CHAPTER III
THE SOURCES OF GEOFFREY

I HAVE written in the last chapter as though Geoffrey were solely responsible for his historical romances. This is not quite his own account of the matter. He has three references to his sources.1 The most important is in a preface to the dedications. Geoffrey had been surprised, he says, to find no records, beyond the mentions in Bede and Gildas, either of the pre-Christian kings of Britain, or of Arthur and the rest, whose deeds were told abroad, as if inscribed in the jocund memories of many peoples. But at last Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford, a learned rhetorician and student of foreign history, put into his hands a very ancient book in the British tongue, which proved to hold a continuous and elegant narrative of the doings of all these kings from Brutus down to Cadwallader. And this, at Walter's suggestion, Geoffrey had taken pains to latinize in his own rustic style. He mentions this source again at the beginning of the eleventh book, saying that from it and from the stories of Walter he learnt of the battles fought by Arthur with his nephew Mordred after his return from Gaul. And finally, in his colophon, leaving the later history to William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon and Caradoc of

____________________
1
Record xiv (a).

-53-

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