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Geoffrey of Monmouth

Born early in the twelfth century, Geoffrey of Monmouth was a clergyman who played a central role in the development and spread of the Arthurian legend from Britain to medieval Europe. But his works, both his History of the Kings of Britain and his Life of Merlin, go far beyond King Arthur and his court: these works presented, for the first time, a coherent and proud account of Britain’s early history, from its founding to its eclipse at the hands of the Anglo-Saxons.

The present volume provides an accessible account of the life and times of this extremely influential medieval writer and historian. K. Jankulak delves into Geoffrey’s writings, offering detailed synopses and explaining their significance to British historical record. Jankulak also addresses recent arguments over whether Geoffrey relied on information from earlier sources or simply invented stories and concludes that Geoffrey did invent or adapt much of what he wrote, but was substantially faithful to his main source, Welsh tradition.

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Table of Contents


1. Geoffrey of Monmouth and his Work
2. Historia Regum Britanniae and its Sources
3. Geoffrey’s Models: Thinking about History in Medieval Wales and Ireland
4. Geoffrey’s Welsh Inheritance: the Red Dragon and the Promise of Sovereignty
5. Britain and Rome
6. Magnus Maximus and the Colonization of Brittany
7. The Arthurian Section of Historia Regum Britanniae
8. Merlin, Prophetiae Merlini and Vita Merlini
9. Welsh Tradition and Geoffrey’s Legacy

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