This genealogy is compiled of
both historical and semi-legendary sources. The Roman
part is almost completely attested in historical sources,
the British part is mostly based on non-contemporary
works, such as the Historia Brittonum, Welsh dynastic
lists (e.g. the Pillar of Elise, the Bonedd y Saint, the
Harleian and Jesus College MSS), or the histories of
Tysilio and Geoffrey of Monmouth. For a more complete
review of Vortigern's place in the Welsh pedigrees, see
the pedigrees of East and South Wales.
might be a Welsh version of the Latin name Claudius,
probably Claudius I, the founder, but some authors have
identified him not with the first Emperor, but with the
second - the Emperor Claudius II Gothicus (d.270). (see
also note 3).
Gloiu; probably the eponym for Gloucester (Glevum),
which might indicate that Vortigern's family originated
there. This would make Vortigern a nobleman of the
Dobunni or from Powys. Gloiu was also known as Gloiu
Gwallthir. This later Welsh epithet means of the
long hairs , or horsehair, indicating
that he was a Roman soldier. Gloiu could also be a
version of the Roman personal name Claudius (see note
Gloiu is supposed to have been the father of Vitalinus
and his three brothers, it is also possible that these
brothers were the three missing generations between
Vitalinus and a Gloiu that was the same person as the
Emperor Claudius II Gothicus. But this is purely
speculative. However, the Life of St Gurthiern makes Vortigern the son of Bonus
and the grandson of Gloiu. It is also possible that Vitalinus
was not a brother, but the family name, e.g. Vitalinus
Bonus of Glevum.
lineage is of course purely speculative. Magnus Maximus
was born at about the same time as Crispus and Fausta
were killed, but their son remained lost. If he was
indeed a son of Crispus, Magnus Maximus could have had
one more reason to claim the Imperial title. However, no
source does claim this connection. The speculation is
mentioned here only because of the occurrence of the name
'Fausta' in the generations above Magnus Maximus. This
strengthens the theory that Faustus of Riez was in fact a
son of Vortigern, as the name occurred in the family of
his mother Sevira.
Gloiu may not have been a real person, but simply a
scribal error for 'Vitalinus of Gloucester.'
 The Macsen Wledig of
the Welsh genealogies. He was probably related to
Theodosius I by marriage to a relative, rather than that
he was a relative of the Emperors wife Flavia Aelia
Flacilla. We know of two sons, Constans and Victor, the
latter being co-ruler during Maximus' usurpation. He
probably had at least one daughter (Maxima),
who married Ennodius, Proconsul Africae in 395. British
tradition gives another daughter (Sevira), who married a
man of stature during the same time; Vortigern. Welsh
legend claims other sons, such as Owain (Eugenus) and
Andragathius. He was also supposed to have had another
wife (Helen, daughter of Octavius (Euddav), and he is
made ancestor to many dynastic lineages. Though once a
staunch supporter of Theodosius I, he usurped the throne
in 383 against Gratian, whom he had killed. This angered
Theodosius very much, so that when Maximus lost the
battle of Aquilieia, Theodosius had him executed by Fl.
Oisc (or Aesc) received the Kingdom (from Hengist)
in 488. In this diagram, I have placed a later Hengist
next to an early Vortigern. Traditionally, Vortigern is
placed in the second half of the 5th century.
Both Historia Brittonum and Geoffrey of Monmouth place
him in the first half, while Gildas remains silent. It is
only Bede who has proposed the traditional opinion, which
has been more acceptable since, mostly because of
Bedes strong textual reliance on Gildas. Hengist
may however be known from the Beowulf and the
lost Finnesburgh Fragment. If indeed
identified with that Hengist, this would place him in the
early 5th century as well. This would make
Oisc an older king, but not impossibly old.
 Pillar of Elise.
This is the only source mentioning Vortigern's original
wife, Sevira (or Severa or Servilla). A
marriage between them could be rejected as an attempt to
link the dynasty of Powys with the Emperor Magnus Maximus,
but it might have been historical. We know of another
daughter of Magnus Maximus (Maxima) who was married to a
powerful man (Ennodius, proconsul Africae).
 Historia Brittonum, C.66, and
Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum Bittanniae,
The name of Vitalinus is also connected with Vortigern
in other ways. A Vitalinus is mentioned in C.66 is
fighting an Ambrosius in 437 at the battle of Guoloph.
Likewise, Vortigern is also fighting an Ambrosius (Aurelianus)
in all later sources. Also, Vitalinus is the name of
Vortigerns grandfather or even that of his entire
family (above). When one combines this with the
possibility that the Guithelinus mentioned by Geoffrey of
Monmouth is the same person as Vortigern (below), one may
come to the conclusion that Vortigern is a political name,
taken by a man originally called Vitalinus.
Gwrtheyrn Gwrteneu, Vortigern the Thin; Vortigern
Vorteneu, son of Vitalis, son of Vitalinus, son of Gloiu.
The epithet of Vorteneu, W. Gwrtheneu (Gor-Teneu) means
"Very Thin". This may have referred to his old
Marriage to Rowena (or Renwein or Rhonwen) was
supposed to have been the reason for Vortigern to accede
Kent to the Saxons and the rebellion of his son Vortimer,
according to Geoffrey of Monmouth. Apart from a total
fabrication to explain a forgotten history, a political
arrangement is more likely, whereby Hengist served as a
guard against other military groups, such as other
federates or rival Britons. If we accept the dates of
Hengist and his sons according to the Anglo-Saxon
Chronicle, Rowena must have been very young (However, see
note 7 as well). Geoffrey makes her the sister
 Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum
Guithelinus, archbishop of London, was the leader of the
Britons after the Romans left. No other sources ever
mention him, and he conveniently disappears when
Vortigern enters the story. Though Geoffrey or his
sources clearly did not know of a connection, Guithelinus
or Vitalinus may simply have been Vortigern himself,
before he took that name for political reasons.
of Monmouth, Historia Regum Bittanniae, VI.6.
Geoffrey introduces Vortigern as Dux Gewissei.
These Gewissans (pl.) were probably the same
as the Gewissae around Dorchester-on-Thames,
who later became the West Saxons. Indeed, the Anglo-Saxon
historian Asser uses Gewissei for the West
Saxons. Though Gewis was later seen as the
semi-mythological founder of the dynasty, it remains a
possibility he was in fact the leader of (one of) these
units, which were named after him (a common practice in
the Roman army).
need not have been a militairy commander, for the only
other Dux Gewissei was Octvian, father-in-law
to Magnus Maximus on the British side. The Welsh Bruts
use Gewissei for the territory of Ariconium,
while Asser and Bede use it for the early territory of
Wessex. Maximus was father-in-law to Vortigern, who might
thus have inherited a power-base in South Wales. So, in
that case, Dux might represent local kingship
rather than military command.
We can be fairly certain of Vortigerns ascent in
425. If he was Vitalinus, his ascendancy may even date
back to the events of 410, when the Britons, desperate
after the Rescript of Honorius, trusted him
with their defence. Though he was later called a king,
his title may have been Rex Britanniae. With the revolt
of the federates in 441 he lost his position - his son
Vortimer took it from him, or else it was without real
power, as a Saxon minion.
did Vortigern die? There may have been some duplications
in the stories about Vortigern and Vortimer. Vortimer
originally fought beside his father in the battles after
the Saxon revolt. But after Vortimer's death Vortigern
returned, suffered a final humiliation and disappeared
again. This might be a duplication of Vortigern's actions
or even mistaking Vortigern for Vortimer. It is also
possible that Vortimer reigned after his father, and
actually invited Hengist as a counterforce against the
rebellious federates. In this case the legend is
true, but Vortigern was mistaken for Vortimer. If correct,
Vortigern died shortly after 441 and Vortimer around 455.
III succeeded to the throne when he was only four years
old, and for many years his mother Placidia effectively
ruled the Eastern empire. In the west it was the warlord
Aetius who was sole ruler as Magister Militium, but for
the title of Emperor. When at last the jealousy of
Valentinian got the better of him, he stabbed Aetius for
no reason. He was subsequently murdered by the followers
of Aetius, allegedly organized by Petronius Maximus, but
with his own bodyguard looking on.
Maximus was very probably the great-grandson of the
usurper Magnus Maximus, though he also belonged to the
noble family of the Petronii, who identified themselves
with the Anicii. Petronius was alledgedly responsible for
the death of Valentinian III. After Valentinian had
needlessly executed Petronius former commander
Aetius in 454, it would have been very possible indeed
that Maximus wanted revenge. He usurped the throne on
March 17, 455, only to be killed on May the 31st
of the same year, when he left Rome for Ravenna to seek
refuge from the advancing army of Geiseric. He was
recognized and stoned to death by an angry mob.
 Interestingly, Geiseric was invited to
North Africa by Boniface, the rival of Aetius. He invited
the Vandals, who had been active in Spain for about
twenty years, to support him against rival Roman forces.
This mirrors the actions of Vortigern during the same
period! Also, it mirrors the result of the action - the
loss of the province and the creation of an independent
territory by the former federates.
Brittonum, C.43,44 & 48.
Gwrthefyr Bendigeit: Vortimer the Blessed; his name,
when derived from Vertimorix, means Highest
King, thus claiming a higher authority than
Vortigern. This may be plausible in the light of the
stories of a rebellion against his father (though a
possibility that he was not a son at all remains).
Vortimer is supposed to have fought the Saxons after the
disgrace of Vortigern by Germanus. But we cannot be sure
about the time in which he supposedly deposed his father
after the marriage to Rowena, daughter of Hengist (see
below). In the Life of St Germanus, Vortimer was blessed
by the saint for his opposition to Vortigern. After his
death, he was meant to be buried in Richborough (to ward
off the Saxons), but his followers disobeyed him. His
daughter Modrun became the first of a long line of saints.
Pasgen; ..the third was Pascent, who reigned in the two
provinces Builth and Guorthegirnioun, after the death of
his father. These were granted him by Ambrosius
Cadeyrn: battle-king; the second battle of
Vortimer against the Saxons at Episford, where Catigern and Horsa fell; the Anglo-Saxon
Chronicle records Horsa's death at the battle of
Aylesford in 455. Though acknowledged in the genealogy of
Powys, it remains doubtful if he ever was king.
In a very confusing way it is claimed here that Vortigern
had a fourth son named Faustus, born to him incestiously (as
was Britu) by his own daughter, and who later became
bishop of Riez. This Faustus of Riez is a historical
figure, known to Sidonius Appolinaris as a Briton. Britu
and Faustus were probably the same person, 'Faustus'
being a 'name in Christ'. Since he was bishop from 452
until after 475, he is more likely to have been a son
than a grandson of Vortigern.
Britu is claimed as the son of Sevira and Vortigern, but
also as the son, brother and even grandson of Catigern: Jesus
College XX.16. There may have been a mixup
leading to the charges of incest, that Vortigern had a son by his
own daughter, as is also claimed of Faustus. The Britu
that succeeds Catigern as king of Powys in most pedigrees
might also have been the Britu map Vortigern from the Pillar
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/Ritergabail, he left no heir, after
which his brother succeeded him. Britu might have
perished in the chaos 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. Britu has been made a
grandson of Catigern through a 'son' called Ruddfael.
This last one seems very much like an interpolation,
based upon a misconception of the name of Catigern's last battle.
life of St. Patrick
Scotnoe is described as a British wife of Fedelmid, son
of the Irish High King Loiguire. Her father is described
as King of Britain, so it can at least be
assumed that Foirtgirn was named after his grandfather,
Vortigern. The Book of Armagh makes Scotnoe the grandmother
of Foirtgirn, probably due to some confusion about the
fact that Loiguire also had a British wife.
Gwent. Ynyr is a later Welsh transcription of the
common name Honorius, very fitting for a late-Roman style
ruler in the civitas of Venta Silurum during the days of
Emperor Honorius III. His brother and his descendants
became the rulers of Gwent for 700 years.
 Bonedd y Saint
According to one text (B, followed by G), Vortimer's
daughter Modrun was married to Ynyr Gwent. Her daughter
became confused with the Winefred legend.
another form of Battle-King(Rigo-cathos).
he was able to converse with Lomman (around 440) in the
British language, he was probably born about 430.
attested in the Historia Brittonum § 49, against
Harleian MS 3859.27.
 Gwrtheyrnion or Vortigerniana,
land of Vortigern
Chronicle, ed. and trans. M. Swanton, (London
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