Timelines

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Fifteenth Century Timeline:

 

(Timeline from Greenwich Past)

 

 

1399 - 1413                               King Henry IV

1413 - 1422                               King Henry V

1413: 20 March                                   Death of Henry IV - succeeded by his son Henry V

1415                                                     King Henry V welcomed on Blackheath returning victorious from Agincourt, France.

1422: 31 August                                 King Henry V dies of fever

1422 - 1461                               King Henry VI

1427                                                     Humphrey of Gloucester inherits royal manor of Greenwich and builds Bella Court

1428                                                     Joan of Arc leads French against the English

1431                                                     Joan of Arc burned at the stake for being a witch

1433                                                     Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, brother of King Henry V, acquired land at Greenwich (Greenwich Royal Park) and has it enclosed.

1445                                                    Plague strikes England

1453                                                     End of Hundred Years' War between England and France

1455                                                     Wars of the Roses begin.

1461 - 1483                               King Edward IV

1471                                                      Pliny sets up first European observatory

1471                                                      Regiomontanus (Johann Müller) reports his observations on, what was to become, Halley's Comet

1477                                                     Edward IV bans cricket (distracted the English Army from archery)

1483                                         Edward V ascends English Throne (age 12)

1483 – 1485                               King Richard III

1485                                                     Wars of Roses end.

1485 – 1509                              King Henry VII

1491                                                     King Henry VIII (1491 - 1547) born in Greenwich.

1492                                                    Christopher Columbus lands in Caribbean Islands

1493                                                    Christopher Columbus returns to Europe and introduces tobacco

1497                                                     Vasco de Gama sails around Cape of Good Hope.

1498                                                    Vasco de Gamma discovers a sea-route to India

1499                                                    Slave trade begins in Lisbon

c1500                                                  Tudor Palace of Placentia built at Greenwich by King Henry VII

 

 

 

This chronology has been taken from the 2004 edition of Le Morte Darthur edited by Stephen H.A. Shepherd.

 

Chronology of Malory’s Life:

 

1415-1417                                             Thomas is born into a Warwickshire gentry family, the son of Philippa Chetwynd and John Malory (who died 1433/4 and was at various times sheriff, Member of Parliament [M.P.], and justice of the peace for Warwickshire.

 

Oct. 8, 1441                                         First record describing Thomas as a knight.

 

Oct. 10, 1443                                       Malory accused of having insulted, wounded, and imprisoned Thomas Smythe of Spratton, Northamptonshire, and stealing £40’s worth of his goods (the matter apparently did not go to trial).

 

Feb. 5, 1448                                        Married to Elizabeth Walsh of Wanlip, Leicestershire

 

Jan. 1445-Apr. 1446                           M.P. for Warwickshire

 

1447-8                                                 Birth of son Robert.

 

Aug. 23, 1451                                      Malory is charged at Nuneaton, Warwickshire, in the presence of Humphrey Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, with the following crimes:

 

                                                            attempted murder of the Duke of Buckingham, by ambush with twenty-six other men, in the Abbot’s woods at Combe, Warwickshire, Jan. 4, 1450.

 

                                                            “Rape” (raptus) of Joan Smith, at Coventry, May 23, 1450

 

                                                            Extortion of money from two monks of Monks Kirby, Warwickshire, May 31, 1450

 

                                                            Second “rape” of Joan Smith, and theft of £40’s of goods from her husband, Aug. 6, 1450.

 

                                                            Extortion of money from another monk of Monks Kirby, Aug. 31, 1450

 

                                                            Theft of seven cows, two calves, 335 sheep, and a cart worth £2 at Cosford, Warwickshire, June 4, 1451.

 

                                                            Theft of six does and infliction of £500’s worth of damage in the duke of Buckingham’s deer park at Cauldon, Warwickshire, July 20, 1451.

 

                                                            Escaping imprisonment at the house of Sheriff Sir William Montford at Coleshill, Warwickshire (Malory swims the moat at night), July 27, 1451.

 

                                                            Robbery, with ten accomplices, of £46 in money and £40’s worth of ornaments from Combe Abbey, July 28, 1451.

 

                                                            Further robbery at Combe Abbey, with one hundred accomplices, of £40 in money and five rings, a small psalter, two silverbells, three rosaries, and two bows, and three sheaves of arrows.

 

Jan. 27, 1452 – July 1460                    Held at various prisons in London (Ludgate, King’s Bench, the Tower of London, and Newgate) awaiting a trial that never happened. During this period Malory is released on bail several times; during two of these periods of temporary freedom he is implicated in further crimes:

 

                                                            Theft of four oxen from Lady Katherine Peyto at Sibbertoft, Northamptonshire.

 

                                                            Harboring another alleged criminal, his servant John, and attempting with him to steal horses in the environs of Great Easton, Essex.

 

                                                            For the latter, he is jailed at Colchester, Essex, from whence he escapes, Oct. 30, 1454. He is recaptured and returned to prison in London. Not long after the seizure of London by Yorkist forces in July 1460, Malory is probably freed from prison.

 

Oct. 24, 1462                                       Issued a general pardon (i.e., amnesty) by the new king, Edward IV.

 

Autumn 1462                                     Probable marriage of son Robert to Elizabeth Pulteney of Misterton, Leicestershire.

 

Oct. 1462 – Jan. 1463                         Malory participates in the military expedition of Edward IV and Richard, Earl of Warwick against Lancastrian strongholds in the Northumbrian castles of Alnwick, Bamburgh, and Dunstanborough.

 

Aug. 2, 1466 – July 26, 1467             Birth of grandson Nicholas

 

July 14, 1468                                       Malory is explicitly excluded from a general pardon of Edward IV for any crimes committed; the exclusion generally names Lancastrian sympathizers. Presumably Malory is back in prison at this time, even though no charges against him are recorded, and there is no record of his having been brought to trial.

 

Apr. 20, 1469                                     Twenty-one men, including Malory, are recorded as witnesses to a deathbed declaration of Thomas Mynton, inmate of Newgate Prison; presumably Malory is also an inmate there—a prison less likely to hold political prisoners than the Tower of London.

 

Mar. 4, 1469 – Mar. 3, 1450               Le Morte Darthur completed; to judge from Malory’s references throughout to being in prison, he may well have written most, if not all, of the work while incarcerated.

 

Feb. 22, 1470                                      Malory is explicitly excluded from another general pardon of Edward IV

 

Mar. 14, 1471                                       Malory dies, possibly still a prisoner, as he is buried at Greyfriars Church in the immediate vicinity of Newgate. If he was still a prisoner, then his imprisonment on political grounds seems less likely, as the throne had reverted to Henry VI in the previous year. According to a sixteenth-century transcription, his epitaph read as follows (the actual tombstone is lost, probably sold in 1545, with many others from the churchyard, to raise money for Henry VIII): Dominus Thomas Malleré valens miles obiit 14 Mar 1470 de parochia Mokenkyrby in comitatu Warwici (Sir Thomas Malory, a valiant knight of the parish of Monks Kirby in Warwickshire, died 14 March 1471).

 

Arthurian Timeline:

(Timeline from Brittania History)

 

33-37 AD                                            Christianity is said, by Gildas, to have come to Britain sometime during the latter part of the reign of Tiberius Caesar who ruled from 14-37 AD:

                                                            Meanwhile these islands, stiff with cold and frost, and in a distant region of the world, remote from the visible sun, received the beams of light, that is, the holy precepts of Christ, the true Sun, showing to the whole world his splendour, not only from the temporal firmament, but from the height of heaven, which surpasses every thing temporal, at the latter part, as we know, of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, by whom his religion was propagated without impediment, and death threatened to those who interfered with Its professors.

                                                            And, since Joseph of Arimathea is often credited with being the one who first introduced Christianity to Britain, then it is not too far-fetched to assume that the two must've arrived together. Christ is believed to have been crucified in 32 AD and allowing a year as a minimum time to organize and launch a mission, then Joseph could have come to Britain, at the very earliest, in 33 AD or at the latest, 37 AD. This assumes, of course, that Gildas can be trusted on this point. We report this not to suggest that it is true, merely to include it in the record for completeness.

63                                                        Joseph of Arimathea came to Glastonbury on the first Christian mission to Britain. Legend says that he brought with him the Holy Grail, which was either a cup/bowl or two "cruets" thought to contain the blood and sweat of the crucified Christ.

184                                                       Lucius Artorius Castus, commander of a detachment of Sarmatian conscripts stationed in Britain, led his troops to Gaul to quell a rebellion. This is the first appearance of the name, Artorius, in history and some believe that this Roman military man is the original, or basis, for the Arthurian legend. The theory says that Castus' exploits in Gaul, at the head of a contingent of mounted troops, are the basis for later, similar traditions about "King Arthur," and, further, that the name "Artorius" became a title, or honorific, which was ascribed to a famous warrior in the fifth century

383                                                      Magnus Maximus (Macsen Wledig), a Spaniard, was proclaimed Emperor in Britain by the island's Roman garrison. With an army of British volunteers, he quickly conquered Gaul, Spain and Italy.          

388                                                      Maximus occupied Rome itself. Theodosius, the eastern Emperor, defeated him in battle and beheaded him in July, 388, with many of the remnant of Maximus' troops settling in Armorica. The net result to Britain was the loss of many valuable troops needed for the island's defense (the "first migration").

395                                                      Theodosius, the last emperor to rule an undivided empire, died, leaving his one son, Arcadius, emperor in the East and his other son, the young Honorius, emperor in the West. At this point the office of Roman Emperor changed from a position of absolute power to one of being merely a head of state.

396                                                      The Roman general, Stilicho, acting as regent in the western empire during Honorius' minority, reorganized British defenses decimated by the Magnus Maximus debacle. Began transfer of military authority from Roman commanders to local British chieftains.

397                                                      The Roman commander, Stilicho, comes to Britain and repels an attack by Picts, Irish and Saxons.

402                                                      Events on the continent force Stilicho to recall one of the two British legions to assist with the defense of Italy against Alaric and the Visigoths. The recalled legion, known as the Sixth Victrix, was said by Claudian (in "De Bello Gallico," 416) to be "that legion which is stretched before the remoter Britons, which curbs the Scot, and gazes on the tattoo-marks on the pale face of the dying Pict." The barbarians were defeated, this time, at battle of Pollentia.

403                                                      Victricius, Bishop of Rouen, visited Britain for the purpose of bringing peace to the island's clergy, who were in the midst of a dispute, possibly over the Pelagian heresy

405                                                      The British troops, which had been recalled to assist Stilicho, were never returned to Britain as they had to stay in Italy to fight off another, deeper penetration by the barbarian chieftain, Radagaisus.

406                                                     In early January, 406, a combined barbarian force (Suevi, Alans, Vandals & Burgundians) swept into central Gaul, severing contact between Rome and Britain. In autumn 406, the remaining Roman army in Britain decided to mutiny. One Marcus was proclaimed emperor in Britain, but was immediately assassinated.

407                                                      In place of the assassinated Marcus, Gratian was elevated "to the purple," but lasted only four months. Constantine III was hailed as the new emperor by Roman garrison in Britian. He proceeded to follow the example of Magnus Maximus by withdrawing the remaining Roman legion, the Second Augusta, and crossing over into Gaul to rally support for his cause. Constantine's departure could be what Nennius called "the end of the Roman Empire in Britain. . ."

408                                                      With both Roman legions withdrawn, Britain endures devastating attacks by the Picts, Scots and Saxons.

409                                                     Prosper, in his chronicle, says, "in the fifteenth year of Honorius and Arcadius (409), on account of the languishing state of the Romans, the strength of the Britons was brought to a desperate pass." Under enormous pressure, Britons take matters into their own hands, expelling weak Roman officials and fighting for themselves.

410                                                      Britain gains "independence" from Rome. The Goths, under Alaric, sack Rome.

413                                                       Pelagian heresy said to have begun, by Prosper (Tiro) of Aquitaine in his "Chronicle."

420-30                                                Pelagian heresy outlawed in Rome (418), but in Britain, enjoys much support from "pro-Celtic" faction. Traditionalists (pro-Romans) support Roman church. During this time, according to Prosper, Britain is ruled by petty "tyrants.”

429                                                      At the request of Palladius, a British deacon, Pope Celestine I dispatches bishops Germanus of Auxerre and Lupus of Troyes to Britain to combat Pelagian heresy. While in Britain, Germanus, a former military man, leads Britons to "Hallelujah" victory in Wales.

c.438                                                   Probable birth of Ambrosius Aurelianus, scion of the leading Romano-British family on the island.

c.440-50                                             Period of civil war and famine in Britain, caused by ruling council's weakness and inability to deal with Pictish invasions; situation aggravated by tensions between Pelagian/Roman factions. Vacated towns and cities in ruin. Migration of pro-Roman citizens toward west. Country beginning to be divided, geographically, along factional lines.

c.441                                                   Gallic Chronicle records, prematurely, that "Britain, abandoned by the Romans, passed into the power of the Saxons.”

c.445                                                   Vortigern comes to power in Britain.

446                                                     Britons (probably the pro-Roman party) appeal to Aetius, Roman governor of Gaul, for military assistance in their struggle against the Picts and the Irish (Scots). No help could be sent, at this time, as Aetius had his hands full with Attila the Hun.

c.446                                                  Vortigern authorizes the use of Saxon mercenaries, known as foederati, for the defense of the northern parts against barbarian attack. To guard against further Irish incursions, Cunedda and his sons are moved from Manau Gododdin in northern Britain to northwest Wales.

447                                                      Second visit of St. Germanus (this time accompanied by Severus, Bishop of Trier) to Britain. Was this visit spiritually motivated, to combat a revived Pelagian threat or was Germanus sent in Aetius' stead, to do whatever he could to help the desperate Britons?

c.447                                                   Britons, aroused to heroic effort, "inflicted a massacre" on their enemies, the Picts and Irish, and were left in peace, for a brief time. Could this heroic effort have been led, again, by St. Germanus?

c.448                                                   Death of St. Germanus in Ravenna. Civil war and plague ravage Britain.

c.450                                                   In the first year of Marcian and Valentinian, Hengest arrives on shores of Britain with "3 keels" of warriors, and are welcomed by Vortigern. This event is known in Latin as the "adventus Saxonum," the coming of the Saxons.

c.452                                                   Increasing Saxon settlement in Britain. Hengest invites his son, Octha, from Germany with "16 keels" of warriors, who occupy the northern lands, to defend against the Picts. Picts never heard from, again.

c.453                                                   Increasing Saxon unrest. Raids on British towns and cities becoming more frequent.

c.456                                                   Geoffrey of Monmouth tells us of a probably fictitious, but entirely believable event in which Saxons massacre 300 leading British noblemen at phony "peace" conference. Ambrosius' father, possibly the leader of the pro-Roman faction, may have been killed either during the Saxon uprising or this massacre.\

c.457                                                   Death of Vortigern. Vitalinus (Guitolinus) new leader of pro-Celtic Pelagian faction. Battle of Aylesford (Kent) in which Ambrosius, along with sons of Vortigern, Vortimer and Cateyrn, defeat Hengest for the first time.

c.458                                                   Saxon uprising in full-swing. Hengest finally conquers Kent, in southeastern Britain.

c.458-60                                             Full-scale migration of British aristocrats and city-dwellers across the English Channel to Brittany, in northwestern Gaul (the "second migration"). British contingent led by Riothamus (perhaps a title, not a name), thought by some to be the original figure behind the legends of Arthur.

c.460-70                                             Ambrosius Aurelianus takes full control of pro-Roman faction and British resistance effort; leads Britons in years of back-and-forth fighting with Saxons. British strategy seems to have been to allow Saxon landings and to then contain them, there.

c.465                                                   Arthur probably born around this time.

c.466                                                  Battle of Wippedesfleot, in which Saxons defeat Britons, but with great slaughter on both sides. Mutual "disgust and sorrow" results in a respite from fighting "for a long time."

c.466-73                                             Period of minimal Saxon activity. Refortification of ancient hillforts and construction of the Wansdyke possibly takes place during this time.

c.469                                                  Roman emperor, Anthemius, appeals to Britons for military help against the Visigoths. Reliable accounts by Sidonius Apolonaris and Jordanes name the leader of the 12,000 man British force, Riothamus. The bulk of the British force was wiped out in battle against Euric, the Visigothic king, and the survivors, including Riothamus, vanished and were never heard from, again.

c.470                                                   Battle of Wallop (Hampshire) where Ambrosius defeats Vitalinus, head of the opposing faction. Ambrosius assumes High-kingship of Britain.

473                                                      Men of Kent, under Hengest, move westward, driving Britons back before them "as one flees fire."

477                                                      Saxon chieftain, Aelle, lands on Sussex coast with his sons. Britons engage him upon landing but his superior force drives them into the forest (Weald). Over next nine years, Saxon coastal holdings are gradually expanded in Sussex.

c.480                                                   "Vita Germani," the Life of St. Germanus, written by a continental biographer, Constantius.

c.485-96                                             Period of Arthur's "twelve battles" during which he gains reputation for invincibility.

486                                                      Aelle and his sons overreach their normal territory and are engaged by Britons at battle of Mercredesburne. Battle is bloody, but indecisive, and ends with both sides pledging friendship.

c.490                                                  Hengest dies. His son, Aesc, takes over and rules for 34 years

c.495                                                   Cerdic and Cynric, his son, land somewhere on the south coast, probably near the Hampshire-Dorset border..

c.496                                                  Britons, under overall command of Ambrosius and battlefield command of the "war leader" Arthur, defeat Saxons at the Siege of Mount Badon.

c.496-550                                           Following the victory at Mt. Badon, the Saxon advance is halted with the invaders returning to their own enclaves. A generation of peace ensues. Corrupt leadership, more civil turmoil, public forgetfulness and individual apathy further erode Romano-British culture over next fifty years, making Britain ripe for final Saxon "picking."

c.501                                                    The Battle of Llongborth (probably Portsmouth), where a great British chieftain, Geraint, King of Dumnonia, was killed. Arthur is mentioned in a Welsh poem commemorating the battle.

508                                                      Cerdic begins to move inland and defeats British king Natanleod near present-day Southampton.

c.515                                                    Death of Aelle. Kingdom of Sussex passed to his son, Cissa and his descendents, but over time, diminished into insignificance.

519                                                       Kingdom of the West Saxons (Wessex) founded with Cerdic its first ruler.

c.530-40                                             Mass migration of Celtic monks to Brittany (the "third migration").

534                                                      Death of Cerdic. Cynric takes kingship of Wessex.

c.540                                                   Probable writing of Gildas' "De Excidio Britanniae."

c.542                                                   Battle of Camlann, according to Annales Cambriae. Death (or unspecified other demise) of Arthur (according to Geoffrey of Monmouth).

c.547                                                   "Yellow" Plague hits British territories, causing many deaths. Ireland also affected. Saxons, for whatever reason, are unaffected by it.

c.570                                                   Probable death of Gildas.

c.600                                                  Welsh bard, Aneirin, writes poem, Y Gododdin, alluding to Arthur's prowess as a warrior.

c.600-700                                           Original Welsh triads probably composed; only later, medieval collections survive.

c.830                                                   Nennius compiles Historia Brittonum.

c.890                                                   Compilation of Anglo Saxon Chronicle is begun, perhaps at the direction of Alfred the Great.

c.970                                                   Annales Cambriae compiled.

c.1019                                                  Earliest possible date of composition for the Legend of St. Goeznovius, a Breton legend, which, in its preface, mentions Arthur and calls him the King of the Britons. Date is disputed as some scholars think this legend should be dated later than Geoffrey of Monmouth.

c.1090                                                 Professional hagiographers, such as Caradoc of Llancarfan, Lifris and others, write various saints lives, some (St. Gildas, St. Padarn, St. Cadog, St. Iltud) include mentions of Arthur and his exploits.

1125                                                      William of Malmesbury completes "Gesta Regum Anglorum" (Deeds of the Kings of England), in which he states,

 

                                                            "this is that Arthur of whom the trifling of the Britons talks such nonsense, even today; a man clearly worthy not to be dreamed of in fallacious fables, but to be proclaimed in veracious histories. as one who long sustained his tottering country and gave the shattered minds of his fellow citizens an edge for war."

 

                                                            The "Gesta" is significant, not only for the information it contains, but also for the fact that in its later editions (the third edition was written in the 1130's), William includes long passages lifted verbatim from the "De Antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae." All original manuscripts of the "De Antiquitate" are now lost and the only ones that remain are corrupt later interpolations. These interpolations were produced with the idea of supporting Glastonbury Abbey's connections with certain legendary characters (e.g. Joseph of Arimathea, King Arthur, Melkin, St. Patrick). From the "Gesta" we can see what William had actually written in the "De Antiquitate."

 

c.1129                                                  William of Malmesbury in residence at Glastonbury Abbey, where he writes "De Antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae," a history of the abbey.

 

1129                                                     Henry of Huntingdon's "Historia Anglorum" is based on Bede, Nennius and the AngloSaxon Chronicle.

 

1136                                                     Geoffrey of Monmouth publishes the famous "Historia Regum Britanniae" (History of the Kings of Britain), in Latin. His work would be used as the standard text on British history for the next 600 years.

 

1139                                                     In a letter to Warinus, Henry of Huntingdon describes Arthur's last battle and mentions that the Bretons say that he didn't die and are still waiting for his return..

 

c.1145                                                  Geoffrey Gaimar publishes "Estoire des Angles" (History of the English), a French adaptation of Geoffrey's "History," which is now lost.

 

1151                                                      Geoffrey of Monmouth appointed to bishopric of St. Asaph in Wales, but never actually visits there.

 

1155                                                      Master (Robert) Wace completes "Roman de Brut," a version of Geoffrey's "History" in French. He dedicated his work to Eleanor of Aquitaine, the wife of Henry II, and is remembered as being the first writer to introduce the concept of the "Round Table" to the Arthurian cycle. Of Arthur, Wace says,

 

                                                            "I know not if you have heard tell the marvellous gestes and errant deeds related so often of King Arthur. They have been noised about this mighty realm for so great a space that the truth has turned to fable and an idle song. Such rhymes are neither sheer bare lies, nor gospel truths. They should not be considered either an idiot's tale, or given by inspiration. The minstrel has sung his ballad, the storyteller told over his tale so frequently, little by little he has decked and painted, till by reason of his embellishment the truth stands hid in the trappings of a tale. Thus to make a delectable tune to your ear, history goes masking as fable.

 

c.1160-80                                            Marie de France writes "Lais" (Lays), a collection of short poems. Two of the poems, "Chevrefueil" and "Lanval," include Arthurian characters and themes.

 

c.1160-90                                            Chretien de Troyes, the greatest of the medieval romance writers, makes his five contributions to the Arthurian cycle during this period. His Arthurian works are: "Eric et Enide," "Cliges" "Le Chevalier de la Charette" (The Knight of the Cart, or Lancelot), "Yvain" (or Le Chevalier au Lion, The Knight with the Lion) and "Perceval" (Le Conte del Graal, The Story of the Graal).

Chretien's work is noteworthy, not only for its quality, but for the introduction and further development of certain characters and themes into the Arthurian literature. He is, also, the first to apply the literary form of the romance, to the transmission of the stories of Arthur.

It is Chretien who first tells us of the Grail (Graal), but he never equated it with the cup of the Last Supper or the cup used to catch the blood of Christ. The word, grail, a commonly used term in the middle ages, simply referred to a dish or plate of a particular kind. One Helinand of Froidmont wrote in the 13th century ". . .a wide and somewhat deep dish in which expensive meats are customarily placed for the rich. . .and it is commonly called a grail" (Lacy, Norris J., ed., The Arthurian Encyclopedia, Peter Bedrick Books, New York, 1986, p.257). Chretien used the grail as a symbol of beauty and mystery, but he never presented it as an object of religious devotion (the spiritual aspect was introduced by later writers).

Chretien de Troyes is remembered as the first writer to give the name of Camelot to Arthur's headquarters and capital city. He, also, is responsible for the introduction of the famous knights, Lancelot, Gawain and Perceval, into the literature of Arthurian legend.

 

c.1170                                                   Beroul, a French poet, writes "Roman de Tristan," believed to be one of the earliest extant versions of the story of Tristan and Yseult, and independent of any other versions. The story, as told by Beroul, is connected with the mainstream of Arthurian legend through its chief antagonist, King Mark of Cornwall. The mention of the church of St. Samson in Cornwall, as the wedding place of Mark and Yseult, provides some basis for localizing the legend around the area of Fowey. Dating of "Roman de Tristan" is somewhat uncertain and may have been written a few years later.

 

c.1175                                                   Thomas d'Angleterre, an Anglo-Norman, writing in England, produces poem, "Tristan," which would later inspire Gottfried von Strassburg's poem of the same name. Thomas' poem, with Beroul's, is one of only two twelfth century Old French tellings of the Tristan and Yseult story.

A writer, known as the monk of Ursicampum, enlarged the chronicle of Siegebert of Gembloux and raised, perhaps for the first time, the possibility that King Arthur may have been the historical British king
Riothamus. This same equation, although in far less direct terms, was made subsequently by the writers of the "Chronicles of Anjou" and the "Salzbury Annals," and by Albericus Trium Fontium (1227-51), Martinus Polonus (c.1275), Jacques de Guise (late 14th C.) and Philippe de Vigneulles (1525). In a 1799 work called the "History of the Anglo Saxons," Sharon Turner equates Arthur with Riothamus and in modern times, Professor Leon Fleuriot and Geoffrey Ashe are the main champions of the idea.

 

1184                                                     Great fire ravages Glastonbury Abbey destroying Old Church.

 

1190                                                     Discovery of Arthur's grave between two pyramids in cemetary at Glastonbury Abbey.

 

c.1190                                                  Layamon (pronounced "lawmon"), a priest of Arley Regis, Worcestershire, publishes "Brut," an English translation of Wace into alliterative verse. Although the dating of "Brut" is uncertain, his work marks the first appearance of the Arthurian story in English.

 

1192-3                                                  Gerald of Wales visits Glastonbury, reports on exhumation of Arthur's grave in "Liber de Principis Instructione."

 

c.1195-1205                                         Hartmann von Aue, a German court poet, produces two Arthurian romances, "Erek" and "Iwein," inspired by Chretien's "Eric et Enide" and "Yvain." Hartmann is the first to introduce Arthurian literature to Germany.

 

c.1198                                                  William of Newburgh writes "Historia Rerum Anglicarum," a history of Britain beginning with the Conquest of 1066. The preface, however, tries to place Arthur in a historical context and uses the works of Gildas and Bede to harshly criticize Geoffrey of Monmouth's claims for him, concluding that Arthur and Merlin are fictitious.

 

c.1200                                                 "The Dream of Rhonabwy," last of the Mabinogion tales to be completed, takes place in the time of the historical character, Madawg, son of Maredudd, king of Powys, who died in 1159. Tale refers to Arthur as Emperor, and compares glories of his legendary kingdom with hardships of twelfth century Wales.

 

c.1200-10                                            Wolfram von Eschenbach, the greatest of the German epic poets, produces "Parzifal," his masterful expansion of Chretien's "Perceval." Wolfram's epic would, centuries later, become the inspiration for Wagner's 1882 opera, "Parsifal."

 

c.1210                                                  Robert de Boron, in "Joseph d'Arimathie" and "Estoire del Saint Graal," is responsible for transforming Chretien's "grail" into "The Holy Grail." Robert saw something spiritual in Chretien's secular grail and transformed it into the cup which Joseph of Arimathea allegedly used to catch the blood dripping from Christ's crucifixion wounds, and the object of many "Quests" undertaken by Arthur's knights. Robert is the first to claim that Joseph and his family brought the Grail to unspecified parts of Britain. Subsequent accounts localized it in the vicinity of Glastonbury.

Gottfried von Strassburg produces, "Tristan," the classic version of the love story, basing it on Thomas d'Angleterre's earlier poem. Wagner would use Gottfried's work as basis for his 1859 opera of the same name.

 

c.1210-30                                             Vulgate (Lancelot-Grail) Cycle, a series of Arthurian tales, in French, which attempt to tell the whole history of the Grail and to recount the quests of the Grail knights. During this period, stories transition from verse to prose, and as change progresses, material takes on more historical and religious overtones. Cycle included: "Estoire del Saint Graal," Estoire de Merlin," "Lancelot du Lac" (also Roman du Lancelot), "Queste del Saint Graal" and "Mort Artu."

 

c.1216                                                  Gerald of Wales writes his second, and slightly different, account of the discovery of Arthur's grave in "Speculum Ecclesiae."

 

c.1220                                                  Ralph of Coggeshall mentions discovery of Arthur's grave in his "English Chronicle."

 

c.1250                                                  Mabinogion, a collection of eleven Welsh folk tales and legends (some of which mention Arthur), takes final form, although some scholars argue for a much earlier date of c.1000. Collection includes such well-known tales as Culhwch and Olwen, "The Dream of Rhonabwy," "Gereint and Enid," "The Dream of Maxen" "Branwen Daughter of Llyr," "Peredur Son of Evrawg," etc.

"Llyfr Du Caerfyrddin" (Black Book of Carmarthen) compiled. Thought to be the work of one scribe, possibly working at the Priory of St John at Carmarthen, it contains 38 items, almost all poetry, including: Englynion y Beddau, Gereint fab Erbin, religious verses and "Merlin" poems.

Interpolated version of William of Malmesbury's "De Antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae" written by Glastonbury monks (probably Adam of Domerham), including much questionable material never included in William's original work.

 

1278                                                     Edward I and Queen Eleanor of Castille visit Glastonbury Abbey to officially reinter the remains of Arthur and Guinevere in the new abbey church. King Arthur's cross is placed on top of the black marble tomb. Edward proclaims his son, Edward of Caernarvon, Prince of Wales, and positions himself as the legitimate successor of Arthur.

 

1300                                                    In Robert of Gloucester's "Chronicle" he states that the Britons of Wales had been converted to Christianity by Phagan and Deruvian (middle 2nd Century), who had built the first church in England at Glastonbury.

 

c.1300                                                 A chronicle of Margam Abbey (Wales) tells of the discovery of Arthur's grave.

 

1307                                                     Publication of Peter Langtoft's "Chronicle," which updates Geoffrey of Monmouth's "History" through Edward I's reign. In it he praises Arthur as the greatest of kings.

 

c.1325                                                  "Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch" (White Book of Rhydderch), an incomplete version of Mabinogion, contains "Culhwch and Olwen," the "Dream of Macsen Wledig" and many religious texts. A portion of the original manuscript is now lost.

 

c.1340                                                 "Joseph of Arimathie," an alliterative poem written in English, pays particular attention to Joseph's activities after the Resurrection of Christ and portrays him as an Apostolic evangelist as well as the keeper of the Grail.

 

c.1350                                                  "Cronica sive Antiquitates Glastoniensis Ecclesiae" (Chronicle or Antiquities of the Church of Glastonbury), by John Seen, a monk of Glastonbury, continuing the history of the abbey originally begun by William of Malmesbury 220 years before. Much Arthurian material is here, including an account of the discovery of his grave and a prophecy of Melkin, allegedly a 5th century British bard, in which the grail and the grave of Joseph of Arimathea are said to have been at Glastonbury.

 

c.1370-90                                            Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales" are believed to have been written during this period. Two of the tales, the Squire's and the Wife of Bath's, make direct references to Arthurian characters or themes.

c.1400                                                 "Llyfr Coch Hergest" (Red Book of Hergest), the earliest complete version of the Mabinogion, is one of the most important Welsh medieval manuscripts. At 362 folios, it is the largest. The manuscript is dated between 1382 and 1410, and contains examples of many kinds of Welsh literature, excepting only the laws and religious texts. It includes: the "History of the Kings of Britain" of Geoffrey of Monmouth, "Brut y Tywysogyon," a series of Triads, "Gereint fab Erbin", "The Dream of Rhonabwy" and others. Its contents are similar to those of Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch.

 

c.1430                                                 John Capgrave, a friar at King's Lynn, Norfolk, publishes "De Sancto Joseph ab Aramathea," in which he states, quoting from an unnamed manuscript,

 

                                                            "Philip sent from a Gaul a hundred and sixty disciples to assist Joseph and his companions."

                                                            But, it was not until the third edition (composed in the late 15th c.) of his "Nova Legenda Angliae," printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1516, that a life of St. Joseph of Arimathea was included.

 

c.1450                                                 Herry Lovelich's "History of the Holy Grail," the first English translation of the French Vulgate tale, "Estoire del Saint Graal." In the Vulgate, Josephes, Joseph's son is the protagonist in the British portion of the tale. In Lovelich's version, the emphasis is switched to Joseph of Arimathea and his conversion activities in Britain, but his connection with the Grail is diminished. "Llyfr Gwyn Hergest" (the White Book of Hergest) may have been a manuscript of some importance. Several descriptions of its contents indicate that it contained: "Y Bibyl Ynghymraec," the "Laws," a copy of the "Statute of Rhuddlan," and strict metre poetry. It was destroyed by fire in the nineteenth century. Partial transcripts are preserved in both the British Library and the National Library of Wales.

 

1465                                                    John Hardyng completes his "Chronicle," blending Glastonbury and Grail traditions in the process. He connects Arthur and Joseph of Arimathea, whom he credits with constructing the original Round Table. The "Chronicle" brings Joseph to Britain in 76 AD, after a 42 year period of imprisonment, and attributes to him the conversion of the land to Christianity. Hardyng's work is an indication of the extent to which the Glastonbury traditions of Joseph and Arthur had integrated themselves into the mainstream.

 

1469-70                                               Completion of "Morte d'Arthur" by Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revel, Warwichshire, while in London's Newgate Prison. Malory's work is the definitive English Arthurian romance and embodies many earlier French and Welsh tradtitions. He accepts Joseph of Arimathea's association with Glastonbury, but distances him from the Grail.

 

1482                                                     "Polychronicon," the most popular source of world history available in England, published by Ranulf Higden, a Benedictine monk from Cheshire. In it he questioned Geoffrey of Monmouth's basis for his claims of Arthur's continental conquests.

 

1485                                                     William Caxton's first printing of Malory's "Morte d'Arthur," giving wider circulation to the Glastonbury, Arthur and Joseph traditions.