was King Arthur? In the late fifth and early sixth centuries, a period
now known as the Dark Ages, the native British won a decisive victory over
the Saxon invaders of their country - the only region of the western Roman
Empire to shake of the dominion of the Germans. British tradition credited
this victory to Arthur.
But it is not as a Dark Age general that Arthur is remembered. The descendants of the British, the Welsh, Cornish and the Bretons, preserved Arthur’s memory in a legend still potent in our own day. Their Arthur was a Golden Age king who would return to lead his people once more. Under his rule they would regain the land rightfully theirs. This legend was once so powerful, so ardently believed, that it remained a political threat to the Norman rulers of England half a millennia after Arthur’s famous victory of Badon.
Badon is an undoubted historical fact, but Arthur, according to the current historical consensus, is purely a figure of legend. He is a fit subject for students of medieval literature, not Dark Age British history, since there is no evidence for his existence in contemporary British record. But in truth it is not Arthur who is missing from the record, it is record itself which is missing.
Only one British text survives from this period, a sermon by a monk named Gildas addressed to Britain’s rulers, both lay and ecclesiastical, condemning their vices and warning them of the dire consequences that must follow. it is titled On the Ruin of Britain. Why has only this one text survived? Dark Age historians do have an explanation. The Roman Withdrawal caused the complete moral and intellectual collapse of Britain, as Gildas testifies. His sermon directly informs us of the political and moral degeneracy of his contemporaries, and the historical introduction to this sole surviving text is a tissue of errors which betray Gildas’ complete ignorance of the Roman period, and thus the total intellectual collapse of contemporary culture. But this is not a logical deduction from Gildas' text. What his sermon does prove was that there was at least one Briton in the period who could write - and who clearly expected many others to be able to read. British literacy did not evaporate in consequence of Rome’s absence. Then there must have been a written record which has not survived.
The earliest surviving text to name Arthur is the ninth century Historia Brittonum sometimes ascribed to Nennius. On the assumption that the earliest surviving must be the first produced, Dark Age historians have now concluded that Arthur was invented in the ninth century. The Britons faked a glorious past for themselves, and that fraud was spectacularly expanded in the twelfth century, when Geoffrey of Monmouth created The History of the Kings of Britain. The Arthur Geoffrey introduced to western Europe was a British emperor, the equal, and the rival, of the Emperor of Rome.
Dark Age historians have nothing but contempt for this Imperial Arthur, but there is a consistency and cohesion about the twelfth century legend which cannot be historically irrelevant. It was the enemies of the Roman Church who upheld and promoted Arthur’s legend. The Grail legend legend connects him with a non-Roman Christianity, originating before the Empire’s conversion. In Geoffrey’s story Arthur actually fought Rome.
The riddle of Arthur can, in truth, be resolved from this one text, probably the most vilified, and certainly the most misunderstood history ever written. Condemned for centuries as a deliberate fraud, The History of the Kings of Britain is still used by Dark Age historians as a stick to beat the Arthurians with. But that is because they haven’t understood it for what it is.
The History of the Kings of Britain is not a fraud, it was never intended to fool its readers into accepting British tradition as real history. It is a legal case, based on the history known and accepted by Geoffrey’s contemporaries. Geoffrey directs his readers to critically examine the texts preserved and endorsed by the Britons’ opponents, texts which are still extant. And those texts prove his case.
The native Britons did not collapse into cultural and political darkness the moment Rome withdrew her legions and her tax collectors. Independent Britain freed herself from Roman and Saxon alike. But her period of glory was brief. A resurgent Roman Empire destroyed the Arthurian Golden Age. It was Rome’s attempt to regain control of a lost province which turned Britain over to the Saxons. To the Roman authorities the rule of pagans was to be preferred to that of Christian heretics. But Rome’s Church, in later years, preferred this fact to be forgotten. And the written record which has come down to us has passed through her hands.
Arthur was not invented to fill the gap in the British record. The gap was created to remove Arthur. But enough remains to prove his historical reality. It is only the anti-Celtic bias of Dark Age historians - a bias proclaimed by their terminology - which prevents them from seeing the obvious. The historical Arthur was, as British tradition remembered him, the Emperor of Britain, saviour of his country and defender of its religion, a Christian tradition older than the Roman Church, and which Rome regarded as a heresy.
Heretic Emperor: The Lost History of King Arthur is offered for sale in four parts, in PDF documents, at a cost of £5 each, or all four for £17.50.
Please see contents below, with links to synopses, sample sections and appendices.
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Book 1 - The Controversy
Chapter 1: The Riddle of Arthur
The Arthur Stone, The Pseudo-History of Britain, Dux Bellorum, The Arthur Heresy,
Sub-Roman Britain, Arthur and Tintagel, The Question of Arthur
Chapter 2: Britain’s Emperor
Dark Century, Maximus, The End of Roman Britain, Independent Britain,
The Roman Withdrawal, The Saxon Advent, Vortigern and Ambrosius,
The Roman Missions, The Saxon Revolt, Britain’s Recovery, Riothamus,
Vortimer, The Last of the Romans, Emperor Arthur, The Figure of Arthur,
What’s in a name?
Chapter 3: National Myths
The Arthur Deception, The British Hero, An Age of Darkness, The Heirs of Rome,
The Politics of History, Enlightenment and Empire
Chapter 4: Forbidden Histories
The Nature of the Record, The Druids and Stonehenge, The Celts and Reincarnation,
Bruti Britones, Geoffrey’s Deception, Geoffrey and Gildas, The Return of Arthur
Book 2 - The Legend
Chapter 5: The Grail Mystery
The Hidden Church, From Ritual to Romance, The Cup of Sovereignty,
The Sacrament of Marriage, The Matter of Britain, The Vulgate Rewrite,
Wolfram’s Parzival, The Underground Stream
Chapter 6: Perfidious Britons
The Celtic Church, The Synod of Whitby, Augustine’s Arrival, The British Collapse,
The Politics of Conversion
Chapter 7: The Johannine Tradition
The Celtic Sleepwalkers, Pelagius and Augustine, Colman’s Defence,
The Petrine Claim, The Lucius Legend, The First British Church
Chapter 8: The Church and the Heretics
Priscillian’s Heresy, Simon’s Tonsure, The Church of the Empire,
The Church of the East, Taliesin’s Secret, The Church of the Celts,
Chapter 9: Sovereignty
SS. Joseph and Bran, The Marriage Feast of Kingship, The Welsh Romances,
Arthur and Charlemagne, The Tyrant Arthur
Book 3 - The Sources
Chapter 10: Geoffrey of Monmouth
Geoffrey’s Motives, The Norman use of Arthur, The Anglo-Normans,
King Robert, Robert’s Faction, Geoffrey’s Technical Terminology,
Geoffrey’s Case, The Nature of History, Arthur’s War
Chapter 11: Bede
Honest Bede, The Last King of Britain, Cadwalla of the Gewissae,
Cadwalla the Tyrant, The New Chosen People, Lying Tales
Chapter 12: Nennius
The Historia Brittonum, The Nennius Preface, The British Record,
The Gap in History
Chapter 13: Gildas
The Sons of Mordred, The Five Tyrants, The Sins of the Britons,
Gildas’ Motives, Gildas’ Sources, The Holy Empire, The Saxon Chastisement,
Britain’s Champion, Vortigern's Heir
Book 4 - The War
Chapter 14: Restitutor Orbis
Arthur-Riothamus, The Rebirths of Rome, The Year 469-70, The Mighty Shadow
Chapter 15: The Battle for Gaul
The Last Gallic Emperor, The Bacaudae, The Western Succession,
Tibatto’s Revolt, The Rescue of Europe, The Gothic Alliance, The Arian Dominion,
The Fall of Syagrius, Leo and Childeric, Rome’s Champion
Chapter 16: The Fall of Arthur’s Britain
Gildas’ Date, Gildas’ Crusade, Justinian’s Reconquest, The War on the Continent,
Camlann, The Disappeared
The Beloved Disciple, The Wife of Christ, Uncle Joseph