Cadwy, king of Dumnonia

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Cado ap Gerren Llyngesoc, king of Dumnonia

Also Known As: "Cador", "Cato", "Cado", "Cadwy", "Cadwr"
Birthplace: Caer Uisc, Dumnonia, Britain
Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of Geraint Llyngesog "The Fleet Owner" ab Erbin, Dumnonia and Gwyar verch Amlawdd
Husband of Ydain [verch Sartogys]
Father of Constantine ap Cador, duke of Cornwall
Brother of Gogfran the Giant Gawr; St. Breage ab Gereint; Cyngar . ap Gereint, Saint; St. Sylwein ap Gereint; Selyfan ap Gereint, Saint and 6 others

Occupation: King of Dumnonia, Duke of Cornwall
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Cadwy, king of Dumnonia

An historical king of Dumnonia, and probably the original of the Cador who succeeded Gorloïs as duke of Cornwall in Arthurian legend.

EBK Biograpy

Cado, King of Dumnonia (c.AD 482-537) (Welsh-Cadwy, Latin-Cadorius, English-Cador)

Cado appears in Arthurian literary sources as Cador, Earl of Cornwall. He is first mentioned in Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain (1136); but, by 1457, his title had mistakenly transformed him into King Arthur's elder maternal half-brother, the son of Gorlois, variously called Duke of Tintagel or Earl of Cornwall.

In fact, Cado succeeded his father, Gerren Llyngesoc, as King of Dumnonia. His main stronghold was probably the hillfort of South Cadbury in Somerset where Leslie Alcock has excavated a sub-Roman (5th/6th century) gateway and large feasting hall. The name means "Cado's Fort" and was, no doubt, one of Cado's many palaces, despite the excavators' attempts to link the site with King Arthur's Camelot. Tintagel may have been a more southerly Summer residence.

The ageing Arthur was Cado's maternal cousin as well as his Over-King and, according to literary tradition, the two fought together many times against the Saxons and other enemies. At the famous Seige of Mount Badon, Cado commanded the British contingent that chased the invaders back to their boats at Thanet. He took part in further campaigns against the Scots at Loch Lomond and the Gauls & Romans on the Continent.

Arthur visited Cado often in the West Country, usually staying with his friend and subordinate at (Caer or) Din-Draithou, now known as Dunster in West Somerset. It was while here that St. Carannog arrived looking for his floating altar, which he had promised to follow and preach wherever it landed. Arthur would only reveal it's whereabouts if Carannog would rid Dumnonia of a terrible dragon that was terrorising the people of Carrrum (Carhampton). St. Carannog quickly despatched the serpent, and the High-King was forced to hand over the altar which he had been trying to use as a table. Carannog was given Carrum by the two Kings in gratitude for his efforts. Cado was also instrumental in restoring Queen Guinevere to her throne after she had been kidnapped by his love-sick subordinate, Sub-King Melwas of Glastening (what became Somerset).

Cado was great friends with his brother-in-law, King Carodog Freichfras (Strong-Arm) of Gwent (Wales) & Vannetais (Brittany). He was with Caradog when the latter confronted the evil wizard, Eliafres, about his parentage. Eliafres refused to answer Caradog's accusations and caused a serpent to entwine itself around the young man's arm. It took the combined strength of Cado and Caradog's first wife to remove the creature, and henceforth, poor Caradog became known as Briefbras or "short arm"!

Cado probably died at the beginning of the 6th century. Traditionally this was at the Battle of Camlann (AD 537), after which he was buried in the Condolden (or Cadon) Barrow near Camelford in Cerniw.

Arthurian Legend

CADWR ap GWRLAIS. (Legendary). (475)

A hero of Cornwall, perhaps the invention of Geoffrey of Monmouth, who calls him Cador, duke or king of Cornwall. Soon after coming to the throne Arthur put Cador in charge of an army to go against the Saxons and he put them to flight (HRB IX.1). After the battle of Badon, Arthur left Cador with 10,000 men to pursue the defeated Saxons. He drove them into Thanet and received the surrender of the remnant there (IX.5). He was present at Arthur's coronation and was one of the four kings who each bore golden swords before him, according to their right, on that occasion (IX.12-13). He is described as a man of merry disposition (IX.15), took part in Arthur's war against the Romans in Gaul (X.4,5,6,9), and was finally slain at the battle of Camlan (XI.2).

In this last contest he is apparently called Cador Limenic, perhaps for Lemenig, ‘the bounding’, although possibly the names of two different persons are here run together. See s.n. Llemenig. Cador was the father of Constantine [Custennin] who succeeded Arthur, and Constantine is said to be Arthur's kinsman (XI.2). Thus Geoffrey implied a relationship between Cador and Arthur, but never defined it. However, the obvious answer was eventually given. Gorlois had been the previous duke of Cornwall, married to Igerna, who later became Arthur's mother (HRB VIII.19-20). So it was concluded that Cador was the son of Gorlois by Igerna, and therefore half-brother to Arthur. Constantine would then be nephew to Arthur. The first clear statement to this effect that I have seen is in the Chronicle of John Hardyng (d.1465), who says: “Cador .... the kynges brother of his mothers syde”, (Ed. Henry Ellis, London, 1812, p.122; similarly pp.137, 146). In Welsh sources it first seems to appear in the work of Gutun Owain in his copy of ByT in the Book of Basingwerk (NLW MS.7006) p.182v: ‘That Kadwr was son to Gwrlais, earl of Cornwall, by Eigr daughter of Amlawdd Wledig, mother of Arthur.’ (See J.J.Parry, Brut y Brenhinedd, 1937, p.193). The same, in effect, is said in ByA §§31, 32 in EWGT p.94, also apparently originating with Gutun Owain.

Cadwr, earl of Cornwall, is mentioned in the tale of ‘Rhonabwy's Dream’ as the man whose duty it was to put armour on Arthur in the day of battle and fighting. He arose with Arthur's sword in his hand, and thereupon the host, which had been in a state of excitement, stood still, and the excitement ceased (RM 152). He is mentioned again as one of forty-two of Arthur's counsellors (RM 159). In a late triad he is mentioned as one of the ‘Three Knights of Battle’ in Arthur's Court (TYP App.IV no.3).

Cadwr does not appear in the tale of ‘Culhwch and Olwen’ or the early triads and therefore it seems that he is an invention of Geoffrey of Monmouth. The ‘traditional’ tomb of Cador is at Cadon Barrow along the coast to the west of Tintagel in Cornwall (E.K.Chambers, Arthur of Britain, p.186).

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