Guithelin is the name or one, two, or three individuals in Pseudo-Historical texts as follows: 1.) Vortigern’s grandfather in the Historia Brittonum; 2.) a personage with whom Ambrosius had a quarrel according to the Historia Brittonum, and 3.) the Archbishop of London in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae who initially accepted Constantine, the brother of King Aldroen of Little Britain, as King of Britain.

Whether two or three of these are considered identical depends on the individual chronological and historiological theories. Some consider at least one of these persons to be identical with Vortigern.

Origin of the Name GuithelinEdit

The name Guithelinus in Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Welsh form Guitolin in the Historia Brittonum are usually taken to be a Welshing of the Latin cognomen Vitalinus.

Guithelin as Vortigern’s GrandfatherEdit

In the Historia Brittonum 4.49 occurs a genealogy as follows:

filii Pascent,
filii Guorthigirn Guortheneu,
filii Guitaul,
filii Guitolin,
filii Glovi.

Bonus, Paul, Mauron tres fratres fuerunt filii Glovi, qui aedificavit urbem magnam super ripam fluminis Sabrinae, quae vocatur Brittannico sermone Cair Glovi, Saxonice autem Gloecester.

son of Pascent,
son of Vortigern the Thin,
son of Guitaul,
son of Guitolin,
son of Gloui.

Bonus, Paul, and Mauron were [his] three brothers, sons of Gloui, who constructed a great city upon the banks of the river Severn, which is called in British speech Caer Gloui, but in Saxon, Gloucester.

See Digitale Bibliothek – Münchener Digitalieserungszentrum: Mommsen, Theodor: Chronica Minora saec. IV.V.VI.VII (III), Bd.: 3, Berlin, (1898); page 193.

Guithelin Quarrels with AmbrosiusEdit

In the Historia Brittonum 4.66 there is mention of a quarrel between Ambrosius and one Guitolin, otherwse unknown:

Et a regno Guorthigirni usque ad discordiam Guitolini et Ambrosii anni sunt duodecim, quod est Guoloppum, id est Catguoloph. And from King Vortigern to the quarrel between Guitolin and Ambrosius is twelve years, which is Guolop, that is Catguolph [Battle of Guoloph].

See Digitale Bibliothek – Münchener Digitalieserungszentrum: Mommsen, Theodor: Chronica Minora saec. IV.V.VI.VII (III), Bd.: 3, Berlin, (1898); page 209.

Guithelin, Archbishop of London, in Geoffrey’s Historia and in Derived AccountsEdit

In Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae, Guithelin is first mentioned in Book VI, chapter 2, as preaching a sermon at a meeting in London at a meeting of the Britons and Romans. Guithelin urges the Britons to take on the defense of the island themselves, as the Romans will do so no longer.

But after the Romans leave, the barbarians again fall upon Britain and the Britons are not able to withstand them. The Britons send an embassy to the Roman general Aëtius, but are refused help.

So the Britons appoint Guithelin to cross the sea to Little Britain to offer the crown of Great Britain to King Aldroen of Little Britain if he will undertake to defend the former Roman colony. Aldroen refuses the crown for himself, but offers instead his younger brother Constantine as king along with two thousand soldiers. Archbishop Guithelin accepts this offer.

Guithelin and Constantine land at Totnes and attend a council at Silchester where Constantine is crowned. Constantine is then given a wife of noble family who had been brought up by Archbishop Guithelin himself. Constantine’s sons are Constans, Aurelius Ambrosius, and Uther Pendragon. Constans is made a monk in the church of Amphibalus at Winchester. The other two sons are given to Guithelin to bring up.

But both these sons are still babes in their cradles when King Constantine is assassinated by a Pict. Soon after, it is related that when Constant is taken from the monastery and made king, Archbishop Guithelin is dead.

Note that in the 5th century there were no rules attempting to enforce celibacy of the clergy and a man might well have children and then later join the church hierarchy. In short, there is no particular reason why Vortigern’s grandfather might not also be Archbishop of London if one wishes to believe both accounts.

Some Name VariationsEdit

FRENCH: Gosselyn; LATIN: Guitolinus, Guitolionus, Guithelinus; LATIN WELSH GENEALOGIES: Guitholim, Guttolion, Guitholion; ENGLISH: Guencelin, Guencelin, Gwencelin, Gosselyn, Guncelyns, Gwyncelyn, Guncelyn, Goscelin, Gocelyn, Gocelin, Gotelyn, Coslyn; WELSH: Cyhylyn (Kyhylyn).

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