened above five hundred years before the Norman Conquest, that prince having been born in the Year 500, fifteen years after which he is said to have succeeded his father in
the kingdom, and to have lost his life in the thirty-sixth year of his reign in a place near Camelford.
The borough of Bossiney, known in this county by the name of Tintagel, is a very small village, and contains scarcely twenty houses, and those not better than Cottages. This place, with Trevenna, another little hamlet equally mean, lie in the parish of Tintagel, from which church they are at no great distance, and with it make up the one borough. It was privileged by Richard Earl of Cornwall and King of the Romans who granted ³ Quad Burgus noster de Tyntajvil sit liber Burgus.² It was governed by a mayor. The first return of members to serve in Parliament is in the reign of Edward the Sixth.
In an indenture during the reign of Queen Mary, it is styled Trevenna alias Bosinney, in others Trevenna simply, in others Bossiney alone.
"Lakes Parochial History of Cornwall" by Joseph Polsue - in 4 Vols was
published between 1868 and 1872. It is available on CD from Archive CD Books
Kindest Regards ...... Corinne on the way to Tintagel.
'Have not your worships,' replied Don Quixote, 'read the annals and histories of England, in which are recorded the famous deeds of King Arthur, whom we in our popular Castilian invariably call King Artus, with regard to whom it is an ancient tradition, and commonly received all over that kingdom of Great Britain, that this king did not die, but was changed by magic art into a raven, and that in process of time he is to return to reign and recover his kingdom and sceptre; for which reason it cannot be proved that from that time to this any Englishman ever killed a raven?
This is a link to a good Arthur Web site that Corinne sent in.
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