Arthuriana Chronology

This is a timeline of persons, events, and works associated with the Arthurian legends.  It includes historical background for such Arthuriana.  This is an evolving project, sponsored by the journal Arthuriana .  If you would like to contribute information for the Chronology, please contact  csnyder@marymount.edu .  Contributors are credited at the end of the Chronology.
 
 
 

 

HISTORY

LITERATURE

THE ARTS

 

 

 

 

AD 175

Lucius Artorius Castus serves as praefectus of the Legio VI Victrix in Britain.

 

 

401 or 402

Stilicho withdraws troops from Britain for the defense of Italy.

 

 

31 Dec. 406

Alans, Vandals, and Sueves cross the frozen Rhine, invading the Gallic provinces of the Roman Empire.

 

 

406-7

The army in Britain elects a series of usurpers: Marcus, Gratian, and Constantine III.

 

 

407

Constantine III crosses to Gaul with troops from Britain.

 

 

408 or 410

Britain is devastated by Saxon incursions.

 

 

409

The Britons revolt from the Empire and set up independent rule.  The Romans can no longer hold on to Britain, which is henceforth ruled by "tyrants." 

 

 

410

Alaric’s Visigoths sack Rome.  The western emperor Honorius sends a rescript to the cities of Britain urging them to see to their own defense.

 

 

429

St. Germanus visits Britain to combat the Pelagian heresy.

 

 

c.430-54

Some Britons send a letter to Agitius (Aëtius) asking for aid against the barbarians.

 

 

431

Palladius named first bishop of Ireland; succeeded some time 
afterwards by Patrick.

 

 

c.441

Witnesses in Gaul observed that some portion of Britain had fallen into the hands of the Saxons.

 

 

c.443-c.450

Plague infects Britain and much of Europe.

 

 

c.445

St. Germanus makes a second visit to Britain.

 

 

c.452

 

The first of the two anonymous Gallic Chronicles is compiled.

 

c.455-c.485

Britons convene a council and decide to hire Saxon mercenaries.  The superbus tyrannus settles the Saxons in northeastern Britain, from whence they rebel.  The British survivors turn to Ambrosius Aurelianus, who leads them to a series of victories over the Saxons.

 

 

c.468

Riothamus, king of the Britons, fights the Visigoths in Gaul.

 

 

c.485

The Battle of Mount Badon and slaughter of the Saxons.  The birth of Gildas.

 

 

c.511

 

The second Gallic Chronicle is compiled.

 

518

 

Entry for the Battle of Badon in the Annales Cambriae.

 

521

The birth of St. Columba.

 

 

c.529

 

Gildas writes the De Excidio Britanniae.

 

539

 

Entry for the Battle of Camlann in the Annales Cambriae.

 

542-49

Bubonic plague devastates Constantinople, eventually reaching to Britain and Ireland.

 

 

563-65

St. Columba establishes a monastery on Iona, and begins his mission among the Picts.

 

 

573

 

According to the Annales Cambriae, the Battle of Arfderydd in which Gwenddolau fell and Myrddin went mad.

 

577

The Battle of Dyrham.  The British towns of Gloucester, Cirencester, and Bath fall to the Saxons.

 

 

c.590

The Battle of Catraeth.  British warband from Din Eidyn wiped out by the Saxons.

 

 

597

Papal missionaries led by St. Augustine arrive at Canterbury.  The death of St. Columba at Iona.

 

 

c.600

St. Kentigern (Mungo) a British 
missionary in Strathclyde, founds the first church in Glasgow.

Aneirin composes Y Gododdin.  St. Columbanus writes his first letter to Pope Gregory I.  The Irish epic Táin Bó Cuailnge is in circulation.

 

638

The kingdom of the Gododdin is destroyed.

 

 

688

Glastonbury Abbey is founded by the King of Wessex.

St. Adomnán, abbot of Iona, begins his Life of St. Columba

 

731

 

Bede completes his 
Ecclesiastical History of the English People.

 

c.786

First Viking raids on Britain.

 

 

800

Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman Emperor in Rome

English poet Cynewulf active. 

 

c.830

 

Composition of the Historia Brittonum.

 

843-50 

Kenneth mac Alpin unites the Scottish and Pictish thrones, becoming the first king of Scotland.

 

 

1019

 

Th early date argued for the Life of Saint Goueznou.

 

c.1050

 

The four branches of the Mabinogi are collected.

 

1066

Norman invasion of England and the battle of Hastings.

 

 

c.1090

 

Lifric of Llancarfan, Life of St. Cadoc .

 

c.1100

 

The date of the manuscript in BM Harley 3859 which contains the Historia Brittonum and the Annales Cambriae.  The final version of Culhwch ac Olwen appears in writing.

The Perros Relief, in 
Brittany, illustrating a 
scene from the legend 
of Arthur and St. Efflam.

Early 12th cent.

 

Caradoc of Llancarfan's Life of St. Gildas.

 

12th cent.

 

The Life of St. Carannog and The Life of St. Iltud

 

c.1120-40

 

 

The Modena Archivolt, in northern Italy, depicting the rescue of Guinevere.

c.1120

 

The Life of St. Padarn

 

c.1125

 

William of Malmesbury, The Early History of Glastonbury and The Deeds of the English Kings.

 

c.1136-38

 

Geoffrey of Monmouth  completes his History of the Kings of Britain, incorporating  an earlier work, The Prophecies  of Merlin.

 

c.1150

 

Geoffrey publishes his Life of Merlin.

 

1151

Geoffrey is elected Bishop of St. Asaph.

 

 

1153

The Treaty of Westminster, witnessed by Geoffrey of Monmouth, recognizing Henry 
Plantagenet, son of Matilda, as the heir of King Stephen.

 

 

1155

 

Wace publishes his Roman de Brut.

 

1165

 

 

Arthur is depicted in a 
mosaic on the floor of 
the Norman cathedral in Otranto, Italy.

c.1167-83

 

Alanus de Insulus, English Prophecies of Merlin Ambrosius.

 

c.1170

 

Marie de France writes her Arthurian lays.

 

c.1170-91

 

Chrétien de Troyes writes his five Arthurian romances.

 

1175

 

The poet Thomas writes his Tristan.

 

1180

 

Eilhart von Oberge writes his Tristrant .

 

c.1190 

Glastonbury monks excavate the grave of Arthur and Guinevere.

Layamon publishes his Brut.

 

1191

Richard I gives "Excalibur" to King Tancred of Sicily on crusade.

Béroul writes his Tristan; Gerald of Wales writes The Journey through Wales and The Description of Wales.

 

c.1193-99

 

Gerald of Wales writes The Instruction of a Prince.

 

 13th cent.

 

Oldest manuscripts containing the Welsh Triads; the Welsh romances Owain, Ystoria Peredur ab Efrawg, and Geraint ab Erbin are written. 

 

c.1200

 

Robert de Boron composes Merlin and Joseph d'Arimathea

 

c.1200-25

 

Raoul de Houdenc composes Meraugis de Portlesguez and La Vengeance Raguidel.

 

1202

King John captures and executes his nephew, Arthur of Brittany.

 

 

1210

 

Wolfram von Eschenbach writes Parzifal.  Gottfried von 
Strassburg writes his Tristan.

 

1210-25

 

 The Perlesvaus is written.

 

1215-35

 

The French Vulgate cycle is written.

 

c.1216

 

Gerald of Wales writes Speculum Ecclesiae .

 

1220s

 

 

The first Arthurian 
illluminated MSS.

1250

 

The Prose Tristan is completed.

 

c.1250

 

The Black Book of Carmarthen, which contains the poems The Stanzas of the Graves, Pa Gur, and Geraint son of Erbin . The anonymous French romance L'Atre Périlleux.

 

1270

 

 

The Tristan story is 
illustrated on tiles at 
Chertsey Abbey, 
England.

1278

Edward I visits Glastonbury Abbey for the reinterment of Arthur's bones.

 

 

Late 13th cent.

 

The Book of Aneirin, which contains the Gododdin .

 

Early 14th cent.

 

The Book of Taliesin, which contains The Spoils of Annwfn, The Battle of the Trees, The Prince's Chair, The Poem of the Horses, and Uther Pendragon's Elegy.

 

1310

 

First mention of Arthur as one of the Nine Worthies.

 

1344

Edward III promises to establish a new Order of the Round Table.

 

 

c.1350

 

The stanzaic Le Morte Arthur is written; the date of the White Book of Rhydderch.

Original construction of the Winchester Round 
Table.

c.1400

 

The alliterative Morte Arthure is written; the date of the Red Book of Hergest, which contains the poem The Dream of Rhonabwy.

 

1400

 

An anonymous English poet completes Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

 

 

 

 

 

1470

 

Sir Thomas Malory completes Le Morte D’Arthur , while in 
prison.

 

1485

Henry Tudor defeats Richard III at Bosworth Field, fighting under the banner of the Red Dragon.

William Caxton publishes Malory's Le Morte D’Arthur.

 

1486

Henry VII's first son is christened Arthur at Winchester.

 

 

1502

The death of Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales.

 

 

1511

Catherine of Aragon gives Henry VIII a son named Arthur.

 

 

1522

 

 

Henry VIII shows the visiting emperor Charles V the Winchester Round Table, then bearing a painted figure of Arthur with Henry's visage.

1542

 Leland identifies South Cadbury as Camelot.

 

 

1587

 

 

Queen Elizabeth gives her royal commendation to an Arthurian pageant.

1590 and 1596 

 

 Publication of Spenser's The 
Faerie Queene.

 

1607

 

 

In his Britannia, William Camden includes an engraving of the Glastonbury Cross.

1691 

 

 

King Arthur, or the 
British Worthy, a masque by John Dryden and Henry Purcell.

1829

 

Thomas Love Peacock’s satirical romance, The Misfortunes of Elphin

 

1834-85 

 

Tennyson composes and publishes various versions of his Idylls of the King.

 

1848 

 

 

Formation of the Pre- 
Raphaelite Brotherhood 
in London.

1852 

 

Matthew Arnold writes the poem Tristram and Iseult.

 

1858 

 

William Morris publishes The 
Defence of Guenevere, and Other Poems.

 

1865 

 

 

The first presentation of Wagner's Tristan und 
Isolde.

1880 

 

Sidney Lanier's A Boy's King Arthur, a retelling of Malory.

 

1882 

 

Algernon Charles Swinburne writes the poem Tristram of 
Lyonesse.

Wagner produces his final opera, Parsifal , a year before his death.

1888 

 

 

 J.W. Waterhouse's most famous painted version of The Lady of Shalott.

1889 

 

 Mark  Twain writes
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

 

1903-10 

 

Howard Pyle writes and illustrates his famous retellings of Malory.

 

1917-27 

 

Edwin Arlington Robinson's three Arthurian poems are 
published.

 

1922 

 

T.S. Eliot composes the poem The Waste Land , with its Arthurian and Grail imagery.

 

1932 

 

John Cowper Powys writes A Glastonbury Romance .

 

1938 

 

T.H. White writes his first  Arthurian novel, The Sword in the Stone.

 

1938 and 1944 

 

Charles Williams publishes Taliessin through Logres and The Region of the Summer Stars.

 

1943 

 

 

Jean Cocteau's film, 
L'Eternel Retour.

1949 

 

 

Bing Crosby stars in the film musical A Connecticut  Yankee in King Arthur's  Court.

1951

John Cowper Powys' novel, Porius: A Romance of the Dark Ages

1958 

 

Four of T.H. White's Arthurian  novels are published together as The Once and Future King.

 

1963 

 

Rosemary Sutcliff's novel, Sword at Sunset .

Walt Disney's animated film The Sword in the 
Stone.

1967 

 

 

The film version of the 
musical Camelot.

1970 

 

Mary Stewart begins her Merlin trilogy with The Crystal Cave.

 

1973

 

Susan Cooper’s novel The Dark is Rising .

 

1974 

 

 

Robert Bresson's film 
Lancelot du Lac.

1975 

 

 

The comic film Monty 
Python and the Holy Grail.

1976 

 

Publication of John Steinbeck's  unfinished novel, The Acts of King Arthur.

 

1978 

 

Thomas Berger's satiric novel, Arthur Rex .

Eric Rohmer's film 
Perceval le Gallois.

1980

 

Parke Godwin's novel, Firelord.

 

1981 

 

 

John Boorman's film 
Excalibur.

1982 

 

Marion Zimmer Bradley's novel, The Mists of Avalon; Phyllis Ann Karr's novel, The Idylls of the Queen.

 

1984

 

Parke Godwin's novel, Beloved Exile.

 

1987-97

 

Stephen R. Lawhead's "The Pendragon Cycle" (novels): Taliesin (1987), Merlin (1988), Arthur (1989),
Pendragon (1994), and Grail (1997).

 

1988

 

Diana L. Paxson's Tristan novel, The White Raven.

 

1991 

 

 

Terry Gilliam's film The  Fisher King.

1995 

 

 

Jerry Zucker's film First Knight.

1995-97

 

Bernard Cornwell's "The Warlord Chronicles" (novels): The Winter King (1995), Enemy of God (1996), and Excalibur (1997).

 

1998 

 

 

The NBC-TV miniseries Merlin.

1999

 

 

 

2000

 

 

 

2001

 

Jack Whyte’s novel Uther (in the Camulod Chronicle series).

The TNT miniseries Mists of Avalon.


 

Designed and maintained by Dr. Christopher A. Snyder , Associate Professor of History, Marymount University.

Contributors

P.J.C. Field, Michelle Ziegler, Guillermo Rubio, Linda Gowan, Tony Grand, Richard W.H. Bray, Jacqueline Peltier.

Sources

Lacy, Norris J., Geoffrey Ashe, and Debra N. Mancoff.  The Arthurian Handbook.  Second edition.  New York: Garland, 1997.

Lacy, Norris J., ed.  The New Arthurian Encyclopedia.  New York: Garland, 1991.

Snyder, Christopher A. An Age of Tyrants: Britain and the Britons, AD 400-600.  University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 1998.

---. The World of King Arthur.  New York and London: Thames and Hudson, 2000.
 

Last updated: November 2003