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Arthur - first king of the Britons

Have you ever wondered why the name of King Arthur thrills your soul, why you have searched for his true identity despite numerous assurances that it has been found?

There have been many Arthurs. But the Arthur you seek was the First King of the Britons.

The Roman name for the land now called Brittany (after Britons who returned to it in medieval times) was 'Armorica'. Delete the 'ica', which is Latin, and it is the land of Armor. Remember that in ancient Welsh (derived in part from the language of the Britons) the 'm' and 'f' were interchangeable, and it becomes the land of Arfor, an early form of the name Arthur.

The land of Arfor was part of a kingdom called Lleuaanais (better known as Lyonesse) in the middle of the fifth millennium B.C. The capital of Lleuaaniais was Caer Lleuaan (Lyon), named after an early King Lleu who is unknown to us now. Lleuaaniais was the western part of what is now France. The entirety of France was ruled from Caer Parysaan, named after a fifth millennium High King Parys. By the middle of the fifth millennium the High King ruled over the whole of this area from Caer Parysaan, while lesser kings ruled over provinces like the land of Arfor.

The Lleuaaniaid belonged to a culture called the Faan. They were not the only Faan nation. To the east lay Coraaniais (doubtless with a capital named Caer Coraan), and this may have been the Low Countries, Denmark and/or present day Germany. The Faan extended from as far west as Portugal northeast to points beyond Poland. Theirs was the domain of Wisdom, presided over by an international organization that was at the same time a religious order, an educational network and a professional guild. This domain included also northern Italy, for the Faan were descended from the Fa people, many of whom had remained in their ancestral land.

The word 'Faan' means 'of the Fa'. The Fa (meaning 'happy') were Japhethites from Mesopotamia who worshipped the Goddess Inanna. They were closely related to the early Athenians who settled on the island now known as Ireland. The names 'Iona', 'Troy' and 'Parys' were used by the Faan. Thus there are associations with Meschech, Javan and Magog, sons of Japheth who lived in Anatolia, even though the Faan had taken the north African route and had travelled through Italy and Spain, creating a trail of dolmens as they went. The early Athenians who lived in Ireland had sailed in large curraghs seating forty people each. They traced their descent from Magog.

The name 'Faan' must have degenerated to 'Fae' at an early stage, for the Lleuaaniaid colonists who filtered across the Channel to the island directly north of their home were called the 'Fae Rhy', i.e. the 'extra' or 'superfluous Fae'. Arthur (for so I will call him) did not lead his people to freedom by founding a new colony. He worked in peace and harmony with the High King at Caer Parysaan, and he was in charge of establishing government in an already existing settlement, which was a rough place. In short, he brought law and order.

And that is why we love him. To this day, he represents the champion of the weak and oppressed and the triumph of justice. From his castle of Ehangwen in Cornwall, his men rode across the countryside in search of adventure. In fact, they were looking for trouble, which is exactly what policemen do today. They patrolled a frontier, and there they upheld the rights of aged or less powerful landowners whose property had been taken, and of women who were being forced against their will.

Did you ever wonder why Arthur was King of the Britons while at the same time confined to Cornwall and Devon? Wonder no more. In his day, Cornwall and Devon WERE Britain. The name 'Britain' is derived from 'Prydaan'. As far as I can tell, this means 'of time', making the Britons the 'people of time'. The significance of this name is not clear, but it eventually became associated with their island, whose original name had been 'Albion', (Albiaan, meaning 'of the whites'). As the Prydaan colony spread through the southern end of the island, the northern end retained the older name. The displacement of the Albionnes by the Prydaan was moved forward in history by Geoffrey of Monmouth and Nennius, in an attempt to reconcile the old tales with historical figures familiar to themselves, but the real date was around 4500 B.C.

The appearance of the Albionnes is not known to this day. Popular myth maintains that they were a supernaturally white 'elven' people descended from Inanna. Some sceptics dismiss the name 'Albion' as a reference to the white cliffs of Dover (and the name 'Alpine' as a reference to white mountaintops) but this does not explain the many references to the Albionnes in names of people and places throughout Europe. Whoever they were, the Albionnes must have affected the entire subcontinent. But there is no proof of their existence, and their reputed giant size may simply be due to a confusion with the Volsungrs, some of whom were seven feet tall.

The Volsungrs or 'Old Norse' had moved into Scandinavia from the steppes of central Asia, and had colonized the northern part of Albion before 8000 B.C., when it was still connected to the continent by a land bridge. The Volsungrs called the Fae 'trows' or 'lovers of stone', referring of course to the trademark tombs and menhirs. I believe the Volsungrs were the island's post-Ice Age aboriginal people, of whom a northern community remained Mesolithic until the 6th century A.D. The Celts who arrived in the first millennium B.C. called these people 'Atecotti', meaning 'The Very Old Ones'. The Atecotti lived in wigwams, domesticated dogs, wore headdresses with deer antlers, painted their bodies with swirly designs, and spoke a language that was not Indo-European. They lived in the far north of Britain, were reputed to be very tall, and resembled the broad faced Mesolithic people of Norway and Sweden, whose shorter relatives had inhabited the Alps.

The earliest story which the Volsungrs brought from central Asia predated those of the Faan by three thousand years. It told of the truce they had made with the Vanir (proto-Finns) in what is now Russia. The Athenian relatives of the Faan who settled in Ireland had an old story too. In what is probably a late rendition of the Noah archetype, Noah's fourth son (refused entry to the Ark) visited what is now Ireland before the Deluge, which in the Athenian version was probably the sixth millennium catastrophe.

In contrast to these old reminiscences, the fifth millennium records of Arthur are rich in detail. For he was the First King of the Britons, and the names of all his courtiers were recorded for posterity. He probably began a dynasty, and the stories of Arthur are probably the stories of several Arthurian kings. Ancient figures become archetypes as time passes, and many individuals are subsumed under one name.

The names of three of Arthur's men appear in stories that date from after his reign. The individuals in these stories were probably descendants of the three warriors from those families who survived the Battle of Camlan, at which the last Arthur died with all the rest of his men. It was the culmination of a civil war fought against the last Arthur's nephew Medrawd, who also seems to have died in the battle.

The stage was set for a new king. And one stepped in, a Volsungr named Llyr. The Britons had made peace with the Volsungrs at an early date with the marriage of Arthur's cousin to the daughter of the Volsungr colony's king. Llyr married a Briton, and his dynasty thenceforth was of mixed descent. By his time Britain was divided into four sub-kingdoms, all of them in the south: Cernyw (Cornwall), Dyfnaint (Devon), Llogres (now southern England), and Cymru (now Wales). Llyr's capital was in Llogres, at the site of what is now London. It was called 'Gwynfryn', meaning 'Whitemount'. His castle was probably on a bank of the Thames, but the town below it lay in what is now the riverbed, for at that time the sea level was much lower than it is now. The Laurentian glacier had not yet melted with the end of the fourth Ice Age. It would not do so until 4000 B.C., which was still a long way off.

more on Mesopotamia
Faery sightings

graphic courtesy of Graham and Angela Tickner
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