Glastonbury Tor shifted from prehistory into the kind of history we now called legend when Caradoc of Llancarfan, a Welsh monk, published his Vita Glidae (‘Life of Gildas’) in the early twelfth century.
The English countryside was once a refuge for writers and artists of slender means. The life was peaceful, the air was fresh, and the rents were cheap. But like exotic plants transplanted to alien soil, they brought their own peculiarities to their new habitat. And they could arouse suspicion and sometimes loathing in the natives.
Abbot Richard Whiting of Glastonbury Abbey was one of the few heads of religious orders to put up any resistance to Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Glastonbury was the last abbey left in Somerset and Whiting refused to hand it over to Henry’s agents. This was a principled stand but not one that would end well for the abbot.
You have never been a patient man and this waiting is gnawing at your bowels. The council of war has been held and tomorrow you and your whole motley crew are marching to the Somerset Levels. You’ve been told there are 10,000 men waiting on the marshes to join you but you don’t believe a word of it.
If, for the love of what does not endure,
A man gives up that love eternally,
He well deserves to suffer without end.
I was a Latin son of a great Tuscan;
Guglielmo Aldobrandesco was my father;
I do not know if you ever heard the name.