John Hardyng, The Chronicle of Ihon Hardyng, (1543) 

        Hardyng reproduces the story of King Vortiger's attempt to build a castle to defend against "paynyme" (pagan) invasions, but he refuses to pass on the story of Merlin's birth from a Christian woman impregnated by a fiend, nor the story of the castle's destruction by two dragons whose battle in its foundations Merlin predicts will foretell Vortiger's fall and the coming of Uther and Pendragon to power.  In the margin, the Sixteenth-Century reader dutifully notes "Merlyn his birth."  Later, the same reader will carefully note Hardyng's version of Arthur's heraldic coat of arms, reading this as history even in the early days of Elizabeth I.  Edmund Spenser treats Arthur with considerably more poetic freedom as a character in The Faerie Queene, and by the end of the century, historical interest in the Arthurian past seems to have waned in preference for debates about the deeper past put forth in Hobbes' Leviathan (1651) and Milton's Paradise Lost (1667/1674), though Milton, himself, briefly contemplated an Arthurian narrative before deciding to rewrite Genesis.