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Circle of Logres:
Encyclopædia Arthuriana

Circle of Logres

An Introduction The History A Compendium
Morgan, Mordred, and Avalon Perceval and Galahad Lancelot of the Lake
Round Table and True Knights Queen Guinevere Camelot
Merlin The Holy Grail The Lady of the Lake
Gawain King Arthur Tristan and Isolde
Excalibur Sources Email Glyn Hnutu-healh

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Logres (also Llogres, L’Ogres, Lorgres, L(l)oe(n)gre(s), Log(r)us, Logurs, Logrys, Lôgroys, Log(r)(o)is, Logereis, Loagrais, Londres, Longres, Laagrais, Laugrais, Lugereis, Locris, No(r)gres, and Wrogles; possibly related to Lo(e)gr(ec)ia, Leog(r)ecia, Leogetia, Legetta, and Lefkada; as well as being ‘Land of Ogres’, ‘Logrian Land’, ‘London-in-Logres’, ‘Logres-in-the-Empire’, and maybe even Luques) appear to be variant forms of Lloeg(y)r, the Welsh name for England (‘Aengael Talamh’ or ‘Engestes Lande’ or ‘Angle-Land’). It is, also, the name of Arthur’s realm in the Matter of Britain and in a large amount of other literature. Logres was sometimes known in Arthurian Literature (especially in the Lancelot-Grail — Vulgate Cycle) as the “Kingdom of Adventures”. Logres equates to the Kingdom of Lystynoyse (Lystenoyse, Lystyne(y)s(e)), Ly(s)tenoys(e), and Listonei(s) (Lystenois, Lystenoys) as found in Malory, the Prose Merlin, and Arthour and Merlin, respectively; to Malory’s ‘Waste Land’ (‘Waste Londe’), the Prose Merlin’s ‘Waste Londes’, and Henry Lovelich’s History of the Holy Grail’s ‘Wastable Lond’; and the ‘Kingdom of Foraigne’ (as ‘Foreyn Countrey’, ‘Forayn Countrey’, and ‘Forayne Contre’ in Malory; as ‘Forayn Londes’ in the Prose Merlin; and ‘Foraygne’ (‘For(r)aigne’) ‘Country’ in Lovelich’s History of the Holy Grail).

In the Matter of Britain, inhabitants of Logres are sometimes termed the Loegrwys, other times as Lloegrwys (apparently one of three subgroups of the Kymri, the other two being the Kymry proper and the Brythons - Cymru and Combroges, respectively). Anthony Adolph claims that Loegrwys denoted all the inhabitants of the land. Yet, according to Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson, Lloegrwys meant “the men of Lloegr”. Neil Whalley defines Lloegrwys as the ‘inhabitants of Lloegr’. However, in old texts, spellings were seldom consistent, and as they were generally written by men, about men, the term ‘the men of Lloegr’ could just as easily have been used about the entirety of the population, as about just the men. With those three examples, we can see that the spellings were not only inconsistent, but interchangeable.

The original meaning of Logres is uncertain, and nor is it known for sure whether the term existed before, or as a result of, the Anglo-Saxon conquest. There are several theories. A popular one is that Logres means the “Lost Lands” or “Lost Territory” (as mentioned by Neil Whalley and Timothy Venning, respectively, among others), referring to the land lost during the Anglo-Saxon conquest (in one instance, the loss of territory around the upper Severn valley to the Anglian Kingdom of Mercia in the mid-seventh-century). Logres may mean ‘the white land’, from the Greek leukos and referring perhaps to the abundance of chalk in the south-east, and indeed to the white cliffs of parts of Sussex and Kent, as theorised by Anthony Adolph in Brutus of Troy. The root of Logres might be akin to that of the Ligores, if Leicester took its name (Ligera caester or Ligora ceastre) from the name of a local, indigenous people (old Brittonic Ligera or Ligora), rather than from an old name (based on the Anglo-Saxon legor) for the river now known as the Soar. Perhaps one way to understand the origin of Lloeg(y)r, thereby comprehending the nature and character of Logres, would be to “support the contention that the South [of Britain] had remained Romanized”, as we know that it had.

This somewhat plausible idea, presented by August (Daniel) Hunt, is that the derivation is from the “Latin genitive plural laicorum (m)/laicarum (f)/laicorum (n), from laicus, ‘of or belonging to the people or laity, not priestly, not consecrated’.” It follows that if “people living in the region concerned were laity, then they were Christian. Not priests, but also not pagans”. The term laity as applied to Arthur of the Romances, a preeminent Christian king at least, means that he was king of the land of the common Christian folk. Arthur was definitely not king of the priests, nor of the Church. Those belonged to the Pope in Rome. In this context, division of Church and State was evident from a fairly early time. That distinction is vitally important, inasmuch as it is not a reflection of an historical Arthur’s time, but of the time in which the Arthurian Romances were written. This Logres was the land of the Christian laity, over which Arthur is said to have ruled. It is not the spiritual realm, over which he held no sway. Applying those concepts, one can see the possibility of the word for that region changing from Laic-r(um) to Lloeg(y)r/Legor/Ligores to Logres. Of course, the intermediate word forms can only be theorised. But it does shed some light onto the puzzle of the word(s) Legor, Ligores, and/or Lloeg(y)r, becoming the name Logres.

Perhaps a more realistic etymology for Lloegr is born of the same root as Laic-r(um): the Latin word lāicus as ‘lay, layman’, or even as ‘pagan’. In 2009, Ranko Matasović connected Lloegr with the Old Irish word láech (lóech). It means not only ‘warrior', but ‘layman’ in some early texts. However, the semantic development would have been strange, and there is no such Latin loanword in British. Láech (lóech) derives from the “Proto-Celtic” *lāyko- (*laiko-) ‘warrior’, *lāykor (in the plural, as in the Old Irish clochar ‘a heap of stones’, from cloch ‘stone’). Thereby Lloegr could represent the collective *lāykor meaning ‘warriors’. Paraphrasing Neil Whalley, the phonetics are fairly secure. The “Proto-Celtic” *ai would become w, oe regularly and r-stems generally retain their final -r preceded by an epenthetic (inserted sound or letter within a word) vowel (as an example, in “Proto-Celtic”, *awontīr becomes the Welsh ewythr). The semantics are reasonable (from ‘layman’ to 'warrior’), but not obvious. Modern Irish Gaelic laoch means ‘hero, champion’. It is possible that two words of different origins were conflated, or that the sense of ‘layman’ was borrowed by scholars who recognised the connection between the Latin lāicus and the Old Irish láech. The Latin word was borrowed into British and became the Welsh lleyg ‘lay’. While this derivation is far from certain, it does represent, according to Neil Whalley, “the best possibility for the origins of Lloegr to date”. The doors are now open for wider considerations, such as multiple convergent and conflated etymologies.

In Arthurian contexts, “Logres” is often used to describe the Brittonic territory roughly corresponding to the borders of the geographic area that we now call England before the region was taken over by the Angles and Saxons (with more than a few Jutes and Frisians involved as well). According to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s influential Historia Regum Britanniae (History of Kings of Britain), the realm (of Locris) was named after the legendary King Locrinus (Locrine, Logryn - meaning beauty), the eldest of three sons of Brutus of Troy (Kamber and Albanac being the other two sons, respectively, meaning wisdom and boldness). The name Locris (Locrinus, Logryn) could be a form of the word Laicus taken through Laic-r(um) to Lloeg(y)r/Legor/Ligores, and finally to Logres as a linguistic evolution that includes the Mediæval Welsh Lloegyr.

In his Historia, Geoffrey uses the word “Loegria” to describe a province containing most of England excluding Cornwall and possibly Northumberland (yet grouping Cornwall and Loegria together to be governed by London), as in this example from section iv.20 (from the Penguin Classics translation by Lewis Thorpe):

Parishes were apportioned off, Deira being placed under the Metropolitan of York, along with Albany, for the great River Humber divides these two from Loegria. Loegria itself was placed under the Metropolitan of London, along with Cornwall. The Severn divides these last two provinces from Kambria or Wales, which last was placed under the City of Legions.
Even though Cornwall (Kernow) was named for the Cornovii people, the Cornovian Welsh (eponymously derived from Corineus, the troop commander for and best friend of Brutus of Troy), the name Logres was used throughout the Arthurian legends to refer not just to what is now modern-day England, but to the entire British realm of King Arthur. According to Lewis Spence, Logres was the eastern part of ancient Britain. Other sources, Chrétien de Troyes for one, seem to apply the name generally to Arthur’s entire kingdom. In Perceval, or Le Conte del Graal (Perceval, or The Story of the Grail), lines 6169-6170, Chrétien explains the name as signifying “the land of ogres”, which it allegedly was in pre-Arthurian times (using the terms ogre and giant interchangeably). So, the actual linguistic development of the name for the region may be what is called a “convergent” or “conflated” etymology. In other words, multiple origins for the word Logres may have fed into each other and fused together to become Logres.

‘King Arthur of Logres’ is a fairly common designation in French and German legends, though the texts are often ambiguous as to whether Logres is a territory or a city. In the Vulgate (Lancelot-Grail) romances, it is both, with the latter named as Arthur’s capital and identified today as London (referred to as Londres in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Galician, and Filipino; Londres is also an alternate spelling for Logres). The site of several Saxon battles at the beginning of Arthur’s reign, Logres (the city) was invested with its own bishop. According to the Post-Vulgate Mort Artu, King Mark of Cornwall invaded and destroyed the city of Logres after Arthur’s death. Brutus had originally built this city and named it ‘La Nueue Troie’ Troia(m) Nova(m) — The New Troy (Tri-Novant/Tri-nouhant meaning Inhabitants of the New Town). Under Roman rule, it was Civitas Trinobantum/Trinovant(um) “the City of the Trinobantes/Trinovant(es)”, which can be rendered Newtownsmen. Contradictively, the city was also called Londinium. At some point, before the Romans, it was named Logres (Locris, Loegria) after Locrinus/Locrine/Logryn (through the previously discussed etymological developments). The City of Logres was eventually rebuilt by King L(l)ud(d) and named “Caer(-)Lud” (Kaer Lludd) Fort of L(l)ud(d), which becomes corrupted over time to Kaer Llundain. Through Londinium, this easily brings us to London. However, this does not directly address the issue that Londres can be translated as either London or Logres; nor does it determine the official Roman name of the city (or even the region) beyond all doubt.

In German romance, Logres is often noted as Gawain’s kingdom, since Wolfram von Eschenbach tells us that Gawain married Duchess Orgeluse (Orguelleuse) of Logres; who, previously, had inherited it from her late husband, Duke Cidegast. Though Malory refers to Arthur’s realm as ‘England’, he gives the surname ‘de Logres’ to several knights. Additionally, Logres is the setting of Chrétien de Troyes’ Lancelot, or Le Chevalier de la Charrete (Lancelot, or The Knight of the Cart), and of Perceval, as well as of much of the Vulgate Cycle. Even though it is probably to be identified geographically as England, it is here primarily a poetic creation that is sometimes a vague locus of adventure and romance. The name “Logres” has been modernly used in many works of fantasy set in Britain, for example, C S Lewis’ That Hideous Strength and Susan Cooper’s Over Sea, Under Stone. Unfortunately, Cooper’s work equates Logres precisely with Cornwall. Which by all linguistic accounts is not supported by Arthurian source texts. It is a completely modern equivalence.

Logres is Arthur’s realm (whether represented as a kingdom, territory, or city); and it embodies a chivalric code of integrity, courage, might, honour, compassion, and justice. The usual Arthurian books are a mere shadow of this Circle of Logres sixteen-volume set. Even though most authors attempt to recover the reality behind the myths, legends, and folktales of King Arthur and his realm, they generally restrict themselves to only one explanation for each person, place, and thing. History is not that simplistic nor precise. All of the available evidence is considered and presented in the proper inclusive scheme for the historical and mythological evolution of “all things Arthuriana”.

The difficulty is differentiating between mythologised history and historicised myth (as well as re-historicised mythologised history). This book-set takes those people, places, and things from the myth, legend, and folklore of the whole of Arthuriana and determines (as completely as possible) their historical origins; whether they are based on actual people, places, and things or the “stuff of legends”. It will be shown how every piece of Arthur’s realm is related through genealogical kinship and geographical proximity of both the mythological and historical.

These books have been years in the making. The main goal is to present a high level of scholarship in the coverage of the following topics: Arthur, Gawain, Tristan/Isolde, The Lady of the Lake, The Holy Grail, Morgan le Fay/Mordred/Avalon, Excalibur, Guinevere, The Round Table/Knights, Camelot, Lancelot, Perceval/Galahad, and Merlin. These thirteen books not only explore each topic, but analyse how those subjects represent the material origins and fundamental archetypes of the whole of Arthuriana that are related through cultural locations and familial connections.

In addition to those thirteen, there will be a volume covering the overall historical backdrop from multiple culturally-based perspectives (Circle of Logres: The History), and another as summaries of the geographies, genealogies, timelines, histories, romances, legends, mythologies, folklores, and beasts of the whole of Arthuriana (Circle of Logres: A Compendium of Summaries). The first book (as an introductory volume to the set) is Circle of Logres: An Introduction. It outlines the project, and interests the reader in the depth and breadth of its research and influence.

The links on this website lead to the pages of outlines for each of the books. Every outline is meant to be thorough on that particular subject matter. Questions, comments, criticisms, corrections, and encouragement are always welcome. Helping to “tweak” the content not only improves the project itself, but enlightens the Arthuriana community who would find this website useful as an Arthurian Mediæval Source Texts Study. Circle of Logres: Encyclopædia Arthuriana will expand the power and usefulness of the website, as well as the overall endeavour.

This project is a much-expanded and re-evaluated view of a 1985 self-authored paper entitled King Arthur. The goal here is threefold: to understand the complete Arthuriana of Romance; to recover its People, Places, and Things (be they historical, mythological, or various combinations of the two); and to bring forth the Mythological and Historical Origins and Archetypes contained within the whole of Arthuriana, via Geographical and Genealogical Methodologies. In this endeavour, a multitude of Origins and Archetypes behind the Folklore, the Myth, the Legend, and the Romance shall be presented. The conclusions will be in the minds of the readers.

“There is more of Rome*, than of Romance, about Arthuriana”Glyn Hnutu-healh
*and Achaea, Akkad, Alans, Anglia, Arameans, Armorica, Assyria, Babylon, Briton, Cambria, Canaan, Cornwall, Crete, Cumbria, Dalriada, Domnonia, Egypt,
Etruscans, ExtraTerrestrials, France, Frisia, Gaul, Greece, Hindavi, Hittites, Huns, Hurrians, Idubor, Ireland, Judaea, Jutland, Lydia, Macedonia,
Mesopotamia, Mycenaea, Narts, Norse, Persia, Phoenicia, Phrygia, Picts, Saxony, Scotland, Semites, Sumer, Ugarit, and Wales — to name a few

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