chapter  4
30 Pages

Arthur in Geoffrey of Monmouth

ByRichard M. Loomis

In the early twelfth century Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote a Latin history of Britain that made Arthur known to Europe. The work was completed about 1138; a year later the English historian Henry of Huntingdon was shown a copy at the monastery of Le Bec in Normandy. What is astonishing about Geoffrey’s Historia Regum Britannie (History of the Kings of Britain) is that it narrates matters of which historians such as Henry had failed to find any record. These include the history of Britain before the Roman conquest and the full career of Arthur. In his dedication, Geoffrey reports that when he was once puzzling over these gaps in the historical record, Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford, presented him with just the source that he was looking for: an ancient book in the British language that told in orderly fashion the deeds of all the kings of Britain. In his plain and modest style, Geoffrey says, he has translated this ancient book into Latin.