Annales Cambriae

Annales Cambriae: page view from MS. A

Annales Cambriae (Latin for The Annals of Wales) is the name given to a complex of Cambro-Latin chronicles compiled or derived from diverse sources at St David's in Dyfed, Wales. The earliest is a 12th-century presumed copy of a mid-10th century original; later editions were compiled in the 13th century. Despite the name, the Annales Cambriae record not only events in Wales, but also events in Ireland, Cornwall, England, Scotland and sometimes further afield, though the focus of the events recorded especially in the later two-thirds of the text is Wales.


The principal versions of Annales Cambriae appear in four manuscripts:

A: London, British Library, MS. Harleian 3859, folios 190r-193r.
B: London (Kew), National Archives, MS. E.164/1 (K.R. Misc. Books, Series I) pp. 2–26
C: London, British Library, MS. Cotton Domitian A.i, folios 138r-155r
D: Exeter, Cathedral Library, MS. 3514, pp. 523–28, the Cronica ante aduentum Domini.
E: ibid., pp. 507–19, the Cronica de Wallia.

Two of the texts, B and C, begin with a World Chronicle derived from Isidore of Seville's Origines (Book V, ch. 39), through the medium of Bede's Chronica minora. B commences its annals with Julius Caesar's invasion of Britain "sixty years before the incarnation of the Lord." After A.D. 457, B agrees closely with A until A ends. C commences its annals after the empire of Heraclius (AD 610-41) at a year corresponding to AD 677. C mostly agrees with A until A ends, although it is clear that A was not the common source for B and C (Dumville 2002, p. xi). B and C diverge after 1203, C having fewer and briefer Welsh entries.

D and E are found in a manuscript written at the Cistercian abbey of Whitland in south-west Wales in the later 13th century; the Cronica ante aduentum Domini (which takes its title from its opening words) extends from 1132 BC to 1285 AD, while the Cronica de Wallia extends from 1190 to 1266.

A alone has benefited from a complete diplomatic edition (Phillimore 1888).[1]

Source for the Arthurian legend

There are two entries in the Annales on King Arthur, one on Medraut (Mordred), and one on Merlin. These entries have been presented in the past as proof of the existence of Arthur and Merlin,[2] although that view is no longer widely held because the Arthurian entries could have been added arbitrarily as late as 970, long after the development of the early Arthurian myth.

The entries on Arthur and Mordred in the A Text:

Year 72 (c. AD 516) The Battle of Badon, in which Arthur carried the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ on his shoulders for three days and three nights and the Britons were victors.
Year 93 (c. 537) The Strife of Camlann in which Arthur and Mordred fell and there was death in Britain and in Ireland.

Concerning Arthur's cross at the Battle of Badon, it is mirrored by a passage in Nennius where Arthur was said to have borne the image of the Virgin Mary "on his shoulders" during a battle at a castle called Guinnion.[3] The words for "shoulder" and "shield" were, however, easily confused in Old Welsh *scuit "shield" versus *scuid "shoulder" [3] and Geoffrey of Monmouth played upon this dual tradition, describing Arthur bearing "on his shoulders a shield" emblazoned with the Virgin.[4]

Merlin (Old Welsh Merdin) is not mentioned in the A Text, though there is mention of the battle of Arfderydd, associated with him in medieval Welsh literature:

Year 129 (c. 573) The Battle of Armterid

Texts B and C omit the second half of the year 93 entry. B calls Arfderydd "Erderit"; C, "Arderit". In the B Text, the year 129 entry continues: "between the sons of Elifer and Guendoleu son of Keidau in which battle Guendoleu fell and Merlin went mad". Both the B and C texts display the influence of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae,[5] and this is reflected in the Arfderydd entry by the choice of the Latinized form Merlinus, first found in Geoffrey's Historia, as opposed to the expected Old Welsh form Merdin.

See also


  1. Phillimore, Egerton (ed.), 1888 "The Annales Cambriae and Old Welsh Genealogies from Harleian MS. 3859", Y Cymmrodor; 9 (1888) pp. 141-183. Annales Cambriae, the A-text.
  2. John Morris (1973). The Age of Arthur, a history of the British Isles from 350 to 650, London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson
  3. 1 2 Jones, W. Lewis. The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes, Vol. I, XII, §2. Putnam, 1921. Accessed 30 Jan 2013.
  4. Geoffrey of Monmouth. History of the Kings of Britain, IX, §IV.
  5. Gough-Cooper, 2012

External links

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 10/14/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.