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Layamon (lāˈəmən, –mŏn, lĪˈ–) [key], fl. c.1200, first prominent Middle English poet. He described himself as a humble priest attached to the church at Ernley (Arley Regis) near Radstone. His Brut is a chronicle in 32,341 short lines on the history of Britain, from the fall of Troy to the arrival of Brutus in Britain and continuing through the death of Cadwaladr. Layamon freely adapted the Brut of Wace and added material from other sources. His Anglo-Saxon narrative meter foreshadows the Middle English metrical system. This chronicle, important in the development of the Arthurian legend, gives one of the finest renderings of King Arthur as a national hero. It also contains the first mention of Lear and Cymbeline.

See his Brut, ed. by G. L. Brook and R. F. Leslie (1963).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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