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BELI MAWR. The Great. (Mawr = Great). Sovereign of Britain. (Heli).
Born (about 99 B.C.-S4)(about 110 B.C.-S2,S8) in Britain; son of MANOGAN ap Eneid.
beli: shining (modern Welsh: pelydur--radiant. It is common for b's and p's to mutate into one another in Welsh, depending on dialect and time period. Deriving from the Celtic word bel--to shine, to be bright. (S13). We doubt his birth-name was Beli (BAY-lee), this being one of the major Celtic gods, the God of the Sun. (S16).
He should not be confused with the fictional Beli and wife, Don, found in Welsh mythology. (S16).
Another Beli from medieval Welsh literature, who first appears in the 9th century Historia Brittonum and is often confused or conflated with Beli Mawr in both medieval and modern sources, is Beli son of Manogan (also spelled Mynogan). This Beli is actually derived from the historical pre-Roman Brittonic king of the Catuvellauni, Cunobeline and his son Adminius (or Amminius). Via a series of textual corruptions that span several different popular books from Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, the names of Cunobelinus and his son Adminius were combined and then jumbled, giving way to a new Beli, with the patronymic "son of Manogan" (S17):
1. Adminio, Cunobellini Brittannorum regis filio (Suetonius, Caligula, Ch. 44)
2. Minocynobellinum Britannorum regis filium (Orosius, Historia Adversus Paganos, vii 5.5)
3. Bellinus, filius Minocanni (Historia Brittonum, ch. 19).
Beli also appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's history Historia Regum Britanniae (1130s) as the British king Heli, son of Digueillus and father of Lud, Cassivellaunus and Nennius. He is said to have held the throne for 40 years, after which he was succeeded by his son Lud (Llud). In the Middle Welsh translations of Geoffrey's work known collectively as Brut y Brenhinedd, Heli's name was restored to Beli and his father renamed to Manogan. (S17).
He ruled after 100 B.C. (S6).
Beli was a Druid King of Britain in 132 B.C. (S10).
Lived 400-375BC. (S12).
The Welsh BELI "MAWR", was one of Britain’s great legendary kings. He is numbered the 64th King of Britain in one medieval source. Beli "Mawr" is included in the tract “The Twenty-Four Mightiest Kings”. The medieval writer Nennius says that “Bellinus filius Minocannus” was high-king or held sway over “all of the islands of the Tyrrhene Sea”. His foreign conquests in Gaul, Germany, and Italy, made him one of Britain’s most famous kings. Legend says that he held sway over Britain, Gaul, and Northern Italy, which was then called “Cis-Alpine Gaul”. BELI MAWR stands at the head of some versions of the genealogy of the Old British Royal House as the dynasty’s founder, or re-founder, after BRUTUS, and/or AENEAS (Enaid; Eneit), the mythical-ancestor of Albanese (Etruscan), Roman, and British royalty. Beli (Belinus) and his brother Bran (Brennus), the sons of Mynogan (above), were confused by Geoffrey of Monmouth with Beli and Bran, the sons of Dunvallo, variant form of the name Dubnovellus, the 1st-cent. BC British king, whom Monmouth misidentified with the 5th-cent. AD British king Dunvallo “Molmutius”, whose name appears as “Dyfnwal Moelmud” in early Welsh literature, hence Beli and Bran are wrongly called by GM in his “HRB” to have been the sons of Dunvallo “Molmutius”. The parentage of Beli in early Welsh literature is given as “Beli fab Mynogan” [“MAB”], or “Beli Mawr ap Minocan” [“ABT”], or “Beli map Manogan” [“GAC”]. Nennius, the medieval writer, called him “Bellinus filius Minocannus” in his “HB”, whom he misidentified by medieval writers with: (a) Heli, son of Digueillus, son of Capoir; (b) Heli, son of Lugh II, also called Beli, the father of Caswallawn, whom GM misidentified with Heli, son of Digueillus; and (c) Beli, son of Dubnovellus [variants include Dunvalo; Dyfnwal], to whose name a later copyist added the epithet “Magnus” [“Magni”], which appears in the “Harleian” genealogies, which confused him with Beli Mawr, and caused his misidentification with his famous ancestor by later medieval writers. The “ByB” [“Brut y Brenhinedd”] adds to the confusion and substitutes “Beli Mawr” for Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “Heli/Beli”, the father of Caswallawn, in all of its versions, which influenced medieval writers to consistently misidentify persons of the name “Beli/Heli”! There are numerous references to persons named Beli by early Welsh poets, but it is not always clear of which Beli the reference is made to. (S12).
The earliest extant pedigree contains what we believe to be a later copyist's gloss which attempts to describe his son Affleth as "who was son of Beli Mawr and Anna, she said to be a cousin of Virgin Mary mother of our Lord Jesus Christ". Not only was the era of Beli Mawr 100 years too early for such a wife, there appear to be at least two (incorrect) reasons why some early writers thought the ensuing family was related to the Virgin Mary. In some very early texts, his name was abbreviated "B.M." which was wrongly thought to mean "Beata Maria", the blessed Mary. But more likely, his name was simply confused with the Biblical man, Heli, who is cited as the wife of Anna and father of Mary. Geoffrey of Monmouth also referred to Beli Mawr as "Heli". (S16).
Beli Mawr ("Beli the Great") was an ancestor figure in Middle Welsh literature and genealogies. He is the father of Cassivellaunus, Arianrhod, Lludd Llaw Eraint, Llefelys, and Afallach. In certain medieval genealogies he is listed as the husband of Anna, cousin of Mary, mother of Jesus. According to the Welsh Triads, Beli and Dôn were the parents of Arianrhod, but the mother of Beli's other children—and the father of Dôn's other children—is not mentioned in the medieval Welsh literature. Several royal lines in medieval Wales traced their ancestry to Beli. The Mabinogi names Penarddun as a daughter of Beli Mawr, but the genealogy is confused; it is possible she was meant to be his sister rather than daughter. (S17).
According to the Harlian MS3958, Beli was founder of both the Gwyr y Gogledd (Men of the North--Rheged, etc.) and the Gwynedd line and husband to a woman named Anna, "mater eius, quam dicunt esse consobrina Mariae uirginis, matris Domini nostri Iesu Christi"--"their mother [of the Gwynedd line of kings], who they say was a cousin of the Virgin Mary, mother of our lord Jesus Christ." This is interesting for several reasons: first being that in the Mabinogion, most of the activity of the sons of Dôn happen in Gwynedd, where her brother Math is king. Math never appears in the genealogies for Gwynedd, but Dôn may, in fact, be Anna. The reasoning is that, perhaps influenced by the Irish confusion between Danu/Danann and Anu (both are listed as the mother of the gods), there was also this confusion between Don and Anna. "Anna" could also have been a euhemerization; "Anna" is also the name given to Arthur's sister in Geoffrey's history, while tradition names her Morgan Le Fay (probably related to the Irish Morrigan; and there may be a common confusion of origin between Danu, Anu, Brigit, and Morrigan; see Anu). (S13).
In The History of the Kings of Britain), Beli reverts to the Latin theonym Belinus and is made the brother of Brennius (Brân), and his rival. This rivalry may be behind the Mabinogi's battles between the Children of Don and the Children of Llyr, as Brân was the son of Llyr, and Beli the consort of Don. (S13).
The Mabinogi has little to say about him, except the following: that he was king of the island and had four sons: Caswallawn, Nynniaw, Lludd, and Lleuelys; that Caswallawn gained the crown by killing Caradawg ap Bran, whose father Bendigedfran was king at the time; and that he and his sons lost the kingdom to Maxen Wledig, however, who "drove them to the sea." He then gave the kingdom to Eudaf ap Caradawg. (S13).
Sometimes mixed up with Belenos, a Celtic god.
Legendary king of Britain, Beli either is in origin the Celtic sun god Belenos or was conflated with him at an early period, but here in his medieval form is consort to the earth mother Dôn, and acts as ancestor of the British kings and a crucial (but entirely imaginary) tie to the family of Jesus.(S10).
"Greatly do I honour thee
Son of Manogan the king.
Do thou preserve the glory
Of the Honey Island of Beli."
Myv. Arch. I. p. 73.
It's possible, of course, that Belenos and Bolgios, both gods associated with shining, were conflated at some point, and that the popular god Belenos was later believed to be a divine progenitor of the kings of Britain. It is from this conflation that we get Bellinus filius Minocanni, who is himself a mistake of scribes.
The problem of Bellinus and his father Minocanni can be traced back to a mistake in a reading of Seutonius' life of Caligula:
Nihil autem amplius quam Adminio Cynobellini Britannorum regis filio, qui pulsus a patre cum exigua manu transfugerat, in deditionem recepto, quasi uniuersa tradita insula, magnificas Romam litteras misit, monitis speculatoribus, ut uehiculo ad forum usque et curiam pertenderent nec nisi in aede Martis ac frequente senatu consulibus traderent. (S13).
All that he accomplished was to receive the surrender of Adminius, son of Cynobellinus king of the Britons, who had been banished by his father and had deserted to the Romans with a small force; yet as if the entire island had submitted to him, he sent a grandiloquent letter to Rome, commanding the couriers who carried it to ride in their post-chaise all the way to the Forum and the House, and not to deliver it to anyone except the consuls, in the Temple of Mars the Avenger, before a full meeting of the senate. (S13).
"Adminio Cynobellini Britannorum regis filio" was later mistaken to be "Minocynobellinus Britannorum regis filius" by the Christian historian Orosius. From here, it is believed that some scribe split the name into two, and knowing of the figure Belinus, decided that Minocanus must be his father; the name then passed into Welsh as Mynogan. For unknown reasons, Nennius then identified Cassivellaunus--not Cunobelinus--with Belinus.1 From there, Cassivellaunus, the defeater of Caesar, became Caswallawn son of Beli Mawr. (S13).
He died in 72 B.C.(S2,S8, S10).
Don verch Mathonwy. (Danu Anu). Anna the Prophetess.
Of Cornwall. Often said to be the daughter of Joseph of Arimathea, but the timing is not right. It is possible that Beli did marry Anna of Cornwall who was a prophetess, but this could not have been the daughter of Joseph of Arimathea as is sometimes said. Beli lived too early. (see Bran the Blessed, who married the daughter of Joseph of Arimathea).
- LLUDD ap Beli. (Llaw, Lud, (Llud Llaw Erint-S17). The Silver Haired. Born (79 B.C.-S4)(about 80 B.C.) in Britain. Married Anna of CORNWALL. Died (about 18 B.C.-S4)(62 B.C.). King of Britain. Lived about 375-350. (S14).
- Lweriadd verch Beli. (Penarddun). Married Llyr Lleddiarth (Half-Speech), King of Siluria b: 55 BC d: 10 AD
- Nynniaw. (S13).
- Lleuelys. (Llefelys-S14,S17)(Levelez-S14)(Leueeis-S14). moved to France and married a princess. (S?). Llefelys [var.: Levelez; Leueeis] is clearly based on a scribal misreading of "Leueeis", the Norman-French form of the name "Louis". (S14).
- Formosa. daughter. (S14).
- Arianrhod. daughter. (S14,S17).
- Finuala. daughter (S14).
- Afallach. (S17).
- Said to have a son Caswallon (S13,S17), but this is confusion with the Caswallon who was the son of Beli ap Lugh the Shining One. Caswallon lived too late to be a son of Beli Mawr.
- [S1]. Ancestry.com
- [S2]. http://www.mathematical.com/britainbelimawr.html.
- [S3]. http://family-tree.hypermart.net/so_you_want_to_go_even_earlier.htm
- [S4]. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~jamesdow/s000/f004310.htm
- [S5]. http://camelot.celtic-twilight.com/infopedia/b/belimawr.htm
- [S6]. http://www.american-pictures.com/genealogy/persons/per03635.htm
- [S7]. The Descendants of Beli Mawr (The Great). http://www.geocities.com/bpstratton/trees/belitree.html
- [S8]. Ancestors of Nancy López. http://www.cybergata.com/ancestors/370.htm
- [S9]. From Dust We Came... http://kykinfolks.tripod.com/fromdust/fromdust.htm.
- [S10]. The official website of Alynia H. Rule. http://www.ancuairt.org/genealogy/aeddmawr.htm#60
- [S11]. http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Aegean/2444/specs/ancient.htm.
- [S12]. http://www.angelfire.com/ego/et_deo/celticbrehins.wps.htm
- [S13]. Beli Mawr. Jones' Celtic Encyclopedia. http://www.maryjones.us/jce/belimawr.html
- [S14]. THE "BELI MAWR PEDIGREE" http://www.angelfire.com/ego/et_deo/beli_mawr_pedigree.wps.htm. QUOTES as sources:
- Bartrum, P.C. Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts. Cardiff: UWP, 1964.
- Birkhan, Helmut. "Beli Mawr." Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ed. by John T. Koch. ABC-Clio, 2005.
- Giles, J.A. Six Old English Chronicles. London: H. G. Bohn, 1848.
- Geoffrey of Monmouth. The History of the Kings of Britain. ed. & trans. Lewis Thorpe. NY: Penguin, 1977.
- Koch, John T. "Belenus." Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ed. by John T. Koch. ABC-Clio, 2005.
- Kondratiev, Alexei. "Danu and Bile: The Primordial Parents?" An Tríbhís Mhór: The IMBAS Journal of Celtic Reconstructionism. Vol. 1, No. 4, Bealtaine 1998. URL: http://www.imbas.org/danubile.htm.
- Lebor Gabála Érenn, parts IV and V. ed. by R.A.S. MacAlister. Irish Texts Society Vols. XLI and XLIV. Dublin, 1941, 1956.
- Loomis, Roger Sherman. Celtic Myth and Arthurian Romance. NY: Columbia University Press, 1927.
- The lost books of the Bible. ed. William Hone, trans. Jeremiah Jones. originally published in 1820. New York: The World Pub. Co., 1926.
- The Mabinogion. ed. and trans. Jeffrey Gantz. NY: Penguin, 1976.
- Maier, Bernhard. Dictionary of Celtic Religion and Culture. Rochester, N.Y. : Boydell Press, 1997.
- [S15]. Beli Mawr and Llyr Llediath in Welsh Pedigrees. by Darrell Wolcott. Ancient Wales Studies. http://www.ancientwalesstudies.org/id145.html.
- [S16]. Beli "The Great", King of Britain. Geni. https://www.geni.com/people/Beli-The-Great-King-of-Britain/6000000002709559312.
- [S17]. Beli Mawr. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beli_Mawr.
- [S18]. Branwen ferch Llyr. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Branwen_ferch_Ll%C5%B7r.
- [S19]. Brân the Blessed. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Br%C3%A2n_the_Blessed.