King Leir and Cordelia: A King’s Foolishness, A Daughter’s Love

Image by Edwin Austin Abbey [Public domain] – Source
This article was first published on under the title, British Legends: King Lear and Cordelia – A Tale of Love and Foolishness, by zteve t evans on May 30th, 2019.

Legendary Rulers of Britain

King Leir and his youngest daughter, Queen Cordelia, were legendary rulers of the the Britons.  Their story appeared in History of the Kings of Britain (Historia regum Britanniae) by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century and presented here is a retelling of that story.

King Leir

Leir took the throne after the untimely death of his father, King Bladud, and founded the city of Kaerleir upon the river Soar, which later became Leicester. Both were named after him.

As he grew older, Leir began to consider what should be done with his kingdom when he died as he had no son. He did have three daughters, and decided he would marry them to suitable husbands and divide the kingdom between them.  First, Leir decided to test each daughter’s love for him to decide who would receive the best parts of his inheritance.  To do this he decided to ask each one how much they loved him.

A Test of Love

First he asked his eldest daughter, Goneril.  Seeking solely to impress and flatter she told him she loved him more than her own soul. Pleased with her answer he told her,

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