Vortigern Gwrtheneu ap Gwidol, High King of Britain
Welsh: Gwrtheyrn ap Gwidol, High King of Britain
|Also Known As:||"Gwrtheyrn", "Gwrtherin", "Vortigern", "Gwrtheneu", "Vorteneu", "Vortegern", "Wortigernos /Vortigern/", "King of Gwerthefyriwg", "The Thin"|
|Death:||Died in Britain|
|Place of Burial:||Kent, England|
Son of Gwidol Vitalis ap Gwydolin and Dinoi of Lidinin
|Occupation:||High King of Britain|
|Managed by:||Private User|
Matching family tree profiles for Vortigern, King of the Britons
About Vortigern, King of the Britons
See Darrell Wolcott, "Beli Mawr and Llyr Llediath in Welsh Pedigrees," http://www.ancientwalesstudies.org/id145.html -- for help in untangling these lines. (May 18, 2016, Anne Brannen, curator)
Vortigern (Gwrtheyrn) was from the Welsh borderlands; the story told about him was that he gave land to German mercenaries in exchange for help fighting the Picts, thereby breaking the unity of the Britons against the Saxon invaders.
DESCENT FROM KINGS IN BRITAIN.
Although the family is recorded very much as Welsh, it started off in ‘Britain’, which was an amalgamation of the two islands speaking a common Celtic language also used in ‘Europe’. It would seem that the 'kingships' held were mainly in the Midlands area and it is thought that perhaps the ancient town of Ludlow could derive from Lludd Llaw Ereint and perhaps Gloucester from Gloyw Gwallthir.
Before and during the Roman occupation they were Kings of Britain who, if not defeated by Rome, had to pay homage and rule under the Romans.
When the Romans left these shores they left a ‘High King’ or ‘Over King’ known as Vortigern, whose real name was thought to be Gwrtheyrn but, as was the custom in those days, was known by a description and became Vortigern Vorteneu meaning ‘High King – The Thin’ in Latin and Gwrtheyrn Gwrtheneu in Celtic Welsh. Unfortunately this was also the man who invited the Saxons to help defend the country, leading to much internal war and strife before intermixing to make the population Anglo-Saxon.
Because many people had the same or similar names the ‘descriptive’ name becomes very important in following an ancestral lineage; many having confused Brochfael c500 with Brochwel, who fought and died at the battle of Derva (Chester) in 613.
So the family tree starts as follows :-
1 Beli Mawr (The Great), King of Britain c110 BC
+ Don ferch Matonwy.
2 Lludd Llaw Ereint (Silver Handed), King of Britain, c80 BC
3 Afallach ap Lludd, King, c45 BC
4 Euddolen ap Afallach, King, c12 BC
5 Eudos ap Euddolen, c35 AD
6 Eifydd ap Eudos, c80
7 Eudeyrn ap Eifydd, c125
8 Eeuddigan ap Eudeyrn, c170.
9 Rhodri ap Euddigan, c210
10 Gloyw Gwallthir (Long Hair), c250
11 Gwidolin ap Gloyw, c290
12 Gwidol ap Gwidolin, c330
13 Vortigern (Gwrtheyrn Gwrtheneu) (The Thin), High King of Britain, c 370 – 459
+ Severa ferch Macsen, c370
14 Gwerthefyr ferch Gwrtheyrn, c400
14 Vortimer Fendigaid (The Blessed), King of Gwerthefyriwg, c402 – 460
14 Cadeyern Fendigaid (The Blessed), King of Powys, c404 – 447
This is our ancester and starts the next Family Tree
14 Pasgen ap Gwrtheyrn, King of Buellt and Gwerthrynion, c406
14 Brydw ap Gwrtheyrn, c408
14 St. Edeyrn ap Gwrtheyrn, c410
+ Rowena of Kent, c405
14 Daughter (ferch) Gwrtheyrn / Rowena, c400
15 St. Madrun ferch Gwerthefyr, c440
+ Ynyr Gwent, King of Gwent, c430
Starting B.C. it must be realised that before Christianity people worshipped gods such as the Sun. A king was the king of everything that was known, so was also king of the sun and should also be worshipped. When Christianity was introduced these practices gradually died out, but took decades.
Beli (or Belenos) had the descriptive title added of Mawr (the Great). He was said to be a King Of Britain who ruled in ‘Middle Britain’, but was also said to be the God of the Sun, so much so that bonfires were lit on May 1st. to herald the coming of the the ‘sun season’ or summer. Beli’s wife was Anu.
LLUDD LLAW EREINT.
This son of Beli, Lludd Llaw Ereint (Lludd the Silver Handed) was known as the God of Healing and was known in Ireland as Nuadu. His symbol was a dog, whose lick was supposed to cure. A shrine was built to him at Llud’s Island (Lydney in Gloucestershire) where models of diseased limbs were offered. He lost a hand himself in battle and Gofannon, a smith, made a new one for him out of silver, so giving him his ‘title’. Loss of the hand forced him to hand over to his nephew Lleu Llaw Gyffes (the Skillful Handed).
He ruled the Celtic heaven of Avalon and lived with his daughter Modron. Avalon was supposed to be an island where apples grew and after which it was named.
When the Romans left Britain leading up to 450 they left Vortigern as ‘High King’ of Britain. He is said to have had regional rulers that, being a weak man, he was afraid would supplant him, so set about murdering them and their families, all except two. The two were small babies, Aurelius Ambrosius and Uther Pendragon, who were too small to threaten him. They were whisked away and brought up in Brittany. He married Severa, the daughter of Magnus Maximus, after whom the Severn river was later named.
Nervous that the Romans may return and being troubled by Jutes and Saxons, led by Hengist and Horsa, he came to an agreement with these two to defend the country in exchange for the city of Caer Correi (Caistor, Lincolnshire). Hengist and Horsa later tricked Vortigern out of Ceint (Kent) in exchange for Hengist’s daughter Rowena.
Eventually Vortigern fought but was driven west into Wales where he met Merlin, of King Arthur fame, who told him such a story of fighting dragons that Vortigern fled. Ending up at a wooden castle at the hillfort of Caer Guorthigirn (Little Doward). It was later struck by lightening and Vortigern burnt to death.
By this time Ambrosius Aurelianus (Emrys Wledig) had risen to power to fight the Saxons.
Estimates of when Vortigern came to power in Britain vary dramatically: possibly around 425, perhaps about 440-5. He may have been a "high-king." It is thought by some that Vortigern is not a name at all, but a title, meaning "over king." Even his origins are disputed. According to the available sources, Vortigern was a weak man of little character, possessing few redeeming personal qualities. If these sources are correct, it is hard to imagine that his ascent to power was by the acclaimation of the members of Britain's ruling council, and is much easier to believe that he gained his throne by treachery and murder.
Some support for this view is lent by Geoffrey of Monmouth , in his 12th century "History of the Kings of Britain." In it, Geoffrey tells us of a King Constantine, who had three sons, Constans, Aurelius Ambrosius (the Ambrosius Aurelianus of actual history) and Uther Pendragon (the legendary future father of Arthur). Geoffrey says that Constantine was killed by a Pictish assassin, leaving the eldest son, Constans, as king.
Vortigern appears to have climbed his way high up the greasy pole by securing an inspired marriage to Severa, the daughter of the Constantine's predecessor and national hero, Magnus Maximus .As Constans was still quite young, Vortigern was able to have himself installed as the king's advisor, and before long, conspired to have the young king killed. With the king out of the way, Vortigern seized the crown for himself, realizing that Aurelius Ambrosius and Uther Pendragon were mere babes and weren't in a position, at that time, to frustrate his designs. Luckily for the young brothers, they were bundled up and escaped to the court of their cousin, Budic I, in Brittany.
According to the "Historia Brittonum," a ninth century compilation of writings by a Welsh monk called Nennius, Vortigern came to power threatened with three dangers on his mind:
"Vortigern ruled in Britain and during his rule in Britain he was under pressure, from fear of the Picts and the Irish (Scots), and of a Roman invasion, and, not least, from dread of Ambrosius."
The fear of the Picts and Scots was completely natural since the British northern defenses were ineffective and in severe disarray. The fear of a Roman invasion suggests either great paranoia on Vortigern's part (the Romans had had no presence in Britain for years) or that there was very good reason (of which we are ignorant, today) to be concerned about a reappearance of Roman soldiers on the shores of Britain. The final fear, of Ambrosius, was to have fatal consequences. Vortigern dreaded retribution, for the murder of his father and older brother, but Ambrosius was still young and the High-King could afford to defer any action for some years.
It was during Vortigern's reign that St. Germanus appears at the Royal Court. Traditional this is said to have been St. Germanus of Auxerre, who is known to have visited Britain at this time to stamp out the Palagian heresy that had become so popular. His first journey took him from Caer-Rebuti (Richborough) to Caer-Lundein (London) and Caer-Mincip (St.Albans), all in South-East England. However, stories of his leading an army against invading Saxon pirates, probably in Cheshire, may refer to a different man. The saint who spent some time in Vortigern's presence - probably at Caer-Guricon (Wroxeter, Shropshire) where excavation has revealed the residence of a powerful 5th century noble - may have been the Breton St. Garmon who was active across Wales. This saint accused Vortigern of fathering a child by his own daughter. Though disgusted by the British High-King, Garmon - or Germanus - favoured the man's sons, at least two of whom he appears to have blessed.
Even with the support of his brothers-in-law, who were now powerful rulers in Wales, Vortigern's grip on the country was still shaky; but when Severa died the situation worsened. To aid the Britons in their defense against the increasingly brutal raids from the northern tribes, Vortigern therefore authorized the use of Saxon and Jutish mercenaries , led by Princes Hengist & Horsa. In line with the standard Roman practice of employing one barbarian tribe to defend against another, the Saxons received land to be used for settlement in exchange for their services.
Geoffrey of Monmouth claims that the two brothers asked for all the land they could cover with a single ox-hide. Vortigern eagerly agreed, but found that Hengist cut the hide into a lengthy thong that was able to encompass the whole city of Caer-Correi (Caistor, Lincs)! Vortigern must, however, have found reassurance in the words of the Jutish chief, as recorded in the "Kentish Chronicle":
"Hengest said to Vortigern. . .'Take my advice, and you will never fear conquest by any man or any people, for my people are strong. I will invite my son and his cousin to fight against the Irish, for they are fine warriors.'"
The anti-Pict/Irish strategy that Vortigern chose to employ proved to be successful, since these tribes were never a problem, again, and the arrangement between the Saxons under their leader, Hengest, and Vortigern was agreeable to both parties for some time. Later, however, they tricked the High-King again: this time into handing over to them the Sub-Kingdom of Ceint (Kent). Getting drunk at a celebratory feast, the foolish Vortigern fell deeply in love with Hengist's daughter, Rowena. He promised Hengist anything he wanted, if only he could marry her. Ceint was the Saxon's price.
Sickened by the betrayal of his countrymen, Vortigern's eldest son, Vortimer, declared himself a rival British leader, raised an army and, for a short time, managed to stem the Saxon advance. Wounded in battle, however, he was poisoned by his step-mother. From their secure power-base, the Saxons then demanded more food and clothing to supply their increased numbers and Vortigern refused them, saying, "we cannot give you more food and clothing for your numbers are grown." The Saxons, however, would not accept this answer. Nennius tells us,
"So they took counsel with their elders to break the peace."
They tore through the land, leaving devastation wherever they went. Many were killed during the ensuing battles, amongst them, Horsa & Vortigern's son, Catigern. Hengist eventually called for a peace conference on Salisbury Plain. The British arrived and were promptly cut down where they stood. This decision on the part of the Saxons would result in several generations of war with the Britons.
Vortigern escaped to set up a stronghold in the west. He chose to build a castle on the southern slopes of Yr Aran, above Beddgelert (Gwynedd). Construction began. However, every morning the previous day's work was found demolished. Vortigern's magicians told him to seek a boy with no father, born of the fairies. He would be able to solve the High-King's problem. Vortigern's men searched far and wide and discovered such a boy at what was soon to become Caer-Fyrddin (Carmarthen). His name was Myrddin Emrys, or " Merlin " for short. Merlin revealed that at night the mountain shook so that all buildings collapsed, because beneath it were buried two fighting dragons. One white representing the Saxons and one red representing the British, and the white one was winning! Afraid of such an omen, Vortigern fled.
Disillusioned, the British finally rebelled against their High-King. Ambrosius Aurelianus (Emrys Wledig), of whom Vortigern had previously had no fear, had by now grown into a burly young man and took his place in the events of the time to lead their struggle .Merlin handed over to him the mountain site where Vortigern had failed to build, and it became his fort of Dinas Emrys. Vortigern took refuge in the refortified hillfort of Tre'r Ceiri in Yr Eifl (the Rivals) in Lleyn, but Ambrosius pursued him and drove him south, via Nant Gwetheyrn and the sea to Ergyng and a wooden castle on the old hillfort of Caer-Guorthigirn (Little Doward) above Ganarew. Here, the castle was miraculously struck by lightning and Vortigern burnt to death! He was later buried in a small chapel in Nant Gwrtheyrn (Lleyn).
Thus, it was left to Ambrosius Aurelianus to halt the Saxon advance.
1Severa ferch Macsen
FatherMagnus Maximus Macsen Wledig (~340-388)
MotherSt. Elen Lwyddog of the Host
ChildrenCadeyrn "the Blessed" (~404-447)
Was a Roman Britain
Aka: Vortigern II 'Vitalinus'.
The marriage to Rowena, daughter of Hengist, put him in Hengist'spower. Giving Kent away as her marriage settlement caused unrest among his subjects. Rule supplemented by the help of Hengist & his followers. Such rule was effective but a prelude to serious domestic trouble. Deposed in favor of his son when Hengist abandoned mission to Hadrian's Wall. This in turn caused him to make concessions to Ambrosius Aurelianus AKA "Arthur" His prestige never recovered; he was abandoned & hated by his subjects. He died brokenhearted & ignominously. After his son Vortimer died, he took up the kingship again. Spared Hengist's massacre at "peace conference" of British chieftans. Purchased his life by ceding Essex, Middlesex & Sussex. Regulus of Britain 425-464, Ruler of Powys 418.
GWRTHEYRN (VORTIGERN) there was great energy in Powys. Indeed, for periods during the following five centuries Powys was to be the most vigorous of the Welsh states, and there is reason to believe that its population did most to strengthen the Welshness of other parts of Cymru in the early period. The Ordovician pattern had no doubt continued there throughout the Roman centuries. The strong man who ruled there at the beginning of the century, when Cunedda came to Cymru, was Gwrtheyrn (Vortigern), the son-in-law of Macsen Wledig. Perhaps the name Gwrtheyrn is a title, since it means chief lord, suggesting that his authority stretched outside his own kingdom. He kept his court in Gwrtheyrnion, Radnorshire, and he acquired Dinas Emrys in Caernarvonshire, the property of his mother-in-law Elen. Nennius, the fountain of information about him, records that Craig Gwrtheyrn on the southern banks of the Teifi was his property; this remains at Llanfihangel ar Arth and is one of the finest hill forts in the south. Quite a lot of Welsh history revolves around him, and if we are to believe all that Bede and Nennius (who gives eighteen chapters to him) say, he left his mark on England too. The name of this 'proud tyrant', as Gildas calls him, is the most frequent in the politics of the Brythons of this period.
Two important things are said about Vortigern: first that he was anti-Roman, and second that it was he who was responsible for bringing the English to England. According to the legend, he invited Hengist and Horsa to Kent; after they came they turned against the Brythons and, with the assistance of more shiploads of English, killed and destroyed them, forcing the survivors to flee to the mountains of Cymru. These fugitives are the original Welsh. This is the story most frequently read in history books: the Welsh are alleged to be a flock of refugees who had lost their country. There is not a jot of truth in this story of an overwhelming English conquest, unless it refers to the attack of the Jutes on the south-east of England in the sixth century, and the fighting for generations between them and the natives, when England was already a largely under English control. The forefathers of the Welsh had been living in Cymru for thousands of years before this legend was created. The famous historian Gweirydd ap Rhys saw the foolishness of the story a century ago. In 1870, in the first of the great volumes Hanes y Brytaniaid dr Cytnry, he observed:
'We have to try here to remove one mistaken idea which is disseminated by many Welsh and English historians, namely that it was the Saxons who forced the Brythons out of England and into the mountains of Cymru, and this as recently as the sixth century! It is perfectly clear, once our attention has been awakened to it ... that Cymru like every other part of this land, according to the testimony of Caesar, had plenty of inhabitants, and this since before the Romans, let alone the English, ever set foot on the Island of Britain ... The work of the Silurians, one tribe of the province, successfully withstood the whole might of the Romans in the island, and this over four centuries before the attack of the Saxons on England, i.e. in the age of Claudius Caesar (a.d. 50), an absolute proof that this Principality was full of inhabitants even then.'
Here speaks the voice of commonsense, but in spite of the lack of convincing evidence some historians still give credence to the legend that the English conquered England in a series of bloody attacks of short duration, pushing the Brythons who were not killed into the west. Although we must decline to blame Vortigern for Anglicising England, it can be accepted that he was anti-Roman, even though he was brought up in a family that used Latin. No doubt there was a general reaction against Romans and Romanitas at the beginning of the fifth century, a time when Rome was failing to defend the Brythons effectively against attacks from the north, the west and the east. Salvian describes the situation on the Continent a few years later:
'What better proof is there of the injustice of Rome than that renowned leaders, whose Roman status should have been a great spur to their glory and honour, were being driven so hard by the unjust cruelty of Rome that they no longer wished to be Roman? .'. . What cities are there, or even towns or villages, where there are not as many oppressors as there are officers? What place is there where the daily bread of widows and children is not being stolen by the country's leaders? ... To these people the enemy is kinder than the tax gatherers.'
It would be natural for an intelligent and ambitious man with a strong kingdom behind him to place himself in the forefront of the anti-Roman movement outside the borders of his territory, and indeed to come into contact in the process with groups of Englishmen in England who were pagans. At all events, Vortigern got the reputation among orthodox monks of being anti-Christian; perhaps because he was a supporter of the heretic Pelagius who was also a brilliant Brython. After Pelagianism had been condemned by the Church it seems to have become an expression of anti-Romanism in the countries of Britain and a way of asserting their independence. But in the eyes of the orthodox being a Pelagian was almost as bad as being a pagan:
'A sweet accord existed between Christ, the head, and the members," observes Gildas, 'until the Arian agnosticism (Pelagianism), fierce as a serpent, and vomiting on us its foreign poison, caused a destructive split between brethren who lived in harmony.'
To oppose the growth of this heresy Saint Garmon came on his first visit to the island in 428. Like so many of the saints, he too was a political leader, and no doubt as well as a religious mission he had a political one on this occasion, on behalf of representatives of the Empire. He succeeded in giving order to the political life of many parts of England. The two aspects of his work brought him into conflict with the now ageing Vortigern. Accompanied by a legion of priests, Garmon met him in Caernarfon and again in Gwrtheyrnion when the king fled there. Vortigern must have been demoralised by losing the support of his people, or he was terribly guilty of some sin - perhaps his marriage with his own daughter - for he fled again, to his fort in Dyfed this time. Today, however, he is remembered as a "Welshman who created a strong kingdom, as one who strengthened the Welsh people and who evinced the supremacy of their states in this island fifteen hundred years ago. He died in 430 a.d. , near the banks of the Teifi, perhaps at Craig Gwrtheyrn (Vortigern's Rock).
The struggle for and against Roman values, in which Vortigern was a main protagonist, was a fateful one for Cymru and England. In Cymru Romanitas won: in England it lost. The great native opponent of Vortigern in this contest was Emrys Wledig (Ambrosius Aurelianus), whom Geoffrey of Monmouth calls a son of Cystennin (Constantine) and grandson of Macsen Wledig (Magnus Maximus), and who is called by Nennius two and a half centuries later, 'king amongst all the kings of the nation of the Brythons'. It appears that Emrys was the chief supporter of the Roman tradition, and it was his military success which saved it in Cymru and Cornwall. In England it vanished completely under the wave of English barbarism. If Cunedda Wledig did most to guarantee the Welshness of Cymru, it was Emrys Wledig who protected the spiritual heritage of Rome.
Land of my fathers, 2000 years of Welsh History, by Gwynfor Evans (1st Plaid Cymru M.P. Carmarthen 1966) Published and printed by John Penry Press, Swansea
Vortigern (fl 450), though the subject of many weird legends, may safely be regarded as an historical figure, the ruler of South-eastern Britain at the time of the first English settlement. According to Gildas, the pieons appeal to Aetius in 446 was followed by a British victory over the barbarians of the north; soon, however, it was rumoured that the latter were again about to attack the province, and the Britons were in despair. It was then decided by the 'haughty tyrant' and his 'counsellors' to invite the aid of the Saxons, who came in three keels and 'iubente infausto tyrannos,' settled in the eastern part of the island. The Picts and Scots defeated, the newcomers turned upon the Britons and devastated the whole country. In this account, the earliest extant, of the circumstances which led to the English settlement, the name of the British 'tyrant' is withheld (though two of the manuscripts repair the omission), after a fashion not uncommon in Gildas. Nevertheless there seems no reason to doubt that the narrative, written within a century after the supposed date of the landing, is on the whole trustworthy, and, further that Bede is right in giving the name as 'uurtigernus.' This form, denoting in the British tongue 'supreme lord,' and having an Irish representative, 'Fortchernn,' presents to difficulties on the score of philology, and must indeed have come down to Bede's time from an earlier age, possibly as an early addition to the text of Gildas. In old Welsh it soon became 'Guorthigirn,' the form found in Nennius, which in turn yielded the mediaeval and modern Gwrtheyrn. In English it was altered to 'Wyrtgeorn,' as found in the 'Anglo-Saxon Chronicle,' until Geoffrey of Monmouth and his contemporaries revived the older form as 'Vortegirnus' and 'Vortigernus.'
Bede had nothing beyond the name to add to the account which Gildas gives of Vortigern. In the 'Historia Britonum' ascribed to Nennius there are, on the other hand, much legendary detail and an evident intention to represent Vortigern as the villian in the tragedy of British ruin. He receives the Saxons, who are exiles from their country, with favour, gives them Thanet to settle in, promises them food and clothes if they will fight his foes for him, and, when they are already a greater burden that the country can sustain, encourages them to bring over more of their kinsmen. He falls violently in love with Hengist's daughter, who comes over with the second detachment, and, in order to win her hand, gives the Saxons the kingdom of Kent. Next is interposed the story of Vortigern's incestuous marriage, the fruit of which he seeks to father upon Germanns. He is then driven from his kingdom and seeks to build himself a fortress in the wilds of Eryri in North Cymru. The 'magi' of his court say the walls must be sprinkled with the blood of a child without a father; such a one is found, but proves to be Ambrosius or Emrys Wledig, who deprives Vortigern of the kingdom of the west and forces him to take refuge in the north. Meanwhile his son Guorthemir holds the east and wages war successfully against the English, who leave the island. On the death of Guorthemir, Vortigern invites them to return, and soon after, by treacherously arming themselves for a peaceful conference, the obtain complete mastery of the country. The king then flees with his wives to the west and there perishes miserably, consumed by fire from heaven.
The next to deal with the story of Vortigern was Geoffrey of Monmouth, who manipulates it with his customary skill. The British king is identified with the Gerontius who figures in the history of Britain about 409, and Bede's brief notice of this man is expanded into a narrative which tells how Vortigern, at first simple earl of Wessex ('consul Gewisseorum'), raises to the throne and then supplants Constans, once a monk and the son of Constantine of Brittany. In the story of the English conquest Geoffrey, in the main, follows Nennius (ascribing the work, however, to Gildas), but is more circumstantial. He supplies the name of Hengist's daughter, Rowen being, no doubt, as Professor Rhys points out, a misreading of the traditional Welsh name 'Rhonwen,' i.e. white mane. 'Vortimerus' is represented as dying by poison, the victim of Rowen's hate; the 'treachery of the long knives' is located at Amesbury; Ambrosius Aurelius, who finally overwhelms Vortigern, is brother to Constans, and thus his triumph restores the former line of princes. Thus told, the story became extremely popular, appearing in the Welsh Triads (where Vortigern is 'Gwrtheyrn Gwrthenau,' i.e. of repelling lips), Roger of Wendover's 'Chronicle,' and many other works.
The story of Vortigern consists in part of mere folk-fables; a continental parallel to the 'long-knives' incident is, for instance, to be found in Widukind, and Vortigern and Ambrosius have been treated as the Cronus and Zeus of British mythology. It also owes its form in part to the desire to explain place-names. Thus there was in Northern Britian a 'Cair Guorthingirn,' whither accordingly Vortigern is taken by Nennius after his discomfiture in Eryri. There was also a 'Guorthigirniaum,' in later Welsh Gwerthrynion, a region in our Radnorshire of which the princes in the eighth century traced descent to Pasgen, son of Vortigern, and hither also Nennius brings the king in his last ignominious retreat. Finally he makes him die at 'arcem Gyorthigirni,' an unidentified 'Dinas Gwrtheyrn' on the banks of the Teifi. It was no doubt a local tradition, interpreting a place-name, which led Geoffrey to fix the scene of Vortigern's death at Gannerew, near Monmout; and Pennant, on similar grounds, makes a case in favour of Nant Gwrtheyrn, at the foot of the Rivals. Yet, when these deductions have been made, there may still be an historical residuum in the story, apart from the facts given by Gildas. Teh antagonism of Vortigern and Ambrosius, though not referred to in Gildas' narrative, is quite consistent with his account of the two princes, and there is much that is plausible in the view, first put forward by Guest and adopted by Green, that they were the leaders of a native and a Roman party respectively among the Britons. the successes of Gyorthemir, Geoffrey's 'Vortimerus' and the 'Gwerthefyr Fendigaid' (i.e. blessed) of the Welsh Triads, also wear, as recited by Nennius, an historical aspect, though the battles do not appear to tally with those of the 'Anglo-Saxon Chronicle,' and the relations of Guorthemir and Ambrosius are somewhat perplexing. [Dictionary of National Biography XX:391-392]
Vortigern and his Family
Vortigern Vorteneu (W. Gwrtheyrn Gwrtheneu) was the British High-King notorious for allowing the Anglo-Saxons and Jutes to overrun his country, having initially employed them to defend its shores (See Early British Kingdoms' Vortigern the Thin ). The man's story attracts much discussion amongst Arthurian scholars. Vortigern's name has been taken to be a title, Gwrth-teyrn, literally meaning "Most Above Prince": Over-King is the usual interpretation. Though similar names were used for other monarchs and the addition of an epithet to a title seems unlikely, "Over-King" does describe exactly Vortigern's traditional position in British Society. There is further evidence to support the theory. Vertigernus was the title first used by Bede in his "Chronica Majora" (725), though his basic information came from Gildas who used the alternative term of 'Superbo Tyranno' (Supreme Tyrant) in his "De Excidio Britanniæ" (c.545). The term Gwrtheyrn appears to have been extensively used in Wales and spread, via Bede's anglicized Vortigern, throughout both the British and Saxon parts of the Island. In his "Historia Brittonum" (c.830), Nennius records that "From the reign of Vortigern to the discord between Guitolinus and Ambrosius are twelve years". But should this be interpreted as twelve years from the beginning or the end of Vortigern's reign? A modern reader might instantly take this to mean from the end of the reign. However, it seems that 9th century readers thought differently. It was therefore not until twelve years into Vortigern's reign that Guidolinus and Ambrosius had their falling out. Nennius specifically recorded, and it has generally been accepted since, that Ambrosius was Vortigern's major adversary. It would therefore seem logical to identify Guidolinus (L. Vitalinus) as Vortigern's real name. Moreover, Guitaul (L. Vitalis) and Guitolin (L. Vitalinus) are given in Nennius and the Jesus College MS 20 as the father and grandfather respectively of Vortigern. It has been suggested by John Morris that "Vortigern son of Vitalis son of Vitalinus" may have been a mistranscription of something like "Vortigern that is Vitalinus son of Vitalis". Vortigern usurped power over the whole of the Island of Britain as High-King, apparently setting up a system of strongholds across the country, stretching, at least, from Caer-Ligualid (Carlisle) to Caer-Baddan (Bath). Though those that remain are all in the west (See The Problem of Caer-Guorthigirn ), the memory of others in the east was probably obliterated by the Saxon take-over. Vortigern, however, is also specifically recorded, by Nennius, as a ruler of the Regio Guunnessi (Gwent). This was his original kingdom, probably inherited through his first wife Severa's ancestry, as shown by her mother's supposed descent from the legendary Kings of Siluria. His own family appear to have originated in neighbouring Caer-Gloiu (E. Gloucester) which, according to Nennius, was named after his great grandfather, Gloiu (though the reverse seems more likely). Nennius mentions only four sons who could have inherited Vortigern's kingdom: Guorthemir (E. Vortimer/W. Gwerthefyr), Categirn (W. Cadeyrn), Pascent (W. Pasgen) and the incestuously begotten Faustus by an unnamed daughter. However, we know from other sources that there were further sons including Brydw and St.Edeyrn of Llanedeyrn, and a possible daughter, Scothnoe. It has been suggested by Jason Godesky in his "The Vortigern Dynasty " that part of Vortigern's story, in reality, belongs to his eldest son, Vortimer. Vortimer is thus interpreted, alongside Vortigern, as a title, which he assigns to Vortigern's son, Brydw, prior to his inheriting the "Vortigern-ship" from his father. This leads to Jason's assertion that it was this second Vortigern who treacherously married the Jutish Rhonwen of popular legend. However, Vortimer is the not uncommon Royal Welsh name Gwerthefyr, as also used by Gildas' tyrannical King of Dyfed. Vortimer could not possibly have married Rhonwen. Besides his being portrayed as completely anti-Germanic, Vortimer was poisoned by Rhonwen who then persuaded his father to reveal where the body lay hidden. This would clearly preclude any succession from Vortigern to Vortimer. Vortimer had, in fact, been buried at Caer-Reputi (E. Richborough) beneath the Roman Triumphal Arch, as a talisman to keep the Saxons away. Having discovered his resting-place however, the invaders dug him up and re-interred his body in Caer-Lundein (E. London). Vortimer cannot have been Brydw either. Brydw, probably a younger brother, is recorded in the Harleian MS 3859 as heading an obscure Princely family of an unknown territory (possibly Maelienydd & Elfael or Outer Powys); whereas Vortimer, as Vortigern's eldest son, ruled (during his father's High-Kingship) in the inherited power-base of the Vorteneu dynasty in Gwent. This was then known as Gwerthefyriwg, as recorded in the Book of Llandaff. It was eventually inherited by his only child, St.Madrun, and her husband the eponymous Ynyr Gwent (a prince of controversial origins: possibly a cousin and member of the family of Magnus Maximus). Cadeyrn, as Vortigern's second son, deputised in the extensive region which Vortigern appears to have developed as his personal power-base: Powys (probably larger than modern Powys, encompassing a capital at Caer-Guricon (E. Wroxeter)). The Kings of Powys asserted their descent from Cadeyrn in the genealogies recorded in the Harleian MS 3859 & Jesus College MS 20. Though the known parts of the Royal Powysian genealogical inscription upon the 9th century "Eliseg's Pillar" do not mention him, reference is made to his brothers Pasgen and Brydw. "Britu, moreover, (was) a son of Guorthigirn whom Germanus blessed..." implies that further sons of Vortigern had already been mentioned in the preceding, and now lost section, of the inscription and that they too may have been blessed by St. Germanus of Auxerre. Hence the epithet of Fendigaid (the Blessed) used for both Vortimer and Cadeyrn. In fact, it is likely that the inscription's list of Britons in which Pasgen was included were in fact those baptized together by the saint, perhaps in the Severn in a similar manner to the evangelical methods of St. Paulinus and St. Birinus. After Vortigern's dramatic demise at the hands of his old enemy, Ambrosius, it was his son Pasgen who, according to Nennius, was allowed to rule the Powysian sub-Kingdom of Buellt and Gwerthrynion (named after Vortigern), due to the magnanimous generosity of the new High-King. It is likely that a similar attitude was taken towards the rest of the Vorteneu family in Gwent, the unknown principality of Brydw's descendants and Powys itself. It showed Ambrosius in a benevolent light, in sharp contrast to the previous reign, and created a sense of stability in the country. After all, Vortigern's sons had shown little agreement with their father's pro-Saxon policies and, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, had even rebelled against him. So, although Vortigern's reign has been remembered in history and legend as the most disastrous to have ever befallen the British Nation, he did manage to leave a powerful legacy to his sons. He established them so well in the rich kingdoms in the heart of Britain that his family ruled there for the next eight hundred years.
Vortigern and his Family is Copyright © 1998, David Nash Ford. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Comments to: David Nash Ford
Notes  The common Welsh name, Cadwaladr (Cad-gwaladr), for example, means "Battle Chief".  Vortigern's epithet of Vorteneu, W. Gwrtheneu (Gor-Teneu) means "Very Thin".  A 14th century collection of British Royal genealogies from Jesus College, Oxford.  Morris, John (1973) The Age of Arthur. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.  A Roman Station at Old Carlisle, just south of Wigton, is said, in a Cambridge manuscript of the "Historia Brittonum" to have been refortified by Vortigern and named Guasmoic (E. Palme-Castre).  Wirtgenesburg near Bradford-upon-Avon was recorded by the early 12th century historian William of Malmesbury.  Gwent, of course, takes its name from the old Romano-British City of Caer-Guent (E. Caerwent/L. Venta Silurum).  Severa was the daughter of the Emperor Magnus Maximus (W. Macsen Wledig).  Severa's mother was Elen Luyddog, the daughter of Eudaf Hen. Eudaf was particularly associated with Ewyias in Northern Gwent and his legendary ancestors (among them the mortalized Celtic God, Bran Fendigaid) were the supposed Kings of the Silures Tribe of Britons whose capital was Venta Silurum (E. Caerwent/W. Caer-Guent).  The Jesus College MS 20 calls him Gloyw Gwalltir meaning "Gloyw the Long Haired".  Vortiporius , King or "Protector" of Dyfed in the early 6th century.  According to Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniæ (c.1139).  According to Triad 37 of the Trioedd Ynys Prydain (pre-13th century).  This is the mostly likely identification of Nennius' "port from which (the English) had departed", the Triad's "Chief Port of this Island" and Geoffrey of Monmouth's "port where the Saxons usually landed" where Vortimer "ordered a bronze pyramid to be constructed for him". Richborough (L. Rutupiæ) was certainly the major Roman Port into Britain and the Triumphal Arch there was adorned with many bronze statues. The idea of a hero's dead body protecting a country from invaders is an old Celtic theme best shown in the Mabinogion story of the burial of Bran Fendigaid's head on Tower Hill (London).  JAccording to Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniæ (c.1139). The Historia Brittonum (c.830) says Lincoln (W. Caer-Lind-Coln).  A late 10th century collection of British Royal genealogies from the Harleian Collection at the British Library.  Madrun is recorded as Vortimer's daughter and the wife of Ynyr Gwent in the 13th century Bonedd Y Saint.  See Early British Kingdoms' Pedigree of the Kings of Glywysing & Gwent, Ergyng & Dyfed at: .  Eliseg's Pillar is the base of a monumental stone cross erected to the memory of the early 8th century King Elisedd (or Eliseg) of Powys by his great grandson, King Cyngen. It still stands in Llantysilio-yn-Ial, near Llangollen, but the inscription is no longer legible. A large part of it was still decipherable in 1696 however, when it was recorded by the antiquarian, Edward Llwyd. The last Prince of Powys Fadog, Vortigern's direct descendant, Gryffydd Maelor II, died in 1269. (His 3x great grandson was the last Prince of an independent Wales, Owain Glyndwr.) ...............................
A.D. 449 . This year Marcian and Valentinian assumed the empire, and reigned seven winters. In their days Hengest and Horsa, invited by Wurtgern, king of the Britons to his assistance, landed in Britain in a place that is called Ipwinesfleet; first of all to support the Britons, but they afterwards fought against them. The king directed them to fight against the Picts; and they did so; and obtained the victory wheresoever they came. They then sent to the Angles, and desired them to send more assistance. They described the worthlessness of the Britons, and the richness of the land. They then sent them greater support. Then came the men from three powers of Germany; the Old Saxons, the Angles, and the Jutes. From the Jutes are descended the men of Kent, the Wightwarians (that is, the tribe that now dwelleth in the Isle of Wight), and that kindred in Wessex that men yet call the kindred of the Jutes. From the Old Saxons came the people of Essex and Sussex and Wessex. From Anglia, which has ever since remained waste between the Jutes and the Saxons, came the East Angles, the Middle Angles, the Mercians, and all of those north of the Humber. Their leaders were two brothers, Hengest and Horsa; who were the sons of Wihtgils; Wihtgils was the son of Witta, Witta of Wecta, Wecta of Woden. From this Woden arose all our royal kindred, and that of the Southumbrians also.
((A.D. 449 . And in their days Vortigern invited the Angles thither, and they came to Britain in three ceols, at the place called Wippidsfleet.))
A.D. 455 . This year Hengest and Horsa fought with Wurtgern the king on the spot that is called Aylesford. His brother Horsa being there slain, Hengest afterwards took to the kingdom with his son Esc. [Anglo-Saxon Chronicles]
The kingship of southern Britain is more confusing. Some remnant of Roman administration continues, based around Glevum (Gloucester) and Verulamium (St Albans). The best know of the southern kings was Vortigern (c425-466; c471-480), though in fact the name merely means 'High King.' It's possible that his real name was Vitalinus, thought this may have been his father's name. We know far more of him from legend than from history, but it seems that for over twenty years Vortigern led the organization and defence of Britain against Saxon, Pict and Scottish (Irish) raiders. He solved the problem of the Roman imperial government's inability to send reinforcements by hiring Saxon mercenaries under the leaderhsip of Hengist and Horsa to fight the Picts: strategies that proved successful. In return they were awarded the Island of Thanet (a bad move that finally led to the Saxon invasion of Britain). Later tradition has it that Vortigern became infatmacted with Hengist's daughter Rowena and was givern he in marriage in exchange for more land. But be that as it may, as Vortigern grew older his power dimished and finally civil war broke out. Vortigern was driven into Powys by Ambrosius Aurelianus, an equally vague character believed to be descended from an aristocratic Roman family, most likely that of Magnus Maximus. Ambrosius battled valiantly against Vortigern and against the Saxons and his success has caused some to believe that he may be one of the individmacls who inspired the legend of Arthur. Ambrosius' descendants were believed to continue to rule in south Cymru for several generations. [A Brief History of British Kings & Queens pp16-17] ..............................................
Vortigern and the Powys Dynasty Darrell Wolcott on Vortigern Studies
The chronology of the various extant pedigrees of Powys has always been a problem for those who have attempted to analyze them. One guidepost in time is the virtually certain knowledge that Vortigern, as overking of the Britons in 425 and for perhaps a quarter of a century thereafter, must have been born late in the fourth century. An estimate of 375/380 should be close. The next man in the pedigrees whose birthdate can be closely estimated is Selyf Sarff Cadan, who fell at the Battle of Chester in 616. Already the king by that date, Selyf could scarcely been born later than about 590 nor earlier than perhaps 560 or he would have been too old for the battlefield. Assigning him a birthdate near 575 would be chronologically consistent with what is know of his descendants. One should expect to find six, at most seven, generations to span the 200 years from Vortigern to Selyf. But the medieval genealogists were faced by pedigrees which list 10 generations from one man to the other. Their solution was to delete 3 names near the top. What had read "Cadell Ddrynllwg ap Pasgen ap Brydw ap Rhuddfedel Frych ap Cyndeyrn ap Gwrtheyrn" was emended to "Cadell Ddrynllwg ap Cyndeyrn ap Gwrtheyrn" with the curious justification that 3 of the four names which follow Gwrtheyrn were also names of his sons which must have been listed vertically. No one would dispute that Cynderyn (or Cadeyrn or Cattegern, however spelled) and Brydw and Pasgen were, in fact, names of his sons. But not exclusively; they were fairly common male names of that era. They had no idea who Rhuddfedel Frych was, but decided he had to go as well. Voila! We now have a "chronologically stable" pedigree which makes Cadell Ddrynllwg the grandson of Gwrtheyrn (Vortigern). Or do we? Turning to other ancient pedigrees, it could be seen that 8 generations were listed from Cadell Ddrynllwg down to Selyf. If in fact Cadell was two generations removed from Vortigern, his birthdate should fall somewhere near 435. Thus, we should expect only five generations in a "stable" pedigree to reach Selyf. Once again the medieval shears came out to right things. What had been "Selyf ap Cynan Garwyn ap Brochwel Ysgithrog ap Cyngen ap Maucant (or Mawgan or Manogan) ap Pascent ap Cattegirn ap Cadell" was recast to omit "Maucant ap Pascent ap Cattigern". The net result of these emendations can best be seen in a chart: 375 Vortigern 405 Cadeyrn 435 Cadell Ddrynllwg 470 Cyngyn Glodrydd 500 Brochwel Ysgithrog535 Cynan Garwyn 570 Selyf Our own inquiry into the matter was prompted primarily by the assignment of what seemed to be an unreasonably late flourit for Cadell Ddyrnllwg. The fanciful tale related by Ninnius, while typical in its assignment of heavenly powers to men canonized as saints, contains at least some historical basis. If we accept the chronology of Ninnius, the story of Cadell was set during the first visit of Bishop Germanus to Britain in 429. But if Cadell was born in 435, there must be some mistake; it must have been during his second visit in 447. This works if we assume Cadell was about 12 years old at the time or at most a teenager. But Ninnius tells us Cadell already was the father of 9 children at the time. Common sense tells us his age must have been nearer to 40 than to his teens. And if the setting was, in fact, the 429 visit of St Germanus, the Cadell in his report must have been born before the turn of the century, perhaps even as early as 380. Even the renowned Peter Bartrum concedes that Cadell was contemporary with Vortigern. So even after deleting six generations (about 200 years) from the various pedigrees of this family, we still have failed to achieve "chronological stability". Anyone can make a jigsaw puzzle "fit" by trimming the pieces, but this method will never reproduce the original uncut picture. Perhaps it is time to question the boundries which we have used as absolutes. Is it possible that one or more of the men have been confused with same-named men of an earlier era? The earliest known pedigree of the Gwrtheyrn called Vortigern, that from Ninnius, makes him "son of Vitalis, son of Vitalinus, son of Gloiu". These Latin names were rendered by the Welsh as "ap Gwidol ap Gwdoleu ap Gloyw Gwallt Hir". But the pedigrees cast for the Powysian dynasty cite the ancestry of their Gwrtheyrn as "ap Rydeyrn ap Deheuwaint ap Endicant ap Endeyrn ap Enied ap Endos ap Enddolen and Afallach ap Affleth ap Beli Mawr". That same former Catuvellauni family appears in the cited pedigrees of Cunedda and Coel Hen. When birthdate estimates are applied to the various branches which are consistent with the known flouit of those two men, the Ryderyn ap Deheuwaint cited as father to Gwrtheyrn belongs to the middle of the second century or about 155 AD. If we were to assign a birthdate near 185 for that Gwrtheyrn, we would find it consistent with those pedigrees previously considered too long. With no other changes, Cadell Ddrynllwg would occur five generations later around 350. But we are persuaded by the preponderance of citations which say the father of Cadell was named Cadeyrn, not Pasgen as in the pedigrees first cited in note. The earliest known pedigrees begin this family with Cadell and say nothing of his ancestry. They do, however, cite a son named Cadeyrn as they descend down to Selyf and beyond. If we were to simply transpose the two names, it would both move the birth of Cadell to near 380 and give him a father named Caderyn. The resulting pedigree would look like this: 155 Rydeyrn 185 Gwrtheyrn 220 Cadeyrn 250 Rhuddfedel Frych 280 Brydw 315 Pasgen 345 Cadeyrn 380 Cadell Ddrynllwg By simply repeating a common error found in many pedigrees, that of rolling two men named Caderyn into one and omitting the intervening names, we would effectively repeat the medieval emendation that removed all the "sons of Vortigern" (except Caderyn) plus Rhuddfedel Frych. This brings us to the evidence gleaned from the Pillar of Eliseg. Whatever may have been carved there early in the ninth century, we only know what was legible when transcribed by Edward Lluyd in 1696. That transcription contains no connected pedigree beyond Eliseg of the late seventh to mid-eighth centuries. It appears to conclude with the names Cyngen, Pasgen, Maun and Annan, then Brydw son of Vortigern. Whatever relationship existed between Annan and Brydw is left to conjecture. We know a young lady named Annun was a member of the household of Madrun, daughter of Vortimer the Blessed, and is cited as her handmaiden. If the Annan of the Pillar were a female, she may have been the wife of Maun and a daughter of Brydw. Those pedigrees which include "Cyngen ap Maucann" in the Powys dynasty might be no more than a scribal attempt at rendering "Cyngen, son of Maun and Annan". Certainly there is no Maucann or Mawgan in Lluyd's list of Pillar names. It is not necessary to conjecture whether the Pillar Annan was identical to the handmaiden of Modren vz Vortimer, nor even whether Vortimer was identical to Brydw. But no one would argue that the Powys dynasty proudly proclaimed it descended from a mere handmaiden of a granddaughter of Vortigern. The possibility that Annun was female and formed the connection between Vortigern and the Powys dynasty would place virtually all the ancient pedigrees into chronological alignment, something none of the other emendations have done. The chart would look like this: 155 Rydeyrn 185 Gwrtheyrn 220 Caderyn 250 Rhuddfedel Frych 280 Brydw Gloyw Gwallt Hir 280 315 Pasgen Gwidolin 310 350 Cadeyrn Gwidol 345 380 Cadell Ddrynllwy Gwrtheyrn (Vortigern) 375 410 Pasgen Brydw 415 440 Maun====================Annan 450 475 Cyngen 510 Brochwel Ysgithrog 540 Cynan Garwyn 575 Selyf, obit 616 Vortigern and the Powys Dynasty is Copyright ©2004, Darrell Wolcott, President, Center for the Study of Ancient Wales (a non-profit foundation with a library of some 3200 volumes) located in Jefferson, Texas. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Comments to: Darrell Wolcott Visit Darrell Wolcott's website with more articles about Wales and Medieval genealogy, at: Notes  Annales Cambriae lists the date as 613; the actual year is debatable.  Celtic tradition never included child-kings. Selyf must be presumed to have been in his 20's or older at the Battle of Chester.  Six generations after Selyf's brother, Eiludd, we find Cyngen ap Cadell who was born c. 775; this would be the expected generational span for 200 years.  ABT 20 and HLG 2 from Bartrum, P.C. (1966): Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts, (Cardiff).  Harleian Ms 3859, 22 & 27.  The year 447 for the second visit has received wide popularity, but it may have been as early as 435. See .  ABT 20 and HLG 2, the portion beginning with Cadell Ddrynllwg.  Bartrum, P.C. (1966): Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts, (Cardiff), pp. 129 but inexplicicably suggests that Cadell could have been born c. 404 and still be a grandson of Vortigern  No earlier pedigree of Gloyw is extant but modern genealogists make him a son of the Rhodri (Rydeyrn?) ap Euddigan (Endigant) who occurs in the pedigrees of Coel Hen, and whose birth early in the second century makes such a connection untenable.  ABT 9 and Jesus College Ms 119 "Buchedd Bueno" in Bartrum, P.C. (1966): Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts, (Cardiff).  Harleian Ms 3859, 22 and 27.  ibid and Jesus College Ms 20, 18 which render variant spellings "Maucant" and "Manogan".  The handmaiden was an offical member of the court, not a mere servant. Nothing in known customs would preclude a young girl from serving in that capacity for an older sister.  Ninnius does not list Brydw among the sons of Vortigern but does name Vortimer. They may refer to the same person.  ABT 1; ABT 9; and JC 20,5 extend this line back to Beli Mawr. ....................................................
GWRTHEYRN (GWRTHENAU,) or Vortigern, was originally lord of Ergyng and Euas, and according to the Welsh Chronicles was one of the council whose opinion was held in the greatest estimation. On the death of Constantine, he took his son Constans from the monastery into which he had retired, and made him king, securing to himself all the real power as prime minister. By the aid of some Picts, whom he had selected for the king's body guard, he succeeded in his treasonable designs of murdering the king, and placing himself on the throne without the consent of the chiefs. To secure himself he invited over the Saxons under Hengist and Horsa, A.D. 454. And soon afterwards he married Rhonwen, or Rowena, the daughter of Hengist, upon whom he bestowed the earldom of Kent. In 464, the Britons succeeded in defeating the Saxons, and then made his son Vortimer king instead of Vortigern, but the former having been poisoned by the means of his stepmother in 468, Vortigern was set on the throne a second time, and reigned until 481, when he was attacked by Emrys and Uthyr, the sons of Constantine, in his castle of Goronwy in Ergyng on the Wye, which with him was destroyed by fire. There are several notices preserved of Gwrtheyrn in the Welsh Triads. In one he is called one of the hree "gwyr gwarth," or disgraceful men of the Isle of Britain, for inviting over, and joining the Saxons, and treacherously causing the death of Cystennyn Vychan, or Constans, and banishing'his^bro- thers Emrys and Uthyr. The other two were Avarwy and Medrawd. In another Triad for the same reason he is called one of the three "carnvradwyr," or arrant traitors, with Avarwy and Medrawd. In another Triad he is said to have formed one of the three "bradgyvar- vod," or treacherous plots, by causing a meeting to be held of the British nobles and the Saxons on the mountain of Caer Caradog, when the massacre of the long knives was perpetrated; the two others were caused by Avarwy and Medrawd. In another Triad it is stated that Avarwy, Gwrtheyrn, and Medrawd, were three whose families were for ever deprived of their rights and privileges. Gwrtheyrn for inviting over the Saxons to support him in his tyranny, and giving them land in the Isle of Thanet, and espousing Alis Rhonwen, and settling on the son he had by her, called Gotta, an unjust possession of the crown, by which means the Cymry lost the sovereignty of Britain. In another Triad he is called one of the three "carnveddwon," or arrant drunkards of the Isle of Britain, because he gave the Isle of Thanet, in his drunkenness, to the Saxons for Rhonwen. The other two were Geraint Veddw, and Seithenyn. (Myv. Arch. ii. 3, 4,19, 61, 64, 72, 268.) There are other particulars relating to Gwrtheyrn given by Nennius, and according to one tradition, he retired to the mountains of Snowdon, where he died, and a tumulus always known by the name of Bedd Gwrtheyrn is supposed to have been the place of his interment, and the neighbouring valley has ever since horne the name of Nant Gwrtheyrn.
Vortigern, King of the Britons's Timeline