Constantine probably succeeded his father, Cado, as King of Dumnonia in
the early 6th century. Literary tradition indicates AD 537, after the Battle
of Camlann from which, some sources say, he was the only survivor. He was
also, apparently left the High-Kingship of Britain, at this time, by his
cousin, King Arthur. Despite such positions of honour, Constantine was described
as the "unclean whelp of the lioness of Dumnonia" by his contemporary, St.
Gildas. He was rebuked for disguising himself as a Bishop in order to sacrilegiously
murder his two nephews in the sanctity of a church. According to Geoffrey
of Monmouth, these were, in fact, the treacherous sons of the evil usurper,
Mordred, who were killed in Winchester & London.
There were many noble Constantines abroad around this period and it is difficult
to separate one from another. However, it appears that, as an old man, this
King's character was greatly changed through grief brought about by the
death of his loving wife. One day, while out hunting a deer, his prey took
shelter in St. Petroc's cell. So impressed was the King by the saint's power
that he and his body guard immediately converted to Christianity. Constantine
gave Petroc an ivory hunting horn in commemoration of the event and this
was long reverred along with the Saint's other relics at Bodmin.
The King became co-founder of this famous Cornish monastery and, soon afterward,
abdicated the throne in favour of his son, Bledric, in order to take up
the religious life himself. He moved amongst his people, founding churches
at the two Constantines, near Padstow and Falmouth, and at Illogan; also
at Milton Abbot and Dunsford in Devon.
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