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Saint Goeznovius
Born Unknown, Cornwall
Died c. 675, Quimper, Finistère, Britanny, France
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church,
Eastern Orthodox Church
Feast October 25

Goeznovius, also known as Goueznou (died c. 675) was a Cornish-born Bishop of Léon in Brittany, who is venerated as a saint in the region around Brest and the diocese of Léon. According to his legenda he was born in Cornwall and became one of many of his countrymen who moved to the continent in the wake of the Anglo-Saxon invasions and helped to found the Brittonic settlement in Armorica that established it as Brittany. His dates are contradictory; he is sometimes said to have died in 675, but it is likelier he lived in the sixth century.[1] His feast day is celebrated on October 25.

Contents

Legenda Sancti Goeznovii

Goeznovius is known through his hagiography, known as the Legenda Sancti Goeznovii. The author names himself as William, a Breton chaplain in the familia of the otherwise-unattested Bishop Eudo of Léon, and gives a date of 1019 for the work. The Legenda includes a highly unusual preface detailing the history of Brittany's founding. This preface includes some episodes from Britain's traditional history, and for those who consider it a testimony that is independent of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, is an important document in establishing a historical basis for King Arthur, as it includes the only early historical account of Arthur that depicts him with no fantastic or legendary touches.

The preface describes the traditional story of Vortigern, who usurps the British throne and invites Saxon warriors into the country as protection. The Saxons caused great suffering among the Britons, until they were largely driven out by the new king, Arthur. Arthur proceeded to win battles in Britain and in Gaul but was eventually "summoned… from human activity," paving the way for the Saxons to return. The Saxon persecution caused many of the Britons to flee to Gaul, where they established Brittany.

J. S. P. Tatlock set out the signs that the preface to William's Legenda followed the outlines given by Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, written around 1136, and that the date 1019 was a fiction.[2] This conclusion has been challenged by Léon Fleuriot. The preface includes material that is found in early sources but not in Geoffrey, suggesting that the author had access to some earlier document. The text may imply that Arthur succeeds Vortigern directly, whereas Geoffrey claims two kings reigned between them, Aurelius Ambrosius and Uther Pendragon. This may establish a chronological fix for Arthur, placing his activities during the period of Saxon unrest in the mid-5th century. The mention of Arthur's battles in Gaul is also significant, as it may be a reference to British incursions there under the leader Riothamus, whom some modern historians have identified with Arthur.

Notes

  1. ^ Ashe, Geoffrey (1991). "Legenda Sancti Goeznovii". In Norris J. Lacy, The New Arthurian Encyclopedia, pp. 204–205. (New York: Garland, 1991). ISBN 0-8240-4377-4.
  2. ^ Tatlock, J. S. P. "The Dates of the Arthurian Saints' Legends". In Speculum 14.3 (July 1939: 345-365).

References

  • Lacy, Norris J. (1991). The New Arthurian Encyclopedia. New York: Garland. ISBN 0-8240-4377-4.

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