Legendary Monarch. Modern scholarship is divided as to whether Guinevere was based upon an historical figure. Traditionally, she is named as the consort of the legendary king, Arthur, who it is generally agreed, is based on an actual historical figure active during the period after the Romans left Britain. Although she does not appear in the earliest records mentioning Arthur, such as the 9th century 'Historia Brittonum,' she does appear in Geoffrey of Monmouth's 'Historia regum Britanniae' by the 12th century. In the earliest of the Welsh literature, she is called Gwenhwyvar. She was named Guanhumara and was said to be a Roman lady in 'Historia regum Britanniae.' In these early accounts, she was used to establish a tradition of abduction, who then had to be rescued by the king. Chrétien de Troyes, writer of a late 12th century romance, 'Le Chevalier de la charette' expanded the legend to include a French knight, Lancelot, and also introduced an adulterous love affair. Some scholars suggest that this interpretation lends itself to a misunderstanding of the equality of power a Celtic queen would enjoy, a concept alien to the medieval writers. Thomas Malory's work, 'Le Morte d'Arthur,' written in 1486, merged all the various Arthurian stories into one and added a chivalric code and a wizard. Guinevere's fate there is to enter the convent at Amesbury. In 1191, monks at Glastonbury Abbey claimed to have discovered a grave holding the remains of a woman and man with severe head wounds. With the bodies was a lead cross inscribed, "Here lies buried the famous King Arthur with Guinevere his second wife, in the Isle of Avalon." The bodies were said to have been buried at least sixteen feet deep, and the woman's blonde hair was also briefly preserved. In an era when such religious houses counted on income from pilgrims to support them, such a find was regarded as immediately suspect. The remains and cross vanished after the Dissolution of the monasteries.
Bio by: Iola