Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Geoffrey of Monmouth

(?1100-?1154) Welsh chronicler and churchman, probably of Breton stock, commissioned by the newish Norman masters of England to write a history. Claiming his work was a translation of old Welsh manuscripts which no one else had seen – comparisons with Joseph Smith (1805-1844) and Colonel James Churchward (see Lemuria) are inescapable – with borrowings from the Mabinogion, he wrote Historia Regum Britanniae (1136), generally known today as The History of the Kings of Britain, an almost completely fictitious history of British rulers, whom GOM claimed to have traced back to the Trojans. As a sidebar he produced Prophetiae Merlini ["Prophecies of Merlin"] (1134), and much later he wrote Vita Merlini ["Life of Merlin"] (?1155). The importance of these books is that they brought the Legends of Arthur and Merlin into the forefront of European literature; moreover that they blended those two legends, even though GOM seems to have realized that the Welsh Magus Merlin (Myrddin) lived a century or so after Arthur. In terms of influence, Historia Regum Britanniae is one of the most important medieval texts: Taproot-Text writers affected by it include William Shakespeare, François Rabelais and particularly Edmund Spenser and Sir Thomas Malory. GOM's influence continues today. [JG]

see also: Anthologies; Avalon; Camelot; Excalibur; Gawain; Matter; Morgan Le Fay.

Geoffrey Of Monmouth


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.