Cador (Latin: Cadorius) was a legendary Duke of Cornwall, known chiefly through Geoffrey of Monmouth's pseudohistorical Historia Regum Britanniae and previous manuscript sources such as the Life of Carantoc.[1] Early sources present Cador as a relative of Arthur, though the details of their kinship are usually left unspecified.[2]

Fact or Fiction

Early Welsh series of the englynion, which features Arthurian figures are kept in certain codices. However, there are signs that point to the idea of the stories involving Arthurian figures being passed down orally which leads to many different interpretations and versions of the people mentioned. [3] There are many different questions asked about whether or not these figures were historically accurate members of society. Evidence shows that people like Arthur were real historical figures and he had true relations with many people mentioned in different works about his life. However, most of the things Arthur has been said to have done has been discredited. Because of this, the people he is associated with and their stories could be solely apart of the orally passed down myths of Arthur's legacy and not true history. One of these figures were Cado who was a successor of Geraint ab Erbin and a close associate of Arthur’s. Cador the Duke of Cornwall was a member that was summoned to Arthur’s court. While it seems like Cador the Duke of Cornwall could have been a real historical figure, interpretations and stories that include him are very diverse in their information so understanding the true historical context of figures like him is difficult. Sources like King Arthur: The Truth Behind the Legend explains how the Athurian history has been mixed with fact and fiction which means many events and figures could not have been accurate, “The Arthurian saga is nevertheless much more than a hotchpotch of tales made up by medieval minstrels, and it is essential to try to separate the Arthur of the romances—the Arthur of Geoffrey, Malory and the medieval troubadours—from the historical Arthur—the dark age warrior on whom all the rest of the super-structure was built”. Scholars were able to narrow down the true historical facts of Arthur’s life to two things, “Some scholars have taken everything out, argued everything away, leaving just two brief mentions in the Easter Annals: 516: Battle of Badon, in which Arthur carried the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ on his shoulders for three days and three nights, and the British were victors. 537: Strife of Camlann, in which Arthur and Medraut perished [or fell]” (King Arthur: The Truth Behind the Legend). However, there is still a lot of information that is debatable of being facts or apart of the pseudohistory.[4] Arthur, who passed away May 21st, 542 A.D., gave his crown to Constantine who was the son of Cador the Duke of Cornwall noting the possible time period and years in which Cador could have lived.[5]


The name “Cador” does not match any early Welsh sources so the name itself comes either the misinterpretation of the Harley genealogy name “Catgur” or the British “Catigern”. Both names are interpreted similarly showing that the name Cador means battle notable or fighter due to the fact that “Cat” means battle and “Gur” means man or warrior while “Tigern” means leader. Where the name Cador came from is a mystery due to the fact that it is not found in early Welsh sources, but it was very easy for letters to be dropped out of “Catgut” or “Catigern” causing the name Cador to be formed.[6] Cador, who was mainly mentioned by Geoffrey of Monmouth, in works like History has also been called/recognized by two other names: Cado and Cadwy in different works like Myvyrian, Life of S. Carannog, and early fifteenth century pedigrees.[7] His title Duke of Cornwall was also a title that took on different forms over history because of the fact that Cornwall was once apart of the Roman civitas Dumnonia, giving Cador the name King of Dumnonia which is recognizable in many works.


Cador is the son of Garaint who a King of Dumnonia and an historic hero that died quite early leaving his rule to Hoel because Cador was not at a proper age for leadership. He was known to have children himself who go by the names Constantine, Peredur, and Cadoc. He had some relations to King Arthur due to the fact that he was the great grandson of Arthur’s Duke, based on the idea of Custennyn and Constantine genealogies being equivalent to each other.[8] Cador also had three brothers by the names of Cyngar, Iestyn, and Selyf who are all saints of Llancarfan and are mentioned to be related to Cador in the Myvyrian.[9] Along with his brothers, Cador was known to have a sister named Gurguint who was married to Caradoc Vreichfas who was a legend in Welsh history and was alive during the same time period as Arthur.[10] According to writings from Geoffrey, Cador was married to a woman named Ygerna, who was courted and tricked by Arthur’s father Uther Pendragon while Cador was away in battle.[11] Cador is also thought to have been related to Arthur because of the fact that he is addressed as so in different texts. Layamon, an english poet, writes that Arthur said, “Cador, thou art mine own kin”(King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition, pg.98). However, it is also made known in some works that Constantine, who was established to be Cador’s son, was Arthur’s cousin making Cador a possible in-law relative rather than through blood.[12]

Cador’s Battles

Cador’s battles are not recorded in the Historia Brittonum Arthurian Battle list but are mentioned in many different works. He battled in Saxons, and oversea impending force to Arthur, as they were on their way to York. Before they reached that place, Cador used his army to defeat them before they arrived and took over York. After the defeat, the Saxons surrender to a pledge of peace and retreat. The Saxons break the pledge of peace they made an oath to while on sea which leads to another battle between the Saxons and Arthur which Cador was apart of and where he killed the Saxon leader named Chelric. His next big battle was at Camblan although there were a few little altercations in between like the Roman War. At the battle at Camblan, Cador is found dead with some of his troops marking an end to his battles.[13]

Historia Regum Britanniae/Arthurian pseudohistory

Cador, Duke of Cornwall, appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae (ca. 1135). He is a man of power, as he is referred to as both a duke (dux) and a king (rex) throughout the text. He is known best for his heroism in the battles in York and Isle of Thanet told in Historia Regum Britanniae. Although he is highlighted for his great strength and involvement as a hero. None of Cador’s battles appear in the Arthurian Battle list. The legitimacy and accuracy of Cador’s involvement with these wars remain in question by scholars. He is successful in both battles, easily defeating the army in York as well as killing the leader of the Saxon barbarians, Chelric, overseas in the Isle of Thanet. Arthur's most successful siege, the battle in Bath, proceeds the battle at the Isle of Thanet which is strangely illogical given the timeline. Given that, Cador undermines the success of Arthur as he won against the Saxons in a far off region. Historians from both Saxon and Britain do not note on any battle occurring in that region until the sixth century. The legitimacy of this battle could be completely fabricated for literary purposes.[14]

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

Scholars have speculated that the legitimacy of Cador’s battles can be found through the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, presumably written by Alfred the Great. Since there is only one named British Commander, Vortigern, scholars have aligned the timelines in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Historia Regum Britanniae to assess the legitimacy of Cador. Many similarities between the battles can be noted. There is an encounter in York, or along the Caterbury-London road with anywhere between 3,000 to 4,000 British soldiers. Here, Arthur and the British retreat to London in both versions of history. The next battle with the supposed Cador is in Thanet, which is noted in both Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Historia Regum Britanniae. The British Commander in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, despite being unnamed, is speculated to be the Cador in Historia Regum Britanniae because of the similarities.[15]

Historical ruler

Cado was the historical son of a Dumnonian king named Gerren whom he succeeded as monarch. Traditionally he was a good friend of Arthur; they even ruled together in the Vita Sanctus Carantoci (Life of St. Carantoc). He also seemed to share a good relationship with King Caradoc of Gwent. Possibly he gave his name to four hillforts, all named Cadbury which may be "Cado's fort", one each near to Clevedon, Congresbury and Sparkford in Somerset and one by the Exe in Devon north of Crediton). Cadson Bury[16] hillfort lies just outside Callington, also known as Celliwig in Cornwall.


In Geoffrey's History and elsewhere, Arthur's future queen Guinevere was raised as Cador's ward. Cador is also said to be of Roman stock. His son Constantine was given the kingship of Britain by Arthur as the latter lay ailing on the field of Camlann. To the Brut Tysilio the translator adds the information that Cador was son of Gorlois, presumably by Igraine, which would make him Arthur's maternal half-brother. This same text also gives Cador a son, Mayric, who dies fighting the Romans. The same account appears in Richard Hardyng's Chronicle where Cador is called Arthur's brother "of his mother's syde." In Layamon's Brut Cador appears as a leader who takes charge of Uther's host when they are attacked by Gorlois while Uther is secretly lying beside Igraine in Tintagel. Most works, such as the English Alliterative Morte Arthure and Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, however, call Cador Arthur's "cousin", though in the Alliterative text Arthur calls Cador his sister's son.

In The Dream of Rhonabwy, a medieval romance associated with the Mabinogion Cador is "Cadwr Earl of Cornwall, the man whose task it is to arm the king on the day of battle and conflict" – i.e. at the Battle of Badon Hill, which the writer situates close to the upper River Severn.[17]


  1. circa 1100 from Cotton Vespasian xiv
  2. An exception is a pedigree in the manuscript known as 'Hanesyn Hen' which partially survives in Llanstephan MS. 28, Peniarth 182 and Cardiff MS 25. The relevant section is in Bonedd yr Arwyr (32) which describes Arthur and Cadwr as brawd vn vam (brothers of one mother), Cadwr being the son of Gwrlais, Earl of Cornwall. Peter Bartrum (ed.), Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts, University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1966. p. 73-94.
  3. Lloyd-Morgan, Ceridwen, and Erich Poppe, editors. Arthur in the Celtic Languages: The Arthurian Legend in Celtic Literature and Traditions. Cardiff University of Wales Press, 2019. Books.Google,
  4. Castleden, Rodney. King Arthur: The Truth Behind the Legend. Taylor & Francis Group, 2005. Books.Google,
  5. Hall, Matthew. Lives of the Queens’ of England before the Norman Conquest. T.K. & P.G. Collins, 1854. Books. Google,
  6. Pace, Edwin. “Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Sources for the Cador and Camblan Narratives.” Arthuriana, vol. 24, no. 3, 2014, pp. 45–78. EBSCOhost, `
  7. Baring-Gould, Sabine, and John Fisher. The Lives of the British Saints: The Saints of Wales and Cornwall and such Irish Saints as have Dedications in Britain, vol. 2, Honorable Society of Cymmrodorion by Charles J. Clark, 1908. Play.Google,
  8. Ashely, Mike. The Mammoth Book of British Kings & Queens. Constable & Robinson Ltd, 1998. Books.Google,
  9. Baring-Gould, Sabine, and John Fisher. The Lives of the British Saints: The Saints of Wales and Cornwall and such Irish Saints as have Dedications in Britain, vol. 2, Honorable Society of Cymmrodorion by Charles J. Clark, 1908. Play.Google,
  10. Ashely, Mike. The Mammoth Book of British Kings & Queens. Constable & Robinson Ltd, 1998. Books.Google,
  11. Archibald, Elizabeth, and Ad Putter, editors. “The twelfth-century Arthur.” The Cambridge Companion to the Arthurian Legend. Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp. 36-52. IMG,
  12. Tichelaar, Tyler R.. King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition. Modern History Press, 2011. Books.Google,
  13. Pace, Edwin. “Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Sources for the Cador and Camblan Narratives.” Arthuriana, vol. 24, no. 3, 2014, pp. 45–78. EBSCOhost, `
  14. Pace, Edwin. “Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Sources for the Cador and Camblan Narratives.” Arthuriana, vol. 24, no. 3, 2014, pp. 45–78. EBSCOhost, `
  15. Pace, Edwin. “Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Sources for the Cador and Camblan Narratives.” Arthuriana, vol. 24, no. 3, 2014, pp. 45–78. EBSCOhost, `
  17. Jeffrey Gantz (translator), The Dream of Rhonabwy, from The Mabinogion, Penguin, 18 November 1976. ISBN 0-14-044322-3
Legendary titles
Preceded by
Duke of Cornwall Succeeded by
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