Cornewaile, Cornewall, Cornwalle, Cornewell, Cornwell, Cornoaille, Cornouaille, Cornovaglia, Cornwaile, Kornoval
A region of Britain, at the southwest tip, including all areas west of the Tamar River. Geoffrey attributes the land’s name to Corineus, a warrior of King Brute’s (Brutus), upon whom the land was bestowed. In Arthurian times, part of the county was, at one time, within the ancient realm of Dumnonia, and called Cornubia by the Romans. “Old Cornwall” included Devon. Arthurian Cornwall would have consisted of present-day Devon and Cornwall, and the sunken land of Lyonesse (Liones) to the west, of which the Scilly Islands are the touted remains.
The tribal rulers of Cornwall were united under a high king, but from the fifth to the ninth centuries it was gradually taken over by invading Saxons. It is the resistance of the Cornish people to these invaders that has led to the many legends associated with the county, none more potent than the belief that King Arthur held the Saxons at bay and will one day return from the dead to drive them from the land. In the body of Arthurian legends the kingdom was said to be the realm of King Mark, and it is by no means impossible that someone named Mark did indeed rule som territory within the region. To this day the county is remarkably Celtic in nature, and visiting the ancient sites to be found dotted all over the county is a worthwhile and satisfying experience.
Chrétien tells us that Arthur regularly reinforced his army with men drawn from Cornwall.
Cornwall’s chief castle in many legends is Tintagel. The Duke of Cornwall – in most stories named Gorlois – made war against Uther and was slain by him. Gorlois’s widow, Igerne (Igraine), married King Uther and became the mother of King Arthur. In the Tristan and Vulgate romances, Mark is the king or duke of the land. According to La Tavola Ritonda, it was divided among Lancelot, Amoroldo, Mordred, and Governal after Mark’s death.
In other legends, rulers of Cornwall are variously given as Yder, Cador, Cabarentin, and Clement. Welsh legend makes Gwynn Hyfar steward of Cornwall and Devon for Arthur. It was one of the lands that Arthur offered to Mordred in a peace that was never reached. Arthur’s final battle at Camlann may have been fought within its borders.
In the English ballad “King Arthur and King Cornwall”, the King of Cornwall is a sorcerer and the richest king in the world. He had once lived in Arthur’s kingdom (in Brittany) and had fathered a daughter on Guinevere (Guenevere). Guinevere needled Arthur with tales of Cornwall’s splendor until Arthur embarked on a quest to find the land. Arthur and his knights managed to tame a fiend called the Borlow-Beanie, which Cornwall owned, and they used it to gain possession of Cornwall’s magical items. Arthur used an enchanted sword to behead the king.
Comwales was the original form of Cornwall, which signifies the country inhabited by the Welsh of the Horn, according to The Place-names in Wales (1912).