he Arthurian legends did not enjoy broad currency outside the British Isles
until the Norman invasions. During that era, the Normans studied the cultures
of their conquered subjects with something of the fascination we westerners now
reserve for the study of Third World cultures. By describing him as Britain's
first Christian king as well as a foe of the Saxons and pagan Celts, Geoffrey
of Monmouth, in his History of the Kings of Britain (1147), invented an Arthur
who was more agreeable to the Norman conquerors.
Geoffrey's infuential Historia Regum Britanniae includes the eccentric Prophetiae Merlini.
"It is in this role as prophet that Merlin develops most dramatically in Italy where an understandable lack of interest in Cambrian liberation leads to Merlin's naturalization as a prophet intimately embroiled in the politics of the court of Frederick II in Sicily.
Although Merlin may have arrived in Italy as early as 1128, it is in 1191, the year Arthur's tomb was discovered at Glastonbury, that he enters Italian literature in Godfrey of Viterbo's Pantheon, a universal history whose Arthurian material is drawn directly from Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia. Godfrey retells the story of the fatherless boy and Vortigern's tower, and he ends with Merlin's prophecy of the coming of Arthur. It is a curious coincidence that Godfrey, tutor to Henry VI (son of Barbarossa and father of Frederick II), should end his account with Merlin's prophecy of a deathless king: "Nec perit omnino, maris observabitur imo, vivere perpetus poterit rex ordine primo: ista tibi referro, caetera claudo sinu" [and not perish utterly, but be preserved beneath the sea to live forever a king as before: these things I tell you, the rest I keep shut in my breast] (Gardner 6-7). Whatever the caetera enclosed in his breast, Godfrey's version of the exitus dubius could apply not only to Arthur, but to the rumors that would surround the death of Godfrey's patron's son, the Wonder of the World, Frederick II.
- Merlin: A Casebook
edited by Peter H Goodrich, Raymond H Thompson
"Merlin" had also spoken of "Secundus Fridericus insperati et mirabilis ortus" (the unexpected and miraculous birth of the second Frederick). Contemporary accounts add a decade or more to the age of the forty-year old empress (Constance) who produced and heir after nine years of childless marriage.
While Monmouth's is the most frequently cited early account of Arthur, at least as important were the writings of another Norman, Chretien de Troyes. In 13th century Europe, Arthur was popularized by his Four Arthurian Romances (approx. 1180). Chretien de Troyes' contributions to the Arthur myth include the Grail, Camelot, Lancelot, chivalry and the very idea of knightly romance.
"The 'Arthurian' and Grail 'Romance' cycles, date from the 1140's and reach a first climax with the great Vulgate cycle of the first half of the 13th century (see Matarasso Quest of the Holy Grail, intr.); many subsequent versions, including Malory (15th c.). Great practitioners: Chrétien de Troyes (c.1175), Gottfried von Strassburg, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Hartmann von Aue, Heinrich von dem Türlin (all from the great flourishing of courtly literature among the Hohenstaufen in Swabia / Austria in the period c.1175-1225, including also the Nibelungenlied)."
- Story-Telling in the Middle Ages
By 1216, during Frederick's young adulthood, the German poet, Wolfram von Eschenbach, had written "Parzival", the greatest of Middle High German court epics.
"Frederick II's court at Palermo was a center for learned men and for troubadours and minnesingers from France and Germany (possibly including the minnesinger known as 'der Tannhäuser' and Wolfram von Eschenbach, the poet who wrote 'Parzival')."
- Frederick of Hohenstaufen
"Parzival" (Percival) is the well-known story of a simpleton who passes through struggle and temptation and in the end wins the highest earthly happiness and becomes King of the Holy Grail.
"...von Eschenbach, stated that Chretien derived the story of the Grail from a provincial cleric named Kyot, probably Guyot de Provins, a supporter of the Templars. He was said to have lived in Jerusalem and at the court of Frederick Barbarossa, as well as being an initiate of the Templar mysteries.
At the time the first mix in cultures of the Far East and the west was happening through such groups as the Knights Templar. In fact, Wolfram Von Eschenbach in his Grail epic `Parzival' describes a group of knights who are the guardians of the grail. The reader is left in no doubt that he is alluding to the Templars."
- The Grail Crusade
"It is thought that Wolfram began writing his poem Parzival in about 1200. At this time there was a sect in what is now southern France, the Oc region or Languedoc. One of their centres was the town of Albi. It has been suggested (in the writings of O. Rahn, E. Anitchkof and J. Evola) that some of the ideas provided to Wolfram by the mysterious Kyot originated with this sect, with whom Kyot may have come into contact in Provence or the Languedoc. The Albigensians or Cathars."
- Catharism and the Albigensian Crusade
As he was not yet Christian enough for the tastes of the Catholic Church, the Cistercian's took up the task of further Christianizing Arthur. The Cistercian chronicler Helinandus (d. about 1230) claimed the Grail had been seen in a hermit's vision in 717 a.d. and that this hermit subsequently wrote a book about the experience entitled "Gradale". It was the Cistercians who, in The Vulgate Cycle, made the Holy Grail "holy", turning it into a Christian talisman. The first prose version of the legends, The Vulgate Cycle, like von Eschenbach's Parzival, also associated the Knights of the Round Table with the militant wing of the Cistercian order, the Knights Templar.
The Templars were one of three military religious orders. The Teutonic Knights, who swore allegiance to Frederick II, were another. The Teutonic order was patterned after the Templars and wore similar uniforms. The order's Grand Master, Herman von Salza, was a close personal friend of Frederick II and accompanied him to Jerusalem in 1229.
When Constantinople was sacked in 1204, the Templars took possession of a relic that may have been the source of all of the grail legends. In Constantinople, where it had resided since the 8th century, this relic was known as the Edessa icon, sindon, tetradiplon and mandylion. In the west it has come to be known as the Shroud of Turin.
"...the object's true nature as burial cloth was unclear. But something about its rumored looks caused it to be compared, in Britain and Brittany, with the "dish of plenty" or the "Dysgl with Bran's head in a pool of blood," the graal of Welsh- Irish mythology. As something unique and awesome, the reputed shroud of Jesus assumed, in the imaginative romance literature of the West, the differing forms of the Holy Grail;"
- Joseph of Arimathea, the Holy Grail and the Turin Shroud by Daniel C. Scavone
"Few tourists ponder why a Christian Church in Provence uses the symbolism of ancient Greek myth, why its Saint is called Trophime, or Trophy, or even why Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor in the late 12th century, chose Arles and St. Trophime for his coronation?
Attempting to answer these questions takes us deep into the heart of the Grail legends. The coronation of Frederick Barbarossa appears to be the key point of diffusion, the place and time where the Grail myths entered the story of King Arthur. As many other researcher have found, the Grail stories have much to do with a bloodline, the possible descendants of Jesus, hence the Green Language-esque pun of Sang Real, holy blood, out of San Graal, holy grail."
- The Underground Stream and Fulcanelli's Message
Among the biblical treatise of the last pages of The Vulgate Cycle, the Cistercians established the Second Coming of Arthur.
With the completion of this work in 1238, the medieval popularization of Arthurian myth on the continent was now complete.
Contemporaneous with the life of Frederick II...
"The great body of the Grail romances came into existence between the years 1180 and 1240. After the thirteenth century nothing new was added to the Grail legend."
- The Catholic Encyclopedia
Von Eschenbach linked the origins of Parzival to the Hohenstaufen family and he, along with the Cistercians, associated the fictional Knights of the Round Table with an order of real life knights, the militant wing of the Cistercians, the Templars. With these fictional elements and reality merged, it's not surprising that Frederick became the once and future king, his court became Camelot and his personal magician, Michael Scot, became Merlin. In Sicily, Frederick was even given his own Knights of the Round Table:
"...his abode must surely be Mount Aetna: indeed he had been seen at the volcano's mouth in December 1250, accompanied by his knights who rode ablaze down the slopes of the mountain, passing through the sea to join their master in the bowels of the earth."
- Frederick II A Medieval Emperor by David Abulafia, p. 432
"As soon as the notion of Michael Scot's magical powers had fairly taken possession of the popular mind, it was greatly reinforced by the association of his name and memory with the still living and adaptable Arthurian legend. Alain de l'Isle, who lived as late as 1202, says that the tales proper to this romantic cycle were so heartily believed in Brittany that any one casting doubt upon Arthur's return would have been stoned by the people. From the Trouveres the legend passed to the Troubadors of the south of France. When the Normans established themselves in Sicily, these latter poets carried to this new home of their race the materia poetica which had so long engaged the best talents of France. The religious war which desolated Provence in the beginning of the thirteenth century completed the dispersion of the Troubadors. Many found a refuge in Italy and Sicily. They communicated an emotional impulse which led to the formation of the Italian language as a means of literary expression. Through them the inheritance of the Arthurian tales was secured to the people of the South, who soon began to localise the chief incidents of this romantic cycle in the island of Sicily.
Gervase of Tilbury tells us that near the town of Catania lies the burning mountain of Etna, called by the people Mongibello, and famed among them as the abode of King Arthur. One story has a groom searching for a lost horse venturing to enter an opening he perceived in the hollow part of the hill. Here he found a narrow winding path which led to a pleasant land within Etna, and to a palace, the home of Arthur.
Carter von Heisterbach has the same tale in his collection, but repeats it with some variations. In his pages the pleasant land of Avalon, with its peaceful palace, becomes the dark abode of fire, answering more nearly to the actual phenomena of the mountain. Arthur hence issues a dread summons to the owner of the palfrey, bidding him appear in that infernal region within a fortnight."
- Enquiry Into the Life and Legend of Michael Scot (p. 193-203)
Rev. J. Wood Brown (pub. 1897)
"When the Normans brought tales with them to Sicily, they also brought the legends of King Arthur and transplanted them deep in the fertile Sicilian imagination. Mount Etna became the fairy kingdom of Mongibel, where Morgan lived and where her sprites entrapped Arthur."
- Mount Etna
"In the French romance of Florian and Florete , we see the kingdom within Etna, before Arthur came thither, and find it a land of faery, where the King's sister Morgana holds her flowery court. The Fata Morgana , as she is called is still remembered on these southern coasts. She is no doubt the Faery Queen with whom Thomas Rhymer spent so many years underground ere he returned with the gift of prophetic truth."
The Dream The Illusion
"When the mirage appears in the straits of Messina, and houses and castles are seen hanging in thin air, the people call them by the name of that mysterious princess. They think that the sides of Etna have become transparent and that what they behold is the realm of faery with the Fata Morgana's palace in the midst."
- Enquiry Into the Life and Legend of Michael Scot (p. 193-203)
Rev. J. Wood Brown (pub. 1897)
"The Castel del Monte near Ruvo di Puglia, Southern Italy, was the last and most beautiful building of Frederick II (1194-1250), Roman emperor and King of Sicily. It dominates the Apulian landscape like a white crystal, a fata morgana beyond time and space whose original purpose will probably be a mystery forever."
- Michel Godard
Castel Del Monte
The Fata Morgana also appears in a story concerning Frederick's great-grandfather, Roger I.
"Roger I, Count of Sicily, was given the task of conquering Sicily from the Saracens; it took him from 1062 until 1091 before he finally succeeded.
A local story tells how, while at Messina, Roger I was besieged by Sicilian refugees begging him to free Sicily from the Saracens. When he hesitated, Morgana, the fairy of Arthurian legends, appeared in her glory before him. She showed him her white coach which would carry him across the straits. To show him her power, she made towns and palaces from the other side appear so near that Roger could touch them."
- FTC's Genealogy Homepage
"These legends show that Avalon, first dreamed of in the far North, had by this time been carried southward to find a new locality under Etna, and that already the mystic king, who dwelt with his court in the land of shadows till he should again return to earth, had taken a firm hold of the southern fancy. It was but a step more then, and one very easily taken, when men began to see in the Princes of the Hohenstaufen, and the chief figures of their court, the heirs of this legend in some of its most important features. Frederick Barbarossa, for example, was commonly said to pass the ages between death and life in a hollow hill. The Germans identified this abode with the Kyffhauser, and expected the Emperor's return in the spirit of the tales told of Wodan, Frau Holda and Frau Venus, in their national mythology (see Grimm's Deutsche Mythologie ). It was even reported that a bold shepherd armed with the mysterious key-flower had forced the secret, entering these recesses of the hill and beholding Barbarossa as in life, with his red beard growing through the marble table at which he sat asleep. The romantic heritage next fell upon Barbarossa's grandson Frederick II. It was long before the adherents of the Empire who had staked so much upon their great champion's bold defiance of the Papacy could bring themselves to believe that he was really dead. In 1250 his corpse was carried in solemn procession from Fiorentino, where he died, to Palermo, the place appointed for his burial. There he soon lay in the ancient sarcophagus brought from Cefalu ; his robe embroidered about the hem with Cufic characters, and the sceptre and apple of empire in his powerless hands ; but still the Ghibellines could not give up hope that one day he would wake again and lead them to the victory they looked for.
The collection called the Cento Novelle Antiche (The Hundred Old Tales) reflects the Arthurian myth very plainly ; for in the strange tale then told of Frederick and his court, we seem to see these personages already transported to a kind of fairyland, where the laws of earthly life no longer hold good. The scene is unmistakably laid in the Avalon of Arthur and amid his shadowy court.
As for Michael Scot himself, it was a very natural progress of the popular imagination which made him play Merlin to the Emperor's Arthur. Merlin had his Vivien, who betrayed him to his loss of life and power by a spell of his own composing. So Michael was said to have loved a beautiful woman, who, Delilah-like, left him no peace till he told her the poison which alone had power over his charmed life. Michael too, like Merlin, had his Book of Might ; for the same fancy which materialised Frederick's heretical tendencies, and made them objective in the supposed work De Tribus Impostoribus , soon did the like by those diabolical arts by which Scot was said to have excelled."
- Enquiry Into the Life and Legend of Michael Scot (p. 193-203)
Rev. J. Wood Brown (pub. 1897)
A commentary on the Crimson King from 1870:
"The wintry sleep of nature is symbolized in innumerable stories of
spell-bound maidens and fair-featured youths, saints, martyrs, and heroes. Sometimes it is the sun, sometimes the earth, that is supposed to slumber. Charlemagne is reposing in the Untersberg, sword in hand, waiting for the coming of Antichrist; Olger Danske similarly dreams away his time in Avallon; and in a lofty mountain in Thuringia, the great Emperor Frederic Barbarossa slumbers with his knights around him, until the time comes for him to sally forth and raise Germany to the first rank among the kingdoms of the world."
- Myths and Mythmakers by John Fiske
"Many legends are in circulation dealing with this emperor. They say that he is not dead, but that he shall live until the Day of Judgment, and also that no legitimate emperor shall rise up after him. Until that time he will remain hidden in Kyffhäuser Mountain. When he appears he will hang his shield on a dead tree, and leaves will sprout from the tree, and then better times will be at hand. From time to time he speaks to those who find their way into the mountain, and from time to time he makes appearances outside the mountain. Generally he just sits there on a bench at a round stone table, asleep with his head in his hands. He constantly nods his head and blinks his eyes. His beard has grown very long, according to some it has grown through the stone table, according to others it has grown around the table. They say that it must grow around the circumference three times before he awakens. At the present time it has grown around the table twice.
In the year 1669 a peasant from the village of Reblingen who was hauling grain to Nordhausen was taken into the mountain by a little dwarf. He was told to empty out his grain and allowed to fill his sacks with gold in its place. He saw the emperor sitting there entirely motionless.
In addition, a dwarf led a shepherd into the mountain who had once played a tune on his flute that had pleased the emperor. The emperor stood up and asked: "Are ravens still flying around the mountain?" When the shepherd answered "yes," the Kaiser responded: "Then I must sleep for another hundred years."
Source: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Deutsche Sagen (1816/1818), no. 23.
Emperor Karl in Untersberg Mountain
Franz Sartori claims that it is Emperor Karl V., but others say that it is Frederick, who sits at a table around which his beard has grown more than two times. As soon as the the beard has reached the last corner of the table for the third time, the last days of the earth will have arrived. The Antichrist will appear; a battle will be fought on the fields at Wals; angels will sound their trumpets; and Judgment Day will have begun."
- Sleeping Hero Legends
"The legendary deeds of Charlemagne are not conformed to the ordinary rules of geography and chronology. He is a myth, and, what is more, he is a solar myth,--an avatar, or at least a representative, of Odin in his solar capacity. If in his case legend were not controlled and rectified by history, he would be for us as unreal as Agamemnon. When, therefore, Achilleus is said, like a true sun-god, to have died by a wound from a sharp instrument in the only vulnerable part of his body, we may reply that the legendary Charlemagne conducts himself in many respects like a solar deity. If Odysseus detained by Kalypso represents the sun ensnared and held captive by the pale goddess of night, the legend of Frederic Barbarossa asleep in a Thuringian mountain embodies a portion of a kindred conception. We know that Charlemagne and Frederic have been substituted for Odin; we may suspect that, as with the mythical impersonations of Achilleus and Odysseus, some traditional figures may be blended. We should remember that in early times the solar-myth was a sort of type after which all wonderful stories would be patterned, and that to such a type tradition also would be made to conform."
- Myths and Mythmakers by John Fiske
Odin is the Norse version of Zeus (if you recall, Zeus is the man with the aim on the Emperor Tarot card). Zeus Apomyios performed the same function as the Syrian sky god, Beelzebub (the other name of King Crimson according to Robert Fripp). And while Odin carried a spear, Frederick possessed the Spear of Destiny, also known as the Lance of Longinus, the spear that pierced the side of Christ as he hung on the cross. The spear might well be considered Frederick's Excalibur. For Wagner, in his version of Parzival, the spear was Excalibur:
"The Spear that had once wounded the side of Christ is pivotal in Wagner's story. Klingsor, a powerful black magician steals it and with it wounds Amfortas, the King of the Guardians of the Holy Grail. He then flees with the Spear to his castle where he dominates the surrounding area using powerful black magic. All this while, Amfortas is destined to lay in agony from the wound which never heals; his only hope of recovery being the Spear's return."
- Parsifal by Mark Harris
"In this landscape (Glastonbury) the spiritual center is the tor, and one can imagine how Arthur was originally understood to be the "spiritus loci", the spirit of the place. Perhaps he was buried here, originally. But then he might only be sleeping; there were such beliefs about Arthur. He was the "Once and Future King", "quondam et futurus". In this respect he is not unique: in Germany the Emperor Frederick II or Barbarossa sleeps beneath the Kyffhauser Mountain and will return at the end of time. In Denmark Holger the Dane (Ogier le Danois) sleeps beneath Kronborg Castle and will return when the fatherland is in need.
There was lively cultural communication between the Plantagenet Empire of Britain and western France and the Norman kings of Sicily. What could be more natural than that the very next year (1191), Richard Lionheart would make a present to Tancred of Sicily of nothing less than the sword of King Arthur! (This, presumably, had also been found at Glastonbury and had NOT been handed back to the lady in the Dozmary Pool.) But then Richard had not had time to read the Arthurian romances, many of which his mother had not yet had time to promote..."
"...a blade of compassion kissed by countless kings"
"Isaiah had prophesied of the Messiah, 'A bone of Him shall not be broken.' Annas the aged advisor of the Sanhedrin, and Caiaphas, the High Priest, were intent on mutilating the body of Christ to prove to the masses that Jesus was not the Messiah, but merely a heretic and potential usurper of their own power.
Gaius Cassius, who performed the martial deed out of the compassionate motive to protect the body of Jesus Christ became known as Longinus the Spearman. A convert to Christianity, he came to be revered as a hero and saint by the first Christian community in Jerusalem. The first Christians believed that had the bones of Jesus Christ been shattered on the Cross, the Resurrection as we know it could never have been accomplished."
- The Spear of Destiny by Trevor Ravenscroft
The first verse of Karn Evil Nine includes a passage referring to the crucifixion:
"Ties a rope to a tree and hangs the Universe
Until the wind of laughter grow cold."
"In this connection there is an exceedingly interesting, very profoundly mystical and suggestive passage from one of the Scandinavian Eddas, taken from what is known as Odin's Rune-Song. It is as follows:
'I know that I hung on a wind-rocked tree, nine whole nights,
With a spear wounded and to Odin offered -- myself to myself --
On that tree of which no one knows from what root it springs.'
In these few lines this passage from the Edda gives another version, and a most interesting one, of the crucifixion-mystery. The reference also to "hanging on a tree" is most suggestive, because this very phrase was frequently used in the early Christian writings as meaning "hanging on the cross." In this Scandinavian mystical story, the tree is here evidently the cosmic tree, which is a mystical way of saying the imbodied universe; for the universe among the ancient of many nations was portrayed or figurated under the symbol of a tree of which the roots sprang from the divine heart of things."
- The Story of Jesus By G. de Purucker
"...the True Spear had a history which could be traced at least as far back as Constantine the Great, the Roman Emperor who had legalized Christianity. In addition to Constantine, the spear had been possessed by such men as Theodosius, Alaric (who sacked Rome), Theodoric who turned back Attila the Hun, Justinian, Charles Martel (who had defeated the Moslems at the Battle of Poitiers), Charlemagne, 5 Saxon emperors who succeeded the Carolingian Dynasty, and 7 Hohenstaufen emperors including Frederick Barbarossa and Frederick II.
Germanic tradition held that Charlemagne had kept the spear with him throughout 47 victorious battles, and had only died when he accidentally dropped it. Barbarossa, like Charlemagne, died within minutes of dropping it as he crossed a stream."
- Hitler and the Holy Lance by Bill Kalagonis
"Even eclipsing the magnificent Barbarossa himself was Frederick II Hohenstauffen, who had arisen like a brilliant comet into European history and rocked it to its very foundations. A man of charismatic personality, rare genius and legendary occult powers, he was a lyric poet who inspired his Minnesingers to chant about the Holy Grail. An enigmatic soul, part saint and part devil, he believed in Astrology and practiced Alchemy. Prizing the possession of the Spear beyond all things, he made it the focal point of his whole life - especially calling on its powers during his Crusade and throughout his running battles with the Italian States and Papal Armies."
- The Spear of Destiny by Trevor Ravenscroft, p. 17 18
It was said that, on his deathbed, Frederick II had himself robed as a monk in the order most closely associated with the Grail, the Cistercians. His Castle del Monte has been described as "a successful blending of classical antiquity, the Islamic Orient, and northern European Cistercian Gothic."
"Arthur was, therefore, the perfect model of the ruler of people, and he inspired Federick II to build Castel del Monte as an ideal model of Camelot."
- L'Artù esoterico
"From the Dictionary of the Mysteries: the following describes the hypothetical relationship of Castel del Monte to the Holy Grail:
the Teutonic Knights were in contact with the Sufi mystics and with Federick II, who in turn followed the Sufi doctrine. Through the Teutonic Knights, the Sufi would have entrusted the Grail to the emperor, to preserve it from the destructions triggered by the Crusades. In such case, the Grail would be found in Castel del Monte, a palace purposely built in the shape of the octagonal goblet".
- Il Santo Graal a Castel del Monte?
Emperor Frederick II, Incarnation of the Primal Fisher king
"Barbarossa's grandson and greatest wielder of the Spear of Destiny in the Holy Roman Empire was the Emperor Frederick II Hohenstauffen. Frederick II was hailed as the return of King Arthur, the archetypal Fisher King, and definitely reflected the lineage of Fisher kings in all his activites. In order to appropriately care for the Spear of Longinus, Frederick II built for himself a Grail Castle based upon the alchemical eight-pointed star. Here Frederick sat daily upon his royal throne, his long flowing robes embroidered with both red crosses and palm trees, which were ancient symbols of Al-Khadir, the primal Fisher King of the Middle East.
Frederick's "Grail Castle" was the Castel del Monte, a masterpiece of sacred science and architecture, which was built in the form of a giant, octagonal alchemical crucible. The inner walls of the castle were painted red, the color associated with transformative fire and the red-colored Philosopher's Stone."
Guardians Of The Holy Grail:
by Mark Amaru Pinkham
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