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BRYTHONIC MYTHOLOGY

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NATIONAL LITERARY "MATTERS"

THE THREE CLASSIC MATTERS

* Matter of Rome * Matter of France * Matter of Britain

OTHER MATTERS

* Matter of England

Literature portal

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The MATTER OF BRITAIN is the body of Medieval literature and legendary material associated with Great Britain , and sometimes Brittany , and the legendary kings and heroes associated with it, particularly King Arthur . It was one of the three great literary cycles recalled repeatedly in medieval literature, together with the Matter of France , which concerned the legends of Charlemagne , and the Matter of Rome , which included material derived from or inspired by classical mythology .

CONTENTS

* 1 History

* 2 Themes and subjects

* 2.1 Legendary history of Britain * 2.2 Arthurian cycle

* 3 Characters and subjects

* 3.1 Legendary kings and founders * 3.2 Arthur and his entourage * 3.3 Knights of the Round Table * 3.4 Other important figures

* 4 Noteworthy authors

* 4.1 Medieval * 4.2 Anonymous * 4.3 Modern

* 5 See also * 6 References * 7 External links

HISTORY

The three "Matters " were first described in the 12th century by French poet Jean Bodel , whose epic _Chanson de Saisnes_ contains the line:

_Ne sont que III matières à nul homme atandant,_ _De France et de Bretaigne, et de Rome la grant._

There are but 3 matters that no man should be without, That of France, of Britain, and of great Rome.

The name distinguishes and relates the Matter of Britain from the mythological themes taken from classical antiquity , the "Matter of Rome ", and the tales of the paladins of Charlemagne and their wars with the Moors and Saracens , which constituted the "Matter of France ". Arthur is the chief subject of the Matter of Britain, though other lesser-known legendary history of Great Britain and Brittany is also covered, including the stories of Brutus of Troy , Coel Hen , Leir of Britain (King Lear), and Gogmagog . (See Legendary kings of the British .)

THEMES AND SUBJECTS

LEGENDARY HISTORY OF BRITAIN

It could be said that the legendary history of Britain was created in part to form a body of patriotic myth for the country. Several agendas thus can be seen in this body of literature.

The _ Historia Brittonum _, the earliest known source of the story of Brutus of Troy, may have been devised to create a distinguished genealogy for a number of Welsh princes in the 9th century. Traditionally attributed to Nennius , its actual compiler is unknown; it exists in several recensions. This tale went on to achieve greater currency because its inventor linked Brutus to the diaspora of heroes that followed the Trojan War , and thus provided raw material which later mythographers such as Geoffrey of Monmouth , Michael Drayton , and John Milton could draw upon, linking the settlement of Britain to the heroic age of Greek literature , for their several and diverse literary purposes. As such, this material could be used for patriotic mythmaking just as Virgil linked the founding of Rome to the Trojan War in _The Æneid _. Geoffrey of Monmouth also introduced the fanciful claim that the Trinovantes , reported by Tacitus as dwelling in the area of London , had a name he interpreted as _Troi-novant_, "New Troy ".

More speculative claims link Welsh mythology with several of the rulers and incidents compiled by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his _Historia Regum Britanniæ _. It has been suggested, for instance, that Leir of Britain, who later became Shakespeare 's _ King Lear _, was originally the Welsh sea-god Llŷr (see also the Irish sea-god Ler ). Various Celtic deities have been identified with characters from Arthurian literature as well: Morgan le Fay was often thought to have originally been the Welsh goddess Modron (cf. the Morrígan ). Many of these identifications come from the speculative comparative religion of the late 19th century, and have been questioned in more recent years.

William Shakespeare was interested in the legendary history of Britain, and was familiar with some of its more obscure byways. Shakespeare's plays contain several tales relating to these legendary kings, such as _King Lear_ and _ Cymbeline _. It has been suggested that Shakespeare's Welsh schoolmaster Thomas Jenkins introduced him to this material, and perhaps directed him to read Geoffrey of Monmouth. These tales also figure in Raphael Holinshed 's _The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland_, which also appears in Shakespeare's sources for _ Macbeth _.

Other early authors also drew from the early Arthurian and pseudo-historical sources of the Matter of Britain. The Scots , for instance, formulated a mythical history in the Picts and the Dál Riata royal lines. While they do eventually become factual lines, unlike those of Geoffrey, their origins are vague and often incorporate both aspects of mythical British history and mythical Irish history. The story of Gabrán mac Domangairt especially incorporates elements of both those histories.

ARTHURIAN CYCLE

The Arthurian literary cycle is the best known part of the Matter of Britain. It has succeeded largely because it tells two interlocking stories that have intrigued many later authors. One concerns Camelot , usually envisioned as a doomed utopia of chivalric virtue, undone by the fatal flaws of Arthur and Sir Lancelot. The other concerns the quests of the various knights to achieve the Holy Grail ; some succeed ( Galahad , Percival ), and others fail ( Lancelot ).

The medieval tale of Arthur and his knights is full of Christian themes; those themes involve the destruction of human plans for virtue by the moral failures of their characters, and the quest for an important Christian relic . Finally, the relationships between the characters invited treatment in the tradition of courtly love , such as Lancelot and Guinevere , or Tristan and Iseult . In more recent years, the trend has been to attempt to link the tales of King Arthur and his knights with Celtic mythology, usually in highly romanticized, early 20th century reconstructed versions.

The work of Jessie Weston , in particular From Ritual to Romance , traced Arthurian imagery through Christianity to roots in early nature worship and vegetation rites, though this interpretation is no longer fashionable..

Additionally, it is possible to read the Arthurian literature in general, and that concerned with the Grail tradition in particular, as an allegory of human development and spiritual growth (a theme explored by mythologist Joseph Campbell amongst others).

CHARACTERS AND SUBJECTS

LEGENDARY KINGS AND FOUNDERS

* Brutus of Troy * Corineus * Coel Hen * Cymbeline

* Leir of Britain (Shakespeare's King Lear ) * Cassivellaunus * Caradocus

* Ambrosius Aurelianus * Uther Pendragon * Cadwaladr

ARTHUR AND HIS ENTOURAGE

* King Arthur * the Round Table * Guinevere , wife of Arthur

* Excalibur , Arthur's magic sword * Uther Pendragon , father of Arthur * Camelot , Arthur's capital

* Mordred , Arthur's heir and enemy * Avalon , Arthur's resting place

KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE

Main article: Round Table

* Gawain * Lancelot * Galahad * Tristan * Galehaut * Percival * Bors * Lucan

* Geraint * Gareth * Kay * Lamorak * Gaheris * Bedivere * Agravain * Caradoc

* Sagramore * Calogrenant * Ywain * Erec * Pelleas * Palamedes * Dinadan * Pellinore

OTHER IMPORTANT FIGURES

* Merlin * Morgan le Fay

* Sir Ector * Lady of the Lake

NOTEWORTHY AUTHORS

MEDIEVAL

AUTHOR CENTURY ŒUVRES

Béroul 12th _ Tristan _

Chrétien de Troyes 12th _ Erec and Enide _, _ Cligès _, _ Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart _, _ Yvain, the Knight of the Lion _, _ Perceval, the Story of the Grail _

Geoffrey Chaucer 14th _ The Canterbury Tales _

Geoffrey of Monmouth 12th _ Historia Regum Britanniae _

Gottfried von Strassburg 13th _ Tristan _

Hartmann von Aue 12th _ Erec _ .. Ywain

Layamon 13th _Brut _

Thomas Malory 15th _Le Morte d\'Arthur _

Marie de France 12th _The Lais of Marie de France _: _Lai de Yonec _, _Lai de Frêne _, _Lai de Lanval _ (...)

Nennius 09th _ Historia Brittonum _

Robert de Boron 12th _Estoire dou Graal _

Taliesin 06th _Book of Taliesin _

Thomas of Britain 12th _ Tristan and Iseult _

Wace 12th _ Roman de Brut _, _ Roman de Rou _

Wolfram von Eschenbach 12th _ Parzival _

Raoul de Houdenc 12th _Méraugis de Portlesguez _

Païen de Maisières 13th _La Demoiselle à la Mule _ (also called _La Mule sans Frein_)

Rustichello da Pisa 13th _Roman de Roi Artus _, _Gyron le courtois _, _Meliadus de Leonnoys _ (_Meliadus _)

Ulrich von Zatzikhoven 13th _ Lanzelet _

ANONYMOUS

ŒUVRES CENTURY

_L\'Âtre Périlleux _ (on Gawain ) 13th century

_Blandin de Cornouaille _ 14th century

_Le Chevalier à l\'Épée _

_Le Chevalier au Papegau _

_La Demoiselle à la Mule _ 12th century

_Gliglois _ (hero who enters the service of Gawain)

_Hunbaut _

_Life of Caradoc _

The _ Lancelot-Grail Cycle _ 13th century

The _ Mabinogion _ (medieval Welsh)

The _ Post-Vulgate Cycle _ 13th century

_Les Merveilles de Rigomer _ (Lancelot, Gawain and 58 knights) 13th century

_ Perlesvaus ou le Haut Livre du Graal _ 13th century

_Le Roman de Jaufré _

_Sir Gawain and the Green Knight _ 14th century

_Prose Tristan _

_ Stanzaic Morte Arthur _ 14th century

_ Alliterative Morte Arthur _ 14th–15th century

MODERN

* Lloyd Alexander * René Barjavel * T. A. Barron * Marion Zimmer Bradley * Gillian Bradshaw * Bernard Cornwell * Sara Douglass * Michael Drayton * Hal Foster * Parke Godwin

* Alexandre Astier * Raphael Holinshed * David Jones * Debra A. Kemp * Stephen Lawhead * Rosalind Miles * Howard Pyle * Michel Rio * William Shakespeare * Edmund Spenser * John Steinbeck

* Mary Stewart * Rosemary Sutcliff * Alfred, Lord Tennyson * John Ronald Reuel Tolkien * Mark Twain * Richard Wagner * Charles White * T. H. White * Jack Whyte * Charles Williams * Eric Idle * Elizabeth Wein

SEE ALSO

* Chivalry * Corineus * English historians in the Middle Ages * Glastonbury * Historical basis for King Arthur * Holy Grail * Knights of the Round Table * List of Arthurian characters * Mons Badonicus * _Monty Python and the Holy Grail_ (film) * Pendragon (fiction series) * Sites and places associated with Arthurian legend * _The Faerie Queene_ (poem) * _The Mists of Avalon_ (book)

REFERENCES

* Derek Pearsall, _Arthurian Romance: a short introduction_, Blackwell, Oxford, 2005 * D. H. Green, _The Beginnings of Medieval Romance: Fact and fiction, 1150-1220_, CUP Cambridge 2005 * Carol Dover (ed), _A Companion to the Lancelot-Grail Cycle_, Boydell ;background:none transparent;border:none;-moz-box-shadow:none;-webkit-box-shadow:none;box-shadow:none;">v

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King Arthur and the Matter of Britain

KEY PEOPLE

* King Arthur * Constantine * Sir Ector * Gawain * Gorlois * Queen Guinevere * Igraine * Iseult * Lady of the Lake * Lancelot * King Lot * King Mark * Merlin * Mordred * Morgan le Fay * Morgause * Percival * Tristan * Uther Pendragon

Knights of the Round Table

* Aglovale * Agravain * Bagdemagus * Bedivere * Bors * Breunor (La Cote Mal Taillée) * Calogrenant * Caradoc * Dagonet * Dinadan * Elyan the White * Erec * Gaheris * Galahad * Gareth * Geraint * Griflet * Hector de Maris * Hoel * Kay * Lamorak * Leodegrance * Lionel * Lucan * Maleagant * Morholt * Palamedes * Pelleas * Pellinore * Safir * Sagramore * Segwarides * Tor * Urien * Ywain * Ywain the Bastard

OTHER CHARACTERS

* Sir Balin * Sir Balan * King Ban * Claudas * Culhwch * Dindrane * Elaine of Astolat * Elaine of Corbenic * Fisher King * Galehaut * Hellawes * Black Knight * Green Knight * Red Knight * Lohengrin * Emperor Lucius * Olwen * Questing Beast * Rience * Tom Thumb

OBJECTS

* Excalibur * Holy Grail * Round Table * Siege Perilous

PLACES

* Astolat * Avalon * Brocéliande (Paimpont ) * Caerleon * Camelot * Celliwig * Corbenic * Glastonbury * Logres * Lyonesse * Sarras * Tintagel

IN MEDIA

* Books * Films * Various media

TOPICS

* Battle of Badon * Battle of Camlann * Dolorous Stroke * King Arthur\'s family * Historicity of King Arthur * King Arthur\'s messianic return

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Geoffrey of Monmouth

WORKS

* _ Prophetiae Merlini _ (c. 1135) * _ Historia Regum Britanniae _ (c. 1136) * _ Vita Merlini _ (c. 1150)

TRANSLATIONS

* _ Roman de Brut _ * Layamon\'s _Brut_ * _ Brut y Brenhinedd _

CHARACTERS

* Aeneas * Saint Alban * Albanactus * Alhfrith of Deira * Allectus * Ambrosius Aurelianus * Amphibalus * Andragius * Archgallo * Archmail * King Arthur * Arvirargus * Ascanius * Augustine of Canterbury * Aurelius Conanus * Bedivere * Beldgabred * Beli Mawr * Belinus * Bladud * Bledric ap Custennin * Bledudo * Brennius * Brutus Greenshield * Brutus of Troy * Budic II of Brittany * Cadfan ap Iago * Cadoc * Cador * Cadwaladr * Cadwallon ap Cadfan * Camber (legendary king) * Cap of Britain * Capetus Silvius * Capoir * Caracalla * Caradocus * Carausius * Cassivellaunus * Catellus * Catigern * Cherin * Claudius * Cledaucus * Clotenus * Coel Hen * Coilus * Conan Meriadoc * Constans II (usurper) * Constantine the Great * Constantine III (Western Roman Emperor) * Constantine (Briton) * Constantius Chlorus * Cordelia of Britain * Corineus * Cunedagius * Cunobeline * Danius * Saint David * Digueillus * Diocletian * Dionotus * Dunvallo Molmutius * Ebraucus * Edadus * Edern ap Nudd * Edwin of Northumbria * Eldol * Eldol, Consul of Gloucester * Elidurus * Eliud * Enniaunus * Estrildis * Eudaf Hen * Ferrex * Fulgenius * Gawain * Gerennus * Goffar the Pict * Gogmagog (folklore) * Goneril * Gorboduc * Gorbonianus * Gorlois * Gracianus Municeps * Guiderius * Guinevere * Guithelin * Gurgintius * Gurguit Barbtruc * Gurgustius * Gwenddoleu ap Ceidio * Queen Gwendolen * Helena (empress) * Helenus * Hengist and Horsa * Hoel * Humber the Hun * Iago ap Beli * Idvallo * Igraine * Ingenius of Britain * Jago of Britain * Julius and Aaron * Julius Asclepiodotus * Julius Caesar * Sir Kay * Keredic * Kimarcus * Kinarius * Latinus * Lavinia * Leil * Leir of Britain * Locrinus * King Lot * Lucius of Britain * Lucius Tiberius * Lud son of Heli * Maddan * Maelgwn Gwynedd * Magnus Maximus * Mandubracius * Queen Marcia * Marganus * Marganus II * Marius of Britain * Mempricius * Merianus * Merlin * Millus * Mordred * Morgause * Morvidus * Myrddin Wyllt * Nennius of Britain * Octa of Kent * Oenus * Oswald of Northumbria * Oswiu of Northumbria * Owain mab Urien * Penda of Mercia * Peredur * Peredurus * Pir of the Britons * Porrex I * Porrex II * Publius Septimius Geta * Quintus Laberius Durus * Redechius * Redon of Britain * Regan (King Lear) * Rhydderch Hael * Rience * Rivallo * Rud Hud Hudibras * Runo * Sawyl Penuchel * Septimius Severus * Silvius (mythology) * Sisillius I * Sisillius II * Sisillius III * Son of Gorbonianus * Taliesin * Tasciovanus * Trahern * Turnus * Urianus * Uther Pendragon * Venissa * Vespasian * Vortigern * Vortimer * Vortiporius *