Leudon (Leudonus in Latin and Llewddyn Luyddawg in Welsh) is the half-pagan king who gave his name to Leudonia (Lothian) according to the anonymous, incomplete Life of St. Kentigern. King Leudon is the father of Taneu (Thaney), the mother of St. Kentigern by Owein son of Urien. In origin Leudon may be identical with King Lot of Lothian, the father of Gawain, and the identification is explicit in John Major’s History of Great Britain.
The Begetting of St. KentigernEdit
According to the anonymous Incomplete Life of St. Kentigern, Taneu’s father was the half-pagan King Leudon who gave his name to the kingdom of Leudonia (Lothian).
Taneu was a firm and devout Christian who often meditated on the purity and blessedness of the Virgin Mary and greatly desired that she also might bear a son without knowing man. Accordingly, when Owein son of Urien seeks Taneu’s love, she rejects him. But rejection only increases Owein’s desire.
When King Leudon becomes aware of the situation, he gently urges Taneu to accept Owein’s suit. But Taneu still resists. King Leudon becomes angry and declares that Taneu will be handed over to the care of a common swineherd if she still refuses Owein. Taneu prefers to be a lowly servant in the house of the poor man, with the possibility of remaining chaste, than to live as a great lady and be impure. So King Leudon gives Taneu to the swineherd.
The swineherd turns out to be a chaste man and a secret Christian who shows immense respect to Taneu and her vow of virginity.
But Owein disguises himself as a woman, being still a very young man and beardless. Owein lures Taneu to a secluded place and rapes her, impregnating her in an instant.
Taneu becomes pregnant. King Leudon orders his daughter to be stoned, according to the laws of the country. But none of the executioners will throw the first stone at one of the royal family. Instead they place Taneu in a wagon, intending to throw the wagon down from the hill of Kepduf. But Taneu prays to the Virgin Mary and asks the Virgin to save her own life for the sake of the child in her womb. When the wagon is thrown down, Taneu is miraculously unhurt. The wagon turns around, its pole sticks into the earth and slows its descent. And from the place where the pole first pierced the rock, a steam bursts forth, which is said to still flow in the writer’s time.
A New PunishmentEdit
King Leudon would not be seen to prefer his daughter over the laws of the kingdom. Leudon now demands that Taneu be set adrift at sea, saying that if Taneu is truly innocent, then God will save her. So Taneu was brought to a river mouth called Aberlessic to be put into a coracle. Many folk there say that it is cruel to condemn a person twice for the same crime, and that rather the judge who makes no distinction should perish. Taneu calls on the Lord to judge those who fight against her.
Death of King LeudonEdit
Meanwhile Leudon has decided that if his daughter will die, then the swineherd must die. (Presumably Leudon thinks that it is the swineherd who has made Taneu pregant.) So King Leudon pursues the swineherd into a marsh, and when the swinherd sees that even the marsh does not halt King Leudon, the swineherd, snatching up a javelin, transfixes King Leudon, throwing it upon him from behind by means of a thong. Later a great stone was placed there as a monument to King Leudon, a mile to the south of Mount Dumpelder.
Birth of St. KentigernEdit
Meanwhile Taneu, in a coracle, is carried beyond the Isle of May. When dawn arrives, Taneu is safely cast up on the sand at Collenros, which, according to sailors’ computation, is thirty miles distant from the Isle of May in Scotland. There Taneu gives birth to St. Kentigern.
The King in Jocelyn’s Life of St. KentigernEdit
The king, who is unnamed, is pagan, not just half-pagan. The daughter hides her Christianity from her father. When she becomes pregnant, she does not know how it happened, though Jocelyn indicates that the pregnancy must have had, unknown to her, a natural source. Jocelyn does not mention Owein. Jocelyn suggests the girl might perhaps have been drugged, and then impregnated by an unknown person.
In Jocelyn's account, it is the custom that a girl who had committed fornication in her own home and became pregnant should be hurled down from the highest mountain. So the girl is cast down from Dumpelder, no wagon mentioned. As in the earlier account, the girl prays, and she lands with no harm.
But some claim the girl is a worker of witchcraft and that is what saved her. They therefore place the girl in a small, oarless boat which they set adrift. There is no mention of the death of the king.
Leudon in the Welsh Bonedd Y SantEdit
The Welsh Bonedd y Saint describes Kentigern, whom it calls Cynderyrn Garthwys, as the son of Owain ab Urien Rheged and Denyw the daughter of Llewddyn Luyddawg of Dinas Eiddyn (Edinborough).
Leudon in the John Major’s History of Great BritainEdit
In adapting Geoffrey Monmouth’s account of Arthur, John Major in his History of Great Britain (published in 1521), makes a few changes, including stating that King Loth was the father of Gawain, Mordred, and a daughter named Thametes who was mother to St. Kentigern. An identification of King Loth of Lodonesia/Lothian of the Arthurian tales with King Leudon of Leudonia (Lothian) is a reasonable one, but no-one before John Major makes it.
Leudon in Chrétien de Troyes’ YvainEdit
In Chrétien’s poem, Yvain kills a knight and then wins the hand of his former wife, whose name Chrétien says is Laudine of Landuc, the daughter of Duke Laudunet, of whom they sing a lay. The name Laudunet is not horribly different from the Leudon of the Kentigern legend, and may point to a connection between these two traditions about Owein/Yvain.
Some Name VariationsEdit
LATIN: Leudonus; LATIN WELSH GENEALOGIES: Llewddyn Lluyddawg (Lleudun Lluydauc, L[l]ewdwn Lluydauc).