Bran Mak Morn is a hero of five pulp fiction short stories by Robert E. Howard. In the stories, most of which were first published in Weird Tales, Bran is the last king of Howard's romanticized version of the tribal race of Picts.
|Bran Mak Morn|
|Created by||Robert E. Howard|
At 13, Howard, being of Scottish-Irish descent, began his studies of Scottish history and became fascinated with what he calls "the small dark Mediterranean aborigines of Britain". As these Picts were portrayed as inferior to later tribes, Howard imagined them as a link between modern and ancient times.
His Picts originated on a group of islands in the West at the time Valusia, the kingdom of the Atlantean Kull, existed. The Picts and the barbaric Atlanteans had some kind of ancient blood feud. King Kull, however, formed a strong political link between the Pictish Isles and his kingdom of Valusia. When Atlantis, Lemuria, and Valusia sank into the sea thousands of years after Kull's time, the Picts survived and were flung into a period of cultural decline. They forgot the art of metalworking and returned to the technique of flintknapping.
The Picts were pushed to the North, where they mingled with the tribes they had defeated earlier. Forgetting most of their technological skills, they became brutish and skilled in warcraft.
Although Bran Mak Morn has dark eyes, he doesn't resemble the Caledonian Picts as Howard depicts them. He refers to himself as a Mediterranean, possibly meaning that he associates himself with the more ancient Picts.
Following Bran Mak Morn's death, he is deified and worshipped as the "Dark Man" or "Dark One" by the Caledonians of Pictish descent. There seems to be a cult centred around him on "the Isle of Altar, near the Scottish mainland". There is a legend, similar to the idea that Ban The Blessed's severed head guards Britain from invasion, about Bran: "...mayhap we shall come to you again in your need, as Bran Mak Morn, great king of Pictdom, shall come again to his people some day in the days to come."
In "Tigers of the Sea", taking place in the time of King Arthur, Picts are one of the groups active in the turbulent British Islands in the aftermath of the Fall of Rome. In one story, they kidnap a Briton girl and intend to sacrifice her to their deity; in another, they are oppressed by Norse invaders and plan a bloody and ruthless revenge. Cormac Mac Art, Howard's Irish Viking character, alternately fights them or makes temporary alliances with them, as circumstances dictate. None of the stories set in this period makes any mention of Bran Mak Morn.
Howard's Picts still seems to be a mysterious, active fighting force during the Norwegian occupation of the Scottish islands as late as the 11th Century. They seem to be withdrawing from civilization at this time: "When the Scot Kenneth McAlpine broke the Kingdom of Galloway, the last remnant of the Pictish empire faded like snow on the mountains. Like wolves, we live now among the scattered islands, among the crags of the highlands and the dim hills of Galloway. We are a fading people."
Many writers have been drawn to the idea of the Picts and created fictional stories or mythology about them in the absence of real knowledge. This romanticized view tends to portray them as occasionally noble savages, much as the view of Europeans on Native Americans in the 18th century. Howard is not among these romantics, representing his Picts as a tribe of primitive savages sinking into brutehood, with Bran alone avoiding this decay. In fact, Robert E. Howard's romanticism belongs more to view of the "Celtic Twilight" (see Celtic Revival) – showing the Picts suffering a "Pictish Twilight" at the hands of the Celts, Romans, and Scandinavians in the Bran Mak Morn story strand.
They are a special favorite race of Robert E. Howard and are mentioned frequently in his tales. The Picts have a continuity beginning from the tales of King Kull of Atlantis, where they are his allies (although culturally enemies of his people, the Atlanteans), to the Hyborian Age of Conan the Barbarian where they are the mortal enemies of the Cimmerians, who are actually descended from the old Atlanteans though they don't remember their ancestry or old alliance. The Picts of the Hyborian Age are depicted as analogous to Native Americans. Howard also wrote tales about the last King of the Picts, Bran Mak Morn, set in real historical time and they figure commonly as enemies of Cormac Mac Art. These Picts are closer to the common image of cave men than to Native Americans. In fact, the character of Brule, the Spear Slayer, in the Kull stories, is a member of the Pre-Cataclysmic Age Picts. The world of Kull is destroyed by a Great Cataclysm, which drives its peoples northward and reduces them to "brute hood". Over a millennium, the humans rise again to a barbaric culture and start to spread out once more over the world.
According to the long historical exposition which Howard attributes to a Pict wizard in "Men of the Shadows", the Picts have originated in the westernmost reaches of North America and gradually migrated eastwards until reaching the Mediterranean area. At one time, they spread to large areas of the world, but gradually vanished except for several splinter groups. Although some of these groups lived in remote jungles and southern continents, the most prominent body of Picts settled in the British isles, where they displaced a supposedly mongoloid race that had been the initial residents of the isles (though their origins were elsewhere).
An interesting point is that, in the Hyborian age, when they populate the western edge of Europe and share a border with Aquilonia, which tries to push them further west to colonize new provinces, the Picts show clear Native American influence, in their appearance, dress, armament, manner of conducting wars, and even in the regional names of the new Aquilonian provinces. It's hard to tell whether this is a case of inconsistency on the part of Howard, or a throwback to their earliest origins and savagery, as Hyborian Picts are definitely more primitive and savage than those Kull knew.
Eventually, as Howard describes in "The Hyborian Age", the Picts gain metal-working and armored cavalry, unite under a charismatic and ruthless leader, conquer and destroy the Hyborian kingdoms. However, they are not able to maintain the culture they conquered and are eventually engulfed in the cataclysm which ends the Hyborian Age - though some of them survive into later times.
This previous race sought refuge underground, and over long millennia they evolved into stunted and hideous creatures, who were the initial subjects of tales concerning elves and dwarves. The Picts were in turn displaced by the invading Celts, and they fled northward and interbred with a tribe of 'red haired barbarians,' resulting in a genetic shift toward diminished height. Following subsequent Roman, Breton, and Saxon invasions, the Picts too sought refuge underground, just like the natives they had displaced before.
Howard's descriptions of the later Picts portray them as very small in height, squat and muscular, adept at silent movement, and most of all brutish and uncivilised. They painted themselves with woad, much like the historical Picts, and lived in very large caverns, some natural and some artificially expanded. They had a custom of burning enemy prisoners alive, a ceremony usually presided over by their 'wizards' or priests, whom Howard portrayed as having a twisted philosophy and mindset produced by many years of hatred, in direct opposition to the Pictish warrior-king Bran Mak Morn, who attempted to restore the Picts to their honourable place in the world and drive out the Roman invaders.
Bran Mak Morn's mindset was very unusual for his time and location, because he favored an alliance of the "native" British populations, including the Picts, Bretons, and Celts, against the Romans, in a setting when each of these tribes fostered an intense hatred and mistrust for all the others. Robert E. Howard also mentions that some warriors among the Picts could assume the forms of wolves, in the manner of werewolves, on their own free will. These Picts were a "race" with whom Howard felt the most affinity, and for this reason they were one of his favorite subjects, despite being almost wholly fictitious and deviating from historical fact.
The exact time of Bran's life is unclear, but would seem to be the end of the 3rd Century of the Christian Era, while Rome was ruled by the co-emperors Diocletian and Maximian. He is mentioned as both a chief and king. Bran lead his Picts in attacks against Hadrian's Wall, and cause the later Roman Empire some trouble. He travels as far south as the city of Eboracum (York). He is said to have died in battle.
The name is derived from the name of Brennus, the Gaul who sacked Rome, and comes from a Britonnic word meaning "raven". One should also not overlook Bran The Blessed, the giant High King of the Isles of the Mighty in the Welsh Mabinogion. Howard says the Mak Morn was inspired by the Irish hero Goll mac Morna. He added a k to give the name a non-Gaelic appearance.
The Bran Mak Morn stories are connected to the Cthulhu Mythos and take place in the same fictional universe. Twice in Worms of the Earth, mention is made of the black gods of R'lyeh, resting place of Cthulhu, from the works of H. P. Lovecraft, a friend and correspondent of Howard. In the earliest extant copy of Worms of the Earth, mention of Cthulhu himself is made by name although this was later changed to Nameless Gods in the final edition. Also mentioned in the same story is Dagon, a water monster mentioned in some stories by Lovecraft and named after a real-world Philistine god. Lovecraft himself references Bran Mak Morn in his short story "The Whisperer in Darkness".
Bran Mac Mufin, a character in Dave Sim's comic book series Cerebus, is an homage and parody of Bran Mak Morn. His name is a play on words, referring to the pastry bran muffin and the McDonald's breakfast sandwich the McMuffin.
Most of Howard's Bran Mak Morn stories were first published in Weird Tales. A few stories didn't appear in print until after Howard's death.
Note: The order of publication doesn't correspond with the order in which the stories were written.
Howard's stories, poems, and fragments featuring Bran Mak Morn have been published several times as a collection in book form. Not every publication has been a complete collection.
Other writers have published novels featuring Howard's Bran Mak Morn.
Dark Horse Comics published Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword which features stories such as "Worms of the Earth" to "Men of Shadows" to "Kings of the Night". Some are brand new adaptations exclusive to the title, while others are reprints from previous publications.
Two band's have written songs about Bran Mak Morn:
Peter Berg will direct the movie Bran Mak Morn for Universal Pictures. Chris Romano is writing the script. The movie was slated for 2012 release but till now no new information has been available about the film.
The name Bran Mak Morn and the names of Robert E. Howard's other principal characters are trademarked by Paradox Entertainment of Stockholm, Sweden, through its US subsidiary Paradox Entertainment Inc. Paradox also holds copyrights on the stories written by other authors under license from Robert E. Howard Properties Inc. Since Robert E. Howard published his Bran Mak Morn stories at a time when the date of publication was the marker, the owners had to use the copyright symbol, and they had to renew after a certain time to maintain copyright, the exact status of all of Howard's Bran Mak Morn works are in question.
The Australian site of Project Gutenberg has many Robert E. Howard stories, including several Bran Mak Morn stories. This indicates that, in their opinion, the stories are free from copyright and may be used by anyone, at least under Australian law.
Subsequent stories written by other authors are subject to the copyright laws of the relevant time.
Bran is the hard outer layer of cereal grains; it may also refer to:
PlacesBran Castle, a national monument and landmark of Romanian tourism
Bran, Brașov, a commune in Brașov County, Romania; location of Bran Castle
Bran, a village in Golăiești Commune, Iași County, Romania
Castell Dinas Brân, a castle in Llangollen, Wales
Bran, Charente-Maritime, a commune in the Charente-Maritime département in France
Bran, a place in the parish of Os Ánxeles in the Galician council of Oroso.PersonsBran Mutimirović, Serbian royalty
Bran Drobnjak, founder of the Drobnjaci clan
Bran Ardchenn, king of Leinster
Bran Becc mac Murchado, king of Leinster
Bran Ferren, American designer and inventor
Guto Nyth Brân, legendary Welsh athleteCharactersBrân the Blessed, a character in Welsh mythology
Bran Mak Morn, the last King of the Picts in Robert E. Howard's fiction
Bran mac Febail, the protagonist of Immram Brain (The Voyage of Bran), a tale from Irish mythology
Bran Stark, a character from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. MartinMusicBranle, Baroque dance (Spanish form)OtherBroadband Radio Access Network, a European Telecommunications Standards Institute project involving low-cost, high-capacity radio links
A nickname of Brandon
Accademia della Crusca, also known as "The Bran" from the Italian word cruscaCabinet Entertainment
Cabinet Entertainment previously known as Paradox Entertainment is a company dealing in intellectual properties and making motion pictures thereof. All business is conducted from the main office in Los Angeles, USA.
The company owns rights to many IPs, the most famous of which is Conan the Barbarian as created by pulp author Robert E. Howard and expanded upon by many other authors over the years. Other properties include Bran Mak Morn, Kull, Solomon Kane, Mutant, Mutant Chronicles, Warzone, Kult, and Chronopia. Former licences include Heavy Gear.Characters of the Cthulhu Mythos
The following characters appear in H.P. Lovecraft's story cycle — the Cthulhu Mythos.
Name. The name of the character appears first.
Birth/Death. The date of the character's birth and death (if known) appears in parentheses below the character's name. Ambivalent dates are denoted by a question mark. (Note: ca. is the abbreviation for "circa".)
Description. A brief description of the character follows next.Corinium Dobunnorum
Corinium Dobunnorum was the Romano-British settlement at Cirencester in the present-day English county of Gloucestershire. Its 2nd-century walls enclosed the second-largest area of a city in Roman Britain. It was the tribal capital of the Dobunni and is usually thought to have been the capital of the Diocletian-era province of First Britain (Britannia I ).Cruthin
The Cruthin (Old Irish pronunciation: [ˈkɾˠʊθʲɪn̠ʲ]; Middle Irish: Cruithnig or Cruithni; Modern Irish: Cruithne [ˈkɾˠɪhn̠ʲə]) were a people of early medieval Ireland. Their heartland was in Ulster and included parts of the present-day counties of Antrim, Down and Londonderry. They are also said to have lived in parts of Leinster and Connacht. Their name is the Irish equivalent of Priteni, an ancient name for the Celtic Britons, and was sometimes used to refer to the Picts. However, there is a debate among scholars as to the relationship of the Cruthin with the Britons and Picts.
The Cruthin comprised a number of túatha (territories), which included the Dál nAraidi of County Antrim and the Uí Echach Cobo of County Down. Early sources distinguish between the Cruthin and the Ulaid, who gave their name to the over-kingdom, although the Dál nAraidi would later claim in their genealogies to be na fír Ulaid, "the true Ulaid". The Loígis, who gave their name to County Laois in Leinster, and the Sogain of Leinster and Connacht, are also claimed as Cruthin in early Irish genealogies.By 773 AD, the annals stopped using the term Cruithne in favour of the term Dál nAraidi, who had secured their over-kingship of the Cruthin.Heroes in the Wind
Heroes in the Wind: From Kull to Conan; the Best of Robert E. Howard is a 2009 collection of dark fantasy and horror short stories written by Robert E. Howard, selected and with an introduction by John Clute. Most of the stories were originally published in various fantasy magazines and feature Howard's heroes Kull, Bran Mak Morn and Conan, among others. It was first published in paperback in September 2009 by Penguin Books in its Penguin Modern Classics series.Karl Edward Wagner
Karl Edward Wagner (12 December 1945 – 14 October 1994) was an American writer, poet, editor and publisher of horror, science fiction, and heroic fantasy, who was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and originally trained as a psychiatrist. He wrote numerous dark fantasy and horror stories. As an editor, he created a three-volume set of Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian fiction restored to its original form as written, and edited the long-running and genre-defining The Year's Best Horror Stories series for DAW Books. His Carcosa publishing company issued four volumes of the best stories by some of the major authors of the so-called Golden Age pulp magazines. He is possibly best known for his creation of a series of stories featuring the character Kane, the Mystic Swordsman.
His disillusionment with the medical profession can be detected in the stories "The Fourth Seal" and "Into Whose Hands". He described his personal philosophy as nihilistic, anarchistic and absurdist, and claimed, not entirely seriously, to be related to "an opera composer named "Richard". Wagner also admired the cinema of Sam Peckinpah, stating "I worship the film The Wild Bunch".Men of the Shadows
Men of the Shadows is the title of a poem by Robert E. Howard, published sometimes in itself and sometimes at the beginning of a 1926 story with the same title, dealing with the Pictish King Bran Mak Morn.Picts in fantasy
Many writers have been drawn to the idea of the Picts and created fictional stories and mythology about them in the absence of much real data. This romanticised view tends to portray them as sometimes wearing the modern Kilt or as noble savages, much as the view of Europeans on Native Americans in the 18th century.Picts in literature and popular culture
The Picts, the people of eastern Scotland in the medieval Scotland, have frequently been represented in literature and popular culture.
Pulp fiction author Robert E. Howard wrote extensively about his romanticized version of the Picts, especially in his short stories revolving around the fictional character Bran Mak Morn, but also in many other of his stories. In his Conan the Barbarian series, the Picts are described as very similar in culture to the indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands, especially the Iroquois or Wyandot.
Rudyard Kipling devotes several chapters to the Picts in his book Puck of Pook's Hill.
Historical fantasy author Juliet Marillier's series The Bridei Chronicles tells of the Picts and Gaels in the sixth century A.D.
Nancy Farmer's series The Sea of Trolls depicts fictional Picts.
In his poem "An Irish Monk on Lindisfarne", Gael Turnbull wrote,On the road coming, five days' travel, a Pict woman(big mouth and small bones) gave me shelter, andlaughed (part scorn, part pity) at my journey.
Anne Rice also wrote of fictional Picts, crafting them into the Taltos for her book series The Lives of the Mayfair Witches.
Karen Marie Moning also wrote about the Picts for her third novel of the Highlander Series The Highlander's Touch.
Another use of the Picts in a fantasy setting comes in Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy fantasy series concerning the Kingdom of Alba and the Picts, and their dealings with Terre D'Ange.
Matthew Stover's Bronze Age fantasy novels Iron Dawn and Jericho Moon chronicle the adventures of Barra Coll Eigg Rhum, a Pictish princess.
The 1982 film Conan The Barbarian features bodybuilder Franco Columbu in a cameo as a blue-tattooed Pictish scout.
The 2004 film King Arthur depicts Celts and Picts (called "Woads" in the film) as tattooed and painted savage forest people, led by the dark magician Merlin. Originally enemies to Arthur and his knights, they later unite to defeat the Saxons at Badon Hill.
Neil Marshall's 2010 film Centurion features a conflict between a band of Picts and the Roman Ninth Legion.
In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, particularly those featuring the Lancre witches, the Picts are an obvious influence on the Nac Mac Feegle, a race of tiny wood-fairies whose speech is influenced by Scottish Gaelic and who are tattooed with blue war-paint. In Carpe Jugulum, they are called "Pictsies."
Arthur Ransome, celebrated author of the classic Swallows and Amazons series of books, titled the eleventh book of the series "The Picts and the Martyrs". Published in 1943, it features the adventures of a group of children holidaying in the Lake District. In the book, two of the children are unexpectedly forced to live secretly in a ruined house in the woods, and they become "Picts". Another two must endure the unwanted presence of their Great Aunt, thus becoming "Martyrs". A general description of historical Picts is given by one of the children when they first take that name, and a somewhat more detailed explanation is given later by a parent in a letter.
Jack Dixon's The Pict, historical fiction, is told from the point of view of the 1st century Picts who resisted invasion by two Roman legions, the Ninth and the Twentieth, led by Gnaeus Julius Agricola in 83 C.E. The main character (Calach) is the Caledonian leader (Calgacus) who united the twenty Pictish tribes against the Roman invasion. The antagonist (Agricola) is sent by the emperor to conquer the whole of the British Isles or not return to Rome. The story offers an alternative to Tacitus's account of the battle of Mons Graupius, and it credits the unified Pictish resistance with a pivotal role in the development of the Scottish nation.
British rock band Pink Floyd performed a song on their 1969 Ummagumma album entitled "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict."
In the 2011 film The Eagle, directed by Kevin Macdonald, and starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland. Adapted by Jeremy Brock from Rosemary Sutcliff's historical adventure novel The Eagle of the Ninth (1954), the film tells the story of a young Roman officer searching to recover the lost Roman eagle standard of his father's legion in the northern part of Great Britain. The story is based on the Ninth Spanish Legion's supposed disappearance in Britain. Aquila decides to recover it. Despite the warnings of his uncle and his fellow Romans, who believe that no Roman can survive north of Hadrian's Wall, he travels north into the territory of the "Picts", accompanied only by his slave, Esca.
In the 2012 game Civilization V: Gods & Kings, the Pictish Warrior is the unique unit of the Celtic civilization.
In the 2013 volume Asterix and the Picts, Asterix and Obelix meet the Picts.
The Charlemagne downloadable content was released for the 2012 game Crusader Kings II. The Picts are an existing culture, but may later become Scottish.
In the 2015 game Total War: Attila the Picts are a playable faction in the Celts DLC Culture Pack.
The 2017 Doctor Who episode The Eaters of Light is set in Scotland at the time of the Picts' wars with the Romans.
In the 2017 video game Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, the player character is a Pictish woman.
The 2018 strategy game Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia features the Pictish kingdom of Circenn as a playable faction.Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword (Dark Horse Comics)
Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword is an anthology comic published by Dark Horse Comics showcasing the exploits of Howard's heroes in new adventures and restored reprints of classic tales. All contents are based on or inspired by the works of Robert E. Howard.Robert E. Howard bibliography
A list of prose works by Robert E. Howard. The works are sorted by genre, by series and then alphabetically. Untitled works and fragments (incomplete and unfinished works) are listed separately by their opening line.
Additional information is included where available, covering publication date and place, the amount Howard earned for the sale of the piece, any alternative titles and whether the work is in the public domain. Links to the freely available source texts, on wikisource or Project Gutenberg of Australia, are included in a separate column. These are marked with the appropriate icons.Serpent Men
Serpent Men are a fictional race created by Robert E. Howard for his King Kull tales. They first appeared in "The Shadow Kingdom," published in Weird Tales in August 1929.
They were later adapted for the Marvel Comics Conan comics by Roy Thomas and Marie Severin. Their first Marvel Universe appearance was in Kull the Conqueror vol. 1 #2 (September, 1971).The Children of the Night
"The Children of the Night" is a 1931 short story by Robert E. Howard, belonging to the Cthulhu Mythos. It was first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in the April/May 1931 issue. Howard earned $60 for this publication.The Haunter of the Ring
"The Haunter of the Ring" is a 1934 short story by Robert E. Howard, belonging to the Cthulhu Mythos. It was first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in the June 1934 issue. Howard earned $60 for this publication. This story is set in the modern age but includes a relic from the Hyborian Age of the Conan the Barbarian stories, the ring of Thoth-Amon.The Twilight of the Grey Gods
"The Twilight of the Grey Gods", also known as "The Grey God Passes", is a short story by American writer Robert E. Howard that blends history and fantasy. Published posthumously in 1962, the first appearance of the story was in a collection titled Dark Mind, Dark Heart, edited by August Derleth.The tale is a fictionalized version of the Battle of Clontarf recast in Howard's views, with doomful vision and fantasy elements. While the historical facts of the battle are accurate, they are not the most important parts of the story. The protagonist is Turlogh Dubh O'Brien, a recurring character of Howard's who is an outcast from Brian Boru's own clan.
Howard also wrote a version of this story, called "Spears of Clontarf", with the fantastic elements removed. This version first saw print in a chapbook in 1978.Turlogh Dubh O'Brien
Turlogh Dubh O'Brien or Black Turlogh, is a fictional 11th Century Irishman created by Robert E. Howard.Worms of the Earth
"Worms of the Earth" is a short story by American fantasy fiction writer Robert E. Howard. It was originally published in the magazine Weird Tales in November 1932, then again in 1975 in a collection of Howard's short stories, Worms of the Earth. The story features one of Howard's recurring protagonists, Bran Mak Morn, a legendary king of the Picts.Worms of the Earth (short story collection)
Worms of the Earth is a collection of fantasy short stories by Robert E. Howard. It was first published in 1974 by Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc. in an edition of 2,500 copies. The stories feature Howard's character Bran Mak Morn.