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The History of the Kings of Britain

af Geoffrey of Monmouth

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2,290205,205 (3.63)52
Completed in 1136, The History of the Kings of Britain traces the story of the realm from its supposed foundation by Brutus to the coming of the Saxons some two thousand years later. Vividly portraying legendary and semi-legendary figures such as Lear, Cymbeline, Merlin the magician and the most famous of all British heroes, King Arthur, it is as much myth as it is history and its veracity was questioned by other medieval writers. But Geoffrey of Monmouth's powerful evocation of illustrious men and deeds captured the imagination of subsequent generations, and his influence can be traced through the works of Malory, Shakespeare, Dryden and Tennyson.… (mere)
  1. 20
    Ringenes herre af J. R. R. Tolkien (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: Tolkien was very familar with The History of the Kings of Britain, with its invented history resonant with verisimilitude but, at root, true fantasy, and echoed its approach particularly in The Lord of the Rings.
  2. 00
    Chronicles af Raphael Holinshed (BINDINGSTHATLAST)
  3. 00
    Arthurian Chronicles af Robert Wace (Michael.Rimmer)
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Pseudo historical (and very entertaining) account of British history, written around 1136. It chronicles the lives of the kings of the Britons over two thousand years, starting with the Trojans founding the British nation and continuing until the Anglo-Saxons took over control of much of Britain around the 7th century. Considered historic until the 16th century, it remains a valuable piece of medieval literature, as it helped to popularize the legend of King Arthur. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Feb 19, 2021 |
Geoffrey of Monmouth’s 1136 manuscript, De gestis Britonum (On the Deeds of the Britons), later called Historia regnum Britanniae or The History of the Kings of Britain, is notable for being among the earliest written accounts of the Matter of Britain, or the King Arthur legend. It depicts Britain as a land populated by giants until Brutus of Troy defeats them all following the Trojan War. He founds the city of New Troy, later London, eventually leading to Leir of Britain (King Lear), Uther Pendragon, Arthur, Guinevere, and Merlin, who Geoffrey borrowed from Welsh sources.

Particularly interesting are books two, four, and seven through twelve. Book Two is an account of Leir, whom Geoffrey describes as the son of Bladud, one of the descendants Locrinus, the son of Brutus ruler of Loegria (England). Book four describes Julius Caesar’s effort to conquer Britain as well as a discussion of English kings who pledged fealty to Rome. Much of Geoffrey’s account in this matter is demonstrably inaccurate, though that does not interfere with his story. Book seven, the Prophetiæ Merlini, breaks from the narrative structure of the account to introduce the character of Merlin (based on and blended with Ambrosius Aurelianus from Gildas’ De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniæ as well as Myrddin Wyllt from Welsh legend). Geoffrey introduces Merlin to the Arthurian legend, attributing numerous prophesies to him and introducing the spelling variant of Merlin in place of Myrddin. Books eight through ten tell the story of Uther Pendragon, the birth of Arthur, Arthur’s conquest of England and Northern Europe, and the treachery of his nephew Mordred. Books eleven and twelve discuss Arthur’s battle with Mordred at Camlann and the fate of the Britons following Arthur’s death.

Despite Geoffrey’s claim to have translated the work from an earlier source, most scholars conclude that he fabricated that and that his work combines elements of St. Gildas’s 6th-century De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniæ (On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain), the Venerable Bede’s 8th-century Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (Ecclesiastical History of the English People), the Historia Brittonum from 828, the 10th-century Annales Cambriae from Dyfed, Wales, the works of the 6th-century Brythonic poet Taliesin, the 11th-century Culhwch and Olwen, and various other Welsh sources.

This critical edition from the Arthurian Studies series features Latin text edited by Michael D. Reeve and a translation by Neil Wright, both of the University of Cambridge. For those interested in linguistics, this volume presents the English translation opposite the Latin original. The work itself is a must-read for English scholars and fans of the Arthurian legend. For more about how Geoffrey of Monmouth’s work inspired later Arthurian storytellers to build upon and refine the Matter of Britain, see: Tidhar, Lavie. “The Telling Is The Tale: Who Owns the Legend of King Arthur?” Tor.com, 17 August 2020, https://www.tor.com/2020/08/17/the-telling-is-the-tale-who-owns-the-legend-of-ki.... ( )
1 stem DarthDeverell | Sep 11, 2020 |
It is hard to place a numerical score on older literature, as our ideas of what is "good" is often constructed from out contemporaries. Geoffrey of Monmouth is a prime example of this time issue.

The History of the Kings of Britain is meant to serve not as a tale of epic proportions, but as a record, translated from British (ancient Welsh) into Latin. Still, the History toes a fine line between history and mythology, as most of the events (insert Merlin and King Arthur) have little root in fact.

That said, pre-orthodox historiography (for some early "normal history," read some Leopold van Ranke or Francis Parkman) tends to flirt with the mythic. You can see this from Herodotus into the early modern period.

So thus the problem emerges: how should I judge this? For me, as an academic, I feel inclined to reserve this text as "historical" or "academic," an example of historiography-in-action, yet judging from the other reviews on this site, people seem inclined to read it for pleasure.

My decision is thus: rather than reward this text as "timeless," I choose to give it a rating in scoring of how I perceive the average reader would rate this (my score is not ironically near the average rating). That said, the above points should be noted prior to reading. Still worthwhile, but there are better written books (for the purpose of pleasure reading). ( )
  MarchingBandMan | Sep 12, 2017 |
An example of the murky boundary between history and romance in Plantagenet times. This is good entertainment, a racy history that would please the Plantagenet court. Modern research has disproved almost everything in it, but it remains an artefact of the period. it definitely provided the basis of other author's work. there's another book that has crossed my shelves a good deal like this in tone, and sadly, veracity, Dudo of Saint Quentin's "History of the Normans." If you like this one give Dudo a try. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Aug 18, 2017 |
A very lolarious history, what I liked best were the snarky footnotes that commented on Geoffrey's bad math skills and incompetence with the geography of England. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
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» Tilføj andre forfattere (17 mulige)

Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Geoffrey of Monmouthprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Thorpe, LewisOversætterhovedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Dunn, Charles W.Oversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Evans, SebastianOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Jones, Gwynmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Pin, ItaloRedaktørmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Reeve, Michael D.Redaktørmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Roberts, PeterOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Wright, NeilOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet

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Completed in 1136, The History of the Kings of Britain traces the story of the realm from its supposed foundation by Brutus to the coming of the Saxons some two thousand years later. Vividly portraying legendary and semi-legendary figures such as Lear, Cymbeline, Merlin the magician and the most famous of all British heroes, King Arthur, it is as much myth as it is history and its veracity was questioned by other medieval writers. But Geoffrey of Monmouth's powerful evocation of illustrious men and deeds captured the imagination of subsequent generations, and his influence can be traced through the works of Malory, Shakespeare, Dryden and Tennyson.

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