Vortigern Studies

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Welcome to Vortigern Studies!

Vortigern Studies has the internet's most comprehensive treatment of Britain's history from the end of the Roman era to Arthurian times. Edited by Robert M. Vermaat, this unique website focuses primarily on the person of Vortigern and the enigmatic earthwork called Wansdyke. It features narrative histories, original source documents and important texts, extensive bibliographies, reading lists, informative articles by guest writers, maps, polls and more.

Vortigern Studies Index



Welcome and Greetings!

You have reached the Vortigern Homepage, which is the part of the Vortigern Studies Website which is solely dedicated to the study of Vortigern. Vortigern? Who was he to deserve to be the subject of a study? Vortigern (c. AD 370x450) lived in the years after the Roman Empire in Britain had ended, and before the Saxons came to conquer the island. In fact he is the man (made) responsible for disastrously inviting the Anglo-Saxons into Britain in the fifth century!

You remember? Those familiar with the legends of King Arthur will have recognised him by now. Yes, he was the old tyrannical king that sent for the young Merlin to be sacrificed, so that his tower would no longer collapse... The one with those fighting dragons, a red and a white one. This legend, though probably totally untrue, is the main reason why we still even remember Vortigern, with the tale playing a large role in both Arthurian legend and the founding of Wales as a nation. So why should anyone would want to study this evil king? The answer is simple - he was not such a bad king to begin with. In fact, his reputation is largely due to a bad press in later times.

To establish the value of historical his background, Vortigern Studies looks at all we know of Vortigern and his place in the Dark Ages, e.g. the sources, Vortigern's family, the places that Vortigern is connected to and the legends around his person. Another interesting field of study is connected with that famous legend we mentioned above - Vortigern's cities. On the run for his persecutors, he fled through Wales, building cities and forts on the way, where he tried to take refuge. Wales is filled with these places, and we take a closer look at each of them.

We also like to offer you as much source-material as possible under copyright regulations. This means making available at this site the actual texts or those parts dealing with Vortigern, but also images, poems and other parts of the arts as well. A good discussion is also possible, and apart from offering opinions about Vortigern's position in history through articles, there is the messageboard, and a good deal of guest-articles offer different opinions as well.

Two major supporting fields for Vortigern Studies are the sources and archaeology. These sources are the works of contemporary and medieval historians and chroniclers, but also those of later times, up to the 15th century. Archaeology will also receive a good deal of attention, but this will be limited to the findings from the Late Roman period to the Early Dark Ages, i.e. the fifth century.

This study is backed up by a large Bibliography, which is made up of articles, translations of the sources and books, some of which are available from our associate bookshop, Amazon.com.

The SourcesThe Sources
Starting with the late 4th century, all Late Classical to dark Age and Medieval sources that concern either Britain or Vortigern are dealt with. The Gallic Chronicles, Gildas, Bede, Geoffrey of Monmouth and many more.

Who was the real VortigernWho was Vortigern?
Meet the real character behind the fictional villain. What was he before he became king? Was he really called 'Vortigern'? How did he die?

The Family of VortigernThe Family of Vortigern
Who were his children, and how many? Did he have a Roman Emperor for a father- in-law? See the complete genealogy from Roman times down to the Middle Ages.

The 'Cities' of VortigernThe Cities of Vortigern
Where is the real 'City of Vortigern'? How many did he build? The myth of Dinas Emrys.

The Realm of VortigernThe Realm of Vortigern
Where was Vortigern's true grave? Where did Vortigern rule? His lands may have strechted across Wales and the Midlands.

History and TextsHistory and Texts
Can we take the sources at face value? What texts should be disregarded, what seen as real history? Also, translations from texts about Vortigern from Gildas, Bede, 'Nennius' and more.

Art and LiteratureArt and Literature
Vortigern is almost unknown in art when compared to, say Merlin or Arthur. But there are still some works of art in which he appears, like in paintings and poetry.

Articles by several authors on varying subjects that augment the other articles on this site. Some of these have appeared elsewhere, others are completely new.

VortigernStudies is copyright Robert Vermaat 1999-2008. All rights reserved