Kingdoms and Dukedoms

Major Kingdoms of Great Britain
In Book VII, Malory indicates that the major divisions of Britain were England (or Logres), Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, Ireland, the Out Isles, and Brittany. Later, in VIII, he tells us:

And at that time King Arthur reigned, and he was whole king of England, Wales, and Scotland, and of many other realms; howbeit there were many kings ... for in Wales were two kings, and in the north were many kings; and in Cornwall and in the west were two kings; also in Ireland were two or three kings, and all were under the obeissance of King Arthur. So was the King of France, and the King of Brittany, and all the lordships unto Rome.

(This was after Arthur's war against and defeat of the Emperor Lucius.)

The difference between a "kingdom" and a "dukedom" seems marginal. We find dukes hobnobbing with kings, apparently as political and military equals; we also find some kings owing homage to other kings, as when King Anguish of Ireland demands tribute from King Mark of Cornwall. We meet kings whose territory seems to consist of a city, as well as kings who appear, like Lerner and Loewe's Pellinore, to have misplaced and even forgotten the names of their kingdoms. "Duke" Galeholt the Haut Prince gives an island to Marsil, who becomes "King" thereof.

On the whole, I receive the impression that the principal distinction between a king and a duke lies in the title, and that a dukedom qualifies as a subkingdom. Similarly, there probably is not too much special descent to holdings clearly labeled as earldoms. Any knight could become lord of at least one castle and the surrounding territory, and rulers awarded lands and titles to their knights, even though the knights might continue to spend most of their time at court or on quest.

We may perhaps assume, in the lack of other evidence, that a number of Britain's kingdoms and dukedoms might have had pretty much the same boundaries and in many cases the same rulers before Arthur's high kingship as after he came to the throne.

In XXI, speaking of the army Mordred raised against Arthur, Malory lists Kent, Southsex (Sussex), Surrey, Eastsex (Essex), Southfolk, and Northfolk. Since these are recognizably the names of modern counties, and since, in consulting a modern map of England, we find we can stick "Duke of" in front of most county names and produce familiar titles of history and romance, I suspect that subkingdoms could be formed by following modern county lines. This may not be accurate according to the newer schools of Arthurian realism, but I believe it would be quite compatible with the anachronistic spirit of Malorian romance.

Virtually all castles had villages and territories attached, and sometimes the dividing line between a castle and a subkingdom seems rather fine.

Subkingdoms are listed alphabetically. Tentative identifications according to place names on modern maps will be found as individual entries. Virtually all identification are questionable.

The subkingdoms are:

  • King Aman's Land

  • Arroy

  • Avilion

  • Benoye

  • Cambenet

  • Cameliard

  • Clarance

  • the Delectable Isle

  • Escavalon

  • Estrangor

  • the Foreign Land

  • Garloth

  • Gore

  • l'Isle Estrange

  • the Isles

  • Leicester

  • Listeneise

  • the Long Isles

  • Lothian

  • Lyonesse

  • Malahaut

  • Nohaut

  • Norgales

  • North Marches

  • Northumberland

  • Orkney

  • Orofoise

  • Pomitain

  • Roestoc

  • Isle of Servage

  • Sorestan (Eastland)

  • South Marches

  • Straight Marches

  • Stranggore

  • Sugales

  • Surluse or Sorelois

  • Taningues

  • Tintagil

  • Since Britain was covered with forest in the old days, wherever you move on a map of Arthurian Britain, you will not be far from the nearest forest. Some of the less obviously magical or mystical forests which I found given definite names in Malory or the Vulgate include Arroy, Bedegraine, Bresquehan, Campacorentin, Celibe, Gloevant (Gloeven), Landoine (Landone), Morrois, Roevant, Sapine, and Windsor.

    Foreign Kingdoms
    This far from exhaustive list concentrates on the countries named by Malory. The close-at-hand kingdoms and subkingdoms include: France (Gaul), with Benwick (or Benoye, or Benoyc, with its city of the same name), Brittany or Little Britain, Burgoyne, Champayne, Guienne; Flanders, with its port city of Barflete (Barfleur); Ireland, with Galway; the Out Isles; and Sarras.

    More distant nations mentioned by Malory are:

  • Almaine (Germany)

  • Denmark

  • the Holy Land

  • Hungary

  • Italy

  • Lombardy

  • Isle of Longtains (the Shetland Islands?)

  • Rome

  • Session (Saxony)

  • Spain (Saracens or Moors were here]

  • Tuscany

  • Vale (the FaeroŽs Islands)

  • Wentland (Prussia?)

  • In Book V, chapter 2, Malory gives a list of the countries to which the Roman Emperor Lucius sent messengers for help in his war against Arthur:

  • Ambage (Ambyganye)

  • Arrage (Orcage)

  • Alexandria

  • India

  • Armenia ("whereas the river of Euphrates runneth into Asia")

  • Africa

  • Europe the Large

  • Ertayne (Hyrcania) and Elamye

  • Arabia

  • Egypt

  • Damascus

  • Damietta and Cayer

  • Cappadocia

  • Tarsus

  • Turkey

  • Pontus and Pamphylia

  • Syria and Galatia

  • Greece

  • Cyprus

  • Macedonia

  • Calabria

  • Cateland

  • Portugal ("with many thousands of Spaniards")

  • - all these being subject to or allied with Rome.