Much has been written and theories put forward about the legendary King Arthur.
Did he, in fact, ever live?
Put forward below is my own interpretation of the stories and historical documents that I have heard and read, not of his battles but of the man himself.
other pages of my ‘family history’ has been put forward the idea that ‘King
Arthur’ was an Anglo Saxon miss-understanding of the Welsh pronunciation of the
name Cunedda. As the letter ‘u’ in Welsh is pronounced ‘i’ as in sing, an ‘e’
more like an ‘a’ as in farm, the ‘dd’ in Welsh sounding like ‘th’ and an ‘a’
sounding more like ‘ah’ it is my belief that Cunedda sounds ‘kinathah’ to a non
Welsh ear. With the Welsh language having 28 letters (7 vowels – A, E, I, O, U,
W and Y) with no J, K, Q, V, X or Z, but with Ch, Dd, Ff, Ng, Ll, Ph, Rh and Th
added, and, worse yet, the pronunciation of some being completely different to
English (w = oo), a person brought up to speak English cannot convert. At least
all letters of Welsh are pronounced, unlike English with its changing sounds,
such as a silent p (as in bath), etc.
After finishing my ‘history’ and publishing it on the web, I went back to reading up ‘King Arthur’ and have added two pages on whether he was from the Scottish borders or was indeed a Welshman. I still had doubts, however and decided to investigate the pronunciation of Cunedda with Arthur further.
The original Cunedda was ruled out as it is known that he, as a young man, fought and made himself king of Gododin (meaning south of the Firth) from about 385 onward.
Cunedda had between 8 and 12 sons and ruled over most of present day Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and north into Scotland including Ayreshire until the year 400 when he made two of his sons rulers in his place and with the others and a grandson moved into north Wales to drive the Irish out. One son, Ceretic, he left to rule along the northern wall to defend from the sea wolves of the Forth. Another, Coel, (named after an old war god) he left to rule the Goidels of Duvnovia, now Ayeshire. Coel later took over all the northern lands in England and later became known as Coel Hen or ‘Old King Cole’. The Romans started their withdrawal from all over Britain about 410 onward because of the threat to their empire nearer home.
After pushing out the Irish, Cunedda settled his sons in north Wales as rulers and named many of the areas they ruled after them. He was a devout Catholic and two or three of his sons became ecclesiastics, organising the church in the kingdoms. Six of the sons were known to be Ceredig (Ceredigion), Edern (Edeirnion), Meirionydd (Merioneth), Dunoding, Rhufoniog and Dogfeiling (along the north Wales coast). These are all coastal kingships, which lends strength to his driving the Irish out. An engraved stone to Cunorix has been found at Wroxeter near Shrewsbury, which was a Roman fort and at which he may have been buried.
Cunedda was also called Cunorix and Gwledig (the fire burner), which again falls in with the battle system of Arthur, when he sometimes burned crops, etc. to weaken his opponents. Cunorix was the Latin name by which he was known and Gwledig the Irish.
Cunedda was originally discounted because of the date, living in the early 400s, whereas Arthur lived much later into the 500s. This might be true of Cunedda I, but Coel Hen had a son Cunedda II and a grandson Cunedda III. Not only that but Yvor ap Cunedda had a son Arthwys.
Coel Hens eldest son was Garmonion and was Coels successor, Cunedda II was the second son of Coel so was free to roam and make his own fortune, indeed he was made (or seized) the office of Dux Britanniarum, an office often credited to Arthur.
Looking closer at this Cunedda (Arthur) we find that his headquarters were close to Carlisle, not that far from Arthurs early battles, and that he had a retinue of 900 horse with a banner of a gold and red dragon on a green background (a silver dragon was the emblem of the Count of Britain in the South). Indeed, the dragon had a red head and gold body, so could this be the origination of ‘Pen Dragon’, pen being the early Welsh/English word for head (head of the dragon). This could even be the reason that Arthur was referred to as ‘son of pen-dragon’.
History mentions Cunedda I frequently because of his march south from Gododin to expel the Irish from north Wales, but very little, except a childrens poem, is said about Coel Hen (old King Cole) and his descendants, especially the two further Cuneddas. Therefore it is thought relevant to list a family tree from Cunedda I, bearing in mind that not all his sons and none of his daughters are known. This is listed in generations. The Welsh ap and ab are used to denote ‘son of’ – ap follows a consonant and ab follows a vowel. A daughter is denoted by verch.
The Family Tree of Cunedda I ( The Great ).
1 Cunedda I (also known as Cunorix and Gwledig) c375-430
2 Ceretic ap Cunedda I c421
Coel ap Cunedda I (later known as Coel Hen (Coel the Old) or Old King Cole) c425
Ceredig ap Cunedda I (King of Ceredigion – now Cardigan Bay) c427
Edern ap Cunedda I (King of Edierion) c429
Meirionydd ap Cunedda I (King of Merioneth) c431
Dunoding ap Cunedda I c434
Rhufoniog ap Cunedda I c435
Dogfeiling ap Cunedda I (King of an area from about Rhyl to Chester) c437
3 Garmonion ap Coel c471
Cunedda Menrudd ap Coel (Cunedda II) c474
4 Dunwal Moelmut ap Garmonion c499
Cunedda ap Cunedda Menrudd (Cunedda III) c500
Gwrwst Ledlwm ap Cunedda Menrudd c 502
5 Cyngar (Yugr) ap Dunwal Moelmut c530
Yvor ap Cunedda c530
6 Morgan Bule ap Cyngar (led some sons of Coel in battle) c559
Arthwys ab Yvor c561
The above gives six generations from Cunedda I, who was known to live within a year or two of the dates given. The other dates are very approximate but in these times, although women started breeding from fourteen upwards, the men of high status usually proved themselves on the battlefield from about the age of seventeen until mid thirties, fathering many illegitimate children, before settling down and producing heirs. A generation then was about 38 years compared with today’s 22.
Lifespan in these days was only about fifty to fifty-five years, so that if Coel lived into his mid or late sixties he would have earned the addition of ‘hen’, making him Coel ‘the old’.
Because the above family tree extends to Henry VIII and beyond, although not relevant to this argument, it is given below as a matter of interest. Generation numbers still apply but only known dates are shown. The + sign is used to denote husband or wife.
Family Tree Extension.
7 Meuric ap Morgan Bule
Cynvelyn ab Arthwys
8 Adras (Isris) ap Meuric
Cynwyd Cynwydion ap Cynvelyn
9 Morgan Mwynvawr ab Adras
Cadrod Calchvynydd ap Cynwyd Cynwydion
10 Ithel ap Morgan Mwynvawr
Ysbwch ap Cadrod Calchvynydd
11 Rhys ab Ithel
Mwyntwrch ab Ysbwch (Carcludals)
12 Brochwel ap Rhys
Yabwys ap Mwyntwrch
13 Uriat ap Brochwel
Mynan ab Yabwys
14 Arthwal ab Uriat
Yvor ap Mynan
15 Rhys ab Arthwal
Elffin ab Yvor
16 Howel ap Rhys
Cynan ab Elffin
17 Owen ap Howel
Marchudd ap Cynan
18 Gwrgan ab Owen
Carwedd ap Marchudd
19 Iestyn ap Gwrgan
Iasseth ap Carwedd
20 Rrhydderch ab Iestyn
Inathan ab Iasseth
21 Gruffydd ap Rhydderch 1033-
Edryd ab Inathan
22 Caradoc ap Gruffydd 1055-
Idnerth ab Edryd
23 Owen ap Caradoc
Gwgon ab Idnerth
24 Iorworth Caerlleon ab Owen
Iorworth ap Gwgon
25 Howel ab Iorworth Caerlleon
Owen ab Iorworth Caerlleon
Cynric ab Iorworth
+ Yngharad verch Hwva
26 Morgan ap Howel
Ednyved ap Cynric (Minister to Llywelyn Vawr)
+ Gwenllian verch Rhys
27 Gweryl verch Morgan
+ Gruffydd ab Owain
Grono Vychan ab Ednyved 1268-
28 Meredyd ap Gruffydd
Ednyfed Vychan ap Grono Vychan 1282-
Tudur ap Grono Vychan
29 Morgan ap Meredyd (Led the 1294 rising in Morgannoe)
Gruffydd ab Ednyed Vychan
Goronwy ap Tudur 1331-
30 Tudur ap Goronwy
+ Margaret verch Thomas
Rhys ap Gruffydd
31 Maredudd ap Tudur (House of Tudor)
Gruffydd Llwyd (Sir) ap Rhys 1322-
32 Owain ap Maredudd 1461-
+ Catherine (House of Valois)
Evan ap Gruffydd Llwyd
33 Edmund ab Owain (Tudor)
+ Margaret verch Henry VI (House of Lancaster)
34 Henry VII ab Edmund (Field of Bosworth)
+ Elizabeth verch Edward IV
35 Henry VIII ap Henry VII 1491-1547
+ Catherine of Aragon 1485-1536 (divorced 1532)
+ Anne Boleyn c1507-1536 (married 1533, beheaded 1536)
+ Jane Seymour c1509-1537 (died 12 days after giving birth)
+ Anne of Cleeves 1515-1557 (married 1540, divorced 1540)
+ Catherine Howard 1520-1542 (married 1540, beheaded 1542)
+ Catherine Parr 1512-1548 (married 1543)
Margaret verch Henry VII
+ James IV ap James III
36 Mary I verch Henry VIII (Catherine of Aragon) 1516-1558
+ Philip II of Spain (Bloody Mary, Queen from 1553)
Elizabeth I verch Henry VIII (Anne Boleyn) 1533-1603 (Queen from 1558)
Edward VI ap Henry VIII (Jane Seymour) 1537-1553
(King from 1547)
According to the historical facts available above coupled to reasonable thinking
and deduction I am of the opinion that the legend of King Arthur is a gross
exaggeration of a simple truth. It is thought that Arthur did live in the late
5th and early 6th centuries, albeit not under the specific name of Arthur, but
rather under the Celtic pronunciation of the name Cunedda.
It is strongly argued that Arthur was indeed of royal blood, albeit not a full king until later in life. It is further thought that the ancestral line before and after him in his existence as Cunedda, speaks for itself.
This document will certainly not quell the arguments that rage about the origins of King Arthur but is believed to be a lot nearer the truth than most of the theories put forward.