(Sapiens [“The Wise”], Badonicus)
(ca. 500–ca. 570)
   Gildas was the author of De excidio et conquestu Britanniae (ca. 540), that is, “The ruin and conquest of Britain,” the earliest historical account of the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain.His work was used as a source by both BEDE and ALCUIN. Tradition says that Gildas was the son of a British chief from the area of Clyde (now in Scotland), and that he attended a Welsh school founded by St. Illtud. He was certainly a cleric, probably a monk. According to the later historian William of Malmsbury, Gildas spent some time in the community at Glastonbury. He is also reputed to have later founded the monastery of Rhuys in Brittany. The Welsh Annals place his death about 570. His purpose in writing De excidio was not historical but moral: He condemns, in the strongest language, the five petty kings of the Britain of his time, and implies that the Saxon conquest was divine retribution for their sins. At the same time he condemns the priests of his time for sloth and simony. But Gildas is important particularly for contributions to the preservation of the legend of King ARTHUR: His text describes the utter defeat of the Britons by the Saxons, until the rise of a British hero named Ambrosius Aurelianus, whom Gildas calls a “moderate man”who had survived from the Roman nation. This Ambrosius Aurelianus, according to Gildas, rallied the Britons and led them in victorious battle against the Saxons. The 26th chapter of De excidio also describes the Battle of Mount Badon, in which the “hangdog” Saxons were defeated utterly. Gildas says that this battle took place the year of his birth, 44 years earlier (giving him the surname Badonicus). Gildas never mentions Arthur by name. One might conclude that this is evidence that there was, in fact, no historical Arthur. The mention of the Battle of Mount Badon, however, is made without any mention of the leader of the British forces. Welsh tradition has always associated Mount Badon with Arthur. It is possible that Gildas, whose purpose was not historical but moral, doesn’t mention Arthur because he simply knows that all of his readers know who the hero of Mount Badon is. In ca. 1130, another Welshman, Caradoc of Llancarfan, wrote a life of Gildas that explains the omission: According to this saint’s life, Gildas’s brother, Hueil, was a rebel put to death by Arthur. Gildas became Arthur’s enemy, but the two were later reconciled. According to the historian GIRALDUS CAMBRENSIS, Gildas originally had written about Arthur, but destroyed those sections of De excidio after Hueil’s death. There is no evidence that Caradoc’s life is anything but legend.
   ■ Alcock, Leslie. Arthur’s Britain. London: Penguin, 1971.
   ■ Brengle, Richard L. Arthur King of Britain: History, Chronicle, Romance, and Criticism. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1964.

Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.

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  • Gildas — (* wohl um 510; † um 570), auch Gildas der Weise, war ein herausragender Vertreter des keltischen Christentums in Britannien, berühmt für seine Bildung und seinen relativ guten literarischen Stil. Er war Priester und wollte das… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • GILDAS — cogn. Sapiens, Abbas Anglus, scripsit Ep. de ruina M. Britanniae, Item de luxu Cleri. Obiit A. C. 570. Alias quoque Badonicus dictus. Eo antiquior fuit Gildas dictus Albanicus, qui obiit A. C. 512. Item, Benedictinus Anglus, plurima scripsit.… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Gildas — Nom de personne breton, assez rare comme nom de famille (surtout porté en Guadeloupe). Variantes : Gueltas, Guédas. Latinisé en Gildasius, il a été popularisé par un saint écossais du VIe siècle. Etymologie incertaine, peut être un terme ayant le …   Noms de famille

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  • Gildas, S. (1) — 1S. Gildas (Gildasius), Abb. (29. Jan. al. 11. Mai, 10. Juli). Dieser hl. Gildas, Abt von Rhuys im Bisthum Vannes (Veneti) in der Bretagne, mit dem Beinamen »der Weise«, ist ein im Alterthum hochberühmter Mann, über dessen Leben jedoch manches… …   Vollständiges Heiligen-Lexikon

  • Gildas — (c. 500 570)    A monk and Briton whose history of the Anglo Saxon invasions of England is the only substantial contemporary account of the fall of late Roman Britain to the invading barbarians. His history is also the earliest source for the… …   Encyclopedia of Barbarian Europe

  • Gildas — ▪ British historian also spelled  Gildus   died 570?       British historian of the 6th century. A monk, he founded a monastery in Brittany known after him as St. Gildas de Rhuys. His De excidio et conquestu Britanniae (“The Overthrow and… …   Universalium

  • Gildas — (ou Gweltaz) (29 janvier) Gildas le Sage (ou Badonicus), né vers 510 (493) à Dumbarton, sur les bords de la Clyde, élève au monastère de Llancarvan, en Pays de Galles, avec les futurs saints Pol de Léon, Samson de Dol et Lunaire, prêtre en 518.… …   Dictionnaire des saints