Arturius Aurelianus Redux - A King Arthur TLIAW




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Shield of Arturius Aurelianus, Dux Britanniarum (Leader of all Britannia) 516-537AD.

Well, that was fast.

What can I say? I'm feeling inspired.

Anything to get out of writing Weber's Germany, eh?

That's mean! :( I'll get back to that soon enough.

So, Before 1900, huh? Convinced it won't be ASB?

I am going to hide behind my device of my unreliable narrator Paul Aurelian and say that this is an excercise in alternate historiography inasmuch as it is alternate history.

What's the premise of this retelling of Arthurian legend?

I purport that Paulinus Aurelianus, an (adopted) grandson of Arthur - a link I have fabricated for the purposes of this TL - decided to write about his family's history to counter Gildas's accusations of moral degeneracy; however, as we'll find out Paul is going to have his own agenda in writing his account.

What can first-time readers expect?

This will be an attempt to synthesise some of the early accounts of the pseudo-historical Ambrosius Aurelianus and "King" Arthur such as Gildas's On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain, "Nennius"'s Historia Brittonium, the Annales Cambrae, the Welsh Triads and the various accounts of 6th-century saints' lives, along with Malmesbury's and Geoffrey's accounts of British history to a smaller extent.

So nothing post-Galfridian, i.e. no Lancelot, no Grail, no Round Table, no-

I might include putative "origins" for some of these through passages ripe for misinterpretation, but nothing which outright contradicts the above sources.

What can returning readers expect?

More consistent Latinisations, more extensive notes, and a longer history of Roman Britain's transition to Sub-Roman Britain.

So you've got 168 hours starting from now to finish this TL?

No, a week from the first update.

And when will that be?

Tomorrow at the latest.

Welcome to my relaunch of my formerly ASB timeline, The History of Arturius Aurelianus! You can read the previous TL to see generally what it's going to be like, but the above writeup is just about the gist of it. Hope you guys enjoy it! :)
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Part 1: On the Ruin of Britain

Start your timers, ladies and gentlemen, because here we go! :D



Icon of Paulinus Aurelianus (Paul Aurelian).


1. In receiving the writings of my colleague Gildas I cannot fail to notice that he has regarded history to be best used as the tool of the sermon, and in so describing the affairs of Britain he criticises Vortigern and Constantine and praises my ancestor Ambrosius Aurelianus whilst castigating his descendants, cursing the inhabitants of Britain for their wickedness and sin which has brought this Saxon plague. Whilst instructive as a parable for the moral ruin of these islands, I cannot forgive his omission of Arturius Aurelianus, last dux Britanniarum[2] worthy of the title, or of the role of his diverse and noble followers in the times leading to the Saxon rout at Mons Badonicus, which he dismisses as the final moment of peace in Britannia before his continued assaults against the moral character of its leaders and peoples.

Far from the end of British glory, the triumph of Arturius at Badbury, for which he was made leader amongst the Britons, initiated twenty years of prosperity without the interference of Saxon invaders, or of Scots and Picts barbarians, and even in the times of troubles Arturius went above and beyond his duty in furnishing the needs of these “stiff-necked and tired peoples”, delivering unto them respite from the troubles home and abroad.


2. I thus seek to complete the tale of Arturius, through the recollections by my mother Rhelemona of her father Caius,[3] companion of Arturius. In the time after Caius’s death Arturius adopted my mother as his own child, for my father, Perphirius, a chieftain of the Silures to whom Arturius was first foe then friend, has long since died.

If there are any further omissions or errors they are those of the vagaries of time and memory; where these occur, I am forced to resort to referencing Gildas's accounts among other records of our times, with adjustments to the veracity of his details. I submit my deepest apologies where the combination of both is inadequate in completing the knowledge of these times.

[1] Paul Aurelian, a contemporary of Gildas. I have invented his feud with Gildas entirely out of the cloth, but it's too good a coincidence not to use.
[2] A Diocletan-era military title. Arthur is only ever described as a dux bellorum (war leader) and not king, whom “Nennius” (2:56) describes as fighting alongside him. Gildas never bothers to give Ambrosius Aurelianus a title.
[3] Sir Kay, and this is to account for Paulinus Aurelianus's surname whilst hand-waving why he isn't considered an heir to Arthur. Arthur being Kay's foster brother is an invention of the Vulgate Cycle and its successors, but this also makes it easy to make this "mistake" if Kay's progeny was adopted by Arthur. Rhelemona is mentioned in Culhwch and Olwen.



1. I trust that he who receives this knows of the location of Britain, which extends into the north with the vast sea separating it from the Orcades Islands, and to which Gaul lies to the south, now overrun with those calling themselves the Franci, save Armorica, where Riothamus made his valiant stand against them until he died in the same year as Ambrosius Aurelianus, which was also the terminal year of Rome itself.[1] In its height it was populated with numerous cities along the banks of two mighty rivers, the Thames and the Severn. These have become the centres of power for the kings in Britain, and of the Saxon invaders once captured and perverted to their purposes.[2]


2. I shall not bore the reader with the chronology of this island, which is well-established with the arrival of Brutus of Troy in ancient times past, then the incursions of Caesar and Vespasian which established the rule of Rome in Britain, which was sustained despite the revolts of Postumus and Carausius until the time that the strength of God and Man failed Rome, after the floruit of the House of Constantine. It was in these times that the general Magnus Maximus, brought to Britain in a dream whereupon he wed Elena the daughter of Octavius the son of Caradocus, half-brother of Constantine through their mother Helena, and sister to Conan and Gideon, and with whom he begat three sons and two daughters,[3] was declared Emperor by his troops.

Maximus reigned for five years until he fell out of favour with Rome, whereupon he was slain on the orders of Valentinian, and his youngest son Flavius Victor was murdered by Arbogast the Gaul. For a generation there was no ruler in Britain, and every man did what was right in their own eyes.[4] Their impassioned pleas for aid against the barbarian Scots and Picts were left unheard by Honorius, and so the Britons elected Marcus Arotrius, a soldier among their own, and then in their dissatisfaction overthrew him, and then elected another soldier Gracianus, and again dissatisfied they overthrew him as they had Marcus.[5]

And then they settled on Constantine, another soldier of common birth but said to be the son of Maximus. Constantine, upon his accession, punished the murderers of Marcus, for the two men had served together, and adopted the son of Marcus as his own. However, in the year after the sack of Rome by the Visigoths,[6] Constantine and his son Constans perished in Gaul, leaving Britain with no troops save for children and old men. The succeeding emperor Julian, second son of Constantine, and his own son, also named Constantine (or Constantius), served as nothing but tools of the tyrants in Britain.[7]


3. Of these tyrants, that proud usurper (tyrannus superbus)[8] Vortigern the son of Vitalis, the son of Vitalinus, shall surely be remembered in history as third only to Brutus and Judas among betrayers, for it was he and his council of vipers which invited the Saxons, a peoples offensive to God and mankind, led by Hengist and Horsa, to serve as the foederati of Britannia in the same year of the destruction of Serdica by the Huns[9]. Vortigern was married to Severina the daughter of Maximus,[10] and she bore him four sons. However, he cast her aside and declared for the Saxons when Hengist presented his daughter Rouvena, being immediately enchanted with her. For the pleasures of the flesh Vortigern surrendered the kingdoms he was not worthy to rule, much less to give, unto Hengist and Horsa.

Before long Constantine the son of Julian was deposed by Vortigern and his councillors,[11] though Hengist and Horsa were the true powers behind the throne, and the entirety of Britannia was beset by godless Saxons. Against these heathens Vortimer, the son of Vortigern, rallied the Britons four times, slaying Horsa in the same year of Vortigern's own death, burnt alive in his own fortress,[12] and pushing the Saxons eastwards, until Vortimer died. The same councillors who had opened the gates to the Saxon hordes died at the hand of Hengist under the pretext of negotiations where, upon a signal of Hengest, each of the Saxons revealed their long knives, hidden in their clothes, and slew the Briton next to them; thus did this generation of vipers reap the bitter fruit which they had themselves sown.[13] These events happened concurrently with the second destruction of Rome, this time at the hands of the Vandals. [14]

[1] 476AD.
[2] Gildas (2:3) and Orosius.
[3] The Dream of Macsen Wledig. If the genealogy there is to be believed, Octavius (Eudaf Hen) can't be half-brother to Constantine the Great through Constantius Chlorus and him being the son of St. Helena is more in line with Geoffrey's bestowing honorary British subjecthood unto her than through Maxima Theodora.
[4] Judges 17:6 and 21:25
[5] Zosimus 6; Geoffrey 6:1
[6] 411AD (410+1)
[7] This is a reconciliation of Constantine and Constans dying too early (both 411AD) to realistically feature in Arthurian legend.
[8] Like Arthur, Vortigern wasn't called rex in early sources.
[9] 447AD.
[10] Pillar of Eliseg
[11] 449 AD.
[12] Geoffrey (8:4)
[13] “Nennius” (2:43-46); "Generation of vipers" is the insult John the Baptist hurls at the crowds in the beginnings of the Synoptic Gospels.
[14] 455AD.

Hope you enjoyed reading that! Comments and feedback are welcome. :)

Next update: Ambrosius Aurelianus.
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Only one thing to add to that which I posted in the first thread.

Would even a nominally Christian ruler give Julianus as a name to one of his sons? The Apostate was still an object of hatred (for want of a better word) at this time. Or is Paulinus mixing up his history as badly as Gildas (this Julian also being the son of a Constantine)?

Anyway more please.
Only one thing to add to that which I posted in the first thread.

Would even a nominally Christian ruler give Julianus as a name to one of his sons? The Apostate was still an object of hatred (for want of a better word) at this time. Or is Paulinus mixing up his history as badly as Gildas (this Julian also being the son of a Constantine)?

Anyway more please.

Despite all those factors, the classical sources do indeed name the two sons of Constantine as Constantine and Julian, although the point is well-made. I suppose it is a bit of a deliberate parallel given that this Constantine is purported to be the son of a Helena and an Emperor too.

More will be coming soon! :)

I'm trully impressed by the level of detail, by the writting style... really good!
Thank you very much! Hope you stay on board! :D

So it begins the Tom Colton great TL of our week :p

Get hyped with some good old Carmina Burana, why don't you? :cool:
Part 2: Ambrosius, Artorius and Arturius

And it continues :D
As promised: :cool:




Tombstone depicting a Late Roman cavalryman, possibly Ambrosius Aurelianus, triumphant over a "barbarian" with a shield. Chester.

4. With the death of Vortimer the Britons appealed to God,

“Their unnumbered vows burdening Heaven,”

Till the Lord delivered unto them the soldier Ambrosius Aurelianus. The first contention between Ambrosius and Vortigern had been in the twelfth year of Vortigern's reign, leaving the tyrant in fear of the reach of Rome, for his father Constantine the consul had been a powerful man. The ancestor of the Aureliani was a freedman who had taken up the names Marcus Aurelius upon the declaration of Bassanius[1] making all men citizens of Rome, and whose descendants were adopted by Artorius Castus the famed soldier[2]. The grandfather of Ambrosius was Marcus the usurper, and the father of Ambrosius had been Constantine the consul, murdered on the orders of Vortigern.

Like his namesakes Ambrose, father of the Church and persecutor of the Arian heresy,[3] and Aurelian, emperor during the military anarchy titled ‘Restorer of the World’ for suppressing the revolts of Zenobia, the lioness of Palmyra, and Postumus, usurper in Gaul, as Constantius the father of Constantine the emperor later would do unto Carausius, usurper in Britannia, [4] Ambrosius set forth to reunite Britannia in the name of God and purge the heretic barbarians, a task which would be taken up by his kinsmen who, despite the assertions of Gildas, were of no lesser moral strength than Ambrosius.

5. Thus Ambrosius Aurelianus rallied the stiff-necked and tired peoples of Britain against the Saxon invaders until, like his father Artorius Constantine and Vortimer the son of Vortigern, he died. Ambrosius had partaken from a well poisoned by the Saxons, and suffered a lingering death. Before he gave up the ghost, Ambrosius and his brother Artorius gazed into the sky and beheld a comet, long and narrow as a dragon's tail, and so Artorius declared it to be an omen, decorating his banners with that symbol, till he became known as Artorius Draco, or “Pendragon”,[5] as he was termed by his allies.

With the passing of Ambrosius, Artorius Draco became dux bellorum. Artorius Draco was by all accounts a wise and brave leader, continuing the war against the Saxons which his brother Ambrosius had initiated, and he made only one mistake. Having excised the Saxons from much of the land, he assembled the kings of Britain in Dumnonia in triumph, whereupon he laid eyes upon Igraen, the wife of his ally Gorlois at the feast. He was immediately enchanted with her, and they fornicated, becoming adulterers.

Upon the discovery of their indiscretion, Gorlois was incensed, and Gorlois and Artorius went to war. Thus many brave warriors and companions died senselessly for the sins of Artorius, until Gorlois died and Artorius wedded Igraen, ending the war. But as for the child conceived in infidelity, it disappeared, and Artorius grew mad with worry, until he died, ashamed of his sins.[6]


6. This child was no less than Artorius the Younger (or Arturius, as he was called by his allies, to differentiate between father and son) who had been raised by the magus Murrhinus, who had formerly been an augur and follower of the ways of the pagans, until he met Ambrosius, and fell to his feet, beseeching to be baptised. And so he was, becoming a seer, and taking on the name Murrhinus Ambrosianus.[7]

Ambrosianus was brought to Vortigern when he but was a youth, in the time when the tyrant had failed in his attempts to construct his citadel. The council Vortigern assembled instructed him to find a child with no father, and to slay him and draw his life-blood, and to mix his blood with the soil. When they found such a child they brought him to Vortigern, and the child said unto them:

“Woe to those who say to their seers, ‘You must not see visions’, and to the prophets, ‘You must not prophesy to us what is right, only speak to us pleasant words and prophesy illusions.’[8] The Lord has not demanded sacrifice of any of His children, not since His promise to Abraham.[9] He has, however, delivered unto me a revelation. Come and see!”[10]

And he gestured to two vessels in the ground, and they beheld that within the two vessels there were two beasts, one red and one white. The two beasts were sleeping at first, but when they awoke, they entangled in contention until the red beast stood triumphant over the white beast. The child explained unto Vortigern:

“The red beast represents the Britons, and the white beast represents the people who have come by the sea, and have made slaves of the people of Britain. But know you this: our people shall rise and drive them out to the seas from whence they originally came. You shall build no citadel here, nor will the Saxons build fortresses anywhere on this island.”[11]

Although Murhinnus the adopted son of Ambrosius and Arturius the son of Artorius were kin, Murrhinus was advanced in years when he was baptised, older than Artorius Draco. Arturius had been but a child when Artorius died, and many years passed before Murrhinus presented Arturius to the kings and chieftains of the Britons as the son of Artorius.

[0] Not really. But it's a cool image! :p
[1] The Antontine Declaration of Caracalla, which led to every Caratacus, Calgacus and Albanus winding up with the names "Marcus Aurelius". I have thrown my lot in with Alex Woolf and Tim Venning as to how the combination "Artorius Aurelianus" could have arisen.
[2] Lucius Artorius Castus, who is used for the basis of the Romano-British Arthur in the 2004 movie.
[3] “Nennius” (2:29) names St. Ambrose, so there's no reason why people back then wouldn't know who he was.
[4] This is a complete invention on my part, but Aurelian would probably be known to the Romano-British as a pretty cool guy.
[5] Geoffrey (7:15).
[6] My overly cute explanation of Geoffrey's "Merlinus Ambrosius" (7:3), and I’ve Latinised it as as "Murrhinus" (murrhine, also a homonym with myrrh) as "Merlinus" is definitely an invention of Geoffrey's and myrtle flowers don't grow in Britain.
[7] The conception of Arthur is a lot more straightforward as there's no outright magic in this (p)retelling.
[8] Isaiah 30:10
[9] Genesis 22
[10] Revelation 6, preceding each of the Horsemen.
[11] “Nennius” 2:42


Next update: "Whosoever draws the sword..." ;)
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The myth begins to take flesh...
That it does. Hopefully this flies as a suitable compromise to what Gildas establishes about Ambrosius and Geoffrey's attempts to shoehorn him into Constantine's family. :cool:

To wit:

Where Constantine III adopts the son of Marcus the usurper. This way, there is still a familial relationship between Ambrosius and Constantine and Arthur's grandfather is named Constantine even if he's not that Constantine. This is by no means a complete family tree - more on that later. ;)

Next update will be tomorrow night!
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