Much has been written on King Arthur, there are many theories as to who he was, contemporary historians of course think he was mythical but most people think he is real and he certainly was.
There is a history that has been overlooked even by alternative historians which not only mentions King Arthur so often and in such detail that he could hardly have been made up. It also explains a great deal about the politics of the time that although Arthur was the son of the British king, Uther Pendragon, he was also illegitimate which was to cause enormous problems.
These are the Scottish Chronicles, they are the early histories of the Scots and Picts and are totally separate and independent from the histories of the Ancient Britons (roughly speaking modern England, Wales and Cornwall, and also Scotland up until about 300BC when the Scots invaded followed by the Picts) so cannot have been copied from them. Matters relating to proto-England occur infrequently, usually only when they are fighting each other, so if Arthur was real but kept himself in England and Wales he might not turn up in the Chronicles at all. I was expecting perhaps one or two mentions of him but not this…
(note, this has been taken from Holinshed's Scottish Chronicles and has been partially changed to modern rather than Tudor English to make it easier to read)
After the death of Aurelius Ambrose, his brother Uter was made king of Britain [‘England’], and falling in love with the wife of Gothlois duke of Cornwall, he did not only force her to lie with him; but also to the end he might enjoy her the more freely, he ceased not to pursue her husband to rid him out of the way, whom at length he took within a castle into the which he was fled, & forthwith caused him to be executed, surmising matter against him, for that he had forsaken one of the captains called Nathaliod, in battle against the Saxons. By the wife of this Gothlois, Uter had issue the great Arthur, and because he had no legitimate son, he appointed that Arthur should succeed him in government of the realm. Herewith Loth the Pictish king [the Picts were a separate kingdom to the Scots but were joined in a commonwealth] was not a little moved, disdaining that Arthur being a bastard, and begot of another man’s wife in adultery, should be preferred before his sons the rightful heirs of the British kingdom: and therefore by ambassadors he did what he could to dissuade Uter from making any such ordinance. But when he saw that he could not remove him from his opinion, he thought best to content himself with silence, till the time served better for his purpose…
…In the midst of this trouble Uter King of the Britains departed this world, poisoned (as some have written) by drinking water taken out of a fountain which the Saxons had envenomed. He died in the year after the birth of our Saviour 521, and in the eighteenth of his own reign. After his decease, Loth king of the Picts sent his ambassadors unto the lords, and other the states of the British dominions, requiring them, according to the accustomed laws and ancient ordinances of the realm, to receive him as king, since he had married the sister and heir of the two brethren Aurelius Ambrose, and Uter, their two last kings, being as then both deceased, without leaving behind them any lawful issue, by reason whereof their estate was fallen unto him, to enjoy the same during his life, having married (as is said) their own natural and lawful born sister, and after the decease of him and his wife the said sister, then it ought by course of the laws of all realms and countries to descend unto such issue as he had begot of her, which was Mordred and Gawan (two sons, the one named Mordred, and the other Valuan, or Gawan, as some do call him).
The Britains disdainfully using the Pictish ambassadors that came with this message, The Britains refuse to receive either Loth or any of his sons to reign over them refused not only to come under subjection of Loth, but also denied that his sons begot of his lawful wife, the sister of Aurelius and Uter, should have any rule or government amongst them, as those that were no Britains born, but strangers unto them, being both born and brought up in a foreign country. Those ambassadors then having their answer, and being sent home with reproach, the Britains contrary to the laws of all nations, proclaimed Arthur, being a bastard born, king of their realm, and forthwith assembling their powers under his leading, marched on against the Saxons, in purpose to abate some part of their strength, before the Picts (which was doubted would shortly come to pass) should join with them.
Therefore having procured aid of the Armorike Britains forth of France, they fought with their enemies within ten miles of London at the first, where the Saxons being at two several times vanquished, were constrained not only to pay tribute, but also to receive magistrates to govern them by the said Arthur’s appointment, with other grievous articles of agreement, to the great rejoicing of the Britains, for these so lucky beginnings in the first exploits of their late elected king. Afterwards was London easily won by the Britains, wherein Arthur remaining for a season, took advice with his nobles how to proceed in his wars against the rest of the Saxons. Finally having prepared a mighty army, he determined to go against those which inhabited beyond Humber northwards, with whom (as he had certain knowledge) the Picts were joined: for Loth coming to agreement with Colgerme, concluded a league with him, whereby they were bound to aid one another against the Britains, as common enemies and adversaries to them both.
The Britains at their coming into Yorkshire pitched their camp not far off from their enemies, who were already joined together and encamped abroad in the field. The next day after, knowledge being had that they should have battle, Arthur appointed Howell leader of the Armorike Britains to encounter with the battle of the Picts, and he himself to match with the Saxons. Thus they met together on both parts very fiercely, and a sore battle was fought there between them, so that for a good space it was doubtful whether part should have the advantage of the day, but at length the Picts were put to flight, which advanced the Britains to the gain of the whole field. For the Saxons, after they perceived how the Picts were discomfited, dreading to abide the whole brunt by themselves, betook them also to their heels, and made their race towards York, as fast as their feet might bear them.
Arthur pursuing them thither, besieged the city almost three months together, but the Saxons defended the walls so stoutly, making often issues forth upon the Britains, that till hunger began to constrain them, they cared little for the siege. In the end, when they were determined to have yielded up the city, they had knowledge, how there was an huge army of Picts and Saxons newly assembled, and ready to come forward to their succours; also that king Occa (escaping from the battle wherein he had received the overthrow at Arthur’s hands, and fleeing afterward into Germany) was now returned with a new power, and arrived within the mouth of Humber. Which news caused them to defer all communication, in hope that if they might abide the siege but for a small time, the Britains should shortly be compassed in on each side, and oppressed on the sudden.
Arthur heard of the coming of their succours in like manner, and judging it no wisdom to tarry the coming of his so powerful enemies, considering what a number of diseased and sick persons he had already in his host, by reason of their lying abroad in the field, raised his siege, and withdrew himself so speedily as was possible with his whole army into Wales, where he appointed the Armorike Britains to sojourn for that winter, with other of the meaner sort of his own soldiers: whilst he took the residue of his chosen bands, and went to London, there to provide that no rebellion should be raised among the Saxons of Kent, or other of the countries near about. In the beginning of the next spring, he gathered his host together again, and with the same went forth against Colgerme and Occa, who being issued forth of Northumberland, were entered into the British confines, spoiling and wasting the country with their accustomed cruelty.
Whereupon encountering them twice in battle, he obtained the victory, and then besieging York, at length he entered into that city, by means of a Britain, who dwelling amongst the Saxons there, in the night season conveyed a sortie of Britains into the city, the which breaking open the gates in the dead of the night, did let in all the whole host. Where Arthur would not suffer his men to make any great murder of the enemies, which were content to yield themselves, but used them very gently, thereby to win more praise amongst all those that heard of his worthy victories. The Britains having thus conquered the city of York, many feats of arms were daily practised between them and the Saxons, which held possession still of the country thereabouts. But the Britains lying in that city all the summer and winter following, at length began to take their ease, namely in the depth of winter, and therewith gave themselves to banqueting, drinking, play, and other kinds of voluptuous pleasures, so that it seemed they trusted more to their passed victories, than to their present force, not fearing such dangers as was like to follow.
It is thought of some, that about the same time, Arthur first instituted, that the feast of Christmas should be kept with such excess of meats and drinks, in all kinds of inordinate banqueting and revel for the space of thirteen days together, according to the custom used still through both the realms of England and Scotland even unto this day, resembling the feasts which the gentiles used to keep in the honour of their drunken god Bacchus, called in Latin Bacchanalia: wherein all kinds of beastly lust and sensual voluptuousness was put in use. But whence so ever, or by whom so ever this insatiable gourmandise came up amongst us, surely a great abuse it is, to see the people at such a solemn feast, where they ought to be occupied in thanks giving to almighty God, for the sending down of his only begotten son amongst us, to give themselves in manner wholly to gluttony, and excessive filling of their bellies, with such manner of lewd and wanton pastimes, as though they should rather celebrate the same feasts of Bacchanalia, and those other which the gentiles also kept, called Floralia, and Priapalia, than the remembrance of Christ’s nativity, who abhorred all manner of such excess.
But now to my purpose. When the next summer was once come, Arthur led forth his Britains against their enemies, but by reason of such ease and pleasure as they had taken whilst they sojourned in York, being now come into the field, they were able to abide no pains, so that no good was done of certain years after, till finally Arthur joined in league with Loth king of the Picts. The conditions of which league were these. That Arthur during his natural life should reign as king of the Britains, and after his decease, the kingdom to remain unto Mordred and his issue, if he chanced to have any. That the Picts should aid the Britains against the Saxons, and have all such land as might be recovered of them beyond Humber. Also the league which was between them and the Scots, they should duly observe. Mordred should marry the daughter of Gawolan a noble man amongst the Britains and of highest authority next unto Arthur himself: the children of this marriage to be brought up with their grandfather in Britain, till they came to years of discretion. Gawan the brother of the foresaid Mordred, should serve King Arthur, and receive at his hands large entertainment, and great possessions to maintain therewith his estate.
Other articles there were comprised in this league, according as was thought requisite for the maintenance of stable friendship betwixt these kings and their nations. So that Arthur having concluded this league, and still being desirous to purge the whole isle of all miscreants and enemies of the Christian faith, he sent unto the Scottish and Pictish kings, requiring them on the behalf of that duty which they ought unto the advancement of Christ’s religion, to assemble their powers, and to meet him at Tynemouth, whither he would repair to join with them, at such day as they would appoint, from thence to march forth against the Saxons.
Loth king of the Picts, and Conranus king of the Scotsmen, failed not in this so necessary an enterprise, but agreeable to Arthur’s request, within few days after they came forward, and joining with the Britains, forth they went against the Saxons, whom they understood to be already in camp, under the conduct of their king Occa, in purpose to stop their passage. When both the armies were approached near together, they prepared to the battle, and first Colgerme duke of Northumberland mounting upon a light gelding, rode almost even hard to the face of the Picts, where they stood in their order of battle right stoutly, and there uttering many reproachful words unto Loth, and other of his nobles, for breach of their promised friendship to him and his Saxons, declared that he trusted shortly to see just punishment light upon them for this falsehood and untruths sake, in thus joining with their former enemies against their most trusty friends and steadfast allies.
The Pictish king not greatly moved herewith, commanded his standards to advance forward, and the Saxons likewise hasted apace towards them, so that the one being come within danger of shot of the other, the Picts let fly their arrows very freshly. Arthur in the mean time having set his people in array, exhorted them to fight manfully: and so soon as he perceived that the fray was begun by the Picts, he in semblable wise commanded the Britains to give the onset, so that immediately there ensued a sore conflict, the Scots being in the right wing, & slaying Cheldrike one of the chiefest captains amongst the Saxons, quickly discomfited that wing with the which they were first matched. Colgerme with his Saxons encountering (as is said) with the Picts, placed in the left wing, rushed in amongst his enemies upon an earnest desire to be revenged of his adversary king Loth) with such violence, that at their first encounter he overthrew the same Loth: but immediately thereupon two Pictish horsemen running at Colgerme sideling wise, bare him quite through.
In the mean time, Loth by means of his strong habergeon escaping without hurt, was relieved by such as stood about him, and restored again to his company: but Colgerme being dead before he could be recovered from amongst the throng of his enemies, his men were so discomforted therewith, that straightaways thereupon they fell to running away. The main battle of the Saxons being thus left bare on both sides, began to give back, which Arthur perceiving, the more earnestly pressed forth upon them, so that in the end Occa being constrained to flee, and receiving a sore wound, had much ado to be conveyed away by some of his horsemen, the Britains pursued so fiercely upon him. At length being brought unto the sea side, he got vessels, and escaped over into Germany. This victory being thus achieved, constrained the Saxons to yield unto king Arthur, simply submitting themselves unto his mercy, who of his clemency was contented to pardon them of life and goods, upon condition they would become Christians, and from thenceforth never after to make any wars upon their neighbours the Britains, Scots, or Picts. But if they would not agree hereunto, then leaving their goods, armour, and weapon behind them, they should avoid the land, and that within 18 days next ensuing.
Many of the Saxons that could get passage, sailed over into Germany. Others feigning themselves to become Christians, remained in the land, looking one day for better hap & fortune. Diverse that were not able by means of poverty to get away within the time appointed, and yet refusing to be christened, were put to death, according to the proclamation set forth for the same purpose, so that in comparison very few amongst them received the Christian faith sincerely, and with a true meaning mind. Things being thus quieted in Northumberland, Arthur took order for the repairing of churches abroad in the country, which the Arthur caused churches to be repaired. Saxons had overthrown or defaced; & namely in the city of York he bestowed great cost, where the cruel infidels had done much hurt upon churches, and other religious houses.
In the year following, Arthur had news how the Saxons which held the Isle of Wight, joining with the Kentish Saxons, had done great displeasures unto the Britains, on that side of the Thames, killing & slaying an huge number of them with great cruelty, wherewith being sore moved, he drew towards London with his army, purposing utterly to destroy all the east & south Saxons, since otherwise he could not provide for the surety of his subjects, being still in danger to be murdered and robbed, so long as any of that wicked generation of the Saxons remained here amongst them.
By means also of the league, he had with him in this journey ten thousand Picts, & as many Scots: Eugenius nephew to king Conran by his brother Congall being general over the Scots, and Mordred the son of king Loth by his wife Anne, governing the Picts, a lusty young gentleman, very witty and towardly in all his doings. Furthermore, Arthur understanding what hurt rest and ease had done amongst his men of war, caused them to keep the field in all this journey, and passing by London, lodged them a little beside the river of Thames. But he himself with some of his nobles, entered into the city, causing supplications to be made unto almighty God three days together, for good success to follow against the Saxons. On the fourth day hearing divine service celebrated by the bishop of London, and causing a sermon to be made in the market place, he committed himself and his whole army unto the tuition of Christ, and his mother the virgin, whose image instead of a badge he bare on his shield continually from that day forward, as diverse heretofore have written. After this, issuing forth of the city, he willed all his men to be of good comfort, as they that fought in a just quarrel against Pagans, and enemies of the faith. Mordred and his father in law Gawolane passed on before the battles with five thousand horsemen, and being come within five miles of the Saxons, who likewise were assembled in camp, there came from them unto Arthur ambassadors, requiring him to stay his journey, for they were ready (if they might have liberty so to do) to depart out of the land with their goods and substance, without further molesting the Britains, either by one means or other.
Arthur would neither consent hereunto, nor yet grant a truce for three days, for the which they made earnest suite, but bade them depart for that time, only assuring them that he would not come passing two miles forwards for that day, so that if they thought good, they might return to him in the morning, and have answer what the chiefest governors of his host thought touching their request, by whom he would have the matter more thoroughly debated. In the mean time, whilst the Britains were busied with hearing of these ambassadors, and taking advise what was best to do touching their demand, the Saxons marched forth with all speed, and coming upon Mordred and Gawolan at unawares, they gave the The Saxons coming upon Mordred and Gawolan put them with their people to the worse, onset freshly upon them, and that very much to the disadvantage of the Britains and Picts, who notwithstanding, through the earnest exhortation of their captains, received their enemies very fiercely, in doing that which was possible for so small a number to do, howbeit in the end oppressed with multitude, they were forced to flee, and so did, not resting till they came in sight of the whole army. In which flight, Mordred and Gawolan by help of their soldiers, being mounted upon their horses, escaped without hurt, though they lost no small number of their company, as well in the fight as in the chase.
The Saxons ambassadors being not yet departed out of the British camp, were hereupon stayed till the next morning, and then had answer given them, that from thenceforth the Britains were not minded to hear any messengers of the Saxons coming to entreat of peace, since it was manifest enough, they meant nothing but falsehood, as well appeared in that they had against the law of arms, whilst their ambassadors were in communication, distressed part of the British army, and therefore they should assure themselves, to have at Arthur’s hands nothing but cruelly war to the uttermost of his power, in revenge of such their great untruths and cloaked dealings. They had scarce received their answer, but that there came from the Saxons forty other ambassadors, being men of great authority amongst them, to excuse that which had happened over night, in laying the fault upon a sort of indiscreet persons, nothing privy unto that which the governors of the army had done, touching the sending of their ambassadors, and thereupon had without their advise made that skirmish.
But Arthur judging that there was some new subtle practise in hand, under pretence of this new ambassage, commanded as well these that came last, as the other which came first, to be kept in the marshals tent, that in no wise they should escape, whilst he himself in the second watch of the night departed out of his camp, with all his power, which he divided into three battles, and having marched three miles forward, he was upon his enemies before they understood anything of his coming, insomuch that the Britains had slain and chased the watch of the Saxons camp, before it was certainly known what the matter meant. Hereof also insured such a tumult and noise amongst the Saxons, running up and down, calling and crying one to another, as it happened in such cases of extreme fear, that the best advised amongst them wist not well what to do. Whereupon Mordred desirous to revenge his last overthrow, brake in also upon his enemies very fiercely.
But some of them having gotten them into their armour, stood at their defence awhile amongst their carts and carriages, and so resisted the Britains on that side for a season; other of the Saxons having no leisure to arm themselves, nor to draw into any order of battle, by reason of the sudden impression of the Britains, brake forth of the camp on the contrary side, & fled so fast as their feet might bear them. But being pursued by the British horsemen, and beaten down, a great number of them ran into the next river, and there were drowned, choosing rather that kind of death, than so cruelly to be murdered by the adversaries hands: verily the Britains showed no mercy that day, for so many as came within their danger, died without redemption. And this bloody battle made an end of such a huge number of Saxons, that it was thought they should never have recovered again any power able to have indamaged the Britains in any manner of wise.
Arthur having thus vanquished his enemies, gave licence unto those nobles which he had detained (as is said) in his camp, being sent unto him as ambassadors, to depart over into Germany, appointing the residue of such Saxons as were men of no defence, to remain still in the land, yielding a yearly tribute unto the Britains, and also with condition that they should become Christians. The Scotishmen and Picts which had aided the Britains in this journey, sojourned a while after at London, where Arthur feasted & banqueted them in most royal wise, showing them all the honour that might be devised, and afterwards sent them home very princely rewarded with many great gifts and rich presents…
…About this season should it be also that Arthur did achieve all those worthy victories, which are ascribed unto him against the Scots, Irishmen, Danes, Norwegians, and other northern people. Moreover it is written by some authors, that he should subdue the most part of Germany with the low countries, Brittany, Normandy, France, and the Romans, with the people of the east: but the credit hereof rested with the same authors. Only it is certain (as Hector Boetius affirmed) that Arthur lived in the days of Justinianus the Emperor, about which time the Goths, Vandals, Burgonions, & Frenchmen did invade sundry parts of the Roman empire, pitifully wasting and spoiling the same, where yet such writers as have set forth those wars, make no mention of Arthur at all. Therefore letting all doubtful things pass, I will proceed with mine author, and declare what he hath found written in such Scottish chronicles as he followed touching the British Arthur, which for that it partly varied from the other our common chronicles, namely Geoffrey of Monmouth, I think it worthy to be noted here, to the end that every man may judge thereof as to him seemed best.
To the purpose then. After that the Britains were delivered from the terror of the Saxons, and that with quietness they began to wax wealthy, they repented them of the league, which they had concluded afore with Loth king of the Picts, specially for that they could not in any wise be contented to have any stranger to reign amongst them, and hereupon coming unto Arthur, required of him, since he himself had no issue to succeed him, that it might please him yet, to name one of his own nation to govern them after his decease. Arthur not gainsaying their request, willed them (since their pleasure was such, in no wise to have a stranger to reign over them) to name one themselves, being descended of the blood royal, and such a one as in whom they had perceived some towardly proof of wisdom and valance: and he for his part promised to ratify their election. The nobles with great rejoicing of the people drawing together to consult for the choice of such a one, as might be acceptable to all the British nation, at length agreed upon Constantinus, the son of Cadore duke of Cornwall, a goodly young gentleman, both for his person and other his worthy qualities much to be commended. Who being brought by the peers of the realm into the council chamber, and there presented unto king Arthur, as one most méetest to succeed him; Arthur accepted their election very gladly, and caused the same Constantine forthwith to be proclaimed here apparent to the Crown, by the name of prince of Britain, which notified him to be successor to the king in government of the realm. Constantine being in such wise preferred, behaved himself so honourably, and with such a show of gentle demeanour, that he won him much praise, with an opinion of high worthiness amongst all the British nation.
In this mean time was Loth the king of the Picts deceased, leaving his name as a perpetual memory unto his country of Pictland, the which ever since as a remembrance of his worthiness, has been called Lothian, or Louthian; but his son Mordred, succeeding him in government of the Pictish kingdom, and hearing that Constantine was proclaimed heir apparent of Britain, was sore moved therewith, and immediately sending his ambassadors unto king Arthur, complained, for that contrary to the honour of his kingly estate, he had broken the league concluded betwixt him and his father late of famous memory king Loth, wherein it was agreed amongst other things, that there should none succeed in the kingdom of Britain, after Arthur’s decease, but the children begot betwixt King Loth and his wife queen Anne, or such as descended of them; where contrariwise it was notified unto the Pictish people, that Constantine the son of Cadore was elected prince, and thereby enabled as heir apparent to the Crown.
They required him therefore to call himself to remembrance, and not so lightly to agree unto the flattering persuasions of the Britains, advising him unto that thing which was merely repugnant to reason, and against both gods laws and mans, admonishing him withal to observe the league, according to the oath, which he had solemnly taken upon him, and to move his subjects to do the like, least for the contrary, they should provoke the wrath of almighty God against them, who is the just revenger of all such as go about to break leagues and covenanted pacts. Hereunto answer was made by consent of the nobles of Britain, that the league which was concluded betwixt Arthur and Loth, endured but for the life times of them two only, and to cease by either of their deaths: therefore Arthur had done nothing contrary to any pact or promise made, but according to the duty of a prince that tendered the weal of his subjects, had provided them one to succeed him of their own nation, for doubt least the realm after his decease should fall into the hands of strangers, which in no wise ought of right to be suffered. Therefore if the Picts loved the governance of their own estate, it should be good for them to hold themselves contented with their own bounds, least if they sought for other men’s livings, they might happily within short time perceive, what does issue oftentimes upon such rash and unadvised attempts.
The Pictish ambassadors returning home with this answer, caused the whole nation to take such disdain therewith, that immediately they resolved to revenge their wrongs by open wars; but first they thought good to try if they might procure the Scottishmen to take part with them, in revenge of such injuries as they had in like manner lately received at the Britains hands Moreover, repenting themselves, that they had in times past aided the Britains against the Saxons, they purpose to try if they might now move the same Saxons eftsoones to make wars upon the Britains, thereby to be the better able to maintain their own quarrel against them. First, such ambassadors as were sent from Mordred unto Eugenius king of the Scots, found him very agreeable unto their requests, and the sooner, for that such Scottish rebels as fled unto Arthur, were not only received by him, but also maintained to make roads and incursions into the Scottish borders.
Arthur having knowledge of the devises of his enemies (the wars being first proclaimed) he furnished all the sea-coasts with notable numbers of men, to withstand the landing of the Saxons, if they should fortune to attempt any invasion. That done, he passed forth with the residue of his people towards the Scots & Picts, who were already assembled in camp, and were come as far as the river of Humber, near to the banks whereof they had pitched their tents, as in a place fatal for the Britains to be vanquished in. Both the armies being brought here into order of battle, the one in sight of the other, there were certain bishops of those three nations that took great pains to ride to and fro betwixt them, to exhort the kings unto peace and concord, considering what mischief and great bloodshed should issue, if upon wilfulness they would seek to try that by dint of sword, which they might make an end of by means of amiable treaty and friendly agreement. Again, they could not do the thing that might more content the Saxons, common enemies to Christian religion, than if by their encountering together in battle, they should so enfeeble their whole powers, whereby the Saxons might have ready means and occasion offered to execute their greedy desires to conquer the whole Isle. Mordred and Eugenius were persuaded by this earnest travel of the bishops, to put their matter in compromise, and to lay away their armour and weapon, if they might have assurance that the league made with king Loth should in every point be observed. Arthur likewise at the suite of the same bishops, would have been contented for his part to have agreed hereunto; but other of the Britains, namely those that were of kin and alliance unto Constantine their prince, could The Britains would not consent to have any peace talked upon. in no wise be persuaded thereunto; but rather with many reproachful words rebuked the bishops for their untimely suite, seeing the enemies ready ranged in battle at point to give the onset, so that (as they alleged) it might be doubted what they meant by their motion, unless they went about to betray the army, under pretence of a cloaked treaty for an unprofitable agreement. These or such like words were scarcely ended, when suddenly the noise being raised on both sides, the battles rushed together right fiercely. The Britains had the disadvantage of the place, being so encumbered with mires, bogs, and mosses, that they could not well aid themselves, nor handle their weapons to any purpose. Yet did the battle continue a long time, to the destruction of such numbers of men; that the river Humber (near unto the which this field was fought) was so mingled with blood, that the water thereof being all coloured red, carried no small number of dead bodies down into the sea. In the middle of the fight, there was one with loud voice in the British tongue cried out to the Britains (of purpose prompted thereunto) that Arthur with other of the nobles on his side were slain, and therefore it were but folly to trust any longer upon victory, but rather were it wisdom for every man by flight to provide for his own safety.
This voice wonderfully encouraged the Scotsmen and Picts, but the Britains were put in such fear therewith, that the most part of them immediately hereupon fell to running away. Others of them judging this to be but some crafty and subtle practise of the enemies devised of purpose, as it was in deed, to discomfort them with, abode by it still: manfully continuing in fight, till they were beaten down and slain in manner every mother’s son. This victory being thus hardly got, cost more men’s lives than any other had done of many years before; for of the Scots and Picts being vanquishers, there died in that mortal battle above 20000 men, together with Mordred, and a great number of the nobility of both the nations. Of the Britains and such other as were with them in aid, there were slain, what in battle and what in chase, at the point of 30000, among whom was Arthur himself, with Gawan or Galvan (as some books have) brother unto Mordred, who bare such good will and entire love unto his lord and master the said Arthur, that he fought that day most earnestly on his side against his own natural brother the said Mordred. Also there were killed Caime and Gawolan, with the most part of all the residue of the British nobility, and many prisoners taken, by reason that Humber kept them in from fleeing any way forth on the one side, which prisoners also were afterwards slain, the gentlemen only excepted.
The day next after the battle, the camp of the Britains was rifled, and amongst other rich spoils there was found queen Guainore Arthur’s wife, with a great number of other ladies and gentlewomen. The whole spoil of the camp and field being equally divided by lots betwixt them, the Scots had for their parts certain faire charets laden with rich stuff and jewels, also horses and armours, beside sundry noble men, whom they had to their prisoners. Unto the Picts fell for their portion queen Guainore, with the ladies and gentlewomen, and divers other of the noble men, besides a great quantity of other rich prey and booties. These prisoners, which the Picts had, were conveyed into a castle in Angus, called Dunbarre, a place of great strength in those days, though at this present there remain nothing but the name with the ruins thereof. In which castle they were detained under sure ward, during the residue of their natural lives. In witnesses whereof there be remaining unto this day, the graves and monuments where many of these captive Britains were buried, in the fields of a town in that country called Megill, not past 10 miles from Dundee: but amongst the residue, that of Guainore is most famous.
There go a plain tale over all that country, told for an assured truth, that if any woman chance to tread upon that grave, they shall remain barren without bringing forth any issue more than the said Guainore did. But whether this be true or not, certain it is (as Boetius writes) that there dare no woman come near that grave, not only eschewing it themselves, but also commanding their daughters to beware thereof. This bloody battle weakened so much the forces both of the Scots, Picts, and Britains, that many a day after they were not able to recover again their former states and dignities…
…But to proceed. Eugenius king of the Scots at his return from the battle, gave to those that had escaped with life, and acid by him in the chief danger of the fight, many bounteous & large rewards. The sons and nearest kinsfolk of such as were slain, he also advanced to sundry preferments of lands & livings, that they enjoying the same, might be a witnesses in time to come of the good service of their ancestors, showed in defence of their king and country, and also of his princely liberality, in rewarding the same upon their issue and progeny. By which noble benevolence, he won him such love amongst his people, that afterwards it seemed how he governed the state of his kingdom more by clemency, than by any rigour of laws. The Britains immediately upon knowledge had that Arthur was slain, crowned Constantine his successor in the British kingdom, and for that there should remain none amongst them alive to make any claim to the same kingdom, other than he with his issue, or such as he should appoint to succeed him, they cruelly murdered Mordred’s children, in most pitiful wise running unto their mother’s lap, beseeching her to save their lives, according to her motherly duty. They were brought up in Gawolane their father’s grandfather’s house, and being thus made away, the family and linage of their father the foresaid Mordred was utterly thereby extinguished.
The Saxons at the same time having advertisement what loss the Britains had sustained, not only by the death of their most valiant king and chieftain Arthur, but also for the slaughter of such a multitude of their nation as died in the battle, they prepare a mighty navy of ships, and pass over the same into England, where being landed, they easily beat down the Britains, and drive them with their King Constantine into Wales, so recovering all that part of the land which Hengist sometimes held, & after his name was afterwards called England.
There are a number of surprises for instance Mordred is a Pict and not Welsh but then neither was Arthur his mother was Cornish and his father ‘British’. That King Arthur is supposed to have introduced the modern idea of Christmas – overindulgence. Perhaps the most interesting part however is how close the Britons with the help of the Scots and Picts came to sorting out the Saxon problem had there not been the terrible civil war over the successor to Arthur.
Another version of this history is Hector Boethius
For comparison this is the earliest complete (Ancient) British account of the history of Arthur, attributed to the Welsh monk Tysilio who died in 640AD
http://www.annomundi.com/history/chronicle_of_the_early_britons.pdf (page 46 onwards)