The History of the Kings of Britain is arguably the most influential text written in England in the Middle Ages. The work narrates a linear history of pre-Saxon Britain, from its founding by Trojan exiles to the loss of native British (Celtic) sovereignty in the face of Germanic invaders. Along the way, Geoffrey introduces readers to such familiar figures as King Lear, Cymbeline, Vortigern, the prophet Merlin, and a host of others. Most importantly, he provides the first birth-to-death account of the life of King Arthur. His focus on that king’s reign sparked the vogue for Arthurian romance throughout medieval Europe that has continued into the twenty-first century.
This new translation is the first in over forty years and the first to be based on the Bern manuscript, now considered the authoritative Latin text. It is accompanied by an introduction that highlights the significance of Geoffrey’s work in his own day and focuses in particular on the ambiguous status of the text between history and fiction. Appendices include historical sources, early responses to the History, and other medieval writings on King Arthur and Merlin.
“Faletra has created a superb addition to Broadview’s increasingly strong catalog of medieval texts for the classroom. This volume will likely be the version of Geoffrey’s “humble style” for a new generation of students, and it has much to offer them.” — Matthew Fisher, University of California, Los Angeles, from Speculum
“Geoffry of Monmouth’s Historia—‘food and drink of poets’ and provocative goad to historians—is wonderfully contextualized in this fine new translation by Michael A. Faletra. It immediately assumes canonical power as a crucial teaching text.” — Bonnie Wheeler, Southern Methodist University
“This new translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s seminal history will be of great value to teachers of Arthurian literature. Michael A. Faletra accompanies his smooth, modern translation with an intelligent selection of supporting primary material from the Latin and Welsh traditions. The decision to include a complete translation of Geoffrey’s Life of Merlin makes the book particularly attractive. The useful introduction positions Geoffrey’s work in its historical, cultural, and critical context. A most welcome addition to Broadview’s increasingly impressive list of texts.” — Sian Echard, University of British Columbia
“Michael A. Faletra has provided us with a lively new translation of the most important foundational text in the Arthurian tradition, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae. Faletra’s work will be of service to the scholar, the teacher, and the general reader. The book’s four appendices contain fresh translations by Faletra of the major sources and analogues to Geoffrey’s history, including Geoffrey’s own Life of Merlin. Faletra’s up-to-date introduction, notes, and bibliography enable the reader to follow recent scholarly discussion and debate surrounding one of the most influential, and controversial authors of the Middle Ages.” — Michael J. Curley, University of Puget Sound
“This book is a treasure-trove for teachers and students of the King Arthur legend. A fresh, up-to-date translation of Geoffrey’s masterpiece is nice to have, but better yet is a good version of the Vita Merlini (harder to find) and Faletra’s choice of excerpts from Gildas, the Historia Brittonum, some Welsh Arthur and Merlin verses, and early comments on Geoffrey’s enterprise. For anyone who wants to teach the origins of the Arthur story, it is immensely useful to have all this between two covers.” — Judith P. Shoaf, University of Florida