Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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AURELIUS CANINUS ( fl. 540 ) prince .

He is the second of the five contemporary British princes whom Gildas attacks in the De Excidio , the ‘Lion's Whelp’ of his group of wild beasts. No indication is given of the region in which he bore rule, but his position in the list suggests that it was perhaps; the Severn Valley . The name Aurelius points to Romanized ancestry; he may have belonged to the degenerate offspring of Ambrosius Aurelianus stigmatized earlier in the work. ‘Caninus’ may have been a jest of the author at the expense of the prince's Celtic name. Aurelius is held up to scorn as a man of unclean life , a murderer , a lover of civil war and plunder . His relatives are all dead and he stands alone, like a dry tree in an open field. The notice ends with a stern call to repentance.

In the deft hands of Geoffrey of Monmouth , he becomes Aurelius Conanus , who ruled the whole island for nearly three years.

The Welsh versions turn this into Cynan Wledig .


  • Hugh Williams Gildae De excidio Britanniae fragmenta, Liber de paenitentia, accedit et Lorica Gildae / Gildas The ruin of Britain, fragments from lost letters, The penitential, together with the Lorica of Gildas , 1899 , 70-3.


Sir John Edward Lloyd, D.Litt., F.B.A., F.S.A. (1861-1947), Bangor

Published date: 1959