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Author Topic: King Brutus of Slaine  (Read 1579 times)

kev67

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King Brutus of Slaine
« on: 13 March, 2021, 03:16:53 AM »
I have been reading Gwynne's Kings and Queens: The Indispensable History of England and her Monarchs. Blow me down with a feather if the first recorded British king wasn't King Brutus. I thought his name was just a pun by Pat Mills: the British Empire being the brutish empire, Britons being brutes, etc. King Brutus was recorded as the first British king by Geoffrey of Monmouth, and most British historians think his history is a bit fanciful. Got to say, when I read King Brutus was a grandson of Aeneas, I was rather doubtful myself. I thought Aeneas was fictional. We did a bit of Virgil's Aeneid at school. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth's account, King Brutus arrived in Britain at Totnes, which is oddly specific, and quickly took over.

Dark Jimbo

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Re: King Brutus of Slaine
« Reply #1 on: 13 March, 2021, 09:24:35 AM »
I thought his name was just a pun by Pat Mills: the British Empire being the brutish empire, Britons being brutes, etc.

Yeah, it's the other way around - Britain is supposedly named after Brutus. I've always loved that British mythology is a 'spin-off' of the Greek (by way of the Trojan War).
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Re: King Brutus of Slaine
« Reply #2 on: 13 March, 2021, 09:39:47 AM »

Hold on - if Brutus was descended from Aeneas, does that mean Price Philip is closer to being King (hailing from the Classical Lands) than Elizabeth (a local Mayfair lass) is to being queen?

And where does Germany come into it? It's all very convoluted.

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I, Cosh

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Re: King Brutus of Slaine
« Reply #3 on: 13 March, 2021, 12:26:01 PM »
And where does Germany come into it? It's all very convoluted.
It certainly is. From the Plantagenets to the Stuarts there’s an entire cottage industry of academia dedicated to dredging up tenuous genealogical links which give your favoured Pretender a claim to closer descent from Brutus.
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Re: King Brutus of Slaine
« Reply #4 on: 13 March, 2021, 12:37:40 PM »

IIrc, there's a couple of  guys (Colin Wilson(?) And Barram Blackett(?)) who think they can prove that King Arthur was a real king (two real kings, in fact) who ruled much of south and mid England from Wales in the Long Ago.

How different the world might have been under the Welsh Empire.

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I, Cosh

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Re: King Brutus of Slaine
« Reply #5 on: 13 March, 2021, 01:44:12 PM »
Arthurology is quite a fertile area of interpretive history. I have a pal who’s very invested (writes papers, speaks at conferences) in the idea that Arthur actually came from Drumchapel (just outside Glasgow) and he’ll have you half convinced if you give him the chance.
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Re: King Brutus of Slaine
« Reply #6 on: 13 March, 2021, 03:44:08 PM »

I love stuff like that. Does he have a website, by any chance?

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TordelBack

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Re: King Brutus of Slaine
« Reply #7 on: 13 March, 2021, 03:57:34 PM »
King Brutus was recorded as the first British king by Geoffrey of Monmouth, and most British historians think his history is a bit fanciful. Got to say, when I read King Brutus was a grandson of Aeneas, I was rather doubtful myself. I thought Aeneas was fictional.

All kings are fictional, being just robbers, murderers and bullies and/or descendants of same who make up titles for themselves,  but Geoffrey of Monmouth's kings are more fictional than most. This is a man whose contemporary historian the pathological liar Geraldus Cambrensis* thought too fanciful.

Pat is absolutely right to include Geoffrey (who translated the prophecies of Merlin from a conveniently 'unknown language',  establishing a tradition enjoyed by John Dee and friend of Robohunter "Holy" Joe Smith) as a source for a fantastic version of dragon-haunted Britain, it's the best use for him.


* Geraldus is the guy whose writing formed the basis of the kingship ceremony in Sláine the King, written as a slur on the kings of Donegal to establish them as pagans and savages for his boss, Henry II, then engaged in the partial colonisation of Ireland.

Dark Jimbo

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Re: King Brutus of Slaine
« Reply #8 on: 13 March, 2021, 04:12:29 PM »
From the Plantagenets to the Stuarts there’s an entire cottage industry of academia dedicated to dredging up tenuous genealogical links which give your favoured Pretender a claim to closer descent from Brutus.

As a 14-times Great Grandson of Edward IV, I live in permanent readiness for the phonecall telling me that, due to some unforseen circumstances, I am needed to take my rightful place on the throne.
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Re: King Brutus of Slaine
« Reply #9 on: 13 March, 2021, 04:17:44 PM »
I love stuff like that. Does he have a website, by any chance?
He used to but I can’t find it now. Will try and find out where it’s moved to.
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Re: King Brutus of Slaine
« Reply #10 on: 13 March, 2021, 04:23:01 PM »

Thank you, :)

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kev67

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Re: King Brutus of Slaine
« Reply #11 on: 13 March, 2021, 04:42:07 PM »

All kings are fictional, being just robbers, murderers and bullies and/or descendants of same who make up titles for themselves,  but Geoffrey of Monmouth's kings are more fictional than most. This is a man whose contemporary historian the pathological liar Geraldus Cambrensis* thought too fanciful.


N.M. Gwynne (whose book I'm reading) gives Geoffrey of Monmouth more credence than most historians. He points out an incident reported in his Historia Regum Britanniae that I don't think is recorded anywhere else. In 256, British king Asclepiodotus besieged London, succeeded in bringing down its walls, beheaded all the Roman soldiers therein, and threw them in a stream. In the 16th century a road was built over the stream, named Walbrook. When the road was was dug up in the 1860s, they found a lot of skulls with no bodies.

TordelBack

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Re: King Brutus of Slaine
« Reply #12 on: 13 March, 2021, 05:32:32 PM »
Even a broken clock etc. There is of course great historical and folkloric value in Geoffrey's writing, as there is in Geraldus, but like that propagandist he also makes vast reams of stuff up for his own amusement and that of his patrons, which is why he's so entertaining. WRT Brutus, he's embellishing earlier accounts with a view to positioning Britain as the rightful inheritor of the Classical world.


If you'll indulge me - I dredged up a chunk of this stuff for my eternally-in-development Sláine blog waaaay back when Brutus and New Troy first appeared back in Books of Invasion: Moloch.

"Given that Aeneas was a refugee from the Achaean sack of Troy, which if it ever happened best guesses identify with the destruction of Troy VII circa 1200BC, who fetched up somewhere near Anzio and defeated the rulers of Latium to become the ancestor of Romulus and Remus. Or so Livy and Virgil had it, writing more than a millennium later. Another millennium later again the putative chronicler Nennius acsribes the founding of Britain to Aeneas' grandson, which would place it before 1100BC, towards the end of the Middle Bronze Age."

The idea that Britain had a Latin king originating from the Hittite world at that point is, to agree with Geraldus, fanciful. But great fun!

The Legendary Shark

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Re: King Brutus of Slaine
« Reply #13 on: 13 March, 2021, 06:12:04 PM »

This is the kind of thinking that leads to Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. More, please!

I came to history too late. I'm currently loving a bit of Plutarch's Roman Lives again after stumbling across a pristine Penguin copy in a charity shop (along with Livy's War with Hannibal, which I hope to tackle next), and it's chock full of wonderful stories.

I also get a great sense of how little the fundamental nature and problems of man have changed since then, of how vile and wonderful we can be.

Marcus Crassus, I think, invented the fire brigade on his way to becoming the richest man in the Empire. As most of the buildings in Rome were combustible, fire was a constant worry. So, there you are, a wealthy merchant, and your warehouse is on fire. In the nick of time, up turns old Marcus with a cart full of water and a mob of slaves. You are initially relieved until Marcus offers you fifty quid for the warehouse. It's worth five hundred, you protest, not counting the stock which can still be saved. Marcus inspects his fingernails and points out that the warehouse isn't worth anything while its on fire. So you lose everything or sell, turning total disaster into fifty quid and whatever can be snatched from the flames. If you accept, Marcus's slaves spring into action and the next thing you he's built a shopping centre on it. What a tw*t.

And in his will, Julius Cesar (who was assassinated because it was feared he was becoming too ambitious, which seems debatable) left every citizen of Rome enough money to live on for four months.

Sadly, the paperback I have contains only a handful of Lives, all Roman with no Greek counterpart, but it's still fascinating and inspiring. How I wish I'd been exposed to these things when I was younger, understood that old doesn't mean irrelevant.

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TordelBack

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Re: King Brutus of Slaine
« Reply #14 on: 13 March, 2021, 07:58:24 PM »
How I wish I'd been exposed to these things when I was younger, understood that old doesn't mean irrelevant.

Me too - other than my final primary school teacher, the very odd Mrs Bradley, no-one even attempted to teach us any Classics. Obviously I ended up doing archaeology at 3rd level, but having no Romans to speak of in Ireland, we conveniently left them out. I've sat in on a pile of Roman lectures, but Classics always feels like this big hole of ignorance I'm struggling to fill.

That said, I think the lack of formal education or professional need for same  has done me a favour - I read about (and visit) Greek and Roman stuff for pure pleasure, whereas a lot of my other historical interests are tainted a bit by the feeling of work-related necessity, or that I should really already know this stuff.