Galays, Galeys, Galis, Galles, Galoes, Galys, Gaules, Glois, Valois, Waleis, Walest, Walis

A division of Britain, occupying the west central peninsula. Locations in Wales play a large role in Arthurian literature - particularly in Welsh Arthurian literature. Often called Cambria, the country, in both history and legend, is divided into a number of sub-kingdoms. The most basic of these, used in legends with hazy geography, is North Wales and South Wales. Historically, however, Wales includes the regions of Mon, Gwynedd, Powys, Ceredigyawn, Dyfed, Ystrad Tywi, and Glamorgan. Arthur is often named as Wales’s overlord, holding his court in either Caerleon or the fictional Cardueil. Its mountain range, Snowdon, places an important role in the tales of Vortigern.

Arthurian legend tends to assign the various divisions of Wales to separate rulers, though a few texts appoint rulers of the entire country. Renaut de Bâgé has Esmeree the Blonde as Wales’s queen, having inherited the country from her father, Guingras. Guinglain, Gawain’s son, became king when he married her.

In Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, we learn that Queen Herzeloyde (Herselojde), Perceval’s mother, inherited it from her late husband, King Castis. Gahmuret became king upon marrying Herzeloyde. After Perceval’s birth, it was conquered by King Lähelin, but was eventually reclaimed by Kardeiz, Perceval’s son.

According to the Vulgate Cycle, the country was called Hoselice in Joseph of Arimathea’s time. Its first Christian king was Galahad, Joseph of Arimathea’s son, and its name was changed to Gales or Wales in his honor. Several generations later, Wales was ruled by King Varlan, who struck the Dolorous Stroke against King Lambor of Listenois. The Dolorous Stroke turned both Listeonis and Wales into the Waste Land.

In the Historia Meriadoc, Wales is first ruled by King Caradoc, whose life and land are taken by his brother, Griffin. With Arthur’s help, the land was eventually restored to Meriadoc, Caradoc’s son, who gave it to King Urien to rule in his stead.

Rulers of Wales named in other legends include King Iels (Hartmann’s Erec), Duke Gilan (Der Pleier’s Garel), King Triamour (Sir Tristrem), and King Valiant (the Alliterative Morte Arthure).

The Place-names in Wales (1912) says the real and correct name of Wales is Cymru, also spelt Kymru, from cym-hro, the compatriot, the native of the country. The contradistinction is ail-fro, the foreign invader who came to dispossess him of his native land.

Scholars believe when the Saxons settled among the Britannic Loegrians (the Cymry of England), they called them Veales, Weala, or Wealhas, from which the name Wales probably originated.