The Legend of Vortigern

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More About This Title The Legend of Vortigern


The only modern story of the legendary king who invited the English to Britain and discovered Arthur's mentor, Merlin

The tragedy of King Arthur is one segment of a vast cycle, the "Matter of Britain," stretching across generations of early British kings. Vortigern is central to this cycle. King two generations before Arthur, he opens Britain to the Saxons, ancestors of the modern English. Rising from humble roots, he takes center stage at court in a crisis moment, plays and loses a vicious game of Dark Age power-politics, and is driven into exile in mountain wilderness, there to encounter dragons, demons, prophecy—and a child who turns out to be Merlin. He meets a hauntingly violent end at the hands of Arthur's future father and uncle. Vortigern's is a tale of courage, cowardice, glory and crime, tragedy and treason. He is virtually forgotten by modern readers—until now.


Simon Heywood is a professor of folklore, storytelling, and creative writing who has published research internationally on contemporary storytelling. Fiona Collins is a storyteller who tells the rich tales and legends of Britain in both English and Welsh. She is the author of Denbighshire Folk Tales and the series editor for the Ancient Legends series.