Historia Regum Britanniae

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Historia Regum Britanniae
Historia regum britannae.jpg
Original Title: De gestis Britonum
Written by: Geoffrey of Monmouth
Central Theme:
Synopsis: The History of the Kings of Britain
Genre(s): History, Historical fiction
First published: circa 1136
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"A writer has emerged who, in order to expiate the faults of these Britons, weaves the most ridiculous figments of imagination around them, extolling them with the most impudent vanity above the virtues of the Macedonians and the Romans..."
William of Newburgh, History of English Affairs (c. 1198 AD)

Historia Regum Britanniae, or History of the Kings of Britain, is a work by Geoffrey of Monmouth from around the 12th century. This work is notable for kickstarting British History, with some Artistic License taken to fill in the blanks he couldn't get from Bede or other sources. For a long time it was considered a Universe Bible for British History in the Middle Ages, with some hints of propaganda. Can be considered a founding myth for several ethnic groups in Britain.

The book can be found here if you want to read it. Your local bookstore probably has a copy as well.

After a brief introduction the history of the Britons starts around the Trojan War after which Brutus, a great-grandson of Aeneas, sets sail with a group of his people to found a new empire, which happens to be Britain.

The most lasting legacy of Geoffrey's Historia is the invention of King Arthur and Merlin in the form that became Canon throughout the Middle Ages and that we can still recognize today. Two other figures from the book that are still known today by way of Shakespeare's dramas are King Lear (Leir) and Cymbeline (Kymbelinus).

Tropes used in Historia Regum Britanniae include:
  • Dedication: To Robert, First Earl of Gloucester.
  • Death by Childbirth: Brutus' mother dies in giving birth to him.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: When Brutus sleeps in a temple of Diana, she reveals to him in a dream that he is destined to go to Britain and found a kingdom there.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: Brutus.
  • Hunting Accident: Brutus accidentally kills his father Sylvius when shooting an arrow at a deer.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: A tribe of giants, lead by an individual named Gogmagog, are fought and killed by Brutus and his men after landing in Britain. They're the immensely strong Half-Human Hybrid descendants of a demon and an exiled daughter of Emperor Diocletian (yes, really).
  • The Promised Land: When Brutus finds Britain, as foretold by Diana, it is a paradisical land that abounds of natural resources.
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