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Welsh Bruts

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The Welsh Bruts is the name commonly used for various medieval Welsh abridged translations of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae and for histories of the later Welsh kings. These later histories are usually called Brut y tywysogion while the adaptations of Geoffrey were known as Brut y Brenhinedd (‘Brutus-chronicle of the Kings’).

Classification of ManuscriptsEdit

There are six classifications of the Welsh texts based on Geoffrey’s history:

1.) The Dingestow version, 13th century and freest translation (Peniarth 45, Peniarth 46, Peniarth 22, Mostyn 117, Havod 1). Other manuscripts in this group jump from the Dingestow version to the Llanstephen 1 version at the end of the Prophecies of Merddin: (Mostyn 116, Peniarth 118, Peniarth 263, Peniarth 266, Peniarth 19, Llanstephen 137, BM. Add. MS. 19709). This mixed redation is known as the “Red Book” version.
2.) Peniarth 44, 13th century including Peniarth 314.
3.) Llanstephen 1, 13th century (Havod MS 2, NLW Peniarth MS 9, NLW Peniarth MS. 265, NLW 5281 B, NLS 1256 D).
4.) Peniarth 21, 14th century (Peniarth 23, Peniarth 261, Peniarth 212, Llanstephan 195).
5.) Cotton Cleopatra version as in BM. Cotton Cleopatra Bv, 14th/15th century (Black Book of Basingwerk, NLW 7006; Peniarth 25, Jesus College, Oxford MS. 141; Mostyn 211).
6.) Brut Tysilio version in 12 manuscripts, the earliest in Jesus College, Oxford, MS. 61, 15th century. This is derived from the Cotton Cleopatra version.
All these six families are different translations from Latin into Welsh. But the later translations tend to be inlflenced by earlier translations and they often have similar substitutions of Welsh names that do not exactly match Geoffrey’s Latin names and have other added traditional Welsh lore.

This classifcation is originally that of J. J. Parry presented in Speculum v. 424–31 and in his Brut y Brenhinedd, Cotton Cleopatra Version, Cambridge, Mass. 1937.

Obsolete CommentaryEdit

The Welsh Bruts text were earlier believed to fit into two categories, the Tysilio versions which represented more closely the oldest text and the Geoffrey version which had been influenced by Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Latin texts. In fact, the so-called Tysilio versions are the latest Welsh adaptations.

No modern scholar of repute accepts that any of these Welsh Bruts represents Geoffrey’s source.

In 1890, J. Gwenogvryn Evans published The Bruts from the Red Book of Hergest, which classified thirty manuscripts into three division: 1.) Those which contain the Introduction but do not contain the story of Llefelys, 2.) Those which contain the story of Llefelys but do not contain the Introduction, 3.) Mixed redactions.

This analysis, on closer study proved to be fallacious but will be found in older commentary. Also, the Myvyrian Archaiology text of Brut G. ab Arthur, which is supposedly from Havod 2, in fact switches on page 521 to a manuscript from a different family, one close to BM. Add. 14903.

ReferencesEdit

Dingestow VersionEdit

Red Book VersionEdit

Llanstephen 1 VersionEdit

  • Roberts, Brinley F. (Ed. & Trans.). (1971) Brut y Brenhinedd: Llanstephen MS. 1 Version: Selections edited with an introduction and notes, Mediaeval and Modern Welsh series 5, Dublin, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. ISBN 0901282154 and ISBN 978-0901282156

Cotton Cleopatra VersionEdit

Brut Tysilio VersionEdit

CommentaryEdit

  • Flinders, Petrie. (1917–18) ‘Neglected British History.’ Proceedings of the British Academy 8: 251-78. [historical interest in showing how wrong even a respected historian and archaeologist can be]

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