Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Beulan

BEULAN, a priest, described as the master of 'Nennius.' In the manuscript of the 'Historia Britonum' in the public library at Cambridge (quoted as A in Mon. Hist, History and as L in ed. Stevenson, Eng. Hist. Soc.), which, though not the most ancient manuscript, and though containing evident interpolations, has been used by Gale (Historiæ Brintannicæ &c., Scriptores XV.) and Petrie (Mon. Hist. Brit.) as the foundation of their texts, it is stated that the writer was the disciple of a priest of this name, to whom he dedicated his work, and that he left out the genealogies of the Saxons and of other races because they seemed to be of no use to his master. In this manuscript are given certain 'Versus Nennini' addressed by the writer to Samuel the son of Beulan, for whom he worked. Whoever the author of the 'Historia Britonum' may have been, it is certain that the writer of these verses and of the other references to Beulan lived after his time, and even after 858, the year assigned in the prologue to the work of 'Nennius,' and that he was a scribe who made glosses for Samuel the son of Beulan. On the strength of these notices, as it seems, Bale has made Beulan the author of certain works, 'De Genealogia Gentium,' 'Arthuri facta apud Scotos,' &c. Tanner has recorded Bale's dicta. The story connecting Beulan, Samuel, and the critical compiler of the 'Historia Britonum' is a fiction.

[The question of the authorship of the Historia Britonum, which includes that of the identity of Beulan, has been thoroughly discussed by Sir T. D. Hardy in the Preface and Introduction to the Monumenta Hist. Brit. 62–68, 108. His decisions on these points may be taken as final. See also text of Historia Nennii by Petrie in same collection, 48a, 76a, 77a, 81d; Stevenson's Nennii Hist. Præf. (Eng. Hist. Soc.); Wright's Biog. Brit. Lit. 135–139; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. 99.]

W. H.