Arthurian Sources & Texts|
The mentions of Arthur in historically reliable sources are few. Below are presented excerpts from or full texts of documents recounting the events of the fifth century, in which Arthur is believed to have flourished, or of the exploits of Arthur, himself.
Letter to Riothamus, c.470
Fifth century letter from Sidonius Apollinaris, Bishop of Clermont-Ferrand, to Riothamus, thought by some to be the original of King Arthur.
De Excidio Britanniae, c.540
Sixth century diatribe written by the monk, Gildas, giving some insight into darkage Britain and the situation that gave rise to the legend of Arthur.
The Gothic History, 469 AD
Excerpt from Jordanes' sixth century "Gothic History" telling of a vain attempt on the part of Riothamus, "king of the Brittones," and 12,000 men to help the Roman Emperor, Anthemius, in his struggle with the Visigoths
The Battle of Llongborth, c.480
An English translation of a sixth century Welsh poem, called "Elegy for Geraint," which mentions Arthur.
Historia Brittonum, c.830
Nennius' ninth century entertaining, but questionable, collection of the facts, myths and fables covering the early history of Britain. Special emphasis on Arthur.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 9th C.
Fascinating (and massive) 52-part account of history covering the years 1 through 1154 AD from the point of view of the Anglo-Saxons. This is the COMPLETE TEXT.
Annales Cambriae, c. 970
The tenth century Annals of Wales containing two interesting references to King Arthur, which have been taken by some to be proof of his historicity.
Legend of St. Goeznovius, c. 1019
An eleventh century Breton work in which Arthur is called "King of the Britons." But, was it really written as early as its date implies?
The Exhumation of Arthur's Body, c.1193
Gerald of Wales' two eye-witness accounts, separated by twenty years in time, describing the digging up of King Arthur's grave at Glastonbury Abbey.
Ralph of Coggeshall, c.1220
An excerpt from the "Chronicon Anglicanum" (English Chronicle) with an entry for the year 1191 on the opening of Arthur's grave.
Margam Abbey Chronicle, c.1300
An excerpt from the chronicle of a Welsh monastery with a unique account of the discovery of Arthur's body.
The Dream of Rhonabwy, c.1200
An excerpt from a tale of the Welsh Mabinogion, which refers to Arthur as "Emperor," and mentions the Battle of Camlann.
Early Welsh Verse, 7th C. to 14th C.
The mentions of Arthur in Welsh poems and verse are many. Sometimes he is a warrior, sometimes a leader, sometimes a ruffian, but he is almost never a king. Most of these verses are twelfth to fourteenth century copies, but are believed to have been originally composed much earlier.
John Leland's "Itinerary," 1530-40
The Tudor scholar's account of his visit to South Cadbury, Somerset, and its association with the legend of King Arthur.
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