Characters

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 219

The character's in Layamon's Brut, a famous Middle English poem of roughly 17,000 lines, overlap with those of several other well-known works of the Middle Ages, such as Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Brittaniae ("History of the Kings of Britain," c. 1136), as well as Roman de Brut by the Norman poet, Wace (c. 1150).

Illustration of PDF document

Download Brut Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Layamon's Brut is thought to have been completed in the early 13th century, owing to a reference to the late Eleanor of Aquitane. There are countless characters, as the work is an episodic chronicle of kings; however, several stand out for their historical importance or legacy.

The principle section by volume (approx. 8,000) treats King Arthur and his company of characters, such as the wizard, Merlin; Arthur's father, Uther; his enemy, Modred; and his wife, Guinevere.

The story begins with the title character, Brutus, a descendant of Aeneas (of Trojan war fame). The story then chronicles Brutus' travels around the Mediterranean to the British isles, alongside other Trojans. Britain is, according to Layamon, named for Brutus, as he led the Trojans in battle against the indigenous giants.

The series of kings listed thereafter include famous names like King Lear, Cymbeline, and (the last in the novel) King Cadwallader (685-682 CE), who is notionally (according to Brut and other legends) the last king in the same line as Brutus.

Characters Discussed

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 802

Aeneas

Aeneas (ee-NEE-uhs), the Trojan hero, legendary ancestor of the ancient rulers of Britain.

Ascanius

Ascanius (as-KAY-nee-uhs), his son.

Brutus

Brutus (BREW-tuhs), his grandson, who colonizes Britain with a group of Trojan descendants. Brave and generous to his followers, he is an ideal leader in the tradition of Beowulf.

Assaracus

Assaracus, the heir of a Greek knight and his Trojan concubine. He is Brutus’ companion and military aide.

Corineus

Corineus, the ruler of a Trojan colony in Spain and, later, of Cornwall. He is a man of violent temper and great bravery.

Geomagog

Geomagog, the giant who rules Logice, the island where Brutus lands.

Locrin

Locrin, Brutus’ successor, who brings chaos upon his country by repudiating his wife, Corineus’ daughter, for his mistress, a maiden of his enemies, the Huns.

Camber

Camber and

Albanact

Albanact, his brothers, rulers of Wales and Scotland.

Humber

Humber, the king of the Huns, defeated by Locrin and Camber.

Aestrild

Aestrild, Locrin’s mistress.

Guendoline

Guendoline, Locrin’s rejected queen, who raises an army to defeat her husband and kill her rival.

Leil

Leil, a monarch who dies of sorrow at the uprising of his barons.

Ruhhudibras

Ruhhudibras, the founder of Winchester and Canterbury.

Bladud

Bladud, his heir, whose discovery of hot springs is considered evidence of his consultation with devils.

Leir

Leir, the legendary original of William Shakespeare’s Lear. He divides his kingdom between two of his daughters but rejects the third for her refusal to flatter him. After suffering persecution from the elder two, he is happily reunited with his youngest child.

Gornuille

Gornuille,

Ragun

Ragun, and

Cordoille

Cordoille, his daughters.

Aganippus

Aganippus, the king of France, Cordoille’s husband.

Gorbodiago

Gorbodiago, a good king, the model of the title figure in Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville’sGorboduc (1565).

Fereus

Fereus and

Poreus

Poreus, his sons, murdered and murderer.

Jadon

Jadon, their mother, who takes Poreus’ life to avenge his killing of Fereus.

Cloten

Cloten, the duke of Cornwall, the man with the greatest right to Gorbodiago’s throne. He lacks wealth and power to claim it.

Donwallo Molinus

Donwallo Molinus, his son, the fairest king of England, who brings peace, quiet, and good laws to his people.

Belen

Belen and

Brennes

Brennes, brothers and joint rulers. They conduct successful campaigns against Scandinavian and Roman forces.

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar and

Claudius

Claudius, Roman emperors and rulers of Britain.

Luces

Luces, the just monarch in whose reign Christianity reaches England.

Asclepidiot

Asclepidiot, the ruler who expels the Romans.

Helen

Helen, the daughter of Coel, king of Britain, and Constantine’s mother, who discovers the Cross of Christ in Jerusalem.

Constantine

Constantine, her son, who reigns in Britain and expels the tyrant Maxenz from Rome.

Vortiger

Vortiger, a powerful earl, controller of half of Wales. To acquire power, he instigates a plot to place on the throne his king’s son Constance, who is a monk and is therefore ineligible to rule.

Constance

Constance, a weak king.

Uther

Uther, his brother, a fine warrior who, before he becomes king, defeats both the Irish and the invading heathens under Hengest.

Hengest

Hengest, the leader of the Germanic tribes who joins Vortiger’s court at his own request.

Vortimer

Vortimer, Vortiger’s son and heir, a Christian ruler who tries to expel Hengest.

Merlin

Merlin, a magician, “son of no man,” who serves as counselor to Uther and Arthur.

Ygaerne

Ygaerne, the wife of Gorlois, earl of Cornwall. Uther desires her.

Arthur

Arthur, the son of Uther and Ygaerne, recalled from his home in Brittany to be a wise and generous king of England and sworn enemy to the Saxon invaders. A fierce warrior, he extends his conquests to Rome itself. Mortally wounded in battle against his treacherous nephew, Modred, he departs for Avalon to be healed by the fairy queen, promising to return.

Wenhavere

Wenhavere (Guinevere), his queen. She betrays him with Modred and retreats to a nunnery after her lover’s defeat.

Walwain

Walwain (Gawain), Arthur’s nephew, a noble, virtuous knight, prototype of the hero of Pearl-Poet’s Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (fourteenth century), who is debased in Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur (1485).

Kay

Kay, one of Arthur’s trusted knights.

Beduer

Beduer (Bedivere), Arthur’s steward and another of his favorite knights.

Modred

Modred, Walwain’s treacherous brother.

Luces

Luces, the Roman emperor killed by Arthur after he had demanded tribute from the British.

Austin

Austin, a priest sent, years later, to introduce Christianity into Britain a second time.

Æthelbert

Æthelbert, his royal convert.

Aeluric

Aeluric, his enemy, a Northumbrian king.

Penda

Penda, the king of Marcia, who treacherously murders the son of his ally, King Edwine.

Cadwalader

Cadwalader, the last of the British kings, beset by plague and famine.

Athelstan

Athelstan, the first English king of all England.

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-hour free trial
Previous

Summary

Next

Themes