Battle Of Badon
to Nennius, the battle of Badon, or Badon Mount, was one of the most successful of the battles fought by Arthur
and the British elders against the Saxons.
in the Red Book of Hergest fixes its chronology 128 years after the age of
The Badonic passage of Gildas' de Excidio Brittania (DEB),
on which this dating is based, reads as follows:
"Ex eo tempore nunc cives, nunc
hostes, vincebant…usque ad annum odsessionis Badonici montis, novissimaque ferme de furceferis non minimae
stragis, quique quadragesimus quartus ut novi orditur annus, mense iam uno
emenso, qui et meae nativitatis est."
The common translation would be:
"After this, sometimes our countrymen, sometimes the enemy, won
the field, … until the year of the siege of Badon
hill, when took place also almost the last, though
not the least slaughter of our cruel enemy, which was (as I
am sure) forty-four years and one month, and also the time of my own
It is widely accepted that Gildas is relating that he was born in the same
year as the siege of Badon, and that he was writing in the second month of the forty-fourth
year since the battle (based upon Mommsen's translation). But Bede
(Historia Ecclesiastica, Book 1, chapter 16, used Gildas work and paraphrased the Badonic passage:
"From that day, sometimes the natives, and sometimes their
enemies, prevailed, till the year of the siege of
Badon hill, when they made no small slaughter of
those invaders, about forty-four years after their arrival
Bede saw 44 years between
Badon and the Adventus Saxonum, the arrival of the Saxons in Britain!
J. A. Giles' Gildas’ edition based his edition of Gildas
on this interpretation:
"After this, sometimes our countrymen, sometimes the enemy,
won the field, to the end that our Lord might this
land try after his accustomed manner these his
Israelites, whether they loved him or not, until the year of the siege
of Bath-hill, when took place also the last almost, though not the least
slaughter of our cruel foes, which was (as I am sure) forty-four years
and one month after the landing of the Saxons, and also the time of
my own nativity."
De la Borderie used Bede’s
assumed dating for the Adventus (449CE)
and dated Badon to 493CE.
G.H. Wheeler dated the Adventus to the last year when dating
by consuls ceased, 473CE. This places Badon in 516CE, which corresponds
with the year assigned by the Annales Cambriae,
whose dating has also been contested.
C.E. Stevens dated the
Adventus to the years 441-2CE, taking the date from the Gallic Chronicles as the year of the Saxon takeover. Badon would
then take place in AD 486.
Nikolay Tolstoy starts at
the Adventus date of 449CE, adding the 12 years mentioned in the
Historia Brittonum between the Adventus and the battle of Guoloph to
arrive at 458CE. Tolstoy dated Badon to 501, 43 years and one month
The date and the victor of the battle will continue to be disputed, but
the potential significance of this battle will keep it in the discussion
of the Arthurian magic.
The feats performed by the hero Arthur,
at the battle of Badon Mount, are celebrated in Drayton's verse.
"They sung how he himself at Badon bore that day,
When at the glorious gole his British scepter lay;
Two daies together how the battel stronglie stood:
Pendragon's worthie son, who waded there in blood,
Three hundred Saxons slew with his owne valiant hand."