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Details of the Ancestry of Vortigern Vorteneu
by David Nash Ford


VORTIGERN'S
ANCESTRY
Conflicting Sources

Vortigern was known as Gwrtheyrn Gwrtheneu (the Thin) by the Welsh. Vortigern is apparently merely a title meaning "Over-King". There are some indications that, like his supposed forebears, his real name was Gwidol (Vitalis) or Gwidolin (Vitalinus), the names of his father and grandfather respectively. His exact origins are obscure.

Vortigern's power-base was always the area that now spans the Welsh border: his eldest son founded the kingdom of Gwent and another set up a thriving domain in Powys, just to the north. Vortigern himself appears to have held sway in nearby Gloucester in his early years. His great grandfather, as attested by Nennius and the Jesus College MS.20, is said to have been Gloyw Gwallthir (Long-Hair), one of the city's supposed founders, though more likely a decurion of that place. His name may well be synonymous with the place itself: "Gloucester Long-Wall," though some think the appendage to his name indicates he was a long-haired Pict. The ancestry is extended back through several generations in the "Life of St. Gurthiern," his cousin:

Constantine the Great Roman Emperor
Constantius Father of the Above
Maximian Emperor Magnus Maximus
Outham the Old Eudaf Hen (the Old)
Beli Beli Mawr (the Great)
Judgual Idwal, unknown
Genethan Vortigern, duplicate generation
Jacob Iago, unknown
Dos Unknown
Abros Probably Ambrosius Aurelianus
Gloui Eponym of Gloucester

This pedigree has some impossible ancestors, such as Vortigern's enemy, Ambrosius, and his father-in-law, Maximus. There are, however, also more typical ancestral claims, like the descent from the Celtic God, Belenos alias Beli Mawr, and late Roman Emperors: all very much jumbled. The "Life of St. Beuno" gives the alternative line:

Anna Anu, wife of Beli Mawr
Belim Beli Mawr (the Great)
Amalech Afallach, duplicate generations
Auallach
Eudoleu Probably corruptions of Eudaf Hen (the Old) & possibly duplications of the next two generations
Eudos
Elud
Eudegern Euddigan, an ancestor of Coel Hen, duplicate generations
Eudegan
Deheuwynt Deheuwaint, grandfather of Coel Hen
Rittegyrn Vortigern's grandson, Rhuddfedel Frych (the Freckled), confused with Rhifedel ap Rhydeyrn ap Euddigan, an ancestor of Coel Hen
Gorthegyrnn Vortigern, duplicate generations
Gortheyrnn

Here, Gwidol, Gwidolin and Gloyw are not mentioned. Celtic ancestral gods, Afallach, Belenos & Anu appear in the traditional earliest generations. Later generations appear to be confused with the traditional line of Coel Hen, though it seems unlikely that these two men were closely related. It is, however, noteworthy that the descent from Eudaf Hen persists and this may represent a genuine tradition. Even though this man himself belongs to the realms of semi-mythology, he did supposedly rule in the Gwent/Gloucester region. Eudaf's male heir was his nephew, Conan Meriadoc. Perhaps Gloyw was a younger brother. Alternatively, Eudegern/Eudegan and Deheuwynt may be a confused memory of Eudaf's supposed son and grandson, Eudaf II and Dionad, mentioned by Boece. Vortigern's family traditional continues thus:

Vortigern Vorteneu (the Thin), High-King of Britain, Abt 370 - Abt 459
m. Severa ferch Macsen, Abt 370 -

  1. Daughter, Abt 400 -
  2. Vortimer Fendigaid (the Blessed), King of Gwerthefyriwg, Abt 402 - Abt 460
  1. Cadeyrn, King of Powys, Abt 404 - 447
  2. Pasgen, King of Buellt & Gwerthrynion, Abt 406 -
  3. Brydw, Abt 408 -
  4. St. Edeyrn, Abt 410 -
  5. Scothnoe, Abt 412 - , m. LŠegaire mac Neill, Abt 410 - Abt 462

m. Rowena of Kent, Abt 405 -
ms. Daughter ferch Gwrtheyrn, Abt 400 -

  1. Faustus, Bishop of Riez, Abt 416 - 490
    1.  


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