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Kay / Cai


   Mystic Realms        Arthur, the rightful king

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 In the Arthurian mythos, Kai ( alternatively Kay or Cai ) was Arthur's foster brother, the natural son of Ector. Thus Kai was one of Arthur's most loyal supporters. In later years Kai ran Arthur's household as his steward or seneschal collecting his revenues

John Morris his book 'The Age of Arthur' has this to say on the collection of revenues in this period;-

'But the British kings did not acquire their revenues in the manner of the Irish.
The Roman past offered a better model. Like the Irish Kings, Maelgwn and other British rulers levied a tribute of cattle, corn and other dues. In Ireland each lesser king was required to deliver dues to his superior, and to receive gifts in return. Payments depended on continuing loyalty, and loyalty was enforced by obliging the lesser king to deposit one or more of his sons as hostages at the court of his superior. The British kings found more efficient means of levying tribute; the stories of the Welsh monks are stuffed with dramatic miracles whose occasion is the visit of royal officers demanding tribute and maintainance for their men.
The laws of ancient Wales detail the functioning of such officers, and some of them are recognisably Roman. Late Roman military commanders were entitled to receive fixed quantities of annona, supplies and maintainance, whose collection was supervised by erogatores, armed with warrants authorising the requisition of stated commodities from named villages. In fifth-century Gaul the Goths were billeted on landowners by Roman law, and received annona also collected by erogatores. In Gaul and Italy, the title and function of the erogator militaris annona long outlasted the days of the emperors; and in fifth-century Britain Gildas described the supplies due to the English federates by the technical term annona. There is little doubt that in Britain too they were collected through erogatores.
In medieval welsh law the revenue officers were termed 'Cais'. The word is formed from ceiso, to ask, seek, search for, and is the linguistic equivalent of the Latin erogator, 'a person who asks' for revenue on behalf of the state. Like the erogator, the cais visited each district in turn to collect its stated tribute, in a circuit called cylch. The tributes were those which the Saint's Lives condemn, a 'cornage' of miscellaneous foodstuffs, with a cow payment, and, dofraeth, billeting and maintainance. But the Welsh system is not confined to Wales; it persisted until the twelfth-century throughout Northern England from Cheshire to Northumberland and Durham, and in the Clyde kingdom, and was accompanied by much Welsh land tenure. The term cais was commonly Englishised as Keys, or was translated by 'serjeant'; and the serjeant made similar circuits, collecting cornage, cowgeld and maintainance.
The elements of the system are simple and, might naturally arise in a simple society. But they differ radically from the practice of the rest of England; and when identical customs, and identical terms are found in Wales, northern England and southern Scotland, then it is evident that their origin dates back to a time before these territories were separated from each other by English conquests in the late sixth-century.'
The Age of Arthur - John Morris

The correlation between 'Cai', Arthur's seneschal, and 'Cais' the medieval welsh term for a seneschal almost certainly means that at some point during the written, or oral, transmission of the mythos someone confused name and jobtitle and the name has stuck ever since. This confusion is common, if hard to disentangle, in the transmission of early tales



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