The Historia Regum Britanniae (English: The History of the Kings of Britain) is a pseudohistorical account of British history, written c. 1136 by Geoffrey of Monmouth. It chronicles the lives of the kings of the Britons in a chronological narrative spanning a time of two thousand years, beginning with the Trojans founding the British nation and continuing until the Anglo-Saxons assumed control of much of Britain around the 7th century. It is one of the central pieces of the Matter of Britain.
Credited uncritically well into the 16th century since the 17th century it has been credited with little value as history. When events described, such as Julius Caesar's invasions of Britain, can be corroborated from contemporary histories, Geoffrey's account can be seen to be wildly inaccurate, but is a valuable piece of medieval literature, which contains the earliest known version of the story of King Lear and his three daughters, and introduced non-Welsh-speakers to the legend of King Arthur.
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The Historia itself begins with the Trojan Aeneas, who according to Roman legend settled in Italy after the Trojan War. His great-grandson Brutus is banished, and, after a period of wandering, is directed by the goddess Diana to settle on an island in the western ocean, which he names "Britain" after himself.
The story continues chronologically, taking in such rulers as Bladud, who uses magic and even tries to fly; Leir, who divides his kingdom among his three daughters according to how much they profess to love him, a story which Shakespeare used as the basis of his tragedy King Lear; and Dunvallo Molmutius, who codifies the Molmutine Laws. Dunvallo's sons, Belinus and Brennius, fight a civil war before being reconciled, and proceed to sack Rome (based on the sack of Rome in 390 BC by the Gallic leader Brennus).
Caesar's invasions of Britain are opposed by Cassibelanus. There is a brief notice of a king called Kymbelinus, on whom Shakespeare based his play Cymbeline. Then Claudius invades, opposed by Kymbelinus's sons Guiderius and Arvirargus. The line of British kings continues under Roman rule, and includes Lucius, Britain's first Christian king, and several Roman figures, including the emperor Constantine I, the usurper Allectus and the military commander Asclepiodotus.
After the Romans leave, Vortigern comes to power, and invites the Saxons under Hengist and Horsa to fight for him as mercenaries, but they rise against him, and Britain remains in a state of war under Aurelius Ambrosius and his brother Uther Pendragon, assisted by the wizard Merlin. Uther's son Arthur defeats the Saxons so severely that they cease to be a threat until after his death. In the meantime, Arthur conquers most of northern Europe and ushers in a period of peace and prosperity that lasts until the Roman emperor Lucius Tiberius demands that Britain once again pay tribute to Rome. Arthur defeats Lucius in Gaul, but his nephew Modred seizes the throne in his absence. Arthur returns and kills Modred, but, mortally wounded, he is carried off to the isle of Avalon, and hands the kingdom to his cousin Constantine.