Mike Horn-Mitchem

Michael Horn-Mitchem, Academy Village

Thursday October 24, 2019,

2:30–3:30 p.m.,

The Arizona Senior Academy Building

The figure of King Arthur has enjoyed unabated success across the English-speaking world and Europe.  But was he originally a historical figure like Davy Crockett or simply fictional like Paul Bunyan?  This presentation will separate fact from fiction to locate the possibly historical Arthur. Untangling the myths of Arthur from the historical evidence has long involved tying together clues from ancient poetry, archeological digs, tribal genealogies and the evolution of place names.  

Photo: King Arthur, from a c. 1385 tapestry in The Cloisters, New York

References to a late fifth-century Briton King Arthur appear in ninth-century works attributed to two Welshmen, Gildas and Nennius, and in the compilations of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and Welsh Annals. The first full Arthurian saga, written by Geoffrey of Monmouth of St. George College, Oxford, about 1136, inspired a flood of other writers who embellished Arthur’s deeds and spread progressive ideas about justice, chivalry and the agency of women across medieval Europe. Although Geoffrey’s narrative cannot all be confirmed, it’s factual that the Romano-Celtic kingdoms of Britain were able to stave off a century-long set of attacks from all sides and enjoy a brief “golden age.”

In recent years the scope of research has expanded to sources as varied as Persian and Russian folklore, climate science, modern DNA distributions, and paleo-astronomy. We will be treated to new evidence, as there are now some twenty candidates for a historical Arthur: Riothamus (second-century Roman commander), Celtic deities, and assorted documented chieftains.  In conclusion, Michael will consider whether these ancient struggles have any bearing on fractures that may soon split the United Kingdom.

Michael Horn-Mitchem is one of our active AV neighbors.  Born in the Midwest and educated in the West, he worked in the South and Northeast.  He has an A.B. in Political Geography from U.C., Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Information Systems from the University of New Mexico.  His work has been in military intelligence, security, geographic information systems, and information technology.  

Written by Maria Dobozy, Academy Village Volunteer

Oct. 24: “The Historicity of King Arthur”