Memorandum of The Five Poets

” Ida son of Eobba held the kingdoms in the Northern part of Britain, that is the Humber Sea, and he ruled twelve years, and he joined Bamburgh to Brynaich. Then Eudeyrn at that time was bravely fighting against the English (Anglian) people. Then Talhaern Tad Awen (father of poetic inspiration) was renowned in poetry, and Aneirin, and Taliesin, and Blwchfardd, and Cain who was called ‘wheat of Prophetic Verse’, were at the same time famous in Brythonic poetry. Maelgwn the great king was ruling among the Britons, that is, in the kingdom of Gwynedd.

6th century foundation legend for the origin of Welsh poetry. It’s written a few centuries later in the Historia Brittonum. Out of the five poets, a body of potentially 6th century verse does survive which is attributed to Taliesin and Aneirin.

Both the poets are associated not with what we know to be Wales today but Northern England for Taliesin and Southern Scotland for Aneirin. Welsh history and memory of the past in the later middle ages took as its horizon these Northern British kingdoms.

Look at one of the earliest surviving historical documents for Britain, a polemic sermon on its Ruin written by Gildas and see what he has to say both about poetry and Maelgwn.

What makes historians suspicious of the Memorandum of the five poets, is that it has synchronized Maelgwn and Taliesin in the same time- frame. The Historia Brittonum, was treated as historically accurate  as the author stated that he had ‘heaped together all he had found.’ This was taken to mean he had gathered a series of older historical sources and served them raw, what we now know is that he synchronized data to present a particular historical time- frame.

It may not be authentic history but it is how the Welsh remembered the past and its lost realms in the middle ages.

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