Knights of the Pain Table

A Camelot for Sufferers of Chronic Pain

Medieval Lesson 104 – Pendragon



Greetings Students today we are discovering the origin of the word “Pendragon”.


Brythonic (Brittonic languages or British languages ) for “head;”
It was common in place names in Cornwall and Wales.


c.1220   From Old French “dragon”, from Latin “draconem” (nom. Draco) serpent, dragon, and Old Welsh “dragwn” dragon.  Also from Greek “drakon” (gen. Drakontos) serpent, seafish.

A “dragon” is as a mythical animal and usually is described as a monstrous winged and scaly serpent or saurian with a crested head and enormous claws.    The term “dragon” in Scripture refers to any great monster, whether of the land or sea, or some kind of serpent or reptile. 


Pendragon or Pen Draig, means “head dragon” or “chief dragon”.    Certain clans had leaders called “Dragons” and the Dragons all served under a much more powerful leader called a “Pendragon”.   So a Pendradon signifies “chief of kings”.    It was also the name of several traditional Kings of the Britons.

Uther, father of King Arthur, according to Geoffrey, had an older brother named “Aurelius Ambrosius”, son of Constantine II of Britain.    His brother was predecessor to the throne of Britain.    Throughout Ambrosius’ reign, Uther was his brother’s staunchest ally. 

Ambrosius is called “Pendragon” in the Vulgate Cycle. ( a masterpiece of medieval literature comprising of eight volumes.)   According to the Grail cyle,   Aurelius Ambrosius witnessed a portentous dragon-shaped comet,  which influenced him to use dragons on his standards (flags).    Hence,  he received the name “Pendragon”.     Upon Aurelius’s death,  Uther took his epithet in his honor.     He became Uther Pendragon  (son of the dragon). 

According to some legends they say King Uther was actually the one that had the vision of a flaming dragon in the sky at the time of his brother’s death and that was how he came by the name  “Pendragon”. 

Arthur became King of the Britons when he was just a boy according to some sources.    He was the son of King Uther, Pendragon of Briton and nephew of King Ambrosius.    Arthur later took the title “Pendragon”.

We doth conclude the lesson for today.   I thank thee for coming to class.

With Great Respect for Thee,

Magister of University of Camelot

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