Sunday, May 08, 2005

Nennius, British Historian

Nennius, British Historian - Short biography of the 9th-century Celtic historian describing his works and comparing him to an Anglo-Saxon counterpart, the Venerable Bede.

From the site:

In the ninth century AD a celtic monk, fearful that the history of his people would be lost forever, gathered together into one book such scraps of history as he could find. The result has perplexed, frustrated, and tantalized the historians that followed him – even to the present day.

At the beginning of the ninth century, Celtic Britain lay in ruins. Pushed to the fringes of their lands by the barbaric Anglo-Saxon and Scottish invaders, the Christian Celts clung to their strongholds in the west and dreamt of the day when they could throw off the Anglo-Saxon yoke.

It was in this atmosphere that a celtic monk by the name of Nennius compiled a history of his defeated people. Nennius, a 'disciple of St. Elbotus' (presumably Elfod, who was the bishop of Bangor in modern-day North Wales), based his work, the Historia Britonnum, mostly upon an older history that is now lost, which he embellished

...partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans, and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons.

To this literary melting pot he liberally added any scraps of oral tradition that he chanced upon...

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