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British History, by Nennius

British History, by Nennius

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1125

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Vespasian D XXI

Item number: f.15r

Length: 19.3

Width: 13.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

Who was Nennius? Billed as the author of a medieval best-seller, 'The 'Historia Britonum' ('British History'), he probably never existed. The 'British History' grew bit by bit from an original core and mutated fluidly through rewritings over several centuries. Patterned after Irish chronologies and generously enlivened with legends, it was attributed to both Nennius and Gildas to give it intellectual authority. It proved important: it was the only early medieval history of Wales. Geoffrey of Monmouth drew upon it for his 'History of the British Kings' because it preserved ancient legends of the British, and it contains the earliest mention of the name Arthur.

Starting with calculations of timespans from the Creation, this page begins an account of the Anglo-Saxons arriving in Britain. The double-columned list at the end of the page gives the cities of Britain.

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