King Arthur

The Grail Cypher: A radical reassessment of Arthurian history

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Walter Kayo sat at his desk in the scriptorium, the cold chill of winter half broken by a flickering fire in the hearth. The velum page before him was still not finished, yet already his eyes felt heavy and refused to focus. As he dipped his quill to begin the final paragraph there was a commotion outside, accompanied by the tramp of heavy boots. Three burly men strode in bearing armor and arms, their white mantles emblazoned with large splayed red crosses. They introduced themselves as being ambassadors of King Baldwin of Jerusalem, and deposited a large manuscript on his desk.    

Kayo wafted away the large cloud of dust they had disturbed, and looked balefully at the enormous volume before him. He had no idea what it was about, but it obviously meant a lot more work for his small understaffed scriptorium. The officer in charge pointed to some marked pages, so Kayo hefted the manuscript open and started to slowly read. But the text was old, tattered, often illegible, and in Aramaic, which was not his favorite language. Half way down the page his eyes started to widen and his jaw took it upon itself to drop down. He looked up bearing an expression that clearly stated: “what the hell is this!”              

The officer understood Kayo’s perplexion and returned a wry smile, which was reinforced by muffled laughter from the two soldiers behind. The officer approached more closely, disturbing some sheaves on the desk and creating another cloud of dust. He lowered his voice to a whisper and said: “King Baldwin wants you to turn this into an interesting story.” Kayo’s jaw was now beyond control, but he managed a small nod in acknowledgement.  

Count Baldwin liberates Christian Edessa from Muslim control, during the First Crusade

Count Baldwin liberates Christian Edessa from Muslim control, during the First Crusade. Public domain.

Historical crossword 

The story of King Arthur and his gallant knights that this semi-mythical Walter Kayo eventually crafted is complex, frustrating and fraught with contradictions and impossibilities. In the hands of subsequent Arthurian authors it became a compilation of two histories blended together in such a clumsy manner that it betrays confusion in both its broad outline and finer detail.

Very few of the names and events recorded in these chronicles exist in the historical record, and so the text represents a huge historical crossword puzzle that is almost impossible to crack. But how can we derive an answer for two-down in this puzzle, if we have not discovered the solution for five-across? That is the central problem that has faced all previous researchers of Arthurian history, because starting this decipherment is next to impossible. Happily, Tyche-Fortuna has smiled upon these endeavors, because the previous historical analysis in the King Jesus Trilogy has already answered the question for five-across, and so we can now confidently begin to fill in the rest of the crossword. And the result will be a latticework of answers and conclusions that will be both controversial and challenging.       

Arthurian history is traditionally set in the fifth or sixth centuries, the era of the Dark Ages. This is a period in British history that is not simply ‘dark’ because of an economic and social collapse following the decline and fall of the Western Roman Empire, it is also ‘dark’ because it lacks any historical records. This makes it difficult to decipher what was happening in this era, and it is this lacuna in British history that has enabled the life of King Arthur to remain enigmatic and semi-legendary for so long. Had Arthur been a king of the fourth or ninth centuries, we could easily have determined if these legends were fact or fiction, but Arthur has managed to slip into a historical crevasse where there are many known unknowns and several unknown unknowns.        

But this simple observation is interesting, and begs two obvious questions. Did a real King Arthur become semi-legendary simply because he lived in a Dark Age era of historical phantoms? Or did a mythical King Arthur get deliberately placed into this historical lacuna, because Walter Kayo and the other 12th and 13th century scribes and chroniclers knew that they could hide a semi-fictional legend in the poorly documented confusion of the Dark Ages?

The earliest known image of King Arthur - on Modena Cathedral in Italy

The earliest known image of King Arthur - on Modena Cathedral in Italy. Credit: Ralph Ellis

British emperors

At the end of the Western Roman Empire there were two revolts against Rome organized by strong leaders who were based in or came from Britain. The first of these was Magnus Maximus of the late fourth century, and then there was Constantine III in the early fifth century. Both of these ‘British’ kings became emperor of Rome for a short while, but their revolts ultimately failed and they were executed.           



very interesting

I thought they actually discovered artifacts proving king Arthur was a Briton fighting the anglo-saxon invaders/settlers in England.

Maybe the writers mixed in the two stories to make it more complete. King Arthur was a very unknown person so adding Jesus attributes and his life would make it more relateable to the catholic monarchs.

There is no evidence at all, to connect this mention of an Arthur with the classical King Arthur. There is no description whatsoever, of Arthur's famous court.

There are a few odd mentions of a warrior Arthur in pre-12th century texts. These, I believe, are mentions of Hercules. The birth of King Arthur is the same as Hercules, as is his twelve battles or labours. So these odd mentions of an Arthur warrior are merely Herculean hero figures.


You have to remember that the full spectrum of Arthurian history is not the same as you have been taught.

The primary character in most of these manuscripts is Joseph of Arimathaea (ie: a 1st century story).

'High History' and 'Merlin Grail' have Joseph of Arimathaea as the great uncle of Sir Perceval Galahad (ie: a 1st century story).

'High History' and 'History of the Grail' say that the primary author of Arthurian history was Josephus Flavius (ie: a 1st century story).

Eschenbach's 'Parzival' starts its story with the father of Sir Perceval in Babylon, and becoming a king of that region.

'History of the Grail' has Galahad in Palmyra, and the king of Palmyra was the son of Jesus.

This text also has St Peter as the Guardian of the Holy Grail.

This text also demonstrates that the Gospels mention the Holy Grail.

And so it goes on. Arthurian history is not all it seems….

The Grail Cypher.

Justbod's picture

Very interesting article and ideas. Whatever the truth about any ‘original’ King Arthur, I feel that the fact that the ‘legend’ has sparked so much debate and fueled the imagination of so many generations of people is a positive thing in itself, leading to much further thought and ideas.

Many thanks for the article!


Sculptures, carvings & artwork inspired by a love of history & nature:




Two words: Alan Rufus.

With his brother Brian, Alan led the Bretons at the Battle of Hastings. The 12th century writers Gaimar and Wace attribute the victory principally to the prowess of Alan and his men.

Alan led the Norman Rearguard, and commanded William the Conqueror's bodyguard, his household knights.

Alan's father, Eudon, Lord of Brittany (c.999-1079), contributed over a third of William's army and receives a cameo in the Norman French version of the "Song of Roland".

Eudon assumed the title "Penteur" (Head of the Clan"). Eudon was a maternal first cousin to King Edward the Confessor and could, had he wished, have claimed the throne of England in his own right as the previous king's closest living male relative and as a male-line descendant of ancient kings of Britain.


Arthur's name is an abbreviation of Arcturus, the brightest star in the northern hemisphere, which the 2nd century geographer and astronomer Claudius Ptolemy described as "subrufus" (somewhat red).

Now compare:

Arthur/Arcturus "subrufus" vs Alan Rufus

Arthur's father Uther Pendragon with Alan's father Eudon Penteur.

Uther's elder brother Ambrosius Aurelianus, High King of the Britons, with Eudon's eldest brother Alan III, Duke of Brittany and Guardian of Normandy.

"Arcturus" is Greek and means "Protector of the Bear". Alan Rufus was the Protector of William the Conqueror (William = Wilhelm = "Wants a Helm", "Helm" symbolises Protection).

Alan led armies in many battles up and down the length of England, and in France as well, quashing almost every foe. In the one exception, the epic Siege of Sainte-Suzanne, where King William abandoned his own bodyguard, leaving them to continue the siege against the impregnable castle alone, while fending off an endless stream of the most ambitious knights of France for three years (!), the conflict was resolved by (probably Alan's) diplomacy to mutual satisfaction.

Alan died on 4 August, probably in 1093, but almost certainly before the First Crusade. He was buried at the Abbey of St Edmund in Suffolk by Abbot Baldwin, physician to both Edward the Confessor and William the Conqueror.

Anselm of Canterbury wrote two angry letters to Gunhild, daughter of the late King Harold Godwinson, berating her for giving up her (supposed) vocation as a nun at Wilton Abbey to be, first, with Alan Rufus, and after his death, with his brother Alan Niger. (My personal opinion is that Anselm got it wrong, that Alan was Gunhild's guardian, and this is why Anselm removed his copies of those letters from his archive.)

Therein is also the genesis of the Lancelot-Guinevere story: the greatest Breton knight has an (alleged) affair with a royal lady and this is associated with the fall of a kingdom.

It's almost a mirror-image of the Arthurian tale: Lancelot caused the destruction of a British Kingdom, paving the way for Saxon domination; whereas Alan's efforts caused the destruction of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom, and he gained the lands of Harold's wife Edith the Fair (who may have been a niece of King Edward's) and the love of Harold's and Edith's daughter.

Alan's epitaph gives further support for this comparison. It's in Leonine Hexameter and runs:

1 Stella ruit regni: comitis caro marcet Alani.
2 Anglia turbatur: satraparum flos cineratur.
3 Iam Brito flos regum: modo marcor in ordine rerum.
4 Praecepto legum: nitet ortus sanguine regum.
5 Dux uiguit summus: rutilans a rege secundus.
6 Hunc cernens plora: « requies sibi sit, deus » ora.
7 Vixit nobilium: praefulgens stirpe Brittonum.

Note the first three words of line 1: "A star of the kingdom falls in violent ruin". (Arcturus?)
Observe also how many times Alan's royal pedigree is stated.
Line 3a: "The flower of the Kings of Britain".
5a: "Dux" is Arthur's title as commander of the British armies.
5b: "Rutilans" means "shining with a reddish-golden glow". There's a hint of Ambrosius Aurelianus and a strong claim to Roman heritage here: Julius Caesar's mother was Aurelia Cotta of the clan of the Aurelii, and her mother was Rutilia of the clan Rutilius Rufus. (There's that adjective Rufus again.)
Line 7 emphasises Alan's "noble and shining British ancestry".
Line 2b calls Alan "the flower of the magnates", but uses a word deriving from the Persian for a regional governor. This may be a reference to Alan's Iranian ancestors, the Alans, for whom he was named. The Alans had merged with the Britons in both Brittany and Galicia after both nations helped the Romans and Visigoths to defeat Attila the Hun in 451.

Alan managed to reconcile with the local populations, Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Danish, Cumbrian and others, and actually promoted them instead of Normans. After Easter in 1088 this came to a head when the Norman barons rebelled en masse, only to be comprehensively defeated by Alan's Breton knights in alliance with the local church and people. A fleet from Normandy was also destroyed.

In late January 1091, Alan was at Dover with William II just days before the launch of a successful "English" invasion of Normandy.

Alan's legacy included the return of the British exiles, the strengthening of the English army and navy, the development of great ports, enrichment of the nation, the abolition of the Danegeld.

No wonder that "Anglia turbatur" ("England was distraught") at Alan's death "without offspring of his body".

But they needn't have despaired, for his heirs included the man (William de Tancarville) who trained and knighted William Marshall, as well as the people who opposed King John and so inspired the Robin Hood stories as well as those (alongside the Marshall) who endeavoured to restrain him with wise counsel, countless great heroes and reformers through the centuries (including the courageous Dukes of Brittany), and even some of the USA's political, legal and commercial giants.

Thanks for that. An interesting idea. It would make an interesting story for Ancient Origins.


This was supposed to be a 6th century history, not a 11th century history.

Arthur was named after Ursa Major, not Arcturus. We know this because he had twelve knights, and the only constellation with twelve sons-knights-disciples is Ursa Major.

Arthur's father was called Ben Dragown, not Pendragon.

Helm means 'steerman' or 'navigator'. Hense the Williams were the first of the Priory de Scion Nautoniers - the helmsmen that giuded society.

Ambrosius Aurelianus was the son of an Emperor, but Alan was not.

And finally,

King Arthur was only one generation removed from Joseph of Arimathaea.

The story was written by Josephus Flavius (who could not be writing about 11th century events)

Half the family came from Babylon and Nineveh.

Much of the action takes place in the East - in Palmyra and Damascus.

The story is closely linked to the gospel story.

etc: etc:

These are the elements of Arthurian history that previous authors and researchers have glossed over, because they did not understand them.

Thanks anyway for those interesting ideas,

The two uses of "flos" in Alan's epitaph are a pun on his Breton epithet "ar-Rouz", the Rose. This too is an emblem of the Virgin Mary. The motto of the Dukes of Richmond reflects the association of Alan with this holy flower: "En la rose, je fleurie", that is "I flourish in the rose".
When looking for explanations for the King Arthur stories, it's right to consider the dates and connections of the authors. The date of the first Crusade may be significant to the Grail component of these Romances, but so is the date of Alan's death, 4 August 1093. (As best I can tell, he died in the London Fire of that summer, hence the word "cineratur" for the manner of his death.) This is shortly before the crusade, so we have two dramatic events occurring at that time that affected England, Brittany and Normandy.
I don't think Arthur is one story, but rather a composite of events that people felt strongly about. For example, the Journey to Avalon is plainly based on Riothamus's escape to Avallon in Burgundy after being betrayed and ambushed by Euric and the Visigothic army, an historic event in the period 468-471.
Geoffrey of Monmouth surely knew Count Stephen of Treguier, Alan's youngest brother and heir, who died in 1136. Chretien de Troyes was familiar with the court of Henry II whose son Geoffrey married Stephen's great-granddaughter and heiress Constance, Duchess of Brittany. Their son was Duke Arthur I, rightful king of England who was murdered by his uncle John. The price John paid was the loss of the Angevin empire to a massive revolt.
Thomas Malory wrote his tales when a later heir, Arthur de Richemont was Duke Arthur III. This Arthur had taken over the French government, reformed its finances and army and personally drove the English out of northern France.
This was a mighty family whose deeds would soon have global impact as their Breton ideals of freedom and equality under law were carried to new continents.
This is not to diminish the importance of the crusades and the Grail, but rather to show that the tapestry of the Arthurian Cycle has many interconnected threads. Alan's genealogical links to the Romans and to the Apostles indicate how rich this great work is. Recall that St James the Greater was brother to John the Beloved, and thus related to the Virgin Mary herself and to Christ.
Furthermore, the Sovereign House, which is the official French designation for Alan's family, alone in the world had the right to wear the ermine representing the purity and honour of the Virgin. Think on that!
When other aristocrats were borrowing from the Knights Templar, the Sovereign House gave large donations to them. Philip the Fair's destruction of the French Templars and confiscation of their wealth, much of which had been from Brittany, was a provocation that contributed greatly to the Hundred Years' War.
Even if we didn't know of Alan's ancestral connections to Saint James and the Virgin, we should realise that there's something uniquely grand and marvellous about his family, due to the extraordinary combination of military prowess, wisdom and humility that they had.
If Joseph of Arimathea was remembered for special reasons in Britain, then the knowledge of it must have been carried by, and particularly dear to, them.
Oh, before I forget: the zodiac constellation nearest Arcturus is Virgo.

Reminds me of the quote "chasing the bear". Even though there were some not so positive connotations to the bear or Author, still the fact that the constellations chase the bear seems to show a form of following, as in the disciples following the Lord. I appreciate your research!!

Alan's family claimed a descent from St James, brother of St John, who by tradition were related to the Holy Family. (Remember, Compostela is in Galicia, Magnus Maximus's homeland.) Patron saints of Brittany include St Anne (the Virgin Mary's mother) and St Michael the Archangel (shared with Normandy). The emblem of Brittany, which Alan wore, is ermine, a symbol of the Virgin.

>>William = Wilhelm = "Wants a Helm", "Helm" symbolises Protection).

Guillaume or Willhelm means "guide" or "navigator". The same title given to the leaders of the supposed Priory de Sion. Or is that Priory de Scion.?? Makes a difference....


The book "The Grail Cypher" is not available on Kindle and Apple iBooks. And also available as a PoD paperback at Createspace - book number 5581440.

Godfrey de Bouillon was the first king of Jerusalem although he refused the title. He would not have demanded the permission of Baldwin for anything.

I’ve often wondered if “Arthur” was merely a nickname of a great warrior king. My understanding is that the Saxon invasion was stopped dead in its tracks in the fifth century. It seem obvious to me that someone must have spearheaded a successful defense. Perhaps The king's true name was lost and only his nickname of “the bear” survived.

The locals may have kept the king alive in their oral legends but, since no one could remember much about him, the “Herculanean” tales provided good fodder to fill out the tales that were remembered.

The court of Avalon is obviously a medieval invention as, had “Arthur” had a center of power, it would have been a hillfort.

Hillfort, yes. Mighty Richmond castle, one of the first stone castles in Britain, was Alan Rufus's headquarters in the very heart of the island.

It is significant that all Arthurian manuscripts and most of the stories post-date Alan, with a great flourishing beginning during the lifetime of his brother and heir Count Stephen of Treguier (c1056-1136), official founder of the first English "High Court of Parliament" at York in 1089.

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