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The Battle of Badon (Latin: Bellum in monte Badonis or Mons Badonicus, Welsh: Cad Mynydd Baddon, all literally meaning "Battle of Mount Badon" or " Battle of Badon Hill") was a battle thought to have occurred between Celtic Britons
Celtic Britons
and Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxons
in the late 5th or early 6th century.[1] It was credited as a major victory for the Britons, stopping the encroachment of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms for a period. It is chiefly known today for the supposed involvement of King Arthur, a tradition that first clearly appeared in the 9th-century Historia Brittonum. Because of the limited number of sources, there is no certainty about the date, location, or details of the fighting.[2][3]

Contents

1 Historical accounts

1.1 Siege of Mount Badon 1.2 Battle of Badon

2 Scholarship 3 Aftermath 4 Second Badon 5 Local lore 6 See also 7 References

Historical accounts[edit] See also: Historia Brittonum, Annales Cambriae, and Historia Regum Britanniae Siege of Mount Badon[edit] See also: Germanus of Auxerre
Germanus of Auxerre
and Ambrosius Aurelianus The earliest mention of the Battle of Badon is Gildas' De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae ("On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain"), written in the early to mid-6th century. In it, the Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxons
are said to have "dipped [their] red and savage tongue in the western ocean" before Ambrosius Aurelianus
Ambrosius Aurelianus
organized a British resistance with the survivors of the initial Saxon onslaught. Gildas
Gildas
describes the period that followed Ambrosius' initial success:

From that time, the citizens were sometimes victorious, sometimes the enemy, in order that the Lord, according to His wont, might try in this nation the Israel of to-day, whether it loves Him or not. This continued up to the year of the siege of Badon Hill (obsessionis Badonici montis), and of almost the last great slaughter inflicted upon the rascally crew. And this commences, a fact I know, as the forty-fourth year, with one month now elapsed; it is also the year of my birth.[4]

The Ruin of Britain is unclear as to whether Ambrosius is still leading the Britons at this point,[5] but describes the battle as such an "unexpected recovery of the [island]" that it caused kings, nobles, priests, and commoners to "live orderly according to their several vocations" before the long peace degenerated into civil wars and the iniquity of Maelgwn Gwynedd. Passages of The Ruin of Britain that address Maelgwn directly are sometimes employed to date the work from accounts of the king's death by plague in the 540s, but such arguments ignore the obvious apostrophe employed in the passages and the possible years of composition involved in the final collected sermon. The battle is next mentioned in an 8th-century text of Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People.[6] It describes the "siege of Mount Badon, when they made no small slaughter of those invaders," as occurring 44 years after the first Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain.[7][8] Since Bede
Bede
places that arrival during or just after the joint reign of Marcian
Marcian
and Valentinian III
Valentinian III
in AD 449–456,[9][10] he must have considered Badon to have taken place between 493 and 500. Bede
Bede
then puts off discussion of the battle – "But more of this hereafter" – only to seemingly never return to it. Bede
Bede
does later include an extended account of Saint Germanus's victory over the Saxons and Picts
Picts
in a mountain valley,[11] which he credits with curbing the threat of invasion for a generation.[12] However, as the victory is described as having been accomplished bloodlessly, it was presumably a different occasion from Badon. (Accepted at face value, St. Germanus's involvement would also place the battle around 430, although Bede's chronology shows no knowledge of this.) Battle of Badon[edit]

See also: King Arthur
King Arthur
and Historicity of King Arthur The earliest surviving text mentioning Arthur at the battle is the early 9th century Historia Brittonum,[13] in which the soldier (Latin mīles) Arthur is identified as the leader of the victorious British force at Badon:

"The twelfth battle was on Mount Badon in which there fell in one day 960 men from one charge by Arthur; and no one struck them down except Arthur himself".[14][15]

The Battle of Badon is next mentioned in the Annales Cambriae
Annales Cambriae
("Annals of Wales"),[16] assumed to have been written during the mid- to late-10th century. The entry states:

The Battle of Badon, in which Arthur carried the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ for three days and three nights upon his shoulders [or shield[17]] and the Britons were the victors".[18][19]

That Arthur had gone unmentioned in the source closest to his own time, Gildas, was noticed at least as early as the 12th century hagiography that claims that Gildas
Gildas
had praised Arthur extensively but then excised him completely after Arthur killed the saint's brother, Hueil mab Caw. Modern writers have suggested the details of the battle were so well known that Gildas
Gildas
could have expected his audience to be familiar with them.[20] Geoffrey of Monmouth's c. 1136 Historia Regum Britanniae
Historia Regum Britanniae
was massively popular and survives in many copies from soon after its composition.[21] Going into (and fabricating) much greater detail, Geoffrey closely identifies Badon with Bath, including having Merlin foretell that Badon's baths would lose their hot water and turn poisonous.[22] He employs aspects of other accounts, mixing them: the battle begins as a Saxon siege and then becomes a normal engagement once Arthur's men arrive; Arthur bears the image of the Virgin both on his shield and shoulder. Arthur charges, but kills a mere 470, ten more than the number of Britons ambushed by Hengist near Salisbury. Elements of the Welsh legends are also added: in addition to the shield Pridwen, Arthur gains his sword Caliburnus and his spear, Ron. Geoffrey also makes the defence of the city from the Saxon sneak attack a holy cause, having Dubricius
Dubricius
offer absolution of all sins for those who fall in battle.[23] Scholarship[edit] Separate sources dating the concession of Thanet
Thanet
to Hengist to 447 would place The Ruin of Britain and Bede's account of the battle around the year 491. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
is completely silent about this battle but does seem to document a gap of almost 70 years between two major Anglo-Saxon leaders (bretwaldas) in the 5th and 6th centuries. If Rhigyfarch's celebrated Life of David is credited, its account of Saint David's ten years of education under Paul Aurelian
Paul Aurelian
suggests David could not have been born later than 514.[why?] Since the same account has Gildas
Gildas
preaching to Saint Non
Saint Non
while she was pregnant with David, it is improbable that Gildas's birth – and therefore the battle – could have occurred later than 498.[why?] McCarthy and Ó Cróinín propose Gildas's 44 years and one month is not a reference to the simple chronology but a position within the 84-year Easter cycle used for computus at the time by the Britons and the Irish church. The tables in question in January 438, which would place their revised date of the battle in February 482.[24] Hirst, Ashe and Wood argue for the site of Liddington Castle
Liddington Castle
on the hill above Badbury (Old English: Baddan byrig) in Wiltshire. This site commands The Ridgeway, which connects the River Thames
River Thames
with the River Avon and River Severn
River Severn
beyond.[25][26][27] Aftermath[edit] The early sources' account that the Saxons were thrown back around this time seems to be borne out by archaeological evidence. Studies of cemeteries (at this point, the Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxons
remained pagan while the Britons were Christianized) suggest the border shifted some time around 500. Afterwards, the pagans held the present areas of Kent, Sussex, Norfolk
Norfolk
and Suffolk, and the area around the Humber. The Britons seem to have controlled salients to the north and west of London
London
and south of Verulamium
Verulamium
in addition to everything west of a line running from Christchurch at the mouth of the Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Avon north to the Trent, then along the Trent to the Humber, then north along the Derwent to the North Sea. The salients could then be supplied along Watling Street, dividing the invaders into pockets south of the Weald
Weald
in east Kent
Kent
and around the Wash.[citation needed] Second Badon[edit] The A Text of the Annales Cambriae[16] includes the entry: "The first celebration of Easter among the Saxons. The second battle of Badon. Morgan dies."[19][28] The date for this action is given by Phillimore as 665,[16] but the Saxons' first Easter is placed by the B Text in its entry 634 years after the birth of Christ and neither Second Badon nor Morcant are mentioned.[29] Local lore[edit] See also: Locations associated with Arthurian legend Apart from the professional scholarship, various communities around Wales and England carry on local traditions that their area was the site of the battle: these include Bathampton Down;[30] Badbury Rings at the Kingston Lacy House in Dorset;[31] and Bowden Hill
Bowden Hill
in Wiltshire.[citation needed] See also[edit]

Battle of Camlann

References[edit]

^ Ashe, Geoffrey, From Caesar to Arthur pp.295-8 ^ Dupuy, R. Ernest & al. The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History From 3500 B.C. to the Present, 4th ed., p. 193. HarperCollins Pub. (New York), 1993. ^ Hollister, C. Warren. The Making of England to 1399, 8th ed., p. 31. Houghton Mifflin Co. (New York), 2001. ^ Hugh Williams (ed.), Gildas, De Excidio Britanniae, Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 1899, p. 61-63. ^ Geoffrey Ashe, for one, argues against his involvement. Cf. Ashe, Geoffrey. The British Recovery 473–517, pp. 295–298. ^ The "Tiberius Bede" or C text. Cotton Tiberius MS. C.II. (in Latin) ^ Bede. The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, I.xvi. ^ L. ...usque ad annum obsessionis Badonici montis quando non minimas eisdem hostibus strages dabant quadragesimo circiter & quarto anno adventus eorum in Britaniam. ^ Per Bede's account. The actual dates were somewhat different. ^ Bede, I.xv. ^ Traditionally placed at Mold in Flintshire
Flintshire
in northeast Wales. ^ Bede, I.xx. ^ The "Nennius" entry of the Dictionary of National Biography
Dictionary of National Biography
credits an 11th-century Irish edition by Giolla Coemgin with being the oldest extant edition of the Historia Brittonum, but it apparently only survived in a 14th-century copy. Cf. Todd, James. Irish version of the Historia Britonum of Nennius. Irish Archaeological Soc. (Dublin), 1848. Accessed 6 Feb 2013. ^ L. Duodecimum fuit bellum in monte Badonis, in quo corruerunt in uno die nongenti sexaginta viri de uno impetu Arthur; et nemo prostravit eos nisi ipse solus. Mommsen, Theodore (ed.) Historia Brittonum. Accessed 7 Feb 2013. (in Latin) ^ Lupack, Alan (Trans.) The Camelot
Camelot
Project: "From The History of the Britons (Historia Brittonum) by Nennius". Retrieved 6 Feb 2013. ^ a b c Harleian MS. 3859. Op. cit. Phillimore, Egerton. Y Cymmrodor 9 (1888), pp. 141–83. (in Latin) ^ The words for "shoulder" and "shield" being easily confused in Old Welsh: scuit (shield) vs. scuid (shoulder)]. Cf. Jones, W. Lewis. The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes, Vol. I, XII, §2. Putnam, 1921. Accessed 30 Jan 2013. ^ L. Bellum badonis inquo arthur portauit crucem domini nostri ihu xp'i . tribus diebus & tribus noctibus inhumeros suos & brittones uictores fuerunt. ^ a b Ingram, James. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Everyman Press (London), 1912. ^ Green, p. 31. ^ The earliest two being the Cambridge 1706 II.I.14 and Berne Stadtbibliotek MS 568, both apparently from the year of composition. Cf. Griscom, Acton. The Historia Regum Britanniae
Historia Regum Britanniae
of Geoffrey of Monmouth. Longmans, Green, & Co., 1929. Accessed 7 Feb 2013. ^ Thompson. VII.iii. ^ Thompson, Aaron & al. (trans.) History of the Kings of Britain, IX.iv. In Parentheses, 1999. Accessed 6 Feb 2013. ^ Daniel P. McCarthy and Dáibhí Ó Cróinín. "The 'lost' Irish 84-year Easter table rediscovered". Peritia, vol. 6–7, 1987–1988, pp. 227–242. ^ Hirst, S. et al. " Liddington Castle
Liddington Castle
and the battle of Badon : Excavations and research 1976". Archaeological Journal. 1996, vol. 153, pp. 1–59. ^ Ashe, Geoffrey. From Caesar to Arthur, pp. 162–4 ^ Wood, Michael, In Search of Myths and Heroes (2005), pp. 219-220. ^ L. Primum pasca apud saxones celebratur. Bellum badonis secundo. morcant moritur. ^ Public Record Office of the United Kingdom. MS. E.164/1, p. 8. (in Latin) ^ Scott, Shane (1995). The hidden places of Somerset. Aldermaston: Travel Publishing Ltd. p. 16. ISBN 1-902007-01-8.  ^ "Badbury Rings"

Green, Thomas. Concepts of Arthur. Tempus (Stroud, Gloucestershire), 2007. ISBN 9780752444611.

v t e

King Arthur
King Arthur
and the Matter of Britain

Key people

King Arthur Constantine Galahad Gawain Queen Guinevere Igraine Lady of the Lake Lancelot Merlin Mordred Morgan le Fay Morgause Percival Tristan Uther Pendragon

Knights of the Round Table

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

Other characters

Balin Balan King Ban Claudas Culhwch Dindrane Ector Elaine of Astolat Elaine of Corbenic Fisher King Galehaut Gorlois Gwenhwyfach Hellawes Iseult Black Knight Green Knight Red Knight Lohengrin King Lot Maleagant King Mark Emperor Lucius Olwen Questing Beast Rience Tom Thumb

Objects

Excalibur Holy Grail Round Table Siege Perilous

Places

Astolat Avalon Brocéliande
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

v t e

Geoffrey of Monmouth

Works

Prophetiae Merlini
Prophetiae Merlini
(c. 1135) Historia Regum Britanniae
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
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 Wulfhere of Mercia Ywain Æthelberht of Kent Æthelfrith of Northumbria Œthelwald of Deira

Topics

Avalon Battle of Arfderydd Battle of Badon Battle of Camlann Battle of Guoloph Brut y Tywysogion Crocea Mors Excalibur Lailoken List of legendary kings of Britain List of legendary rulers of Cornwall Logres Matter of Britain Molmutine Laws Nennius Riothamus River Malvam Siege of Exeter (c. 630) Locations associated with Arthurian legend Treachery of the Long Knives Trinovantum Trojan genealogy of Nennius Walter of Oxford

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