Anantes, Anetans, Nante, Nantoel, Natanc, Nauntes
So [the eleven rebel kings] consented together to keep all the marches of Cornwall, of Wales, and of the North. So first, they put King Idres in the City of Nauntes in Britain, with four thousand men of arms, to watch both the water and the land.
Nauntes must have been strategically important, though this seems to be the only time Malory mentions it. There is, of course, a city names Nantes in Brittany, and Brittany is sometimes called Britain in the old books; nevertheless, the context of the passage suggests that here a city in Great Britain is meant.
In present-day Merioneth County, Wales, is a point of land called Cader Idris; it is on the coast, immediately south of the inlet at Barmouth. The name “Idris” suggests the name of the king delegated to hold the city, making Caer Idris a candidate for “the City of Nauntes in Britain.” Chrétien de Troyes, himself French and apparently proud of it, saw nothing strange about Arthur holding court across the Channel of Brittany.
In Middle High German romance, Brittany is often noted as Arthur’s primary kingdom, with its capital at Nantes.
Nantes, France | 0 to 800 AD
Nantes is a city located in Brittany, France, in the region of Pays de la Loire. It is important to note that Nantes is often considered the historical capital of Brittany, even though it is located slightly to the southeast of the traditional heartland of Brittany.
In the early years of the Common Era, Nantes was known as Condevincum and was a Roman town. It was part of the Roman province of Gallia Lugdunensis. During this time, Nantes likely had Roman infrastructure and civic amenities, typical of Roman settlements.
As the Roman Empire began to decline in the fourth and fifth centuries AD, the region experienced the upheaval of the Migration Period. Germanic tribes, including the Franks, invaded and settled in the area. Nantes came under Frankish control.
Christianity began to spread in the region during the late Roman period and early medieval period. Nantes became a center for Christian influence, with the establishment of churches and monasteries.
By the early medieval period, Nantes was a thriving trading and administrative center. It was part of the Carolingian Empire under Charlemagne and later the Kingdom of Brittany. The city was strategically located on the Loire River, which facilitated trade and commerce.
Like many coastal European towns, Nantes faced Viking raids under the Viking Age (eighth to eleventh centuries). The Vikings, known as Northmen or Norsemen, attacked the city and the surrounding region, causing turmoil and destruction.
The political landscape of Nantes evolved during this period. The city and the wider region of Brittany were often politically fragmented, with various rulers and dynasties vying for control.
Transition to the Middle Ages
By the end of the eighth century, Europe was entering the early Middle Ages, characterized by feudalism, the spread of Christianity, and the emergence of powerful feudal lords and local rulers.
Erec | Chrétien de Troyes, late 12th century
First Continuation of Chrétien’s Perceval | Attributed to Wauchier of Denain, c. 1200
Parzival | Wolfram von Eschenbach, 1200–1210
Tristrant | Eilhart von Oberge, 1170–1190
Garel von dem blühenden Tal | Der Pleier, 1240-1270