Little is definitively known of the life and schooling of Geoffrey of Monmouth, but his extraordinary literary works have survived centuries as a testament to his legacy. Around the time of Geoffrey's life, the written Arthurian legends were mostly fragmentary and often incoherent. He therefore took on the task of creating the first full biographies of King Arthur and Merlin, which from that point on remained the quintessential source for all Arthurian legend tales. His finest work, "The History of the Kings of Britain", traces the reign of nearly a hundred British kings, beginning with the nation's mythical founder, Brutus. It is an imaginative and meticulously written masterpiece. Modeled after the Ænied, one half of the work is devoted towards the first ten centuries of British history. The second half, comprising about two centuries, focuses primarily around King Arthur, the rise and fall of the Round Table, and the declining fortunes of Arthur's heirs.
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- Title page
- BOOK I.
- CHAP. I.-The epistle dedicatory to Robert Earl of Gloucester.
- CHAP. II.-The first inhabitants of Britain.
- CHAP. III.-Brutus, being banished after the killing of his parents, goes into Greece.
- CHAP. IV.-Brutus's letter to Pandrasus.'
- CHAP. V.-Brutus falling upon the forces of Pandrasus by surprise, routs them, and takes Antigonus, the brother of Pandrasus, with Anacletus, prisoner.
- CHAP. VI.-The town of Sparatinum besieged by Pandrasus.
- CHAP. VII.-The besieged ask assistance of Brutus.
- CHAP. VIII.-Anacletus, in fear of death, betrays the army of the Greeks.
- CHAP. IX.-The taking of Pandrasus.
- CHAP. X.-A consultation about what is to be asked of the captive king.
- CHAP. XI.-Pandrasus gives his daughter Ignoge in marriage to Brutus, who, after his departure from Greece, falls upon a desert island, where he is told by oracle of Diana what place he is to inhabit.
- CHAP. XII.-Brutus enters Aquitaine with Corineus.
- CHAP. XIII.-Goffarius routed by Brutus.
- CHAP. XIV.-Brutus, after his victory with Goffarius, ravages Aquitaine with fire and sword.
- CHAP. XV.-Goffarius's fight with Brutus.
- CHAP. XVI.-Albion divided between Brutus and Corineus.
- CHAP. XVII.-The building of new Troy by Brutus, upon the river Thames.
- CHAP. XVIII.-New Troy being built, and laws made for the government of it, it is given to the citizens that were to inhabit it.
- BOOK II.
- CHAP. I.-After the death of Brutus, his three sons succeed him in the kingdom.
- CHAP. II.-Locrin, having routed Humber, falls in love with Estrildis.
- CHAP. III.-Corineus resents the affront put upon his daughter.
- CHAP. IV.-Locrin at last marries Guendolona, the daughter of Corineus.
- CHAP. V.-Locrin is killed
- Estrildis and Sabre are thrown into a river.
- CHAP. VI.-Guendolona delivers up the kingdom to Maddan, her son, after whom succeeds Mempricius.
- CHAP. VII.-Ebraucus, the successor of Mempricius, conquers the Gauls, and builds the towns Kaerebrauc, &c.
- CHAP. VIII.-Ebraucus's twenty sons go to Germany, and his thirty daughters to Sylvius Alba, in Italy.
- CHAP. IX.-After Ebraucus reigns Brutus his son, after him Leil, and after Leil, Hudibras.
- CHAP. X.-Bladud succeeds Hudibras in the kingdom, and practises magical operations.
- CHAP. XI.-Leir the son of Bladud, having no son, divides his kingdom among his daughters.
- CHAP. XII.-Leir, finding the ingratitude of his two eldest daughters, betakes himself to his youngest, Cordeilla, in Gaul.
- CHAP. XIII.-He is honourably received by Cordeilla and the king of Gaul.
- CHAP. XIV.-Leir, being restored to the kingdom by the help of his son-in-law and Cordeilla, dies.
- CHAP. XV.-Cordeilla, being imprisoned, kills herself. Margan, aspiring to the whole kingdom, is killed by Cunedagius.
- CHAP. XVI.-The successors of Cunedagius in the kingdom. Ferrex is killed by his brother Porrex, in a dispute for the government.
- CHAP. XVII.-Dunwallo Molmutius gains the sceptre of Britain, from whom came the Molmutine laws.
- BOOK III.
- CHAP. I.-Brennius quarrels with Belinus his brother, and in order to make war against him, marries the daughter of the king of the Norwegians.
- CHAP. II.-Brennius's sea-fight with Guichthlac, king of the Dacians. Guichthlac and Brennius's wife are driven ashore and taken by Belinus.
- CHAP. III.-Belinus in a battle routs Brennius, who thereupon flees to Gaul.
- CHAP. IV.-The king of Dacia, with Brennius's wife, is released out of prison.
- CHAP. V.-Belinus revives and confirms the Molmutine laws, especially about the highways.
- CHAP. VI.-Brennius, being made duke of the Allobroges, returns to Britain to fight with his brother.
- CHAP. VII.-Belinus and Brennius being made friends by the mediation of their mother, propose to subdue Gaul.
- CHAP. VIII.-Belinus and Brennius, after the conquest of Gaul, march with their army to Rome.
- CHAP. IX.-The Romans make a covenant with Brennius, but afterwards break it, for which reason Rome is besieged and taken by Brennius.
- CHAP. X.-Brennius oppresses Italy in a most tyrannical manner. Belinus returns to Britain.
- CHAP. XI.-Gurgiunt Brabtruc, succeeding his father Belinus, reduces Dacia, which was trying to shake off the yoke.
- CHAP. XII.-Ireland is given to be inhabited by the Barclenses, who had been banished out of Spain.
- CHAP. XIII.-Guithelin, reigning after Gurgiunt Brabtruc, the Martian law is instituted by Martia, a noble woman.
- CHAP. XIV.-Guithelin's successors in the kingdom.
- CHAP. XV.-Morvidus, a most cruel tyrant, after the conquest of the king of the Morini, is devoured by a monster.
- CHAP. XVI.-Gorbonian, a most just king of the Britons.
- CHAP. XVII.-Arthgallo is deposed by the Britons, and is succeeded by Elidure, who restores him again his kingdom.
- CHAP. XVIII.-Elidure is imprisoned by Peredure, after whose death he is a third time advanced to the throne.
- CHAP. XIX.-The names of Elidure's thirty-three successors.
- CHAP. XX.-Heli's three sons
- the first of whom, viz. Lud, gives name to the city of London.
- BOOK IV.
- CHAP. I.-Julius Caesar invades Britain.
- CHAP. II.-Cassibellaunus's letter to Julius Caesar.
- CHAP. III.-Caesar is routed by Cassibellaun.
- CHAP. IV.-Nennius, the brother of Cassibellaun, being wounded in battle by Caesar, dies.
- CHAP. V.-Caesar's inglorious return to Gaul.
- CHAP. VI.-Cassibellaun forms a stratagem for sinking Caesar's ships.
- CHAP. VII.-Caesar a second time vanquished by the Britons.
- CHAP. VIII.-Evelinus kills Hirelglas. Androgeus desires Caesar's assistance against Cassibellaun.
- CHAP. IX.-Cassibellaun, being put to flight, and besieged by Caesar, desires peace.
- CHAP. X.-Androgeus's speech to Caesar.
- CHAP. XI.-Tenuantius is made king of Britain after Cassibellaun.
- CHAP. XII.-Upon Guiderius's refusing to pay tribute to the Romans, Claudius Caesar invades Britain.
- CHAP. XIII.-Leuis Hamo, a Roman, by wicked treachery kills Guiderius.
- CHAP. XIV.-Arviragus, king of Britain, makes his submission to Claudius, who with his assistance conquers the Orkney islands.
- CHAP. XV.-Claudius gives his daughter Genuissa for a wife to Arviragus, and returns to Rome.
- CHAP. XVI.-Arviragus revolting from the Romans, Vespasian is sent into Britain.
- CHAP. XVII.-Rodric, leader of the Picts, is vanquished by Marius.
- CHAP. XVIII.-Marius dying, is succeeded by Coillus.
- CHAP. XIX.-Lucius is the first British king that embraces the Christian faith, together with his people.
- CHAP. XX.-Faganus and Duvanus give an account t Rome, of what they had done in Britain.
- BOOK V.
- CHAP. I.-Lucius dies without issue, and is a benefactor to the churches.
- CHAP. II.-Severus, a senator, subdues part of Britain
- his war with Fulgenius.
- CHAP. III.-Carausius advanced to be king of Britain.
- CHAP. IV.-Allectus kills Carausius, but is afterwards himself slain in flight by Asclepiodotus.
- CHAP. V.-Asclepiodotus obtains the crown. Diocletian's massacre of the Christians in Britain.
- CHAP. VI.-An insurrection against Asclepiodotus, by Coel, whose daughter Helena Constantius marries.
- CHAP. VII.-The Romans desire Constantine's assistance against the cruelty of Maxentius.
- CHAP. VIII.-Constantine, having reduced Rome, obtains the empire of the world. Octavius, duke of the Wisseans, is put to flight by Trahern.
- CHAP. IX.-Maximian is desired for a king of Britain.
- CHAP. X.-Maximian, coming into Britain, artfully declines fighting with Conan.
- CHAP. XI.-The kingdom of Britain is bestowed on Maximian.
- CHAP. XII.-Maximian overthrows the Armoricans: his speech to Conan.
- CHAP. XIII.-Redonum taken by Maximian.
- CHAP. XIV.-Maximian, after the conquest of Gaul and Germany, makes Triers the seat of his empire.
- CHAP. XV.-A fight between the Aquitanians and Conan.
- CHAP. XVI.-Guanius and Melga murder eleven thousand virgins. Maximian is killed at Rome.
- BOOK VI.
- CHAP. I.-Gratian, being advanced to the throne, is killed by the common people. The Britons desire the Romans to defend them against Guanius and Melga.
- CHAP. II.-Guithelin's speech to the Britons when the Romans left them.
- CHAP. III.-The Britons are again cruelly harassed by Guanius and Melga.
- CHAP. IV.-Guithelin desires succours of Aldroen.
- CHAP. V.-Constantine, being made king of Britain, leaves three sons.
- CHAP. VI.-Constans is by Vortigern crowned king of Britain.
- CHAP. VII.-Vortigern treacherously contrives to get king Constans assassinated.
- CHAP. VIII.-Aurelius Ambrosius and Uther Pendragon flee from Vortigern, and go to Lesser Britain.
- CHAP. IX.-Vortigern makes himself king of Britain.
- CHAP. X.-Vortigern takes the Saxons that were new-comers, to his assistance.
- CHAP. XI.-Hengist brings over great numbers of Saxons into Britain: his crafty petition to Vortigern.
- CHAP. XII.-Vortigern marries Rowen, the daughter of Hengist.
- CHAP. XIII.-The bishops, Germanus and Lupus, restore the Christian faith that had been corrupted in Britain. Octa and Ebissa are four times routed by Vortimer.
- CHAP. XIV.-Vortimer's kindness to his soldiers at his death.
- CHAP. XV.-Hengist, having wickedly murdered the princes of Britain, keeps Vortigern prisoner.
- CHAP. XVI.-Eldol's valiant exploit. Hengist forces Vortigern to yield up the strongest fortifications in Britain, in consideration of his release.
- CHAP. XVII.-Vortigern, after consultation with magicians, orders a youth to be brought that never had a father.
- CHAP. XVIII.-Vortigern inquires of Merlin's mother concerning her conception of him.
- CHAP. XIX.-Merlin's speech to the king's magicians, and advice about the building of the tower.
- BOOK VII.
- CHAP. I.-Geoffrey of Monmouth's preface to Merlin's prophesy.
- CHAP. II.-Geoffrey's letter to Alexander, bishop of Lincoln.
- CHAP. III.-The prophesy of Merlin.
- CHAP. IV.-The continuation of the prophesy.
- BOOK VIII.
- CHAP. I.-Vortigern asks Merlin concerning his own death.
- CHAP. II.-Aurelius Ambrosius, being anointed king of Britain, burns Vortigern besieged in a tower.
- CHAP. III.-The praise of Aurelius's valour. The levity of the Scots exposed. Forces raised against Hengist.
- CHAP. IV.-Hengist marches with his army against Aurelius, into the field of Maisbeli.
- CHAP. V.-A battle between Aurelius and Hengist.
- CHAP. VI.-Hengist, in a duel with Eldol, is taken by him. The Saxons are slain by the Britons without mercy.
- CHAP. VII.-Hengist is beheaded by Eldol.
- CHAP. VIII.-Octa, being besieged in York, surrenders himself to the mercy of Aurelius.
- CHAP. IX.-Aurelius, having entirely routed the enemies, restores all things in Britain, especially ecclesiastical affairs, to their ancient state.
- CHAP. X.-Aurelius is advised by Merlin to remove the Giant's Dance from the mountain Killaraus.
- CHAP. XI.-Uther Pendragon is appointed with Merlin to bring over the Giant's Dance.
- CHAP. XII.-Gillomanius being routed by Uther, the Britons bring over the Giant's dance into Britain.
- CHAP. XIII.-Pascentius brings in the Saxons against the Britons.
- CHAP. XIV.-Pascentius, assisted by the king of Ireland, again invades Britain. Aurelius dies by the treachery of Eopa, a Saxon.
- CHAP. XV.-A comet presignifies the reign of Uther.
- CHAP. XVI.-Pascentius and Gillomanius are killed in battle.
- CHAP. XVII.-Uther Pendragon is made king of Britain.
- CHAP. XVIII.-Octa and Eosa are taken in battle.
- CHAP. XIX.-Uther, falling in love with Igerna, enjoys her by the assistance of Merlin's magical operations.
- CHAP. XX.-Gorlois being killed, Uther marries Igerna.
- CHAP. XXI.-Octa and Eosa renew the war. Lot, a consul, marries the king's daughter.
- CHAP. XXII.-Uther, being ill, is carried in a horse-litter against the enemy.
- CHAP. XXIII.-Octa and Eosa, with a great number of their men, are killed.
- CHAP. XXIV.-Uther, upon drinking spring water that was treacherously poisoned by the Saxons, dies.
- BOOK IX.
- CHAP. I.-Arthur succeeds his father Uther in the kingdom of Britain, and besieges Colgrin.
- CHAP. II.-Hoel sends fifteen thousand men to Arthur's assistance.
- CHAP. III.-Arthur makes the Saxons his tributaries.
- CHAP. IV.-Dubricius's speech against the treacherous Saxons. Arthur with his own hand kills four hundred and seventy Saxons in one battle. Colgrin and Baldulph are killed in the same.
- CHAP. V.-The Saxons, after their leader Cheldric was killed, are all compelled by Cador to surrender.
- CHAP. VI.-Arthur grants a pardon to the Scots and Picts, besieged at the Lake Lumond.
- CHAP. VII.-Arthur relates the wonderful nature of some ponds.
- CHAP. VIII.-Arthur restores York to its ancient beauty, especially as to its churches.
- CHAP. IX.-Arthur honours Augusel with the sceptre of the Scots
- Urian with that of Mureif
- and Lot with the consulship of Londonesia.
- CHAP. X.-Arthur adds to his government Ireland, Iceland, Gothland, and the Orkneys.
- CHAP. XI.-Arthur subdues Norway, Dacia, Aquitaine, and Gaul.
- CHAP. XII.-Arthur summons a great many kings, princes, bishops, archbishops, &c., to a solemn assembly at the City of Legions.
- CHAP. XIII.-A description of the royal pomp at the coronation of Arthur.
- CHAP. XIV.-After a variety of sports at the coronation, Arthur amply rewards his servants.
- CHAP. XV.-A letter from Lucius Tiberius, general of the Romans, to Arthur being read, they consult about an answer to it.
- CHAP. XVI.-Arthur, holding council with the kings, desires every one of them to deliver their opinions.
- CHAP. XVII.-The opinion of Hoel, king of Armorica, concerning a war with the Romans.
- CHAP. XVIII.-The opinion of Augusel.
- CHAP. XIX.-They unanimously agree upon a war with the Romans.
- CHAP. XX.-Arthur prepares for a war, and refuses to pay tribute to the Romans.
- BOOK X.
- CHAP. I.-Lucius Tiberius calls together the eastern kings against the Britons.
- CHAP. II.-Arthur commits to his nephew Modred the government of Britain. His dream at Hamo's Port.
- CHAP. III.-Arthur kills a Spanish giant who had stolen away Helena, the niece of Hoel.
- CHAP. IV.-Arthur's ambassadors to Lucius Tiberius deliver Petreius Cotta, whom they took prisoner, to Arthur.
- CHAP. V.-The Romans attack the Britons with a very great force, but are put to flight by them.
- CHAP. VI.-Lucius Tiberius goes to Lengriæ. Arthur, designing to vanquish him, by a stratagem possesses himself of the valley of Suesia.
- CHAP. VII.-Arthur's exhortation to his soldiers.
- CHAP. VIII.-Lucius Tiberius, discovering Arthur's design, in a speech animates his followers to fight.
- CHAP. IX.-A battle between Arthur and Lucius Tiberius.
- CHAP. X.-Hoel and Walgan signalize their valour in the fight.
- CHAP. XI.-Lucius Tiberius being killed, the Britons obtain the victory.
- CHAP. XII.-Part of the Romans flee
- the rest, of their own accord, surrender themselves for slaves.
- CHAP. XIII.-The bodies of the slain are decently buried, each in their respective countries.
- BOOK XI.
- CHAP. I.-Modred makes a great slaughter of Arthur's men, but is beaten, and flees to Winchester.
- CHAP. II.-Modred, after being twice besieged and routed, is killed. Arthur, being wounded, gives up the kingdom to Constantine.
- CHAP. III.-Constantine meets with disturbances from the Saxons and Modred's sons.
- CHAP. IV.-Constantine, having murdered the two sons of Modred, is himself killed by Conan.
- CHAP. V.-Aurelius Conan reigns after Constantine.
- CHAP. VI.-Wortiporius, being declared king, conquers the Saxons.
- CHAP. VII.-Malgo, king of Britain, and a most graceful person, addicts himself to sodomy.
- CHAP. VIII.-Britain, in the flame of a civil war under king Careticus, is miserably wasted by the Saxons and Africans.
- CHAP. IX.-The author upbraids the Britons.
- CHAP. X.-Loegria is again inhabited by the Saxons. The Britons, with their bishops, retire into Cornwall and Wales.
- CHAP. XI.-The Britons lose their kingdom.
- CHAP. XII.-Augustine, being sent by pope Gregory into Britain, preaches the gospel to the Angles.
- CHAP. XIII.-Ethelfrid kills a great number of the British monks, but is at last routed by the Britons.
- BOOK XII.
- CHAP. I.-Cadwan acquires by treaty all Britain on this side of the Humber, and Ethelfrid the rest.
- CHAP. II.-Cadwalla breaks the covenant he had made with Edwin.
- CHAP. III.-A quarrel between Cadwalla and Edwin.
- CHAP. IV.-Cadwalla is vanquished by Edwin, and driven out of the kingdom.
- CHAP. V.-The speech of Salomon, king of Armorica, to Cadwalla.
- CHAP. VI.-Cadwalla's answer to Salomon.
- CHAP. VII.-Brian kills Edwin's magician.
- CHAP. VIII.-Cadwalla takes Penda, and routs his army.
- CHAP. IX.-Cadwalla kills Osric and Aidan in fight.
- CHAP. X.-Oswald routs Penda in fight, but is killed by Cadwalla coming in upon him.
- CHAP. XI.-Oswy submits to Cadwalla. Penda desires leave of Cadwalla to make war against him.
- CHAP. XII.-Cadwalla is advised to suffer Penda to make an insurrection against Oswy.
- CHAP. XIII.-Penda is killed by Oswy. Cadwalla dies.
- CHAP. XIV.-Cadwallader succeeds Cadwalla.
- CHAP. XV.-The Britons are compelled, by pestilence and famine, to leave Britain. Cadwallader's lamentation.
- CHAP. XVI.-Cadwallader with his people goes to Alan. The Saxons seize all Britain.
- CHAP. XVII.-Cadwallader is by the voice of an angel deterred from returning to Britain.
- CHAP. XVIII.-Cadwallader goes to Rome and dies.
- CHAP. XIX.-The two Britons, Ivor and Ini, in vain attack the nation of the Angles. Athelstan the first king of the Angles.
- CHAP. XX.-Geoffrey of Monmouth's conclusion.
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