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Reference: Peniarth MS 23C

History of the Kings Content

The text is that of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s highly influential Historia Regum Britanniae (‘History of the Kings of Britain’), translated into Welsh as ‘Brut y Brenhinedd’ (‘History of the Kings’) (ff. 1-106v). The Latin Historia, written c. 1135, traced the descent of the Britons back to Brutus, the eponymous founder of Britain, who settled on the island with his followers after the fall of Troy. It provided the first full biographical account of king Arthur, and was extremely popular and influential in Wales. The Welsh text appeared in the 13th century, and survives in over 60 manuscripts. This copy is associated with, and perhaps partially derived from, Peniarth 21, which dates from the early 14th century.


Unusually for a Welsh narrative manuscript, some 59 rather crude illustrations were added to the text. They include 57 representations of kings, including Eneas and Brutus of Troy (ff. 1r, 10r), Arthur (f. 75v), and Cadwaladr the Blessed (f. 104v), together with scenes of the Nativity of Christ (f. 36v) and the Crucifixion (f. 38r). The scribe, or a separate illuminator, has also decorated some letters with animal and human heads.


  • Acton Griscom and Robert Ellis Jones (eds.), The Historia Regum Britanniæ of Geoffrey of Monmouth with contributions to the study of its place in early British history (London, 1929).
  • John Jay Parry (ed.), Brut y Brehinedd: Cotton Cleopatra Version (Cambridge, Mass., 1937).
  • Brynley F. Roberts (ed.), Brut y Brenhinedd: Llanstephan MS. 1 Version (Dublin, 1971).
  • Brynley F. Roberts, ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth, Histora Regum Britanniae and Brut y Brenhinedd’, in Rachel Bromwich, A.O.H. Jarman and Brynley F. Roberts (eds.), The Arthur of the Welsh. The Arthurian Legend in Medieval Welsh Literature (Cardiff, 1991), 97-116.