who is Guinevere, really?

arthurian guinevere Lancelot

Her name first appears as Guennuvar in Caradoc of Llancarfan’s LIFE OF ST. GILDAS (c. 1130), a work finished only a few years prior to that of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s HISTORY (c. 1136). Geoffrey calls her Guanhumara. The Welsh form of her name is Gwenhwyfar (possibly “White Spectre”). She has usually been associated with the Irish sovereignty goddess Findabair. I think this is correct, since Arthur conquers Ireland immediately after marrying Guanhumara. In other words, a king must marry the Goddess of Sovereignty of Ireland before he can rule over the country. Triad 56 of the Trioedd Ynys Prydein (“The Triads of the Island of Britain”) lists the names and patronymics of the “Three Great Queens” of Arthur’s court. To quote this triad in full: Three Great Queens of Arthur’s Court: Gwennhwyfar daughter of Cywryd Gwent, And Gwenhwyfar daughter of Gwythyr son of Greidawl, And Gwenhwyfar daughter of (G)ogfran the Giant. [Trans. By Rachel Bromwich] There has been some slight discussion of thes