Talk:List of legendary kings of Britain

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Older post[edit]

While this list does have some value, I don't think articles on these individual people should link here, because it could be misleading. For example, a person reading the article on Cadwallon ap Cadfan of Gwynedd might see the table at the bottom that shows his successor as Cadwallader and simply assume that was his real successor, when in fact it was the usurper Cadfael ap Cynfeddw of Gwynedd. Everyking 22:05, 19 May 2004 (UTC)

I agree. When I saw the template at the bottom of Vortigern stating that he was one of the "Kings of the Britons", my response wasn't particularly kind. This sort of thing must be done carefully -- not only because some authorities consider most of the names here entirely fictious, but it's silly to list them as if they folowed one another in an orderly fashion. (Had this decent of individuals existed, the members of this group have little more relationship between them than A List of People Who Once Stood on Hollywood and Vine.
What's next? A hierarchy of all the people in the world who could possibly be heir to the throne of England? Or a better analogy: heirs to the Kingdom of Jerusalem, a title that has been extinct for centuries (although the King of Spain could make a plasuble claim to it)? -- llywrch 02:16, 20 May 2004 (UTC)

Hey guys. Apparently I am getting some feedback. For every entry I have entered, I tried to make it clear that the basis for the king is not historically factual and may have been created by Geoffrey of Monmouth. But I do take your point Everyking that the lists on the bottom of the pages need clarification. I want to keep the tabs but any advice on how to make them clearer would be great. There is still much historic significance to many of these kings in their current order. Thanks for the feedback and good luck with your projects. Oh, and I have seen a site listing all the possible heirs to the throne of England. Quite interesting, actually. KuatofKDY 05:21, 28 May 2004 (PDT)


I don't think it's helpful to describe Nennius and Gildas as "pseudo-historical authors"; indeed, it looks biased. They may not be perfect as historical sources (particularly Gildas), but it would be equal in vice to dismiss them in such scoffing terms as to accept their statements unreservedly. Any competent historian has to deal with imperfect documentary evidence. I, as an Ancient Historian, of course use the works of Herodotus, Plutarch, and Dionysius Siculus, all of which have significant limitations. Accusations of "pseudo-history" are usually far better placed upon the modern interpreters of texts than on the texts themselves. I don't think anyone could reasonably categorise Nennius along such pseudo-historians as Omada Epsilon, Rudbeck, Nazi propaganda movies, and the recent fad for Holocaust "Revisionism". I therefore am revising the text to avoid making such claims that are little more than kneejerk reactions against the purveyors of a Brithonic Heilgeschichte. Phlogistomania 19:43, Apr 23, 2005 (UTC)

Diodorus Siculus? At any rate, "pseudo-history" is clearly the wrong term here. john k 20:03, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I agree with both of you and apologize for the term. I just did not want certain people to rely on my page for factual data when nearly all historical knowledge of Late Antiquity Great Britain contradicts these three historians. But since I have also used Herodotus, Plutarch and others, I cede your point. KuatofKDY 12:49, 9 Sep 2005 (PDT)

Various Talk[edit]

Didn't Mordred take the throne from King Arthur? DuctapeDaredevil 20:02, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

He predeceased Arthur in the Battle of Camlann User:Dimadick

This topic would be better discussed in the King Arthur forum. Most legends state that Arthur disappeared to the isle of Avalon, and from there a general and cousin took the throne until Arthur's return (which never came). KuatofKDY 12:49, 9 Sep 2005 (PDT)

Fiction/non-fiction cleanup template[edit]

Suggested improvements:

--Francis Schonken 09:56, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

I concur with Francis' "List of legendary King of Britain", as long as "legendary" is used instead of "mythical". Str1977 (smile back) 14:19, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

  • I concur also and will take the title suggested by Francis Schonken. I have had a problem with my title since I made it, especially in succession lists.
    Whaleyland 15:56, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Now that the title has been changed, and the introductory paragraphs clearly say that it's mostly baloney, why is "fiction" still an issue? —Tamfang 18:13, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

"mostly" baloney, as you say, so not everything. Separation of the "baloney" and the historical stuff is what the template is up for. For example, the list now contains:
Constantine was a real person, and can be considered a ruler of Britain (as a Roman emperor), but the dates he was the "real" ruler of Britain, differ from the fictional dates given by Geoffrey of M. Then, if you have history books with the correct data, separate the two: indicate which are the "fictional" dates, derived from the Historia, and the likely dates supported by historians. Etc, work through the whole list in this fashion (if you've got the appropriate reliable sources). --Francis Schonken 18:25, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
I've added some sectioning to try and distinguish between fact and fiction. I hope this is what everyone was after. More details and references should be given on the pages for each individual. Walgamanus 22:00, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Well, might be a step in the good direction, but as it stands it seems totally arbitrary, still needs references on why entire groups are at once historical, and others legendary (some of which are quite clearly mythical). Also, it gives the wrong impression that the Monmouth-derived dates (which is also something needing reference, as Monmouth appears to have used three dates in total, at least two of them "contradicting"), apparently don't apply to the historical monarchs... so no, this might be a step in the right direction, but this is not "separation of fact from fiction" for this page (without references on the list page it might be the application of just another layer of fiction). --Francis Schonken 22:52, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Not Celts[edit]

Geoffrey of Monmouth, and all the other sources, state quite clearly that these kings were Trojan. The Trojans were not Celts by any stretch of the imagination. TharkunColl 10:40, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, but the Trojan myth is an invention of the Romanized Britons. The latter were, of course, Celts. If you disagree, go change the classifications of the following languages to Anatolian and see what happens: Welsh language, Cornish language, Breton language, Old Welsh language, Cumbric language. - Calgacus (ΚΑΛΓΑΚΟΣ) 11:03, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
The kings - especially the pre-Roman ones - are themselves mythical. Being non-existent, they were not Celts. The only thing they were, in terms of their own myth, is Trojan. TharkunColl 11:44, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
If being mythical makes them non celtic, it also makes them non-trojan. They were the product of Roman-influenced Brythonic myth, and had no more to do with Troy than Scota had to do with Egypt. Besides, what is the point of all this? This has nothing to do with your removal of "celtic" from the statement "This is a list of the legendary kings of Britain which refers to kings of Celtic Great Britain", which you originally justified by saying "They were not "Celtic" - that term is a recent invention". Where is that justification now, eh? ;) - Calgacus (ΚΑΛΓΑΚΟΣ) 11:49, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
In Classical times the term Celtic was only applied to the inhabitants of part of Gaul. The inhabitants of Britain were British, not Celtic. The modern linguistic classification is just that - modern. TharkunColl 11:52, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
Actually, that's not true. The Latin term Galli and Greek term Κελτοι were applied to a range of peoples across Europe. Anyways, being a modern term is irrelevant. Besides making overstrenuous demands on the historical and linguistic skills of early modern and medieval English speakers to expect them to be using the term, modern terms are frequently employed for pre-modern things. Being modern does not make a term wrong. In the case of the word "Byzantine", the term is entirely modern and fictitious as applied to the medieval rulers of the Roman Empire, but that doesn't stop it being used. - Calgacus (ΚΑΛΓΑΚΟΣ) 12:01, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
It's reckoned that the Celtic language arrived during the Iron Age, about 500 BC or maybe later. So the kings from 1100 to 500 BC cannot have been Celtic, even in the modern sense of the word. TharkunColl 12:04, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
I don't fully understand Tharkun's argument here. These are legendary kings, some based on historical personages (probably), others not so much. The people who made up the legends were Celts, so I don't see what's wrong with referring to them as rulers of Celtic Great Britain. I might suggest, though, as a compromise that we say something like pre-Anglo-Saxon Great Britain. john k 19:49, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

That would not be correct - the rulers listed by Geoffrey overlapped with the Anglo-Saxons by well over 200 years. Indeed, the Saxons are mentioned frequently and play an integral part in the story. "Celtic Great Britain" sounds very odd - "Celtic Britain" is a much more common way of putting it. But not all the rulers listed by Geoffrey are Celts. Many are Romans for example (and at least one may have been a Saxon). Why do we need an ethnic tag at all? TharkunColl 00:11, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

They are pre-Anglo-Saxon in that they ruled whatever part of Britain that they ruled over before the Saxons conquered that area. The fact that there were Saxons in other parts of Britain concurrently with the later monarchs doesn't change that basic fact. john k 01:04, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Still seems a bit of an odd way of putting it. In any case, the Saxons never reached certain areas, most notably Wales which was never conquered by the Saxons. TharkunColl 08:43, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
I'd favour not using "celtic" (or any replacement) in the first sentence all. The focus of this article is the list of Kings, mainly taken from Geoffrey. Only when digging up the actual historical reality behind that list we see that most of these kings were Celtic, while some were Roman Emperors and others merely legendary figures. If we include "British" (or "Briton", "Britain") in some way that would do the trick as well, as "British" as that time is the branch of Celts living on that island today called Great Britain. "pre-Anglo Saxon" I think awkward firstly as it implies a teleological view, as if these Britons were merely a prelude to the advance of Anglo-Saxon England, secondly as it isn't completely accurate: the last Celtic kings included in our list are contemporary with the first Anglo-Saxon rulers (and Tharkun's last post has a point too). Str1977 (smile back) 09:10, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

& other points about the opening sentence[edit]

In fact the whole opening sentence is problematic. I copy it here:

This is a list of the legendary kings of Britain which refers to kings of pre-Anglo-Saxon Great Britain as recorded by much later authors, including Nennius, Gildas, and predominantly Geoffrey of Monmouth.

For example the word "recorded" in that sentence is not so appropriate, "invented" would be more correct for many of the so-called kings appearing on these medieval lists (compare also: wikipedia:words to avoid/Wikipedia:weasel words).

Most of the list does not refer to actual "kings" of (whatever) Great Britain. Except when one would say something in the vein of "kings of Celtic pre-Anglo-Saxon a largely mythical version of Great Britain.

So I'd propose something along the following lines for the opening paragraph:

List of legendary kings of Great Britain refers to mythological and real monarchs that according to several medieval chroniclers ruled Britain roughly from the 2nd Century BCE to the 7th Century CE. Most noted among these medieval chroniclers is Geoffrey of Monmouth (History of the kings of Britain, 1136), comparable lists being authored by among others Nennius and Gildas.

Would this work? --Francis Schonken 08:16, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Seems okay - except that it starts in the 12th century BC and not the 2nd. TharkunColl 08:43, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
No. CE and BCE are stupid. BC and AD should be used ... also should be added, if "Celtic Britain" is omitted, "according to Welsh/British tradition". - Calgacus (ΚΑΛΓΑΚΟΣ) 08:47, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Just saw also something being added to the page, going back to Milton. I meant 2nd Millenium BCE (typo). But 12th Century maybe works better. BC/AD vs. BCE/CE discussions are stupid (I don't engage in them). Re. "according to Welsh/British tradition": I'd keep to WP:V type of sources. Here's my new proposal:

List of legendary kings of Great Britain refers to mythological and real monarchs that according to several medieval chroniclers ruled Britain roughly from the 12th century BC to the 7th century AD. Most noted among these medieval chroniclers is Geoffrey of Monmouth (History of the kings of Britain, 1136), comparable lists being authored by among others Nennius and Gildas. Other extensions of such lists, giving further coverage of pre-historic times, were also proposed after the Middle Ages, most notably by John Milton (History of Britain, 1670).

--Francis Schonken 08:56, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Re CE/AD please look up earlier versions and stick to what they used (which is the WP ruling on this).
Francis' proposal seems all right in general, if "mythological" is replaced by "legendary".
We could also write something like:

The List of legendary kings of Great Britain refers to legendary and semi-legendary accounts of the rulers of Britain roughly from the 12th Century BC to the 7th Century AD, recounted by several medieval chroniclers'. Most noted among these medieval chroniclers is Geoffrey of Monmouth (History of the kings of Britain, 1136), comparable lists being authored by among others Nennius (+ 809) and Gildas (+ c. 570).

Str1977 (smile back) 09:10, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Re. CE/AD, already had that figured out (BC/AD currently being used on the page) and had my proposal adapted accordingly.

"mythological and real" is undoubtedly correct. Further, I'd keep the {{fiction}} template up on the page, until the separation between the "mythological" and the "real" ones is indicated as clear as possible according to historical references. The vaguishness of the "legendary" without distinction between "fact" and "fiction" is what made me post that template on this page in the first place (read the template text).

Question: has anyone more info on the statute of Milton's account? What were his sources? I mean, did he exclusively refer to an oral tradition? Or was his account also based on prior writings?

Included the Nennius/Gildas dates in my new proposal (but applied MoS on using "died" instead of "+"):

List of legendary kings of Great Britain refers to mythological and real monarchs that according to several medieval chroniclers ruled Britain roughly from the 12th century BC to the 7th century AD. Most noted among these medieval chroniclers is Geoffrey of Monmouth (History of the kings of Britain, 1136), comparable lists being authored by among others Nennius (died 809) and Gildas (died c. 570). Other extensions of such lists, giving further coverage of pre-historic times, were also proposed after the Middle Ages, most notably by John Milton (History of Britain, 1670).

--Francis Schonken 09:41, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Sorry, Francis, I must uphold my objection to "mythological" - and explain it. Colloquially, this usage might be all right, but in an encycopledia we should strive for exactitude: "mythological" refers to "mythology", which is defined at WP as "retelling of myths – stories that a particular culture believes to be true and that use supernatural events or characters to explain the nature of the universe and humanity", e.g. stories like Prometheus and the fire, Pandora's box, or the Sumerian "slaying of Tiamat". Though the origin of these kings is taken from Greek mythology, the content of Geoffrey is not dipping into mythology, not even including divine parentage for the heroes (as compared with Aeneas or Hercules). Geoffrey bascially is a legendary account (with some roots in facts) of British history. Str1977 (smile back) 09:52, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

They are mythological in some ways, in that they are explanatory. The list on the page is Latin, but in the original Welsh they are often refer to proper names, with the tale being explanatory. E.g. Brutus is a personification of "Britain"; his mythological purpose is to 1) explain the origin of the word "Briton" (i.e. Welshman) and 2) to make the Britons (i.e. the Welsh) share ancestry with the Romans. So, Mr Briton (Brutus) has three sons, Mr England or Locrinus (from Welsh Loegr, England), Mr Welshman or Camber and Mr. Scot or Albanactus (from either the Welsh or Gaelic word for an inhabitant of Scotland); thus the division of Britain in the High Middle Ages is explained. - Calgacus (ΚΑΛΓΑΚΟΣ) 10:50, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
If Troy's mythological heroes (with their divine ancestry) are described as ancestors to Brutus, this is at least "dipping" in mythology. If we're going to use Geoffrey of M. as "exclusive" source for this page, it should be renamed again. In fact that page exists already (Historia Regum Britanniae), and the pages could be merged, or otherwise this page should be renamed to something in the vein of List of kings of Britain according to Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britannia. Geoffrey of Monmouth has no *exclusivity* for defining a list of legendary kings of Britain in encyclopedic context. Or: if all material not by Geoffrey is discarded from the list, the current wikipedia page name is misleading. --Francis Schonken 10:44, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
The problem is that mythology and legend overlap. In Geoffrey, although supernatural elements are definitely kept in the background, they certainly exist. Further, many of the kings (Lear is an example) are based on early British gods - and stories of gods are certainly classed as mythological. Other parts of Geoffrey's story are legendary, such as the doings of Hengist and Vortigern (not to mention Arthur). Other parts are actually very close to real history. And still others are out and out fiction - i.e. they were probably made up by Geoffrey. So what we have is a long saga that contains historical, legendary, mythological, and fictional elements, all mixed together in a bewildering fashion. TharkunColl 11:30, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

This new intro has problems. Monmouth is not a "chronicler", he is a narrative pseudo-historian; secondly, Nennius is not the author of the Historia Brittonum - which probably had many authors, and exists in many extremely different forms in different MSs. Thirdly, the tradition used in Welsh/British folklore, and that should be mentioned, as otherwise the list has no cultural context. - Calgacus (ΚΑΛΓΑΚΟΣ) 09:46, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Tx, I think you have some good ideas for a good separation of the "facts" from the "fiction". Maybe it would anyhow be better to mention Historia Britonum (and maybe also Annales Cambriae, etc, if that is relevant) instead of referring exclusively to some alleged-but-disputed authors of such writings. Re. "Welsh/British folklore" I'd still insist that reliable sources be mentioned in the article as to what this folklore contributed. I mean, such source could as well be a modern work by a historian giving an account of relevant folklore, or (if that would be the case) exclusively the *claim* by some of the medieval/.../Enlightenment authors that they based their accounts on this folklore. If there are studies that compare folkloristic traditions with written sources (or making comparisons between the written accounts), that could be excellent reliable sources for reference too of course.
Please don't withold us your proposal for a viable version of the intro section, if you have one. --Francis Schonken 10:44, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Immanuel Velikovsky and Graham Hancock are pseudo-historians. Whatever Geoffrey may be, he is not that. john k 20:49, 28 April 2006 (UTC)


Still nobody with more info about the Milton contribution/elaboration? --Francis Schonken 10:44, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

I hadn't read the Milton history before, and I haven't actually got far, but from the introduction, Milton seems rather sceptical of the Geoffrey of Monmouthesque material:

I have therefore determined to bestow the telling over even of these reputed tales; be it for nothing else but in favour of our English poets and rhetoricians, who by their art will know how to use them judiciously.
The principal author is well known to be Geoffrey of Monmouth; what he was, and whence his authority, who in his age, or before him, have delivered the same matter, and such like general discourses, will better stand in a treatise by themselves.

That's not exactly unstinting praise and total faith in the sources. Having passed an hour or two today reading a translation of Buchanan's Rerum Scoticarum Historia, I'd rate Milton quite highly. He's not shy of polemic, no surprise there, but he is certainly not a peddlar of vivid and misleading detail like good old Geoffrey, and not a credulous recounter of fairy tales. If we have to traduce some long dead author by associating them with Geoffrey, I'd prefer it was someone more deserving. Like Holinshed say, who appears to repeat the same pre-Brutus kings the century before. If I may say so, one point I particularly have problems with is the appearance of "Legendary kings of Britain" succession boxes in "real people" articles like Cadwallon ap Cadfan and Magnus Maximus. Angus McLellan (Talk) 21:19, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Legendary or Mythical?[edit]

I've noticed in various articles linked from this page, the succession box sometimes reads "Mythical British Kings" (e.g. Rud Hud Hudibras) and some read "Legendary British Kings" (e.g. Leir of Britain). I know mythical usually has connotations of the supernatural whereas legendary is usually still plausible if unlikely. Unless some of the kings are specifically one or the other it should probably be standardized.

Also, I've noticed that while this page mostly does list males, there are several queens listed so I wonder if "List of legendary monarchs of Britain" might be more appropriate?--Lairor 08:44, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Samothes, also known as Dis: fourth son of Japheth, son of Noah[edit]

Under which mythology there is a Samothes/Dis, fourth son of Japheth? I looked into the biblical Japheth and the greek mythological Iapetus, but they don't have a Samothes or Dis son. Albmont 00:01, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

If you read the introduction of the article you'll see that these kings are derived from a document falsely attributed to Berossus, which was used by Holinshed, Bale and Milton. --Nicknack009 08:27, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
A very belated response, this would make them non-legendary, wouldn't it? dougweller (talk) 23:22, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

Aeneas not the founder of Rome.[edit]

His grandsons, Romulus and Remus are the alleged founders of Rome. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:27, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

Article has Annius' and Holinshed's lists backwards[edit]

I have been reading both of these primary sources (Annius & Holingshed) and our article seems to have the listings of kings from each source mis-attributed to one another. First Annius (1498) had the expanded list, that was said to be the kings reigning among the Celts in Gallia. Holinshed (1577) only listed the first kings from Annius' list up to Bardus, and then he alleges that the Celts ceased to rule in Britain (though their line continued in Gaul), and were expelled by Albion, then Hercules in turn expelled Albion, and then no further inhabitants until Brutus. I will probably fix this soon. Til Eulenspiegel (talk) 03:45, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

this is quoted from the article- "The following list of legendary kings of Britain derives predominantly from Geoffrey of Monmouth's circa 1136 work Historia Regum Britanniae ("the History of the Kings of Britain"). Geoffrey constructed a largely fictional history for the Britons "

are you sure?- the list is mostly prodominately Briton kings (usually Welsh) are there any other sources available to prove this statement in the article is correct and they are fictional? or are there any other lists of Kings that aren't britons available?. or can we accept Celtic rule before English?. It can't be possible that history is simply fictional. England and south Scotland was populated by the ancient Britons -before the Saxones. Is it difficult to accept that there was Briton rule?. If this is incorrect, are there any other sources to prove otherwise? or list of other Kings at all (not Briton)- it seems a bit silly. maybe something like this would be a bit better- (edit from article- rough idea)

""The following list of legendary kings of Britain derives predominantly from Geoffrey of Monmouth's circa 1136 work Historia Regum Britanniae ("the History of the Kings of Britain"). During this time Britain was populated by the ancient Britons and a smaller population of Picts. It has been belived that Geoffrey constructed a largely fictional history for the Britons.<ref-would be excellent here>, ".

— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:00, 21 September 2011 (UTC) 

What makes forgeries or made up royalty legendary?[edit]

Tea Tephi isn't legendary. Iolo's forgeries aren't legendary.

Scota may be mythical but she certainly wasn't claimed to be a king. 05:59, 28 November 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dougweller (talkcontribs)

Kings derived from Geoffrey of Monmouth[edit]

I'm confused by the listing of real Roman emperors as legendary kings. Geoffrey may have mentioned them, but that doesn't make them legendary. Dougweller (talk) 19:09, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

They're legendary as kings of Britain, and the story Geoffrey records about them are legendary. --Nicknack009 (talk) 23:12, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
That's what I assumed, but the reader might be confused - any suggestion as to how to tweak this a bit to clarify? Dougweller (talk) 10:10, 9 February 2014 (UTC)