When the Romans abandoned Britain, Cornwall came under Saxon influence, and following the Norman conquest by William, the first real integration of Cornwall into Britain took place. The whole of Cornwall was given to William's half-brother, Robert. He made his headquarters at Launceston, where he built the castle to enforce his rule. Then for the next few hundred years Cornwall was ruled by a succession of relatives of the Norman and Plantagenet kings. The first Duke of Cornwall was Edward, the Black Prince, son of Edward III. Then there was a succession of rebellions through the middle ages. The Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549 against the imposition of the English Prayer book, saw many Cornishmen executed. The Civil War between 1642 - 1649 led to a number of battles and sieges in Cornwall. In 1685 there was the Monmouth Rebellion with its bloody aftermath.
Beunans Meriasek -
Beunans Meriasek is a Cornish play completed in 1504. Its subject is the legends of the life of Saint Meriasek or Meriadoc, patron saint of Camborne, whose veneration was popular in Cornwall, Brittany, and elsewhere. It was written in the Cornish language, probably written around the same time and in the same place (possibly Glasney College, Penryn, Cornwall) as Beunans Ke, the only other extant Cornish play taking a saint's life as its subject. The original text is located in the Peniarth Munuscript Collection at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.
“St Meriasek was of Breton origin and the play presents his career from his early education in Brittany and his arrival in Cornwall, recounting the various miracles he performs, then moves on to his return to Brittany, where he becomes bishop of Vannes and eventually dies a Christian death. Incorporated into the narrative are a number of individual tales including incidents from the life of St Sylvester and a miracle brought about by the intervention of the Virgin Mary.
The play, which is divided into two sections, each representing one day's performance, is in rhymed verse, divided into stanzas. Stage directions are in Latin and Cornish, with further directions added in English, and diagrams giving stage plans for each day's performance are also included.”
The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth (2007) Beunans Meriasek (The Life Of St Meriasek) The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth Accessed on 28/12/10 [Available at: http://www.llgc.org.uk/index.php?id=beunansmeriasekpeniarthms10]
Merlin dictating his poems, from a 13th Century French manuscript
Section from Beunans meriasek
Prophecy of Ambrosius Merlin concerning the Seven Kings -
The ‘Prophecy of Ambrosius Merlin concerning the Seven Kings’ is a 12th century poem written ca. 1144 by John of Cornwall in Latin, with some of the marginal notes in Cornish. John stated that the work was a translation based on an earlier document written in the Cornish language. The manuscript of the poem, on a codex currently held at the Vatican Library, is unique. It attracted little attention from the scholarly world until 1876, when Whitley Stokes undertook a brief analysis of the Cornish and Welsh vocabulary found in John's marginal commentary. These notes are among the earliest known writings in the Cornish language. The text is an example of the popular prophetic writings attributed to the sage Merlin, which ascribe to the early bard prophesies relevant to the author's time. In this case the prophesies relate to the struggle between Stephen of Blois and the Empress Matilda, but the poem also contains local Cornish allusions of great interest. In 2001 this important work was translated back into Cornish by Julyan Holmes.