NameGradlon Mawr (The Great) King of Brittany
Birthabt 330
Death434
Misc. Notes
Welsh-Erbin, Latin-Urbanus, English-Urban

Known as Gradlon the Great in Brittany, this King was mostly called Urban outside his kingdom. In his youth, when Gradlon was a pagan, he fell deeply in love with a beautiful half-woman/half-fairy. Unfortunately however, he later offended this mysterious creature by converting to Christianity and seeking the counsel of St.Gwenole. The fairy fled from Gradlon across a torrential river, warning him not to follow. The King, however, plunged headlong into the swirling waters after her. The fairy was forced to save his life, but spurned him nevertheless and hated him all the more for having made her admit that she loved him still.

Gradlon took quickly to the new religion. While out hunting, one day, he became separated
from his entourage and found himself lost in the great Forest of Menez-Hom. Almost dead
from exhaustion and hunger, he eventually stumbled across the hermitage of St.Cornetin
(now built upon by Plomodiern). St.Corentin kept a marvellous fish from which he cut a
slice to sustain him every day. The fish would be found miraculously whole again in the
morning. The saint happily shared his meal with the Breton King and he was thus brought
back to health. As a reward for his hospitality, Gradlon made St.Corentin the first Bishop
of Cornouaille.

The King's first fairy-love returned, in later years, to possess the mind of Gradlon's
daughter, Dahut, who thence became the most wicked of Breton women. She built a castle
over the River Argent in the Huelgoat Forest, to which a different suitor was invited every
night. Each was given a black mask to wear so he could not look upon Dahut's face. Then
the revelries began. At the end of a thoroughly enjoyable evening, however, hidden springs
would shoot out from the mask and strangle the wearer! Dahut would then have the body
thrown into the nearby forest caves.

Gradlon's main power-base was Cornouaille and
his capital was the beautiful city of Caer Ys
which stood in, what is now, the Bay of
Douarnenez. It was a low lying city with a large
dyke to keep back the sea. Gradlon kept the key
to the sluice gates hung around his neck at all
times. One night, however, the evil Dahut stole
the key while her father was sleeping and
slipped away to open the gates in some sort of
sadistic game. The raging sea immediately
invaded the city. Gradlon awoke with barely
enough time to jump on his horse and race
ahead of the torrential waves. Spying his
daughter in the streets, and being unaware of
her crimes, he just managed to pull her up behind him. On they rode ahead of the waves
until they reached higher ground where St.Gwenole was waiting. "Cast off the demon that
is riding behind you!" he cried, but Gradlon did not understand the saint. So Gwendole
pushed Dahut into the sea himself, and immediately the waves were calm once more.

Gradlon made his new capital at Corspotium (Quimper), where his statue can be seen in
front of the Cathedral. It is said that the bells of the churches of Ys can still be heard on
stormy nights at sea.
Spouses
ChildrenSalomon I (~360-446)
Last Modified 21 Oct 1999Created 4 Sep 2012 using Reunion for Macintosh