The Grail Code 
The Case of the Fatherless Boy

Vortigern was wicked even by the debauched standards of post-Roman Britain. He was so memorably awful that Gildas actually mentions his name, so we know for a certainty that he was a real figure of history. He was the dreadful tyrant who brought in the English mercenaries—and that, as we all know, brought on the ruin of Britain.

It’s not surprising, then, that later legends make him out to be even worse than he was.

Vortigern, or Guorthigirnus, is the villain in one of the stranger stories in Nennius’ History. It’s a longer story than most of the stories in Nennius, so I’m going to divide it up like an old movie serial. We’ll call it the Case of the Fatherless Boy.

And afterward the king summoned his magicians, so that he could ask them what he should do.

But they said to him, “Go to the farthest ends of your kingdom, and you will find a walled fortress, so that you may defend yourself: for the people which you have taken into your kingdom envies you and will kill you through trickery, and will seize all the regions you rule, with all your people, after your death.”

And afterward the king, with his magicians, went to find a fortress. And they wandered through many regions and many provinces; and, not having found anything, they finally came to the region called Guined. And traveling across the mountains of Hereri, at last he reached a place in one of the mountains, in which it was suitable to build a fortress.

And the magicians said to him, “Build a fortress in this place, for it will be safe from the barbarian peoples forever.”

And the king brought together craftsmen—that is, masons—and brought together wood and stones; and when all the material had been brought together, in one night all the material was taken away.

And three times he ordered it brought together, and nothing was there.

And he sent for the magicians and demanded of them what was the cause of this devilment and what would be the outcome.

But they answered him, “Unless you find a child without a father and kill him, and the fortress is sprinkled with his blood, nothing will ever be built.”

And the king sent representatives from the council of magicians through the whole of Britain, to see whether they could find a child without a father. And traveling over every province and multitudes of regions, they came to the plain of Elleti, which is in the region called Glenguissing.

And some boys were playing a game of ball, and, behold, they were arguing among themselves. And one said to another, “Man without a father, no good will come to you.”

But they thoroughly interrogated the boys about the boy, and when they asked his mother whether he had a father, she denied it and said, “I know not how he was conceived in my womb, but one thing I do know, that I have not ever known a man.” And she swore to them that he had no father.

And they brought him with them to Guorthigirnus the king, and they conveyed him to the king secretly.

And on the morrow a meeting was held so that the boy could be killed.

And the boy said to the king, “Why have your men brought me down to you?”

To which the king said, “So that you may be killed and your blood sprinkled around that fortress, so that it will be possible to build it.”

Is this the end of our poor fatherless child? Will the wicked tyrant Guorthigirnus really spill the blood of an innocent little boy?

Don’t miss the next thrilling chapter:

Battle of the Dragons!

Coming soon to a weblog near you!

3 Responses to “The Case of the Fatherless Boy”

  1. Julie D. Says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I thoroughly am enjoying your posts taking us through all this ancient history.

    It will probably sound odd but it is really bringing a new appreciation for Mary Stewart’s books about Merlin and King Arthur to see the familiar names as actual parts of history.

  2. The Grail Code» Blog Archive » Battle of the Dragons Says:

    [...] Well, we left our poor fatherless boy in frightful peril: about to be slaughtered so that his blood could be sprinkled around wicked King Guorthigirnus’ fortress. That, the king’s magicians have told him, is the only way the fortress will ever be built. [...]

  3. The Grail Code» Blog Archive » Arthur in Green’s History Says:

    [...] The Case of the Fatherless Boy [...]

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