The five Kings of Gildas.

Gildas a 6th Century cleric from Britain wrote and condemned five British Kings in his work ‘De Excidio et  Conquestu Britanniae.’  I have decided to try and take a closer look at each of these Kings.

Maelgwn (Maglocune) son of Cadwallon was King of Gwynedd during the 6th Century.  Surviving records suggest that he was held in high status amongst the Welsh British Kings, and also by his allies in along the Scottish coast.  He was a champion of Christianity funding new churches around modern Wales,, but this does not stop a scolding attack by Gildas who describes Maelgwn as an usurper and reprobate.After the collapse of Roman-Britain and Roman authority around the northern part of Wales, Irish Gaelic tribes  conquered most of the region.  The Kingdom of Gwynedd was reconquered by Maelgwn’s great-grandfather Cunedda Weldig.  Maelgwn’s father Cadwallon completed this destroying the last Irish settlements on Anglesey.  By tradition his court would have been held at Deganwy in the peninsula of Rhos.  It is also said that he died at nearby Llanrhos and was buried there.

Constantine is mentioned by Gldas as the King of Damnonia (properly Dummonia) a Brythonic Kingdom in Southwestern Britain.  Although there is an argument that Gikdas is in fact referring to the territory of the Damnonii in what went on to be known as Hen Ogledd (northern England and southern Scotland, or translated into English as ‘the Old North’).  Gildas describes a story where Constantine dresses as an abbot and goes on to kill two royal youths praying before a church altar.  This according to Gildas was not Constantine’s fist sin describing him as committing ‘many adulteries’ after casting off his lawful wedded wife.  It is presumed that Constantine was alive at the time Gildas wrote the De Excidiio as Gildas encourages Constantine to repent his many sins lest he be dammed.

Cuneglas (Latinised to Cueglasus) is recorded as the son of Owain Danwyn , who is a popular contented for the title of ‘The true King Arthur’.  Both father and son were Kings of Rhos, which later became part of Denbighshire in mid-North Wales.Gildas goes on to call Cuneglas ‘bear, you rider and ruler of many, and guider of the chariot which is the receptacle of the bear.’  It is this mention of the word bear, although using the animals of the Christian Apocalypse to describe his tyrants, bear also in Brythonic means ‘Arth’ and some scholars take this as a code for Arthur.

Aurelius Conanus, it is not known which part of Britain he ruled in  Gildas calls Aurelius ‘the lions whelp’ and goes on to say of Aurelius ‘horrible murders, fornications and adulteries, ’.  He beseeches him to repent his sins before he ends up like the rest of his family, who have already died pursuing similar ends.Geoffrey of Monmouth who takes a lot from Gildas’ work, goes on to state that he believed Aurelius to be a nephew of Constantine who is killed three years into his reign.  Another unnamed uncle of Aurelius takes the throne before Aurelius finally has the crown for himself and only reigning for two years to.

Vortiporius was King of Dyfed.  He ruled over an area roughly compromising modern day Pembrokeshire.  Gildas describes him as grey with age and his wife had died and they had at least one daughter. Vortiporius was not mentioned in Nennius work Historia Brittonum but again mentioned in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s work Historia Regum Britanniae. A monument stone discovered at Castlell Dwyran shows the inscription ‘Memoria Voteporigis Protictoris’ which translates to Vortiporius the Protector.  This is meant to describe Vortiporius as protector or King over the local populace and could even be detailed of raids from Gaels from Ireland or other Kingdoms from in Wales itself.

gildas map

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