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chala

Final Exam question on King Arthur

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I have finally reached my final exam questions. For some reason I just cannot wrap my brain around this question to form a decent answer. So, hopefully, one of you knowledgable people will be able to help me. The question is:

According to Nennius, Arthur's reign came to an end with the arrival of what? How does that help us place a date for the end of Arthur's reign?

Now, as far as I know, Nennius never wrote of the end of Arthur's reign - just the 12 battles he supposedly fought in. If I'm wrong, please correct me. As there is no mention of the end of his reign here, in what literature is it spoken of and do any of these mention the arrival of something. I have found mentions on his death being dated at 539 on the web and that there was plague, wasteland and famine - what source am I likely to find this in? What arrived to end his reign?

Perhaps I'm complicating the question in that Nennius never spoke of the end of his reign, not to mention that Nennius never called Arthur a king. However, I think I need to expand on the answer to include any literature that did say something heralded the end of his reign. Any help, advice, examples etc would be much appreciated.

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Posted (edited)

I have finally reached my final exam questions. For some reason I just cannot wrap my brain around this question to form a decent answer. So, hopefully, one of you knowledgable people will be able to help me. The question is:

According to Nennius, Arthur's reign came to an end with the arrival of what? How does that help us place a date for the end of Arthur's reign?

Now, as far as I know, Nennius never wrote of the end of Arthur's reign - just the 12 battles he supposedly fought in. If I'm wrong, please correct me. As there is no mention of the end of his reign here, in what literature is it spoken of and do any of these mention the arrival of something. I have found mentions on his death being dated at 539 on the web and that there was plague, wasteland and famine - what source am I likely to find this in? What arrived to end his reign?

Perhaps I'm complicating the question in that Nennius never spoke of the end of his reign, not to mention that Nennius never called Arthur a king. However, I think I need to expand on the answer to include any literature that did say something heralded the end of his reign. Any help, advice, examples etc would be much appreciated.

The arrival of the Saxons:

Then it was, that the magnanimous Arthur, with all the kings and military force of Britain, fought against the Saxons. And though there were many more noble than himself, yet he was twelve times chosen their commander, and was as often conqueror. The first battle in which he was engaged, was at the mouth of the river Gleni. The second, third, fourth, and fifth, were on another river, by the Britons called Duglas, in the region Linuis. The sixth, on the river Bassas. The seventh in the wood Celidon, which the Britons call Cat Coit Celidon. The eighth was near Gurnion castle, where Arthur bore the image of the Holy Virgin, mother of God, upon his shoulders, and through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the holy Mary, put the Saxons to flight, and pursued them the whole day with great slaughter. The ninth was at te City of Legion, which is called Cair Lion. The tenth was on the banks of the river Trat Treuroit. The eleventh was on the mountain Breguoin, which we call Cat Bregion. The twelfth was a most severe contest, when Arthur penetrated to the hill of Badon. In this engagement, nine hundred and forty fell by his hand alone, no one but the Lord affording him assistance. In all these engagements the Britons were successful. For no strength can avail against the will of the Almighty.

The more the Saxons were vanquished, the more they sought for new supplies of Saxons from Germany; so that kings, commanders, and military bands were invited over from almost every province. And this practice they continued till the reign of Ida, who was the son of Eoppa, he, of the Saxon race, was the first king in Bernicia, and in Cair Ebrauc (York).

When Gratian Aequantius was consul at Rome, because then the whole world was governed by the Roman consuls, the Saxons were received by Vortigern in the year of our Lord four hundred and forty-seven, and to the year in which we now write, five hundred and forty-seven. And whosoever shall read herein may receive instruction, the Lord Jesus Christ affording assistance, who, co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Ghost, lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/nennius-full.asp

Hope this helps. Good luck with your exam.

cormac

Edited by cormac mac airt
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Thank you. And yes it is helpful. However, it still doesn't cover the end of Arthur's reign being that Nennius never said he did reign - just that he was dux belloram, which I think means military leader. I need something that states that the arrival of something came at the end of Arthur's reign. It doesn't have to be Nennius - it could be Chretian de Troyes or Geoffrey of Monmouth or any other the authors of King Arthur literature. As far as I can tell, it wasn't the arrival of the Saxons as he fought against them during the battles and was 12 times successful...

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I'm no scholar but... the coming of Christianity maybe? Maybe the coming of Mordred, I think he's the one that mortally wounds Arthur.

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A broken heart, loss of his greatest advisor, scattered knights on quest, governmental strife, maybe.

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I think you and Cormac are right. The answer the instructor is probably looking for is "the Saxons" and he/she wants to tie that into the historical arrival of the Saxons, Angles and Jutes in the Sixth Century CE.

However, your instructor sounds like he/she could use some historiography classes (if you're portraying his/her questions correctly) -- Arthur is more or less a fictional character, so trying to tie him in to a specific date/time seems like a wild goose chase. Moreover, current scholarship suggests the coming of the Angles et al. took place gradually, rather then showing up under the leadership of two German horse gods (Hengiest and Hersa), so trying to tie it in with a specific date to make Arthur more historical winds up being almost beside the point. And a bit chicken-and-eggy.

As far as I know, Gildas and Nennius are the two historical writers close to the reputed time of Arthur, and Gildas never actually mentions Arthur. Just the Battle of Mount Badon. The Venerable Bede, who was writing close® to the reputed time of Arthur significantly never mentions Arthur.

If you're looking for actual records of the early sixth century, you can look at Martin of Tours' History of the Franks and Procopius' histories of the Byzantines, both of which mention the plague outbreak of that time period. They make no mention of Arthur, though. You might also want to look at Gildas' De Exicidio Brittainiae. However, as with all historical sources (def. including Nennius and Gildas!), you need to understand what their purpose in writing is. Neither one of them are selflessly reporting unbiased events. They have a purpose in writing, a specific rhetorical aim, which can lead them to alter dates and events, even if (and this is a big if), the information they report is trustworthy.

This is even more true in the later Middle Ages, in text like Geoffrey of Monmouth. After that, he more or less falls out of the realm of actual history and into post-Chanson de Roland romances. (Although... lots of people here seem to want to take such Romances as actual history, but I don't advise it.)

--Jaylemurph

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Gildas says he (Gildas) was born in the year of the battle of Badon, and the dates we have for Gildas are 516/18 - 570. So we could have a guess that whoever the leader of the Britons at that battle was, it is probable that he was an experienced man likely, though not definately, to be 35 and upwards. I only give this age as this is an age when greater maturity and skill in such matters is obtained. Alexander the Great showing this is not always so of course. So, it could be reasonable to presume that if he lived an average life span for those days, he may have died sometime in the fourth decade of that century. But as the legend says he was killed in battle, then he may have only survived into the third decade. I rather think that as no historical record of Arthur exists, then a vague answer like mine is probably as close to any death of Arthur as you are likely to find. All guesses....

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Don't know much on this topic, but in your previous post I think you mentioned famine or a plague of some kind, that could be a sign of the end of Arthur's reign, since he is so mythical a ruler and it's often thought that his reign was great, a sudden shift in the general welfare of the people with a big famine or plague could be your answer of an event that's a clue as to what time might have been the end of Arthur's reign... since as soon as things go south it would have been blamed on Arthur's absence... but that's just a shot in the dark...

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The crusades ended Arthur's reign. King Arthur, had possession of the Holy Grail. During the inquisition it was taken from his possession, and taken from history forever. The true Camelot, was destroyed by the Catholic Church.

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I think you and Cormac are right. The answer the instructor is probably looking for is "the Saxons" and he/she wants to tie that into the historical arrival of the Saxons, Angles and Jutes in the Sixth Century CE.

However, your instructor sounds like he/she could use some historiography classes (if you're portraying his/her questions correctly) -- Arthur is more or less a fictional character, so trying to tie him in to a specific date/time seems like a wild goose chase. Moreover, current scholarship suggests the coming of the Angles et al. took place gradually, rather then showing up under the leadership of two German horse gods (Hengiest and Hersa), so trying to tie it in with a specific date to make Arthur more historical winds up being almost beside the point. And a bit chicken-and-eggy.

As far as I know, Gildas and Nennius are the two historical writers close to the reputed time of Arthur, and Gildas never actually mentions Arthur. Just the Battle of Mount Badon. The Venerable Bede, who was writing close® to the reputed time of Arthur significantly never mentions Arthur.

If you're looking for actual records of the early sixth century, you can look at Martin of Tours' History of the Franks and Procopius' histories of the Byzantines, both of which mention the plague outbreak of that time period. They make no mention of Arthur, though. You might also want to look at Gildas' De Exicidio Brittainiae. However, as with all historical sources (def. including Nennius and Gildas!), you need to understand what their purpose in writing is. Neither one of them are selflessly reporting unbiased events. They have a purpose in writing, a specific rhetorical aim, which can lead them to alter dates and events, even if (and this is a big if), the information they report is trustworthy.

This is even more true in the later Middle Ages, in text like Geoffrey of Monmouth. After that, he more or less falls out of the realm of actual history and into post-Chanson de Roland romances. (Although... lots of people here seem to want to take such Romances as actual history, but I don't advise it.)

--Jaylemurph

The real question, however, is - What do these writers have to say about the Lost Colony of Roanoke?

:devil:

Harte

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The crusades ended Arthur's reign. King Arthur, had possession of the Holy Grail. During the inquisition it was taken from his possession, and taken from history forever. The true Camelot, was destroyed by the Catholic Church.

What, seriously? I can't tell, are you being serious? Please don't be serious. Please. If you were, it would make me cry.

The real question, however, is - What do these writers have to say about the Lost Colony of Roanoke?

:devil:

Harte

Arthur did like his tobacco. I can see a removal to Virginia. It make sense.

No, wait that was Old King Cole. Who supposedly ruled long before Arthur -- wait, I better stop. I can see the thread now: "Arthur in Roanoke."

That would make me cry, too.

--Jaylemurph

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