3rd C British King

Among the earliest of those Roman “kings” to defend England against invading tribes was this one in particular.  His reign is mentioned briefly by two ancient writers: Geoffrey of Monmouth and Robert of Gloucester.


We see this third-century king as remarkable for his era in that rulers in those days had reputations for negligence, unscrupulousness, thievery and murder.


Not this king.


Geoffrey and Robert characterize him as brave yet even-tempered, as capable yet good-humored.  So respected, so popular was he that even his daughter’s accomplishments were recorded.  [She was a skilled musician.]  Little else is known of this beneficent king.


Who was he?  We wouldn’t know anything else, except that someone made up a rhyme about him.  It is a rhyme which has been remembered, translated into the tongue of the day, and passed down for seventeen hundred years.  It is a rhyme which is slowly falling into obscurity as we drop the orality of our learning more and more.  My students don’t know many of the fairy tales; they certainly won’t have learned this rhyme.  


But I learned it.  I liked it.  I remembered it.


And now I will pass it on to my Brit Lit I students.


Old King Cole was a merry old soul,

and a merry old soul was he.

He called for his pipe and he called for his bowl,

and he called for his fiddlers three.


The story is quoted from Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story.

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