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|Vortigern Studies > Vortigern > The Family of Vortigern > Gloiu|
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Gloiu is given in most pedigrees as the great-grandfather of Vortigern. But was he a real person or just an eponym of the city of Gloucester?
The name of Gloiu, or Gloyw Wallt Hir ('Gloiu Long-hair') first appears in the Historia Brittonum, where he is the ancestor of Vortigern:
Historia Brittonum, chapter 49
Gloiu was the father of Guitolin, whose name can be a Welsh version of either Vitalinus or Vitalianus. In Jesus College MS 20 he is called Gloyw gwalltir, father of Gwdoleu. This has given rise to a theory that the ancestors of Vortigern were Irish, for an ancient name for the Irish is Gwyddyl (Goidelic). However, this is not reconcilable with the earliest version of the names in the Historia Brittonum, which are clearly derived from Latin Roman names. What's more, the brothers of Guitolin were Bonus, Paul and Mauron, have names which are also perfectly Roman.
Vita sancta Gurthigierni
In this pedigree (which uniquely gives both paternal and maternal ancestors of Gurthiern, the saint (who appers to be identified with none other than Vortigern!) is the son of Bonus and the grandson of Glo(i)u.
Unfortunately, this pedigree is useless, for it was in all likelyhood stolen from other work, and compiled at a much later date. In my article about the Life of St Gurthiern, I go deeper into the connection between Vortigern and the material about St Kentigern, who supplied the genealogical material for St Gurthierns maternal ancestors. I have attempted to deal some more with these connections between Gurthiern and Vortigern, St Kentigern, Lailoken/Merlin and others in some more detail in Saints on the move and More saints on the move.
So, what about the pedigree found in the Life of St. Gurthiern? As his mother's (not unique, but rare) pedigree is evidently copied from that of St. Kentigern, what about his father's? It would be naive to suppose that Gurthiern had anything to do with the real Vortigern, other than perhaps sharing his name. Therefore, it may be supposed that the male pedigree was also copied from some source about Vortigern. Not the Historia Brittonum, apparently (for this gives a different pedigree), although a lost, different version might be possible. Bonus, here the father of Gurthiern, occurs in the Historia Brittonum as the brother of Vitalinus and the grandfather of Vortigern (instead of his father in the Life of St. Gurthiern) and might therefore belong to a lost version of the pedigree of Vortigern.
Later medieval commentators, however, had other ideas and fantasies. Geoffrey of Monmouth ascribed the foundation to the first emperor Claudius, from whom it received its name Kaerglou. However, Geoffrey also mentioned an alternative, where it was a son of this Claudius, Gloius, who really gave the city its name. Brut Brenhinedd went one further, and merged both names, as it called Claudius Gloyw or even Gloyw Cesar. Brut Dingestow and the Red Book Brut give the alternative that Geoffrey provided, but they substituted Gloius for Gloyw Gwlad Lydan.
This was, however, very similar to the name Gloyw Wallt Lydan ('Gloyw of the Abundant Hair'), who was a legendary figure, sometimes the son of Casnar Wledig, sometimes father of Gwyn Gohoyw and sometimes grandfather of Cigfa, wife of Pwyll in the Mabinogi branch of the same name. However, he also appears in some Powys genealogies as Gloyw Gwlad Lydan ('Gloyw of the Broad Country'), the father of Casnar Wledig, but in the Bonedd y Saint he is the grandson of Casnar Wledig and the father of Gwyn Gohoyw. Though the identification of both men is therefore clearly wrong, their mutual connection with Powys may be accepted as a good enough reason to accept Gloyw being a person based on a Powysian source.
Recently, this misidentification received a new life, when Gloiu was identified with the second Claudius, the Roman Emperor Claudius II Gothicus (Augustus AD 268-70) in the book by Gilbert, Wilson and Blackett. This identification can only be explained by a mistake in the translation of Gwlad Lydan, which was wrongly translated with 'of the Broad Walls'. The authors stated that the 'Claudius' remembered in Gloiu signified not the foundation, but the building of the city walls. Considering the medieval tenacity in which Gloyw and Claudius were connected, there might still be a possiblity that this identification could be correct. The amount of generations between 'Claudius/Gloiu' and Vitalinus would also be acceptable. Unfortunately, no direct proof of this exists, so the theory must remain just that.
It may even be a real possiblity that the 'brothers' of Vitalinus were his ancestors, as may be concluded from the different version in the Life of St Gurthiern. This would make Bonus the head of the family (atavus), with Paul and Mauron (proavus) the generations before Vitalinus, who then remains the fourth-century grandfather of Vortigern. Anyway, the best explanation for Gloiu still is a purely eponymous legend, which denoted the connection of the family of Vortigern to Gloucester.
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