Brut

by Layamon

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

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).

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.

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