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King of Strathclyde (c450-c480)

The name of Ceritic or Ceretic Guletic appears in one of the Welsh Genealogies (Harleian MS 3859)1 which identifies him as one of the ancestors of Rhun map Arthgal2, the late ninth century ruler of Strathclyde who married an unnamed daughter of the Scot Kenneth mac Alpin.

This Ceretic is generally identified with the 'Coroticus regem Aloo' or king of Alt Cluid, the recipient of a letter written by Saint Patrick. In the Letter to Coroticus, Patrick addresses "the soldiers of Coroticus" and complains that "Dripping with blood, they welter in the blood of innocent Christians, whom I have begotten into the number for God and confirmed in Christ", "distribute baptized women as prizes" and what is worse that "people who were freeborn have been sold, Christians made slaves, and that, too, in the service of the abominable, wicked, and apostate Picts" Patrick also complains that he has written previously "asking them to let us have some of the booty, and of the baptized they had made captives" but that the reply had been disappointing; "They only jeered".

It does not appear that the response was any better this time as according to Saint Muirchu or Maccutinus, the seventh century author of the Vita Sancti Patricii, Coroticus scornfully rejected Patrick's pleas, the latter prayed for divine retribution and the Good Lord promptly delivered when Coroticus "had the misfortune to take on the appearance of a little fox" after which "he was never seen any where again".

Unfortunately since historians have yet to establish an exact chronology for the life of Patrick beyond agreeing that he probably lived and died sometime in the fifth century, the existence of the Letter to Cortoticus does not help a great deal in terms of dating Ceretic's rule; sometime in the period 450 to 480 is the best guess, which at least ties in with the fourteen generations that separate Rhun map Arthgal from his ancestor.

The appellation of 'Guletic' or Gwledig as in 'of the land', is similarly applied to such men as Macsen Wledig that is Magnus Maximus, or Cunedda who were regarded as playing some significant role in establishing the authority of the many Brythonic kingdoms that emerged in the fifth century. Thus it is argued that Ceretic must be viewed in a similar light, as at least as having the reputation as the founder of the Strathclyde kingdom; he is in any event, generally regarded as the first historical king of that kingdom.

Both Ceretic's grandfather Cinhil (Quintillius) and great-grandfather Cluim (Clemens) appear to bear Roman names, whilst Patrick addresses Ceretic's followers3 as "fellow citizens" and "fellow citizens of the holy Romans" and so it has been argued that we should see Ceretic as a Christian king ruling a tribal state that had once been a Roman client kingdom and that had retained some vestige of order and authority from those times. None of which of course prevented Ceretic from raiding Ireland and carrying off many of Patrick's hard won converts as slaves.


NOTES

1 A genealogy which incidentally is generally regarded as particularly believable as it does not end with the name of a Celtic God and runs as follows;

(Rh)un map Arthgal map Dumnagual map Riderch map Eugein map Dumnagual map Teudebur map Beli map Elfin map Eugein map Beli map Neithon map Guipno map Dumngual hen map Cinuit map Ceritic guletic map Cynloyp map Cinhil map Cluim map Cursalem map Fer map Confer, ipse est uero olitauc dimor meton uenditus est.

2 Rhun probably died in 878; genealogists generally work on thirty years per generation.
3 Although Patrick actually wrote that, "I do not say, to my fellow citizens, or to fellow citizens of the holy Romans, but to fellow citizens of the demons, because of their evil works."


SOURCES

  • Ann Williams, Alfred P. Smyth and D. P. Kirby A Biographical Dictionary of Dark Age Britain (Seaby, 1991
  • The Letter To Coroticus at http://www.irishchristian.com/stpatrick/CoroticusFrame.htm
  • Dark Ages at www.stephen.j.murray.btinternet.co.uk/vortigern.htm

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