Read Kingdom Online

Authors: Robyn Young

Kingdom (71 page)

: Scots for dagger.

: a short sword with a curved edge.

: a ditch or moat.

: a padded coat worn by soldiers, often made of quilted cloth, stuffed with felt or straw.

: thought to have been a Welshman or Breton by birth, Monmouth resided in Oxford during the twelfth century, where he was possibly a canon of St George’s College. Later, he became Bishop of St Asaph. He wrote three known works during his life, the most famous being
The History of the Kings of Britain
of which the
Prophecies of Merlin
became part, followed by
Life of Merlin
. Despite mixing established British history with romantic fiction, Monmouth presented his writings as fact and many readers of his works took them as such, accepting King Arthur and Merlin as historical figures. Monmouth’s works, although criticised by some of his contemporaries, were hugely popular during the medieval period and from his
The History of the Kings of Britain
sprang the immense canon of Arthurian literature that graced Europe over the following centuries. Chrétien de Troyes, Malory, Shakespeare and Tennyson were all influenced by his work.

: a shirt or coat of mail with long sleeves.

: a hooded cloak.

: a high-ranking noble.

: a castle or keep built on a mound, often surrounded by a bailey.

: a light horse used for everyday riding.

: written by Geoffrey of Monmouth during the twelfth century. Originally composed as a separate volume, the
were later incorporated into his
History of the Kings of Britain
. According to Monmouth he was translating the work into Latin from an older text. Monmouth has been credited as being the creator of Merlin, but it is now believed he derived this enigmatic figure from earlier Welsh sources.

: an arrow for a crossbow.

: a shield ring usually composed of spearmen.

: also known as the Staff of Jesus, it was a wooden crosier covered with gold. It was believed to have belonged to St Patrick, who is said to have received it from Jesus. Highly revered by the Irish, it became connected with Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh, when he was forced to pay off the leader of the secular clan who had possession of the staff and control of St Patrick’s Cathedral and its diocese. According to popular law, only when Malachy had the staff could he claim to be the rightful archbishop. The staff was taken to Dublin in the late twelfth century, where it was burned as a superstitious relic in the sixteenth century.

: also called the Stone of Scone, it was the ancient seat used in Scottish coronations. Thought to have been brought to Scone in the ninth century by Scotland’s king, Kenneth mac Alpin, its origins are unknown. It was seized by Edward I during the 1296 invasion and taken to Westminster Abbey where it was set in a specially designed throne and became part of the English coronation ceremony. It remained here until 1950 when four students stole it and returned it to Scotland. It was later sent back to England, before being officially presented to Edinburgh Castle in 1996, where it remains on display. It will be returned to Westminster for future coronations.

: a long sleeveless garment usually worn over armour.

: armour for the lower arm.

: a retainer subject to a feudal superior, who holds land in return for homage and services.

: a flap of mail that can be pulled up and secured to protect the lower half of the face during combat.


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Excerpts used as epigraphs on part titles taken from:

The Vita Merlini
, Geoffrey of Monmouth (trans. John Jay Parry), BiblioBazaar, 2008

The British History of Geoffrey of Monmouth
(trans. A. Thompson, revised edn J. A. Giles), William Stevens (printer), London, 1842

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