Gildas

(c. 500-570)
   A monk and Briton whose history of the Anglo-Saxon invasions of England is the only substantial contemporary account of the fall of late Roman Britain to the invading barbarians. His history is also the earliest source for the deeds that became the basis of the later Arthurian tales, even though Gildas never mentions a King Arthur in his work. Although it does not seem to have been frequently copied in the Middle Ages, his work is important also because it is one of the two sources the great Anglo-Saxon historian Bede used for his ecclesiastical history, and thanks to Bede the name of Gildas was remembered with honor by other historians in the Middle Ages.
   Born around the year 500, the time of the great victory by the British over the invaders at Badon Hill, Gildas wrote his history in the middle of the sixth century, possibly in 547. Gildas's history of the conquest of England is not systematically organized, and includes a collection of quotations of scriptural citations and historical information. It is a bitter tale full of recrimination and reproach. The essential them of the work by Gildas, one borrowed by Bede in his discussion of the invasion and conquest of England, is that the coming of the Anglo-Saxons was the just punishment by God of people who claimed to be Christian but who indulged in wanton excess and luxury. The conquest of England, for Gildas, began with invasions of barbarians, probably Picts and Scots, and an appeal to the Roman general, Aëtius, for aid, which was not forthcoming. The Britons were able to expel the barbarians but then fell into civil war and further raids. A British ruler, traditionally Vortigern, invited Saxon war bands to aid against other barbarians, and those war bands were subsequently joined by other Saxons against the Britons. The invasions of the Saxons, according to Gildas, laid waste the towns of Briton and destroyed the way of life that had existed.
   Gildas's account is not, however, without its heroes, and it is one of these who may have provided the first outlines for the figure of Arthur. Gildas fails to mention Arthur directly, but he only names kings directly who fit into his broader theme that the invasions are divine punishment for the Britons' failure to live as good Christians. Moreover, he does mention one leader on whom the legendary figure of Arthur may be based and a battle that is often listed among those of the legendary king. In 500, the year of Gildas's birth as he tells us, the Britons won a great victory over invading barbarian armies at Mount Badon, a victory that provided England a period of much needed peace that continued at least until the time that Gildas wrote his history. The victor at that battle was the Roman commander Ambrosius Aurelianus, who had reorganized the defense of the Britons, and whose victory was later associated with the deeds of King Arthur.
   See also
   Bibliography
 ♦ Barber, Richard. The Figure of Arthur. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1972.
 ♦ Bede. Ecclesiastical History of the English People with Bede's Letter to Egbert and Cuthbert's Letter on the Death of Bede. Trans. Leo Sherley-Price. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1991.
 ♦ Blair, Peter Hunter. The World of Bede. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970.
 ♦ Gildas. The Ruin of Britain and Other Works. Ed. and trans. Michael Winterbottom. London: Phillimore, 1978.
 ♦ Stenton, Frank M. Anglo-Saxon England. 3d ed. Oxford: Clarendon, 1971.

Encyclopedia of Barbarian Europe. 2014.

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  • Gildas — (* wohl um 510; † um 570), auch Gildas der Weise, war ein herausragender Vertreter des keltischen Christentums in Britannien, berühmt für seine Bildung und seinen relativ guten literarischen Stil. Er war Priester und wollte das… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • GILDAS — cogn. Sapiens, Abbas Anglus, scripsit Ep. de ruina M. Britanniae, Item de luxu Cleri. Obiit A. C. 570. Alias quoque Badonicus dictus. Eo antiquior fuit Gildas dictus Albanicus, qui obiit A. C. 512. Item, Benedictinus Anglus, plurima scripsit.… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Gildas — Nom de personne breton, assez rare comme nom de famille (surtout porté en Guadeloupe). Variantes : Gueltas, Guédas. Latinisé en Gildasius, il a été popularisé par un saint écossais du VIe siècle. Etymologie incertaine, peut être un terme ayant le …   Noms de famille

  • Gildas — Infobox Saint name=Saint Gildas birth date=c. 494 or 516 death date=c. 570 feast day=29 January venerated in= [http://www.orthodoxwiki.org/ Orthodox Church] ; Roman Catholic Church; Anglican Communion imagesize= 250px caption= Statue of Saint… …   Wikipedia

  • Gildas — San Gildas el Sabio Estatua de San Gildas cercana al pueblo de Saint Gildas de Rhuys (Francia). Nacimiento c. 496 o de 516 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Gildas — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Pour les articles homonymes, voir Saint Gildas et Saint Gildas (homonymie). Gildas est un nom propre qui peut désigner  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gildas, S. (1) — 1S. Gildas (Gildasius), Abb. (29. Jan. al. 11. Mai, 10. Juli). Dieser hl. Gildas, Abt von Rhuys im Bisthum Vannes (Veneti) in der Bretagne, mit dem Beinamen »der Weise«, ist ein im Alterthum hochberühmter Mann, über dessen Leben jedoch manches… …   Vollständiges Heiligen-Lexikon

  • Gildas — (Sapiens [“The Wise”], Badonicus) (ca. 500–ca. 570)    Gildas was the author of De excidio et conquestu Britanniae (ca. 540), that is, “The ruin and conquest of Britain,” the earliest historical account of the Anglo Saxon invasion of Britain.His… …   Encyclopedia of medieval literature

  • Gildas — ▪ British historian also spelled  Gildus   died 570?       British historian of the 6th century. A monk, he founded a monastery in Brittany known after him as St. Gildas de Rhuys. His De excidio et conquestu Britanniae (“The Overthrow and… …   Universalium

  • Gildas — (ou Gweltaz) (29 janvier) Gildas le Sage (ou Badonicus), né vers 510 (493) à Dumbarton, sur les bords de la Clyde, élève au monastère de Llancarvan, en Pays de Galles, avec les futurs saints Pol de Léon, Samson de Dol et Lunaire, prêtre en 518.… …   Dictionnaire des saints

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