Melkin and the Grail stories
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The relationship of Melkin’s prophecy to the French Grail material.
Father William Good, a Jesuit priest, born at Glastonbury, served mass in the Abbey at Glastonbury as a boy just before its dissolution. This was before Queen Elizabeth I changed the religion of the country to Protestantism. He also held a secret as to the whereabouts of Joseph of Arimathea’s burial place. Father William was educated in Glastonbury, and later attended Corpus Christi College in 1546 where he became a fellow in 1548, and studied for his Master of Arts in 1552. Throughout all the early days of his life while he studied and before he came to the priesthood, he carried around with him the information that was passed on to him by Abbot Richard Whiting at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539.
As was usual in those days, secret knowledge was handed down to chosen choirboys or likely candidates for the priesthood, by Bishops and Abbots rather than writing it down and running the risk of having it discovered by persons who were not privileged. Just before Richard Whiting was about to be hanged on Glastonbury Tor at the start of the dissolution, he related to the young William Good, that Joseph of Arimathea was ‘carefully hidden in Montacute’, most probably with the added instruction to say nothing to anybody. Father Good, while Queen Mary reigned in the interim, obtained the benefice of Middle Chinnock in Somerset, the prebend of Comba Octava in the Church of Wells, and was given the head-mastership of a school in Wells.
When Elizabeth I came to the throne, he travelled to Tourni where in 1562 he was admitted into the Society of Jesus, thereafter travelling to Ireland to become a missionary for many years. Afterwards he travelled to Belgium, where he met Robert Parsons, who persuaded him to become a member of the Jesuit order, while the rest of his days were passed as confessor to the English College in Rome.
It was during this time in Rome that he passed on the message to alleviate himself of the burden he had carried with him since he was a boy. He left to posterity at the English college in Rome the information conveyed to him by Richard Whiting with the added addition of his own précis of the last part of Melkin’s prophecy, indicating how important he felt it was; “The monks, never knew for certain the place of this saints burial (Joseph’s) or pointed it out. They said the body was most “carefully hidden” on a hill near Montacute and that when his body would be found, the whole world would wend their way there, on account of the number and wondrous nature of the miracles worked there”.
In Archbishop Usher’s account describing the Arms of Glastonbury, he quotes from an account given by William Good, and refers to him as “a Jesuit born at Glastonbury in the reign of Henry VIII”:
"Antiqua arma Glastoniensis Monasterii sunt hujusmodi. Scutum album, in quo per longum erigitur stipes crucis viridis & nudosas,& de latere ad latus extenduntur brachia seu rami crucis stipiti consimilia. Sparguntur guttse sanguinis per oninem aream scuti. Utrinqwe ad latera stipitis, & sub alis crucis, ponitur ampulla inaurata. Et haec semper denominabantur insignia Sancti Josephi, qui ibi habitue pie credebatur,& fortasse sepultus esse.
‘Such are the ancient Arms of the monastery of Glastonbury. A white shield in which, for a long time, a green and gnarled stake of a cross sticks out, and from side to side stretch branches or boughs as if they were the beam of the cross. Drops of blood are spattered around the whole expanse of the shield. And at the sides of the stake, under the beam of the cross, is placed a gilded flask. And these were always referred to as the tokens of St Joseph, who is believed to have lived piously, and perhaps to have been buried there.’
The Reverend Walter Skeat makes his own remarks on Father Good’s passage; “The knotted cross evidently refers to the legend of St Joseph's thorny staff (from which a tree had sprouted at Glastonbury until recently…… cut down by vandals), the drops of blood denote his receiving the blood of Christ in the Holy Grail, and the two cruets are the "duo fassula" mentioned in the book of Melkin, which resulted from the duplication of the Grail of the original legend”.We can conclude from this, that Father Good had read Melkin while in the British Isles and had been privately engaged investigating the whereabouts of the sepulchre of Joseph. It would seem that Father William assumed that within the Heraldry depicted on the shield, there could have been a clue to where Joseph lay. It would also appear that he was probably taking this line of investigation, having previously read the Seint Graal, and its associations with Joseph, where "a white knight relates to Galahad the mystery of a certain wonderful shield." It is fairly evident that Father Good had tried to locate the burial place of Joseph having been motivated by the possession of a clue, but unfortunately he didn't piece together the relevance of Montacute.
Figure 22 Showing the Folly tower where there once stood a chapel dedicated to St.Michael on this hilltop ‘marker’ site.
Geoffrey of Monmouth writing in 1130 makes no allusion to the Graal, or to Lancelot or Gawain, or to the prophecy of Melkin and does not say one word about Joseph of Arimathea in his popular Historia Regum Britanniae. Geoffrey wrote many works, all in Latin, but in his History of the Kings of Britain, he writes about Arthur, Merlin and Vortigern at length, but draws nothing from Melkin’s genealogy of Arthur, yet includes the previously unknown prophecies of Merlin. Geoffrey claims in his dedication that his book is a translation of an "ancient book in the British language that told in orderly fashion the deeds of all the kings of Britain", given to him by Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford. Much of his material was invented, but the main body of manuscript text was supplied by the Archdeacon of Oxford, which mainly came from Welsh sources, most probably from a Melkin source. These were embellished upon and subsequently they place Arthur in a Welsh backdrop.
Geoffrey's works seem to show acquaintance with the place names of the region and most commentators think Geoffrey was Welsh and spoke Welsh. He seems to have come from the French-speaking Welsh border country and was probably educated in a Benedictine monastery. There were probably many French speaking Bretons in this region from the monastic houses that were to influence the likes of Gerald of Wales (Gerald de Barri), who is half Welsh, half Norman and Walter Map. Maep or Mapes was born on the Marches of Wales and calls the Welsh his countrymen, and England ‘our mother.’ It is posited that the Bretons and the Welsh spoke a similar language and it was from this connection that the Grail stories were easily assimilated with a similar Arthurian tradition that existed in Wales. William of Malmesbury the product of intermarriage between Norman and Saxon noticed but a slight difference in his time between Welsh and Breton: ‘Lingua nonnihil a nostris Brittonibus Degeneres’ and Giraldus calls the Breton an old-fashioned Welsh. : ‘Magis antiquo linguae Britannicae idiomati appropriato’.
This tradition could have existed in Wales through copies of the works of Melkin that remained in Britain but as we have covered, it seems that the Book of the Grail went to France caused by the Saxon invasion and later returned to revitalise and mix with Welsh legend after having come from a French romanticization of original, yet overlapping historical Material. The route of this information having probably travelled to Mont- Saint-Michel near St. Malo and Avranche which of course would have had links with the tin traders since ancient times. We will cover in a later chapter the probable landing point of Melkin and show why Helinand is the first to mention the account of the Graal and the supposed apparition to the Hermit (in Britain), taking place in 707 or as Walter map has it as 717AD. It becomes apparent later that Melkin probably took this book to France in his old age and thus an account of a British monk experiencing an angelic apparition was known in France.
Geoffrey’s omission of the Joseph material, despite his book's popular success, meant that the French tradition linking Arthur to Joseph was not as widely known. This did not seem to appear into popular culture until the arrival of the Grail material after Geoffrey’s death in 1154. If there was an early tradition that included the Nicodemus and Joseph stories at Glastonbury or anywhere else, it was ignored by William and Geoffrey, but then it proliferated at the advent of the French Grail material as if in response, to set the record straight and counter the more Welsh and strictly Arthurian material. That's not to say that the legends had not persisted about Arthur and his connection with Joseph before then, this being evidenced by St. Augustin's argument with the Britons, "who preferred their own traditions before all the churches in the world", which of course is a referral to the Joseph tradition and possibly the bloodline ties of Arthur to Joseph.
Helinand, the Cistercian Abbot of Froidemont or in latin Frigidus Mons on the river Tera near Beauvais, wrote a chronicle and the date provided for the first mention of the Graal. Found among manuscripts in the library of Froidmont were accounts of the lives of St. Bernard and St. Thomas of Cantorbery, but most importantly ‘La Chronique d’Helinand’ written around 1215AD. Here in the diocese of Beauvais was a Cistercian monk who died circa 1220, who wrote a chronicle of events in history which terminates with the year 1209 and seems to have heard an account of Melkin having had an apparition of an Angel. Coincidentally, this account seems to relate to the Grail and matches the date when Melkin possibly visited Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy around 700AD.
John of Tynemouth, writing later quotes an extract from Helinand (below) referring to the Graal for the first time by its name at a date given in his chronicle as 707A.D. As the chronicle was laid out by date and it was at this point in time where the extract was inserted in the chronicle, it infers that the Graal was so named at this date. There has been much discussion about the early date of the insertion of this reference to the ‘Graal’ and due to preconceived ideas of the‘Graal’ being an invention of the Grail writers……… commentators have looked for reasons to show this date to be inaccurate and a fabrication of a later date.
The extract from Helinand:
De loseph centurione: Hoc tempore in britannia cuidam heremitae demonstrata fuit mirabilis quaedam visio per angelum de loseph decurione nobili, qui corpus domini deposuit de cruce, et de catino illo vel parapside in quo dominus cenavit cum discipulis suis; de quo ab eodem heremita descripta est historia que dicitur gradale. Gradalis autem vel gradale gallice dicitur scutella lata et aliquantulum profunda, in qua preciose dapes divitibus a solent apponi gradatim, unus morsellus post alium in diversis ordinibus. Dicitur vulgari nomine greal, quia grata et acceptabilis est in ea comedenti, tum propter continens, quia forte argentea est vel de alia preciosa materia, tum propter contentum ordinem multiplicem dapium preciosarum. Hanc historiam latine scriptam inuenire non potui sed tantum gallice scripta habetur a quibusdem proceribus, nec facile, ut aiunt, tota inueniri potest.
‘At this time a certain marvellous vision was revealed by an angel to a certain hermit in Britain concerning St. Joseph the noble decurion who deposed from the cross the body of our Lord, as well as concerning the paten or dish in which our Lord supped with his disciples, whereof the history was written out by the said hermit and is called‘Of The Graal’ (De Gradali). Now a platter, broad and somewhat deep is called in French ‘gradalis’ or ‘gradale’, wherein costly meats (with their sauce) are want to be set before rich folk by degrees (gradatim), one morsel after another in divers orders, and in the vulgar speech it is called graalz, for that it is grateful and acceptable to him that eateth therein, as well. For that which containeth the victual, for that haply it is of silver and other precious material, as for the contents thereof, to wit, the manifold courses of costly meats. I have not been able to find this history written in Latin, but it is in the possession of certain noble written in French only, nor, as they say, can it easily be found complete. This however, I have not hitherto been able to obtain from any person, so as to read it with attention. As soon as I can do so, I will translate into Latin, such passages as are more useful and more likely to be true.’
The fact that Helinand could not find a copy of an early French source indicates to the contrary as most commentators have proposed. The commentators have supposed that the reason that Helinand is unable to locate a French copy is because of its recent popularity and production. The opposite is probably true, in that it is not widely copied and those bits that have been obtained derive from the original Latin version held by the noble family that have had it translated into French. It could be that parts of this French version were distributed to troubadours to expand upon and thus……… would part explain the erraticness of most of the early versions storylines. It is more likely, the reason for the books scarcity is that it had been in possession of an un named French noble family from a very early date and from which troubadours close to that family accessed and romanticised its material, possibly picking bits and translating them into the French. The fact that Helinand is not finding (but has heard of the Latin original) shows us that he has come across Grail extracts in French from which he understands are derived from a Latin source. If a whole French version exists is unclear as it appears it only exists in certain extracts and not as a complete version. The fact that it is purportedly only fragmentary or not easily found complete, adds to the veracity of this supposition that early an Grail writer or writers were commissioned by this noble family to make sense of its obviously difficult story. This may also have been exacerbated by Melkin’s different form of Latin.
Was the sense of the Graal as assumed by Helinand and elaborated upon as relating to a Dish, originally conveying the sense of a ‘container’ of the Graal and can this container be the Grail Ark or box that contained the Grail that Joseph of Arimathea conveyed to Britain. It is most likely that this Ark or coffin would have been lined with Tin so as to prevent any leakage of cedar oil from the Grail Ark.
Let us assume that a French noble family possessed a manuscript of Melkin’s original compilation of ancient Joseph material written in Latin and later had it translated into French, to be called or referred to as the ‘Book of the Graal.’ The reason behind this assumption is, we know definitively that Melkin has knowledge of Joseph’s whereabouts around six hundred years after his death. He knows also of the place where Arthur is buried because it is the same location at which Joseph was buried and Melkin is the only one who appears to know where Avalon is.
Melkin was said to have written a book about Arthur entitled ‘De Regis Arthurii mensa rotunda’,(which stayed in Britain) and indicates he lived contemporaneously with Arthur or soon thereafter. Given Melkin’s understanding of directions to the tomb and his accuracy in describing what will be found within it, we must conclude he entered it at Arthur’s death. It must be remembered that Melkin’s description of the ‘duo fassula’ (which applies to the Turin shroud) shows long before Perlesvaus, he is saying the Shroud is where the Grail is. Long before the shroud form was known or its appearance 600 years afterward, Melkin describes it perfectly.
It would also seem probable that Geoffrey sourced the location of Arthur’s burial as being in Avalon from Melkin’s work that remained in Britain and Geoffrey’s 'Arthur's grave is nowhere seen, whence antiquity of fables still claims that he will return', is either based upon Melkin’s knowledge that Joseph’s grave would be found thus uncovering Arthur or as we covered earlier it was a response to the unexplainable fact that such an illustrious figure had suddenly vanished.
The probable scenario is that Melkin, witnessed Arthur’s interment in Avalon, but it is still unfathomable how Melkin was able to give us such accurate co-ordinates to Burgh Island not only geometrically but topographically describing the locale, in a clearly well-constructed puzzle, if he had not visited the site.
The inclusion of the Grail in French, Welsh, Irish and English variations of the romances, makes it virtually impossible to divine its substance, provenance, or essential meaning and most elucidations are fraught with supposition and contradiction. So, digressing slightly, let us assume as we posited earlier, that the book of the Grail was written in Latin. It used as its material a source that included Hebrew arcane terminology and also used an account of Joseph and his associates journey to Britain with the Grail Ark. It was expanded upon, with information of a bloodline that existed from Joseph (or possibly Jesus through the Magdalene) down through Arthur……… inclusive of his exploits and that of the family from Roman to Saxon times. This book was originally written as a compilation of this body of knowledge, giving the origins of the religious nature of the Grail. This really has two aspects to it, 1) the gradual steps or degrees to the enlightenment of Man, that conveyed a higher notion of honor and righteousness expressed in knightly endeavour and should also be understood as the meaning behind the processional and 2) The Grail as an artefact directly relating to the death of Jesus. This as we shall cover shortly is his body preserved in Cedar oil contained within the Grail Ark.
Hardyng, Leland, Capgrave and Bale all cite Melkin as an ancient authority on Arthurian and British history and of the four titles he is supposed to have written that are referenced by these later chroniclers, let us assume a crossover of material between these manuscripts and the ‘Book of the Grail’. Melkin’s Grail book in France not only contained a historical account of Joseph’s journey to Britain but also occult temple knowledge having come directly from Jerusalem that explained or gave meaning to the original purport of the Grail. Let us also assume that this Gnostic material from the Temple contained an account of the Divine plan, the striving of man for spiritual enlightenment and its history through the Davidic heritage. Over time the Grail metamorphosed into an object and this transformation was partly due to Melkin who had written his riddle which included a description of the ‘duo fassula’. Now this misrepresentation of the ‘duo fassula’ as a vessel or vessels was said to contain liquids of blood and sweat and thus the necessity for a receptacle to hold a liquid or two containers. This puzzle or prophecy survived in one of his four British books or was duplicated in other manuscripts to be reproduced by John of Glastonbury.
Melkin’s book‘Arthurii mensa rotunda’ obviously supplying much of the early Arthurian material for Welsh manuscripts that would, of necessity be void of the specific Grail material that was to emanate from Melkin’s Book of the Grail that had wound up in the hands of a noble family in France.
The Welsh Greal material however, contains the adventures of Gwalchmei Peredur and Lancelot, and of the Knights of the Round Table; but these are not found in Malory’s "Morte d'Arthur". The Peniarth manuscript is dated to Henry VI, the earlier part of the fifteenth century. This is similar to that of the "Mabinogion of the Llyvr Coch Hergest", which is of that same date, but it is probably transcribed from an earlier copy and it is not known when it was first translated into Welsh……… some scholars saying it was written around 1070 or in Henry I’s time, but this is debatable. Whatever the date of the Welsh version, the translator had no great mastery of the original French from the source and the Welsh scribe by his own volition chose not translate portions, because the French was difficult to translate and the story was itself erratic and for the most part misunderstood by the French collator. It can be seen that some of the Welsh versions have been assimilated from French sources and sometimes changed or interpolated or polemicized conferring a Welsh perspective to names places and events, as can be witnessed in the early Welsh versions, which gives a differing outlook from those in the French and can be seen by these next examples.
Perceval in the Welsh is called Peredur. Perceval's father, Alain li Gros, is in the Welsh Earl Evrawg, and his sister Dindrane becomes Danbrann. King Arthur becomes Emperor Arthur while Queen Guenievre becomes Gwenhwyvar and so on. This leads to a comparable lack of rigour with place names; Cardoil becomes Caerlleon on Usk, Pannenoisance, Penvoisins; Tintagel translates into Tindagoyl and Avalon becomes Avallach. These are examples of deliberate alterations, and it is probable that those capable of such practice would have been prepared to usurp Arthur’s Cornish heritage.
This passage in the History of Fulke Fitz-Warine, originally written around 1260 is the first to mention the Graal from Welsh sources:
‘And when Kahuz was awake, he put his hand to his side. There hath he found the knife that had smitten him through, so telleth us the Graal, The Book of the Holy Vessel. There the King Arthur recovered his bounty and his valour when he had lost all his chivalry and his virtue’.
Thus it seems that "The Graal, the Book of the Holy Vessel" to which the Welsh biographer of Fulke refers is from a French source. It would seem that because he uses the definite article, it indicates that he thought this book to be the original authority on the subject, either having heard about it from a different source or seeing this in his written source. Melkin’s works had been in amongst older books at Glastonbury now lost, burnt or dispersed which John of Glastonbury describes as“Vetustissimi”. The Vetustissimi were the books of very ancient scribes, copied before the Norman Conquest, so copies of Melkin’s original Arthurian material had plenty of time to be transformed to a Welsh arena. In around 1280, the troubadour Sarrazin also refers to ‘The Graal’ as ‘li Graaus’ with the same definite article, when he was trying to assert a confirmation of established fact that King Arthur was at one time ‘Lord of Great Britain’.
The references to ‘The Graal’ or ‘Book of the Graal’ as being the established authority or source for all the Grail literature even before 'Chrétiende Troyes', is further evidenced by Sarrazin’s following statement ‘the Romance that Chrestien telleth so fairly of Perceval the adventures of the Graal’. The statement tells us that Chrétien had used a source and had portrayed or conveyed the contents with clarity and it commends him for doing so.
Let us assume the Grail (apart from its physical aspect) is an account of a religious rite or process of which a written explanation came to Britain with Joseph. Because what he brought was connected with Jesus, what was originally an account a of spiritual nature became synonymous with the box, Grail ark or receptacle that Joseph was believed to have brought to Britain. This gets even more confused if the French Troubadours heard news of the British account of a‘Vessel’ buried with Joseph, which at least would have given them something physical to romanticise rather than what seemed to be some kind of unexplainable processional religious quest………… and hence the very erratic nature of the early Grail stories.
If Helinand’s date is correct it would explain the lack of continuity and provenance in the early French versions. It would also allow for Melkin’s Arthurian material to be corrupted in Wales, but we must not forget that Melkin’s intention was to obfuscate. It is clearly the Glastonbury institution who must be responsible for putting together the misinterpreted ‘duo fassula’ as receptacles that were buried with Joseph from British sources, rather than the French sources that were a Processional and was described as a singular plate or receptacle. The turning point of the Grail is when it became a physical object that singularly tried to encapsulate Jesus’s body, the Turin Shroud and an account of occult meaning and this will become clear shortly.
If there was knowledge of the Ark of the covenant’s whereabouts in Melkin’s ‘Book of the Graal’, coming directly via Joseph (a Sanhedrin member), there could be some substance in the rumour that the Templars possessed the Arc. It could have been Eleanor of Aquitaine during the second crusade, who could have made use of this knowledge as she was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Western Europe. As well as being Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, she was queen consort of France (1137–1152) and of England (1154–1189) but more importantly she was patron to Chrétien de Troyes. Eleanor of Aquitaine is the only woman to have been queen of both France and England and as Queen of France, she participated in the unsuccessful second crusade but may also have been the personal owner of Melkin’s Book of the Grail as Helinands noble family may suggest. Eleanor had two Daughters by Louis VII, Mary who in 1164, married Henry, the great Count of Champagne and Alix, who became Countess of Chartres by marriage to Theobald. This same Theobald earlier had made Eleanor, while travelling, avoid Blois in 1152 because of his eagerness to have Eleanor as wife, after her divorce from Louis. Henry and Theobald were brothers whose sister Alix had married Louis VII in 1160, eight years after Eleanor’s divorce. The family ties that were forged were fantastic, especially for Queen Eleanor, who, besides her two French daughters, had eight children as Queen of England. Her second son, Richard Coeur-de-Lion, born in 1157, was affianced in 1174 to a daughter of Louis VII and Alix, a child only six years old, who was sent to England to be brought up as future queen. Eleanor’s son Richard the Lionheart could also have found opportunity to recoup the Arc on the third Crusade if anyone did in fact achieve this goal.
The name of the original author of the Book of the Grail is recorded nowhere, but we know that Melkin had knowledge of Joseph who brought and was buried with a relic of Jesus. So the probability that Melkin wrote a tract specifically covering this same subject matter of Grail material, that disappeared to France is highly likely. What has made it difficult to work out how this common subject matter came from different directions is because Melkin left evidence and crossover material that existed in other works in Britain. The concurrence of two existing bodies of information that were to re-emerge and confirm their united theme at the advent of the gradual release of French material, through the Troubadour tradition, gives us an answer as to why British history was emanating from France.
Many have thought that the originator of the French material is referred to in the "Elucidation", prefixed to the rhymed version of "Percival le Gallois" under the name of "Master Blihis" and this pseudonym seems to refer to Henry de Blois who in French circles would have been known as Monseigneur Blois, but in British circles as Henry of Blois (1101–1171). He was often known as Henry of Winchester and was Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey from 1126, and Bishop of Winchester from 1129 to his death.
Henry de Blois was the nephew of King Henry I, and he was one of five sons of Stephen II, Count of Blois, by Adela of Normandy(daughter of William the Conqueror) and the younger brother of King Stephen. Henry’s father died in the Crusade at Razes when Henry was only two years of age. After an exeptional education and at the young age of 23, Henry was appointed Prior of Montacute in Somerset which becomes relevant later in our investigation, where his uncle Henry I, was planning to create a royal abbey and it is for this reason we can be assured that the information which Father Good gave us about Montecute could only have come from Melkin’s book in France through Master Blihis.
The poem of Chrétien de Troyes is the earliest surviving literary version that mentions the Grail and Chrétien, as he himself admits, was not inventing, but re-telling, an already popular tradition concerning the matière de Bretagne. The process of romanticising arcane knowledge contained in Melkin’s book had already begun with various degrees of interpretation and misunderstanding which had built layer upon layer of variant versions from the core relevance of the original purport of the Gradatim as a spiritual pattern or divine plan laid out for mankind. If Henry of Blois is the author of the ‘High history of the Grail’ it would explain the reverence with which he treats the subject even if he had to uncomprehendingly interpret the depth of information revealed by Melkin’s original and certainly he would have been in a position to correlate this evidence with extant material at Glastonbury. It would appear that he is one of the causes that Avalon was thought to be at Glastonbury, because of his intonation in the 'High History' that Glastonbury is Avalon, but not even he knew where it was. It would appear that corruption of Melkin’s text into the French had taken place already. It was probably Henry’s understanding of the ‘duo fassula’ as a vessel; understood certainly as a receptacle(s) in Britain, that might have transformed the religious rite, processional or quest of the French material into an eventual reliquary or Chalice. Henry of Blois does know however that Melkin the Hermit is recounting what Joseph as an eye witness 500 years earlier had written down as an account that becomes the basis for the story of the Graal coming to Britain.
This high story records and testifies that Josephus, (Joseph) who records it for us, was the first priest to sacrifice the body of our lord and we should therefore believe in his words.
Gawain is told ’you will be told the meaning of anything you wish to ask about, by the testimony of Joseph the good clerk and good hermit (Melkin) that tells us these things and his(Melkin’s) knowledge of them comes from the pronouncements of the Holy Spirit and the Angel.
Hear ye the history of the most holy vessel that is called Graal, wherein the precious blood of the Saviour was received on the day that He was put on rood and crucified in order that He might redeem His people from the pains of hell. Josephus set it in remembrance by annunciation of the voice of an angel, for that the truth might be known by his writing of good knights, and good worshipful men how they were willing to suffer pain and to travail for the setting forward of the Law of Jesus Christ, that He willed to make new by His death and by His crucifixion.
The High Book of the Graal beginneth in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. These three Persons are one substance, which is God, and of God moveth the High Story of the Graal. And all they that hear it ought to understand it, and to forget all the wickednesses that they have in their hearts. For right profitable shall it be to all them that shall hear it of the heart. For the sake of the worshipful men and good knights of whose deeds shall remembrance be made, doth Josephus recount this holy history, for the sake of the lineage of the Good Knight that was after the crucifixion of Our Lord. Good Knight was he without fail, for he was chaste and virgin of his body and hardy of heart and with courage, and so were his conditions without wickedness. Not boastful was he of speech, and it seemed not by his cheer that he had so great courage; Nonetheless, of one little word that he delayed to speak came to pass so sore mischances in Greater Britain, that all the islands and all the lands fell thereby into much sorrow, albeit thereafter he put them back into gladness by the authority of his good knighthood. Good knight was he of right, for he was of the lineage of Joseph of Abarimacie. And this Joseph was his mother's uncle, that had been a soldier of Pilate's seven years, nor asked he of him any other favour of his service but only to take down the body of Our Saviour from hanging on the cross. The delight to him seemed full great when it was granted him, and full little to Pilate seemed the favour; for right well had Joseph served him, and had he asked to have gold or land thereof, willingly would he have given it to him. And for this did Pilate make him a gift of the Saviour's body, for he supposed that Joseph should have dragged the same shamefully through the city of Jerusalem when it had been taken down from the cross, and should have left it without the city in some mean place. But the Good Soldier had no mind thereto, but rather honoured the body the most he might, rather laid it along in the Holy Sepulchre and kept safe the lance whereof He was smitten in the side and the most Holy Vessel wherein they that believed on Him received with awe the blood that ran down from His wounds when He was set upon the rood. Of this lineage was the Good Knight for whose sake is this High History treated.
Adela of Blois, wife of Stephen, Count of Blois, Henry’s father who had fled from the Siege of Antioch in 1098, was so ashamed of her husband that she would not permit him to stay athome. Henry's father died in 1102 while on crusade. He left, leaving an estate with more than 350 castles and large properties in France including Chartres which as many will know is a shrine of sacred geometry, which has Arthurian overtones mentioned in Lois Charpantier’s account of ‘The Mysteries of Chartres Cathedral’. Coincidentally the town of Chartres was under the judicial and tax authority of the Counts of Blois. The current cathedral, mostly constructed between 1193 and 1250 just after Henry’s Death, is one of at least five that have occupied the site since the town became a bishopric in the 4th century.
Henry of Blois was educated at a monastery in Cluny in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France. This was a Benedictine Cluny Abbey, founded by Duke William I of Aquitaine in AD 910 which adhered to the principles of Cluniac reform, including a sense of intellectual freedom and humanism, as well as adherence to a high standard of devotion and discipline. Here Henry studied in the seven liberal arts; trivium (rhetoric grammar, and logic), quadrivium (geometry, arithmetic, music and astronomy) along with architecture and he was essentially renowned later in life, with all this schooling, as a sage. It was, probably while in France during his formative years, that he heard of these early tales of the Grail and later while at Glastonbury he combined later material to comprise the High history of the Grail. It is interesting to quote from Miss Jesse Laidlaw Weston’s revealing book ‘From Ritual to Romance’ as this gives a clear impression of the early Grail writers development.
while the poem of Chrétien de Troyes is our earliest surviving literary version, there is the strongest possible evidence that Chrétien, as he himself admits, was not inventing, but re-telling, an already popular tale. The Grail Quest was a theme which had been treated not once nor twice, but of which numerous, and conflicting, versions were already current, and, when Wauchier de Denain undertook to complete Chrétien's unfinished work, he drew largely upon these already existing forms, regardless of the fact that they not only contradicted the version they were ostensibly completing, but were impossible to harmonize with each other. It is of importance for our investigation, however, to note that where Wauchier does refer to a definite source, it is to an evidently important and already famous collection of tales, Le Grant Conte, comprising several 'Branches,' the hero of the collection being not Chrétien's hero, Perceval, but Gawain, who, both in pseudo-historic and romantic tradition, is far more closely connected with the Arthurian legend, occupying, as he does, the traditional position of nephew, Sister's Son, to the monarch who is the centre of the cycle; even as Cuchullinn is sister's son to Conchobar, Diarmid to Finn, Tristan to Mark, and Roland to Charlemagne. In fact this relationship was so obviously required by tradition that we find Perceval figuring now as sister's son to Arthur, now to the Grail King, according as the Arthurian, or the Grail, tradition dominates the story. The actual existence of such a group of tales as those referred to by Wauchier derives confirmation from our surviving Gawain poems, as well as from the references in the Elucidation.
On a couple of occasions in the re-telling of these Gawain tales Wauchier refers to what he thinks is the original author by name and calls him ‘Bleheris’ the first time. On the second occasion he states specifically that this Bleheris was of Welsh birth and origin, ‘né et engenuïs en Galles’. He says this in connection with a tale being told to a certain, Comte de Poitiers, whose favourite story it was, saying ‘he loved it above all others’, which would infer that it was not the only tale the said ‘Bleheris’ had recounted to the Count.
Even though it is posited that Henry was born in Blois Castle in France, this cannot be substantiated, but if Henry is the composer, he used much Arthurian material for the Elucidation which might have made others think he was Welsh. Henry could possibly be the Link that combined Arthurian Welsh and Glastonbury Joseph material with the French source of Melkin…… Joseph and Nicodemus material owned by Eleanor of Aquitaine. The‘Elucidation’ prefaces its account of the Grail Quest by a solemn statement of the gravity of the subject to be treated as ‘God moveth the High Story of the Graal. And all they that hear it ought to understand it, and to forget all the wickednesses that they have in their hearts’.
These stark warnings are said to have come from a certain Master Blihis, concerning whom we hear no more, but the warning does seem to derive from a firm believer with an understanding of the Grail’s sanctity in connection with a divine plan or the mysterious Grail. A little further on in the poem we meet with a knight, Blihos or Bliheris, who, made prisoner by Gawain, reveals to Arthur and his court the identity of the maidens wandering in the woods of the Fisher King and the Grail, and is so good a story-teller that none can weary of listening to his tales. This in a form, is autobiographical by Henry speaking of Blihis as other than himself and is confirmed by the Count of Poitiers’commendation of Blihis’s storytelling.
‘Monseigneur’ is an honorific appellation in the French languageand it would seem that it has been mistranslated or wrongly scribed for‘Monsieur’ and then ‘master’ by later translators from the French. It has occasional English use as well, as it may be a titlebefore the name of a French prelate, a member of a royal family or any court dignitary; all of which might be applied to ‘Monseigneur Blois’. It would seem that having studied rhetoric and Grammar, Henry would qualify in some degree as a raconteur of Grail material to William X, Count of Poitiers between (1126 - 1137), Father of Eleanor of Aquitaine, just as it was said that Master Blihis had done and not forgetting, Henry apart from being Eleanor's cousin would have been abreast of the Glastonbury material since 1126. Now if we take Blihos as an anagram, remove the ‘H’ and reverse the ‘I’and the ‘O’ ,we get H. Blois.
William IX, known as the Troubadour, 1071 - 1126 was Duke of Aquitaine and Gascony and Count of Poitou between 1086 and 1126. He was the son of William VIII of Aquitaine by his third wife Hildegarde of Burgundy. He inherited the duchy at the age of fifteen. In 1088, at the age of sixteen, William married his first wife, Ermengarde of Anjou the daughter of Count Fulk. It is interesting to note that the biographer of Fulke in the History of Fulke Fitz-Warine the first to mention the Grail in Welsh literature and more importantly the book of the Holy vessel, is Eleanor of Aquitaine’s Grandmother’s family name (Fulke). What can be deduced from this is the fascination of the Welsh from their own Arthur material provided by Melkin is now being re-hashed from early French Grail material.
William IX’s greatest legacy in history was his renown as a poet. He was the first known troubadour or trouvère, a lyric poet employing the Occitan or Langued’oc tongues. Eleven of his songs survive and they are attributed to him under his title as Count of Poitou. This seems to have become a family tradition as the first Romance poets of the Middle Ages emerged as founders of the troubadour tradition……… because like his father before him, William X, Eleanor’s father was a patron of troubadours, music and literature. He was an educated man and gave his two daughters an excellent education. Henry of Blois was obviously entirely fluent in French and had family ties to Eleanor (His cousin Theobald was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine´s daughter, Marie) who also was a patron to Chrétien de Troyes and thus makes the Aquitaine’s the most likely ‘noble family’ (from Helinand), to possess Melkin’s ‘Book of the Grail’ and to provide Henry with the French source material. Another association is that Theobald V of Champagne, (Henry’s older brother) took part in the wedding ceremonies between Eleanor of Aquitaine and the future King of France, Louis VII.
In the fragmentary remains of Thomas's Tristan we have a passage, in which the poet refers, as source, to a certain Bréri, who knew "all the feats, and all the tales, of all the kings, and all the counts who had lived in Britain." With Henry’s privileged education and fascination with books he would have found available at Glastonbury, in conjunction with his royal connections; he does appear to be the obvious person to correlate British and French sources that had been temporarily separated. Blois became Bleheris or Bliohis which was mispronounced as Blihis which got Latinised into Bledhericus and far from the bounds of our enquiry at the moment one can trace Henry in other writings. Strangely enough one wonders if Robert de Boron (who is most notable as the author of the poem Joseph d'Arimathe) knows about a master blihis as the priest Blaise: ‘I’d like you to set it down in a book’ Merlin tells Blaise ‘ for many people who hear my words will benefit from them and then he assures him that the ‘Book of the Grail’ will be heard most gladly’. The accounts in The Vulgate Cycle appear to be derived from Blaise's texts. Merlin brings Blaise (In the Didot-Perceval ) to the Grail Castle to pass the time there while in the Vulgate Merlin, Blaise takes up residence in Camelot just prior to Merlin's death. As we will investigate shortly the Grail castle on Avalon is just opposite what became known as Kamaalot in Perlesvaus.
Briefly, Giraldus Cambrensis refers to the ‘famosus ille fabulator’, Bledhericus, who had lived "shortly before our time" and whose renown he evidently takes for granted and was familiar to his readers not necessarily for his personage, but rather for the material said to have been written by him. Now if Gerald of Wales was writing around 1210 this would be when the High History of the Grail was at its most Popular. Although Henry employed his own pseudonym in his work, it would seem that other appellations from other writers; the Bleheris who, according to Wauchier, had told tales concerning Gawain, and Arthur's court, one of the tales of which was certainly the Grail adventure; the Master Blihis, who knew the Grail mystery, and gave solemn counselling about its revelation; the Blihos-Bliheris, who knew the Grail, and many other tales; the Bréri, who knew all the legendary tales concerning the princes of Britain; and the famous story-teller Bledhericus, of whom Gerald of Wales speaks, are not separate people, or mere inventions of the separate writers. It would seem as if Henry, may well have deserved the title ‘famosus ille fabulator,’ but he was only accounted as the originator of the Grail because people thought Monseigneur Blois wrote the original. However ,he was just the consolidator of Melkin material and as we now know, Melkin was the writer of the original book of the Grail. It was however the coincidence of his being privy to knowledge from British and French sources that led to his reputation and renown as master Blihis, but it seems as if we can account Henry in some way responsible for the Grail’s evolution as an object.In 1126 at the age of 29, Henry was appointed Abbot of Glastonbury and would certainly have come into contact with the works of Melkin which were extant at that date. He joined the Abbey in a state of decline when the monks lived in penury. Abbot Henry took immediate action, proving himself as an excellent leader and architect. He renovated and restored the monastery and it was through his efforts that by 1143, Glastonbury Abbey is noted in the Doomsday book as “the wealthiest in England”. Henry definitely would have profited if he could persuade others that Glastonbury was Avalon. Henry’s brother, King Stephen with Queen Matilda were two of the greatest benefactors to the Templars and it is through the Templar connection of Eleanor and her proximity to the Crusades that threads of Templar material got embedded in the romances and as we shall find out became the main guardians of the truths behind the Grail.
It would seem therefore that Henry can be accredited for having written one of the first compilations of Grail Romances called the Perlesvaus or latterly known as ‘The High History of the Holy Graal’.
It appears to have been collated sourcing fromChrétien de Troye’s work(or common material) and from sources which Eleanor’s family owned, because of his family connections and the likelihood of Henry and Chrétien’s paths crossing. Henry is however very faithful in describing the Geography of the surrounding Vales around Avalon but has no idea, (at least 400 years after Melkin would have written the original Grail book), where Avalon was.
King Arthur is alive in the story, so how is it we know where he is buried especially when we see Lancelot’s visit to the Isle of Avalon were he sees Guinevere’s grave. The person who told this story had seen Guinevere's Grave and knew it was on Avalon and the only person who could have known this is Melkin. Henry was just a consolidator of the original book of the Grail, but all seem to think Henry wrote it.
If our assumptions are correct, the ‘Book of the Grail’ was written by Melkin which approximately concurs with Helinands’ date. Henry of Blois was also aware of Melkin’s other writings at Glastonbury, adding to the fact that it is also credited in the Latin version of the ‘High History of the Holy Graal’ to have been written by a monk at Glastonbury who, incidentally must have been fluent in some dialects of the French.
Melkin appears to be single handedly responsible for coalescing the Joseph tradition in Britain and the Grail literature that emanated from France. However it is Henry's Perlesvaus that expresses that this historical information about Joseph's arrival in Britain is actually derived from Joseph of Arimathea himself, but the story itself intones that he is just a narrator called Josephus, just as Henry has invented a cameo partfor himself as the first man conquered by the knight known as Gauwain, was named Blihos Bliheris.
'Thus to make a delectable tune to your ear, history goes masking as fable'. (R. Wace)
Melkin, through the construction of his riddle, kept alive a tradition from great antiquity through conjoining the Quest of the Grail (from French literature) with a search for Joseph and what was with him in his tomb. It would seem also that Henry de Blois (as a later propagator) was the ‘famous fabulator’ named ‘Master Blihis’ in the prologue called the Elucidation of Le Conte Del Graal where it says, Master Blihis is ‘one who knew all the stories of the Graal’.
Chrétien de Troyes working for Eleanor of Aquitaineand her daughters states that he had been given a Grail book by them, to be romanticised, (inferring a more historical or factual account), so that it could be read out at court to provide pleasure for its listeners. It would appear therefore, that the French noble family in possession of Melkin’s work which contained the historical Joseph account including the gospel of Nicodemus (which Chrétien was aware of), and the various tales up to king Arthur were all derived from Melkin’s ‘Book of the Graal’ in the possession of Eleanor.
Henry of Blois was uncle to Theobald V, Count of Blois and Troyes who was married to Alix de France, daughter of Louis VII, King of France from his first wife Eleanor d’Aquitaine. Theobald’s brother Henry was married to Marie, Eleanor’s other daughter, so through the Aquitaine’s possible ownership of Melkin’s book of the Grail, it is not difficult to see how Henry of Blois, appraised of the fact that Melkin was the originator of these truths, and being acquainted with the Glastonbury tradition could have been the one responsible in part for the British re-emergence. This helped through Crusader and Templar influences of the Joseph and Arthurian histories, couched and propagated as popular troubadour tales.
In addition, the Count of Blois’ court in Troyes became a renowned literary troubadour centre. Walter Map was among those who found hospitality there along with Chrétien.
We should not forget that Melkin was probably the hermit (pious monk) referred to by Helinand and that Melkin had to have been aware of arcane Joseph material, to have portrayed the Joseph and Grail material as the base for his Prophecy. As we shall see further in our investigation, it is through Melkin’s thorough understanding of the essence of the Grail that he can link its discovery with the unveiling of the tomb with a specific point in time. It is partly due to this prediction of the unveiling that subsequent commentators referred to his extract about Joseph’s tomb and the ‘duo fassula’, as a prophecy.
Henry for reasons regarding his ecclesiastical position, would not wish to be associated with the more romanticised and plainly embellished Grail material proliferating at the time. Henry understood the Grail’s sanctity in that it was a relic of Jesus in some form and may have been aware of its more arcane meaning as an expression of God’s work in man as he clearly sets out his three Grail heroes in Branches as were the Grades set in the Divine plan. He knew that it was a subject (although not fully comprehended by him) that should not be treated irreverently and so the Perlesvaus and then ‘The High History of the Grail’,was written and alluded to himself by a pseudonym or nickname.
Henry was brought to England by King Henry I, to be Abbot of Glastonbury. On 4 October 1129, he was given the Bishopric of Winchester but allowed to keep his beloved Glastonbury Abbey. He was consecrated as bishop on 17 November 1129. He had ambitions to become Archbishop of Canterbury but was thwarted. However he did not abandon his work at Glastonbury. Except for a few brief months in 1141 when he changed his alliance to Empress Matilda, when he thought he would be on the winning side, Henry supported and advised Stephen his brother and is credited as one of the clergy who helped convince William of Corbeil, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to crown Stephen. Soon after his appointment to the See of Winchester, Henry came to resent his subservience to Canterbury. Henry was the patron of great writers one of whom was Archdeacon, Gerald of Wales who later unwittingly referred to him as Bledhericus or Blesiness as a storyteller in the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Through his family connections Henry had links to the Templars and the Crusades and was well acquainted with William of Malmesbury.
One of the finest buildings Henry had constructed, was the Hospital of St. Cross on the outskirts of Winchester. A few years after completion, Henry was to assign the guardianship over to the Knights Templar. In William of Malmsbury’s work, ‘De Antiquitate Glasttonie Ecclesie’, (which he dedicated to Henry), he tells us that “the monk he knew personally and in fact whom he “served” was shy, learned and a great writer”. Henry of Blois gave some sixty books to the great library at Glastonbury and had ancient books copied, such as Pliny’s Natural History, the book of Enoch, and several other books of Origen, St. Jerome and St. Augustine which probably would have been lost except for his efforts. Mostly he will be remembered for sponsoring the Winchester Bible, the largest illustrated Bible ever produced (which was still unfinished at his death).
It is in 1155 though, that Master Robert Wace completes his "Roman de Brut," a version of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s "History" in French. Wace dedicated his work to Eleanor of Aquitaine his patron, and is remembered as being the first writer to introduce the concept of the "Round Table" to the Arthurian cycle. Was it Eleanor who had provided him with a source containing arcane geomatria supplied by Melkin’s book. It could have mixed with the information from British sources found at Glastonbury supplied by Henry of Blois that were to be included in the Architecture of Chartres then under the jurisdiction of the Counts of Blois. Of King Arthur Robert Wace says,
"I know not if you have heard tell the marvellous gestes and errant deeds related so often of King Arthur. They have been noised about this mighty realm for so great a space that the truth has turned to fable and an idle song. Such rhymes are neither sheer bare lies, nor gospel truths. They should not be considered either an idiot's tale, or given by inspiration. The minstrel has sung his ballad, the storyteller told over his tale so frequently; little by little he has decked and painted, till by reason of his embellishment the truth stands hid in the trappings of a tale. Thus to make a delectable tune to your ear, history goes masking as fable.
As we mentioned John Leland, in the 16th century, claimed to have seen manuscript material by Melkin from his Historia in Glastonbury Abbey’s library and Leland seems to think that Melkin believes Joseph of Arimathea was buried at Glastonbury. This is obviously incorrect as Melkin's instructions within his puzzle lead us to the real Island of Avalon. So again we see gradual misinterpretation as Leland can be putting words into Melkin's mouth and can be seen to be making an assumption based upon words such as 'oratori' only being synonymous with Glastonbury. However, wierdly enough, Leland ....... even though he thinks Melkin believes Joseph is buried at Glastonbury, does not believe it himself. Yet on page.126 of his Assertio Arturii, he names Glastonbury as Arthur's burial site.
John Bale, writing in 1548, says that Melkin was a geometer and an astronomer specialising in Comets which infers a grasp of Time, as those comets that recur, do so infrequently. He describes him: astorum peritus ac geometer, non solum arcana somniorum et cometarum eventus discutere atque planetarum dispsitiones demonstrare solebat. 'Not only skillful in astronomy and a geometrician, but discusses the secrets of dreams, the events of comets and demonstrates the disposition of the planets'.
Melkin anyway was a geometer, which was not only borne out by the geometrical precision (once the prophesy is decoded), but also if we take into account information regarding Montacute as a marker. This information may have been derived from the Grail book originally and passed on by Henry of Blois through the Glastonbury chain to Father Willian Good. Henry could however have gleaned this from another work of Geomatria by Melkin found at Glastonbury and possibly this is the reason for Bale's description of Melkin.
Henry was probably the first Abbot to pass on this clue that seems to have come down through the ages to Father Good.
It was generally understood that Joseph was hidden within some geometric puzzle, all the clues of which seem to emanate from Melkin, the one man who knew the whereabouts of Joseph.
It also seems a little suspect that he chose to be appointed at the young age of 23, as Prior of Montacute. The one person we suspect of having read Melkin’s Grail book and who most likely discovered that there was a connection between Montacute and finding Joseph just happens to be prior there. Henry had come across this Montacute information regarding the burial site of Joseph……. material from a source that Melkin must have written, since the line that he is sending us to find (the 104 nautical mile line from Avebury to Burgh Island), runs right through St. Michael’s hill Montacute. Since no-one at the time knew it was a ‘confirmation clue’ or knew where the Island of Avalon was, it obviously did not help Henry. Since this piece of material evidence was not spoken of or referenced in the Grail literature that emanated from France, one would assume that this information was found in a Melkin manuscript that existed in Britain before the fire. The only reason for not thinking this is that…… why at such a young age had Henry come straight from France to Montacute? This indeed would be an extraordinary coincidence if he had not come across this clue while in France.
Strangely enough, it was Eleanor who married King Henry II, the same King Henry who was supposedly told by a sage the exact place to start digging at Glastonbury Abbey to find King Arthur’s bones there between two pyramids. As we have covered Henry II was already dead when Arthur was unearthed but the story could have a grain of truth, if indeed Henry had learnt of Arthur’s burial in Avalon from Eleanor or her material. If it was widely accepted that Joseph was buried in Avalon and because of Joseph’s Glastonbury connection to the church there……… it is possible that the King, learning Arthur was also buried in Avalon also from the French source, may indeed have put this very idea of Avalon (being equated with Glastonbury) into the monks heads. It is possible that subsequently after the king’s death, they eventually (having lost their patron), decided to carry out the bogus unearthing of Arthur, citing him as a witness.
Although John Leland, in 1534 says that the book he saw of Melkin’s dated to 450AD, we do not know how he arrived at that date. The passage from Helinand’s chronicle relates the angels appearance to Melkin occured in 717,(and we will cover later how this date is probably accurate)……… so somewhere in-between both Arthur and Melkin lived.
One can only deduce that Helinand is referring to Melkin, as Melkin deals with the same two subjects, that of Joseph and the Grail in his Prophesy. It will become apparent to the reader, as we progress, that Melkin’s ‘Book of the Graal’ or ‘Of the Grades or by Degrees’ had express knowledge of what the Gradatim was, as a series of ‘grades’ toward spiritual enlightenment and this revelation of the Grail was known and understood by Melkin. He knew that it would be marked by an event in time, i.e. the unveiling of the tomb at a predestined point in time, but we will deal with this explanation of ‘Time’ later.
One cannot be certain if Helinand’s extract is the first passage which refers to the Grail directly at this early date, but the same date was quoted by Walter Map, an early Grail writer in reference as a source. If it is genuine, it is the closest we get to the original source of Melkin the consolidator of material found in the tomb. This is the point at which it becomes a question of faith for those who believe in Angels or for the pragmatic to answer……… ‘from where did Melkin receive instruction’? If we consider the Grail as arcane knowledge linked to a Divine Plan, then divine intervention by apparition should not be excluded especially when we consider Melkin’s link to an apparition by St. Michael that is attributed to St. Aubert at Mont-Saint-Michel discussed in a later chapter. Because Melkin states in his Prophecy precisely what was in the vault on Burgh Island and gives a description of the Turin Shroud long before it was supposedly first shown in public……. it seems more probable that he visited the vault or cave given the precise directions to the entrance.
Who imparted the knowledge for the original arcane source material, if it was not an angel that indeed gave Melkin his insight? Is this not a rationalisation of others that tried to answer how it was that someone living in the sixth century could have Knowledge of Joseph's arrival in Britain. The proposition that Melkin found documentation to this effect in the tomb is borne out by the fact that the Perlesvaus, (in an indirect way) attests that it was Joseph who supplied the early detail of his historical arrival.
More importantly, how were they or he able to leave behind such exact geometrical and geographic instructions with surveying pin point accuracy? One must remember that if Melkin did live around 450 to 700AD then where was this source and in what language, before Melkin transcribed all its information into the Latin book of the Grail? It seems likely that this source material and the Grail book (the consolidation of the history of the Grail Keepers) will be found at the unveiling of the tomb……… the Grail book being returned when the Templars hid their treasure there.
The arcane source material will have remained in the tomb, but it is probable the Grail book was returned to the tomb by the Templars..... as by now it would have surfaced. From the testimony of Helinand regarding the possession of the French book (only existing incomplete)……… makes one think that the original was only translated piecemeal and the parts translated and woven into a story were those parts that inspired individually the original transcribers. There must be a an arcane source book for Melkin to have transcribed from Hebrew to render 'Shirei ha Ma'a lot’, because to understand and relate in the Grail book about the Grades of Enlightenement would indicate some exterior source or divine inspiration.
In Helinand’s chronicle, he derives ‘graal’ from ‘gradalis’and sets the date for the British hermit's vision of the Grail at 707 or 717 A.D, but we are told that Melkin was ‘before’ Arthur and Merlin. This proposition now seems inaccurate if we take this date and the fact that Melkin knows where Arthur is buried. It is still not certain how this transition of the ‘Grades’ evolved into an object except from obvious misinterpretation, but Helinand's ‘gradalis’ did not resemble a chalice but rather a dish on which meats were served. This semantically fits with the other descriptions of the Holy Grail as a receptacle, since Joseph of Arimathea uses the Grail to catch blood and sweat even from French tradition and alluded to by Melkin (in the misunderstood British prophecy).... and implies that it is a vessel that holds liquid. Helinand states that Gradalisor Gradale means a dish, wide and somewhat deep by definition, in which rich meats are served to the rich in degrees- gradatim.
This is the point where I am sure that I will loose many readers as the duality of the Grail is on one side derived from arcane understanding. Is this not a misunderstanding of the transcribers and the original purport of the processional alluded to the spiritually rich as opposed to the waste-land or dearth which is cured on attainment of the Grail in the romances. This is a complex subject as the consciousness of man is refered to in Biblical expression through the prophets as ‘land’. The waste-land is an allusion to a spiritual state.
The singular Chalice is often thought of as the receptacle used at the Last Supper or is a relic of the Passion in which both blood and sweat were contained. Some scholars posit that the concept of the Grail as a platter preceded the notion of the Grail as the "Kiddush Cup" from the Last Supper positing that primarily it was a Paschal Dish and not the Eucharistic vessel used by the twelve disciples. The physical Grail is none of these, because Melkin describes it so accurately, he leaves no doubt as to its composition.
When Chrétien de Troyes refers to the ‘Graal’ in ‘le Conte du Graal, Chrétien refers to his object not as “the Grail”, but as “un graal”, “a grail”, implying that in the source document it was used in context as a common noun and that there were more than one. Melkin alludes to the Grail as either the body of Jesus in Grail ark or the shroud that was formed in it, but he also is recounting in the Book of the Grail about Grades or Degrees to enlightenment, which is the whole essence of the other half of understanding what the Grail is……… an objective description of the ‘Divine Plan’. The romances, even though they have muddled the duality of the Grail...... have in a way achieved a heightened awareness or preparation in readying the world as a form of pre-cognition.
It is difficult to ascertain whether Melkin, did survey the angles and distances that we will be elucidating when we investigate Melkin’s prophecy, because this art was supposedly lost in the sixth century Dark Ages, when European mapping techniques were still very crude. Melkin, however, passes on precise and accurate information given in his riddle, so where did he get it from? If it was not Melkin who surveyed the British landscape by his own skill, which points to where Joseph and Jesus were buried in the Island of Ictis, then how was it that he could leave us such precise directions? Was it truly by divine intervention as Helinand posits, or was there original ancient mapping instructions which indicated and marked Ley lines from which Melkin compiled his prophecy? The reason for considering this is that ‘Mons Acute’ or Montacute was the place Henry of Blois went to long before the Templars built the marker St. Michael churches. So was Mons Acutus the mount that marked out the thirteen degrees from the ley line from the 'sperula' (sphere) of Avebury and got named as such…… long before the Templars built their St. Michael edifice to mark their treasure hoard.
If one considers that an entire body of knowledge may have existed since very early days from the offspring of Zerah through a line of Kings that ended with Arthur, then Melkin could have had access to this when he buried King Arthur. Was he, like Father Good, just the messenger, perpetuating a tradition and preserving directions to Joseph’s resting place to be found in a future generation? The hardest question to answer is…… “who did the original surveying and at what stage in history were the coordinates of these Ley Lines recorded and surveyed as pertaining to what was hidden in Ictis”? If we assume that the Templars possessed knowledge of this Ley line system (which will become apparent), then the French Book of the Grail may also have contained this geometry. If this assumption is correct then it might explain where Henry of Blois got the information about Montacute that was passed on to Father Good down through the ages by the Abbots.....If this was the reason for his arrival in Montacute.
The argument against it being divine intervention leaves only two options, one being....... Melkin did survey the lines, but how is this then linked to the Geometry of the pyramid. Is the pyramid geometry purely co-incidental and has no relevance to Melkin's instructions. The other option would be that the Island was surveyed long ago as part of the pyramid construct, but to what purpose and what part does the island play in relation to the original St.Michael Ley line before the Templars put their stamp on it and defined it as such by dedicating a string of sites to St. Michael. Certainly the prevalence of sites is less to the east of Avebury but it in no way diminishes the existence of the line to the East of Avebury as corroborated by Miller and Broahurst in the 'Sun and the Serpent'.
If the extract that gives account of the Grail noted by Helinand was written in Latin around 707AD, it indicates that, before the five main romance writers, Guiot le Provencal, Chrétien de Troyes, Walter Map, Wolfram von Eschenbach, and Albrecht von Scharfenberg, began their works, there was a Latin original which would explain (given his connections to the noble family), how Henry of Blois might have made the Montacute connection that was passed to Father Good. If it was not picked up to feature in any of the French transcripts by the French writers, maybe Henry had gleaned it from the original. But then one has to question whether Henry actually saw the French original translation of the Grail book (if there ever was one) or the original Latin from Melkin. It seems that if there ever was a complete transcription of the whole 'Grail Book', the various varients would concur more in their subject matter. As Helinand bears witness there probably was no complete French volume, but the French material existed as seperate extracts or exerpts compiled by the original writers allowed to see the latin text or material from an oral Troubadour tradition.
As regards to when the original was written (given the Saxon connection to Arthur), it would seem soon after Arthur’s demise and possibly even written in France although Helinand’s source seems to indicate an Apparition as taking place in Britain. The original Latin version written by Melkin we should guess at around 650 AD to be followed by the French translations of excerpts and the French volume that Helinand presumes exists, never did. Because Eleanor’s Father and Grandfather were captivated by these stories and the fact that Chretien is working off another’s work…… what we think all became a tradition at one time probably had much earlier strains as well.
It is with this family that the troubadour tradition concerning the Grail commenced, to evolve into the various forms of romances. Before any of the early named Grail writers mentioned above came on the scene, there was most probably a more oral court tradition and it would seem these early troubadours recognised at this early date that the Grail book contained sacred information.
The Grail books appearance was either then ascribed the date by Helinand or more probably given the date of when his source wrote of the Latin originals first appearance at court. Because of the book’s profundity, knowledge and the nature of its material, it may only have been assumed that it could only have been delivered by an angel to the hermit. (better known as Melkin). In a later chapter we will cover the possibility that Burgh Island’s association as a Tomb in connection with St. Michael preceded even the Templars and if indeed it is the cause for the naming of Mont- Saint-Michel as Mons Tomba and its association with an angelic apparition by St. Michael to a monk.
It was Robert de Boron circa 1170 who relates the story of the shield that was later to become the template for the Arms of Glastonbury, that had probably inspired Father Good’s investigation to find a clue to Joseph’s burial site. The shield given to Evalak by Josaphes, Joseph of Arimathea’s son, had a red cross on it that was also to become the symbol of the Rosicrucians and the Templars. Robert tells us that, following Evalak's victory over Tholomer, the red cross upon it disappeared, then Josaphes, just before his death, asked Mordrains to bring the shield to him. Continuing the story he then recounts that Josaphes with his own blood inscribed another cross on the shield and gave it back to Mordrains, and afterward it was placed upon the grave of Duke Nasciens, until Galahad would come and retrieve it. Galahad then posseses a sword which had belonged to King David, the hilt of which was covered by King Solomon with precious stones and the story ensues with an adventure with the holy bleeding lance, and Galahad’s eventual achievement of the Saint Graal, followed by his death at Sarras. Now here is the quirk. If the sword of Solomon was brought by Joseph then If he left Jerusalem with it, would he not know where the Arc is,presuming they were cached in the same place beneath the temple. Is this why these Knights originally wound up at the Temple Mount rather than the ruse of protecting the way of pilgrims?
Thomas Malory's ‘Morte D’Arthur’ has very much the same elements within his story with his own additions, the early French tradition keeping links with the Holy Land threaded throughout the narrative. Is Solomon’s sword’s iconic appearance in the original sources hinting at the inter-relationship of the two twins Pharez and Zerah’s separate bloodlines, as far back as King David, Solomon’s father, but somehow imputing the transference of kingship to Britain. The shield obviously being transformed in the tale with blood marks on it, to a Rosicrucian emblem and an association with the Templars, who not only were probably at this stage in possession of the Latin source in France after Eleanor but were now releasing their source material in response to the new interest shown in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s widely read history of the kings of Britain.
Evalak’s shield then by close association with Joseph was adopted as the Arms of Glastonbury. Glastonbury substituted the knotted wooden cross from the staff planted by Joseph at Glastonbury and then added the two vessels each side to coincide with the ‘duo fassula’ while the blood inscribed cross of Evalak also become the Templar emblem.
The subject matter of our investigation seems so wide, and interrelated from Ictis to Avalon via Glastonbury and the Grail stories. Evalak king of Sarras, Knights looking for the Graal in the East, Egypt, Jerusalem, the Templars’cross, stories of Jesus in England, Joseph of Arimathea being buried with the Grail, Arthur, the oil with which Josaphes was consecrated, being kept in the Grail-ark. This oil with which a line of Kings are consecrated, while being kept at Sarras, swords and ships from Solomon, pyramids at Glastonbury, and prophecies in riddle form, but all of these having a link to Jesus.
Man from the dawn of consciousness, has advanced and gained a large amount of knowledge from stories recounted by previous generations that sometimes lived millenia before him while the individual has to learn and judge the validity of this corpus of knowledge in his short 70 years of life. The relevance of the stories in this enquiry are for mankind as a whole, as if we are being prepared for a revelation…… occult information couched within the Grail stories some of it derived from understanding the Prophets of Israel, and bardic prophecies, without which, we would not comprehend a coming of heightened consciousness, and the proof that mankind needs. A proof that aligns with scriptures held as sacred by the Abrahamic religions i.e. the Prophets. The proof that is necessary for Mankind to progress in consciousness is the knowledge that there is some form of divine intervention which directs events. If Man were to have a more intellectual knowledge of God rather than wholly Faith based, there would be a shift in the consciousness of Mankind. There is understanding of this expectation even outside the arena of our investigation in the prophecy of Paracelcus, and the reformation of the whole world order.
Quod utilius Deus patefieri sinet, quod autem majoris momenti est, vulgo adhuc latet usque ad Eliæ Artistæ adventum, quando is venerit.
"God will permit a discovery of the highest importance to be made, it must be hidden till the advent of the artist Elias." He also states;
Hoc item verum est nihil est absconditum quod non sit retegendum; ideo, post me veniet cujus magnale nundum vivit qui multa revelabit.
"And it is true, there is nothing concealed which shall not be discovered; for which cause a marvellous being shall come after me, who as yet lives not, and who shall reveal many things."
In Malachi 4:5 See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. This passage comes straight after an admonishment to obey the Law of Moses the very subject the Archangel is supposed to dispute with the Dragon. Jehosaphat mentioned in Melkin’s prophecy, is the same day to which Malachi refers; so is St. Michael synonymous with Elijah? It would seem that the different religions would need a proof of provenance of some sort to reunite them, especially those of the Abrahamic tradition, as all have been derived from one heritage and been guided by one divine plan. Of course, in Jewish, Moslem and Christian traditions this unifier is Michael the Archangel, attested by Enoch first and then confirmed later by the Biblical prophets. The very purpose of prophecy is realisation or gnosis and if St. Michael is to bring together these three Abrahamic faiths there will be a need to eradicate religion in all its divisive forms of theological dogma and creed.
The very reality of what was foretold by these prophets needs to actually transpire and then there will be the proof needed by mankind. The problem is that gnosis of an omnipotent God needs be ‘re-cognised’.The Grail stories with what they reveal, when aligned with the prophets are just the vehicle to bring about this paradigm shift of consciousness. After all, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand and has been for 2000 years, but it is only a heightened consciousness that recognises this fact until the time comes when this shift in consciousness occurs and this is at the discovery of the Tomb and what it reveals to mankind.
Chrétien de Troyes poem tells of the passages through life of a young knight called Percival, but it is written in an uneasy form and suddenly goes from a story about Percival into the adventures he has on the way to being a knight. Percival is the first of the three Grail stories to be published and in the narrative it describes the vessel of the Holy Grail as a golden dish and also speaks of a Lance dripping with blood that appears with the Grail conveyed ceremoniously at times throughout a meal he is having. The Grail romances cover too many variations to be discussed here, but as we focused on the essential information provided by Pytheas that led us to the Island of Ictis, so too, must we look at the essential core of what the Grail romances have in common, to understand their meaning. It is evident that the Grail writers were not really concerned with historical time or anachronistic chronology as they interwove their various versions from a core body of material.
The essential threads of information that align themselves even semantically and allegorically seem to consist of Joseph of Arimathea, the Grail, Knightly pursuits and a quest, but essentially it was a British matter. Joseph has a connection to Jesus and most of the Grail heroes have a connection to Joseph and so it would seem a bloodline or inheritance is inferred. The Grail seems to be an object with direct connections to Jesus having been brought to Britain by Joseph. The quest appears to be, to find the Grail but the Grail seems hard to define and thus looking for it makes it all the more difficult. The Grail although greatly connected to Jesus (who was the one responsible for a major part of Man’s enlightenment) is also synonymous with the developmental stages of enlightenment in the individual, referred to as grades in the Book of the Grail and allegorised as the righteousness of knightly pursuits.
Melkin having prior knowledge of this process or divine plan would in effect equate him as having equal standing with Biblical prophets, informing us of future events in ’Time’ but also having knowledge that his prophecy relates in part to degrees of Spiritual enlightenment which are set in a finite timespan.