e-book Geoffrey of Monmouth: Histories of the Kings of Britain

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Arthurian Passages from The History of the Kings of Britain | Robbins Library Digital Projects

Mark Twain, American humorist, journalist, lecturer, and novelist who acquired international fame for…. The main themes of the Historia are that history is cyclic, that civil strife brings national disaster, and that the goals of the individual and those of society often clash. In the Vita Merlini, a 1,line Latin poem, Geoffrey tells the story of Merlin, a legendary Welsh prophet and prince, whose prophecies formed one part of the Historia. Merlin goes mad as he watches a ferocious battle and flees to the forest, thwarting all attempts to make him return to the court, whose follies he bitterly reveals.

This work carries further Geoffrey's concern with the hero who finds antagonism between his own desires and the values of society. In Geoffrey was designated bishop of St. Asaph on the border of England and Wales. In the years following his death, his Historia became widely, though not unanimously, accepted as factual and influenced serious historians of the Britons and the English for centuries. The most thorough, though controversial, study of Geoffrey's art is J. Tatlock, The Legendary History of Britain Also useful is the chapter on Geoffrey in Roger S. Loomis, ed. For a recent analysis of the themes and intellectual context of the Historia regum Britanniae see Robert W.

Feb 11, Evan Leach rated it liked it Shelves: , english-literature , history. This is a very interesting read, especially for Arthurian buffs. The book's description of Geoffrey as a "sometimes less than reliable" historian is some serious understatement - even Geoffrey's more learned contemporaries understood this "history" to be largely a product of the author's own imagination.

But it's an important book nonetheless. In the course of Geoffrey's 2, year tale, he presents the earliest known version of the King Lear story and the first English non-Welsh telling of th This is a very interesting read, especially for Arthurian buffs. In the course of Geoffrey's 2, year tale, he presents the earliest known version of the King Lear story and the first English non-Welsh telling of the King Arthur legend, among many others.

So, readers interested in an early look at British history may be disappointed. But those who want to trace the Matter of Britain back to its beginnings will eat this up. Geoffrey's history influenced countless writers and artists for centuries, and it still has appeal today. May 23, Mark Adderley rated it really liked it Shelves: arthurian-studies. Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain is the story of all the legendary kings of Britian, from the founder, Brutus, the grandson of Aeneas, down to the last king of Britain, Cadwalladr.

Most importantly, however, one fifth of the book is devoted to retelling the life story of King Arthur. Geoffrey was actually the first person to do this. Immensely popular in the Middle Ages Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain is the story of all the legendary kings of Britian, from the founder, Brutus, the grandson of Aeneas, down to the last king of Britain, Cadwalladr. Immensely popular in the Middle Ages—over manuscripts have survived, as opposed to 80 of The Canterbury Tales and 50 of Piers Plowman —this is the book that started the fashion for Arthurian romance that continued throughout the Middle Ages, and is still being felt today in modern novels and movies.

Michael Faletra's translation from Broadview Press is more accurate, and it contains a full translation of Geoffrey's other important work, the "Life of Merlin. Apr 15, Michael Dworaczyk rated it liked it. Have you ever heard of the Reduced Shakespeare Company? They were a comedy troupe who specialized in abbreviated versions of Shakespeare's plays. Supposedly, they hold the record for the quickest performance of Hamlet, clocking in at 43 seconds.

Impressive, huh? No less impressive is Geoffrey of Monmouth. In The History of the Kings of Britain, he blazes through about years in less than pages actually closer to when you take out the introduction. Centuries fly by like seconds, and b Have you ever heard of the Reduced Shakespeare Company? Centuries fly by like seconds, and before you know it, it's AD, and King Arthur has just kicked the bucket. Hey, wait a minute, it wasn't that many pages ago when Julius Caesar was invading Britain! You know who else I thought of while reading this?

My grandpa. When I was a little kid, I would sit in rapt attention as he told fascinating, exciting stories from his youth. And I believed every word. I would go home and relate them to my mom, and she would just shake her head. He was a great story teller, but most of it was pure fantasy.

When it was written and up until about the 17th century, it was taken as a bona fide work of history. In fact, most of it is just made up, with a smattering of historical figures thrown in to give it some weight. You would think the story about the two hollow stones at the bottom of a pool which contained two dragons might have tipped them off. He also claims that his book was actually the translation he did of a very ancient book, I suppose to add even more credulity to it. But nope, another whopper.

His lips are moving. Lots of good old bloody battle scenes: heads being lopped off, bodies cut clean in half, … Plus, lots of sex. Well, okay, maybe not lots of it. But what there is, is pretty racy. In this version of King Arthur, Guinevere is getting it on with Mordred while Arthur is off doing battle somewhere. Still pretty kinky. So, when all is said and done, a very entertaining read.

Just don't expect it to help you pass that English history test. Jan 23, Vince rated it liked it. This is a classic example of crafting a national identity. Geoffrey promulgated a completely new history for the Normans--Vikings who settled in northern France for a while before accumulating enough money and arms to invade Britain--that cast them as the noble descendents of Romans Brutus, no less!

The History of the Kings of Britain

You see, the Normans didn't conquer Britain. No, it was theirs all along. And the Welsh and Britons This is a classic example of crafting a national identity. And the Welsh and Britons were Normans too, so they should side with their new overlords-- I mean, brothers in any continued conflict. And all those local myths and pagan traditions?

No, no. That is all good Norman history, and Christian no less. You are all confused. While a thousand intervening years might give the modern reader the perspective to see this particular example for what it is, the same story of adopted or enforced history plays out over and over today. Tibetans who never knew they were Chinese all this time. Waves of immigrants who all claim one colony of dour English radicals exiled to the coast of Massachusetts as their forbearers, in spirit if not blood.

Identity is a story we choose to believe. Might was well make it a good one. Dec 30, Maan Kawas rated it really liked it. A very beautiful book by Geoffrey of Monmouth, which was written around ! The book is not exactly a historical book, as it combines historical accounts and inaccurate facts with legend; however, it is an enchanting book of the medieval times.

The book narrates the lives of key kings of Britain throughout a period of two thousand years, from its foundation allegedly by the Trojan Brutus descendant from Aeneas to the control of the Anglo-Saxon. The book sheds lights on the pagan life an A very beautiful book by Geoffrey of Monmouth, which was written around ! The book sheds lights on the pagan life and rituals then, the invasion of the Romans to Britain by Julius Caesar, includes the first version of King Lear and his three daughters, the conversion to Christianity and the persecution of Christians by Diocletian, narrates the life of King Arthur and his cousin Gawain, and finally describes the domination of the Saxons of Most of Britain.

I particularly loved the chapters on King Lear and the prophecies of the magician Merlin. The book is very interesting and beautiful but it includes too many names and details, which makes it sometimes difficult to follow. Jan 14, Justin Evans rated it liked it Shelves: fiction , history-etc.

There are too many things to review here. Geoffrey's history is refreshingly well written for a medieval latin work, and the translation is very well done. It's not, of course, 'history' in any sense, and it can be pretty hard work slogging through the parts that don't deal with dramatic or fabulous stories. Parts of this felt like the bible's begats, and nobody needs more of that. The good stories, on the other hand, were genuinely interesting- Arthur of course, but also Locrinus' love for Estr There are too many things to review here.

The good stories, on the other hand, were genuinely interesting- Arthur of course, but also Locrinus' love for Estrildis, the story of King Leir, and the various narratives of battle trickeration. The other thing to review is this edition.

Good translation, but awful apparatus. I really needed something to tell me what, if anything, was historically accurate and what was pure fantasy. As it is, I kind of sort of remembered some names from Bede or recent histories of dark ages Britain Penda, for instance. I would have loved some footnotes giving me a bit more information; it also would have made the text itself more interesting. In any case, well worth reading. I'm ready to move on to some later Arthuriana. This translation can be compared with Lewis Thorpe's older translation for Penguin.

Faletra's translation is more accurate than Thorpe's though a bit stilted in places. The great advantage of Faletra's translation, though, is the appendices, in which Faletra reprints long passages from other Arthurian works such as Nennius' History of the Britons and Gildas' On the Ruin of Britain , as well as the complete text of Geoffrey's own later Life of Merlin.

O This translation can be compared with Lewis Thorpe's older translation for Penguin. On the whole, this is excellent value for money. I really thought I wouldn't like this, as it sounded just like a boring pseudo-history book; instead, I loved it, and while it was a slow read, it was also incredibly fascinating.

Jul 19, Lylah rated it it was amazing. Though the battles and successions of various kings are often repetitive, this is a surprisingly entertaining and magical account of british history, albeit fabricated in many places. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Dec 02, Lindsey Sparks rated it really liked it Shelves: owned-and-read.

I don't know why we still debate how Stonehenge was formed because Geoffrey clearly explains that giants brought stones from Africa to Ireland and built it, then Merlin magicked them over to England because of their healing powers when you bathe under them with water that runs over the stones. I had wanted to read this for years because Shakespeare uses it as a source for story ideas King Lear, Cymbeline and it has the first written King Arthur story. I thought it would be kind of d I don't know why we still debate how Stonehenge was formed because Geoffrey clearly explains that giants brought stones from Africa to Ireland and built it, then Merlin magicked them over to England because of their healing powers when you bathe under them with water that runs over the stones.

I thought it would be kind of dry but it was so hilarious I kept having to read bits to my husband the world history teacher. It was full of stories like how the Britons sacked Rome, how Merlin discovered that the reason a fortress kept sinking was due to dragons, King Lear's dad tried to make like Icarus and fly, etc. Also, I'm not sure when Arthur had time to find the holy grail because he was busy conquering Ireland, Iceland, Denmark and Norway! There were a few bits that read like an actual history and weren't nearly as fun. I'm glad I finally took the time to read this! The other day a coworker left some sort of snack out for everyone to share, in a bowl on the counter in the office kitchen.

I thought it looked like caramel popcorn.

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I put one piece in my mouth, and was sorry I had. Not sweet. Not light. Not caramel popcorn.