About Constantine Waredwr "the Deliverer" ap Selyfan, King of Britain
(c.AD 375 - 411)
(Welsh: Custennin; Latin: Constantinus; English: Constantine)
After the gradual withdrawal of Roman troops from Britain in the last decades of the 4th century, several generals rose to power as Emperors over the mainland British. Legend, particularly perpetrated by Geoffrey of Monmouth, states that the British people looked to their cousins in Brittany for such leadership. King Aldrien of Brittany declined the British High-Throne, but offered up his young brother, Constantine in his stead. Constantine landed in Britain with 2000 men and overcame the barbarians already invading the Island's shores to become High-King as Constantine Waredwr (the Deliverer).
Constantine has been variously identified with one of several near contemporary men of this name appearing in ancient Welsh Royal pedigrees: the Galfridian brother of King Aldrien of Brittany, a son of the Emperor Magnus Maximus or a King of Dumnonia in South-Western Britain. The latter is perhaps the most popular, yet also the most unlikely and based on his grandson Arthur's associations with Somerset and Cornwall. His alternative name of Constantine Fendigaid (the Blessed) may itself have appeared through confusion with one of these men.
It seems likely that this man has arisen to take his place in British Mythology from memories of an historical British Emperor who was raised to the Imperial throne by his own troops in 407. Disenchanted with the rule of the legitimate Emperor Honorius, the Roman army remaining in Britain had already got through two self appointed Emperors in a single year. Worried about renewed barbarian invasions on the continent, they decided to promote the usurpation of a third in the shape of the Emperor Constantine III. From his base in Britain, Constantine was able to take perhaps the last of the Roman troops in that country to Gaul. Here he strengthened defences along the Rhine and was able to head off the barabrians who, two years later, turned south for Spain. Constantine sent his lieutenant, named Gerontius, to conteract their move; but Gerontius rebelled against his Emperor and encouraged the barbarians in their efforts. Despite this renewed attack, Constantine gained Imperial recognition from the Emperor Honorius himself. However, his position was soon discredited and Zosimus tells us how the British were forced to throw off the shackles of Imperial rule and look to their own defence against invading Saxons. Constantine tried to assert his authority once more by invading Italy in 411. He was captured by Honorius in Arles, taken back to Ravenna and executed..
It is possible that while all this was going on on the continent, Constantine was deposed in Britain by his treacherous advisor, Vortigern, as related by Geoffrey. However, it would appear that he has pushed Constantine forward in history some fifteen years or more. If the Emperor's descendancy is to be believed, his grandson, King Arthur, was flourishing almost a hundred years after his death.
Geoffrey Ashe (1990) Mythology of the British Isles.
Peter C. Bartrum (1993) A Welsh Classical Dictionary.
Ronan Coghlan (1991) The Encyclopaedia of Arthurian Legends.
David Day (1995) The Quest for King Arthur.
Phyllis Ann Karr (1997) The Arthurian Companion.
Thomas Malory (1485) Le Morte D'Arthur.
John Matthews (1994) The Arthurian Tradtion.
Geoffrey of Monmouth (1136) The History of the Kings of Britain.
King of the Britons Constantine ap Solomon of Britain1
b. circa 375, d. 411
Father High King of Brittany Salomon I ap Gradlon of Brittany2 b. circa 355, d. 446
Mother N. N. filia Patricius Flavius2 b. circa 355
King of the Britons Constantine ap Solomon of Britain was the brother of Aldroen, King of Lesser Britain.3 King of the Britons at Britain.4 He was promoted to the throne by the Britons, following a victory, at Silchester, Britain.4 He was the father of Constans, Aurelius Ambrosius, and Uther Pendragon.4 Also called Custennin ap Selyf.2 He was born circa 375.2 He was the son of High King of Brittany Salomon I ap Gradlon of Brittany and N. N. filia Patricius Flavius.2 King of the Britons Constantine ap Solomon of Britain married Ivoire ferch Llancelod (?), daughter of Llancelod (?), before 395.2 King of the Britons Constantine ap Solomon of Britain died in 411.2 He died in 443.1
Ivoire ferch Llancelod (?) b. circa 375
King of the Britons Aurelius Ambrosius of Britain 5
King of the Britons Uthyr Pendragon+ b. c 410, d. c 4952
[S278] DfAdam, online unknown url, The Line of Constantine, King of Britain, 77.
[S266] EBK, online http://freespace.virgin.net/david.ford2/…
[S624] Geoffrey of Monmouth, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Book VI, Chapt. 4.
[S624] Geoffrey of Monmouth, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Book VI, Chapt. 5.
[S624] Geoffrey of Monmouth, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Book VIII, Chapt. 15.
Constantine ap Selyfan, King of Britain's Timeline
Tintagel Castle, Cornwall, England