Tre Pol Pen - The Language Of Arthur's Cornwall, Home to Merlin The Wizard
Pictures of The legend
Cornwall - A Land Of Magic, Myths And Language
The idea for this hub was suggested to me by a fellow hubber, Johanna Smith who left a nice comment on my HubNugget nomination. I hoope it doesn't disappoint!
In fact this is a subject that I have written about, read about, researched and, in real life, searched for ever since I was a boy.
Growing up in Cornwall, you see, was an experience that was shrouded in a sort of magic anyway, as Cornwall is full of Legends and Myths and Tales. Some told by farmers, some by fishermen, some by religious leaders and some are simply told by 'The Old Ones' who pass on what was handed down to them, by word of mouth, from the Fathers and their Fathers, for an age or more.
Is the story of Arthur a myth or a legend?Why not experience a Holiday In Cornwall to find out?
Who am I to say, other than a man who was once a curious boy who saw mystery in everything around him and who listened with keen, attentive interest to every story told to him. As I grew older, though, I started to think more keenly about those stories and I began to research them and consider them, deeply.
Two of the most famous works on the subject have been written by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century, and then there is Le Morte d'Arthur, written by Sir Thomas mallory at the end of the 15th centuryand if you research you will find that there is an enormous amount of historical writing on the subject of Arthur. So much so that, unless a person has a mind which is so closed that it iwill not allow even the tiniest sliver of light to enter, then one must make a basic, broad assumption that Arthur was more than a myth or a fantasy.
One has to conclude that there must have been a basis in fact for the stories to be founded upon.
Now, whilst there have been numerous written theories and speculations, I will endeavour to provide a concise account of the legend that is King Arthur, together with his close aid and kinsman, Merlin, otherwise known throughout history as Merlin The Enchanter or Merlin The Wizard.
In my concise version of the legend, Merlin pre-dates Arthur by some time. Maybe 20 years or so and was in fact related to Arthur through Uther Pendragon, Arthur's Father, who, at the time of Arthur's birth was King of many of the tribes of Britain.
For that is what Britain was like in those days, a land of tribes. To the North was hadrian's wall and behind it was the wild, heathen horde that we now call Scotland. To the east were the saxon tribes and the rest of the country was divided up into small 'kingdoms' that each had a 'lesser' king or Land Lord to control them, usually with a number of sons and captains.
So Britain was a land of many divided parts, each waiting for an opportunity to catch his neighbouring counterpart unawares, so he could invade his little piece of the kingdom and in doing so, extend his own lands and authority.
Of these smaller, or 'petty' kings Uther Pendragon was the major figure, for he held more of the land and had a greater army than any of the others and by his side was his brother, Ambrosius.
Although the legends are many and each has similarities as well as differences, the one which I am most drawn to (and it is the one which the BBC have corrupted and distorted to produce their television series) has been beautifully documented by the author, Mary Stewart, in her Merlin Trilogy.
And the story of it goes thus:
Ambrosius, Uther's brother, met and fell in love with a young woman whose father was one of the lesser kings and they eventually lay together before Ambrosius returned to his own lands and then went off to fight in battles against the saxon hoardes.
Merlin's Mother became pregnant by Ambrosius and later gave birth to Merlin and throughout her life, never revealed the identity of the boy's Father to any living soul, save one - the boy himself.
Merlin's Mother was born of 'The Sight' which was the gift to see events far off and in the future and it seems that Merlin inherited his Mother's gift but much more besides.
As a boy, Merlin was reputed to be a loner who spent much of his time away, riding in the forest near to his home, which was a royal household and it was on one of his journeys into the old forest that he met his mentor and the man who would train him in his magical gifts and unravel the power that the boy truly possessed.
Merlin met Galapas.
Galapas knew some magic and he was also a scholarly man who taught Merlin to read and write and to understand science and nature and through the tutoring of Galapas, Merlin developed the powers of what men called magic, which were to make him famous beyond all imagination.
When Merlin eventually ran away, with his Mother's blessing, his fates brought him into contact with his own Father, Ambrosius and in time, as his powers were revealed, Merlin became a crucial part of King Uther's household and it was at that time he became known as 'The King's Enchanter' or 'The King's Prophet'
Uther then fell in love with the Duke of Cornwall's wife, Ygraine and begged Merlin to make it possible for the two of them to meet and lay together while Ygraines husband (Gorlois) was away from Tintagel and so, Merlin used his arts to spirit Uther into the bedchamber of Ygraine, knowing that a child would result from their unioun and knowing also that this child would be a great man one day and that he would become the one King who could unite all of Britain.
This child would become Arthur, 'rightwise born the King of all Britain'
The morning after Uther had slept with Ygraine, Gorlois was killed in battle and at that point, Uther was livid with Merlin, accusing him of using his magic powers for his own ends and saying that Merlin's 'sight' should have told him that Gorlois would die that very night.
And so, he sent Merlin away.
Merlin retreated to the hills and forests in Wales where he dwelled in the cave that had belonged to Galapas and where Merlin had spent so much time as a boy and with Galapas now dead, Merlin lived in the cave until one day, the Queen's messenger arrived (Gorlois had since married Ygraine) and summoned Merlin to her.
Merlin soon discovered, from his meeting with Ygraine, that although there was no doubt the baby that was soon to be born, was Uther's, people would speculate that the child could be Gorlois and that it could have been conceived before Gorlois death and so, whilst Uther would acknowledge the child if needs be in the future, for now the baby had to be reared far from the kingdom.
Ygraine, therefore asked Merlin if he would use his powers to keep the baby safe and see that he is reared as a royal baby should be.
Merlin, of course agreed and at the same time, he assured Ygraine that one day Uther would acknowledge the baby and he would become the king who would unite all Britain and 'He will be such a king as these lands have never seen'.
Merlin assured this would be so, as he had seen it in a vision.
And so, when Ygraine came to full term and the baby was born, Merlin was there, at Tintagel, to take the child and he brought the baby, with a wet nurse, to the woman who had raised Merlin himself in the royal household that Merlin was raised in, across the sea to Brittany.
There the baby, Artorius (Arthur) was kept and raised until he was old enough to be moved back to Britain, where he was placed in the household of Ector and his wife Druisilla, who were loyal allies of Uther's.
And so ends the first part of the 'Legend of Arthur' which is really the story of how Merlin came to occupy a prominent place in the legend.
Should enough people read this hub and if any show enough interest, I will write the next chapter for you.