Rowena

Rhonewen, Ronwen, Ronix, Rowan, Rowen, Rowenne, Roxiena


The daughter of the Saxon leader Hengist, given in marriage to King Vortigern of Britain by Hengist in exchange for the country of Kent. She is first found in Nennius.

Vortigernís marriage to Rowena horrified many of Vortigernís subjects - as well as the British clergy - because Rowena was a heathen and Vortigern was a Christian, and also because the union cemented an uncomfortable alliance between the British and the Saxons.

When Vortigernís son, Vortimer, took the throne from his father and defeated the Saxons, Rowena pretended that she wished to convert to Christianity. She was able to get close to Vortimer, and she then poisoned and killed him, allowing Vortigern to reclaim the throne and the Saxons to return. Her character is found in Godfrey of Viterboís Pantheon as Angria and in Baudin Butorís romance as Sardoine.

Rowena appears as the main character in Thelwallís The Fairy of the Lake. A heathen sorceress, she falls in love with Arthur (here presented as the contemporary of Vortigern and Ambrosius) and embarks on an elaborate scheme to seduce him by magic, calling upon her supernatural allies such as Queen Hela of the Infernal Regions and the demon Incubus. Thwarted by the Lady of the Lake, Arthurís guardian, she murders her husband Vortigern and offers Arthur the crown along with herself. Arthur, horrified at her crime, burns Rowena and her castle to the ground.


See also
Ronwen | The Legend of King Arthur