Monday, February 27, 2017

Scholars no. 3, 4 and 5 weigh in on my identification of Iusay son of Ceredig with the Gewissae/Gewissei

From Professor Doctor P.C.H. Schrijver, Department of Languages, Literature and Communication, Celtic, Institute for Cultural Inquiry, University of Utrecht -

"Linguistically, the first thing that comes to mind regarding the initial alternation Usai /Iusay is the pair OW iud, MW udd 'lord' < *iüdd. So OW word-initial j- disappears in front of ü (= MW u). As to your assumption that Iusay may be connected to Gewissae if there is a rule that states that medial -i- is lost, I can tell you that there is indeed such a rule: *wi > ü in non-final syllables (as in *wikanti: > MW ugeint, see my Studies in British Celtic Historical Phonology 159-60). This generates the ü that we need in order to later get rid of the initial j. The only remaining problem is connecting OE Ge- /je/ with OW j-. Barring that, I would say, yes, what you suggest is possible. That still leaves the origin and etymology of the name in the dark (the reconstruction leads to something like *iwissai- or *g/jewissai-), but first things first."

From Professor Doctor Stefan Zimmer, Department of Celtic, University of Bonn -

"Spontaneaously, your idea of interpreting "Iusay" as a W form of OE Gewisse seems quite attractive. One must, of course, check meticulously the palaeographic details. As I am, alas, not a palaeograher myself, I cannot say more. I see no "LINGUISTIC" problems."

From Professor Patrick Sims-Williams, Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies, The University of Wales, Aberystwyth -


"I suppose Ius- is the older form and became Us- like Iustic in Culhwch which becomes Usic. Forms of Gewissae are noted by Williams/Bromwich Armes Prydein pp. xv-xvi. One Welsh form is Iwys, which rhymes as I-wys, and as the diphthong wy can become w, you could get I-ws- which could be written Ius- in Old Welsh and then add  -ae from Latin which almost gets you to Iusay."

Sunday, February 26, 2017

FUTURE BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT - "The Bear King: Arthur and the Irish in Wales and Southern England"

The Meigle "Caledonian Bear"

It may take me awhile to get to it (and to finish it!), but I plan a new book on "King" Arthur.  This one will bring together my various posts on a Hiberno-British Arthur whom I've identified with Ceredig son of Cunedda/Cerdic of Wessex.  

My old book, THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY, will remain available here and at Amazon (paper and ebook formats).  It might seem wise to remove this one from sale or from a free blog site, but as it still contains what I feel to be much valuable information, I will suffer its continued existence - even though the new book offers an entirely new and different historical Arthur candidate.   My decision regarding THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY is also partly a matter of intellectual honesty. Over the years I've never been afraid to change my mind when evidence or compelling argument forced me to do so. I do not plan to change that approach now.  If some readers consider me "wishy-washy" as a result, I can live with that.  There is nothing worse than stubbornly sticking with an invalid theory for no other reason than the desire to protect one's ego or scholarly reputation.  

Once again, the production of this next book will be anything but quick.  But if fortune favors me, I will eventually get it done. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Brief update on the hill-fort at Llandewi Aberarth

I've finally heard back from Lynne Moore, Enquiries and Library Officer with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales regarding the hill-fort at Llandewi Aberarth, which I've tentatively suggested might have been the main fortress of Ceredig son of Cunedda:

"As suggested by Dyfed Archaeological Trust, the hilltop enclosure (a possible Iron Age hillfort) was noted by ourselves (RCAHMW) during a flight to take aerial photographs of the area. Please note that the RAF APs, and the earlier RCAHMW APs, exist only in hard-copy form."




Saturday, February 18, 2017

More and more positive feedback coming concerning my identification of Iusay son of Ceredig with the Gewissae/Gewissei

In my blog article at http://mistshadows.blogspot.com/2017/02/gewis-gewissaegewissei-and-iusay-son-of.html, I've started adding supportive comments by top Celtic linguists to my case that Iusay son of Ceredig = the Gewissae/Gewissei.

Most of the scholars providing positive feedback are not privy to my various arguments seeking to prove that Cunedda and his sons were of Irish (or Hiberno-British) origin.  They have been queried only on the linguistic aspect of the problem involving an etymology for Iusay.

I will continue to add more material from the scholars as I receive it.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

GEWIS, THE GEWISSAE/GEWISSEI AND IUSAY SON OF CEREDIG SON OF CUNEDDA

Cerdic of Wessex in the film 'King Arthur'

Many years ago I floated the idea that Iusay, son of Ceredig son of Cunedda, may be a form of the family/tribal designation Gewissae or Gewissei. While a proposed relationship between these names was not well-received, I would like to briefly revisit the possibility here.

The forms Gewissei and Gewissae are attested (see Richard Coates "On some controversy surrounding Gewissae / Gewissei, Cerdic and Ceawlin").

The later Welsh forms Iwys or Iwis for the Gewissae would appear to derive from the Anglo-Saxon form of this word.  Simon Rodway has confirmed for me that "Iwys is the Welsh form of Gewissae (Armes Prydein, ed. Ifor Williams, English version by Rachel Bromwich (Cardiff, 1972), pp. 49-50)."

Alfred is king of the "giuoys", i.e. Gewissae, in Welsh Annal entry AD 900.  Asser says in his LIFE OF ALFRED: "Cerdic, who was the son of Elesa, who was the son of Geuuis, from whom the Britons name all that nation Geguuis [Gewissae]."

Iusay (variant Usai) has not been successfully etymologized by the Celtic linguists.  Recently, I sent queries to several, all of whom were forced to admit that they could not come up with an acceptable derivation.  I myself have tried everything I could think of, including Classical and Biblical names. This attempt ended in failure.  Although there are some forms of Biblical names as recorded in Irish texts (like Usai), the initial /I-/ of Iusay prohibits us from identifying such with the Welsh name.  A Ius- might suggest a Roman name like Justus, but then we cannot account for the ending of Iusay/Usai.

Of course, it is possible Iusay and Usai are corrupt or that they represent some Welsh mangling of an Irish name. Neither I nor the language experts have been able to find such an Irish analog.  This is not to say it does not exist, merely that we have been unable to find it.

All of which brings me back to this:

I have shown in previous research that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle's Cerdic is Ceredig son of Cunedda, that the same source's Cynric is Cunorix son of Cunedda (as Maquicoline) and that Ceawlin, supposed son of Cynric is, in fact, Cunedda (Maquicoline).  Sisam and Dumville have aptly proven that Elesa (= the metathesis Esla) is a borrowing from the Bernician pedigree.  Omitting Elesa, then, permits us to see Gewis, eponym of the Gewissei/Gewissae, as the immediate ancestor of Cerdic/Ceredig.  As the genealogy in the ASC in the main runs backwards, it may be that Gewis/Gewissae/Gewissei is properly the son of Ceredig.

If so, we might be able to account for Iusay after all.  It is well known that the /G-/ of Gewis or Gewissei/Gewissae came to be pronounced as a /Y-/.  This is what accounts for the Welsh forms beginning in /I-/.  /W/ and /U/ regularly substitute for each other, especially when going from Welsh to Latin (cf. gwyn and guin).  If the terminal diphthong in Iusay/Usai represents the /-ei/-ae/ of Gewissae/Gewissei, then we need only allow for a lost medial small vowel /-i-/.  Iusay would then be a Welsh form of not Gewis, but of the group designation Gewissae/Gewissei.

I feel this is a rather elegant solution to the problem posed by the name Iusay.

NEW FEEDBACK FROM TOP CELTIC SCHOLARS ON IUSAY = GEWISSAE/GEWISSEI (I WILL CONTINUE TO ADD TO THIS SECTION AS I RECEIVE MORE COMMUNICATIONS FROM SENT QUERIES):


From Professor Oliver Padel Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, University of Cambridge - 

"In fact I think your suggestion is not only  ingenious but also quite convincing. The only difficult bit, I suppose, is how a tribal name came to be thought of as an individual personal name.

The I- for OE Ge- is fine, of course; as for its loss (Iu- becoming U-),  one might think of the wider Welsh loss of I- in words beginning Iu-, such that original iudd (`lord') became udd (I'm using Modern Welsh spellings for clarity), and personal names containing that word as an element did likewise. (You will find details in Jackson's Language & History in Early Britain -- sorry I haven't got it to hand)."

From Dr Ben Guy, Research Associate, Latin Lives of the Welsh Saints Project, Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, University of Cambridge -

"Your email was forwarded to me by Professor Russell, because I specialise in
early Welsh genealogies (I completed a PhD on the subject last year). I'm
happy to help if I'm able.

I think you're right that no etymology has been proposed for 'Iusay/Usai'
before. What you propose is certainly an intriguing suggestion, but I think
that you may encounter a couple of difficulties with it. Firstly, as you
point out below, there appears to be one too few minims in Iusay for it to
equate to Gewisse/Iwys. Welsh forms of Gewisse, of which the best known is
in Armes Prydein Vawr, always appear as Iwis or Iwys (compare the examples
listed in GPC online). There are also earlier forms that point to the same
thing: 'Giuoys' in Annales Cambriae A, s.a. 899, and Asser's 'Geguuis'. But
as you suggest, this is not an insurmountable problem - though the loss
would be more readily explained on a palaeographical rather than
phonological level. The greater problem is the '-ay/-ai' ending. Comparable
endings appear in the English forms because they survive in Latinate
contexts - chiefly Bede's nominative plural form 'Geuissae' and a genitive
plural 'Gewisorum' (implying a Latin nom. pl. 'Gewisi') in some Anglo-Saxon
charters (as mentioned in the Keynes-Lapidge Asser book, p. 229). I don't
think that that kind of ending would be expected in an OE context, and it
certainly wouldn't in Welsh - GPC takes Iwys as a plural or collective noun
whose ending has been influenced by the plural noun ending -wys (< Lat.
-enses) found in words like 'Gwennwys'. So in other words, for your proposed
derivation to work, Iusay would have to be a version of a Latinate form such
as Bede's 'Geuissae'. The question of how that got into the Ceredigion
genealogy in the form 'Iusay' would then be all the more complex, and
wouldn't be solely a matter of linguistics! That's not to say that you're
necessarily incorrect, of course, but it would require a more elaborate, and
therefore more speculative, theory of derivation.

There is one further thing you might consider though, if you wanted to
pursue this further: the genealogy of St Cadog. This survives in two
versions, one appended to the Life of St Cadog, the other in the Jesus
College 20 genealogies. The former calls Cadog's great-grandfather 'Solor',
the latter 'Filur'. Both of these names were probably copied ultimately from
'Silur' or the like. Given where St Cadog's cult centre is (Llancarfan),
this can't be anything other than a representation of the pre-Roman tribe
'Silures', who were resident in that area. But the form 'Silur' is not the
result of regular linguistic development from the 1st century AD; it is a
form taken at a later stage from a Latin text, with the '-res' ending lopped
off. This might help you envisage the kind of process that might have led to
a Latinate form such as Bede's 'Geuissae' being included in the Ceredigion
pedigree, but one has to make rather more leaps to get there!"

From Professor Doctor P.C.H. Schrijver, Department of Languages, Literature and Communication - Celtic, Institute for Cultural Inquiry, University of Utrecht -

"Linguistically, the first thing that comes to mind regarding the initial alternation Usai /Iusay is the pair OW iud, MW udd 'lord' < *iüdd. So OW word-initial j- disappears in front of ü (= MW u). As to your assumption that Iusay may be connected to Gewissae if there is a rule that states that medial -i- is lost, I can tell you that there is indeed such a rule: *wi > ü in non-final syllables (as in *wikanti: > MW ugeint, see my Studies in British Celtic Historical Phonology 159-60). This generates the ü that we need in order to later get rid of the initial j. The only remaining problem is connecting OE Ge- /je/ with OW j-. Barring that, I would say, yes, what you suggest is possible. That still leaves the origin and etymology of the name in the dark (the reconstruction leads to something like *iwissai- or *g/jewissai-), but first things first."

From Professor Doctor Stefan Zimmer, Department of Celtic, University of Bonn -

"Spontaneaously, your idea of interpreting "Iusay" as a W form of OE Gewisse seems quite attractive. One must, of course, check meticulously the palaeographic details. As I am, alas, not a palaeograher myself, I cannot say more. I see no "LINGUISTIC" problems."

From Professor Patrick Sims-Williams, Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies, The University of Wales, Aberystwyth -

"I suppose Ius- is the older form and became Us- like Iustic in Culhwch which becomes Usic. Forms of Gewissae are noted by Williams/Bromwich Armes Prydein pp. xv-xvi. One Welsh form is Iwys, which rhymes as I-wys, and as the diphthong wy can become w, you could get I-ws- which could be written Ius- in Old Welsh and then add  -ae from Latin which almost gets you to Iusay."






Friday, February 10, 2017

ARTHUR SON OF ELAFIUS/ELESA?

In any earlier blog post I suggested that the story of Elafius's crippled son may have derived from a fanciful treatment of the name Gewis.  My idea was, simply put, that a Classically trained monkish writer had "interpreted" Gewis as Greek guois, 'lame.'

The problem with this idea, I just realized, is that in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle genealogy for the Gewessei, Gewis is the father of Elesa (= Elafius).  While there is evidence that the ASC reversed the pedigree for Cunedda and his sons, here is no reason to believe that Elesa was part of this reversal, nor that St. Constantitus of Lyons, who wrote the Life of St. Germanus, made the same mistake.

Here is the text and modern English translation of the relevant portion of the saint's vita again:


Chapter Twenty-Six
Meanwhile evil spirits, flying over the whole island, made known through the involuntary prophecies of their victims the coming of Germanus, with the result that one of the leading men in the country, Elafius by name, came hurrying to meet the holy men without having had any news of them through any regular messenger. He brought with him his son who had been crippled in early youth by a grievous malady. His sinews had withered and the tendons of the knee had contracted and his withered leg made it impossible for him to stand on his feet.
The whole province came along with Elafius. The bishops arrived and the crowds came upon them unexpectedly. At once blessings and the words of God were showered upon them. Germanus could see that the people as a whole had persevered in the faith in which he had left them and the bishops realized that the fallings-away had been the work only of a few. These were identified and formally condemned.

Chapter Twenty-Seven
At this point Elafius approached to make obeisance to the bishops and presented to them his son, whose youth and helplessness made his need clear without words. Everyone felt acutely for him, the bishops most of all, and in their pity they had recourse to the mercy of God. The blessed Germanus at once made the boy sit down, then felt the bent knee and ran his healing hand over all the diseased parts. Health speedily followed the life-giving touch. What was withered became supple, the sinews resumed their proper work, and, before the eyes of all, the son got back a sound body and the father got back a son.

When I read the description carefully of Elafius's son's lameness, I happened to think of the following words (from Lewis and Short's Latin dictionary):

arto (not arcto ), āvi, ātum, 1, v. a. 1. artus,
I.to draw or press close together, to compress, contract (not found in Cic.).
I. A.. Lit.: omnia conciliatu artari possunt, * Lucr. 1, 576: “libros,” Mart. 1, 3, 3; Col. 12, 44, 2: “vitis contineri debet vimine, non artari,” Plin. 17, 23, 35, § 209: “angustias eas artantibusinsulis parvis, quae etc.,” id. 3, 6, 13, § 83.—
B. Trop., to contract, straiten, limit, curtail: “fortuna humana fingit artatque ut lubet, i. e. in angustias redigit,” Plaut. Capt. 2, 2, 54 Lind.; Liv. 45, 56: “tempus,” to limit, circumscribe, Dig. 42, 1, 2; 38, 9, 1: “se,” to limit one's self, to retrench, ib. 1, 11, 2 al. —
II. In gen., to finish, conclude, Petr. 85, 4.—Hence, artātus , a, um, P. a., contracted into a small compass; hence, narrow, close; and of time, short: “pontus,” Luc. 5, 234: “tempus,” Vell. 1, 16.

artus , ūs, m. id., mostly plur. (artua, n., Plaut. Men. 5, 2, 102; quoted in Non. p. 191, 12.—Hence, dat. acc. to Vel. Long. p. 2229 P. and Ter. Scaur. p. 2260 P. artibus; yet the ancient grammarians give their decision in favor of artubus, which form is also supported by the best MSS.; cf. arcus.—The singular is found only in Luc. 6, 754; Val. Fl. 4, 310, and Prisc. p. 1219 P.).
I. A.. Lit., a joint: “molles commissurae et artus (digitorum),” Cic. N. D. 2, 60, 150: “suffraginum artus,” Plin. 11, 45, 101, § 248: “elapsi in pravum artus,” Tac. H. 4, 81: “dolorartuum,” gout, Cic. Brut. 60, 217.—Sometimes connected with membra, Plaut. Men. 5, 2, 102: “copia materiaï Cogitur interdum flecti per membra, per artus,” in every joint and limb,Lucr. 2, 282; 3, 703 al.; Suet. Calig. 28; cf. “Baumg.-Crus., Clavis ad Suet.: cernere lacerosartus, truncata membra,” Plin. Pan. 52, 5.—
B. Trop., the muscular strength in the joints; hence, in gen., strength, power: Ἐπιχαρμεῖον illud teneto; “nervos atque artus esse sapientiae, non temere credere,” Q. Cic. Petit. Cons. 10.—More freq.,
II. The limbs in gen. (very freq., esp. in the poets; in Lucr. about sixty times): cum tremulis anus attulit artubus lumen, Enn. ap. Cic. Div. 1, 20, 40 (Ann. v. 36 Vahl.); so Lucr. 3, 7; cf. id. 3, 488; 6, 1189: “artubus omnibus contremiscam,” Cic. de Or. 1, 26, 121: dum nati (sc. Absyrti) dissupatos artus captaret parens, vet. poet. ap. Cic. N. D. 3, 26, 67: “copia concita per artusOmnīs,” Lucr. 2, 267: “moribundi artus,” id. 3, 129 al.: “rogumque parari Vidit et arsurossupremis ignibus artus, etc.,” Ov. M. 2, 620 al.: “salsusque per artus Sudor iit,” Verg. A. 2, 173; 1, 173 al.: “veste strictā et singulos artus exprimente,” and showing each limb, Tac. G. 17: “artusin frusta concident,” Vulg. Lev. 1, 6; 8, 20; “ib. Job, 16, 8.—Of plants: stat per se vitis sine ullopedamento, artus suos in se colligens,” its tendrils, Plin. 14, 1, 3, § 13, where Jahn reads arcus.

artus (not arctus ), a, um, adj. v. arma, prop.
I.fitted; hence,
I. Lit., close, strait, narrow, confined, short, brief: “exierunt regionibus artis,” Lucr. 6, 120: “claustra,” id. 1, 70; so id. 3, 808: “nec tamen haec ita sunt arta et astricta, ut ea laxarenequeamus,” Cic. Or. 65, 220: “artioribus apud populum Romanum laqueis tenebitur,” Cic. Verr. 2, 1, 5: “nullum vinculum ad astringendam fidem jure jurando majores artius essevoluerunt,” id. Off. 3, 31, 111: “compages,” Verg. A. 1, 293: “nexus,” Ov. M. 6, 242: “artostipata theatro,” pressed together in a contracted theatre, Hor. Ep. 2, 1, 60: “toga,” a narrow toga without folds, id. ib. 1, 18, 30 (cf. exigua toga, id. ib. 1, 19, 13): “nimis arta convivia,” i. e. with too many guests, who are therefore compelled to sit close together, id. ib. 1, 5, 29 et saep.—Hence, subst.: artum , i, n., a narrow place or passage: “ventus cum confercit, franguntur in artomontes nimborum,” Lucr. 6, 158 Lachm.: “multiplicatis in arto ordinibus,” Liv. 2, 50; so id. 34, 15: “nec desilies imitator in artum,” nor, by imitating, leap into a close place, Hor. A. P. 134.—
II. Trop., strict, severe, scanty, brief, small: “sponte suā cecidit sub leges artaque jura,” subjected himself to the severity of the laws, Lucr. 5, 1147: “Additae leges artae et ideo superbae quasqueetc.,” Plin. 16, 4, 5, § 12: “vincula amoris artissima,” Cic. Att. 6, 2: artior somnus, a sounder or deeper sleep, id. Rep. 6, 10: “arti commeatus,” Liv. 2, 34; Tac. H. 4, 26; cf.: “in artocommeatus,” id. ib. 3, 13: “artissimae tenebrae,” very thick darkness, Suet. Ner. 46 (for which, in class. Lat., densus, v. Bremi ad h. l., and cf. densus) al.—So, colligere in artum, to compress, abridge: “quae (volumina) a me collecta in artum,” Plin. 8, 16, 17, § 44.—Of hope, small, scanty: “spes artior aquae manantis,” Col. 1, 5, 2: ne spem sibi ponat in arto, diminish hope, expectation, Ov. M. 9, 683: “quia plus quam unum ex patriciis creari non licebat, artior petitioquattuor petentibus erat,” i. e. was harder, had less ground of hope, Liv. 39, 32; and of circumstances in life, etc., straitened, distressing, wretched, needy, indigent (so in and after the Aug. per. for the class. angustus): “rebus in artis,” Ov. P. 3, 2, 25: “artas res nuntiaret,” Tac. H. 3, 69: “tam artis afflictisque rebus,” Flor. 2, 6, 31; so Sil. 7, 310: “fortuna artior expensis,” Stat. S. 5, 3, 117: “ne in arto res esset,” Liv. 26, 17.—Adv.: artē (not arcte ), closely, close, fast, firmly.
I. Lit.: “arte (manus) conliga,” Plaut. Ep. 5, 2, 29: “boves arte ad stipites religare,” Col. 6, 2, 5: “arte continere aliquid,” Caes. B. G. 7, 23: “aciem arte statuere,” Sall. J. 52, 6: “arte accubare,”Plaut. Stich. 4, 2, 39.—Comp.: “calorem artius continere,” Cic. N. D. 2, 9, 25: “artiusastringi,” Hor. Epod. 15, 5: “signa artius conlocare,” Sall. C. 59, 2: “artius ire,” Curt. 4, 13, 34: “artius pressiusque conflictari,” Gell. 10, 6.—Sup.: “milites quam artissime ire jubet,” Sall. J. 68, 4: “artissime plantas serere,” Plin. 12, 3, 7, § 16.—
II. Trop.: “arte contenteque aliquem habere,” Plaut. As. 1, 1, 63; id. Merc. prol. 64: “arte etgraviter dormire,” soundly, Cic. Div. 1, 28, 59: “arte appellare aliquem,” briefly, by shortening his name, Ov. P. 4, 12, 10: “artius adstringere rationem,” Cic. Fat. 14, 32: “abstinentiamartissime constringere,” Val. Max. 2, 2, 8.—
III. Transf.: “arte diligere aliquem,” strongly, deeply, Plin. Ep. 6, 8; so also id. ib. 2, 13.

arthrītis , ĭdis, f., = ἀρθρῖτις,
I.a lameness in the joints, gout (in pure Lat., articularis morbus), Vitr. 1, 6.

The reader will note that these words contain among their meanings "joint", "contract", "lameness" and the like. The lameness of the boy was due in part to the contraction of the tendons of the knee joint.

Could it be that the author of the vita had not derived his story of lameness from the eponym Gewis, but from the name Arthur?  Either Arthur or Artorius could well have been etymologized by drawing on Latin words like artus and arto.  In this way Arthur was thought to mean a boy whose knee joint had suffered contraction of the tendons.

Needless to say, this would also mean that Cerdic son of Elafius/Elesa was quite possibly Arthur!

Now, if so, this does bring into question whether Ceredig of Wales was really the son of Cunedda (= Ceawlin of the ASC).  I've already discussed the possibility that some of the sons of Cunedda were actually the sons of other chieftains, but that they were associated with the famous founder of Gwynedd at a later time.  We might even postulate that these "sons" were actually members of Cunedda's teulu.  This word meant not only war-band or retinue, but also "family."

Here are the definitions for teulu from the GPC:

a  Rhieni a’u plant fel uned, pobl sy’n perthyn i’w gilydd drwy waed, priodas, mabwysiad, &c., tylwyth, plant rhywun; llwyth, cenedl; grŵp o bobl sy’n byw gyda’i gilydd mewn un tŷ, tyaid; grŵp o bobl a unir gan glymau cymdeithasol, crefyddol, gwleidyddol, &c., unrhyw grŵp o bethau, organebau, &c. sy’n perthyn i’w gilydd (hefyd fel dosbarthiad tacsonomig rhwng urdd a thylwyth):

(nuclear or extended) family; tribe, nation; household; family (related group of persons, things, organisms, &c., also as taxonomic classification). 

b  Dilynwyr, gweision, neu gymdeithion brenin, &c., gosgordd, gwarchodlu, llu rhyfel; llu, torf, pobl:

royal, &c., retinue, retainers, or entourage, comitatus, bodyguard, household troops, war-band; host, crowd, people. 

Ceredig, therefore, may have been one of Cunedda's retainers, but not actually his son.

Much of this depends, of course, on Elafius/Elesa being Ceredig's/Cerdic's father.  Kenneth Sisam could be right (his case, supported by David Dumville, is very strong), and Elesa could merely be a derivative of Aloc/Alusa of the Bernician pedigree.  My attempt to find a Celtic prototype for Elesa/Esla would be in vain.  But if that is true, then the very early St. Germanus story would have to be dependent on the Anglo-Saxon genealogy that grafted Aloc/Alusa onto the Gewessei line of descent.




Tuesday, February 7, 2017

THE CHRONOLOGIES OF CERDIC OF WESSEX AND CEREDIG SON OF CUNEDDA

The Cunorix Stone

I've recently been told by a certain party that the respective chronologies for Cerdic of Wessex and Ceredig the son of Cunedda do not match up.  However, this comes from someone who is not aware of the work I did some years ago on the reversed order of the early Gewessei leaders as found in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

My main bit on Cerdic of Wessex as Ceredig son of Cunedda, of Cynric as son of Cunedda and Ceawlin as Cunedda 'Maquicoline' appeared as a chapter in my book THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY. I've presented this chapter some time ago here in my blog:


Most of my attention has been focused, of course, on showing how the respective floruits of Cerdic of Wessex and the famous Arthur of the HISTORIA BRITTONUM happen to correspond.   I'd not considered the need to "prove" in any conclusive way that the floruits of Cerdic of Wessex and Ceredig son of Cunedda (whom I've identified as Arthur) also coincide.  There were three reasons for my not doing so.  Firstly, the regnal dates of all these sub-Roman or early medieval princes are extremely approximate.  In most cases, we have only a couple of ancient (and some would say dubious) documents to go by.  There exists little or no corroborative evidence from archaeology. Secondly, we are generally restricted to trying to form rough calculations based on the highly unreliable method of counting generations, much as James Ussher counted those in the Bible in order to come up with the age of the world.  A "generation" can be of any length, and trying to average out a sequence of generations is a foolish endeavor.  Thus mathematics, no matter how cleverly applied, cannot resolve such difficulties.  These early genealogies were doubtless manipulated by the royal families who claimed descent from this or that famous ancestor, and we have no way of knowing how many names in any given genealogy originally belonged properly to it.  Some may have been "packed" with additional names at a later date. Members deemed objectionable may have been stricken from the record.  I've elsewhere shown how the Irish genealogies of Hiberno-British dynasties in Wales were heavily altered, mainly by resorting to Latin names that traced back to this or that ancient Roman.  These kinds of genealogies are only reliable in a very broad, general sense.  We cannot depend upon them for purposes of precise dating. Scholars like P.C. Bartram have done their best to produce an approximate timeline for the Dark Age rulers of Wales (primarily through a "guesstimate" of birthdate), but none of them have ever claimed any remarkable degree of accuracy.  And, thirdly, in the case of the pedigrees for Ceredig son of Cunedda and Cerdic of Wessex, the Anglo Saxon Chronicle has made a gross error in reversing a significant section of the Cunedda genealogy.

In Welsh tradition, Ceredig is son of Cunedda.  Cynric is also a son of Cunedda - something we can actually prove IN STONE thanks to the chance survival of a 5th century memorial stone found at Viroconium. This stone is dedicated to an Irish warrior chieftain named Cunorix son of Maquicoline. Cunorix's father Maquicoline is not only one of Cunedda's names in the Irish sources, but the Ceawlin made a son of Cynric in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

While we cannot be sure the sons of Cunedda were actually immediate blood descendants of the founder of Gwynedd (they may all have had separate fathers and then been grouped under the great Cunedda during the development of largely fictional genealogical traditions), what we can be certain of is that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle narrative is horribly flawed.  And this means, of course, that its chronology for the early Gewessei princes is wholly inaccurate and cannot be used to demonstrate that the floruits of Ceredig son of Cunedda and Cerdic of Wessex were not coterminous.  With a reversed pedigree the events of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle may themselves run strangely backwards (unless the actors in these events replace other battle lords whose names have either not come down to us or who have been temporally dislocated themselves), making it impossible to precisely calculate regnal years.

Other factors bring some of the early battles of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle into question.  I've discussed the Cutha who fights in the region of the Cotswolds as a manifestation of the known goddess Cuda, who gave her name to these hills.  I've also pointed out that the Coinmail of one battle, supposedly a Welsh king, is probably Apollo Cunomaglos.  A more critical examination of the text may well uncover the intrusion of additional nonhistorical elements.

The best that can be said, therefore, is that a comparison of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Historia Brittonum, as these traditional histories have been preserved for us (never mind the many failed or inconsequential attempts by academics to "revise" the chronologies), presents us with matching chronologies for Cerdic of Wessex and Arthur.  Furthermore, there is indisputable evidence that Cerdic, Cynric and Ceawlin are Ceredig, Cunorix and Cunedda Maquicoline.  Finally, the battles of Cerdic of Wessex and of Arthur, at least up through those of Wihtgarasburh and Castle Guinnion, are English and Welsh names for the same places.










Monday, February 6, 2017

COMING SOON: The Chronologies of Cerdic of Wessex and Ceredig the son of Cunedda

I've recently been told by a certain party that the respective chronologies for Cerdic of Wessex and Ceredigthe son of Cunedda do not match up.  However, this comes from someone who is not aware of the work I did some years ago on the reversed order of the early Gewessei leaders as found in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.  In the next few days I will present this material again here in a new post. Hopefully, this will clear up the matter.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Elesa/Esla and Cerdic of Wessex

Quite a few years ago I was asked why, if Cerdic of Wessex is actually Ceredig son of Cunedda, the former's father is given in the early English genealogies as Elesa.  I had provided the explanation in an essay entitled CUNEDDA AND THE IRISH IN WALES, which I thought lost.  I've now found it posted on an old archived listserv and can provide the relevant selection here:

In the ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE, Cerdic's father is named Elesa, his grandfather Esla (a simple metathesis of Elesa) and his great-grandfather Gewis or Giwis, eponymous king of the Gewisse.  But Kenneth Sisam (in his "Anglo-Saxon Royal Genealogies",PROCEEDINGS OF THE BRITISH ACADEMY, 1953) long ago suggested that 

"...Cerdic's pedigree was copied from this part of Ida's, and that Giwis was substituted afterwards to give it a West Saxon coloring. The substitution exactly at ths point might be made because the association of Bernic with Bernicia was obvious. Bernic, who appears only in the pedigree of Ida, is generally    regarded as an eponymous king derived from the name of the Bernicians, and Giwis, who appears only in the pedigree of Cerdic, seems to be derived in the same way from Gewissei, a name for the West Saxons... the original entry may have had Bernic for Benoc, and Alusa (possibly Ealusa or a form nearer Elesa) not Aloc... Aluca (CHRONICLE Aloc)... may have been substituted for Alusa in Cerdic's pedigree... if the framework of Cerdic's pedigree is somehow borrowed from Ida's, his real pedigree was almost certainly unknown."

I would add that his real pedigree may well have been known, but that it was altered to conform with the needs of Wessex political history.

Another listserv I discovered contains similar information:

http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/GEN-MEDIEVAL/1996-02/0823909691

I think that the important article by K. Sisam, "Anglo-Saxon royal genealogies", in Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. 39 (1953), pp. 287-346 (required reading for those who really want to understand some of the processes by which early genealogies were faked), which was recently reprinted in the collection "British Academy Papers on Anglo-Saxon England" (Oxford University Press, 1990), shows that Cerdic's genealogy was, in fact, pretty much "made out of whole cloth". Cerdic's genealogy is interesting because enough manuscripts survive to show some of the stages of the falsification process. What follows is my attempt to outline Sisam's reconstruction of this
process (but read his article for a better explanation).

It started with the pedigree of the kings of Bernicia, which begins Woden, Baeldaeg, Brand, Benoc, Aloc (Alusa in some manuscripts), etc., followed by several more generations until you get to Ida (6th century), king of Bernicia. One early version of the West Saxon genealogy goes Woden, Baeldaeg, Brand, Giwis, Aluca, Cerdic, and the one given by Asser is very similar: UUoden, Beldeg, Brond, Geuuis, Elesa, Cerdic. Thus, in the early stages of the fake West Saxon pedigree, the first five generations of the Bernician pedigree are used, except that Benoc is replace by Giwis, and then Aluca (i.e. Aloc) is made the father of Cerdic. This pretty much kills the idea that the name Elesa is related to the similar Welsh name, for the name Elesa is in fact the name Aloc, "borrowed" from the royal genealogy of Bernicia, and Aloc, if he ever existed at all, would have been a many-generations-removed ancestor of Ida, and would have lived well before the Angles had any Welsh influence. The name "Gewisse" was the early name for the West Saxons, and the name Giwis which was used to replace Benoc was almost certainly invented to explain the name of the tribe, much like "Brutus" was invented explain the name Britain.

- Stewart L Baldwin

Welsh hagiography tells of a certain Caradoc son of ALAOG of NE Wales.  Here is what little we know of this petty chieftain, drawn from P.C. Bartram's A CLASSICAL WELSH DICTIONARY:


While it is tempting to try and relate this personage to Cerdic son of Elesa, he was a contemporary of St. Gwenfrewy (Winifred), who was born c. 575,  Thus he is way too late to be Cerdic of Wessex.

However, many years ago in another now defunct essay entitled ELAFIUS/ELESSA, THE LAME SON AND GREEK GUIOS, I demonstrated a better solution to the problem of Elesa in the genealogy of Cerdic.  

To begin, I had noticed that Elesa bore a striking resemblance to Elafius, a name found in the Life of St. Germanus of Auxerre.  /s/ and /f/ were frequently confused for each other in MSS.  The story of Elafius runs as follows (from http://www.vortigernstudies.org.uk/artsou/constex.htm):

Chapter Twenty-Six

Meanwhile evil spirits, flying over the whole island, made known through the involuntary prophecies of their victims the coming of Germanus, with the result that one of the leading men in the country, Elafius by name, came hurrying to meet the holy men without having had any news of them through any regular messenger. He brought with him his son who had been crippled in early youth by a grievous malady. His sinews had withered and the tendons of the knee had contracted and his withered leg made it impossible for him to stand on his feet.

The whole province came along with Elafius. The bishops arrived and the crowds came upon them unexpectedly. At once blessings and the words of God were showered upon them. Germanus could see that the people as a whole had persevered in the faith in which he had left them and the bishops realized that the fallings-away had been the work only of a few. These were identified and formally condemned.

Chapter Twenty-Seven

At this point Elafius approached to make obeisance to the bishops and presented to them his son, whose youth and helplessness made his need clear without words. Everyone felt acutely for him, the bishops most of all, and in their pity they had recourse to the mercy of God. The blessed Germanus at once made the boy sit down, then felt the bent knee and ran his healing hand over all the diseased parts. Health speedily followed the life-giving touch. What was withered became supple, the sinews resumed their proper work, and, before the eyes of all, the son got back a sound body and the father got back a son.

The crowds were overwhelmed by the miracle and the Catholic faith implanted in them was strengthened in all of them. There followed sermons to the people to confute the heresy, the preachers of which were by common consent banished from the island. They were brought to the bishops to be conducted to the Continent, so that the country might be purged of them an they of their errors. The effect of all this was so salutary that even now the faith is persisting intact in those parts. And so, with everything settled, the blessed bishops made a prosperous journey back to their own country.

It's the lame son here who is vitally important.  Why?  Because there is a Greek word guios, 'lame.' I'm certain some learned monk had chosen to "interpret" Gewis, the eponymous founder of the Gewissei, with this word.  Which would mean, of course, that the lame son of Elafius = Gewis and Elafius = Elesa.  

The Vita sancta Germani was produced by Constantius of Lyon in the 5th century. Thus the source is very early and could well have influenced the compilers of the Anglo-Saxon genealogies.  An Elesa as an immediate descendant of Gewis must assuredly be the correct Celtic form of the name, as the Gewessei were indisputably Irish (or at least in part Hiberno-British).

Scholars have pointed to the name Eliseg of the famous Eliseg Pillar in Powys.  Sometimes the name is also spelled Elisedd.  According to Dr. Simon Talyor of the University of Wales, the name is decidedly Biblical in origin:

"Patrick Sims-Williams (BBCS, 38 (1991), p. 51, n. 1) has argued that Eliseg, Elised are hypercorrect forms of Biblical Elise (who appears as an ancestor of the Welsh in the Historia Brittonum). These forms would thus date from a period after the loss of final /ɣ/ in speech, and occasional loss of final /ð/ (cf. OW triti beside tritid ‘third’, and cf. mini for mynydd ‘mountain’ in Modern Pembrokeshire Welsh). This seems to be generally accepted now: recent publications by John Koch and Thomas Charles-Edwards modernize the name of the king as Elise."

However, in my opinion the Biblical name may represent a substitution for an attested Irish name Ailgesach, Ailgheasach, Ailiosach, at least in the case of Elesa of the Gewessei genealogy.  The name comes from the following word (eDIL listing):

áilgesach
Cite this: eDIL s.v. áilgesach or dil.ie/1008
Forms: álgasach, áilghesach, áilgeasach

adj o, ā (áilges). Also álgasach.

(a) importunate . In name of poet Athairne áilghesach , Ériu xiii 13.13 . ailgesach dunaid ┐ rl. lán eneclann don rig a nailges do gabail de a sloigedh no a ndunaid, O'D. 1618 (H. 5.15, p. 14a).

(b) eager, zealous: ógh alghasach, Gorm. Mar. 29 gl. 5 . ba h-ailgiusach le hA. Serlus d'feicsin, ITS xix 32.14 . is urlum ailgiussach sindi im gach ni uas ail letsu, TTebe 674 . rob onorach ailgiusach leo a scela do cloisteacht, 1829 . oibreacha áilgheasacha na haithrighe, TSh. 1813 .

Note also: áilgeasach ` dysenteric ', Celtica vi 68 .

I have shown in my comparison of the heavily altered Welsh genealogy for Cunedda and that of the original version from the Irish that this Irish chieftain's father Aeternus is a reflection of the name Aithirne of Dun Aithirne, who is the same mythological poet as the Athairne ailghesach in the aforementioned eDIL definition.

Therefore, we can say with a fair degree of certainty (as the Cunedda genealogy as found in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle runs backwards, a fact I have discussed elsewhere) that Elesa = the legendary Aithirne ailghesach.