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Catigern is almost always Vortigern's second son, but there is hardly anything known of him. Apart from information about his death and his grave, he is only known from the pedigrees of the kingdom of Powys.
Cadeyrn: 'battle-lord; Catigern, Cattegirn, Catotigernos, Cadeyrn, Kedehern, Kyndeyrn, Eudeyrn. Catigern was the second son of Vortigern, but he never plays any part in the legends. Where Vortimer and Pascent have their own set of legends, those of Catigern seem to have been lost. Apart from a very short note that Catigern was a son of Vortigern and that he died in battle against the Saxons, British tradition observes total silence about him. Though acknowledged in the genealogy of Powys, it remains therefore doubtful if he ever was king. This may have been due to his early death, which is recorded both in the Historia Brittonum as well as in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle:.
Historia Brittonum, chapter 48
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records Horsa's death at the battle of Aylesford in 455:
Catigern & Cadell
Apart from the genealogies, the above chapter is the only piece of information that we have on Catigern. Yet in these genealogies, the position of Catigern as the successor to Vortigern in Powys is being challenged by a certain Cadell and his descendants. The exact relationship of Catigern to this Cadell Dyrnlluc, the actual ancestor of the royal line of Powys according to the Historia Brittonum, is never made clear. The Harleian genealogies make Catigern not the son of Vortigern, but of a certain Cadell! This Cadell, at least as the story goes in the Historia Brittonum, was invested with the rule of Powys by St Germanus.
The saint took the throne from a certain tyrant Benlli, who was burnt in his fortress by a miracle through St Germanus, after which the servant/slave Cadell was given the throne. This story immediately connects Bennli with Vortigern, who receives the same treatment from St Germanus at a later point in the legends of St Germanus, but who is recognized by many pedigrees as the founder of Powys! Vortigern is never actually identified with Benlli in this clearly parallel but different story, so what is the explanation for this confusion? That Benlli was regarded as Vortigern by later readers seems clear, which is the purpose of the HB in the first place, as it proclaims Cadells inheritance of Powys over that of Vortigerns. But here it stands alone, for almost every other genealogy confirms Catigern over Cadell, who is then placed after Catigern, or even further back into fourth place - see the Genealogies of Eastern Wales en the Problems of Powys (forthcoming).
To illustrate this, I have included a simplified version of these pedigrees:
Who was Cadell? He might have been a local sub-chief, whose family played a part in the early medieval politics of Powys. His fame grew in later years, as he figures in many pedigree as a famous hero too important to ignore, though the claim by the Historia Brittonum seems out of reach. The Historia Brittonum claims a very low status (servus), explained by later legend with a legal claim that was usurped by the tyrant. This confusion shows that no real information was available, even to the early writers.
A possible explanation is the suggestion that Catigern and Cadell are alternative forms of the same name. We have seen above that Catigern is formed of the elements of king (tigern) and battle (Cat-), thus showing a common element. Catigern simply means 'Battle Lord', while Cadell is formed of the element Cat- and the Latin diminutive termination; little battle, so to speak. Sometimes Catigern is written as Cadern, which is very close to Cadell. I t has been suggested that Cadell might have been an endearing name for Catigern. However, against this suggestion speaks that the element cat- was indeed a very frequent formative element in Welsh names (see Riocatus, (king of battle). Not all names with cat- could have been one and the same person!
This leaves us with the explanation that Cadell was an obscure chief from a family that became important only much later, and who then inserted their ancestor Cadell into the genealogy of Powys in an attempt to dislodge the claim of the descendents of Vortigern. At that time two rival claims to northern Powys existed, one of them supported by the 'second dynasty' of Gwynedd and the Historia Brittonum, and by the genealogists from Gwynedd through the Harleian pedigrees. This attempt by Gwynedd to support their candidate may have failed, since the later genealogies seem to support the claim of the descendants of Vortigern rather than those of Cadell. Cadell is not stricken from these lists, but appears always after Catigern, and sometimes also after Britu, Pascent (also sons of Vortigern) and the enigmatis Rhuddfael (see below). The people of Powys evidently did not accept the story about the origins of their royal house as given in the Historia Brittonum, that a slave was their ancestor. On the Pillar of Elise they claimed their descent from Vortigern, and declared he was the son-in-law of Magnus Maximus. This theory is confirmed by the fact that no independent genealogy of Cadell exists, he is connected in all pedigrees with the family of Vortigern - even the Harleian pedigrees mention Catigern, though only as a 'son'of Cadell.
This source supported the claim with the probably legendary Benlli-story that related the miraculous inheritance of Cadell's line. Yet it also related Catigern's lineage, whose claim was supported by other sources. The claim through Cadell of the other dynasty could thus hardly be of the same date as that of Catigern's, who figures far more in the genealogies. The Benlli-story had become attached to Vortigern by an altogether different route, for if the editor of the Historia Brittonum had meant to identify Vortigern with Benlli, he would certainly have done so.
Catigern's descendants indeed ruled in parts of Powys ('southern' Powys), but it remains very doubtful if Catigern himself ever did, due to his early death. He was slain in the battle of Episford/Rithergabail, alongside Horsa the brother of Hengist, and buried under nearby Kit's Coty House, a megalithic dolmen, where ghosts re-enact the battle and the stones cannot be counted twice...
Was Britu the brother or the son of Catigern? The Britu that succeeds Catigern as king of Powys in most pedigrees might also have been the Britu map Vortigern from the Pillar of Elise. The discussion above is in favour of the latter, and though we shouldnt exclude the possiblity of a (short-lived) son called Britu as well, I believe the evidence is in favour of the theory that when Catigern died in the battle of Episford, he left no heir, after which his brother succeeded him. Britu might have perished in the period after the death of Vortigern (whether as son or brother), after which Pascent was confirmed as new ruler. His line then continued as ruling dynasty, only challenged by that of Cadell. This leaves us with the problems around the identity of another possible 'son' of Catigern, Rhuddfael.
Rhuddfael (Ruduedel, Rhuddfedel, Rudduedel) is made the successor of Catigern in most of the later pedigrees (above). The fact that he is not present in any of the earlier ones makes it very likely that his presence there is due to either an interpolation or another kind of error. His name is strangely familiar, as it resembles the British name for the battle in which his father Catigern died. This battle, called Episford in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, is called Rithergabail in the Historia Brittonum:
Historia Brittonum, chapter 44
Can both names be connected somehow? They are essentially the same, as can be shown by the example of a later king of Gwynedd, called both Catgabail ('battle-shirker') and Cadafael. We may safely assume that the earlier -gabail and the later -afael were essentially the same. Therefore, the Rithergabail of the Historia Brittonum might well be the same as the Rhuddfael of the later medieval pedigrees. We can rule out the both the possibilities that Catigern had a son that was named after the battle in which his father was killed or that the battle was named after the son. Most likely seems to me the probability that the battle crept into the pedigree when it was mistaken for a personal name (e.g. Brydw son of Kadeyrn (who was killed at Rhuddfael) son of Gwrtheyrn, etc). In that case, Catigern is still succeeded by Britu, Pascent and Cadell.
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