Geoffrey of Monmouth was a clergyman and one of the major figures in the development of British history. He was born in about 1100 in Wales. After graduating from Oxford University, he became archdeacon of Llandaff or Monmouth, and in 1152 he rose to the position of bishop of St Asaph. He died around 1154.
Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote several works of interest. The earliest one to appear was Prophetiae Merlini (The Prophecies of Merlin), which he wrote at some point before 1135.The first work about this legendary prophet in a language other than Welsh, it was widely read—and believed—much as the prophecies of Nostradamus were centuries later. Next was Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain), the work best known to modern readers. It claims to relate the history of the pre-Saxon kings of Britain but was in fact a deliberate spoof, being filled with legends, such as the idea that Aeneas was the ancestor of the first line of British kings. It is one of the first texts to mention King Arthur (having him subdue most of Europe, no less) and the first surviving text to mention King Lear (as King Leir). Lastly, Geoffrey wrote the Vita Merlini ("The Life of Merlin") at some point between 1149 and 1151. This is Geoffrey's own retelling of the earlier Myrddin legend from Welsh tradition. Most modern scholars (and many contemporary ones) acknowledge Geoffrey's work to be largely fiction containing little trustworthy historical fact.
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