River Humber

Hombre, Honbre, Humbre, Ombre

A river in northeast England, often appearing as the northern border of Arthur’s kingdom. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, the river was named for Humber, king of the Huns, who drowned there while fighting the sons of Brutus. The Vulgate romances locate a number of fortresses on the Humber – including GalafortDolorous TowerDolorous GuardKing’s FortressQueen’s Ford, and the town of Chanviere – but they seem to think that the river is in Wales.

The Livre d’Artus locates one of Arthur’s battles against the Saxons on the river. According to the Post-Vulgate Merlin continuation, Arthur battled the Kings of IrelandDenmarkthe Valley (Vale), Sorelois, and the Distant Isles at the Humber, killing all of them (in the Vulgate Lancelot, seven kings were said to have opposed Arthur in the battle).

Kay showed particular valor in the fight. Arthur erected the Abbey of the Good Adventure along the river to commemorate the battle, and Guenevere dubbed a nearby ford the Queen’s Ford. In Hector Boece’s Scotorum Historia, the Humber is the site of Arthur’s final battle with Mordred, a fight that earlier texts place at Salisbury or Camlann.