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Origin of the name GORTIGERN.
Etymology of the name GORTIGERN.
Meaning of the baby name GORTIGERN.


GORTIGERN.  Irish form of Welsh Gwrthigern (q.v.), which Yonge renders "excelling king." (History of Christian Names, Yonge, 1884).  Other critics make it "Vir Regalis, man prince," from Welsh gwr = "man" and theyrn (Lat. Tigernos) = "a prince."

Gortigern, son of Guatal, son of Guitolin, son of Gloui.  It is not known from what parents, family, or province this celebrated person came, though he reigned so long and so eventfully.  A pedigree printed in the Cambrian Quart. Mag. i. p, 486, departs entirely from this one, and makes him son of Rhydeyrn, of Deheuvraint, of Edigent, of Edeyrn, of Enid, of Ednos, of Enddolaw, of Avnllach, of Avloch, of Beli Mawr.  The truth has been hidden deep, and does not appear to me to transpire in either of these Welsh pedigrees.  The Welsh call him Gwr-theyrn, from gwr, a man (and in second intention, a mighty man), and teyrn, a prince.  Had this name signified Virilis Rex, the prædicate preceding the subject would have made it Gwrdeyrn, as in Cyndeyrn, Mechdeyrn, Aerdeyrn, and all compounds of which the first word does not end in d or t, like matteyrn, from mad or mat, good.  Therefore Vir Regalis must have been the sense of Gwrtheyrn.
    A curious variation occurs in the spelling of this person's name, of which the causes are not clearly apparent.  Some, as Gildas, Marcus, and Nennius, put Gurthegiru, Guorthegirn, Guorthegirn, or Gorthegirn, which seems to combine the British spelling of gwr with the more ancient and Erse orthography of tighearn, a prince; while Geoffrey and most of the Anglo-Normans use the now received form of Vortigern, which is hard to come at any way.  These difficulties are complicated in one of his alleged sons, whom the Welsh revered under the name of Gwrthevyr, a word of no facile etymology in their tongue.  He, in like manner, is Guortimer or Gortimer in the Historia Britonum, and Vortimer with the others.  This guor, turning into vor, seems to indicate that in his name, as in the former, gwr is the first element and not gwrth.  But tevyr and timer are not easy to deal with.  Again, the other son, whose name Catigern in Latin should be represented by Catteyrn (Battle-prince) in Welsh, is Cyndeyrn (Head-prince), being the same that they give to St. Kentigern of Strathelyde, and the exact equivalent of his.  There is an obvious uncertainty in these names, such as doth not usually (if indeed elsewhere) occur in British names.  This consideration, perhaps, weighed with Gale in thinking Vortigern was of a Pictish family.  But, sicne he was of Gwynedd, he is most likely to have been born of an Irish mother, in the days when that people (under their own Ganval and Sirigi, and the Briton Einion Vrenhin) occupied the famous island of Mona.  (Vide infrà the notes on the Legend of St. Cairnech).  He was accused of his friendship with, and support by, the Irish, as well as the Saxons; though the important upshot of the Saxon affairs has cast the others into shade.  An ancient bard says (alluding to the massacre by Hengist, at the feast of the Kalends of May, and boasting that those national festivities had not thereby been crushed and abolished), "the knife-bearer shall not stab the sword-bearers of May-day, that is not [effected?] which was desired by the foolishly compliant master of the house, and the men of his affection, men of blood, Cymmry, Angles, Irishmen, and North Britons."—Gwawd Lludd, v. 76.  The bard Golyddan mentions him to have been confederated with "the Irish of Ireland, those of Mona, and those of North-Britain."—Armes Prydain, v. 10.  His son Pascent is said to have contended for the crown at the head of an army of Irish from Ireland, and to have lost his life in that conflict.—Galfr. Monum. viii. cap. 16.  This does not agree with the account of Nennius, cap. 52, that the destroyers of his father permitted him to reign in duabus regionibus, viz., Buellt and Guortigerniawn; unless we suppose, that he first made that compromise, afterwards contended, with Irish aid, for the insular crown, and, perishing in the attempt, transmitted those lands to his family.  For Celtic clanship did not admit of forfeiture, as feodality did.
    Whatsoever Vortigern was, it is evident that he was a Briton of such power and influence throughout the island as no other man on record possessed, and maintained a struggle of the most protracted duration against the elements of foreign and domestic anarchy.  Though it never appears in any Latin shape, the epithet  gwrth-enau, perverse of lips or mouth, became habitually and thoroughly united to his name by his countrymen; owing to his issuing impolitic commands, or (as the Triads say) disclosing secrets.—See Beddau Milwyr, st. 40.  Triad 45, series i. 10, series ii. 21, 53, series iii.  Brut y Saeson, p. 468.  Æræ Cambro-Brit. ap. Llwyd Commentariolum, p. 141.  It deserves to be remarked, that Marens, the author of the Historia, though setting forth the descent of Fernmael from Vortigern, and fondly magnifying the fastness of Caer-Guortigern, nevertheless writes with all his country's prepossessions against that ruler, and appears, from the unanimity of the copies, to have introduced that nickname into his pedigree.—(H.)
(Irish Version of the Historia Britonum of Nennius Todd-Herbert, 1848)


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