Search Britannia

BRITANNIA GATEWAYS
History | Travel
EBK | British Life
 Shop Britannia

History Quicklist

Pitkin Guides



Discussion of the Sub-Roman Character of Ambrosius, Part 4
by Michael Veprauskas


GENERATIONS OF
AMBROSIUS
Descendants of Aurelius Ambrosius Aurelianus 

A very curious feature of Nennius' History Brittonum, and of all prior and subsequent British and Welsh historical records, is what they all lack - a detailed genealogy of the Ambrosii.  Vortigern's descent is traced some 12 or more generations by Nennius.22  The kingdoms established by his various son's are recorded for many more.  Nennius records many genealogies of the neighboring Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, and an appendix to the most well preserved manuscript of the Historia Brittonum,  the Harleian #3859, contains many more British and Welsh genealogies.  Should not Ambrosius, a man who received both a benevolent nod from Gildas and the praise of Nennius have been awarded this  basic recognition?  Why is there no genealogy of the individual who was instrumental in salvaging the British Celtic nation; one who was both a Christian and a defender of the faith?  One possibility previously mentioned is that he was an import from the patrician class of the Roman Empire.  He had no British ancestral roots for the genealogists to draw upon.  Another is that his subsequent generations apparently failed to thrive.

In Gildas' eyes, Ambrosius' descendants were somewhat degenerate.  It appears that neither his sons or grandsons achieved any form of High-Kingship in Britain.  At the time of Gildas' writing, Maeglwn of Gwynedd was paramount among the British Kings, and probably acquired this title at the time of  his ascent c.520.  The era between Ambrosius Aurelianus and Maeglwn saw the flowering of a certain "tyrannus".  In all likelihood, Ambrosius' heirs merely maintained small kingdoms in the southern and  midland parts of Britain. Several of these may have been centred around surviving Roman Civitates such as Silchester, Old Sarum, and St. Albans (See Map).  These kingdoms continued beyond the time of Gildas' De Excidio Brittaniae, some well into the second half of the sixth century.   They have left no written record of their achievements,  reigns of their princes and kings; nor was the bardic tradition active here to preserve deeds for later posterity.  Had their names and exploits been of sufficient magnitude, they most likely would had been recorded/preserved  in the Welsh heroic tradition.

Special note of thanks to David Nash Ford of the "Early British Kingdoms" web site,  for his patience, support and helpful suggestions.  His knowledge of obscure references was especially valuable in completing this work.

Next: Generations of Ambrosius Appendix

Footnotes:

  1. Nennius, Historia Brittonum, section #49.

  Britannia.com    Copyright 1998 Britannia.com, LLC