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Title: Old English Chronicles
Author: Various
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Old English Chronicles" ***

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    Old English Chronicles.







    Old English Chronicles,


    BY J.A. GILES, D.C.L.,



[_Reprinted from Stereotype plates._]


Of the present volume it will be sufficient to inform the reader that it
contains Six Chronicles, all relating to the history of this country
before the Norman Conquest, and all of essential importance to those who
like to study history in the very words of contemporary writers.

We will at once proceed to enumerate them severally.


The short chronicle, which passes under the name of Ethelwerd, contains
few facts which are not found in the Saxon Chronicle its precursor. Of
the author we know no more than he has told us in his work. "Malmesbury
calls him 'noble and magnificent' with reference to his rank; for he was
descended from king Alfred: but he forgets his peculiar praise--that of
being the only Latin historian for two centuries; though, like Xenophon,
Cæsar, and Alfred, he wielded the sword as much as the pen."[1]

Ethelwerd dedicated his work to, and indeed wrote it for the use of his
relation Matilda, daughter of Otho the Great, emperor of Germany, by his
first empress Edgitha or Editha; who is mentioned in the Saxon
Chronicle, A.D. 925, though not by name, as given to Otho by her
brother, king Athelstan. Ethelwerd adds, in his epistle to Matilda, that
Athelstan sent _two_ sisters, in order that the emperor might take his
choice; and that he preferred the mother of Matilda.

The chronology of Ethelwerd is occasionally a year or two at variance
with other authorities. The reader will be guided in reckoning the
dates, not by the heading of each paragraph, A.D. 891, 975, &c., but by
the actual words of the author inserted in the body of the text.

I have translated this short chronicle from the original text as well as
I was able, and as closely as could be to the author's text; but I am by
no means certain of having always succeeded in hitting on his true
meaning, for such is the extraordinary barbarism of the style, that I
believe many an ancient Latin classic, if he could rise from his grave,
would attempt in vain to interpret it.


[Footnote 1: Ingram, p. viii. note]


This work is ascribed, on its own internal authority, to Asser, who is
said to have been bishop of St. David's, of Sherborne or of Exeter, in
the time of king Alfred. Though most of the public events recorded in
this book are to be found in the Saxon Chronicle, yet for many
interesting circumstances in the life of our great Saxon king we are
indebted to this biography alone. But, as if no part of history is ever
to be free from suspicion, or from difficulty, a doubt has been raised
concerning the authenticity of this work.[2] There is also another short
treatise called the Annals of Asser, or the Chronicle of St. Neot,
different from the present: it is published in vol. iii. of Gale and
Fell's Collection of Historians. And it has been suspected by a living
writer that both of these works are to be looked upon as compilations of
a later date. The arguments upon which this opinion is founded are drawn
principally from the abrupt and incoherent character of the work before
us. But we have neither time nor space to enter further into this
question. As the work has been edited by Petrie, so has it been here
translated, and the reader, taking it upon its own merits, will find
therein much of interest about our glorious king, concerning whom he
will lament with me that all we know is so little, so unsatisfying.


[Footnote 2: See Wright's Biographia Literaria Anglo-Saxonica, p. 405.
Dr. Lingard, however, in his recent work on the History and Antiquities
of the Anglo-Saxon Church, vol. ii. pp. 424-428, has replied to Mr.
Wright's objections, and vindicated the authenticity of Asser's Life.]


Of Gildas, the supposed author of the third work contained in this
volume, little or nothing is known. Mr. Stevenson, in the preface to his
edition of the original Latin, lately published by the English
Historical Society, says: "We are unable to speak with certainty as to
his parentage, his country, or even his name, the period when he lived,
or the works of which he was the author." Such a statement is surely
sufficient to excuse us at present from saying more on the subject, than
that he is supposed to have lived, and to have written what remains
under his name, during some part of the sixth century. There are two
legends[3] of the life of St. Gildas, as he is termed, but both of them
abound with such absurdities that they scarcely deserve to be noticed in
a serious history. Of the present translation, the first or historic
half is entirely new; in the rest, consisting almost entirely of texts
from Scripture, the translator has thought it quite sufficient to follow
the old translation of Habington, correcting whatever errors he could
detect, and in some degree relieving the quaint and obsolete character
of the language. It has been remarked by Polydore Virgil, that Gildas
quotes no other book but the Bible; and it may be added, that his
quotations are in other words than those of the Vulgate or common
authorized translation. The title of the old translation is as follows:
"The Epistle of Gildas the most ancient British Author: who flourished
in the yeere of our Lord, 546. And who by his great erudition,
sanctitie, and wisdome, acquired the name of _Sapiens_. Faithfully
translated out of the originall Latine." London, 12mo. 1638.


[Footnote 3: Both these works are given in the appendix to the editor's
"History of the Ancient Britons."]


The History of the Britons, which occupies the fourth place in this
volume is generally ascribed to Nennius, but so little is known about
the author, that we have hardly any information handed down to us
respecting him except this mention of his name. It is also far from
certain at what period the history was written, and the difference is no
less than a period of two hundred years, some assigning the work to
seven hundred and ninety-six, and others to nine hundred and
ninety-four. The recent inquiries of Mr. Stevenson, to be found in the
Preface to his new edition of the original Latin, render it unnecessary
at present to delay the reader's attention from the work itself. The
present translation is substantially that of the Rev. W. Gunn, published
with the Latin original in 1819, under the following title: "The
'Historia Britonum,' commonly attributed to Nennius; from a manuscript
lately discovered in the library of the Vatican Palace at Rome: edited
in the tenth century, by Mark the Hermit; with an English version,
facsimile of the original, notes and illustrations." The kindness of
that gentleman has enabled the present editor to reprint the whole, with
only a few corrections of slight errata, which inadvertency alone had
occasioned, together with the two prologues and several pages of
genealogies, which did not occur in the MS. used by that gentleman.


Geoffrey, surnamed of Monmouth, is celebrated in English literature as
the author, or at least the translator, of _Historia Britonum_, a work
from which nearly all our great vernacular poets have drawn the
materials for some of their noblest works of fiction and characters of
romance. He lived in the early part of the twelfth century, and in the
year 1152 was raised to the bishopric of St. Asaph.

The first of his writings, in point of time, was a Latin translation of
the Prophecies of Merlin, which he undertook at the request of Alexander
bishop of Lincoln. His next work was that on which his fame principally
rests, the _Historia Britonum_, dedicated to Robert, duke of Gloucester,
who died in 1147. Into this second work he inserted the Latin
translation above-mentioned, which now appears as the seventh book of
_Historia Britonum_. A third composition has also been ascribed to
Geoffrey, entitled _Vita Merlini_, in Latin hexameter verse: but the
internal evidence which it affords, plainly proves that it is the work
of a different author.

Although the list of our Chroniclers may be considered as complete,
without the addition of this work, yet we have thought it worthy of a
place in our series for many reasons. It is not for historical accuracy
that the book before us is valuable; for the great mass of scholars
have come to the decided conviction that it is full of fables. But it is
the romantic character which pervades the narrative, together with its
acknowledged antiquity, which make it desirable that the book should not
sink into oblivion. Those who desire to possess it as a venerable relic
of an early age, will now have an opportunity of gratifying their wish;
whilst others, who despise it as valueless, in their researches after
historic truth, may, nevertheless, find some little pleasure in the
tales of imagination which it contains.

The value of this work is best evinced by the attention which was paid
to it for many centuries; Henry of Huntingdon made an abstract of it,
which he subjoined as an appendix to his history: and Alfred of
Beverley, a later writer, in his abridgment of this work which still
exists, has omitted Geoffrey's name, though he calls the author of the
original, Britannicus.

An English translation of the work was first published by Aaron
Thompson, of Queen's College, Oxford, [8vo. Lond. 1718.] and lately
revised and reprinted by the editor of this volume, [8vo. Lond. 1842.] A
long preface is prefixed to that translation, wherein the author
endeavoured to prove Geoffrey of Monmouth to be a more faithful
historian than he is generally considered to be. His words are as
follow:--"I am not unsensible that I expose myself to the censures of
some persons, by publishing this translation of a book, which they think
had better been suppressed and buried in oblivion, as being at present
generally exploded for a groundless and fabulous story, such as our
modern historians think not worthy relating, or at least mention with
contempt. And though it is true, several men, and those of learning too,
censure this book who have but little considered it, and whose studies
no ways qualify them to judge of it; yet, I own this consideration has
for a long time deterred me from publishing it: and I should not at last
have been able to surmount this difficulty, without the importunity and
encouragement of others, to whom I owe a singular regard. I had indeed
before I entered upon the work perused the principal writers both for
and against this history, the effect of which upon my own judgment, as
to the swaying it to the one side more than the other, was but very
small; and I must confess, that I find the most learned antiquaries the
most modest in their opinions concerning it, and that it seems to me to
be a piece of great rashness, to judge peremptorily upon a matter,
whereof at this great distance of time there are no competent witnesses
on either side. At least I cannot but think it a sufficient apology for
my publishing this book, to consider only, that though it seems to
suffer under a general prejudice at present, yet it has not long done
so; but that upon its first appearing in the world, it met with a
universal approbation, and that too, from those who had better
opportunities of examining the truth of it, as there were then more
monuments extant, and the traditions more fresh and uncorrupted
concerning the ancient British affairs, than any critics of the present
age can pretend to; that it had no adversary before William of Newburgh
about the end of the reign of Richard the First, whose virulent
invective against it, we are told, proceeded from a revenge he thought
he owed the Welsh for an affront they had given him; that his opposition
was far from shaking the credit of it with our succeeding historians,
who have, most of them, till the beginning of the last century,
confirmed it with their testimonies, and copied after it, as often as
they had occasion to treat of the same affairs: that its authority was
alleged by king Edward the First and all the nobility of the kingdom, in
a controversy of the greatest importance, before Boniface the Eighth;
that even in this learned age, that is so industrious to detect any
impostures, which through the credulity of former times had passed upon
the world, the arguments against this history are not thought so
convincing, but that several men of equal reputation for learning and
judgment with its adversaries, have written in favour of it; that very
few have at last spoken decisively against it, or absolutely condemned
it; and that it is still most frequently quoted by our most learned
historians and antiquaries. All these considerations, I say, if they do
not amount to an apology for the history itself, show at least that it
deserves to be better known than at present it is; which is sufficient
to justify my undertaking the publishing of it."

It is unnecessary in the present day to prove that king Brute is a
shadowy personage, who never existed but in the regions of romance: but
as the reader may justly expect to find in this place some account of
the controversy which has existed respecting this work, the following
remarks will not be deemed inappropriate. There seems no good reason for
supposing that Geoffrey of Monmouth intended to deceive the world
respecting the history of which he professed to be the translator; and
it may be readily conceived that he did no more than fulfil the task
which he had undertaken, of rendering the book into Latin out of the
original language. But those who, even as late as the beginning of the
last century, supported the authenticity of the history, have grounded
their opinions on such arguments as the following:--

1. That, upon its first appearance in the world, the book met with
universal approbation, and that too from those who had better
opportunities of examining the truth of it, as there were then more
monuments extant, and the traditions were more fresh and uncorrupted,
concerning the ancient British affairs, than any critics of the present
age can pretend to.

2. That except William of Newburgh, about the end of the reign of
Richard I, it met with no opponents even down to the seventeenth
century, but was, on the contrary, quoted by all, in particular by
Edward I, in a controversy before Boniface the Eighth.

3. That we see in this history the traces of venerable antiquity.

4. That the story of Brute, and the descent of the Britons from the
Trojans, was universally allowed by Giraldus Cambrensis and others, and
was opposed for the first time by John of Wethamstede, [Nicolson's Eng.
Hist. Lit. 2nd ed. p. 1, c. v.] who lived in the 15th century: that
Polydore Virgil's contempt for it proceeded from his wish to preserve
unimpaired the glory of the Romans, and Buchanan's observations betray
his ignorance of the story.

5. That Leland, who lived under Henry the Eighth, Humphrey Lhwyd, Sir
John Price, Dr. Caius, Dr. Powel, and others, have supported the story
of Brute, etc.

Such arguments may have satisfied the credulous students of the
seventeenth century, but the more enlightened criticism of the present
day will no longer listen to them. It may not, however, be uninteresting
to hear the account which Thompson, the English translator gives of this
work, which in his own words, and with his additional remarks upon it,
is as follows:--"The story, as collected from himself, Leland, Bale, and
Pitts, is that Walter Mapes, _alias_ Calenius, archdeacon of Oxford, who
flourished in the reign of Henry I, and of whom Henry of Huntingdon, and
other historians as well as Geoffrey himself, make honourable mention,
being a man very curious in the study of antiquity, and a diligent
searcher into ancient libraries, and especially after the works of
ancient authors, happened while he was in Armorica to light upon a
History of Britain, written in the British tongue, and carrying marks of
great antiquity. And being overjoyed at it, as if he had found a vast
treasure, he in a short time after came over to England; where inquiring
for a proper person to translate this curious but hitherto unknown book,
he very opportunely met with Geoffrey of Monmouth, a man profoundly
versed in the history and antiquities of Britain, excellently skilled in
the British tongue, and withal (considering the time,) an elegant writer
both in verse and prose; and so recommended this task to him.
Accordingly, Geoffrey, being incredibly delighted with this ancient
book, undertook the translating of it into Latin, which he performed,
with great diligence, approving himself, according to Matthew Paris, a
faithful translator. At first he divided it into four books, written in
a plain simple style, and dedicated it to Robert, earl of Gloucester, a
copy whereof is said[4] to be at Bennet College, in Cambridge, which was
never yet published; but afterwards he made some alterations and divided
it into eight books, to which he added the book of Merlin's Prophecies,
which he had also translated from British verse into Latin prose,
prefixing to it a preface, and a letter to Alexander, bishop of Lincoln.
A great many fabulous and trifling stories are inserted in the history:
but that was not his fault; his business as a translator was to deliver
them faithfully such as they were, and leave them to the judgment of the
learned to be discussed.

"To prove the truth of this relation, and to answer at once all
objections against Geoffrey's integrity, one needs no other argument
than an assurance that the original manuscript which Geoffrey
translated, of whose antiquity the curious are able to judge in a great
measure by the character, or any ancient and authentic copy of it, is
yet extant. And indeed, archbishop Usher[5] mentions an old Welsh
Chronicle in the Cottonian Library, that formerly was in the possession
of that learned antiquary, Humphrey Lhwyd, which he says is thought to
be that which Geoffrey translated. But if that be the original
manuscript, it must be acknowledged that Geoffrey was not merely a
translator, but made some additions of his own: since, as that most
learned prelate informs us, the account that we have in this History of
the British Flamens, and Archflamens, is nowhere to be found in it. But
besides this, there are several copies of it in the Welsh tongue,
mentioned by the late ingenious and learned Mr. Lhwyd in his
'Archæologia Britannica.' And I myself have met with a manuscript
history of our British affairs, written above a hundred years ago by Mr.
John Lewis, and shortly to be published, wherein the author says, that
he had the original of the British History in parchment written in the
British tongue before Geoffrey's time, as he concludes from this
circumstance, that in his book Geoffrey's preface was wanting, and the
preface to his book was the second chapter of that published by
Geoffrey. My ignorance of the Welsh tongue renders me unqualified for
making any search into these matters; and though the search should be
attended with never so much satisfaction, to those who are able to judge
of the antiquity of manuscripts, yet to the generality of readers, other
arguments would perhaps be more convincing."

The passages which we have here quoted at length, will give the reader
the most ample information concerning the nature of the question, and it
only remains to inform the reader what is my own opinion on this
long-agitated literary controversy.

To those who have read the plain and simple statements of Julius Cæsar
and the other classic historians who have described the early state of
Britain, it will be morally certain that all such accounts as we have in
Geoffrey of Monmouth are purely fabulous. The uncertainty of every
thing, save the bare fact, connected with the siege of Troy, is so
great, that to connect its fortunes with those of a distant and at that
time unheard-of island like Britain, can be admissible only in the pages
of romance. But in the latter part of the work which contains the
history of Britain, during its conquest by the Saxons, we may possibly
find the germs of facts unnoticed elsewhere.

This view does not militate against the veracity of Geoffrey, who
professes to have translated from an original in the British language,
but whether any manuscript copy of this original now exists, is a point
which has not been satisfactorily ascertained. In 1811, the Rev. Peter
Roberts published the Chronicle of the Kings of Britain, translated from
Welsh manuscripts, and being in substance almost identically the same as
Geoffrey's History of the Britons,--but it is most likely that these
Welsh MSS., which are all comparatively modern, are themselves
re-translations from the Latin of Geoffrey.

If no other arguments could be adduced to prove the utter incredibility
of the earlier parts of this history, the following Chronological Table
would furnish quite sufficient arguments to establish it, by the
extraordinary anachronisms which it contains. For instance, between the
reigns of Brutus and Leil, is an interval of 156 years; and yet Geoffrey
makes the capture of the ark contemporaneous with the reign of Brutus,
and the building of Solomon's temple with that of Leil. Now the interval
between these two events cannot by any possibility be extended beyond
eighty years. It is, moreover, impossible to bring the chronology of the
British kings themselves into harmony with the dates before Christ, as
there is no mention made of the exact interval between the taking of
Troy and Brutus's landing in Britain.

Geoffrey inscribes his work to Robert, earl of Gloucester, son of Henry
the Second.


                       |          |
          = Æneas = Lavinia     (----)
          |                       |
       Ascanius                   |
          |                       |
       Sylvius       = (Niece of Lavinia). I. 3.
       Pandrasus     |
          |          |
       Ignoge = 1. Brutus at the age of 15 kills his father (I. 3.) Reigns
              |      twenty-four years. (II. 1.)
              |    At this time Eli governed Israel, and the ark was taken
              |      by the Philistines, and the sons of Hector reigned in
              |      Troy and Sylvius Æneas, uncle of Brutus, in Italy.
              |      (I. 17.)
         |                      |       |
         |          Corinæus Albanact Kamber II. 1.
         |            |
    2. Locrin   = 3. Guendoloena    { Locrin by Estrildis has Sabre, who
     r. 10 yrs. |      15 years.    {   being drowned in the Severn, gives
                |                   {   name to that river.
          4. Maddan. II. 6.         { At this time Samuel governed Israel,
             40 yrs.                {   and Homer flourished.
          |            |
    5. Mempricius    Malim          { Saul reigns in Judæa, Eurystheus in
        20 yrs.                     {   Lacedæmon.
    6. Ebraucus                     { King David--Sylvius
        40 yrs.                     {   Latinus--Gad--Nathanand Asaph.
    (or 60, _quære_, II. 7, 8)
    7. Brutus II., 12 yrs. and 19 other sons and 30 daughters, II. 8.
    8. Leil                         { Solomon--Queen of Sheba--Sylvius
       25 yrs.                      {   Epitus.
    9. Hudibras                       Capys--Haggai--Amos--Joel--Azariah.
       39 yrs.
    10. Bladud                      Elijah.
        20 yrs. II. 10.
    11. Leir
         60 yrs. II. 11.
          |                       |                    |
    12. Gonorilla = Maglaunus,  Regan = Henuinus,  Cordeilla = Aganippus,
        5 yrs.    |   D. of           |  D. of                   K. of
                  |  Albania.         | Cornwall.                Gaul.
                  |                   |
               Margan         13. Cunedagius   { Isaiah--Hosea--Rome built
                                   33 yrs.     {   by Romulus and Remus.
                                14. Rivallo
                                      |              |
                              15. Gurgustius      (----)
                                      |              |
                              16. Sisilius        17. Jago
                               18. Kinmarcus
                               19. Gorbogudo = Widen
                                     |               |
                                   Ferrex          Porrex

                               Long civil wars.

             At length arose Dunwallo Molmutius, son of Cloten, king of
                               Cornwall. II. 17.

                       20. Dunwallo Molmutius = Conwenna
                              40 yrs.         |
                             |                            |
                       21. Belinus                     Brennius
                           5 yrs. in concert with Brennius.
                       22. Gurgiunt Brabtruc. III. 11.
                       23. Guithelin = Martia
                               24. Sisillius
                             |                 |
                       25. Kimarus       26. Danius = Tangustela
                                             27. Morvidus
            |             |           |            |            |
    28. Gorbonian 29. Arthgallo 30. Elidure 31. Vigenius 32. Peredure
            |             |           |            |            |
            |     Arthgallo was deposed in favour of Elidure, who, after a
            |       reign of five years, restored his brother, who reigned
            |       10 years afterwards. Elidure then reigned a second time
            |       but was deposed by Vigenius and Peredure: after whose
            |       deaths he reigned a third time.
    33. Gorbonian's       |           |            |            |
        son, III. 19.     |           |            |            |
           ----------------           |            |            |
           |              |           |            |            |
    34. Margan    35. Enniaunus       |      36. Idwallo   37. Runno
                               38. Geruntius
                               39. Catellus

          40. Coillus           41. Porrex         42. Cherin
                 |                    |                 |
          43. Fulgenius         44. Eldadus       45. Andragius
                                                  46. Urianus

    47. Eliud  48. Cledaucus  49. Cletonus  50. Gurgintius  51. Merianus

             52. Bleduno   53. Cap   54. Oenus   55. Sisillius

                           |                    |
                    56. Blegabred        57. Arthmail

    58. Eldol  59. Redion  60. Rederchius  61. Samuilpenissel  62. Pir

                           63. Capoir III. 19.
                           64. Cligueillus
                           65.    Heli
              |                    |                    |
        66. Lud. III. 20    67. Cassibellaun       Nennius

        Cæsar's invasion took place during Cassibellaun's reign.

                             68. Tenuantius
                                   |            { Jesus Christ is born in
                           69. Kymbelinus       {   the reign of Kymbelinus
                                   |            {   or Cymbeline.
                                   |                         Claudius
                    --------------------------------            |
                    |                              |            |
              70. Guiderius                 71. Arviragus = Genuissa
                                               72. Marius
                                               73. Coillus
                                               74. Lucius IV. 19.

            Lucius embraces Christianity: he dies, A.D. 156.

                            75. Severus
                            76. Bassianus or Caracalla

               77. Carausius, V. 3.    78. Allectus

               79. Asclepiodotus       80. Coel
                                         Helena = 81. Constantius
                                                |     r. 11 yrs.
                                   82. Constantine, emperor of Rome

            83. Octavius assumes the crown of Britain.
               (Daughter) = 84. Maximian, V. 11.

                         85. Gratian Municeps

        At this time the Picts and Scots harass the Britons, who apply to
                                      the Romans.

          86. Constantine, prince of Armorica, comes to assist the Britons.
           |              |                         |
    87. Constans  89. Aurelius Ambrosius  90. Utherpendragon = Igerna
                          VIII. 2.                VIII. 17.  | VIII. 19.
    88. Vortigern usurps the throne (VI. 9) and calls in     |
                 the Saxons.                                 |
                                                      |               |
                                                91. Arthur IX. 1.   Anne

                       King Arthur dies, A.D. 542 (XI. 3.)

        92. Constantine  93. Aurelius Conan  94. Wortiporius  95. Malgo

                  96. Careticus  97. Cadwan
               ----------              |
               |        |              |
            Peanda (sister) = 98. Cadwallo
                     99. Cadwallader

    Cadwallader goes to Rome, where he is confirmed in the faith of Christ
                    by pope Sergius, and dies A.D. 689.


[Footnote 4: See Pitts and Voss.]

[Footnote 5: Brit. Eccl. Prim. cap. 5]


The supposed chronicle of Richard of Cirencester was first brought
before the public by Charles Julius Bertram, Professor of the English
Language in the Royal Marine Academy, at Copenhagen, in the year 1757.

Since the publication of the volume, it has been conclusively proved to
be a modern forgery. The editor's remarks on that portion of the volume
are therefore omitted, though the document is retained on the
supposition that it may be convenient to some readers to have the text
of a composition which was extensively used before its spurious
character was ascertained.






To Matilda, the most eloquent and true handmaid of Christ, Ethelwerd the
patrician, health in the Lord! I have received, dearest sister, your
letter which I longed for, and I not only read it with kisses, but laid
it up in the treasury of my heart. Often and often do I pray the grace
of the Most High, to preserve you in safety during this life present,
and after death to lead you to his everlasting mansions. But as I once
before briefly hinted to you by letter, I now, with God's help, intend
to begin in the way of annals from the beginning of the world, and
explain to you more fully about our common lineage and descent, to the
end that the reader's task may be lightened, and the pleasure of the
hearer may be augmented, whilst he listens to it. Concerning the coming
of our first parents out of Germany into Britain, their numberless wars
and slaughters, and the dangers which they encountered on ship-board
among the waves of the ocean, in the following pages you will find a
full description. In the present letter therefore I have written,
without perplexity of style, of our modern lineage and relationship, who
were our relations, and how, and where they came from: as far as our
memory can go, and according as our parents taught us. For instance king
Alfred was son of king Ethelwulf, from whom we derive our origin, and
who had five sons, one of whom was king Ethelred[6] my ancestor, and
another king Alfred who was yours. This king Alfred sent his daughter
Ethelswitha into Germany to be the wife of Baldwin,[7] who had by her
two sons Ethelwulf and Arnulf, also two daughters Elswid and Armentruth.
Now from Ethelswitha is descended count Arnulf,[8] your neighbour. The
daughter of king Edward son of the above-named king Alfred was named
Edgiva, and was sent by your aunt into Gaul to marry Charles the Simple.
Ethilda also was sent to be the wife of Hugh, son of Robert: and two
others were sent by king Athelstan to Otho that he might choose which of
them he liked best to be his wife. He[9] chose Edgitha, from whom you
derive your lineage; and united the other in marriage to a certain
king[10] near the Jupiterean Mountains, of whose family no memorial has
reached us, partly from the distance and partly from the confusion of
the times. It is your province to inform us of these particulars, not
only from your relationship, but also because no lack of ability or
interval of space prevents you.[11]



[Footnote 6: Ethelred died and Alfred succeeded him A.D. 871.]

[Footnote 7: Baldwin, count of Flanders died A.D. 918. See Malmesbury,
p. 121.]

[Footnote 8: Arnulf, count of Flanders, A.D. 965.]

[Footnote 9: The emperor Otho married Edgitha A.D. 930.]

[Footnote 10: Lewis the blind.]

[Footnote 11: The writer adds the barbarous verse, "Esto mihi valens
cunctis perhenniter horis," which is as easy to construe as to scan.]


The beginning of the world comes first. For on the first day God, in the
apparition of the light, created the angels: on the second day, under
the name of the firmament he created the heavens; &c. &c.[12]

Rome was destroyed by the Goths in the eleven hundred and forty-sixth
year after it was built. From that time the Roman authority ceased in
the island of Britain, and in many other countries which they had held
under the yoke of slavery. For it was now four hundred and eighty-five
years, beginning with Caius Julius Cæsar, that they had held the island
above-mentioned, wherein they had built cities and castles, bridges and
streets of admirable construction, which are seen among us even to the
present day. But whilst the people of Britain were living carelessly
within the wall, which had been built by Severus to protect them, there
arose two nations, the Picts in the north and the Scots in the west, and
leading an army against them, devastated their country, and inflicted
many sufferings upon them for many years. The Britons being unable to
bear their misery, by a wise device send to Rome a mournful letter[13]
... the army returned victorious to Rome. But the Scots and Picts,
hearing that the hostile army was gone, rejoiced with no little joy.
Again they take up arms, and like wolves attack the sheepfold which is
left without a protector: they devastate the northern districts as far
as the ditch of Severus: the Britons man the wall and fortify it with
their arms; but fortune denied them success in the war. The cunning
Scots, knowing what to do against the high wall and the deep trench,
contrive iron goads with mechanical art, and dragging down those who
were standing on the wall, slay them without mercy: they remain victors
both within and without; they at once plunder and take possession; and a
slaughter is made worse than all that had been before. Thus ended the
four hundred and forty-fourth year since the incarnation of our Lord.

The Britons, seeing themselves on every side vanquished, and that they
could have no more hopes from Rome, devise, in their agony and
lamentations, a plan to adopt. For in those days they heard, that the
race of the Saxons were active, in piratical enterprises, throughout the
whole coast, from the river Rhine to the Danish city,[14] which is now
commonly called Denmark, and strong in all matters connected with war.
They therefore send to them messengers, bearing gifts, and ask
assistance, promising them their alliance when they should be at peace.
But the mind of that degraded race was debased by ignorance, and they
saw not that they were preparing for themselves perpetual slavery,
which is the stepmother of all misfortune.

The person who especially gave this counsel was Vurthern,[15] who at
that time was king over all, and to him all the nobility assented. They
preferred to procure assistance to them from Germany. Already two young
men, Hengist and Horsa, were pre-eminent. They were the grandsons of
Woden, king of the barbarians, whom the pagans have since raised to an
abominable dignity, and honouring him as a god, offer sacrifice to him
for the sake of victory or valour, and the people, deceived, believe
what they see, as is their wont. The aforesaid youths therefore arrive,
according to the petition of the king and his senate, with three
vessels, loaded with arms, and prepared with every kind of warlike
stores: the anchor is cast into the sea, and the ships come to land. Not
long afterwards they are sent against the Scots to try their mettle, and
without delay they sheathe their breasts in arms, and engage in a novel
mode of battle. Man clashes with man, now falls a German and now a Scot:
on both sides is a most wretched scene of slaughter: at length the
Saxons remain masters of the field. For this the king aforesaid honours
them with a triumph; and they privately send home messengers, to tell
their countrymen of the fertility of the country and the indolence of
its cowardly people. Their countrymen, without delay, listen to their
representations, and send to them a large fleet and army. Forthwith they
were magnificently received by the king of the Britons, and contracted a
league of hospitality with the natives. The Britons promise peace,
worthy gifts of alliance and honours, provided that they might remain in
ease under their protection from the attacks of their enemies, and pay
them immense stipends.

Thus much of the alliance and promises of the Britons: now let us speak
of their discord and ill fortune. For seeing the cunningness of the new
people, they partly feared and partly despised them. They break their
compact, and no longer render them the honours of alliance, but instead
thereof, they try to drive them from their shores. These being their
designs, the thing is made public, the treaty is openly set aside, all
parties fly to arms: the Britons give way, and the Saxons keep
possession of the country. Again they send to Germany, not secretly as
before, but by a public embassy, as victors are wont to do, and demand
reinforcements. A large multitude joined them from every province of
Germany; and they carried on war against the Britons, driving them from
their territories with great slaughter, and ever remaining masters of
the field. At last the Britons bend their necks to the yoke, and pay
tribute. This migration is said to have been made from the three
provinces of Germany, which are said to have been the most
distinguished, namely, from Saxony, Anglia, and Giota. The Cantuarians
derived their origin from the Giotæ [Jutes], and also the Uuhtii, who
took their name from the island Wihta [Isle of Wight], which lies on the
coast of Britain.

For out of Saxony, which is now called Ald-Sexe, or Old Saxony, came the
tribes which are still called so among the English, the East Saxons,
South Saxons, and West Saxons; that is, those who are called in Latin,
the Oriental, Austral, and Occidental Saxons.

Out of the province of Anglia came the East Anglians, Middle Anglians,
Mercians, and all the race of the Northumbrians. Moreover Old Anglia is
situated between the Saxons and Jutes, having a capital town, which in
Saxon is called Sleswig, but in Danish Haithaby. Britain, therefore, is
now called Anglia [England], because it took the name of its conquerors:
for their leaders aforesaid were the first who came thence to Britain;
namely, Hengist and Horsa, sons of Wyhrtels:[16] their grandfather was
Wecta, and their great-grandfather Withar, whose father was Woden, who
also was king of a multitude of barbarians. For the unbelievers of the
North are oppressed by such delusion that they worship him as a god even
to this day, namely the Danes, the North-men, and the Suevi; of whom
Lucan says,

    "Pours forth the yellow Suevi from the North."

So greatly did the invasion of those nations spread and increase, that
they by degrees obliterated all memory of the inhabitants who had
formerly invited them with gifts. They demand their stipends: the
Britons refuse: they take up arms, discord arises, and as we have before
said, they drive the Britons into certain narrow isthmuses of the
island, and themselves hold possession of the island from sea to sea
even unto the present time.

A. 418. In the ninth year also after the sacking of Rome by the Goths,
those of Roman race who were left in Britain, not bearing the manifold
insults of the people, bury their treasures in pits thinking that
hereafter they might have better fortune, which never was the case; and
taking a portion, assemble on the coast, spread their canvas to the
winds, and seek an exile on the shores of Gaul.

A. 430. Twelve years after, bishop Palladius is sent by the holy pope
Celestinus to preach the gospel of Christ to the Scots.


[Footnote 12: Here follow several pages, in which the writer, like other
annalists, deduces his history from the creation. It is now universally
the custom with modern writers and translators to omit such preliminary

[Footnote 13: There is evidently a hiatus in this passage, but see Bede
i. 13, p. 22.]

[Footnote 14: Urbs, "city," seems here rather to designate _country_ or

[Footnote 15: Otherwise called Vortigern.]

[Footnote 16: More commonly called Wihtgila.]


A. 449. When, therefore, nineteen years had elapsed, Maurice and
Valentine[18] became emperors of Rome; in whose reign Hengist and Horsa
at the invitation of Vortigern king of the Britons arrive at the place
called Wipped's-fleet, at first on the plea of assisting the Britons:
but afterwards they rebelled and became their enemies, as we have
already said. Now the number of years, completed since the marvellous
incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, was four hundred and forty-nine.

A. 455. In the sixth year after, Hengist and Horsa fought a battle
against Vortigern in the plain of Ægelsthrep. There Horsa was killed,
and Hengist obtained the kingdom.

A. 457. But after two years, Hengist and Æsc his son renewed the war
against the Britons; and there fell in that day on the side of the
Britons four thousand men. Then the Britons, leaving Cantia, which is
commonly called Kent, fled to the city of London.

A. 465. About eight years after, the same men took up arms against the
Britons, and there was a great slaughter made on that day: twelve chiefs
of the Britons fell near a place called Wipped's-fleet; there fell a
soldier of the Saxons called Wipped, from which circumstance that place
took its name; in the same way as the Thesean sea was so called from
Theseus, and the Ægæan sea from Ægeus who was drowned in it.

A. 473. After eight years were completed, Hengist with his son Æsc, a
second time make war against the Britons, and having slaughtered their
army, remain victors on the field of battle, and carry off immense

A. 477. In the fourth year Ælla landed in Britain from Germany with his
three sons, at a place called Cymenes-Ora, and defeated the Britons at

A. 485. After eight years, the same people fight against the Britons,
near a place called Mearcrædsburn.

A. 488. After this, at an interval of three years, Æsc, son of Hengist,
began to reign in Kent.

A. 492. After three years, Ælla and Assa besieged a town called
Andreds-cester, and slew all its inhabitants, both small and great,
leaving not a single soul alive.

A. 495. After the lapse of three more years, Cerdic and his son Cynric
sailed to Britain with five ships, to a port called Cerdic's-ore, and on
the same day fought a battle against the Britons, in which they were
finally victorious.

A. 500. Six years after their arrival, they sailed round the western
part of Britain, which is now called Wessex.

A. 501. Also after a year Port landed in Britain with his son Bieda.

A. 508. Seven years after his arrival, Cerdic with his son Cynric slay
Natan-Leod, king of the Britons, and five thousand men with him.

A. 514. Six years after, Stuf and Wihtgar landed in Britain at
Cerdic's-ore, and suddenly make war on the Britons, whom they put to
flight, and themselves remain masters of the field. Thus was completed
the fifty-sixth[20] year since Hengist and Horsa first landed in

A. 519. Five years after, Cerdic and Cynric fought a battle against the
Britons at Cerdic's-ford,[21] on the river Avene, and that same year
nominally began to reign.

A. 527. Eight years after, they renew the war against the Britons.

A. 530. After three years, they took the Isle of Wight, the situation
of which we have mentioned above: but they did not kill many of the

A. 534. Four years after, Cerdic with his son Cenric gives up the Isle
of Wight into the hands of their two cousins Stuf and Wihtgar. In the
course of the same year Cerdic died, and Cenric his son began to reign
after him, and he reigned twenty-seven years.

A. 538. When he had reigned four years, the sun was eclipsed from the
first hour of the day to the third.[22]

A. 540. Again, two years after, the sun was eclipsed for half-an-hour
after the third hour, so that the stars were everywhere visible in the

A. 547. In the seventh year after this, Ida began to reign over the
province of Northumberland, whose family derive their kingly title and
nobility from Woden.

A. 552. Five years after, Cenric fought against the Britons near the
town of Scarburh [Old Sarum], and, having routed them, slew a large

A. 556. The same, four years afterwards, fought with Ceawlin against the
Britons, near a place called Berin-byrig [Banbury?]

A. 560. At the end of about four years, Ceawlin began to reign over the
western part of Britain, which is now commonly called Wessex. Moreover,
Ella the Iffing is sent to the race of Northumbria, whose ancestry
extends up to the highest, namely to Woden.

A. 565. Five years afterwards, Christ's servant Columba came from Scotia
[Ireland] to Britain, to preach the word of God to the Picts.

A. 568. Three years after his coming, Ceawlin and Cutha stirred up a
civil war against Ethelbert, and having defeated him, pursued him into
Kent, and slew his two chiefs, Oslaf and Cnebba, in Wubbandune.[23]

A. 571. After three years, Cuthulf fought against the Britons at
Bedanford [Bedford], and took four royal cities, namely Liganburh
[Lenbury], Eglesburh [Aylesbury], Bensingtun [Benson], and Ignesham

A. 577. After the lapse of six years, Cuthwin and Ceawlin fight against
the Britons, and slay three of their kings, Comail, Condidan, and
Farinmail, at a place called Deorhamme [Derham?]; and they took three
of their most distinguished cities, Gloucester, Cirencester, and Bath.

A. 584. After seven years, Ceawlin and Cutha fought against the Britons,
at a place called Fethanleage [Frethern?]: there Cutha fell; but Ceawlin
reduced a multitude of cities, and took immense spoils.

A. 592. In the eighth year there was a great slaughter on both sides, at
a place called Wodnesbyrg [Wemborow?], so that Ceawlin was put to
flight, and died at the end of one more year.

A. 593. After him, Cwichelm, Crida, and Ethelfrid, succeeded to the



[Footnote 17: Capitulum in the original: but no number is annexed.]

[Footnote 18: This should be Marcian and Valentinian.]

[Footnote 19: Perhaps an error for Andredes-leage, formerly Anderida, in

[Footnote 20: This number should be sixty-six.]

[Footnote 21: Charford, near Fordingbridge, Hants.]

[Footnote 22: That is, from seven till nine o'clock in the morning.]

[Footnote 23: Wimbledon, or Worplesdon, Surrey.]


In the beginning of this book it will not be necessary to make a long
preface, my dearest sister; for I have guided my pen down through many
perplexed subjects from the highest point, and, omitting those things
extracted from sacred and profane history, on which most persons have
fixed their attention, have left higher matters to the skilful reader.
And now I must turn my pen to the description of those things which
properly concern our ancestors; and though a pupil is not properly
called a member, yet it yields no little service to the other members.

We therefore entreat in God's name that our words may not be despised by
the malevolent, but rather that they may give abundant thanks to the
King of heaven, if they seem to speak things of high import.


CHAP. I.--_Of the coming of Augustine, who was sent by the blessed Pope
Gregory._ [A.D. 596.]

As Divine Providence, mercifully looking down upon all things from all
eternity, is accustomed to rule them, not by necessity, but by its
powerful superintendence, and remaining always immoveable in itself,
and disposing the different elements by its word, and the human race to
come to the knowledge of the truth by the death of his only begotten
Son, by whose blood the four quarters of the world are redeemed, so now
by his servant doth it dispel the darkness in the regions of the west.

Whilst therefore the blessed pope Gregory sat on the episcopal seat, and
sowed the seeds of the gospel of Christ, there stood by him some men of
unknown tongue and very comely to look on. The holy man admiring the
beauty of their countenances, asked of them with earnestness from what
country they came. The young men with downcast looks replied, that they
were Angles. "Are you Christians," said the holy man, "or heathens?"
"Certainly not Christians," said they, "for no one has yet opened our
ears." Then the holy man, lifting up his eyes, replied, "What man, when
there are stones at hand, lays a foundation with reeds?" They answer,
"No man of prudence." "You have well said," answered he; and he
straightway took them into a room, where he instructed them in the
divine oracles, and afterwards washed them with the baptism of Christ:
and further he arranged with them, that he would go with them into their
country. When the Romans heard of this they opposed his words, and were
unwilling to allow their pastor to go so far from home. The blessed pope
Gregory, therefore, seeing that the people were opposed to him, sent
with the men aforesaid one of his disciples, who was well instructed in
the divine oracles, by name Augustine, and with him a multitude of
brethren. When these men arrived, the English received the faith and
erected temples, and our Saviour Jesus Christ exhibited innumerable
miracles to his faithful followers through the prayers of the bishop,
St. Augustine; at whose tomb, even to the present day, no small number
of miracles are wrought, with the assistance of our Lord.

CHAP. II.--_Of king Ethelbert, and of his baptism._ [A.D. 597.]

When the man aforesaid arrived, Ethelbert bore rule over Kent, and
receiving the faith, submitted to be baptized with all his house. He was
the first king among the English who received the word of Christ. Lastly
Ethelbert was the son of Ermenric, whose grandfather was Ochta, who
bore the prænomen of Eisc,[24] from which the kings of Kent were
afterwards named Esings, as the Romans from Romulus, the Cecropidæ from
Cecrops, and the Tuscans from Tuscus. For Eisc was the father of
Hengist, who was the first consul and leader of the Angles out of
Germany; whose father was Wihtgils, his grandfather Witta, his
great-grandfather Wecta, his great-grandfather's father Woden, who also
was king of many nations, whom some of the pagans now still worship as a
god. And the number of years that was completed from the incarnation of
our Lord was four years less, than six hundred.[25]


[Footnote 24: See William of Malmesbury, b. i. c. 1, p. 12, note.]

[Footnote 25: A.D. 596.]

CHAP. III.--_Of Ceolwulf, king of the West-Saxons, and of his continued

A. 597. At the end of one year, Ceolwulf began to reign over the Western
English.[26] His family was derived from Woden; and so great was his
ferocity that he is said to have been always at war, either with his own
nation or with the Britons, or the Picts or Scots.


[Footnote 26: West-Saxons is the more correct term; but Ethelwerd often
uses the more general name Angles or English, for all the tribes settled
in England.]

CHAP. IV.--_Concerning Augustine's pall of apostleship sent him by pope

A. 601. When he had reigned four years, pope Gregory sent to Augustine
the pall of apostleship.

CHAP. V.--_Of the faith of the East-Saxons, and of the decease of the
blessed pope Gregory._

A. 604. After three years, the eastern English[27] also received baptism
in the reign of Sigebert [Sabert] their king.

A. 606. Two years afterwards, the blessed pope Gregory departed this
world, in the eleventh year after he had bestowed baptism on the English
by sending among them Christ's servant Augustine. And the number of
years that was completed from the beginning of the world was more than
five thousand and eight hundred.[28]


[Footnote 27: _Orientales Angli_ is the expression of Ethelwerd, but it
should be _Orientales Saxones_, whose king's name is generally written
Sabert. See preceding note.]

[Footnote 28: Ethelwerd adopts that system of chronology which makes
5300 to have elapsed before Christ.]

CHAP. VI.--_Of the reign of king Cynegils, his wars; and of the coming
of bishop Birinus, of the baptism of the king, and the faith of the
East-Saxons,[29] and of the baptism of Cuthred._ [A.D. 615-639.]

Afterwards Cynegils received the kingdom of the West-Angles, and, in
conjunction with Cuichelm, he fought against the Britons at a place
called Beandune,[30] and having defeated their army, slew more than two
thousand and forty of them.

A. 629. Fourteen years after, Cynegils and Cuichelm fought against Penda
at Cirencester.

A. 635. After six years bishop Birinus came among the Western Angles,
preaching to them the gospel of Christ. And the number of years that
elapsed since their arrival in Britain out of Germany, was about one
hundred and twenty. At that time Cynegils received baptism from the holy
bishop Birinus, in a town called Dorchester.

A. 639. He baptized Cuthred also four years after in the same city, and
adopted him as his son in baptism.


[Footnote 29: Should be West-Saxons.]

[Footnote 30: Most probably Bampton in Oxfordshire. This battle took
place in 614. See the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for that year.]

CHAP. VII.--_Of the reign of Kenwalk, and of his actions._

A. 648. When nine years were fulfilled, Kenwalk gave to his relation,
Cuthred, out of his farms, three thousand measures, adjacent to a hill
named Esc's dune, [Aston?]

A. 652. Four years after, he fought a battle against his own people, at
a place called Bradford, on the river Afene.[31]

A. 655. Three years afterwards king Penda died, and the Mercians were

A. 658. After three years more, the kings Kenwalk and Pionna[32] renewed
the war against the Britons, and pursued them to a place called

A. 661. After three years, Kenwalk again fought a battle near the town
of Pontesbury, and took prisoner Wulfhere, son of Penda, at Esc's-dune
[Ashdown], when he had defeated his army.

A. 664. Three years afterwards there was an eclipse of the sun.

A. 670. When six years were fulfilled, Oswy, king of Northumberland,
died, and Egfrid succeeded him.

A. 671. After one year more, there was a great pestilence among the
birds, so that there was an intolerable stench by sea and land, arising
from the carcasses of birds, both small and great.

A. 672. Twelve months after Kenwalk, king of the West-Angles, died; and
his wife, Sexburga, succeeded him in the kingdom, and reigned twelve

A. 673. After her Escwin succeeded to the throne, and two years were
fulfilled. His family traces to Cerdic.


[Footnote 31: Avon.]

[Footnote 32: This should be "at Pionna," [Pen]. See Saxon Chronicle.]

[Footnote 33: Petherton.]

CHAP. VIII.--_Of Wulfhere and Cenwulf,[A] and of the council held by the
holy father Theodore._

A. 674. After one year, Wulfhere son of Penda, and Cenwalh[34] fought a
battle among themselves in a place called Beadanhead [Bedwin].

A. 677. After three years a comet was seen.

A. 680. At the end of two years a council was held at Hethlege,[35] by
the holy archbishop Theodore, to instruct the people in the true faith.
In the course of the same year died Christ's servant, Hilda, abbess of
the monastery called Streaneshalch [Whitby].


[Footnote 34: These names are both wrong; we must read Escwin.]

[Footnote 35: Heathfield or Hatfield.]

CHAP. IX.--_Of king Kentwin and his wars._

A. 682. After two years king Kentwin drove the Britons out of their
country to the sea.

A. 684. After he had reigned two years[36] Ina became king of the
western English. A hundred and eighty-eight years were then fulfilled
from the time that Cerdic, his sixth ancestor, received the western
part of the island from the Britons.


[Footnote 36: There is an error here: Cædwalla is omitted, and three
years are lost in the chronology.]

CHAP. X.--_Of Cædwalla's conversion to the faith of Christ._

A. 684. In the course of the same year Cædwalla went to Rome, and
received baptism and the faith of Christ; after his baptism the pope of
that year gave him the surname of Peter.

A. 694. About six years afterwards, the Kentish men remembered the cause
which they had against king Ina when they burnt his relation[37] with
fire; and they gave him thirty thousand shillings at a fixed rate of
sixteen pence each.


[Footnote 37: His name was Mull: the passage is obscure. See the
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.]

CHAP. XI.--_Of the acts of Ethelred king of the Mercians._

A. 704. After ten years, Ethelred son of Penda and king of the Mercians
assumed the monastic habit, when he had completed twenty-nine years of
his reign.

A. 705. After twelve months died Alfrid king of Northumberland. And the
number of years that was then fulfilled from the beginning of the world
was five thousand nine hundred.

A. 709. Four years afterwards died the holy bishop Aldhelm, by whose
wonderful art were composed the words which are now read, and his
bishopric was the province which is now called Selwoodshire [Sherborne].

CHAP. XII.--_Of the reign of Ina, and of his acts._

A. 710. After a year, the kings and Ina made war against king
Wuthgirete;[38] also duke Bertfrid against the Picts.

A. 714. After four years died Christ's servant Guthlac.

A. 715. After a year Ina and Ceolred fought against those who opposed
them in arms at Wothnesbeorghge [Wanborough.]

A. 721. After seven years Ina slew Cynewulf, and after six months made
war against the Southern English.


[Footnote 38: Called Gerent in the Saxon Chronicle, and Gerentius in
Aldhelm's works.]

CHAP. XIII.--_Of king Ethelard._

A. 728. When six years were fulfilled he went to Rome, and Ethelard
received the kingdom of the West Saxons. In the first year of his reign
he made war against Oswy.[39]

A. 729. At the end of one year a comet appeared, and the holy bishop
Egbert died.

A. 731. After two years, Osric king of Northumberland died and Ceolwulf
succeeded to the kingdom.


[Footnote 39: Should be Oswald king of Northumberland.]

CHAP. XIV.--_Of the acts of king Ethelbald._

A. 733. Two years after these things, king Ethelbald received under his
dominion the royal vill which is called Somerton. The same year the sun
was eclipsed.

A. 734. After the lapse of one year, the moon appeared as if stained
with spots of blood, and by the same omen Tatwine and Bede[40] departed
this life.


[Footnote 40: It is doubtful whether Bede died in 734 or 735.]

CHAP. XV.--_Of the reign of Eadbert and of his deeds._

A. 738. After four years, Eadbert succeeded to the kingdom of the
Northumbrians, and his brother Egbert discharged the archiepiscopal
office; and now they both lie buried in the city of York, under the
shade of the same porch.

CHAP. XVI.--_Of the rule of king Cuthred._

A. 750. After twelve years king Cuthred began to make war against duke
Ethelhun, for some state-jealousy.

A. 752. Again after two years he drew his sword against king Ethelbald
at a place called Beorgforda.[41]

A. 753. After another year he gratified the fierce propensities of his
nature by making war against the Britons: and after another year he
died, A.D. 754.


[Footnote 41: Without doubt this is Burford in Oxfordshire.]

CHAP. XVII.--_Of the acts of king Sigebert and of his reign._

Furthermore Sigebert received the kingdom of the western English.

A. 756. At the end of one year after Sigebert began to reign, Cynewulf,
invading his kingdom, took it from him, and drew away all the wise men
of the west country, in consequence of the perverse deeds of the
aforesaid king; nor was any part of his kingdom left to him except one
province only, named Hamptonshire [Hampshire]. And he remained there no
long time; for, instigated by an old affront, he slew a certain duke,
and Cynewulf drove him into the wilds of Andred: and so he fled from
thicket to thicket, until he was at last slain by a herdsman at a place
named Pryffetesflodan,[42] and so the blood of duke Cumbra was avenged.


[Footnote 42: Privett, Hampshire.]

CHAP. XVIII.--_Of the reign of Cynewulf, his war and deeds._

A. 755. These things having been premised, Cynewulf frequently fought no
slight battles against the Britons. For when thirty-one years had
passed, he tried to expel from his territories a certain chief named
Cyneard, brother to Sigebert, whose deeds have been related above. He
was afterwards besieged by this prince, for it was told him that he was
in company of a certain courtezan at a place called Meranton [Merton],
and though he had with him only a few men, who knew nothing of the
matter, he surrounded the house with arms. The king, seeing how he was
situated, leaped to the door, and bravely repelled their weapons; but
making up his mind he rushed upon the prince, and inflicted no slight
wounds upon him; his companions, not forgetting his threats, raised
their weapons and slew the king. The report being spread, the king's
soldiers, who had been in his company, each for himself, as was their
custom, made an attack, uttering shouts. But the prince, soothing them,
promised them gifts and ample honours. They desire death, now that their
lord is dead; nor do they attend to his promises, but rush with one
accord upon death. None of them escaped with life except one British
hostage, and he had received severe wounds. When, therefore, the day
dawned, it became known to the soldiers, who had remained behind the
king's back, they assembled together and set forth, and with them Osric
the duke and Wigferth the knight. They found the prince in the house,
where their master was lying dead. The doors are beleaguered on both
sides. Within are the one party, and the other party are without. The
prince asks a truce, and makes ample promises; his object is future
sovereignty. The king's friends spurn these offers, and rather seek to
separate from the prince their relations who were in his company. These
reject their proposals; on the contrary they answer their friends
thus:[43] "No tie is so powerful as that which binds us to our lord; and
whereas you ask us to depart, we tell you that we made the same proposal
to those who were slain with your king, and they would not accede to
it." To this the other party rejoined, "But you will remain unhurt, if
you only depart, nor share in the vengeance which we shall inflict for
those who were slain with the king." They returned no answer to this,
but silently begin the battle; shield punishes shield, and arms are
laced in bucklers, relation falls by his kinsman; they smash the doors,
one pursues after another, and a lamentable fight ensues. Alas! they
slay the prince; all his companions are laid low before his face, except
one, and he was the baptismal son of duke Osric, but half alive, and
covered with wounds.

Now Cynewulf reigned thirty-one years, and his body lies entombed in the
city of Winchester. The above-named prince also reposes in the church
commonly called Axanminster.[44] Both their families trace to Cerdic.

A. 755. In the same year Ethelbald, king of Mercia, was slain at a place
called Seccandune,[45] and his body rests in a monastery called
Reopandune.[46] Bernred succeeded to the kingdom, and not long after he
also died.


[Footnote 43: This is a sort of paraphrase rather than a translation:
the original is not only bad in style and ungrammatical, but exceedingly
corrupt and very obscure.]

[Footnote 44: Now Axminster. The syllable _an_ or _en_ occurs similarly
in many ancient Saxon towns; thus Bedanford, Oxenford, &c., and
Seccandune, Reopandune below.]

[Footnote 45: Now Seckington.]

[Footnote 46: Now Repton.]

CHAP. XIX.--_Of the reign of king Offa and of his deeds._

A. 756. In the revolution of the same year, Offa succeeded to the
kingdom, a remarkable man, son of Thingferth; his grandfather was
Enwulf, his great-grandfather Osmod, his great-grandfather's father
Pybba, his great-grandfather's grandfather was Icel, his sixth ancestor
Eomær, the seventh Angeltheow, the eighth Offa, the ninth Wærmund, the
tenth Wihtlæg, the eleventh Woden.

A. 773. Also after seventeen years, from the time that Cynewulf took the
kingdom from Sigebert, the sign of our Lord's cross appeared in the
heavens after sun-set, and in the same year a civil contest[47] took
place between the people of Kent and Mercia, at a place called
Cittanford:[48] and in those days some monstrous serpents were seen in
the country of the Southern Angles, which is called Sussex.

A. 777. About four years after, Cynewulf and Offa fought a battle near
the town of Bensington, which was gained by Offa.

A. 779. Two years afterwards, the Gauls and Saxons stirred up no slight
contests with one another.

A. 783. In short, after four years, Cyneard slays king Cynewulf, and is
himself also slain there.


[Footnote 47: The term 'civile bellum'--_civil war_ is used by
Ethelwerd, to denote a battle between the kindred Anglo-Saxon kingdoms;
the classical reader will also note the use of the word 'bellum' for

[Footnote 48: This should be Ottanford, or Otford, in Kent, a place of
great antiquity.]

CHAP. XX.--_Of the acts of Bertric, king of the West-Saxons._

A. 783. In the same year Bertric received the kingdom of the
West-Angles, whose lineage traces up to Cerdic.

A. 786. After three years, he took in marriage Offa's daughter Eadburga.




After what has been written in the foregoing pages, it remains that we
declare the contents of our third book. We exhort you, therefore, most
beloved object of my desire, that the present work may not be thought
tedious by you for its length of reading, since to thee especially I
dedicate this. Wherefore, the farther my mind digresses, the more does
my affectionate love generate and expand itself.



Whilst the pious king Bertric was reigning over the western parts of the
English, and the innocent people spread through their plains were
enjoying themselves in tranquillity and yoking their oxen to the plough,
suddenly there arrived on the coast a fleet of Danes, not large, but of
three ships only: this was their first arrival. When this became known,
the king's officer, who was already stopping in the town of Dorchester,
leaped on his horse and gallopped forwards with a few men to the port,
thinking that they were merchants rather than enemies, and, commanding
them in an authoritative tone, ordered them to be made to go to the
royal city; but he was slain on the spot by them, and all who were with
him. The name of the officer was Beaduherd.

A. 787. And the number of years that was fulfilled was above three
hundred and thirty-four, from the time that Hengist and Horsa arrived in
Britain, in which also Bertric married the daughter of king Offa.

A. 792. Moreover, it was after five years that Offa king of the Mercians
commanded the head of king Ethelbert to be struck off.

A. 794. After two years Offa also died, and Egfert his son succeeded to
the kingdom, and died in the same year. Pope Adrian also departed this
life. Ethelred, king of the Northumbrians, was slain by his own people.

CHAP. I.--_Of Kenulf, king of the Mercians, and of his wars._

A. 796. After two years, Kenulf, king of the Mercians, ravaged Kent and
the province which is called Merscwari,[49] and their king Pren was
taken, whom they loaded with chains, and led as far as Mercia.

A. 797. Then after a year, the enraged populace of Rome cut out the
tongue of the blessed pope Leo, and tore out his eyes, and drove him
from his apostolical seat. But suddenly, by the aid of Christ, who is
always wonderful in his works, his sight was restored, and his tongue
regifted with speech, and he resumed his seat of apostleship as before.

A. 800. After three years, king Bertric died.


[Footnote 49: The Merscwari are thought to have been the inhabitants of
Romney, in Kent, and its vicinity.]

CHAP. II.--_Of the reign of Egbert, and his deeds._

Therefore Egbert is raised to the kingdom of the West Saxons. On the
very same day, as king Ethelmund was passing through a farm, Wiccum,
intending to go to a ford called Cynemæresford [Kempsford], duke Woxstan
met him there with the centuries of the inhabitants of the province of
Wilsætum [Wiltshire]. Both of them fell in the battle, but the Wilsætæ
remained the victors.

Also, down to the time that Egbert received the kingdom, there were
completed from the beginning of the world 5995 years, from the
incarnation of our Lord 800 years, from the coming of Hengist and Horsa
into Britain 350 years, from the reign of Cerdic, the tenth ancestor of
king Egbert, when he subdued the western part of Britain, 300 years, and
from the coming of Augustine, who was sent by the blessed pope Gregory
to baptize the English nation, 204 years: and in the tenth year
afterwards the holy father Gregory died.

A. 805. After king Egbert had reigned five years, was the death of
Cuthred king of Kent.

A. 812. In the seventh year Charles, king of the Franks, departed this

A. 814. After two years, the blessed pope Leo passed from one virtue to

A. 819. After five years, Kenulf king of the Mercians died.

A. 821. His successor was Ceolwulf, who was deprived of the kingdom two
years afterwards.

A. 822. A year afterwards a great synod was held at a place called
Cloveshoo,[50] and two dukes were there slain Burhelm and Mucca.

A. 823. After one year a battle was fought against the Britons in the
province of Defna [Devonshire], at a place called Camelford. In the same
year king Egbert fought a battle against Bernulf king of the Mercians at
Ellandune,[51] and Egbert gained the victory: but there was a great loss
on both sides; and Hun duke of the province of Somerset was there slain:
he lies buried in the city of Winchester. Lastly, king Egbert sent his
son Ethelwulf with an army into Kent, and with him bishop Ealstan and
duke Wulfherd. They defeated the Kentish army, and pursued their king
Baldred into the northern parts beyond the Thames. To whom the men of
Kent are afterwards subjected, and also the provinces of Surrey and
Sussex, that is, the midland and southern Angles.

A. 824. For in the course of the same year the king of the East-Angles
with the wise men of his realm, visits king Egbert, for the sake of
peace and protection, on account of his fear of the Mercians.

A. 825. In the course of that year the aforesaid East-Angles made war
against Bernulf king of the Mercians, and having defeated his army they
slew him and five dukes with him. His successor was Withlaf.

A. 827. Two years afterwards, the moon was eclipsed on the very night of
Christ's nativity. And in the same year king Egbert reduced under his
power all that part of the kingdom which lies to the south of the river
Humber: he was the eighth king in Britain who was famous for his great
power. For the first was Ælla king of the South-Angles, who possessed
the same dominions as Egbert; the second was Ceawlin king of the
West-Angles; the third Ethelbert king of Kent; the fourth Redwald king
of the East-Angles; the fifth Edwin king of Northumbria; the sixth
Oswald; the seventh Oswy brother of Oswald; after whom the eighth
Egbert, of whom we have made mention above. He led his army against the
Northumbrians, who also bent their necks and submitted to him.

A. 828. At the end of a year therefore, Withlaf again received the
kingdom. At that time also, king Egbert led his army against the
northern Britons, and when he had subdued all of them, he returned in

A. 832. After four years therefore the pagans devastated the territories
of a place called Sceapige.[52]

A. 833. After one year Egbert fought against the pagan fleet, in number
thirty-five vessels, at a place called Carrum [Charmouth]: and the Danes
obtained the victory.

A. 836. Lastly after three years, a large army of Britons approached the
frontiers of the West-Saxons: without delay they form themselves into a
compact body, and carry their arms against Egbert king of the Angles.
Egbert therefore having ascertained the state of things beforehand,
assembled his army and twice imbued their weapons in the blood of the
Britons at Hengeston,[53] and put them to flight.

A. 837. At the end of a year the powerful king Egbert died.


[Footnote 50: Near Rochester, Kent.]

[Footnote 51: Wilton.]

[Footnote 52: The Isle of Sheppey.]

[Footnote 53: Hengston-hill, Cornwall.]

CHAP. III.--_Of the reign of Ethelwulf and of his deeds._

After his death, Athulf[54] succeeded to the throne of his father
Egbert, and he delivered up the kingdom of Kent to his son Athelstan,
together with East-Saxony, South-Saxony, and Surrey, i.e. the eastern,
southern and midland parts.

A. 838. After one year, duke Wulfherd fought with the pagan fleet near
the town of Hamptun [Southampton], and having slain many of them gained
the victory: the number of ships in the fleet was thirty-three. After
this exploit the duke himself died in peace. The same year duke
Ethelhelm, with the people of the province of Dorset, fought another
battle against the pagan army at Port, and pursued them some distance:
but afterwards the Danes were victorious, and slew the duke and his
companions with him.

A. 839. After one year duke Herebert was slain by the Danes at
Merswarum;[55] and the same year a great slaughter was made by that army
in the city of Lindsey, and in the province of Kent, and in East Anglia.

A. 840. Also after one year, the same thing took place in the city of
London, in Quintanwic [Canterbury], and in the town of Rochester.

A. 841. Meanwhile, after one year king Ethelwulf fought against the
Danes at a place called Charmouth, by whom also he was vanquished, and
the victors kept possession of the ground.

A. 844. Three years afterwards duke Eanwulf, who governed the province
of Somerset, and bishop Ealstan also, and Osric duke of Dorset, fought a
battle against the pagans at the mouth of the Parret before-mentioned;
where they gained the victory, having defeated the Danish army. Also in
the same year king Athelstan and duke Elchere fought against the army of
the above-mentioned nation in the province of Kent, near the town of
Sandwich, where they slew many of them, put their troops to flight, and
took nine ships.

A. 851. After seven years Ceorl duke of Devon fought a battle against
the pagans at Wembury,[56] where they slew many of the Danes and gained
the victory. In the course of the same year, the barbarians wintered
first in the isle of Thanet, which lies not far from Britain, and has
fruitful but not large corn fields. That year was not yet finished, when
a large fleet of pagans arrived, 350 ships, at the mouth of the river
Thames, commonly called Thames-mouth, and destroyed the city of
Canterbury and the city of London, and put to flight Berthwulf king of
Mercia, having defeated his army. After the battle they returned beyond
the river Thames towards the south through the province of Surrey, and
there king Ethelwulf with the Western Angles met them: an immense number
was slain on both sides, nor have we ever heard of a more severe battle
before that day: these things happened near Ockley Wood.

A. 854. After three years king Burhred asked assistance from king
Ethelwulf to subdue the Northern Britons: he granted it, and having
collected his army, passed through the Mercian kingdom to go against the
Britons: whom he subdued and made tributary. In the same year king
Ethelwulf sent his son Alfred to Rome, in the days of our lord pope
Leo,[57] who consecrated him king and named him his son in baptism, when
we are accustomed to name little children, when we receive them from the
bishop's hand. In the same year were fought battles in the isle of
Thanet against the pagans; and there was a great slaughter made on both
sides, and many were drowned in the sea. The same year also after Easter
king Ethelwulf gave his daughter in marriage to king Burhred.

A. 855. After a year the pagans wintered in Sheppey. In the same year
king Ethelwulf gave the tenth of all his possessions to be the Lord's
portion, and so appointed it to be in all the government of his
kingdom. In the same year he set out to Rome with great dignity, and
stayed there twelve months. As he returned home, therefore, to his
country, Charles, king of the Franks, gave him his daughter in marriage,
and he took her home with him to his own country.

A. 857. Lastly, after a year king Ethelwulf died, and his body reposes
in the city of Winchester. Now the aforesaid king was son of king
Egbert, and his grandfather was Elmund, his great-grandfather Eafa, his
great-grandfather's father was Eoppa, and his great-grandfather's
grandfather was Ingild, brother of Ina, king of the Western-Angles, who
ended his life at Rome; and the above-named kings derived their origin
from king Kenred. Kenred was the son of Ceolwald, son of Cuthwin, son of
Ceawlin, son of Cynric, son of Cerdic, who also was the first possessor
of the western parts of Britain, after he had defeated the armies of the
Britons: his father was Elesa, son of Esla, son of Gewis, son of Wig,
son of Freawin, son of Frithogar, son of Brond, son of Beldeg, son of
Woden, son of Frithowald, son of Frealaf, son of Frithuwulf, son of
Finn, son of Godwulf, son of Geat, son of Tætwa, son of Beaw, son of
Sceldi, son of Sceaf. This Sceaf came with one ship to an island of the
ocean named Scani, sheathed in arms, and he was a young boy, and unknown
to the people of that land; but he was received by them, and they
guarded him as their own with much care, and afterwards chose him for
their king. It is from him that king Ethelwulf derives his descent. And
then was completed the fiftieth year from the beginning of king Egbert's


[Footnote 54: Generally called Ethelwulf by modern writers.]

[Footnote 55: Romney Marsh.]

[Footnote 56: Near Plymouth.]

[Footnote 57: Leo the Fourth.]



Three books are now finished, and it remains to guide my pen to the
fourth, in which also will be found greater gain, and the origin of our
race is more clearly intimated. And, although I may seem to send you a
load of reading, dearest sister of my desire, do not judge me harshly,
but as my writings were in love to you, so may you read them.

And may God Almighty, who is praised both in Trinity and in Unipotence
ever preserve you under the shadow of his wings, and your companions
with you. Amen!


CHAP. I.--_Of the reign of the sons of king Ethelwulf, namely Ethelbald
and Ethelbert._

Meanwhile, after the death of king Ethelwulf, his sons were raised to
the kingdom, namely Ethelbald over the Western Angles, and Ethelbert
over the men of Kent, and the Eastern, Southern, and Midland Angles.

A. 861. When five years were completed, king Ethelbald died, and his
brother Ethelbert succeeded to the possessions of both. In those days a
large fleet of pagans came to land, and destroyed the royal city which
is called Winton. They were encountered by Osric duke of Hampshire, and
Ethelwulf duke of Berkshire: a battle ensued; the pagans were routed,
and the English gained the victory.

A. 865. After four years, from the death of king Ethelbald, the pagans
strengthened their position in the isle of Thanet, and promise to be at
peace with the men of Kent, who on their part prepare money, ignorant of
the future. But the Danes break their compact, and sallying out
privately by night, lay waste all the eastern coast of Kent.

A. 866. After one year king Ethelbert died, and his body rests peaceably
in the monastery named Sherborne.

CHAP. II.--_Of the reign of king Ethelred._

Ethelred succeeded to the throne after the death of his brother
Ethelbert. In the same year the fleets of the tyrant Hingwar arrived in
England from the north, and wintered among the East Angles, and having
established their arms there, they get on their horses, and make peace
with all the inhabitants in their own neighbourhood.

A. 867. After one year that army, leaving the eastern parts, crossed the
river Humber into Northumberland to the city of Evoric, which is now
commonly called the city of Eoferwic [York]. For there was then a great
civil dissension between the inhabitants of that land, and they were so
enraged that they also expelled their king Osbert from his seat; and
having confirmed their resolves, they chose an obscure person for their
king; and after some delay they turned their thoughts to raise an army
and repulse those who were advancing. They collected together no small
bodies of troops, and reconnoitred the enemy: their rage was excited:
they joined battle, a miserable slaughter took place on both sides, and
the kings were slain. Those of them who were left made peace with the
hostile army.

In the same year died Eanwulf, duke of Somerset; also bishop Ealstan,
fifty years after his succession to the bishopric, in the diocese called
Sherborne. There also his body now reposes; and that of the above-named
duke in the monastery called Glastonbury.

A. 868. After one year therefore, the army of the pagans, of whose
arrival we have spoken above, measured out their camp in a place called
Snotingaham [Nottingham], and there they passed the winter, and Burhred
king of the Mercians, with his nobles, consented to their remaining
there without reproach.

A. 869. At the end of a year therefore, the army was transported to
York, and there also they measured out their camp in the winter season.

A. 870. Again after a year they departed, and passed through Mercia into
East-Anglia, and there measured out their camp for the winter at
Thetford. King Edmund carried on war against them for a short time, but
he was slain there by them, and his body lies entombed at a place called
Beodoricsworthe,[58] and the barbarians obtained the victory, but with
the loss of their king soon afterwards: for king Hingwar died the same
year; archbishop Ceolnoth also died that same year, and is buried in the
city of Canterbury.

A. 871. After one year therefore the army of the barbarians
above-mentioned set out for Reading, and the principal object of the
impious crew was to attack the West-Saxons; and three days after they
came, their two consuls, forgetting that they were not on board their
fleet, rode proudly through fields and meadows on horseback, which
nature had denied to them.[59]

But duke Ethelwulf met them, and though his troops were few, their
hearts resided in brave dwellings: they point their darts, they rout the
enemy, and triumph in abundant spoils. At length four days after their
meeting, Ethelred arrives with his army; an indescribable battle is
fought, now these, now those urge on the fight with spears immoveable;
duke Ethelwulf falls, who a short time before had obtained the victory:
the barbarians at last triumph. The body of the above-named duke is
privately withdrawn, and carried into the province of the Mercians, to a
place called Northworthig, but Derby in the language of the Danes. Four
days after king Ethelred with his brother Alfred fought again with all
the army of the Danes at Æscendune;[60] and there was great slaughter on
both sides: but at last king Ethelred obtained the victory. But it is
proper that I should declare the names of those chiefs who fell there:
Bagsac king, the veteran Sidrac their consul, the younger Sidrac also,
the consul Osbern, the consul Frene, the consul Harold; and, so to
speak, all the flower of the barbarian youth was there slain, so that
neither before nor since was ever such destruction known since the
Saxons first gained Britain by their arms.

Fourteen days after, they again took courage and a second battle was
fought at a place called Basing: the barbarians came and took part over
against them; the fight began, and hope passed from the one side to the
other; the royal army was deceived, the enemy had the victory, but
gained no spoils.

Furthermore after two months the aforesaid king Ethelred renewed the
battle, and with him was his brother Alfred, at Merton, against all the
army of the barbarians, and a large number was slain on both sides. The
barbarians obtained the victory; bishop Heahmund there fell by the
sword, and his body lies buried at Cægineshamme.[61] Many others also
fell or fled in that battle, concerning whom it seems to be a loss of
time to speak more minutely at present. Lastly, after the
above-mentioned battle, and after the Easter of the same year, died king
Ethelred, from whose family I derive my origin.

And now I have followed up my plan, dear cousin Matilda, and will begin
to consolidate my subject; and like a ship which, having sailed a long
way over the waves, already occupies the port, to which in her patient
voyage she had been tending: so we, like sailors, are already entering,
and as I briefly intimated to you in my former epistle, so also in the
prefaces to this present book, and without any impropriety I again
remind you, and though I cut short the course of that which is
visionary, not impelled by necessity, but through love of your
affection, I now send it you again more fully to be meditated upon
concerning the origin of our family, and sufficiently embrace the study
of your sincerity.[62]

Thus far then: I will now leave obscurity and begin to speak concerning
the sons of Ethelwulf. They were five in number: the first was
Ethelstan, who also shared the kingdom with his father: the second was
Ethelbald, who also was king of the Western English: the third was
Ethelbert, king of Kent: the fourth was Ethelred, who after the death of
Ethelbert succeeded to the kingdom, and was also my grandfather's
grandfather: the fifth was Alfred, who succeeded after all the others to
the whole sovereignty, and was your grandfather's grandfather. Wherefore
I make known to you, my beloved cousin Matilda, that I receive these
things from ancient tradition, and have taken care in most brief style
to write the history of our race down to these two kings, from whom we
have taken our origin. To you therefore, most beloved, I devote this
work, compelled by the love of our relationship: if others receive them
with haughtiness, they will be judged unworthy of the feast; if
otherwise, we advise all in charity to gather what is set before them.
Let us return then to the story that we broke off, and to the death of
the above-named Ethelred. His reign lasted five years, and he is buried
in the monastery which goes by the name of Wimborne.


[Footnote 58: Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.]

[Footnote 59: I shall be glad if my readers will find a better
translation for this obscure and inflated passage.]

[Footnote 60: See William of Malmesbury, b. ii. c. 3, p. 111, note.]

[Footnote 61: Keynsham.]

[Footnote 62: I must again request the reader to pardon the obscurity
which so frequently occurs in our author's style, and my inability to
deal with such passages; the above is a tolerably close translation of
the original.]

CHAP. III.--_Of the reign of king Alfred._

A. 871. After these things, Alfred obtained the kingdom when his
brothers were dead,--he also was the youngest son of king
Ethelwulf--over all the provinces of Britain.

There came a summer-army innumerable to Reading, and were eager to fight
against the army of the West-Angles: to their aid also came those who
had already long time been ravaging. But the army of the Angles at that
time was small on account of the king's absence, who at the same time
had performed his brother's obsequies, and although their ranks were not
full, yet their hearts were firm in their breasts, they rejoice in the
fight, and repel the enemy: but at length oppressed with fatigue, they
cease from the fight. The barbarians hold possession of a sterile field
of battle: afterwards also they spread themselves and ravage the
country. During their foul domination, there were three battles fought
by the Angles, besides the battles before-mentioned, and eleven of their
consuls, whom they call "earls," were slain, and one of their kings.
Lastly, in the same year the Eastern Angles made peace with them. And
the number of years to the encamping of the barbarian army in Reading
and to the death of king Ethelred and the succession of his brother
Alfred was the seventy-first from the time that Egbert had first
consolidated the kingdom, and forty-seven from the time that the
Mercians and Western Angles carried on civil wars at the place called
Ellandune,[63] and king Egbert received the name of victor twenty-six
years from the time that the battle was fought in Pedredan [Petherton];
and twenty years after the contest which was waged near the wood called
Ockley, and lastly five years from the arrival of the pagans in the
country of the East Angles: and without long delay, they then went to

A. 872. After a year had elapsed from the time of their coming to
Reading, they measured out their camp in the neighbourhood of the city
of London. But the Mercians ratify a treaty with them, and pay a

A. 873. After one year the barbarians change their position to the
neighbourhood of the city of Lindsey in a place called Torksey. The
Mercian people renew their treaty with them.

A. 874. After the lapse of a year, the barbarians at length remove to a
place called Repton, and drive king Burhred from the kingdom beyond the
sea. Twenty and two years are enumerated from the time that he first
occupied his father's kingdom. They now break the peace, and devastate
the lands of the Mercians. The above-named king did not abandon his hope
in Christ, but made a journey to Rome and died there, and his body, laid
in a worthy mausoleum, reposes in the temple of Christ's blessed mother,
which is now called the school of the English. At the same time Ceolwulf
possessed the kingdom of the Mercians.

A. 875. Lastly after a year, the barbarians divide the kingdom into two
parts: and Halfdene the leader of the barbarians took one part, namely
the kingdom of the Northumbrians, and there he chose his winter-quarters
near the river called the Tyne, and they ravaged the country there on
every side. But they also made frequent wars on the Picts and the men of
Cumberland. Oskytel also, and Gothrun, and Anwiund, their three kings,
with an immense army, came from Repton to a place called Grantabridge
[Cambridge], and there remained twelve months. Furthermore in the summer
of the same year, king Alfred came out with his army on board a fleet by
sea, and the barbarians met them with seven tall vessels. A battle
ensues, and the Danes are routed: the king takes one of their ships.

A. 876. After one year, the tyrant Halfdene obtained the kingdom of the
Northumbrians, all of whom he reduced to subjection. And in the course
of the same year, the army which had been at Cambridge made a junction
with the western army, a thing which they had not done before, near the
town which is called Wareham, and ravaged the greater part of that
province. Also the king ratified a treaty of peace with them and gave
them money. But they gave him hostages chosen out of their army, and
made oath to him on their sacred bracelet which they had never done to
the kings of the other districts, that they would quickly leave their

A. 877. But they broke the peace and contravened their engagements, and
the following year extended their troops into the province of Devon,
where they passed the winter at Exeter. Lastly their fleets put to sea
and spread their sails to the wind: but a lamentable storm came on, and
the greatest part of them, namely a hundred of their chief ships, were
sunk near the rock which is called Swanwich. The barbarians renew their
fraud and offer peace: hostages were given, more than were demanded, to
the effect that they would withdraw out of the territories of king
Alfred; and they did so. They devastate the kingdom of the Mercians and
drive out all the free men. They erect their huts in the town of

A. 878. At the end of that year therefore this foul mob broke the
compact which they had before solemnly made with the Western Angles, and
they take up their winter-quarters at Chippenham. The people were
everywhere unable to resist: some of them were driven by the impious
wretches over the sea into Gaul. King Alfred was at this time straitened
more than was becoming. Ethelnoth also duke of Somerset lived with a
narrow retinue in a certain wood, and they built a stronghold in the
island of Athelingay,[64] which seems to have been situated in a marsh.
But the aforesaid king fought daily battles against the barbarians,
having with him the province of Somerset only; no others assisted him,
except the servants who made use of the king's pastures. In the same
year arrived Halfdene brother of the tyrant Hingwar with thirty galleys,
in the western parts of the Angles, and besieged Odda duke of Devon in a
certain castle, and war was stirred up on all sides. The king of the
barbarians fell, and eighty decads with him. At last the Danes obtain
the victory.

Meanwhile, after the Easter[65] of that year, king Alfred fought against
the army that was in Chippenham, at a place called Ethandune,[66] and
they obtain the victory. But after the decision of the battle, the
barbarians promise peace, ask a truce, give hostages, and bind
themselves by oath: their king submits to be baptized, and Alfred the
king receives him from the laver in the marshy isle of Alney.[67] Duke
Ethelnoth also purified the same at a place called Wedmore, and king
Alfred there bestowed upon him magnificent honors.

A. 879. After a year from the time of the pagan army leaving
Gloucester, they marched to Cirencester, and there wintered. In the
course of the same year the sun was eclipsed.

A. 880. A year after the eclipse, the aforesaid army struck their tents,
and leaving Cirencester went into the country of the East Angles, and
pitching their camp, reduced all the inhabitants of those parts to
subjection. And it was now fourteen years since the barbarians first
wintered in the country aforesaid, and ravaged it. In the same year,
when they had reduced the district aforesaid, they went in a vessel to
Gaul and took up a position at a place called Ghent: the same men who
had formerly measured out their camp at a place called Fulham.

A. 881. After a year, they attempt to proceed further; but the armies of
the Franks assail them and gain the victory; the barbarians were put to

A. 882. After a year the aforesaid army passed into the upper districts
of the Maese and measured out their camp at a place called Escelum.[68]
In the same year king Alfred put to sea and fell in with four ships;
which he defeated, and destroyed two, the others surrendered.

A. 883. The next year the aforesaid army entered the parishes of the
Scald,[69] to a place called Cundath;[70] and there measured out their
camp for the winter.

A. 884. After one year had expired, that pestilential army aforesaid
removed to the higher districts of the Somme, to a place called
Embenum,[71] and there wintered.

A. 885. After a year they divide themselves into two parts: one to
Sofenum,[72] the other to Rochester; and they laid siege to those towns.
They also construct other smaller camps. Defeat prevails among the
inhabitants until the arrival of king Alfred with an army. The foul
plague was vanquished, and sought reinforcement....[73] Some of them
made for the sea-coasts. The same year they renewed their league, and
gave hostages to the English, and twice in the year they counted the
spoil which they had obtained by fraud, in the land which borders on the
southern bank of the Thames. The filthy crew which were then in
possession of the East Angles, suddenly removed to a place called
Bamfleet; and there the allied band divided; some of them remained, and
some of them went beyond the sea. In the same year, therefore, the
aforesaid king Alfred sent his fleet into the country of the East
Angles, and immediately on their arrival, there met them at a place
called Stourmouth sixteen ships, which they forthwith ravaged, and slew
the captains with the sword. The rest of the pirate-crew met them; they
ply their oars, their armour shines over the constrained waters, the
barbarians obtain the victory. In the same year died Charles the
Magnificent king of the Franks, cut off by death before the revolution
of one year; after him came his uterine brother who ruled over the
western coasts of Gaul. Both were sons of Louis, who had formerly
possessed the sole sovereignty: his life had reached its termination
during the eclipse of the sun aforesaid. He was son of the great king
Charles, whose daughter Ethelwulf king of the English had taken to wife.
In the course of that year, a great number of barbarians landed and
filled the coasts of the Old Saxons; two battles were fought soon after:
the Saxons were the victors, and the Frisons also were present in the
contest. In the same year Charles the Younger succeeded to the
sovereignty of all the western parts of Gaul as far as the Tyrrhenian
sea, and, if I may so speak, of the dominions of his grandfather, except
the province of the Lidwiccas.[74] His father was Lodwicus, brother of
the middle Charles whose daughter was married to Ethelwulf king of the
English. And both of these were sons of Lodwicus, namely, Lodwicus was
son of Charlemagne who was the son of Pepin.

In the same year died the blessed pope Martin,[75] who also gave freedom
to the school of the English, by the appointment of king Alfred, and
sent as a present part of the thrice blessed cross of Christ, who is the
salvation of the world. In the course of that year, the above-named
pestilential crew broke their engagements, and marched in arms against
king Alfred. Lastly, after a year, they went to the lower parts of
Gaul, and fixed on a place to winter near the river Seine. Meanwhile,
the city of London was fortified by king Alfred, whom no civil discord
could subdue, either by cunning or by force: all men received him as a
saviour, and particularly the Saxons--except the barbarians--and those
who were then held prisoners in their hands. Also, after his army was
strengthened, Ethered was appointed leader there by the aforesaid king,
to guard the citadel.

A. 887. Now the army which were at that time ravaging the country of
Gaul cut their way through the bridge of the citadel of Paris, and
devastated the whole country along the Seine, as far as the Marne, and
above its vertex, as far as Catsig [Chezy], where they thrice fixed
their winter quarters. In the same year also died Charles, king of the
Franks, and his cousin Arnulf succeeded to the kingdom, seven years
before his uncle's death. The kingdom was then divided into five, and so
many kings in the same: but all things are done by the permission of
king Arnulf, and they promised to be all under his subjection, because
they were not like him, descended from the paternal stock; and he lived
after this on the eastern side of the river Rhine. But Rodulf occupied
the middle parts of the kingdom, Oda the western parts, and Beorngar
with Witha held the kingdom of the Lombards from the division of the
Jovian mountain.[76] There they began a civil war; people assailed
people; the lands of both were continually disturbed, nor was there any
hope of quiet.

The same year, in which the barbarians had settled on the bridge of
Paris, duke Ethelhelm received no small part of the money paid from the
diocese of the English by the king for the people, and went to Rome. In
the same year died queen Ethelswitha.

A. 888. In the lapse of the same year also, archbishop Athelred
deceased, and Ethelwold, commander in Kent.

A. 889. After one year, abbat Bernhelm carried to Rome the alms for the
people, and principally those of the western English and of king Alfred.
Then also Gothrun, king of the northern English, yielded his breath to
Orcus; he had taken the name of Athelstan, as he came out of the
baptismal laver, from his godfather, king Alfred, and had his seat
among the East-Angles, since he there also had held the first station.

In the same year, the aforesaid army of barbarians removed from the
river Seine to a place called Santlaudah,[77] situated between the
Bretons and the Franks; but the Bretons met them in arms, and obtained
the victory, and followed them to the windings of a certain river, and
there not a few of them were drowned in the waters.

A. 891. One year afterwards, the bands of the aforesaid army visited the
eastern parts of France; king Arnulf met them; a fight of cavalry took
place before the fleets arrived. An army of eastern Franks came up,
Saxons and Bavarians; the pagans spread their sails to flee. In the same
year, three chosen men of Hibernian race, burning with piety, leave
their country: they privately form a boat by sewing ox-hides; they put
into it provisions for a week; they sail seven days and seven nights,
and arrive on the shores of Cornwall: here they left their fleet, which
had been guided, not by the strength of their arms, but by the power of
Him who rules all things, and set out for the court of king Alfred, who
with his senate rejoice in their coming. From thence they proceed to
Rome, and, as is customary with teachers of Christ, they essay to go
thence to Jerusalem:[78] ... Their names were, Dubslane, the first;
Macbeth, the second; Maelinmun, the third, flourishing in the arts,
skilled in letters, and a distinguished master of the Scots. Also in the
same year, after Easter a comet appeared, which some think to be an omen
of foul times, which have already past; but it is the most approved
theory of philosophers, that they foretel future things, as has been
tried in many ways.

A. 893. One year after the barbarians fought against king Arnulf, they
go to Boulogne, and there build a fleet, and pass over into England.
There they station their fleet in the Limnean port, at a place called
Apoldre [Appledore, in the eastern part of Kent,] and destroy an ancient
castle, because there was but a small band of rustics within, and there
they make their winter camp. In the course of this year, a large fleet
belonging to Hasten arrives on the banks of the river Thames, and found
a citadel on the coasts of Kent, at a place called Middleton [Milton]:
they encamp there the whole winter; and the number of years that had
elapsed from the glorious nativity of our Saviour was nine hundred, all
but seven.

After the Easter of that year, the army which had come from Gaul leave
their camp, and trace the intricacies of a certain immense wood, which
is called Andred, and they extend as far as the Western Angles. Slowly
as they go, they ravage the adjoining provinces, Hampshire and
Berkshire: these things were told to the heir of Edward, son of king
Alfred, who had been exercising himself in the southern parts of
England. After this they reach the Western Angles, who meet them with
threatening arms and dense array at Farnham: they exult, freed by the
arrival of the prince, like sheep under the protection of the shepherd;
the tyrant is wounded, and his troops are driven across the river Thames
into the northern countries.

Meanwhile, the Danes are held besieged in Thorney isle. Earl Ethered,
setting out from the city of London, lent his aid to the prince. The
barbarians asked peace and a treaty: hostages are given, they promise by
oath to leave the kingdom of the aforesaid king; their words and deeds
agree together without delay. Lastly, they set out for the country of
the East-Angles, formerly governed by the king Saint Edmund, and their
ships fly round to them from the Limnean port to Meresige [Mersey], a
place in Kent.

In the course of the same year, Hasten breaks away with his band from
Bamfleet, and devastates all Mercia, until they arrive at the end of
Britain. The army, which was then in the eastern part of the country,
supplied them with reinforcements, and the Northumbrian, in the same
way. The illustrious duke Ethelm, with a squadron of cavalry, and duke
Ethelnoth, with an army of Western-Angles, followed behind them, and
Ethered, earl of the Mercians, pressed after them with great
impetuosity. The youth of both people join battle, and the Angles obtain
the victory. These things are said by ancient writers to have been done
at Buttington, and the exertions of the Danes appeared futile; they
again ratify peace, give hostages, and promise to leave that part of the
country. In the same year Danaasuda,[79] in Bamfleet, was destroyed by
the people, and they divide the treasure among them.

After this, Sigeferth, the pirate, lands from his fleet in Northumbria,
and twice devastates the coast, after which he returns home.

A. 895. When two years were completed, from the time that an immense
fleet came from Boulogne to Limnæ, a town of the Angles, duke Ethelnoth
set out from the western parts of the Angles, and goes from the city of
York against the enemy, who devastate no small tracts of land in the
kingdom of the Mercians, on the west of Stanford; _i.e._ between the
courses of the river Weolod[80] and a thick wood, called Ceoftefne.

A. 896. In the course of one year also, died Guthfrid, king of the
Northumbrians, on the birthday of Christ's apostle, St. Bartholomew,
whose body is buried at York, in the high church.

A. 900. Meanwhile, after four years, from the time that the above-named
king died, there was a great discord among the English, because the foul
bands of the Danes still remained throughout Northumberland. Lastly, in
the same year, king Alfred departed out of this world, that immoveable
pillar of the Western Saxons, that man full of justice, bold in arms,
learned in speech, and, above all other things, imbued with the divine
instructions. For he had translated into his own language, out of Latin,
unnumbered volumes, of so varied a nature, and so excellently, that the
sorrowful book of Boethius seemed, not only to the learned, but even to
those who heard it read, as it were, brought to life again. The monarch
died on the seventh day before the solemnity of All Saints, and his body
rests in peace in the city of Winton. Pray, O reader, to Christ our
Redeemer, that he will save his soul!


[Footnote 63: Allington, Wiltshire.]

[Footnote 64: Athelney, no longer an island, is situated near
Borough-bridge in Somersetshire.]

[Footnote 65: Easter Day was the 23rd of March in the year 878.]

[Footnote 66: Heddington.]

[Footnote 67: Some suppose that this is Aller near Athelingay, or
Athelney; but Athelney itself is called Alney by the common people; it
is therefore more likely that Athelingay and Alney were the same place,
as they are at present.]

[Footnote 68: Aschloha, or Ascloha, is on the Maese, about fourteen
miles from the Rhine.]

[Footnote 69: The Scheldt.]

[Footnote 70: Condé.]

[Footnote 71: More commonly Ambiani, now Amiens.]

[Footnote 72: Louvain.]

[Footnote 73: I acknowledge my inability to translate this and many
other passages of this obscure author. The events which here follow for
the next half page are referred by the Saxon Chronicle to the year 894.]

[Footnote 74: Armorica, or Bretagne.]

[Footnote 75: This should be Marinus, not Martinus.]

[Footnote 76: Mount St. Barnard.]

[Footnote 77: Saint Lo.]

[Footnote 78: I omit this obscure passage rather than run the risk of
misleading the reader by an inaccurate translation of it.]

[Footnote 79: This must be the fortress which Hasten's men built in

[Footnote 80: Welland, Northamptonshire.]

CHAP. IV.--_Of the reign of king Edward, and of his wars._

A. 901. The successor to the throne was Edward, son of the above-named
king. He was elected by the nobles, and crowned with the royal crown on
Whitsunday, one hundred years having elapsed since his great
grandfather, Egbert, had gained his present territories. In the same
year Ethelbald received, in the city of London, the bishopric of the
city of York; and, it appears, that the number of years completed, since
Christ came in the flesh, was nine hundred full.

A. 902. After two years was the battle of Holme.[81] ... Five days after
the festival of the blessed mother, they lock together their shields,
brandish their swords, and vibrate their lances in both hands. There
fell duke Siwulf and Sigelm, and almost all the Kentish nobility: and
Eohric, king of the barbarians, there descended to Orcus: two princes of
the English, in the flower of their youth, there yield up the breath of
life, and explore the foreign regions, under the waves of Acheron, and
numbers of full-grown men fall on both sides. The barbarians remain
victors, and triumph on the field of battle.

A. 905. At length, after three years, the number of years completed
since the beginning of the world, was six thousand and one hundred.

A. 908. After three years archbishop Plegmund inaugurized, in the city
of Winchester, a lofty tower, which had been recently founded in honour
of Mary, the mother of God. The pontiff aforesaid, in the course of the
same year carried to Rome the alms for the people, and for king Edward.

A. 909. After one year the barbarians break their compact with king
Edward, and with earl Ethered, who then ruled the provinces of
Northumberland and Mercia. The lands of the Mercians are laid waste on
all sides by the hosts aforesaid, as far as the streams of the Avon,
where begins the frontier of the West-Saxons and the Mercians. Thence
they pass over the river Severn into the western regions, and gained by
their devastations no little booty. But when they had withdrawn
homewards, rejoicing in their rich spoils, they passed over a bridge on
the eastern side of the river Severn, at a place commonly called
Cantabridge,[82] the troops of the Mercians and West-Saxons met them: a
battle ensued, and in the plain of Wodnesfield the English obtained the
victory: the Danish army fled, overwhelmed by the darts of their
enemies: these things are said to have been done on the fifth day of
August; and their three kings fell there in that turmoil or battle,
namely, Halfdene, Ecwils, and Hingwar: they lost their sovereignty, and
descended to the court of the infernal king, and their elders and nobles
with them.

A. 910. After one year, Ethered, who survived of the Mercians, departed
this life, and was buried peacefully in the city of Gloucester.

A. 912. After two years, died Athulf in Northumbria; he was at that time
commander of the town called Bebbanburgh.[83]

A. 913. After a year, a fleet entered the mouth of the river Severn, but
no severe battle was fought there that year. Lastly, the greater part of
that army go to Ireland, formerly called Bretannis by the great Julius

A. 914. After one year, the day of Christ's nativity fell on a Sunday;
and so great was the tranquillity of that winter, that no one can
remember anything like it either before or since.

A. 917. After three years, Ethelfled the king's sister departed this
life, and her body lies buried at Gloucester.

A. 926. Also in the ninth year died Edward, king of the English. This
was the end; his name and his pertinacity here ceased.


[Footnote 81: The particulars recorded in this passage, concerning the
battle of Holme, are ascribed, by Florence of Worcester and the Saxon
Chronicle, to another battle, fought three years later. This caused
Petrie to suppose, that the paragraph in question had slipped out of its
real place.]

[Footnote 82: Cambridge, in Gloucestershire.]

[Footnote 83: Bambrough.]

CHAP. V.--_Of the reign of king Athelstan, his wars and deeds._

A. 926. The year in which the stout king Athelstan gained the crown of
the kingdom, was the nine hundred and twenty-sixth from the glorious
incarnation of our Saviour.

A. 939. Therefore, after thirteen years, a fierce battle was fought
against the barbarians at Brunandune,[84] wherefore that fight is called
great even to the present day: then the barbarian tribes are defeated
and domineer no longer; they are driven beyond the ocean: the Scots and
Picts also bow the neck; the lands of Britain are consolidated together,
on all sides is peace, and plenty of all things, nor ever did a fleet
again come to land except in friendship with the English.

A. 941. Two years afterwards the venerated king Athelstan died.


[Footnote 84: Brumby, Lincolnshire.]

CHAP. VI.--_Of the reign of king Edmund._

After him Edmund succeeded to the neglected kingdom.

A. 948. After seven years, therefore, bishop Wulfstan and the duke of
the Mercians expelled certain deserters, namely, Reginald and Anlaf from
the city of York, and gave them into the king's hand. In the same year
died also queen Elfgiva, wife of king Edmund, and afterwards was
canonized. In her tomb, with God's assistance, even to the present day,
miracles are performed in the monastery called Shaftesbury. In the same
period also died king Edmund on the solemnity of Augustine the Less, who
also was the apostle of the English: and he held the kingdom six years
and a half.

CHAP. VII.--_Of the reign of king Edred._

Edmund's successor was Edred his brother, to whom all the Northumbrians
became subject; and the Scots also give oaths of allegiance and
immutable fidelity. Not long after these things he also departed in
peace, on the birthday of the blessed pope and martyr Clement. He had
held the kingdom nine years and half.

CHAP. VIII.--_Of king Edwy._

His successor to the throne was Edwy, who, on account of his great
personal beauty, was called Pankalus by the people. He held the
sovereignty four years, and was much beloved.

CHAP. IX.--_Of the reign of king Edgar._

A. 959. After this, Edgar was crowned, and he was an admirable

Moreover from the nativity of our Lord and Saviour was then completed
the number of 973 years.[85]



[Footnote 85: Here follow two sets of Latin verses, of a most obscure
and angrammatical character, and altogether untranslatable.]







FROM A.D. 849 TO A.D. 887.


In the year of our Lord's incarnation 849, was born Alfred, king of the
Anglo-Saxons, at the royal village of Wanating,[86] in Berkshire, which
country has its name from the wood of Berroc, where the box-tree grows
most abundantly. His genealogy is traced in the following order. King
Alfred was the son of king Ethelwulf, who was the son of Egbert, who was
the son of Elmund, was the son of Eafa, who was the son of Eoppa, who
the son of Ingild. Ingild, and Ina, the famous king of the West-Saxons,
were two brothers. Ina went to Rome, and there ending this life
honourably, entered the heavenly kingdom, to reign there for ever with
Christ. Ingild and Ina were the sons of Coenred, who was the son of
Ceolwald, who was the son of Cudam, who was the son of Cuthwin, who was
the son of Ceawlin, who was the son of Cynric, who was the son of
Creoda, who was the son of Cerdic, who was the son of Elesa, who was the
son of Gewis, from whom the Britons name all that nation Gegwis,[87] who
was the son of Brond, who was the son of Beldeg, who was the son of
Woden, who was the son of Frithowald, who was the son of Frealaf, who
was the son of Frithuwulf, who was the son of Finn of Godwulf, who was
the son of Geat, which Geat the pagans long worshipped as a god.
Sedulius makes mention of him in his metrical Paschal poem, as

    When gentile poets with their fictions vain,
    In tragic language and bombastic strain,
    To their god Geat, comic deity,
        Loud praises sing, &c.

Geat was the son of Tætwa, who was the son of Beaw, who was the son of
Sceldi, who was the son of Heremod, who was the son of Iterinon, who was
the son of Hathra, who was the son of Guala, who was the son of Bedwig,
who was the son of Shem, who was the son of Noah, who was the son of
Lamech, who was the son of Methusalem, who was the son of Enoch, who was
the son of Malaleel, who was the son of Cainan, who was the son of Enos,
who was the son of Seth, who was the son of Adam.

The mother of Alfred was named Osburga, a religious woman, noble both by
birth and by nature; she was daughter of Oslac, the famous butler of
king Ethelwulf, which Oslac was a Goth by nation, descended from the
Goths and Jutes, of the seed, namely, of Stuf and Wihtgar, two brothers
and counts: who, having received possession of the Isle of Wight from
their uncle, king Cerdic, and his son Cynric their cousin, slew the few
British inhabitants whom they could find in that island, at a place
called Gwihtgaraburgh;[88] for the other inhabitants of the island had
either been slain or escaped into exile.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 851, which was the third after the
birth of king Alfred, Ceorl, earl of Devon, fought with the men of Devon
against the pagans at a place called Wicgambeorg;[89] and the Christians
gained the victory; and that same year the pagans first wintered in the
island called Sheppey, which means the Sheep-isle, and is situated in
the river Thames between Essex and Kent, but is nearer to Kent than to
Essex; it has in it a fine monastery.[90]

The same year also a great army of the pagans came with three hundred
and fifty ships to the mouth of the river Thames, and sacked
Dorobernia,[91] which is the city of the Cantuarians, and also the city
of London, which lies on the north bank of the river Thames, on the
confines of Essex and Middlesex; but yet that city belongs in truth to
Essex; and they put to flight Berthwulf, king of Mercia, with all the
army, which he had led out to oppose them.

After these things, the aforesaid pagan host went into Surrey, which is
a district situated on the south bank of the river Thames, and to the
west of Kent. And Ethelwulf, king of the West-Saxons, and his son
Ethelbald, with all their army, fought a long time against them at a
place called Ac-lea,[92] i.e. the Oak-plain, and there, after a
lengthened battle, which was fought with much bravery on both sides, the
greater part of the pagan multitude was destroyed and cut to pieces, so
that we never heard of their being so defeated, either before or since,
in any country, in one day; and the Christians gained an honourable
victory, and were triumphant over their graves.

In the same year king Athelstan, son of king Ethelwulf, and earl Ealhere
slew a large army of pagans in Kent, at a place called Sandwich, and
took nine ships of their fleet; the others escaped by flight.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 853, which was the fifth of king
Alfred, Burhred, king of the Mercians, sent messengers, and prayed
Ethelwulf, king of the West-Saxons, to come and help him in reducing the
midland Britons, who dwell between Mercia and the western sea, and who
struggled against him most immoderately. So without delay, king
Ethelwulf, having received the embassy, moved his army, and advanced
with king Burhred against Britain,[93] and immediately, on entering that
country, he began to ravage it; and having reduced it under subjection
to king Burhred, he returned home.

In the same year, king Ethelwulf sent his son Alfred, above-named, to
Rome, with an honourable escort both of nobles and commoners. Pope Leo
[the fourth] at that time presided over the apostolic see, and he
anointed for king the aforesaid Alfred, and adopted him as his spiritual
son. The same year also, earl Ealhere, with the men of Kent, and Huda
with the men of Surrey, fought bravely and resolutely against an army of
the pagans, in the island, which is called in the Saxon tongue,
Tenet,[94] but Ruim in the British language. The battle lasted a long
time, and many fell on both sides, and also were drowned in the water;
and both the earls were there slain. In the same year also, after
Easter, Ethelwulf, king of the West-Saxons, gave his daughter to
Burhred, king of the Mercians, and the marriage was celebrated royally
at the royal vill of Chippenham.[95]

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 855, which was the seventh after
the birth of the aforesaid king, Edmund the most glorious king of the
East-Angles began to reign, on the eighth day before the kalends of
January, i.e. on the birthday of our Lord, in the fourteenth year of his
age. In this year also died Lothaire, the Roman emperor, son of the
pious Lewis Augustus. In the same year the aforesaid venerable king
Ethelwulf released the tenth part of all his kingdom from all royal
service and tribute, and with a pen never to be forgotten, offered it up
to God the One and the Three in One, in the cross of Christ, for the
redemption of his own soul and of his predecessors. In the same year he
went to Rome with much honour; and taking with him his son, the
aforesaid king Alfred, for a second journey thither, because he loved
him more than his other sons, he remained there a whole year; after
which he returned to his own country, bringing with him Judith, daughter
of Charles, the king of the Franks.

In the meantime, however, whilst king Ethelwulf was residing beyond the
sea, a base deed was done, repugnant to the morals of all Christians, in
the western part of Selwood. For king Ethelbald [son of king Ethelwulf]
and Ealstan, bishop of the church of Sherborne, with Eanwulf, earl of
the district of Somerton, are said to have made a conspiracy together,
that king Ethelwulf, on his return from Rome, should never again be
received into his kingdom. This crime, unheard-of in all previous ages,
is ascribed by many to the bishop and earl alone, as resulting from
their counsels. Many also ascribe it solely to the insolence of the
king, because that king was pertinacious in this matter, and in many
other perversities, as we have heard related by certain persons; as also
was proved by the result of that which follows.

For as he was returning from Rome, his son aforesaid, with all his
counsellors, or, as I ought to say, his conspirators, attempted to
perpetrate the crime of repulsing the king from his own kingdom; but
neither did God permit the deed, nor would the nobles of all Saxony
consent to it. For to prevent this irremediable evil to Saxony, of a son
warring against his father, or rather of the whole nation carrying on
civil war either on the side of the one or the other, the extraordinary
mildness of the father, seconded by the consent of all the nobles,
divided between the two the kingdom which had hitherto been undivided;
the eastern parts were given to the father, and the western to the son;
for where the father ought by just right to reign, there his unjust and
obstinate son did reign; for the western part of Saxony is always
preferable to the eastern.

When Ethelwulf, therefore, was coming from Rome, all that nation, as was
fitting, so delighted in the arrival of the old man, that, if he
permitted them, they would have expelled his rebellious son Ethelbald,
with all his counsellors, out of the kingdom. But he, as we have said,
acting with great clemency and prudent counsel, so wished things to be
done, that the kingdom might not come into danger; and he placed Judith,
daughter of king Charles, whom he had received from his father, by his
own side on the regal throne, without any controversy or enmity from his
nobles, even to the end of his life, contrary to the perverse custom of
that nation. For the nation of the West-Saxons do not allow a queen to
sit beside the king, nor to be called a queen, but only the king's wife;
which stigma the elders of that land say arose from a certain obstinate
and malevolent queen of the same nation, who did all things so contrary
to her lord, and to all the people, that she not only earned for herself
exclusion from the royal seat, but also entailed the same stigma upon
those who came after her; for in consequence of the wickedness of that
queen, all the nobles of that land swore together, that they would never
let any king reign over them, who should attempt to place a queen on the
throne by his side.

And because, as I think, it is not known to many whence this perverse
and detestable custom arose in Saxony, contrary to the custom of all the
Theotiscan nations, it seems to me right to explain a little more fully
what I have heard from my lord Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, as he
also had heard it from many men of truth, who in great part recorded
that fact.

There was in Mercia, in recent times, a certain valiant king, who was
feared by all the kings and neighbouring states around. His name was
Offa, and it was he who had the great rampart made from sea to sea
between Britain[96] and Mercia. His daughter, named Eadburga, was
married to Bertric, king of the West-Saxons; who immediately, having
the king's affections, and the control of almost all the kingdom, began
to live tyrannically like her father, and to execrate every man whom
Bertric loved, and to do all things hateful to God and man, and to
accuse all she could before the king, and so to deprive them insidiously
of their life or power; and if she could not obtain the king's consent,
she used to take them off by poison: as is ascertained to have been the
case with a certain young man beloved by the king, whom she poisoned,
finding that the king would not listen to any accusation against him. It
is said, moreover, that king Bertric unwittingly tasted of the poison,
though the queen intended to give it to the young man only, and so both
of them perished.

Bertric therefore being dead, the queen could remain no longer among the
West-Saxons, but sailed beyond the sea with immense treasures, and went
to the court of the great and famous Charles, king of the Franks. As she
stood before the throne, and offered him money, Charles said to her,
"Choose, Eadburga, between me and my son, who stands here with me." She
replied, foolishly, and without deliberation, "If I am to have my
choice, I choose your son, because he is younger than you." At which
Charles smiled and answered, "If you had chosen me, you would have had
my son; but as you have chosen him, you shall not have either of us."

However, he gave her a large convent of nuns, in which, having laid
aside the secular habit and taken the religious dress, she discharged
the office of abbess during a few years; for, as she is said to have
lived irrationally in her own country, so she appears to have acted
still more so in that foreign country; for being convicted of having had
unlawful intercourse with a man of her own nation, she was expelled from
the monastery by king Charles's order, and lived a vicious life of
reproach in poverty and misery until her death; so that at last,
accompanied by one slave only, as we have heard from many who saw her,
she begged her bread daily at Pavia, and so miserably died.

Now king Ethelwulf lived two years after his return from Rome; during
which, among many other good deeds of this present life, reflecting on
his departure according to the way of all flesh, that his sons might not
quarrel unreasonably after their father's death, he ordered a will or
letter of instructions to be written, in which he ordered that his
kingdom should be divided between his two eldest sons, his private
inheritance between his sons, his daughters, and his relations, and the
money which he left behind him between his sons and nobles, and for the
good of his soul. Of this prudent policy we have thought fit to record a
few instances out of many for posterity to imitate; namely, such as are
understood to belong principally to the needs of the soul; for the
others, which relate only to human dispensation, it is not necessary to
insert in this work, lest prolixity should create disgust in those who
read or wish to hear my work. For the benefit of his soul, then, which
he studied to promote in all things from the first flower of his youth,
he directed through all his hereditary dominions, that one poor man in
ten, either native or foreigner, should be supplied with meat, drink,
and clothing, by his successors, until the day of judgment; supposing,
however, that the country should still be inhabited both by men and
cattle, and should not become deserted. He commanded also a large sum of
money, namely, three hundred mancuses, to be carried to Rome for the
good of his soul, to be distributed in the following manner: namely, a
hundred mancuses in honour of St. Peter, specially to buy oil for the
lights of the church of that apostle on Easter eve, and also at the
cock-crow: a hundred mancuses in honour of St. Paul, for the same
purpose of buying oil for the church of St. Paul the apostle, to light
the lamps on Easter eve and at the cock-crow; and a hundred mancuses for
the universal apostolic pontiff.

But when king Ethelwulf was dead, and buried at Stemrugam,[97] his son
Ethelbald, contrary to God's prohibition and the dignity of a Christian,
contrary also to the custom of all the pagans, ascended his father's
bed, and married Judith, daughter of Charles, king of the Franks, and
drew down much infamy upon himself from all who heard of it. During two
years and a half of licentiousness after his father he held the
government of the West-Saxons.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 856, which was the eighth after
Alfred's birth, the second year of king Charles III, and the eighteenth
year of the reign of Ethelwulf, king of the West-Saxons, Humbert,
bishop of the East-Angles, anointed with oil and consecrated as king the
glorious Edmund, with much rejoicing and great honour in the royal town
called Burva, in which at that time was the royal seat, in the fifteenth
year of his age, on a Friday, the twenty-fourth moon, being

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 860, which was the twelfth of king
Alfred's age, died Ethelbald, king of the West-Saxons, and was buried at
Sherborne. His brother Ethelbert, as was fitting, joined Kent, Surrey,
and Sussex also to his dominion.

In his days a large army of pagans came from the sea, and attacked and
destroyed the city of Winchester. As they were returning laden with
booty to their ships, Osric, earl of Hampshire, with his men, and earl
Ethelwulf, with the men of Berkshire, confronted them bravely; a severe
battle took place, and the pagans were slain on every side; and, finding
themselves unable to resist, took to flight like women, and the
Christians obtained a triumph.

Ethelbert governed his kingdom five years in peace, with the love and
respect of his subjects, who felt deep sorrow when he went the way of
all flesh. His body was honourably interred at Sherborne by the side of
his brothers.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 864, the pagans wintered in the
isle of Thanet, and made a firm treaty with the men of Kent, who
promised them money for adhering to their covenant; but the pagans, like
cunning foxes, burst from their camp by night, and setting at naught
their engagements, and spurning at the promised money, which they knew
was less than they could get by plunder, they ravaged all the eastern
coast of Kent.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 866, which was the eighteenth of
king Alfred, Ethelred, brother of Ethelbert, king of the West Saxons,
undertook the government of the kingdom for five years; and the same
year a large fleet of pagans came to Britain from the Danube, and
wintered in the kingdom of the Eastern-Saxons, which is called in Saxon
East-Anglia; and there they became principally an army of cavalry. But,
to speak in nautical phrase, I will no longer commit my vessel to the
power of the waves and of its sails, or keeping off from land steer my
round-about course through so many calamities of wars and series of
years, but will return to that which first prompted me to this task;
that is to say, I think it right in this place briefly to relate as much
as has come to my knowledge about the character of my revered lord
Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, during the years that he was an infant
and a boy.

He was loved by his father and mother, and even by all the people, above
all his brothers, and was educated altogether at the court of the king.
As he advanced through the years of infancy and youth, his form appeared
more comely than that of his brothers; in look, in speech, and in
manners he was more graceful than they. His noble nature implanted in
him from his cradle a love of wisdom above all things; but, with shame
be it spoken, by the unworthy neglect of his parents and nurses, he
remained illiterate even till he was twelve years old or more; but he
listened with serious attention to the Saxon poems which he often heard
recited, and easily retained them in his docile memory. He was a zealous
practiser of hunting in all its branches, and hunted with great
assiduity and success; for skill and good fortune in this art, as in all
others, are among the gifts of God, as we also have often witnessed.

On a certain day, therefore, his mother[98] was showing him and his
brother a Saxon book of poetry, which she held in her hand, and said,
"Whichever of you shall the soonest learn this volume shall have it for
his own." Stimulated by these words, or rather by the Divine
inspiration, and allured by the beautifully illuminated letter at the
beginning of the volume, he spoke before all his brothers, who, though
his seniors in age, were not so in grace, and answered, "Will you really
give that book to one of us, that is to say, to him who can first
understand and repeat it to you?" At this his mother smiled with
satisfaction, and confirmed what she had before said. Upon which the boy
took the book out of her hand, and went to his master to read it, and in
due time brought it to his mother and recited it.

After this he learned the daily course, that is, the celebration of the
hours, and afterwards certain psalms, and several prayers, contained in
a certain book which he kept day and night in his bosom, as we
ourselves have seen, and carried about with him to assist his prayers,
amid all the bustle and business of this present life. But, sad to say,
he could not gratify his most ardent wish to learn the liberal arts,
because, as he said, there were no good readers at that time in all the
kingdom of the West-Saxons.

This he confessed, with many lamentations and sighs, to have been one of
his greatest difficulties and impediments in this life, namely, that
when he was young and had the capacity for learning, he could not find
teachers; but, when he was more advanced in life, he was harassed by so
many diseases unknown to all the physicians of this island, as well as
by internal and external anxieties of sovereignty, and by continual
invasions of the pagans, and had his teachers and writers also so much
disturbed, that there was no time for reading. But yet among the
impediments of this present life, from infancy up to the present time,
and, as I believe, even until his death, he continued to feel the same
insatiable desire of knowledge, and still aspires after it.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 867, which was the nineteenth of
the life of the aforesaid king Alfred, the army of pagans before
mentioned removed from the East-Angles to the city of York, which is
situated on the north bank of the river Humber.

At that time a violent discord arose, by the instigation of the devil,
among the inhabitants of Northumberland; as always is used to happen
among a people who have incurred the wrath of God. For the Northumbrians
at that time, as we have said, had expelled their lawful king Osbert,
and appointed a certain tyrant named Ælla, not of royal birth, over the
affairs of the kingdom; but when the pagans approached, by divine
Providence, and the union of the nobles for the common good, that
discord was a little appeased, and Osbert and Ælla uniting their
resources, and assembling an army, marched to York. The pagans fled at
their approach, and attempted to defend themselves within the walls of
the city. The Christians, perceiving their flight and the terror they
were in, determined to destroy the walls of the town, which they
succeeded in doing; for that city was not surrounded at that time with
firm or strong walls, and when the Christians had made a breach as they
had purposed, and many of them had entered into the town, the pagans,
urged by despair and necessity, made a fierce sally upon them, slew
them, routed them, and cut them down on all sides, both within and
without the walls. In that battle fell almost all the Northumbrian
warriors, with both the kings and a multitude of nobles; the remainder,
who escaped, made peace with the pagans.

In the same year, Ealstan, bishop of the church of Sherborne, went the
way of all flesh, after he had honourably ruled his see four years, and
he was buried at Sherborne.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 868, which was the twentieth of
king Alfred's life, there was a severe famine. Then the aforesaid
revered king Alfred, but at that time occupying a subordinate station,
asked and obtained in marriage a noble Mercian lady, daughter of
Athelred, surnamed Mucil,[99] earl of the Gaini.[100] The mother of this
lady was named Edburga, of the royal line of Mercia, whom we have often
seen with our own eyes a few years before her death. She was a venerable
lady, and after the decease of her husband, she remained many years a
widow, even till her own death.

In the same year, the above-named army of pagans, leaving
Northumberland, invaded Mercia and advanced to Nottingham, which is
called in the British tongue, "Tiggocobauc," but in Latin, the "House of
Caves," and they wintered there that same year. Immediately on their
approach, Burhred, king of Mercia, and all the nobles of that nation,
sent messengers to Ethelred, king of the West-Saxons, and his brother
Alfred, suppliantly entreating them to come and aid them in fighting
against the aforesaid army. Their request was easily obtained; for the
brothers, as soon as promised, assembled an immense army from all parts
of their dominions, and entering Mercia, came to Nottingham, all eager
for battle, and when the pagans, defended by the castle, refused to
fight, and the Christians were unable to destroy the wall, peace was
made between the Mercians and pagans, and the two brothers, Ethelred and
Alfred, returned home with their troops.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 869, which was the twenty-first of
king Alfred's life, there was a great famine and mortality of men, and a
pestilence among the cattle. And the aforesaid army of the pagans,
galloping back to Northumberland, went to York, and there passed the

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 870, which was the twenty-second
of king Alfred's life, the above-named army of pagans, passed through
Mercia into East-Anglia, and wintered at Thetford.

In the same year Edmund, king of the East-Angles, fought most fiercely
against them; but, lamentable to say, the pagans triumphed, Edmund was
slain in the battle, and the enemy reduced all that country to

In the same year Ceolnoth, archbishop of Canterbury, went the way of all
flesh, and was buried peaceably in his own city.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 871, which was the twenty-third of
king Alfred's life, the pagan army, of hateful memory, left the
East-Angles, and entering the kingdom of the West-Saxons, came to the
royal city, called Reading, situated on the south bank of the Thames, in
the district called Berkshire; and there, on the third day after their
arrival, their earls, with great part of the army, scoured the country
for plunder, while the others made a rampart between the rivers Thames
and Kennet on the right side of the same royal city. They were
encountered by Ethelwulf, earl of Berkshire, with his men, at a place
called Englefield;[101] both sides fought bravely, and made long
resistance. At length one of the pagan earls was slain, and the greater
part of the army destroyed; upon which the rest saved themselves by
flight, and the Christians gained the victory.

Four days afterwards, Ethelred, king of the West-Saxons, and his brother
Alfred, united their forces and marched to Reading, where, on their
arrival, they cut to pieces the pagans whom they found outside the
fortifications. But the pagans, nevertheless, sallied out from the
gates, and a long and fierce engagement ensued. At last, grief to say,
the Christians fled, the pagans obtained the victory, and the aforesaid
earl Ethelwulf was among the slain.

Roused by this calamity, the Christians, in shame and indignation,
within four days, assembled all their forces, and again encountered the
pagan army at a place called Ashdune,[102] which means the "Hill of the
Ash." The pagans had divided themselves into two bodies, and began to
prepare defences, for they had two kings and many earls, so they gave
the middle part of the army to the two kings, and the other part to all
their earls. Which the Christians perceiving, divided their army also
into two troops, and also began to construct defences. But Alfred, as we
have been told by those who were present, and would not tell an untruth,
marched up promptly with his men to give them battle; for king Ethelred
remained a long time in his tent in prayer, hearing the mass, and said
that he would not leave it, till the priest had done, or abandon the
divine protection for that of men. And he did so too, which afterwards
availed him much with the Almighty, as we shall declare more fully in
the sequel.

Now the Christians had determined that king Ethelred, with his men,
should attack the two pagan kings, but that his brother Alfred, with his
troops, should take the chance of war against the two earls. Things
being so arranged, the king remained a long time in prayer, and the
pagans came up rapidly to fight. Then Alfred, though possessing a
subordinate authority, could no longer support the troops of the enemy,
unless he retreated or charged upon them without waiting for his
brother. At length he bravely led his troops against the hostile army,
as they had before arranged, but without awaiting his brother's arrival;
for he relied in the divine counsels, and forming his men into a dense
phalanx, marched on at once to meet the foe.

But here I must inform those who are ignorant of the fact, that the
field of battle was not equally advantageous to both parties. The pagans
occupied the higher ground, and the Christians came up from below. There
was also a single thorn-tree, of stunted growth, and we have with our
own eyes seen it. Around this tree the opposing armies came together
with loud shouts from all sides, the one party to pursue their wicked
course, the other to fight for their lives, their dearest ties, and
their country. And when both armies had fought long and bravely, at last
the pagans, by the divine judgment, were no longer able to bear the
attacks of the Christians, and having lost great part of their army,
took to a disgraceful flight. One of their two kings, and five earls
were there slain, together with many thousand pagans, who fell on all
sides, covering with their bodies the whole plain of Ashdune.

There fell in that battle king Bagsac, earl Sidrac the elder, and earl
Sidrac the younger, earl Osbern, earl Frene, and earl Harold; and the
whole pagan army pursued its flight, not only until night but until the
next day, even until they reached the stronghold from which they had
sallied. The Christians followed, slaying all they could reach, until it
became dark.

After fourteen days had elapsed, king Ethelred, with his brother Alfred,
again joined their forces and marched to Basing to fight with the
pagans. The enemy came together from all quarters, and after a long
contest gained the victory. After this battle, another army came from
beyond the sea, and joined them.

The same year, after Easter, the aforesaid king Ethelred, having
bravely, honourably, and with good repute, governed his kingdom five
years, through much tribulation, went the way of all flesh, and was
buried in Wimborne Minster, where he awaits the coming of the Lord, and
the first resurrection with the just.

The same year, the aforesaid Alfred, who had been up to that time only
of secondary rank, whilst his brothers were alive, now, by God's
permission, undertook the government of the whole kingdom, amid the
acclamations of all the people; and if he had chosen, he might have done
so before, whilst his brother above-named was still alive; for in wisdom
and other qualities he surpassed all his brothers, and moreover, was
warlike and victorious in all his wars. And when he had reigned one
month, almost against his will, for he did not think he could alone
sustain the multitude and ferocity of the pagans, though even during his
brothers' lives, he had borne the woes of many,--he fought a battle with
a few men, and on very unequal terms, against all the army of the
pagans, at a hill called Wilton, on the south bank of the river Wily,
from which river the whole of that district is named, and after a long
and fierce engagement, the pagans, seeing the danger they were in, and
no longer able to bear the attack of their enemies, turned their backs
and fled. But, oh, shame to say, they deceived their too audacious
pursuers, and again rallying, gained the victory. Let no one be
surprised that the Christians had but a small number of men, for the
Saxons had been worn out by eight battles in one year, against the
pagans, of whom they had slain one king, nine dukes, and innumerable
troops of soldiers, besides endless skirmishes, both by night and by
day, in which the oft-named Alfred, and all his chieftains, with their
men, and several of his ministers, were engaged without rest or
cessation against the pagans. How many thousand pagans fell in these
numberless skirmishes God alone knows, over and above those who were
slain in the eight battles above-mentioned. In the same year the Saxons
made peace with the pagans, on condition that they should take their
departure, and they did so.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 872, the twenty-fourth of king
Alfred's life, the above-named army of pagans went to London, and there
wintered. The Mercians made peace with them.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 873, the twenty-fifth of king
Alfred, the above-named army, leaving London, went into the country of
the Northumbrians, and there wintered in the district of Lindsey; and
the Mercians again made treaty with them.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 874, the twenty-sixth since the
birth of king Alfred, the army before so often mentioned left Lindsey
and marched to Mercia, where they wintered at Repton. Also they
compelled Burhred, king of Mercia, against his will, to leave his
kingdom and go beyond the sea to Rome, in the twenty-second year of his
reign. He did not long live after his arrival, but died there, and was
honourably buried in the school of the Saxons, in St. Mary's church,
where he awaits the Lord's coming and the first resurrection with the
just. The pagans also, after his expulsion, subjected the whole kingdom
of the Mercians to their dominion; but by a most miserable arrangement,
gave it into the custody of a certain foolish man, named Ceolwulf, one
of the king's ministers, on condition that he should restore it to them,
whenever they should wish to have it again; and to guarantee this
agreement, he gave them hostages, and swore that he would not oppose
their will, but be obedient to them in every respect.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 875, which was the 27th of king
Alfred, the above-named army leaving Repton, divided into two bodies,
one of which went with Halfdene into Northumbria, and having wintered
there near the Tyne, reduced all Northumberland to subjection; they also
ravaged the Picts and the Strath-Clydensians.[103] The other division,
with Gothrun, Oskytel, and Anwiund, three kings of the pagans, went to a
place called Grantabridge,[104] and there wintered.

In the same year, king Alfred fought a battle by sea against six ships
of the pagans, and took one of them; the rest escaped by flight.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 876, being the twenty-eighth year
of king Alfred's life, the aforesaid army of the pagans, leaving
Grantabridge by night, entered a castle called Wareham, where there is a
monasterium of holy virgins between the two rivers Fraun[105] and Trent,
in the district which is called in British _Durngueis_, but in Saxon
_Thornsæta_, placed in a most secure situation, except that it was
exposed to danger on the western side from the nature of the ground.
With this army Alfred made a solemn treaty, to the effect that they
should depart out of the kingdom, and for this they made no hesitation
to give as many hostages as he named; also they swore an oath over the
Christian relics,[106] which with king Alfred were next in veneration
after the Deity himself, that they would depart speedily from the
kingdom. But they again practised their usual treachery, and caring
nothing for the hostages or their oaths, they broke the treaty, and
sallying forth by night, slew all the horsemen that the king had round
him, and turning off into Devon, to another place called in Saxon
_Exanceaster_,[107] but in British _Caer-wisc_, which means in Latin,
the city of Ex, situated on the eastern bank of the river Wisc, they
directed their course suddenly towards the south sea, which divides
Britain and Gaul, and there passed the winter.

In the same year, Halfdene, king of those parts, divided out the whole
country of Northumberland between himself and his men, and settled there
with his army. In the same year, Rollo with his followers penetrated
into Normandy.

This same Rollo, duke of the Normans, whilst wintering in Old Britain,
or England, at the head of his troops, enjoyed one night a vision
revealing to him the future. See more of this Rollo in the Annals.[108]

In the year 877, the pagans, on the approach of autumn, partly settled
in Exeter, and partly marched for plunder into Mercia. The number of
that disorderly crew increased every day, so that, if thirty thousand of
them were slain in one battle, others took their places to double the
number. Then king Alfred commanded boats and galleys, i.e. long ships,
to be built throughout the kingdom, in order to offer battle by sea to
the enemy as they were coming. On board of these he placed seamen, and
appointed them to watch the seas. Meanwhile he went himself to Exeter,
where the pagans were wintering, and having shut them up within the
walls, laid siege to the town. He also gave orders to his sailors to
prevent them from obtaining any supplies by sea; and his sailors were
encountered by a fleet of a hundred and twenty ships full of armed
soldiers, who were come to help their countrymen. As soon as the king's
men knew that they were fitted with pagan soldiers, they leaped to their
arms, and bravely attacked those barbaric tribes: but the pagans, who
had now for almost a month been tossed and almost wrecked among the
waves of the sea, fought vainly against them; their bands were
discomfited in a moment, and all were sunk and drowned in the sea, at a
place called Suanewic.[109]

In the same year the army of pagans, leaving Wareham, partly on
horseback and partly by water, arrived at Suanewic, where one hundred
and twenty of their ships were lost;[110] and king Alfred pursued their
land-army as far as Exeter; there he made a covenant with them, and took
hostages that they would depart.

The same year, in the month of August, that army went into Mercia, and
gave part of that country to one Ceolwulf, a weak-minded man, and one of
the king's ministers; the other part they divided among themselves.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 878, which was the thirtieth of
king Alfred's life, the army above-mentioned left Exeter, and went to
Chippenham, a royal villa, situated in the west of Wiltshire, and on the
eastern bank of the river, which is called in British, the Avon. There
they wintered, and drove many of the inhabitants of that country beyond
the sea by the force of their arms, and by want of the necessaries of
life. They reduced almost entirely to subjection all the people of that

At the same time the above-named Alfred, king of the West-Saxons, with a
few of his nobles, and certain soldiers and vassals, used to lead an
unquiet life among the woodlands[111] of the county of Somerset, in
great tribulation; for he had none of the necessaries of life, except
what he could forage openly or stealthily, by frequent sallies, from the
pagans, or even from the Christians who had submitted to the rule of the
pagans, and as we read in the Life of St. Neot, at the house of one of
his cowherds.

But it happened on a certain day, that the countrywoman, wife of the
cowherd, was preparing some loaves to bake, and the king, sitting at the
hearth, made ready his bow and arrows and other warlike instruments. The
unlucky woman espying the cakes burning at the fire, ran up to remove
them, and rebuking the brave king, exclaimed:--

    Ca'sn thee mind the ke-aks, man, an' doossen zee 'em burn?
    I'm boun thee's eat 'em vast enough, az zoon az 'tiz the turn.[112]

The blundering woman little thought that it was king Alfred, who had
fought so many battles against the pagans, and gained so many victories
over them.

But the Almighty not only granted to the same glorious king victories
over his enemies, but also permitted him to be harassed by them, to be
sunk down by adversities, and depressed by the low estate of his
followers, to the end that he might learn that there is one Lord of all
things, to whom every knee doth bow, and in whose hand are the hearts of
kings; who puts down the mighty from their seat and exalteth the humble;
who suffers his servants when they are elevated at the summit of
prosperity to be touched by the rod of adversity, that in their
humility they may not despair of God's mercy, and in their prosperity
they may not boast of their honours, but may also know, to whom they owe
all the things which they possess.

We may believe that the calamity was brought upon the king aforesaid,
because, in the beginning of his reign, when he was a youth, and
influenced by youthful feelings, he would not listen to the petitions
which his subjects made to him for help in their necessities, or for
relief from those who oppressed them; but he repulsed them from him, and
paid no heed to their requests. This particular gave much annoyance to
the holy man St. Neot, who was his relation, and often foretold to him,
in the spirit of prophecy, that he would suffer great adversity on this
account; but Alfred neither attended to the reproof of the man of God,
nor listened to his true prediction. Wherefore, seeing that a man's sins
must be corrected either in this world or the next, the true and
righteous Judge was willing that his sin should not go unpunished in
this world, to the end that he might spare him in the world to come.
From this cause, therefore, the aforesaid Alfred often fell into such
great misery, that sometimes none of his subjects knew where he was or
what had become of him.

In the same year the brother[113] of Hingwar and Halfdene, with
twenty-three ships, after much slaughter of the Christians, came from
the country of Demetia,[114] where he had wintered, and sailed to Devon,
where, with twelve hundred others, he met with a miserable death, being
slain while committing his misdeeds, by the king's servants, before the
castle of Cynuit (Kynwith[115]), into which many of the king's servants,
with their followers, had fled for safety. The pagans, seeing that the
castle was altogether unprepared and unfortified, except that it had
walls in our own fashion, determined not to assault it, because it was
impregnable and secure on all sides, except on the eastern, as we
ourselves have seen, but they began to blockade it, thinking that those
who were inside would soon surrender either from famine or want of
water, for the castle had no spring near it. But the result did not fall
out as they expected; for the Christians, before they began to suffer
from want, inspired by Heaven, judging it much better to gain victory
or death, attacked the pagans suddenly in the morning, and from the
first cut them down in great numbers, slaying also their king, so that
few escaped to their ships; and there they gained a very large booty,
and amongst other things the standard called Raven; for they say that
the three sisters of Hingwar and Hubba, daughters of Lodobroch, wove
that flag and got it ready in one day. They say, moreover, that in every
battle, wherever that flag went before them, if they were to gain the
victory a live crow would appear flying on the middle of the flag; but
if they were doomed to be defeated it would hang down motionless, and
this was often proved to be so.

The same year, after Easter, king Alfred, with a few followers, made for
himself a stronghold in a place called Athelney, and from thence sallied
with his vassals and the nobles of Somersetshire, to make frequent
assaults upon the pagans. Also, in the seventh week after Easter, he
rode to the stone of Egbert,[116] which is in the eastern part of the
wood which is called Selwood,[117] which means in Latin Silva Magna, the
Great Wood, but in British Coit-mawr. Here he was met by all the
neighbouring folk of Somersetshire, and Wiltshire, and Hampshire, who
had not, for fear of the pagans, fled beyond the sea; and when they saw
the king alive after such great tribulation, they received him, as he
deserved, with joy and acclamations, and encamped there for one night.
When the following day dawned, the king struck his camp, and went to
Okely,[118] where he encamped for one night. The next morning he removed
to Edington, and there fought bravely and perseveringly against all the
army of the pagans, whom, with the divine help, he defeated with great
slaughter, and pursued them flying to their fortification. Immediately
he slew all the men, and carried off all the booty that he could find
without the fortress, which he immediately laid siege to with all his
army; and when he had been there fourteen days, the pagans, driven by
famine, cold, fear, and last of all by despair, asked for peace, on the
condition that they should give the king as many hostages as he pleased,
but should receive none of him in return, in which form they had never
before made a treaty with any one. The king, hearing that, took pity
upon them, and received such hostages as he chose; after which the
pagans swore, moreover, that they would immediately leave the kingdom;
and their king, Gothrun, promised to embrace Christianity, and receive
baptism at king Alfred's hands. All of which articles he and his men
fulfilled as they had promised. For after seven weeks Gothrun, king of
the pagans, with thirty men chosen from the army, came to Alfred at a
place called Aller, near Athelney, and there king Alfred, receiving him
as his son by adoption, raised him up from the holy laver of baptism on
the eighth day, at a royal villa named Wedmore,[119] where the holy
chrism was poured upon him.[120] After his baptism he remained twelve
nights with the king, who, with all his nobles, gave him many fine

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 879, which was the thirty-first of
king Alfred, the aforesaid army of pagans leaving Chippenham, as they
had promised, went to Cirencester, which is called in British _Cair
Cori_, and is situate in the southern part of the Wiccii,[121] and there
they remained one year.

In the same year, a large army of pagans sailed from foreign parts into
the river Thames, and joined the army which was already in the country.
They wintered at Fulham near the river Thames.

In the same year an eclipse of the sun took place, between three o'clock
and the evening, but nearer to three o'clock.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 880, which was the thirty-second
of king Alfred, the above-named army of pagans left Cirencester, and
went among the East Angles, where they divided out the country and began
to settle.

The same year the army of pagans, which had wintered at Fulham, left the
island of Britain, and sailed over the sea to the eastern part of
France, where they remained a year at a place called Ghent.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 881, which was the thirty-third
of king Alfred's life, the aforesaid army went higher up into France;
and the French fought against them; and after the battle the pagans
obtained horses and became an army of cavalry.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 882, the thirty-fourth of king
Alfred's life, the above-named army steered their ships up into France
by a river called the Mese [Meuse] and there wintered one year.

In the same year Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, fought a battle by
sea against the pagan fleet, of which he captured two ships, having
slain all who were on board; and the two commanders of two other ships,
with all their crews, distressed by the battle and the wounds which they
had received, laid down their arms and submitted to the king.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 883, which was the thirty-fifth of
king Alfred's life, the aforesaid army went up the river called Scald
[Scheldt] to a convent of nuns called Cundoht [Condé] and there remained
a year.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 884, which was the thirty-sixth of
king Alfred's life, the aforesaid army divided into two parts; one body
of them went into East France, and the other coming to Britain entered
Kent, where they besieged a city called in Saxon Rochester, and situated
on the eastern bank of the river Medway. Before the gate of the town the
pagans suddenly erected a strong fortress, but yet they were unable to
take the city, because the citizens defended themselves bravely, until
king Alfred came up to help them with a large army. Then the pagans
abandoned their fortress, and all their horses which they had brought
with them out of France, and leaving behind them in the fortress the
greater part of their prisoners, on the arrival of the king, fled
immediately to their ships, and the Saxons immediately seized on the
prisoners and horses left by the pagans; and so the pagans, compelled by
stern necessity, returned the same summer to France.

In the same year Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, led his fleet, full
of fighting men, out of Kent to the country of the East Angles, for the
sake of plunder;[122] and, when they had arrived at the mouth of the
river Stour,[123] immediately thirteen ships of the pagans met them,
prepared for battle; a fierce fight ensued, and all the pagans, after a
brave resistance, were slain; all the ships, with all their money, were
taken. After this, while the royal fleet were reposing, the pagans, who
lived in the eastern part of England, assembled their ships, met the
same royal fleet at sea in the mouth of the same river, and, after a
naval battle, the pagans gained the victory.

In the same year, also, Carloman, king of the Western Franks, whilst
hunting a wild boar, was miserably killed by a large animal of that
species, which inflicted a dreadful wound on him with its tusk. His
brother Louis [III], who had also been king of the Franks, died the year
before. These two brothers were sons of Louis, king of the Franks, who
had died in the year above-mentioned, in which the eclipse of the sun
took place; and it was he whose daughter Judith was given by her
father's wish in marriage to Ethelwulf, king of the West Saxons.

In the same year also a great army of the pagans came from Germany into
the country of the ancient Saxons, which is called in Saxon
Ealdseaxum.[124] To oppose them the said Saxons and Frisons joined their
forces, and fought bravely twice in that same year. In both those
battles the Christians, with the merciful aid of the Lord, obtained the

In the same year also, Charles, king of the Almains, received, with
universal consent, all the territories which lie between the Tyrrhenian
sea and that gulf which runs between the old Saxons and the Gauls,
except the kingdom of Armorica, i.e. Lesser Britain. This Charles was
the son of king Louis, who was brother of Charles, king of the Franks,
father of the aforesaid queen Judith; these two brothers were sons of
Louis, but Louis was the son of the great, the ancient, and wise
Charlemagne, who was the son of Pepin.

In the same year pope Martin, of blessed memory, went the way of all
flesh; it was he who, in regard for Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons,
and at his request, freed the school of the Anglo-Saxons resident at
Rome from all tribute and tax. He also sent many gifts on that occasion,
among which was no small portion of the holy and venerable cross on
which our Lord Jesus Christ was suspended, for the general salvation of

In the same year also the army of pagans, which dwelt among the East
Angles, disgracefully broke the peace which they had concluded with king

Wherefore, to return to that from which I digressed, that I may not be
compelled by my long navigation to abandon the port of rest which I was
making for, I propose, as far as my knowledge will enable me, to speak
of the life and character and just conduct of my lord Alfred, king of
the Anglo-Saxons, after he married the above-named respected lady of
Mercian race, his wife; and, with God's blessing, I will despatch it
succinctly and briefly, as I promised, that I may not offend the
delicate minds of my readers by prolixity in relating each new event.

His nuptials were honourably celebrated in Mercia, among innumerable
multitudes of people of both sexes; and after continual feasts, both by
night and by day, he was immediately seized, in presence of all the
people, by sudden and overwhelming pain, as yet unknown to all the
physicians; for it was unknown to all who were then present, and even to
those who daily see him up to the present time,--which, sad to say! is
the worst of all, that he should have protracted it so long from the
twentieth to the fortieth year of his life, and even more than that
through the space of so many years,--from what cause so great a malady
arose. For many thought that this was occasioned by the favour and
fascination of the people who surrounded him; others, by some spite of
the devil, who is ever jealous of the good; others, from an unusual kind
of fever. He had this sort of severe disease from his childhood; but
once, divine Providence so ordered it, that when he was on a visit to
Cornwall for the sake of hunting, and had turned out of the road to pray
in a certain chapel, in which rests the body of Saint Guerir,[125] and
now also St. Neot[126] rests there,--for king Alfred was always from his
infancy a frequent visitor of holy places for the sake of prayer and
almsgiving,--he prostrated himself for private devotion, and, after some
time spent therein, he entreated of God's mercy, that in his boundless
clemency he would exchange the torments of the malady which then
afflicted him for some other lighter disease; but with this condition,
that such disease should not show itself outwardly in his body, lest he
should be an object of contempt, and less able to benefit mankind; for
he had great dread of leprosy or blindness, or any such complaint, as
makes men useless or contemptible when it afflicts them. When he had
finished his prayers, he proceeded on his journey, and not long after he
felt within him that by the hand of the Almighty he was healed,
according to his request, of his disorder, and that it was entirely
eradicated, although he had first had even this complaint in the flower
of his youth, by his devout and pious prayers and supplications to
Almighty God. For if I may be allowed to speak briefly, but in a
somewhat preposterous order, of his zealous piety to God, in the flower
of his youth, before he entered the marriage state, he wished to
strengthen his mind in the observance of God's commandments, for he
perceived that he could with difficulty abstain from gratifying his
carnal desires; and, because he feared the anger of God, if he should do
anything contrary to his will, he used often to rise in the morning at
the cock-crow, and go to pray in the churches and at the relics of the
saints. There he prostrated himself on the ground, and prayed that God
in his mercy would strengthen his mind still more in his service by some
infirmity such as he might bear, but not such as would render him
imbecile and contemptible in his worldly duties; and when he had often
prayed with much devotion to this effect, after an interval of some
time, Providence vouchsafed to afflict him with the above-named disease,
which he bore long and painfully for many years, and even despaired of
life, until he entirely got rid of it by his prayers; but, sad to say!
it was replaced, as we have said, at his marriage by another which
incessantly tormented him, night and day, from the twentieth to the
forty-fourth year of his life. But if ever, by God's mercy, he was
relieved from this infirmity for a single day or night, yet the fear and
dread of that dreadful malady never left him, but rendered him almost
useless, as he thought, for every duty, whether human or divine.

The sons and daughters, which he had by his wife above mentioned were
Ethelfled the eldest, after whom came Edward, then Ethelgiva, then
Ethelswitha, and Ethelwerd, besides those who died in their infancy, one
of whom was Edmund. Ethelfled, when she arrived at a marriageable age,
was united to Ethered, earl of Mercia; Ethelgiva also was dedicated to
God, and submitted to the rules of a monastic life. Ethelwerd the
youngest, by the divine counsels and the admirable prudence of the king,
was consigned to the schools of learning, where, with the children of
almost all the nobility of the country, and many also who were not
noble, he prospered under the diligent care of his teachers. Books in
both languages, namely, Latin and Saxon, were both read in the school.
They also learned to write; so that before they were of an age to
practice manly arts, namely, hunting and such pursuits as befit
noblemen, they became studious and clever in the liberal arts. Edward
and Ethelswitha were bred up in the king's court and received great
attention from their attendants and nurses; nay, they continue to this
day, with the love of all about them, and showing affability, and even
gentleness towards all, both natives and foreigners, and in complete
subjection to their father; nor, among their other studies which
appertain to this life and are fit for noble youths, are they suffered
to pass their time idly and unprofitably without learning the liberal
arts; for they have carefully learned the Psalms and Saxon books,
especially the Saxon poems, and are continually in the habit of making
use of books.

In the meantime, the king, during the frequent wars and other trammels
of this present life, the invasions of the pagans, and his own daily
infirmities of body, continued to carry on the government, and to
exercise hunting in all its branches; to teach his workers in gold and
artificers of all kinds, his falconers, hawkers and dog-keepers; to
build houses, majestic and good, beyond all the precedents of his
ancestors, by his new mechanical inventions; to recite the Saxon books,
and especially to learn by heart the Saxon poems, and to make others
learn them; and he alone never desisted from studying, most diligently,
to the best of his ability; he attended the mass and other daily
services of religion; he was frequent in psalm-singing and prayer, at
the hours both of the day and the night. He also went to the churches,
as we have already said, in the night-time to pray, secretly, and
unknown to his courtiers; he bestowed alms and largesses on both
natives and foreigners of all countries; he was affable and pleasant to
all, and curiously eager to investigate things unknown. Many Franks,
Frisons, Gauls, pagans, Britons, Scots, and Armoricans, noble and
ignoble, submitted voluntarily to his dominion; and all of them,
according to their nation and deserving, were ruled, loved, honoured,
and enriched with money and power. Moreover, the king was in the habit
of hearing the divine scriptures read by his own countrymen, or, if by
any chance it so happened, in company with foreigners, and he attended
to it with sedulity and solicitude. His bishops, too, and all
ecclesiastics, his earls and nobles, ministers and friends, were loved
by him with wonderful affection, and their sons, who were bred up in the
royal household, were no less dear to him than his own; he had them
instructed in all kinds of good morals, and among other things, never
ceased to teach them letters night and day; but as if he had no
consolation in all these things, and suffered no other annoyance either
from within or without, yet he was harassed by daily and nightly
affliction, that he complained to God, and to all who were admitted to
his familiar love, that Almighty God had made him ignorant of divine
wisdom, and of the liberal arts; in this emulating the pious, the wise,
and wealthy Solomon, king of the Hebrews, who at first, despising all
present glory and riches, asked wisdom of God, and found both, namely,
wisdom and worldly glory; as it is written, "Seek first the kingdom of
God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto
you." But God, who is always the inspector of the thoughts of the mind
within, and the instigator of all good intentions, and a most plentiful
aider, that good desires may be formed,--for he would not instigate a
man to good intentions, unless he also amply supplied that which the man
justly and properly wishes to have,--instigated the king's mind within;
as it is written, "I will hearken what the Lord God will say concerning
me." He would avail himself of every opportunity to procure coadjutors
in his good designs, to aid him in his strivings after wisdom, that he
might attain to what he aimed at; and, like a prudent bird, which rising
in summer with the early morning from her beloved nest, steers her rapid
flight through the uncertain tracks of ether, and descends on the
manifold and varied flowers of grasses, herbs, and shrubs, essaying that
which pleases most, that she may bear it to her home, so did he direct
his eyes afar, and seek without, that which he had not within, namely,
in his own kingdom.

But God at that time, as some consolation to the king's benevolence,
yielding to his complaint, sent certain lights to illuminate him,
namely, Werefrith, bishop of the church of Worcester, a man well versed
in divine scripture, who, by the king's command, first turned the books
of the Dialogues of pope Gregory and Peter, his disciple, from Latin
into Saxon, and sometimes putting sense for sense, interpreted them with
clearness and elegance. After him was Plegmund, a Mercian by birth,
archbishop of the church of Canterbury, a venerable man, and endowed
with wisdom; Ethelstan also, and Werewulf, his priests and chaplains,
Mercians by birth, and erudite. These four had been invited out of
Mercia by king Alfred, who exalted them with many honours and powers in
the kingdom of the West-Saxons, besides the privileges which archbishop
Plegmund and bishop Werefrith enjoyed in Mercia. By their teaching and
wisdom the king's desires increased unceasingly, and were gratified.
Night and day, whenever he had leisure, he commanded such men as these
to read books to him; for he never suffered himself to be without one of
them, wherefore he possessed a knowledge of every book, though of
himself he could not yet understand anything of books, for he had not
yet learned to read any thing.

But the king's commendable avarice could not be gratified even in this;
wherefore he sent messengers beyond the sea to Gaul, to procure
teachers, and he invited from thence Grimbald,[127] priest and monk, a
venerable man, and good singer, adorned with every kind of
ecclesiastical discipline and good morals, and most learned in holy
scripture. He also obtained from thence John,[128] also priest and monk,
a man of most energetic talents, and learned in all kinds of literary
science, and skilled in many other arts. By the teaching of these men
the king's mind was much enlarged, and he enriched and honoured them
with much influence.

In these times, I also came into Saxony out of the furthest coasts of
Western Britain; and when I had proposed to go to him through many
intervening provinces, I arrived in the country of the Saxons, who live
on the right hand, which in Saxon is called Sussex, under the guidance
of some of that nation; and there I first saw him in the royal vill,
which is called Dene.[129] He received me with kindness, and among other
familiar conversation, he asked me eagerly to devote myself to his
service and become his friend, to leave every thing which I possessed on
the left, or western bank of the Severn, and he promised he would give
more than an equivalent for it in his own dominions. I replied that I
could not incautiously and rashly promise such things; for it seemed to
me unjust, that I should leave those sacred places in which I had been
bred, educated, and crowned,[130] and at last ordained, for the sake of
any earthly honour and power, unless by compulsion. Upon this, he said,
"If you cannot accede to this, at least, let me have your service in
part: spend six months of the year with me here, and the other six in
Britain." To this, I replied, "I could not even promise that easily or
hastily without the advice of my friends." At length, however, when I
perceived that he was anxious for my services, though I knew not why, I
promised him that, if my life was spared, I would return to him after
six months, with such a reply as should be agreeable to him as well as
advantageous to me and mine. With this answer he was satisfied, and when
I had given him a pledge to return at the appointed time, on the fourth
day we left him and returned on horseback towards our own country.

After our departure, a violent fever seized me in the city of
Winchester, where I lay for twelve months and one week, night and day,
without hope of recovery. At the appointed time, therefore, I could not
fulfil my promise of visiting him, and he sent messengers to hasten my
journey, and to inquire the cause of my delay. As I was unable to ride
to him, I sent a second messenger to tell him the cause of my delay, and
assure him that, if I recovered from my infirmity, I would fulfil what I
had promised. My complaint left me, and by the advice and consent of all
my friends, for the benefit of that holy place, and of all who dwelt
therein, I did as I had promised to the king, and devoted myself to his
service, on the condition that I should remain with him six months in
every year, either continuously, if I could spend six months with him at
once, or alternately, three months in Britain and three in Saxony.[131]
For my friends hoped that they should sustain less tribulation and harm
from king Hemeid.[132] who often plundered that monastery and the parish
of St. Deguus,[133] and sometimes expelled the prelates, as they
expelled archbishop Novis,[134] my relation, and myself; if in any
manner I could secure the notice and friendship of the king.

At that time, and long before, all the countries on the right hand side
of Britain belonged to king Alfred and still belong to him. For
instance, king Hemeid, with all the inhabitants of the region of
Demetia, compelled by the violence of the six sons of Rotri, had
submitted to the dominion of the king. Howel also, son of Ris, king of
Gleguising, and Brocmail and Fernmail, sons of Mouric, kings of Gwent,
compelled by the violence and tyranny of earl Ethered and of the
Mercians, of their own accord sought king Alfred, that they might enjoy
his government and protection from him against their enemies. Helised,
also, son of Tendyr, king of Brecon, compelled by the force of the same
sons of Rotri, of his own accord sought the government of the aforesaid
king; and Anarawd, son of Rotri, with his brother, at length abandoning
the friendship of the Northumbrians, from which he received no good but
harm, came into king Alfred's presence and eagerly sought his
friendship. The king received him honourably, received him as his son by
confirmation from the bishop's hand, and presented him with many gifts.
Thus he became subject to the king with all his people, on the same
condition, that he should be obedient to the king's will in all
respects, in the same way as Ethered with the Mercians.

Nor was it in vain that all these princes gained the friendship of the
king. For those who desired to augment their worldly power, obtained
power; those who desired money, gained money; and in like way, those who
desired his friendship, or both money and friendship, succeeded in
getting what they wanted. But all of them gained his love and
guardianship and defence from every quarter, even as the king with his
men could protect himself.

When therefore I had come into his presence at the royal vill, called
Leonaford, I was honourably received by him, and remained that time with
him at his court eight months; during which I read to him whatever books
he liked, and such as he had at hand; for this is his most usual custom,
both night and day, amid his many other occupations of mind and body,
either himself to read books, or to listen whilst others read them. And
when I frequently asked his leave to depart, and could in no way obtain
it, at length when I had made up my mind by all means to demand it, he
called me to him at twilight, on Christmas eve, and gave me two letters,
in which was a long list of all the things which were in two
monasteries, called in Saxon, Ambresbury[135] and Banwell;[136] and on
that same day he delivered to me those two monasteries with all the
things that were in them, and a silken pall of great value, and a load
for a strong man, of incense, adding these words, that he did not give
me these trifling presents, because he was unwilling hereafter to give
me greater; for in the course of time he unexpectedly gave me Exeter,
with all the diocese which belonged to him in Saxony[137] and in
Cornwall, besides gifts every day, without number, in every kind of
worldly wealth, which it would be too long to enumerate here, lest they
should make my reader tired. But let no one suppose that I have
mentioned these presents in this place for the sake of glory or
flattery, or to obtain greater honour. I call God to witness, that I
have not done so; but that I might certify to those who are ignorant,
how profuse he is in giving. He then at once gave me permission to ride
to those two rich monasteries and afterwards to return to my own

In the year of our Lord's incarnation, 886, which was the thirty-eighth
since the birth of Alfred, the army so often before-mentioned again fled
the country, and went into the country of the Western Franks, directing
their ships to the river called the Seine, and sailed up it as far as
the city of Paris, and there they wintered and measured out their camp.
They besieged that city a whole year, as far as the bridge, that they
might prevent the inhabitants from making use of it; for the city is
situated on a small island in the middle of the river; but by the
merciful favour of God, and the brave defence of citizens, the army
could not force their way inside the walls.

In the same year, Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, after the burning of
cities and the slaying of the people, honourably rebuilt the city of
London, and made it again habitable. He gave it into the custody of his
son-in-law, Ethered, earl of Mercia, to which king all the Angles and
Saxons, who before had been dispersed everywhere, or were in captivity
with the pagans, voluntarily turned and submitted themselves to his
dominion. [138] [In the same year there arose a foul and deadly discord
at Oxford, between Grimbald, with those learned men whom he had brought
with him, and the old scholars whom he had found there, who, on his
arrival, refused altogether to embrace the laws, modes, and forms of
prælection instituted by the same Grimbald. During three years there had
been no great dissension between them, but there was a secret enmity,
which afterwards broke out with great atrocity, clearer than the light
itself. To appease this quarrel, that invincible king Alfred, having
been informed of the strife by a messenger from Grimbald, went to Oxford
to put an end to the controversy, and endured much trouble in hearing
the arguments and complaints which were brought forwards on both sides.
The substance of the dispute was this: the old scholars contended, that
literature had flourished at Oxford before the coming of Grimbald,
although the number of scholars was smaller than in ancient time,
because several had been driven away by the cruelty and tyranny of the
pagans. They also proved and showed, by the undoubted testimony of
ancient annals, that the orders and institutions of that place had been
sanctioned by certain pious and learned men, as for instance by Saint
Gildas, Melkinus, Nennius, Kentigern, and others, who had all grown old
there in literature, and happily administered everything there in peace
and concord; and also, that Saint Germanus had come to Oxford, and
stopped there half a year, at the time when he went through Britain to
preach against the Pelagian heresy; he wonderfully approved of the
customs and institutions above-mentioned. The king, with unheard-of
humility, listened to both sides carefully, and exhorted them again and
again with pious and wholesome admonitions to cherish mutual love and
concord. He therefore left them with this decision, that each party
should follow their own counsel, and preserve their own institutions.
Grimbald, displeased at this, immediately departed to the monastery at
Winchester,[139] which had been recently founded by king Alfred, and
ordered a tomb to be carried to Winchester, in which he proposed, after
this life, that his bones should be laid in the vault which had been
made under the chancel of St. Peter's church in Oxford; which church the
same Grimbald had built from its foundations, of stone polished with
great care.]

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 887, which was the thirty-ninth of
king Alfred's life, the above-mentioned army of the pagans, leaving the
city of Paris uninjured, because they could not succeed against it,
sailed up the river Seine under the bridge, until they reached the mouth
of the river Materne [Marne]; where they left the Seine, and, following
for a long time the course of the Marne, at length, but not without much
labour, they arrived at a place called Chezy, a royal vill, where they
wintered one year. In the following year they entered the mouth of the
river Ionna [Yonne], not without doing much damage to the country, and
there remained one year.

In the same year Charles, king of the Franks, went the way of all flesh;
but Arnulf, his brother's son, six weeks before he died, had expelled
him from his kingdom. After his death five kings were appointed, and the
kingdom was split into five parts; but the principal rank in the kingdom
justly and deservedly devolved on Arnulf, save only that he committed an
unworthy offence against his uncle. The other four kings promised
fidelity and obedience to Arnulf, as was proper; for none of these four
kings was hereditary on his father's side in his share of the kingdom,
as was Arnulf; therefore, though the five kings were appointed
immediately on the death of Charles, yet the empire remained in the
hands of Arnulf.

Such, then, was the division of the kingdom; Arnulf received the
countries on the east of the river Rhine; Rodulf the inner parts of the
kingdom; Oda the western part; Beorngar and Guido, Lombardy, and those
countries which are in that part of the mountains; but they did not keep
these large dominions in peace, for they twice fought a pitched battle,
and often mutually ravaged their kingdoms, and drove each other out of
their dominions.

In the same year in which that [pagan] army left Paris and went to
Chezy, Ethelhelm, earl of Wiltshire, carried to Rome the alms of king
Alfred and of the Saxons.

In the same year also Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, so often before
mentioned, by divine inspiration, began, on one and the same day, to
read and to interpret; but that I may explain this more fully to those
who are ignorant, I will relate the cause of this long delay in

On a certain day we were both of us sitting in the king's chamber,
talking on all kinds of subjects, as usual, and it happened that I read
to him a quotation out of a certain book. He heard it attentively with
both his ears, and addressed me with a thoughtful mind, showing me at
the same moment a book which he carried in his bosom, wherein the daily
courses and psalms, and prayers which he had read in his youth, were
written, and he commanded me to write the same quotation in that book.
Hearing this, and perceiving his ingenuous benevolence, and devout
desire of studying the words of divine wisdom, I gave, though in secret,
boundless thanks to Almighty God, who had implanted such a love of
wisdom in the king's heart. But I could not find any empty space in that
book wherein to write the quotation, for it was already full of various
matters; wherefore I made a little delay, principally that I might stir
up the bright intellect of the king to a higher acquaintance with the
divine testimonies. Upon his urging me to make haste and write it
quickly, I said to him, "Are you willing that I should write that
quotation on some leaf apart? For it is not certain whether we shall not
find one or more other such extracts which will please you; and if that
should so happen, we shall be glad that we have kept them apart." "Your
plan is good," said he, and I gladly made haste to get ready a sheet,
in the beginning of which I wrote what he bade me; and on that same day,
I wrote therein, as I had anticipated, no less than three other
quotations which pleased him; and from that time we daily talked
together, and found out other quotations which pleased him, so that the
sheet became full, and deservedly so; according as it is written, "The
just man builds upon a moderate foundation, and by degrees passes to
greater things." Thus, like a most productive bee, he flew here and
there, asking questions, as he went, until he had eagerly and
unceasingly collected many various flowers of divine Scriptures, with
which he thickly stored the cells of his mind.

Now when that first quotation was copied, he was eager at once to read,
and to interpret in Saxon, and then to teach others; even as we read of
that happy robber, who recognized his Lord, aye, the Lord of all men, as
he was hanging on the blessed cross, and, saluting him with his bodily
eyes only, because elsewhere he was all pierced with nails, cried,
"Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom!" for it was only
at the end of his life that he began to learn the rudiments of the
Christian faith. But the king, inspired by God, began to study the
rudiments of divine Scripture on the sacred solemnity of St. Martin
[Nov. 11], and he continued to learn the flowers collected by certain
masters, and to reduce them into the form of one book, as he was then
able, although mixed one with another, until it became almost as large
as a psalter. This book he called his ENCHIRIDION or MANUAL, because he
carefully kept it at hand day and night, and found, as he told me, no
small consolation therein.

But as has already been written by a certain wise man,

    "Of watchful minds are they whose pious care
    It is to govern well,"

so must I be watchful, in that I just now drew a kind of comparison or
similarity, though in dissimilar manner, between that happy robber and
the king; for the cross is hateful to every one, wherever there is
suffering. But what can he do, if he cannot save himself or escape
thence? or by what art can he remain there and improve his cause? He
must, therefore, whether he will or no, endure with pain and sorrow that
which he is suffering.

Now the king was pierced with many nails of tribulation, though placed
in the royal seat; for from the twentieth year of his age to the present
year, which is his fortieth,[140] he has been constantly afflicted with
most severe attacks of an unknown complaint, so that he has not a
moment's ease either from suffering the pain which it causes, or from
the gloom which is thrown over him by the apprehension of its coming.
Moreover, the constant invasions of foreign nations, by which he was
continually harassed by land and sea, without any interval of quiet,
were a just cause of disquiet. What shall I say of his repeated
expeditions against the pagans, his wars, and incessant occupations of
government? Of the daily embassies sent to him by foreign nations, from
the Tyrrhenian sea to the farthest end of Ireland?[141] For we have seen
and read letters, accompanied with presents, which were sent to him by
Abel the patriarch of Jerusalem. What shall I say of the cities and
towns which he restored, and of others which he built, where none had
been before? of the royal halls and chambers, wonderfully erected by his
command, with stone and wood? of the royal vills constructed of stone,
removed from their old site, and handsomely rebuilt by the king's
command in more fitting places? Besides the disease above-mentioned, he
was disturbed by the quarrels of his friends, who would voluntarily
endure little or no toil, though it was for the common necessity of the
kingdom; but he alone, sustained by the divine aid, like a skilful
pilot, strove to steer his ship, laden with much wealth, into the safe
and much desired harbour of his country, though almost all his crew were
tired, and suffered them not to faint or hesitate, though sailing amid
the manifold waves and eddies of this present life.

For all his bishops, earls, nobles, favourite ministers, and prefects,
who, next to God and the king, had the whole government of the kingdom,
as is fitting, continually received from him instruction, respect,
exhortation, and command; nay, at last, when they were disobedient, and
his long patience was exhausted, he would reprove them severely, and
censure at pleasure their vulgar folly and obstinacy; and in this way he
directed their attention to the common interests of the kingdom. But,
owing to the sluggishness of the people, these admonitions of the king
were either not fulfilled, or were begun late at the moment of
necessity, and so ended less to the advantage of those who put them in
execution; for I will say nothing of the castles which he ordered to be
built, but which, being begun late, were never finished, because the
hostile troops broke in upon them by land and sea, and, as often
happened, the thwarters of the royal ordinances repented when it was too
late, and blushed at their non-performance of his commands. I speak of
repentance when it is too late, on the testimony of Scripture, whereby
numberless persons have had cause for too much sorrow when many
insidious evils have been wrought. But though by these means, sad to
say, they may be bitterly afflicted and roused to sorrow by the loss of
fathers, wives, children, ministers, servant-men, servant-maids, and
furniture and household stuff, what is the use of hateful repentance
when their kinsmen are dead, and they cannot aid them, or redeem those
who are captive from captivity? for they are not able even to assist
those who have escaped, as they have not wherewith to sustain even their
own lives. They repented, therefore, when it was too late, and grieved
at their incautious neglect of the king's commands, and they praised the
royal wisdom with one voice, and tried with all their power to fulfil
what they had before refused, namely, concerning the erection of
castles, and other things generally useful to the whole kingdom.

Of his fixed purpose of holy meditation, which, in the midst of
prosperity and adversity he never neglected, I cannot with advantage now
omit to speak. For, whereas he often thought of the necessities of his
soul, among the other good deeds to which his thoughts were night and
day turned, he ordered that two monasteries should be built, one for
monks at Athelney, which is a place surrounded by impassable marshes and
rivers, where no one can enter but by boats, or by a bridge laboriously
constructed between two other heights; at the western end of which
bridge was erected a strong tower, of beautiful work, by command of the
aforesaid king; and in this monastery he collected monks of all kinds,
from every quarter, and placed them therein.

For at first, because he had no one of his own nation, noble and free by
birth, who was willing to enter the monastic life, except children, who
could neither choose good nor avoid evil in consequence of their tender
years, because for many previous years the love of a monastic life had
utterly decayed from that nation as well as from many other nations,
though many monasteries still remain in that country; yet, as no one
directed the rule of that kind of life in a regular way, for what reason
I cannot say, either from the invasions of foreigners which took place
so frequently both by sea and land, or because that people abounded in
riches of every kind, and so looked with contempt on the monastic life.
It was for this reason that king Alfred sought to gather monks of
different kinds to place in the same monastery.

First he placed there as abbat, John[142] the priest and monk, an old
Saxon by birth, then certain priests and deacons from beyond the sea; of
whom, finding that he had not as large a number as he wished, he
procured as many as possible of the same Gallic race, some of whom,
being children, he ordered to be taught in the same monastery, and at a
later period to be admitted to the monastic habit. I have myself seen a
young lad of pagan birth who was educated in that monastery, and by no
means the hindmost of them all.

There was also a deed done once in that monastery, which I would utterly
consign to oblivion, although it is an unworthy deed; for throughout the
whole of Scripture the base deeds of the wicked are interspersed among
the blessed deeds of the just, as tares and darnel are sown among the
wheat: good deeds are recorded that they may be praised and imitated,
and that their imitators may be held in all honour; wicked deeds are
there related, that they may be censured and avoided, and their
imitators be reproved with all odium, contempt, and vengeance.

For once upon a time, a certain priest and a deacon, Gauls by birth, and
two of the aforesaid monks, by the instigation of the devil, and excited
by some secret jealousy, became so embittered in secret against their
abbat, the above mentioned John, that, like Jews, they circumvented and
betrayed their master. For whereas he had two servants, whom he had
hired out of Gaul, they taught these such wicked practices, that in the
night, when all men were enjoying the sweet tranquillity of sleep, they
should make their way into the church armed, and shutting it behind them
as usual, hide themselves therein, and wait for the moment when the
abbat should enter the church alone. At length, when he should come
alone to pray, and, bending his knees, bow before the holy altar, the
men should rush on him with hostility, and try to slay him on the spot.
They then should drag his lifeless body out of the church, and throw it
down before the house of a certain harlot, as if he had been slain
whilst on a visit to her. This was their machination, adding crime to
crime, as it is said, "The last error shall be worse than the first."

But the divine mercy, which always delights to aid the innocent,
frustrated in great part the wicked design of the wicked men, so that it
should not turn out in every respect as they had proposed.

When, therefore, the whole of the evil counsel had been explained by
those wicked teachers to their wicked agents, and the night which had
been fixed on as most fit was come, the two armed ruffians were placed,
with a promise of impunity, to await in the church for the arrival of
the abbat. In the middle of the night John, as usual, entered the church
to pray, without any one's knowing of it, and knelt before the altar.
The two ruffians rushed upon him with drawn swords, and dealt him some
severe wounds. But he, being a man of a brave mind, and, as we have
heard say, not unacquainted with the art of self-defence, if he had not
been a follower of a better calling, no sooner heard the sound of the
robbers, before he saw them, than he rose up against them before he was
wounded, and, shouting as loud as he could, struggled against them,
crying out that they were devils and not men; for he himself knew no
better, as he thought that no men would dare to attempt such a deed. He
was, however, wounded before any of his people could come to his help.
His attendants, roused by the noise, were frightened when they heard the
word devils, and both those two who, like Jews, sought to betray their
master, and the others who knew nothing of the matter, rushed together
to the doors of the church; but before they got there those ruffians
escaped, leaving the abbat half dead. The monks raised the old man, in a
fainting condition, and carried him home with tears and lamentations;
nor did those two deceitful monks shed tears less than the innocent. But
God's mercy did not allow so bold a deed to pass unpunished; the
ruffians who perpetrated it, and all who urged them to it, were taken
and put in prison, where, by various tortures, they came to a
disgraceful end. Let us now return to our narrative.

Another monastery, also, was built by the same king as a residence for
nuns, near the eastern gate of Shaftesbury; and his own daughter,
Ethelgiva, was placed in it as abbess. With her many other noble ladies
bound by the rules of the monastic life, dwell in that monastery. These
two edifices were enriched by the king with much land, as well as
personal property.

These things being thus disposed of, the king began, as was his
practice, to consider within himself, what more he could do to augment
and show forth his piety; what he had begun wisely, and thoughtfully
conceived for the public benefit, was adhered to with equally beneficial
result; for he had heard it out of the book of the law, that the Lord
had promised to restore to him tenfold; and he knew that the Lord had
kept his promise, and had actually restored to him tenfold. Encouraged
by this example, and wishing to exceed the practices of his
predecessors, he vowed humbly and faithfully to devote to God half his
services, both day and night, and also half of all his wealth, such as
lawfully and justly came annually into his possession; and this vow, as
far as human discretion can perceive and keep, he skilfully and wisely
endeavoured to fulfil. But, that he might, with his usual caution, avoid
that which scripture warns us against: "If you offer aright, but do not
divide aright, you sin," he considered how he might divide aright that
which he had vowed to God; and as Solomon had said, "The heart of the
king is in the hand of God," that is, his counsel he ordered with wise
policy, which could come only from above, that his officers should first
divide into two parts the revenues of every year.

When this division was made, he assigned the first part to worldly uses,
and ordered that one-third of it should be paid to his soldiers, and
also to his ministers, the nobles who dwelt at court where they
discharged divers duties; for so the king's family was arranged at all
times into three classes. The king's attendants were most wisely
distributed into three companies, so that the first company should be on
duty at court for one month, night and day, at the end of which they
returned to their homes, and were relieved by the second company. At
the end of the second month, in the same way, the third company relieved
the second, who returned to their homes, where they spent two months,
until their services were again wanted. The third company also gave
place to the first in the same way, and also spent two months at home.
Thus was the threefold division of the companies arranged at all times
in the royal household.

To these therefore was paid the first of the three portions aforesaid,
to each according to their respective dignities and peculiar services;
the second to the operatives, whom he had collected from every nation,
and had about him in large numbers, men skilled in every kind of
construction; the third portion was assigned to foreigners who came to
him out of every nation far and near, whether they asked money of him or
not, he cheerfully gave to each with wonderful munificence according to
their respective merits, according to what is written: "God loveth a
cheerful giver."

But the second part of all his revenues, which came yearly into his
possession, and was included in the receipts of the exchequer, as we
mentioned a little before, he, with ready devotion, gave to God,
ordering his ministers to divide it carefully into four parts, on the
condition that the first part should be discreetly bestowed on the poor
of every nation who came to him; and on this subject he said that, as
far as human discretion could guarantee, the remark of pope St. Gregory
should be followed: "Give not much to whom you should give little, nor
little to whom much, nor something to whom nothing, nor nothing to whom
something." The second of the four portions was given to the two
monasteries which he had built, and to those who therein had dedicated
themselves to God's service, as we have mentioned above. The third
portion was assigned to the school, which he had studiously collected
together, consisting of many of the nobility of his own nation. The
fourth portion was for the use of all the neighbouring monasteries in
all Saxony and Mercia, and also during some years, in turn, to the
churches and servants of God dwelling in Britain [Wales], Cornwall,
Gaul, Armorica, Northumbria, and sometimes also in Ireland; according to
his means, he either distributed to them beforehand, or afterwards, if
life and success should not fail him.

When the king had arranged these matters, he remembered that sentence of
divine scripture, "Whosoever will give alms, ought to begin from
himself," and prudently began to reflect what he could offer to God from
the service of his body and mind; for he proposed to consecrate to God
no less out of this than he had done of things external to himself.
Moreover, he promised, as far as his infirmity and his means would
allow, to give up to God the half of his services, bodily and mental, by
night and by day, voluntarily, and with all his might; but, inasmuch as
he could not equally distinguish the lengths of the hours by night, on
account of the darkness, and ofttimes of the day, on account of the
storms and clouds, he began to consider, by what means and without any
difficulty, relying on the mercy of God, he might discharge the promised
tenor of his vow until his death.

After long reflection on these things, he at length, by a useful and
shrewd invention, commanded his chaplains to supply wax in a sufficient
quantity, and he caused it to be weighed in such a manner that when
there was so much of it in the scales, as would equal the weight of
seventy-two pence,[143] he caused the chaplains to make six candles
thereof, each of equal length, so that each candle might have twelve
divisions[144] marked longitudinally upon it. By this plan, therefore,
those six candles burned for twenty-four hours, a night and day, without
fail, before the sacred relics of many of God's elect, which always
accompanied him wherever he went; but sometimes when they would not
continue burning a whole day and night, till the same hour that they
were lighted the preceding evening, from the violence of the wind, which
blew day and night without intermission through the doors and windows of
the churches, the fissures of the divisions, the plankings, or the wall,
or the thin canvass of the tents, they then unavoidably burned out and
finished their course before the appointed time; the king therefore
considered by what means he might shut out the wind, and so by a useful
and cunning invention, he ordered a lantern to be beautifully
constructed of wood and white ox-horn, which, when skilfully planed till
it is thin, is no less transparent than a vessel of glass. This lantern,
therefore, was wonderfully made of wood and horn, as we before said, and
by night a candle was put into it, which shone as brightly without as
within, and was not extinguished by the wind; for the opening of the
lantern was also closed up, according to the king's command, by a door
made of horn.

By this contrivance, then, six candles, lighted in succession, lasted
four and twenty hours, neither more nor less, and, when these were
extinguished, others were lighted.

When all these things were properly arranged, the king, eager to give up
to God the half of his daily service, as he had vowed, and more also, if
his ability on the one hand, and his malady on the other, would allow
him, showed himself a minute investigator of the truth in all his
judgments, and this especially for the sake of the poor, to whose
interest, day and night, among other duties of this life, he ever was
wonderfully attentive. For in the whole kingdom the poor, besides him,
had few or no protectors; for all the powerful and noble of that country
had turned their thoughts rather to secular than to heavenly things:
each was more bent on secular matters, to his own profit, than on the
public good.

He strove also, in his own judgments, for the benefit of both the noble
and the ignoble, who often perversely quarrelled at the meetings of his
earls and officers, so that hardly one of them admitted the justice of
what had been decided by the earls and prefects, and in consequence of
this pertinacious and obstinate dissension, all desired to have the
judgment of the king, and both sides sought at once to gratify their
desire. But if any one was conscious of injustice on his side in the
suit, though by law and agreement he was compelled, however reluctant,
to go before the king, yet with his own good will he never would consent
to go. For he knew, that in the king's presence no part of his wrong
would be hidden; and no wonder, for the king was a most acute
investigator in passing sentence, as he was in all other things. He
inquired into almost all the judgments which were given in his own
absence, throughout all his dominion, whether they were just or unjust.
If he perceived there was iniquity in those judgments, he summoned the
judges, either through his own agency, or through others of his faithful
servants, and asked them mildly, why they had judged so unjustly;
whether through ignorance or malevolence; i.e., whether for the love or
fear of any one, or hatred of others; or also for the desire of money.
At length, if the judges acknowledged they had given judgment because
they knew no better, he discreetly and moderately reproved their
inexperience and folly in such terms as these: "I wonder truly at your
insolence, that, whereas by God's favour and mine, you have occupied the
rank and office of the wise, you have neglected the studies and labours
of the wise. Either, therefore, at once give up the discharge of the
temporal duties which you hold, or endeavour more zealously to study the
lessons of wisdom. Such are my commands." At these words the earls and
prefects would tremble and endeavour to turn all their thoughts to the
study of justice, so that, wonderful to say, almost all his earls,
prefects, and officers, though unlearned from their cradles, were
sedulously bent upon acquiring learning, choosing rather laboriously to
acquire the knowledge of a new discipline than to resign their
functions; but if any one of them from old age or slowness of talent was
unable to make progress in liberal studies, he commanded his son, if he
had one, or one of his kinsmen, or, if there was no other person to be
had, his own freedman or servant, whom he had some time before advanced
to the office of reading, to recite Saxon books before him night and
day, whenever he had any leisure, and they lamented with deep sighs, in
their inmost hearts, that in their youth they had never attended to such
studies; and they blessed the young men of our days, who happily could
be instructed in the liberal arts, whilst they execrated their own lot,
that they had not learned these things in their youth, and now, when
they are old, though wishing to learn them, they are unable. But this
skill of young and old in acquiring letters, we have explained to the
knowledge of the aforesaid king.[145]


[Footnote 86: Wantage.]

[Footnote 87: The Gewissæ, generally understood to be the West-Saxons.]

[Footnote 88: Carisbrooke, as may be conjectured from the name, which is
a combination of Wight and Caraburgh.]

[Footnote 89: Wembury.]

[Footnote 90: Minster.]

[Footnote 91: Canterbury.]

[Footnote 92: Ockley, in Surrey.]

[Footnote 93: This is one the few instances to be met with of the name
Britannia applied to Wales.]

[Footnote 94: Thanet.]

[Footnote 95: Wilts.]

[Footnote 96: Offa's dyke, between Wales and England.]

[Footnote 97: Ingram supposes this to be Stonehenge. Stæningham,
however, is the common reading, which Camden thinks is Steyning, in
Sussex. The Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 855, states, that Ethelwulf was buried
at Winchester.]

[Footnote 98: We must understand this epithet as denoting his
mother-in-law, Judith, rather than his own mother, who was dead in A.D.
856, when Alfred was not yet seven years old. When his father brought
Judith from France Alfred was thirteen years old.]

[Footnote 99: This nobleman occurs as a witness [Mucil, dux] to many
Mercian charters, dated from A.D. 814 to 866.]

[Footnote 100: Inhabitants of Gainsborough.]

[Footnote 101: Englefield Green is about four miles from Windsor]

[Footnote 102: Aston, in Berkshire.]

[Footnote 103: Stratclyde Britons.]

[Footnote 104: Cambridge.]

[Footnote 105: The Frome.]

[Footnote 106: They swore oaths to Alfred on the holy ring, says the
Saxon Chronicle, p. 355. The most solemn manner of swearing among the
Danes and other northern nations was by their arms. Olaus Magnus, lib.
viii. c. 2.]

[Footnote 107: Exeter.]

[Footnote 108: It is necessary to inform the reader that many passages
of this work are modern interpolations, made in the old MS. by a later
hand. The "Annals" referred to in the text are supposed not to be a
genuine work of Asser.]

[Footnote 109: Swanwich, in Dorsetshire.]

[Footnote 110: This clause is a mere repetition of the preceding. See a
former note in this page.]

[Footnote 111: Athelney, a morass formed by the conflux of the Thone and
the Parret. See Saxon Chron. p. 356, and Chronicle of Ethelwerd, p 31.]

[Footnote 112: The original here is in Latin verse, and may therefore be
rendered into English verse, but such as every housewife in
Somersetshire would understand.]

[Footnote 113: Probably the sanguinary Hubba.]

[Footnote 114: Or South Wales.]

[Footnote 115: Kynwith castle stood on the river Taw. Camden, p. 35.]

[Footnote 116: Now called Brixton Deverill, in Wilts.]

[Footnote 117: Selwood Forest extended from Frome to Burham, and was
probably much larger at one time.]

[Footnote 118: Or Iglea. Supposed to be Leigh, now Westbury, Wilts.]

[Footnote 119: Wedmore is four miles and three quarters from Axbridge,
in Somersetshire.]

[Footnote 120: In the Saxon Chronicle (A.D. 878) it is said, that
Gothrun was baptized at Aller, and his _chrism-loosing_ was at Wedmore.
The _chrismal_ was a white linen cloth put on the head at the
administration of baptism, which was taken off at the expiration of
eight days.]

[Footnote 121: Inhabitants of Gloucester, Worcester, and part of

[Footnote 122: This expression paints in strong colours the unfortunate
and divided state of England at this period, for it shows that the Danes
had settled possession of parts of it. In fact, all traces of the
heptarchy, or ancient division of the island into provinces, did not
entirely disappear until some years after the Norman conquest.]

[Footnote 123: Not the river Stour, in Kent; but the Stour which divides
Essex from Suffolk. Lambard fixes the battle at Harwich haven.]

[Footnote 124: Or, Old Saxons.]

[Footnote 125: St. Guerir's church was at Ham Stoke, in Cornwall.]

[Footnote 126: An interesting account of St. Neot will be found in
Gorham's History And Antiquities of Eynesbury and St. Neot's.]

[Footnote 127: Grimbald was provost of St. Omer's.]

[Footnote 128: John had been connected with the monastery of Corbie.]

[Footnote 129: East Dene [or Dean] and West Dene are two villages near
Chichester. There are also other villages of the same name near East

[Footnote 130: This expression alludes to the tonsure, which was
undergone by those who became clerks. For a description of the
ecclesiastical tonsure see Bede's Eccles. Hist. p. 160]

[Footnote 131: The original Latin continues, "Et illa adjuvaretur per
rudimenta Sancti Degui in omni causa, tamen pro viribus," which I do not
understand, and therefore cannot translate.]

[Footnote 132: A petty prince of South Wales.]

[Footnote 133: Or St. Dewi. Probably by the _parish_ of St. Deguus is
meant the _diocese_ of St. David's. Hence it is said, that Alfred gave
to Asser the whole parish (omnis parochia) of Exeter.]

[Footnote 134: Archbishop of St. David's.]

[Footnote 135: Amesbury, in Wilts.]

[Footnote 136: In Somersetshire.]

[Footnote 137: Wessex.]

[Footnote 138: The whole of this paragraph concerning Oxford is thought
to be an interpolation, because it is not known to have existed in more
than one MS. copy.]

[Footnote 139: Hyde Abbey.]

[Footnote 140: This must consequently have been written in A.D. 888.]

[Footnote 141: Wise conjectures that we ought to read Hiberiæ, _Spain_,
and not Hiberniæ, _Ireland_, in this passage.]

[Footnote 142: Not the celebrated John Scotus Eregina.]

[Footnote 143: Denarii.]

[Footnote 144: Unciæ pollicis.]

[Footnote 145: Some of the MSS. record, in a note or appendix written by
a later hand, that king Alfred died on the 26th of October, A.D. 900, in
the thirtieth of his reign. "The different dates assigned to the death
of Alfred," says Sir Francis Palgrave, "afford a singular proof of the
uncertainty arising from various modes of computation. The Saxon
Chronicle and Florence of Worcester agree in placing the event in 901.
The first 'six nights before All Saints;' the last, with more precision,
'Indictione quarta, et Feria quarta, 5 Cal. Nov.' Simon of Durham, in
889, and the Saxon Chronicle, in another passage, in 900. The
concurrents of Florence of Worcester seem to afford the greatest
certainty, and the date of 901 has therefore been preferred."]





CHAP. I.--_The epistle dedicatory to Robert earl of Gloucester._[146]

Whilst occupied on many and various studies, I happened to light upon
the History of the Kings of Britain, and wondered that in the account
which Gildas and Bede, in their elegant treatises, had given of them, I
found nothing said of those kings who lived here before the Incarnation
of Christ, nor of Arthur, and many others who succeeded after the
Incarnation; though their actions both deserved immortal fame, and were
also celebrated by many people in a pleasant manner and by heart, as if
they had been written. Whilst I was intent upon these and such like
thoughts, Walter, archdeacon of Oxford,[147] a man of great eloquence,
and learned in foreign histories, offered me a very ancient book in the
British tongue, which, in a continued regular story and elegant style,
related the actions of them all, from Brutus the first king of the
Britons, down to Cadwallader the son of Cadwallo. At his request,
therefore, though I had not made fine language my study, by collecting
florid expressions from other authors, yet contented with my own homely
style, I undertook the translation of that book into Latin. For if I had
swelled the pages with rhetorical flourishes, I must have tired my
readers, by employing their attention more upon my words than upon the
history. To you, therefore, Robert earl of Gloucester, this work humbly
sues for the favour of being so corrected by your advice, that it may
not be thought to be the poor offspring of Geoffrey of Monmouth, but
when polished by your refined wit and judgment, the production of him
who had Henry the glorious king of England for his father, and whom we
see an accomplished scholar and philosopher, as well as a brave soldier
and expert commander; so that Britain with joy acknowledges, that in you
she possesses another Henry.


[Footnote 146: Robert, earl of Gloucester was the natural son of king
Henry I, by whose command he swore fealty to the empress Matilda,
daughter of that monarch. To prove his fidelity, he rebelled against
king Stephen, and mainly contributed to the success of Henry son of the
empress, afterwards Henry II.]

[Footnote 147: Thought to be Walter Mapes the poet, author of several
ludicrous and satirical compositions.]

CHAP. II.--_The first inhabitants of Britain._

Britain, the best of islands, is situated in the Western Ocean, between
France and Ireland, being eight hundred miles long, and two hundred
broad. It produces every thing that is useful to man, with a plenty that
never fails. It abounds with all kinds of metal, and has plains of large
extent, and hills fit for the finest tillage, the richness of whose soil
affords variety of fruits in their proper seasons. It has also forests
well stored with all kinds of wild beasts; in its lawns cattle find good
change of pasture, and bees variety of flowers for honey. Under its
lofty mountains lie green meadows pleasantly situated, in which the
gentle murmurs of crystal springs gliding along clear channels, give
those that pass an agreeable invitation to lie down on their banks and
slumber. It is likewise well watered with lakes and rivers abounding
with fish; and besides the narrow sea which is on the Southern coast
towards France, there are three noble rivers, stretching out like three
arms, namely, the Thames, the Severn, and the Humber; by which foreign
commodities from all countries are brought into it. It was formerly
adorned with eight and twenty cities,[148] of which some are in ruins
and desolate, others are still standing, beautified with lofty
church-towers, wherein religious worship is performed according to the
Christian institution. It is lastly inhabited by five different nations,
the Britons, Romans, Saxons, Picts, and Scots; whereof the Britons
before the rest did formerly possess the whole island from sea to sea,
till divine vengeance, punishing them for their pride, made them give
way to the Picts and Saxons. But in what manner, and from whence, they
first arrived here, remains now to be related in what follows.[149]


[Footnote 148: The names of thirty-three cities will be found in
Nennius's History of the Britons, § 7.]

[Footnote 149: This brief description of Britain is taken almost word
for word from the more authentic historians, Bede, Orosius, &c.]

CHAP. III.--_Brutus, being banished after the killing of his parents,
goes into Greece._

After the Trojan war, Æneas, flying with Ascanius from the destruction
of their city, sailed to Italy. There he was honourably received by king
Latinus, which raised against him the envy of Turnus, king of the
Rutuli, who thereupon made war against him. Upon their engaging in
battle, Æneas got the victory, and having killed Turnus, obtained the
kingdom of Italy, and with it Lavinia the daughter of Latinus. After his
death, Ascanius, succeeding in the kingdom, built Alba upon the Tiber,
and begat a son named Sylvius, who, in pursuit of a private amour, took
to wife a niece of Lavinia. The damsel soon after conceived, and the
father Ascanius, coming to the knowledge of it, commanded his magicians
to consult of what sex the child should be. When they had satisfied
themselves in the matter, they told him she would give birth to a boy,
who would kill his father and mother, and after travelling over many
countries in banishment, would at last arrive at the highest pitch of
glory. Nor were they mistaken in their prediction; for at the proper
time the woman brought forth a son, and died of his birth; but the child
was delivered to a nurse and called Brutus.

At length, after fifteen years were expired, the youth accompanied his
father in hunting, and killed him undesignedly by the shot of an arrow.
For, as the servants were driving up the deer towards them, Brutus, in
shooting at them, smote his father under the breast. Upon his death, he
was expelled from Italy, his kinsmen being enraged at him for so heinous
a deed. Thus banished he went into Greece, where he found the posterity
of Helenus, son of Priamus, kept in slavery by Pandrasus, king of the
Greeks. For, after the destruction of Troy, Pyrrhus, the son of
Achilles, had brought hither in chains Helenus and many others; and to
revenge on them the death of his father, had given command that they
should be held in captivity. Brutus, finding they were by descent his
old countrymen, took up his abode among them, and began to distinguish
himself by his conduct and bravery in war, so as to gain the affection
of kings and commanders, and above all the young men of the country. For
he was esteemed a person of great capacity both in council and war, and
signalized his generosity to his soldiers, by bestowing among them all
the money and spoil he got. His fame, therefore, spreading over all
countries, the Trojans from all parts began to flock to him, desiring
under his command to be freed from subjection to the Greeks; which they
assured him might easily be done, considering how much their number was
now increased in the country, being seven thousand strong, besides women
and children. There was likewise then in Greece a noble youth named
Assaracus, a favourer of their cause. For he was descended on his
mother's side from the Trojans, and placed great confidence in them,
that he might be able by their assistance to oppose the designs of the
Greeks. For his brother had a quarrel with him for attempting to deprive
him of three castles which his father had given him at his death, on
account of his being only the son of a concubine; but as the brother was
a Greek, both by his father's and mother's side, he had prevailed with
the king and the rest of the Greeks to espouse his cause. Brutus, having
taken a view of the number of his men, and seen how Assaracus's castles
lay open to him, complied with their request.[150]


[Footnote 150: It is unnecessary to remind the classical reader that the
historians of Greece and Italy make no mention of Brutus and his
adventures. The minuteness of detail, so remarkable in the whole story,
as related by Geoffrey, is an obvious objection to its authenticity.]

CHAP. IV.--_Brutus's letter to Pandrasus._

Being, therefore, chosen their commander, he assembled the Trojans from
all parts, and fortified the towns belonging to Assaracus. But he
himself, with Assaracus and the whole body of men and women that
adhered to him, retired to the woods and hills, and then sent a letter
to the king in these words:--

"Brutus, general of the remainder of the Trojans, to Pandrasus, king of
the Greeks, sends greeting. As it was beneath the dignity of a nation
descended from the illustrious race of Dardanus, to be treated in your
kingdom otherwise than the nobility of their birth required, they have
betaken themselves to the protection of the woods. For they have
preferred living after the manner of wild beasts, upon flesh and herbs,
with the enjoyment of liberty, to continuing longer in the greatest
luxury under the yoke of slavery. If this gives your majesty any
offence, impute it not to them, but pardon it; since it is the common
sentiment of every captive, to be desirous of regaining his former
dignity. Let pity therefore move you to bestow on them freely their lost
liberty, and permit them to inhabit the thickest of the woods, to which
they have retired to avoid slavery. But if you deny them this favour,
then by your permission and assistance let them depart into some foreign

CHAP. V.--_Brutus falling upon the forces of Pandrasus by surprise,
routs them, and takes Antigonus, the brother of Pandrasus, with
Anacletus, prisoner._

Pandrasus, perceiving the purport of the letter, was beyond measure
surprised at the boldness of such a message from those whom he had kept
in slavery; and having called a council of his nobles, he determined to
raise an army in order to pursue them. But while he was upon his march
to the deserts, where he thought they were, and to the town of
Sparatinum, Brutus made a sally with three thousand men, and fell upon
him unawares. For having intelligence of his coming, he had got into the
town the night before, with a design to break forth upon them
unexpectedly, while unarmed and marching without order. The sally being
made, the Trojans briskly attack them, and endeavour to make a great
slaughter. The Greeks, astonished, immediately give way on all sides,
and with the king at their head, hasten to pass the river Akalon,[151]
which runs near the place; but in passing are in great danger from the
rapidity of the stream. Brutus galls them in their flight, and kills
some of them in the stream, and some upon the banks; and running to and
fro, rejoices to see them in both places exposed to ruin. But Antigonus,
the brother of Pandrasus, grieved at this sight, rallied his scattered
troops, and made a quick return upon the furious Trojans; for he rather
chose to die making a brave resistance, than to be drowned in a muddy
pool in a shameful flight. Thus attended with a close body of men, he
encouraged them to stand their ground, and employed his whole force
against the enemy with great vigour, but to little or no purpose; for
the Trojans had arms, but the others none; and from this advantage they
were more eager in the pursuit, and made a miserable slaughter; nor did
they give over the assault till they had made nearly a total
destruction, and taken Antigonus, and Anacletus his companion prisoners.


[Footnote 151: The Achelous, or perhaps the Acheron.]

CHAP. VI.--_The town of Sparatinum besieged by Pandrasus._

Brutus, after the victory, reinforced the town with six hundred men, and
then retired to the woods, where the Trojan people were expecting his
protection. In the meantime Pandrasus, grieving at his own flight and
his brother's captivity, endeavoured that night to re-assemble his
broken forces, and the next morning went with a body of his people which
he had got together, to besiege the town, into which he supposed Brutus
had put himself with Antigonus and the rest of the prisoners that he had
taken. As soon as he was arrived at the walls, and had viewed the
situation of the castle, he divided his army into several bodies, and
placed them round it in different stations. One party was charged not to
suffer any of the besieged to go out; another to turn the courses of the
rivers; and a third to beat down the walls with battering rams and other
engines. In obedience to those commands, they laboured with their utmost
force to distress the besieged; and night coming on, made choice of
their bravest men to defend their camp and tents from the incursions of
the enemy, while the rest, who were fatigued with labour, refreshed
themselves with sleep.

CHAP. VII.--_The besieged ask assistance of Brutus._

But the besieged, standing on the top of the walls, were no less
vigorous to repel the force of the enemies' engines, and assault them
with their own, and cast forth darts and firebrands with a unanimous
resolution to make a valiant defence. And when a breach was made through
the wall, they compelled the enemy to retire, by throwing upon them fire
and scalding water. But being distressed through scarcity of provision
and daily labour, they sent an urgent message to Brutus, to hasten to
their assistance, for they were afraid they might be so weakened as to
be obliged to quit the town. Brutus, though desirous of relieving them,
was under great perplexity, as he had not men enough to stand a pitched
battle, and therefore made use of a stratagem, by which he proposed to
enter the enemies' camp by night, and having deceived their watch to
kill them in their sleep. But because he knew this was impracticable
without the concurrence and assistance of some Greeks, he called to him
Anacletus, the companion of Antigonus, and with a drawn sword in his
hand, spake to him after this manner:--

"Noble youth! your own and Antigonus's life is now at an end, unless you
will faithfully perform what I command you. This night I design to
invade the camp of the Greeks, and fall upon them unawares, but am
afraid of being hindered in the attempt if the watch should discover the
stratagem. Since it will be necessary, therefore, to have them killed
first, I desire to make use of you to deceive them, that I may have the
easier access to the rest. Do you therefore manage this affair
cunningly. At the second hour of the night go to the watch, and with
fair speeches tell them that you have brought away Antigonus from
prison, and that he is come to the bottom of the woods, where he lies
hid among the shrubs, and cannot get any farther, by reason of the
fetters with which you shall pretend that he is bound. Then you shall
conduct them, as if it were to deliver him, to the end of the wood,
where I will attend with a band of men ready to kill them."

CHAP. VIII.--_Anacletus, in fear of death, betrays the army of the

Anacletus, seeing the sword threatening him with immediate death while
these words were being pronounced, was so terrified as to promise upon
oath, that on condition he and Antigonus should have longer life granted
them, he would execute his command. Accordingly, the agreement being
confirmed, at the second hour of the night he directs his way towards
the Grecian camp, and when he was come near to it, the watch, who were
then narrowly examining all the places where any one could hide, ran out
from all parts to meet him, and demanded the occasion of his coming, and
whether it was not to betray the army. He, with a show of great joy,
made the following answer:--"I come not to betray my country, but having
made my escape from the prison of the Trojans, I fly thither to desire
you would go with me to Antigonus, whom I have delivered from Brutus's
chains. For being not able to come with me for the weight of his
fetters, I have a little while ago caused him to lie hid among the
shrubs at the end of the wood, till I could meet with some one whom I
might conduct to his assistance." While they were in suspense about the
truth of this story, there came one who knew him, and after he had
saluted him, told them who he was; so that now, without any hesitation,
they quickly called their absent companions, and followed him to the
wood where he had told them Antigonus lay hid. But at length, as they
were going among the shrubs, Brutus with his armed bands springs forth,
and falls upon them, while under the greatest astonishment, with a most
cruel slaughter. From thence he marches directly to the siege, and
divides his men into three bands, assigning to each of them a different
part of the camp, and telling them to advance discreetly, and without
noise; and when entered, not to kill any body till he with his company
should be possessed of the king's tent, and should cause the trumpet to
sound for a signal.

CHAP. IX.--_The taking of Pandrasus._

When he had given them these instructions, they forthwith softly entered
the camp in silence, and taking their appointed stations, awaited the
promised signal, which Brutus delayed not to give as soon as he had got
before the tent of Pandrasus, to assault which was the thing he most
desired. At hearing the signal, they forthwith draw their swords, enter
in among the men in their sleep, make quick destruction of them, and
allowing no quarter, in this manner traverse the whole camp. The rest,
awaked at the groans of the dying, and seeing their assailants, were
like sheep seized with a sudden fear; for they despaired of life, since
they had neither time to take arms, nor to escape by flight. They run up
and down without arms among the armed, whithersoever the fury of the
assault hurries them, but are on all sides cut down by the enemy rushing
in. Some that might have escaped, were in the eagerness of flight dashed
against rocks, trees, or shrubs, and increased the misery of their
death. Others, that had only a shield, or some such covering for their
defence, in venturing upon the same rocks to avoid death, fell down in
the hurry and darkness of the night, and broke either legs or arms.
Others, that escaped both these disasters, but did not know whither to
fly, were drowned in the adjacent rivers; and scarcely one got away
without some unhappy accident befalling him. Besides, the garrison in
the town, upon notice of the coming of their fellow soldiers, sallied
forth, and redoubled the slaughter.

CHAP. X.--_A consultation about what is to be asked of the captive

But Brutus, as I said before, having possessed himself of the king's
tent, made it his business to keep him a safe prisoner; for he knew he
could more easily attain his ends by preserving his life than by killing
him; but the party that was with him, allowing no quarter, made an utter
destruction in that part which they had gained. The night being spent in
this manner, when the next morning discovered to their view so great an
overthrow of the enemy, Brutus, in transports of joy, gave full liberty
to his men to do what they pleased with the plunder, and then entered
the town with the king, to stay there till they had shared it among
them; which done, he again fortified the castle, gave orders for burying
the slain, and retired with his forces to the woods in great joy for the
victory. After the rejoicings of his people on this occasion, their
renowned general summoned the oldest of them and asked their advice,
what he had best desire of Pandrasus, who, being now in their power,
would readily grant whatever they would request of him, in order to
regain his liberty. They, according to their different fancies, desired
different things; some urged him to request that a certain part of the
kingdom might be assigned them for their habitation; others that he
would demand leave to depart, and to be supplied with necessaries for
their voyage. After they had been a long time in suspense what to do,
one of them, named Mempricius, rose up, and having made silence, spoke
to them thus:--

"What can be the occasion of your suspense, fathers, in a matter which I
think so much concerns your safety? The only thing you can request, with
any prospect of a firm peace and security to yourselves and your
posterity, is liberty to depart. For if you make no better terms with
Pandrasus for his life than only to have some part of the country
assigned you to live among the Greeks, you will never enjoy a lasting
peace while the brothers, sons, or grandsons of those whom you killed
yesterday shall continue to be your neighbours. So long as the memory of
their fathers' deaths shall remain, they will be your mortal enemies,
and upon the least trifling provocation will endeavour to revenge
themselves. Nor will you be sufficiently numerous to withstand so great
a multitude of people. And if you shall happen to fall out among
yourselves, their number will daily increase, yours diminish. I propose,
therefore, that you request of him his eldest daughter, Ignoge, for a
wife for our general, and with her, gold, silver, corn, and whatever
else shall be necessary for our voyage. If we obtain this, we may with
his leave remove to some other country."

CHAP. XI.--_Pandrasus gives his daughter Ignoge in marriage to Brutus,
who, after his departure from Greece, falls upon a desert island, where
he is told by the oracle of Diana what place he is to inhabit._

When he had ended his speech, in words to this effect, the whole
assembly acquiesced in his advice, and moved that Pandrasus might be
brought in among them, and condemned to a most cruel death unless he
would grant this request. He was immediately brought in, and being
placed in a chair above the rest, and informed of the tortures prepared
for him unless he would do what was commanded him, he made them this

"Since my ill fate has delivered me and my brother Antigonus into your
hands, I can do no other than grant your request, lest a refusal may
cost us our lives, which are now entirely in your power. In my opinion
life is preferable to all other considerations; therefore, wonder not
that I am willing to redeem it at so great a price. But though it is
against my inclination that I obey your commands, yet it seems matter of
comfort to me that I am to give my daughter to so noble a youth, whose
descent from the illustrious race of Priamus and Anchises is clear, both
from that greatness of mind which appears in him, and the certain
accounts we have had of it. For who less than he could have released
from their chains the banished Trojans, when reduced under slavery to so
many great princes? Who else could have encouraged them to make head
against the Greeks? or with so small a body of men vanquished so
numerous and powerful an army, and taken their king prisoner in the
engagement? And, therefore, since this noble youth has gained so much
glory by the opposition which he has made to me, I give him my daughter
Ignoge, and also gold, silver, ships, corn, wine, and oil, and whatever
you shall find necessary for your voyage. If you shall alter your
resolution, and think fit to continue among the Greeks, I will grant you
the third part of my kingdom for your habitation; if not, I will
faithfully perform my promise, and for your greater security will stay
as a hostage among you till I have made it good."

Accordingly he held a council, and directed messengers to all the shores
of Greece, to get ships together; which done, he delivered them to the
Trojans, to the number of three hundred and twenty-four, laden with all
kinds of provision, and married his daughter to Brutus. He made also a
present of gold and silver to each man according to his quality. When
everything was performed the king was set at liberty; and the Trojans,
now released from his power, set sail with a fair wind. But Ignoge,
standing upon the stern of the ship, swooned away several times in
Brutus's arms, and with many sighs and tears lamented the leaving her
parents and country, nor ever turned her eyes from the shore while it
was in sight. Brutus, meanwhile, endeavoured to assuage her grief by
kind words and embraces intermixed with kisses, and ceased not from
these blandishments till she grew weary of crying and fell asleep.
During these and other accidents, the winds continued fair for two days
and a night together, when at length they arrived at a certain island
called Leogecia, which had been formerly wasted by the incursions of
pirates, and was then uninhabited. Brutus, not knowing this, sent three
hundred armed men ashore to see who inhabited it; but they finding
nobody, killed several kinds of wild beasts which they met with in the
groves and woods, and came to a desolate city, in which they found a
temple of Diana, and in it a statue of that goddess which gave answers
to those that came to consult her. At last, loading themselves with the
prey which they had taken in hunting, they return to their ships, and
give their companions an account of this country and city. Then they
advised their leader to go to the city, and after offering sacrifices,
to inquire of the deity of the place, what country was allotted them for
their place of settlement. To this proposal all assented; so that
Brutus, attended with Gerion, the augur, and twelve of the oldest men,
set forward to the temple, with all things necessary for the sacrifice.
Being arrived at the place, and presenting themselves before the shrine
with garlands about their temples, as the ancient rites required, they
made three fires to the three deities, Jupiter, Mercury, and Diana, and
offered sacrifices to each of them. Brutus himself, holding before the
altar of the goddess a consecrated vessel filled with wine, and the
blood of a white hart, with his face looking up to the image, broke
silence in these words:--

    "Diva potens nemorum, terror sylvestribus apris;
      Cui licet amfractus ire per æthereos,
    Infernasque domos; terrestria jura resolve,
      Et dic quas terras nos habitare velis?
    Dic certam sedem qua te venerabor in ævum,
      Qua tibi virgineis templa dicabo choris?"

    Goddess of woods, tremendous in the chase
    To mountain boars, and all the savage race!
    Wide o'er the ethereal walks extends thy sway,
    And o'er the infernal mansions void of day!
    Look upon us on earth! unfold our fate,
    And say what region is our destined seat?
    Where shall we next thy lasting temples raise?
    And choirs of virgins celebrate thy praise?

These words he repeated nine times, after which he took four turns round
the altar, poured the wine into the fire, and then laid himself down
upon the hart's skin, which he had spread before the altar, where he
fell asleep. About the third hour of the night, the usual time for deep
sleep, the goddess seemed to present herself before him, and foretell
his future success as follows:--

    "Brute! sub occasum solis trans Gallica regna
      Insula in oceano est undique clausa mari:
    Insula in oceano est habitata gigantibus olim,
      Nunc deserta quidem, gentibus apta tuis.
    Hanc pete, namque tibi sedes erit illa perennis:
      Sic fiet natis altera Troja tuis.
    Sic de prole tua reges nascentur: et ipsis
      Totius terræ subditus orbis erit."

    Brutus! there lies beyond the Gallic bounds
    An island which the western sea surrounds,
    By giants once possessed; now few remain
    To bar thy entrance, or obstruct thy reign.
    To reach that happy shore thy sails employ;
    There fate decrees to raise a second Troy,
    And found an empire in thy royal line,
    Which time shall ne'er destroy, nor bounds confine.

Awakened by the vision, he was for some time in doubt with himself,
whether what he had seen was a dream or a real appearance of the goddess
herself, foretelling to what land he should go. At last he called to his
companions, and related to them in order the vision he had in his sleep,
at which they very much rejoiced, and were urgent to return to their
ships, and while the wind favoured them, to hasten their voyage towards
the west, in pursuit of what the goddess had promised. Without delay,
therefore, they returned to their company, and set sail again, and after
a course of thirty days came to Africa, being ignorant as yet whither to
steer. From thence they came to the Philenian altars, and to a place
called Salinæ, and sailed between Ruscicada and the mountains of
Azara,[152] where they underwent great danger from pirates, whom,
notwithstanding, they vanquished, and enriched themselves with their


[Footnote 152: It is probably impossible to discover whether these names
describe existing places, or are purely the invention of the author.]

CHAP. XII.--_Brutus enters Aquitaine with Corineus._

From thence, passing the river Malua, they arrived at Mauritania, where
at last, for want of provisions, they were obliged to go ashore; and,
dividing themselves into several bands, they laid waste the whole
country. When they had well stored their ships, they steered to the
Pillars of Hercules, where they saw some of those sea monsters, called
Syrens, which surrounded their ships, and very nearly overturned them.
However, they made a shift to escape, and came to the Tyrrhenian Sea,
upon the shores of which they found four several nations descended from
the banished Trojans, that had accompanied Antenor[153] in his flight.
The name of their commander was Corineus, a modest man in matters of
council, and of great courage and boldness, who, in an encounter with
any person, even of gigantic stature, would immediately overthrow him,
as if he were a child. When they understood from whom he was descended,
they joined company with him and those under his government, who from
the name of their leader were afterwards called the Cornish people, and
indeed were more serviceable to Brutus than the rest in all his
engagements. From thence they came to Aquitaine, and entering the mouth
of the Loire, cast anchor. There they stayed seven days and viewed the
country. Goffarius Pictus, who was king of Aquitaine at that time,
having an account brought him of the arrival of a foreign people with a
great fleet upon his coasts, sent ambassadors to them to demand whether
they brought with them peace or war. The ambassadors, on their way
towards the fleet, met Corineus, who was come out with two hundred men,
to hunt in the woods. They demanded of him, who gave him leave to enter
the king's forests, and kill his game; (which by an ancient law nobody
was allowed to do without leave from the prince.) Corineus answered,
that as for that matter there was no occasion for asking leave; upon
which one of them, named Imbertus, rushing forward, with a full drawn
bow levelled a shot at him. Corineus avoids the arrow and immediately
runs up to him, and with his bow in his hand breaks his head. The rest
narrowly escaped, and carried the news of this disaster to Goffarius.
The Pictavian general was struck with sorrow for it, and immediately
raised a vast army, to revenge the death of his ambassador. Brutus, on
the other hand, upon hearing the rumour of his coming, sends away the
women and children to the ships, which he took care to be well guarded,
and commands them to stay there, while he, with the rest that were able
to bear arms, should go to meet the army. At last an assault being made,
a bloody fight ensued: in which after a great part of the day had been
spent, Corineus was ashamed to see the Aquitanians so bravely stand
their ground, and the Trojans maintaining the fight without victory. He
therefore takes fresh courage, and drawing off his men to the right
wing, breaks in upon the very thickest of the enemies, where he made
such slaughter on every side, that at last he broke the line and put
them all to flight. In this encounter he lost his sword, but by good
fortune, met with a battle-axe, with which he clave down to the waist
every one that stood in his way. Brutus and every body else, both
friends and enemies, were amazed at his courage and strength, for he
brandished about his battle-axe among the flying troops, and terrified
them not a little with these insulting words, "Whither fly ye, cowards?
whither fly ye, base wretches? stand your ground, that ye may encounter
Corineus. What! for shame! do so many thousands of you fly one man?
However, take this comfort for your flight, that you are pursued by one,
before whom the Tyrrhenian giants could not stand their ground, but fell
down slain in heaps together."


[Footnote 153: See Virgil's Æneid i, 241.]

CHAP. XIII.--_Goffarius routed by Brutus._

At these words one of them, named Subardus, who was a consul, returns
with three hundred men to assault him; but Corineus with his shield
wards off the blow, and lifting up his battle-axe gave him such a stroke
upon the top of his helmet, that at once he clave him down to the waist;
and then rushing upon the rest he made terrible slaughter by wheeling
about his battle-axe among them, and, running to and fro, seemed more
anxious to inflict blows on the enemy than careful to avoid those which
they aimed at him. Some had their hands and arms, some their very
shoulders, some again their heads, and others their legs cut off by him.
All fought with him only, and he alone seemed to fight with all. Brutus
seeing him thus beset, out of regard to him, runs with a band of men to
his assistance: at which the battle is again renewed with vigour and
with loud shouts, and great numbers slain on both sides. But now the
Trojans presently gain the victory, and put Goffarius with his
Pictavians to flight. The king after a narrow escape went to several
parts of Gaul, to procure succours among such princes as were related or
known to him. At that time Gaul was subject to twelve princes, who with
equal authority possessed the whole country. These receive him
courteously, and promise with one consent to expel the foreigners from

CHAP. XIV.--_Brutus, after his victory with Goffarius, ravages Aquitaine
with fire and sword._

Brutus, in joy for the victory, enriches his men with the spoils of the
slain, and then, dividing them into several bodies, marches into the
country with a design to lay it waste, and load his fleet with the
spoil. With this view he sets the cities on fire, seizes the riches that
were in them, destroys the fields, and makes dreadful slaughter among
the citizens and common people, being unwilling to leave so much as one
alive of that wretched nation. While he was making this destruction over
all Aquitaine, he came to a place where the city of Tours now stands,
which he afterwards built, as Homer testifies. As soon as he had looked
out a place convenient for the purpose, he pitched his camp there, for a
place of safe retreat, when occasion should require. For he was afraid
on account of Goffarius's approach with the kings and princes of Gaul,
and a very great army, which was now come near the place, ready to give
him battle. Having therefore finished his camp, he expected to engage
with Goffarius in two days' time, placing the utmost confidence in the
conduct and courage of the young men under his command.

CHAP. XV.--_Goffarius's fight with Brutus._

Goffarius, being informed that the Trojans were in those parts, marched
day and night, till he came within a close view of Brutus's camp; and
then with a stern look and disdainful smile, broke out into these
expressions, "Oh wretched fate! Have these base exiles made a camp also
in my kingdom? Arm, arm, soldiers, and march through their thickest
ranks: we shall soon take these pitiful fellows like sheep, and disperse
them throughout our kingdom for slaves." At these words they prepared
their arms, and advanced in twelve bodies towards the enemy. Brutus, on
the other hand, with his forces drawn up in order, went forth boldly to
meet them, and gave his men directions for their conduct, where they
should assault and where they should be upon the defensive. At the
beginning of the attack, the Trojans had the advantage, and made a rapid
slaughter of the enemy, of whom there fell near two thousand, which so
terrified the rest, that they were on the point of running away. But, as
the victory generally falls to that side which has very much the
superiority in numbers, so the Gauls, being three to one in number,
though overpowered at first, yet at last joining in a great body
together, broke in upon the Trojans, and forced them to retire to their
camp with much slaughter. The victory thus gained, they besieged them in
their camp, with a design not to suffer them to stir out until they
should either surrender themselves prisoners, or be cruelly starved to
death with a long famine.

In the meantime, Corineus the night following entered into consultation
with Brutus, and proposed to go out that night by by-ways, and conceal
himself in an adjacent wood till break of day; and while Brutus should
sally forth upon the enemy in the morning twilight, he with his company
would surprise them from behind and put them to slaughter. Brutus was
pleased with this stratagem of Corineus, who according to his engagement
got out cunningly with three thousand men, and put himself under the
covert of the woods. As soon as it was day Brutus marshalled his men and
opened the camp to go out to fight. The Gauls meet him and begin the
engagement: many thousands fall on both sides, neither party giving
quarter. There was present a Trojan, named Turonus, the nephew of
Brutus, inferior to none but Corineus in courage and strength of body.
He alone with his sword killed six hundred men, but at last was
unfortunately slain himself by the number of Gauls that rushed upon him.
From him the city of Tours derived its name, because he was buried
there. While both armies were thus warmly engaged, Corineus came upon
them unawares, and fell fiercely upon the rear of the enemy, which put
new courage into his friends on the other side, and made them exert
themselves with increased vigour. The Gauls were astonished at the very
shout of Corineus's men, and thinking their number to be much greater
than it really was, they hastily quitted the field; but the Trojans
pursued them, and killed them in the pursuit, nor did they desist till
they had gained a complete victory. Brutus, though in joy for this great
success, was yet afflicted to observe the number of his forces daily
lessened, while that of the enemy increased more and more. He was in
suspense for some time, whether he had better continue the war or not,
but at last he determined to return to his ships while the greater part
of his followers was yet safe, and hitherto victorious, and to go in
quest of the island which the goddess had told him of. So without
further delay, with the consent of his company, he repaired to the
fleet, and loading it with the riches and spoils he had taken, set sail
with a fair wind towards the promised island, and arrived on the coast
of Totness.

CHAP. XVI.--_Albion divided between Brutus and Corineus._

The island was then called Albion,[154] and was inhabited by none but a
few giants. Notwithstanding this, the pleasant situation of the places,
the plenty of rivers abounding with fish, and the engaging prospect of
its woods, made Brutus and his company very desirous to fix their
habitation in it. They therefore passed through all the provinces,
forced the giants to fly into the caves of the mountains, and divided
the country among them according to the directions of their commander.
After this they began to till the ground and build houses, so that in a
little time the country looked like a place that had been long
inhabited. At last Brutus called the island after his own name Britain,
and his companions Britons; for by these means he desired to perpetuate
the memory of his name. From whence afterwards the language of the
nation, which at first bore the name of Trojan, or rough Greek, was
called British. But Corineus, in imitation of his leader, called that
part of the island which fell to his share, Corinea, and his people
Corineans, after his name; and though he had his choice of the provinces
before all the rest, yet he preferred this country, which is now called
in Latin Cornubia, either from its being in the shape of a horn (in
Latin Cornu), or from the corruption of the said name.[155] For it was a
diversion to him to encounter the said giants, which were in greater
numbers there than in all the other provinces that fell to the share of
his companions. Among the rest was one detestable monster, named
Goëmagot, in stature twelve cubits, and of such prodigious strength that
at one shake he pulled up an oak as if it had been a hazel wand. On a
certain day, when Brutus was holding a solemn festival to the gods, in
the port where they at first landed, this giant with twenty more of his
companions came in upon the Britons, among whom he made a dreadful
slaughter. But the Britons at last assembling together in a body, put
them to the rout, and killed them every one but Goëmagot. Brutus had
given orders to have him preserved alive, out of a desire to see a
combat between him and Corineus, who took a great pleasure in such
encounters. Corineus, overjoyed at this, prepared himself, and throwing
aside his arms, challenged him to wrestle with him. At the beginning of
the encounter, Corineus and the giant, standing, front to front, held
each other strongly in their arms, and panted aloud for breath; but
Goëmagot presently grasping Corineus with all his might, broke three of
his ribs, two on his right side and one on his left. At which Corineus,
highly enraged, roused up his whole strength, and snatching him upon his
shoulders, ran with him, as fast as the weight would allow him, to the
next shore, and there getting upon the top of a high rock, hurled down
the savage monster into the sea; where falling on the sides of craggy
rocks, he was torn to pieces, and coloured the waves with his blood. The
place where he fell, taking its name from the giant's fall, is called
Lam Goëmagot, that is, Goëmagot's Leap, to this day.[156]


[Footnote 154: The earliest real notice of Albion occurs in a work
attributed to Aristotle [De Mundo, sec. 3], who wrote, before Christ
340, "Beyond the Pillars of Hercules is the ocean which flows round the
earth. In it are two very large islands, called Britannic; these are
Albion and Ierne," &c.]

[Footnote 155: The etymology of the word Cornwall, as if Cornu-Galliæ or
Walliæ, is equally imaginary.]

[Footnote 156: It is now called the Haw, and is near Plymouth.]

CHAP. XVII.--_The building of new Troy by Brutus, upon the river

Brutus, having thus at last set eyes upon his kingdom, formed a design
of building a city, and with this view, travelled through the land to
find out a convenient situation, and coming to the river Thames, he
walked along the shore, and at last pitched upon a place very fit for
his purpose. Here, therefore, he built a city, which he called New Troy;
under which name it continued a long time after, till at last, by the
corruption of the original word, it come to be called Trinovantum. But
afterwards when Lud, the brother of Cassibellaun, who made war against
Julius Cæsar, obtained the government of the kingdom, he surrounded it
with stately walls, and towers of admirable workmanship, and ordered it
to be called after his name, Kaer-Lud, that is, the City of Lud.[157]
But this very thing became afterwards the occasion of a great quarrel
between him and his brother Nennius, who took offence at his abolishing
the name of Troy in this country. Of this quarrel Gildas the historian
has given a full account; for which reason I pass it over, for fear of
debasing by my account of it, what so great a writer has so eloquently


[Footnote 157: This is the city now called London, and it is evident
that the writer wishes it to be supposed that the modern name is derived
from the ancient, as if it were Lud-ton or Lud-don. The first notice of
London found in authentic history occurs in Tacitus, Annal. lib. xiv. c.
33, the second notice in Ptolemy, A.D. 120, lib. i. 15.]

CHAP. XVIII.--_New Troy being built, and laws made for the government of
it, it is given to the citizens that were to inhabit it._

After Brutus had finished the building of the city, he made choice of
the citizens that were to inhabit it, and prescribed them laws for their
peaceable government. At this time Eli the priest governed in Judea,
and the ark of the covenant was taken by the Philistines. At the same
time, also, the sons of Hector, after the expulsion of the posterity of
Antenor, reigned in Troy; as in Italy did Sylvius Æneas, the son of
Æneas, the uncle of Brutus, and the third king of the Latins.[158]


[Footnote 158: From this statement it would follow that the arrival of
Brutus in Britain is to be placed about the year 1100 before Christ.]


CHAP. I.--_After the death of Brutus, his three sons succeed him in the

During these transactions, Brutus had by his wife Ignoge three famous
sons, whose names were Locrin, Albanact, and Kamber. These, after their
father's death, which happened in the twenty-fourth year after his
arrival, buried him in the city which he had built, and then having
divided the kingdom of Britain among them, retired each to his
government. Locrin, the eldest, possessed the middle part of the island,
called afterwards from his name, Loegria. Kamber had that part which
lies beyond the river Severn, now called Wales, but which was for a long
time named Kambria; and hence that people still call themselves in their
British tongue Kambri. Albanact, the younger brother, possessed the
country he called Albania, now Scotland. After they had a long time
reigned in peace together, Humber, king of the Huns, arrived in Albania,
and having killed Albanact in battle, forced his people to fly to Locrin
for protection.

CHAP. II.--_Locrin, having routed Humber, falls in love with Estrildis._

Locrin, at hearing this news, joined his brother Kamber, and went with
the whole strength of the kingdom to meet the king of the Huns, near the
river now called Humber, where he gave him battle, and put him to the
rout. Humber made towards the river in his flight, and was drowned in
it, on account of which it has since borne his name. Locrin, after the
victory, bestowed the plunder of the enemy upon his own men, reserving
for himself the gold and silver which he found in the ships, together
with three virgins of admirable beauty, whereof one was the daughter of
a king in Germany, whom with the other two Humber had forcibly brought
away with him, after he had ruined their country. Her name was
Estrildis, and her beauty such as was hardly to be matched. No ivory or
new-fallen snow, no lily could exceed the whiteness of her skin. Locrin,
smitten with love, would have gladly married her, at which Corineus was
extremely incensed, on account of the engagement which Locrin had
entered into with him to marry his daughter.

CHAP. III.--_Corineus resents the affront put upon his daughter._

He went, therefore, to the king, and wielding a battle-axe in his right
hand, vented his rage against him in these words: "Do you thus reward
me, Locrin, for the many wounds which I have suffered under your
father's command in his wars with strange nations, that you must slight
my daughter, and debase yourself to marry a barbarian? While there is
strength in this right hand, that has been destructive to so many giants
upon the Tyrrhenian coasts, I will never put up with this affront." And
repeating this again and again with a loud voice, he shook his
battle-axe as if he was going to strike him, till the friends of both
interposed, and after they had appeased Corineus, obliged Locrin to
perform his agreement.

CHAP. IV.--_Locrin at last marries Guendoloena, the daughter of

Locrin therefore married Corineus's daughter, named Guendoloena, yet
still retained his love for Estrildis, for whom he made apartments under
ground, in which he entertained her, and caused her to be honourably
attended. For he was resolved at least to carry on a private amour with
her, since he could not live with her openly for fear of Corineus. In
this manner he concealed her, and made frequent visits to her for seven
years together, without the privity of any but his most intimate
domestics; and all under a pretence of performing some secret sacrifices
to his gods, by which he imposed on the credulity of every body. In the
meantime Estrildis became with child, and was delivered of a most
beautiful daughter, whom she named Sabre. Guendoloena was also with
child, and brought forth a son, who was named Maddan, and put under the
care of his grandfather Corineus to be educated.

CHAP. V.--_Locrin is killed; Estrildis and Sabre are thrown into a

But in process of time, when Corineus was dead, Locrin divorced
Guendoloena, and advanced Estrildis to be queen. Guendoloena,
provoked beyond measure at this, retired into Cornwall, where she
assembled together all the forces of that kingdom, and began to raise
disturbances against Locrin. At last both armies joined battle near the
river Sture, where Locrin was killed by the shot of an arrow. After his
death, Guendoloena took upon her the government of the whole kingdom,
retaining her father's furious spirit. For she commanded Estrildis and
her daughter Sabre to be thrown into the river now called the Severn,
and published an edict through all Britain, that the river should bear
the damsel's name, hoping by this to perpetuate her memory, and by that
the infamy of her husband. So that to this day the river is called in
the British tongue Sabren, which by the corruption of the name is in
another language Sabrina.

CHAP. VI.--_Guendoloena delivers up the kingdom to Maddan, her son,
after whom succeeds Mempricius._

Guendoloena reigned fifteen years after the death of Locrin, who had
reigned ten, and then advanced her son Maddan (whom she saw now at
maturity) to the throne, contenting herself with the country of Cornwall
for the remainder of her life. At this time Samuel the prophet governed
in Judæa, Sylvius Æneas was yet living, and Homer was esteemed a famous
orator and poet.[159] Maddan, now in possession of the crown, had by his
wife two sons, Mempricius and Malim, and ruled the kingdom in peace and
with care forty years. As soon as he was dead, the two brothers
quarrelled for the kingdom, each being ambitious of the sovereignty of
the whole island. Mempricius, impatient to attain his ends, enters into
treaty with Malim, under colour of making a composition with him, and,
having formed a conspiracy, murdered him in the assembly where their
ambassadors were met. By these means he obtained the dominion of the
whole island, over which he exercised such tyranny, that he left
scarcely a nobleman alive in it, and either by violence or treachery
oppressed every one that he apprehended might be likely to succeed him,
pursuing his hatred to his whole race. He also deserted his own wife, by
whom he had a noble youth named Ebraucus, and addicted himself to
sodomy, preferring unnatural lust to the pleasures of the conjugal
state. At last, in the twentieth year of his reign, while he was
hunting, he retired from his company into a valley, where he was
surrounded by a great multitude of ravenous wolves, and devoured by them
in a horrible manner. Then did Saul reign in Judæa, and Eurystheus in


[Footnote 159: It is only necessary to compare such passages as these
with the Grecian or Roman Histories, and we cannot avoid perceiving the
legendary character of Geoffrey of Monmouth's History.]

CHAP. VII.--_Ebraucus, the successor of Mempricius, conquers the Gauls,
and builds the towns Kaerebrauc, &c._

Mempricius being dead, Ebraucus, his son, a man of great stature and
wonderful strength, took upon him the government of Britain, which he
held forty years. He was the first after Brutus who invaded Gaul with a
fleet, and distressed its provinces by killing their men and laying
waste their cities; and having by these means enriched himself with an
infinite quantity of gold and silver, he returned victorious. After this
he built a city on the other side of the Humber, which, from his own
name, he called Kaerebrauc, that is, the city of Ebraucus,[160] about
the time that David reigned in Judæa, and Sylvius Latinus in Italy; and
that Gad, Nathan, and Asaph prophesied in Israel. He also built the city
of Alclud[161] towards Albani, and the town of mount Agned,[162] called
at this time the Castle of Maidens, or the Mountain of Sorrow.


[Footnote 160: York seems to be a corruption of Ebrauc. It is first
mentioned by Ptolemy (ii. 3.) A.D. 120.]

[Footnote 161: Alclud or Alcluith is unknown to the classic writers: it
is first mentioned by Gildas, and is thought to be the modern

[Footnote 162: Edinburgh.]

CHAP. VIII.--_Ebraucus's twenty sons go to Germany, and his thirty
daughters to Sylvius Alba, in Italy._

This prince had twenty sons and thirty daughters by twenty wives, and
with great valour governed the kingdom of Britain sixty years. The names
of his sons were, Brutus surnamed Greenshield, Margadud, Sisillius,
Regin, Morivid, Bladud, Lagon, Bodloan, Kincar, Spaden, Gaul, Darden,
Eldad, Ivor, Gangu, Hector, Kerin, Rud, Assarach, Buel. The names of his
daughters were, Gloigni, Ignogni, Oudas, Guenliam, Gaudid, Angarad,
Guendoloe, Tangustel, Gorgon, Medlan, Methahel, Ourar, Malure, Kambreda,
Ragan, Gael, Ecub, Nest, Cheum, Stadud, Gladud, Ebren, Blagan, Aballac,
Angaes, Galaes, (the most celebrated beauty at that time in Britain or
Gaul,) Edra, Anaor, Stadial, Egron. All these daughters their father
sent into Italy to Sylvius Alba, who reigned after Sylvius Latinus,
where they were married among the Trojan nobility, the Latin and Sabine
women refusing to associate with them. But the sons, under the conduct
of their brother Assaracus, departed in a fleet to Germany, and having,
with the assistance of Sylvius Alba, subdued the people there, obtained
that kingdom.

CHAP. IX.--_After Ebraucus reigns Brutus his son, after him Leil, and
after Leil, Hudibras._

But Brutus, surnamed Greenshield, stayed with his father, whom he
succeeded in the government, and reigned twelve years. After him reigned
Leil, his son, a peaceful and just prince, who, enjoying a prosperous
reign, built in the north of Britain a city, called by his name,
Kaerleil;[163] at the same time that Solomon began to build the temple
of Jerusalem, and the queen of Sheba came to hear his wisdom; at which
time also Sylvius Epitus succeeded his father Alba, in Italy. Leil
reigned twenty-five years, but towards the latter end of his life grew
more remiss in his government, so that his neglect of affairs speedily
occasioned a civil dissension in the kingdom. After him reigned his
son, Hudibras, thirty-nine years, and composed the civil dissension
among his people. He built Kaerlem or Canterbury, Kaerguen or
Winchester, and the town of Mount Paladur, now Shaftesbury. At this
place an eagle spoke, while the wall of the town was being built; and
indeed I should have transmitted the speech to posterity, had I thought
it true, as the rest of the history. At this time reigned Capys, the son
of Epitus; and Haggai, Amos, Joel, and Azariah, were prophets in Israel.


[Footnote 163: Now Carlisle.]

CHAP. X.--_Bladud succeeds Hudibras in the kingdom, and practises
magical operations._

Next succeeded Bladud, his son, and reigned twenty years. He built
Kaerbadus, now Bath, and made hot baths in it for the benefit of the
public, which he dedicated to the goddess Minerva; in whose temple he
kept fires that never went out nor consumed to ashes, but as soon as
they began to decay were turned into balls of stone. About this time the
prophet Elias prayed that it might not rain upon earth; and it did not
rain for three years and six months. This prince was a very ingenious
man, and taught necromancy in his kingdom, nor did he leave off pursuing
his magical operations, till he attempted to fly to the upper region of
the air with wings which he had prepared, and fell down upon the temple
of Apollo, in the city of Trinovantum, where he was dashed to pieces.

CHAP. XI.--_Leir the son of Bladud, having no son, divides his kingdom
among his daughters._

After this unhappy fate of Bladud, Leir,[164] his son was advanced to
the throne, and nobly governed his country sixty years. He built upon
the river Sore a city, called in the British tongue, Kaerleir, in the
Saxon, Leircestre.[165] He was without male issue, but had three
daughters, whose names were Gonorilla, Regau, and Cordeilla, of whom he
was dotingly fond, but especially of his youngest, Cordeilla. When he
began to grow old, he had thoughts of dividing his kingdom among them,
and of bestowing them on such husbands as were fit to be advanced to the
government with them. But to make trial who was worthy to have the best
part of his kingdom, he went to each of them to ask which of them loved
him most. The question being proposed, Gonorilla, the eldest, made
answer, "That she called heaven to witness, she loved him more than her
own soul." The father replied, "Since you have preferred my declining
age before your own life, I will marry you, my dearest daughter, to
whomsoever you shall make choice of, and give with you the third part of
my kingdom." Then Regau, the second daughter, willing, after the example
of her sister, to prevail upon her father's good nature, answered with
an oath, "That she could not otherwise express her thoughts, but that
she loved him above all creatures." The credulous father upon this made
her the same promise that he did to her eldest sister, that is, the
choice of a husband, with the third part of his kingdom. But Cordeilla,
the youngest, understanding how easily he was satisfied with the
flattering expressions of her sisters, was desirous to make trial of his
affection after a different manner. "My father," said she, "is there any
daughter that can love her father more than duty requires? In my
opinion, whoever pretends to it, must disguise her real sentiments under
the veil of flattery. I have always loved you as a father, nor do I yet
depart from my purposed duty; and if you insist to have something more
extorted from me, hear now the greatness of my affection, which I always
bear you, and take this for a short answer to all your questions; look
how much you have, so much is your value, and so much do I love you."
The father, supposing that she spoke this out of the abundance of her
heart, was highly provoked, and immediately replied, "Since you have so
far despised my old age as not to think me worthy the love that your
sisters express for me, you shall have from me the like regard, and
shall be excluded from any share with your sisters in my kingdom.
Notwithstanding, I do not say but that since you are my daughter, I will
marry you to some foreigner, if fortune offers you any such husband; but
will never, I do assure you, make it my business to procure so
honourable a match for you as for your sisters; because, though I have
hitherto loved you more than them, you have in requital thought me less
worthy of your affection than they." And, without further delay, after
consultation with his nobility, he bestowed his two other daughters upon
the dukes of Cornwall and Albania, with half the island at present, but
after his death, the inheritance of the whole monarchy of Britain.

It happened after this, that Aganippus, king of the Franks, having heard
of the fame of Cordeilla's beauty, forthwith sent his ambassadors to the
king to demand her in marriage. The father, retaining yet his anger
towards her, made answer, "That he was very willing to bestow his
daughter, but without either money or territories; because he had
already given away his kingdom with all his treasure to his eldest
daughters, Gonorilla and Regau." When this was told Aganippus, he, being
very much in love with the lady, sent again to king Leir, to tell him,
"That he had money and territories enough, as he possessed the third
part of Gaul, and desired no more than his daughter only, that he might
have heirs by her." At last the match was concluded; Cordeilla was sent
to Gaul, and married to Aganippus.


[Footnote 164: King Lear, the hero of Shakespeare's drama.]

[Footnote 165: Leicester.]

CHAP. XII.--_Leir, finding the ingratitude of his two eldest daughters,
betakes himself to his youngest, Cordeilla, in Gaul._

A long time after this, when Leir came to be infirm through old age, the
two dukes, on whom he had bestowed Britain with his two daughters,
fostered an insurrection against him, and deprived him of his kingdom,
and of all regal authority, which he had hitherto exercised with great
power and glory. At length, by mutual agreement, Maglaunus, duke of
Albania, one of his sons-in-law, was to allow him a maintenance at his
own house, together with sixty soldiers, who were to be kept for state.
After two years' stay with his son-in-law, his daughter Gonorilla
grudged the number of his men, who began to upbraid the ministers of the
court with their scanty allowance; and, having spoken to her husband
about it, she gave orders that the numbers of her father's followers
should be reduced to thirty, and the rest discharged. The father,
resenting this treatment, left Maglaunus, and went to Henuinus, duke of
Cornwall, to whom he had married his daughter Regau. Here he met with an
honourable reception, but before the year was at an end, a quarrel
happened between the two families, which raised Regau's indignation; so
that she commanded her father to discharge all his attendants but five,
and to be contented with their service. This second affliction was
insupportable to him, and made him return again to his former daughter,
with hopes that the misery of his condition might move in her some
sentiments of filial piety, and that he, with his family, might find a
subsistence with her. But she, not forgetting her resentment, swore by
the gods he should not stay with her, unless he would dismiss his
retinue, and be contented with the attendance of one man; and with
bitter reproaches she told him how ill his desire of vain-glorious pomp
suited his age and poverty. When he found that she was by no means to be
prevailed upon, he was at last forced to comply, and, dismissing the
rest, to take up with one man only. But by this time he began to reflect
more sensibly with himself upon the grandeur from which he had fallen,
and the miserable state to which he was now reduced, and to enter upon
thoughts of going beyond sea to his youngest daughter. Yet he doubted
whether he should be able to move her commiseration, because (as was
related above) he had treated her so unworthily. However, disdaining to
bear any longer such base usage, he took ship for Gaul. In his passage
he observed he had only the third place given him among the princes that
were with him in the ship, at which, with deep sighs and tears, he burst
forth into the following complaint:--

"O irreversible decrees of the Fates, that never swerve from your stated
course! why did you ever advance me to an unstable felicity, since the
punishment of lost happiness is greater than the sense of present
misery? The remembrance of the time when vast numbers of men
obsequiously attended me in the taking the cities and wasting the
enemy's countries, more deeply pierces my heart than the view of my
present calamity, which has exposed me to the derision of those who were
formerly prostrate at my feet. Oh! the enmity of fortune! Shall I ever
again see the day when I may be able to reward those according to their
deserts who have forsaken me in my distress? How true was thy answer,
Cordeilla, when I asked thee concerning thy love to me, 'As much as you
have, so much is your value, and so much do I love you.' While I had
anything to give they valued me, being friends, not to me, but to my
gifts: they loved me then, but they loved my gifts much more: when my
gifts ceased, my friends vanished. But with what face shall I presume to
see you, my dearest daughter, since in my anger I married you upon worse
terms than your sisters, who, after all the mighty favours they have
received from me, suffer me to be in banishment and poverty?"

As he was lamenting his condition in these and the like expressions, he
arrived at Karitia,[166] where his daughter was, and waited before the
city while he sent a messenger to inform her of the misery he was fallen
into, and to desire her relief for a father who suffered both hunger and
nakedness. Cordeilla was startled at the news, and wept bitterly, and
with tears asked how many men her father had with him. The messenger
answered, he had none but one man, who had been his armour-bearer, and
was staying with him without the town. Then she took what money she
thought might be sufficient, and gave it to the messenger, with orders
to carry her father to another city, and there give out that he was
sick, and to provide for him bathing, clothes, and all other
nourishment. She likewise gave orders that he should take into his
service forty men, well clothed and accoutred, and that when all things
were thus prepared he should notify his arrival to king Aganippus and
his daughter. The messenger quickly returning, carried Leir to another
city, and there kept him concealed, till he had done every thing that
Cordeilla had commanded.


[Footnote 166: Calais.]

CHAP. XIII.--_He is very honourably received by Cordeilla and the king
of Gaul._

As soon as he was provided with his royal apparel, ornaments, and
retinue, he sent word to Aganippus and his daughter, that he was driven
out of his kingdom of Britain by his sons-in-law, and was come to them
to procure their assistance for recovering his dominions. Upon which
they, attended with their chief ministers of state and the nobility of
the kingdom, went out to meet him, and received him honourably, and gave
into his management the whole power of Gaul, till such time as he should
be restored to his former dignity.

CHAP. XIV.--_Leir, being restored to the kingdom by the help of his
son-in-law and Cordeilla, dies._

In the meantime Aganippus sent officers over all Gaul to raise an army,
to restore his father-in-law to his kingdom of Britain. Which done, Leir
returned to Britain with his son and daughter and the forces which they
had raised, where he fought with his sons-in-law and routed them. Having
thus reduced the whole kingdom to his power, he died the third year
after. Aganippus also died; and Cordeilla, obtaining the government of
the kingdom, buried her father in a certain vault, which she ordered to
be made for him under the river Sore, in Leicester, and which had been
built originally under the ground to the honour of the god Janus. And
here all the workmen of the city, upon the anniversary solemnity of that
festival, used to begin their yearly labours.

CHAP. XV.--_Cordeilla, being imprisoned, kills herself. Margan, aspiring
to the whole kingdom, is killed by Cunedagius._

After a peaceful possession of the government for five years, Cordeilla
began to meet with disturbances from the two sons of her sisters, being
both young men of great spirit, whereof one, named Margan, was born to
Maglaunus, and the other, named Cunedagius, to Henuinus. These, after
the death of their fathers, succeeding them in their dukedoms, were
incensed to see Britain subject to a woman, and raised forces in order
to raise a rebellion against the queen; nor would they desist from
hostilities, till, after a general waste of her countries, and several
battles fought, they at last took her and put her in prison, where for
grief at the loss of her kingdom she killed herself. After this they
divided the island between them; of which the part that reaches from the
north side of the Humber to Caithness, fell to Margan; the other part
from the same river westward was Cunedagius's share. At the end of two
years, some restless spirits that took pleasure in the troubles of the
nation, had access to Margan, and inspired him with vain conceits, by
representing to him how mean and disgraceful it was for him not to
govern the whole island, which was his due by right of birth. Stirred up
with these and the like suggestions, he marched with an army through
Cunedagius's country, and began to burn all before him. The war thus
breaking out, he was met by Cunedagius with all his forces, who attacked
Margan, killing no small number of his men, and, putting him to flight,
pursued him from one province to another, till at last he killed him in
a town of Kambria, which since his death has been by the country people
called Margan to this day. After the victory, Cunedagius gained the
monarchy of the whole island, which he governed gloriously for three and
thirty years. At this time flourished the prophets Isaiah and Hosea, and
Rome was built upon the eleventh before the Kalends of May by the two
brothers, Romulus and Remus.[167]


[Footnote 167: About the year before Christ, 753.]

CHAP. XVI.--_The successors of Cunedagius in the kingdom. Ferrex is
killed by his brother Porrex, in a dispute for the government._

At last Cunedagius dying, was succeeded by his son Rivallo, a fortunate
youth, who diligently applied himself to the affairs of the government.
In his time it rained blood three days together, and there fell vast
swarms of flies, followed by a great mortality among the people. After
him succeeded Gurgustius his son; after him Sisillius; after him Jago,
the nephew of Gurgustius; after him Kinmarcus the son of Sisillius;
after him Gorbogudo, who had two sons, Ferrex and Porrex.

When their father grew old they began to quarrel about the succession;
but Porrex, who was the most ambitious of the two, forms a design of
killing his brother by treachery, which the other discovering, escaped,
and passed over into Gaul. There he procured aid from Suard king of the
Franks, with which he returned and made war upon his brother; coming to
an engagement, Ferrex was killed and all his forces cut to pieces. When
their mother, whose name was Widen, came to be informed of her son's
death, she fell into a great rage, and conceived a mortal hatred against
the survivor. For she had a greater affection for the deceased than for
him, so that nothing less would appease her indignation for his death,
than her revenging it upon her surviving son. She took therefore her
opportunity when he was asleep, fell upon him, and with the assistance
of her women tore him to pieces. From that time a long civil war
oppressed the people, and the island became divided under the power of
five kings, who mutually harassed one another.

CHAP. XVII.--_Dunwallo Molmutius gains the sceptre of Britain, from whom
came the Molmutine laws._

At length arose a youth of great spirit, named Dunwallo Molmutius, who
was the son of Cloten king of Cornwall, and excelled all the kings of
Britain in valour and gracefulness of person. When his father was dead,
he was no sooner possessed of the government of that country, than he
made war against Ymner king of Loegria, and killed him in battle.
Hereupon Rudaucus king of Kambria, and Staterius king of Albania, had a
meeting, wherein they formed an alliance together, and marched thence
with their armies into Dunwallo's country to destroy all before them.
Dunwallo met them with thirty thousand men, and gave them battle; and
when a great part of the day was spent in the fight, and the victory yet
dubious, he drew off six hundred of his bravest men, and commanded them
to put on the armour of the enemies that were slain, as he himself also
did, throwing aside his own. Thus accoutred he marched up with speed to
the enemy's ranks, as if he was of their party, and approaching the very
place where Rudaucus and Staterius were, commanded his men to fall upon
them. In this assault the two kings were killed and many others with
them. But Dunwallo Molmutius, fearing lest in this disguise his own men
might fall upon him, returned with his companions to put off the enemy's
armour, and take his own again; and then encouraged them to renew the
assault, which they did with great vigour, and in a short time got the
victory, by dispersing and putting to flight the enemy. From hence he
marched into the enemy's countries, destroyed their towns and cities,
and reduced the people under his obedience. When he had made an entire
reduction of the whole island, he prepared for himself a crown of gold,
and restored the kingdom to its ancient state. This prince established
what the Britons call the Molmutine laws, which are famous among the
English to this day. In these, among other things, of which St. Gildas
wrote a long time after, he enacted, that the temples of the gods, as
also cities, should have the privilege of giving sanctuary and
protection to any fugitive or criminal, that should flee to them from
his enemy. He likewise enacted, that the ways leading to those temples
and cities, as also husbandman's ploughs, should be allowed the same
privilege. So that in his day, the murders and cruelties committed by
robbers were prevented, and every body passed safe without any violence
offered him. At last, after a reign of forty years spent in these and
other acts of government, he died, and was buried in the city of
Trinovantum, near the temple of Concord, which he himself built, when he
first established his laws.


CHAP. I.--_Brennius quarrels with Belinus his brother, and in order to
make war against him, marries the daughter of the king of the

After this a violent quarrel happened between his two sons Belinus and
Brennius, who were both ambitious of succeeding to the kingdom. The
dispute was, which of them should have the honour of wearing the crown.
After a great many sharp conflicts that passed between them, the friends
of both interposed, and brought them to agree on the division of the
kingdom on these terms: that Belinus should enjoy the crown of the
island, with the dominions of Loegria, Kambria, and Cornwall, because,
according to the Trojan constitution, the right of inheritance would
come to him as the elder: and Brennius, as being the younger, should be
subject to his brother, and have for his share Northumberland, which
extended from the river Humber to Caithness. The covenant therefore
being confirmed upon these conditions, they ruled the country for five
years in peace and justice. But such a state of prosperity could not
long stand against the endeavours of faction. For some lying
incendiaries gained access to Brennius and addressed him in this

"What sluggish spirit has possessed you, that you can bear subjection to
Belinus, to whom by parentage and blood you are equal; besides your
experience in military affairs, which you have gained in several
engagements, when you so often repulsed Cheulphus, general of the
Morini, in his invasions of our country, and drove him out of your
kingdom? Be no longer bound by a treaty which is a reproach to you, but
marry the daughter of Elsingius, king of the Norwegians, that with his
assistance you may recover your lost dignity." The young man, inflamed
with these and the like specious suggestions, hearkened to them, and
went to Norway, where he married the king's daughter, as his flatterers
had advised him.

CHAP. II.--_Brennius's sea-fight with Guichthlac, king of the Dacians.
Guichthlac and Brennius's wife are driven ashore and taken by Belinus._

In the meantime his brother, informed of this, was violently incensed,
that without his leave he had presumed to act thus against him.
Whereupon he marched into Northumberland, and possessed himself of that
country and the cities in it, which he garrisoned with his own men.
Brennius, upon notice given him of what his brother had done, prepared a
fleet to return to Britain with a great army of Norwegians. But while he
was under sail with a fair wind, he was overtaken by Guichthlac, king of
the Dacians,[168] who had pursued him. This prince had been deeply in
love with the young lady that Brennius had married, and out of mere
grief and vexation for the loss of her, had prepared a fleet to pursue
Brennius with all expedition. In the sea-fight that happened on this
occasion, he had the fortune to take the very ship in which the lady
was, and brought her in among his companions. But during the engagement,
contrary winds arose on a sudden, which brought on a storm, and
dispersed the ships upon different shores: so that the king of the
Dacians, being driven up and down, after a course of five days, arrived
with the lady at Northumberland, under dreadful apprehensions, as not
knowing upon what country this unforeseen casualty had thrown him. When
this came to be known to the country people, they took them and carried
them to Belinus, who was upon the sea-coast, expecting the arrival of
his brother. There were with Guichthlac's ship three others, one of
which had belonged to Brennius's fleet. As soon as they had declared to
the king who they were, he was overjoyed at this happy accident, while
he was endeavouring to revenge himself on his brother.


[Footnote 168: The Danes.]

CHAP. III.--_Belinus in a battle routs Brennius, who thereupon flees to

A few days after appeared Brennius, with his fleet again got together,
and arrived in Albania; and having received information of the capture
of his wife and others, and that his brother had seized the kingdom of
Northumberland in his absence, he sent his ambassadors to him, to demand
the restitution of his wife and kingdom; and if he refused them, to
declare that he would destroy the whole island from sea to sea, and kill
his brother whenever he could come to an engagement with him. On the
other hand, Belinus absolutely refused to comply with his demands, and
assembling together the whole power of the island, went into Albania to
give him battle. Brennius, upon advice that he had suffered a repulse,
and that his brother was upon his march against him, advanced to meet
him in a wood called Calaterium, in order to attack him. When they were
arrived on the field of battle, each of them divided his men into
several bodies, and approaching one another, began the fight. A great
part of the day was spent in it, because on both sides the bravest men
were engaged; and much blood was shed by reason of the fury with which
they encountered each other. So great was the slaughter, that the
wounded fell in heaps, like standing corn cut down by reapers. At last
the Britons prevailing, the Norwegians fled with their shattered troops
to their ships, but were pursued by Belinus, and killed without mercy.
Fifteen thousand men fell in the battle, nor were there a thousand of
the rest that escaped unhurt. Brennius with much difficulty securing one
ship, went as fortune drove him to the coasts of Gaul; but the rest that
attended him, were forced to sculk up and down wherever their
misfortunes led them.

CHAP. IV.--_The king of Dacia, with Brennius's wife, is released out of

Belinus, after this victory, called a council of his nobility, to advise
with them what he should do with the king of the Dacians, who had sent a
message to him out of prison, that he would submit himself and the
kingdom of Dacia to him, and also pay a yearly tribute, if he might have
leave to depart with his mistress. He offered likewise to confirm this
covenant with an oath, and the giving of hostages. When this proposal
was laid before the nobility, they unanimously gave their assent that
Belinus should grant Guichthlac his petition upon the terms offered.
Accordingly he did grant it, and Guichthlac was released from prison,
and returned with his mistress into Dacia.

CHAP. V.--_Belinus revives and confirms the Molmutine laws, especially
about the highways._

Belinus now finding no body in the kingdom of Britain able to make head
against him, and being possessed of the sovereignty of the whole island
from sea to sea, confirmed the laws his father had made, and gave
command for a settled execution of justice through his kingdom. But
above all things he ordered that cities, and the roads leading to them,
should enjoy the same privilege of peace that Dunwallo had established.
But there arose a controversy about the roads, because the limits
determining them were unknown. The king, therefore, willing to clear the
law of all ambiguities, summoned all the workmen of the island together,
and commanded them to pave a causeway of stone and mortar, which should
run the whole length of the island, from the sea of Cornwall, to the
shores of Caithness, and lead directly to the cities that lay along that
extent. He commanded another to be made over the breadth of the kingdom,
leading from Menevia, that was situated upon the Demetian Sea, to Hamo's
Port, and to pass through the interjacent cities. Other two he also made
obliquely through the island, for a passage to the rest of the
cities.[169] He then confirmed to them all honours and privileges, and
prescribed a law for the punishment of any injury committed upon them.
But if any one is curious to know all that he decreed concerning them,
let him read the Molmutine laws, which Gildas the historian translated
from British into Latin, and king Alfred into English.


[Footnote 169: This seems to be a false account of the Roman roads in

CHAP. VI.--_Brennius, being made duke of the Allobroges, returns to
Britain to fight with his brother._

While Belinus was thus reigning in peace and tranquillity, his brother
Brennius, who (as we said before) was driven upon the coasts of Gaul,
suffered great torments of mind. For it was a great affliction to him to
be banished from his country, and to have no power of returning to
retrieve his loss. Being ignorant what course to take, he went among the
princes of Gaul, accompanied only with twelve men; and when he had
related his misfortune to every one of them, but could procure
assistance from none, he went at last to Seginus, duke of the
Allobroges, from whom he had an honourable reception. During his stay
here, he contracted such an intimacy with the duke, that he became the
greatest favourite in the court. For in all affairs, both of peace and
war, he showed a great capacity, so that this prince loved him with a
paternal affection. He was besides of a graceful aspect, tall and
slender in stature, and expert in hunting and fowling, as became his
princely birth. So great was the friendship between them, that the duke
resolved to give him his only daughter in marriage; and in case he
himself should have no male issue, he appointed him and his daughter to
succeed him in his dukedom of the Allobroges after his death. But if he
should yet have a son, then he promised his assistance to advance him to
the kingdom of Britain. Neither was this the desire of the duke only,
but of all the nobility of his court, with whom he had very much
ingratiated himself. So then without farther delay the marriage was
solemnized, and the princes of the country paid their homage to him, as
the successor to the throne. Scarcely was the year at an end before the
duke died; and then Brennius took his opportunity of engaging those
princes of the country firmly in his interest, whom before he had
obliged with his friendship. And this he did by bestowing generously
upon them the duke's treasure, which had been hoarded up from the times
of his ancestors. But that which the Allobroges most esteemed him for,
was his sumptuous entertainments, and keeping an open house for all.

CHAP. VII.--_Belinus and Brennius being made friends by the mediation of
their mother, propose to subdue Gaul._

When he had thus gained universal affection, he began to consult with
himself how he might take revenge upon his brother Belinus. And when he
had signified his intentions concerning it to his subjects, they
unanimously concurred with him, and expressed their readiness to attend
him to whatever kingdom he pleased to conduct them. He therefore soon
raised a vast army, and having entered into a treaty with the Gauls for
a free passage through their country into Britain, fitted out a fleet
upon the coast of Neustria, in which he set sail, and with a fair wind
arrived at the island. Upon hearing the rumour of his coming, his
brother Belinus, accompanied with the whole strength of the kingdom,
marched out to engage him. But when the two armies were drawn out in
order of battle, and just ready to begin the attack, Conwenna, their
mother, who was yet living, ran in great haste through the ranks,
impatient to see her son, whom she had not seen for a long time. As
soon, therefore, as she had with trembling steps reached the place where
he stood, she threw her arms about his neck, and in transports kissed
him; then uncovering her bosom, she addressed herself to him, in words
interrupted with sighs, to this effect:--

"My son, remember these breasts which gave you suck, and the womb
wherein the Creator of all things formed you, and from whence he brought
you forth into the world, while I endured the greatest anguish. By the
pains then which I suffered for you, I entreat you to hear my request:
pardon your brother, and moderate your anger. You ought not to revenge
yourself upon him who has done you no injury. As for what you complain
of,--that you were banished your country by him,--if you duly consider
the result, in strictness can it be called injustice? He did not banish
you to make your condition worse, but forced you to quit a meaner that
you might attain a higher dignity. At first you enjoyed only a part of a
kingdom, and that in subjection to your brother. As soon as you lost
that, you became his equal, by gaining the kingdom of the Allobroges.
What has he then done, but raised you from a vassal to be a king?
Consider farther, that the difference between you began not through him,
but through yourself, who, with the assistance of the king of Norway,
raised an insurrection against him."

Moved by these representations of his mother, he obeyed her with a
composed mind, and putting off his helmet of his own accord, went
straight with her to his brother. Belinus, seeing him approach with a
peaceable countenance, threw down his arms, and ran to embrace him; so
that now, without more ado, they again became friends; and disarming
their forces marched with them peaceably together to Trinovantum. And
here, after consultation what enterprise to undertake, they prepared to
conduct their confederate army into the provinces of Gaul, and reduce
that entire country to their subjection.

CHAP. VIII.--_Belinus and Brennius, after the conquest of Gaul, march
with their army to Rome._

They accordingly passed over into Gaul the year after, and began to lay
waste that country. The news of which spreading through those several
nations, all the petty kings of the Franks entered into a confederacy,
and went out to fight against them. But the victory falling to Belinus
and Brennius, the Franks fled with their broken forces; and the Britons
and Allobroges, elevated with their success, ceased not to pursue them
till they had taken their kings, and reduced them to their power. Then
fortifying the cities which they had taken, in less than a year they
brought the whole kingdom into subjection. At last, after a reduction of
all the provinces, they marched with their whole army towards Rome, and
destroyed the cities and villages as they passed through Italy.

CHAP. IX.--_The Romans make a covenant with Brennius, but afterwards
break it, for which reason Rome is besieged and taken by Brennius._

In those days the two consuls of Rome were Gabius and Porsena,[170] to
whose care the government of the country was committed. When they saw
that no nation was able to withstand the power of Belinus and Brennius,
they came, with the consent of the senate to them, to desire peace and
amity. They likewise offered large presents of gold and silver, and to
pay a yearly tribute, on condition that they might be suffered to enjoy
their own in peace. The two kings therefore, taking hostages of them,
yielded to their petition, and drew back their forces into Germany.
While they were employing their arms in harassing that people, the
Romans repented of their agreement, and again taking courage, went to
assist the Germans. This step highly enraged the kings against them, who
concerted measures how to carry on a war with both nations. For the
greatness of the Italian army was a terror to them. The result of their
council was, that Belinus with the Britons stayed in Germany, to engage
with the enemy there; while Brennius and his army marched to Rome, to
revenge on the Romans their breach of treaty. As soon as the Italians
perceived their design, they quitted the Germans, and hastened to get
before Brennius, in his march to Rome. Belinus had intelligence of it,
and speedily marched with his army the same night, and possessing
himself of a valley through which the enemy was to pass, lay hid there
in expectation of their coming. The next day the Italians came in full
march to the place; but when they saw the valley glittering with the
enemy's armour, they were struck with confusion, thinking Brennius and
the Galli Senones were there. At this favourable opportunity, Belinus on
a sudden rushed forth, and fell furiously upon them: the Romans on the
other hand, thus taken by surprise, fled the field, since they neither
were armed, nor marched in any order. But Belinus gave them no quarter,
and was only prevented by night coming on, from making a total
destruction of them. With this victory he went straight to Brennius, who
had now besieged Rome three days. Then joining their armies, they
assaulted the city on every side, and endeavoured to level the walls:
and to strike a greater terror into the besieged, erected gibbets before
the gates of the city, and threatened to hang up the hostages whom they
had given, unless they would surrender. But the Romans, nothing moved
by the sufferings of their sons and relations, continued inflexible, and
resolute to defend themselves. They therefore sometimes broke the force
of the enemy's engines, by other engines of their own, sometimes
repulsed them from the walls with showers of darts. This so incensed the
two brothers, that they commanded four and twenty of their noblest
hostages to be hanged in the sight of their parents. The Romans,
however, were only more hardened at the spectacle, and having received a
message from Gabius and Porsena, their consuls, that they would come the
next day to their assistance, they resolved to march out of the city,
and give the enemy battle. Accordingly, just as they were ranging their
troops in order, the consuls appeared with their re-assembled forces,
marching up to the attack, and advancing in a close body, fell on the
Britons and Allobroges by surprise, and being joined by the citizens
that sallied forth, killed no small number. The brothers, in great grief
to see such destruction made of their fellow soldiers, began to rally
their men, and breaking in upon the enemy several times, forced them to
retire. In the end, after the loss of many thousands of brave men on
both sides, the brothers gained the day, and took the city, not however
till Gabius was killed and Porsena taken prisoner. This done, they
divided among their men all the hidden treasure of the city.


[Footnote 170: The absurdity of describing Porsena king of Etruria, as
one of the Roman consuls, must be apparent to every reader. No less
evident is it that the whole of this fictitious account is founded upon
the known fact that Rome was taken by the Gauls commanded by one

CHAP. X.--_Brennius oppresses Italy in a most tyrannical manner. Belinus
returns to Britain._

After this complete victory, Brennius stayed in Italy, where he
exercised unheard-of tyranny over the people. But the rest of his
actions and his death, seeing that they are given in the Roman
histories, I shall here pass over, to avoid prolixity and meddling with
what others have treated of, which is foreign to my design. But Belinus
returned to Britain, which he governed during the remainder of his life
in peace; he repaired the cities that were falling to ruin, and built
many new ones. Among the rest he built one upon the river Uske, near the
sea of the Severn, which was for a long time called Caer-osc, and was
the metropolis of Dimetia;[171] but after the invasion of the Romans it
lost its first name, and was called the City of Legions, from the Roman
legions which used to take up their winter quarters in it. He also made
a gate of wonderful structure in Trinovantum, upon the bank of the
Thames, which the citizens call after his name Billingsgate to this day.
Over it he built a prodigiously large tower, and under it a haven or
quay for ships. He was a strict observer of justice, and re-established
his father's laws everywhere throughout the kingdom. In his days there
was so great an abundance of riches among the people, that no age before
or after is said to have shown the like. At last, when he had finished
his days, his body was burned, and the ashes put up in a golden urn,
which they placed at Trinovantum, with wonderful art, on the top of the
tower above-mentioned.


[Footnote 171: Newport, the principal town of South Wales.]

CHAP. XI.--_Gurgiunt Brabtruc, succeeding his father Belinus, reduces
Dacia, which was trying to shake off his yoke._

He was succeeded by Gurgiunt Brabtruc, his son, a sober prudent prince,
who followed the example of his father in all his actions, and was a
lover of peace and justice. When some neighbouring provinces rebelled
against him, inheriting with them the bravery of his father, he
repressed their insolence in several fierce battles, and reduced them to
a perfect subjection. Among many other things it happened, that the king
of the Dacians, who paid tribute in his father's time, refused not only
tribute, but all manner of homage to him. This he seriously resented,
and passed over in a fleet to Dacia, where he harassed the people with a
most cruel war, slew their king, and reduced the country to its former

CHAP. XII.--_Ireland is given to be inhabited by the Barclenses, who had
been banished out of Spain._

At that time, as he was returning home from his conquest through the
Orkney islands, he found thirty ships full of men and women; and upon
his inquiring of them the occasion of their coming thither, their
leader, named Partholoim, approached him in a respectful and submissive
manner, and desired pardon and peace, telling him that he had been
driven out of Spain, and was sailing round those seas in quest of a
habitation. He also desired some small part of Britain to dwell in, that
they might put an end to their tedious wanderings; for it was now a year
and a half since he had been driven from his country, all of which time
he and his company had been out at sea. When Gurgiunt Brabtruc
understood that they came from Spain, and were called Barclenses, he
granted their petition, and sent men with them to Ireland, which was
then wholly uninhabited, and assigned it to them. There they grew up and
increased in number, and have possessed that island to this very day.
Gurgiunt Brabtruc after this ended his days in peace, and was buried in
the City of Legions, which, after his father's death, he ornamented with
buildings and fortified with walls.

CHAP. XIII.--_Guithelin, reigning after Gurgiunt Brabtruc, the Martian
law is instituted by Martia, a noble woman._

After him Guithelin wore the crown, which he enjoyed all his life,
treating his subjects with mildness and affection. He had for his wife a
noble lady named Martia, accomplished in all kinds of learning. Among
many other admirable productions of her wit, she was the author of what
the Britons call the Martian law. This also among other things king
Alfred translated, and called it in the Saxon tongue, _Pa Marchitle
Lage_. Upon the death of Guithelin, the government of the kingdom
remained in the hands of this queen and her son Sisilius, who was then
but seven years old, and therefore unfit to take the government upon
himself alone.

CHAP. XIV.--_Guithelin's successors in the kingdom._

For this reason the mother had the sole management of affairs committed
to her, out of a regard to her great sense and judgment. But on her
death, Sisilius took the crown and government. After him reigned Kimarus
his son, to whom succeeded Danius his brother. After his death the crown
came to Morvidus, whom he had by his concubine Tangustela. He would have
been a prince of extraordinary worth, had he not been addicted to
immoderate cruelty, so far that in his anger he spared nobody, if any
weapon were at hand. He was of a graceful aspect, extremely liberal,
and of such vast strength as not to have his match in the whole kingdom.

CHAP. XV.--_Morvidus, a most cruel tyrant, after the conquest of the
king of the Morini, is devoured by a monster._

In his time a certain king of the Morini[172] arrived with a great force
in Northumberland, and began to destroy the country. But Morvidus, with
all the strength of the kingdom, marched out against him, and fought
him. In this battle he alone did more than the greatest part of his
army, and after the victory, suffered none of the enemy to escape alive.
For he commanded them to be brought to him one after another, that he
might satisfy his cruelty in seeing them killed; and when he grew tired
of this, he gave orders that they should be flayed alive and burned.
During these and other monstrous acts of cruelty, an accident happened
which put a period to his wickedness. There came from the coasts of the
Irish sea, a most cruel monster, that was continually devouring the
people upon the sea-coasts. As soon as he heard of it, he ventured to go
and encounter it alone; when he had in vain spent all his darts upon it,
the monster rushed upon him, and with open jaws swallowed him up like a
small fish.


[Footnote 172: The people who lived near Boulogne.]

CHAP. XVI.--_Gorbonian, a most just king of the Britons._

He had five sons, whereof the eldest, Gorbonian, ascended the throne.
There was not in his time a greater lover of justice and equity, or a
more careful ruler of the people. The performance of due worship to the
gods, and doing justice to the common people, were his continual
employments. Through all the cities of Britain, he repaired the temples
of the gods, and built many new ones. In all his days, the island
abounded with riches, more than all the neighbouring countries. For he
gave great encouragement to husbandmen in their tillage, by protecting
them against any injury or oppression of their lords; and the soldiers
he amply rewarded with money, so that no one had occasion to do wrong to
another. Amidst these and many other acts of his innate goodness, he
paid the debt of nature, and was buried at Trinovantum.

CHAP. XVII.--_Arthgallo is deposed by the Britons, and is succeeded by
Elidure, who restores him again his kingdom._

After him Arthgallo, his brother, was dignified with the crown, and in
all his actions he was the very reverse of his brother. He everywhere
endeavoured to depress the nobility, and advance the baser sort of the
people. He plundered the rich, and by those means amassed vast
treasures. But the nobility, disdaining to bear his tyranny any longer,
made an insurrection against him, and deposed him; and then advanced
Elidure, his brother, who was afterwards surnamed the pious, on account
of his commiseration to Arthgallo in distress. For after five years'
possession of the kingdom, as he happened to be hunting in the wood
Calaterium, he met his brother that had been deposed. For he had
travelled over several kingdoms, to desire assistance for the recovery
of his lost dominions, but had procured none. And being now no longer
able to bear the poverty to which he was reduced, he returned back to
Britain, attended only by ten men, with a design to repair to those who
had been formerly his friends. It was at this time, as he was passing
through the wood, his brother Elidure, who little expected it, got sight
of him, and forgetting all injuries, ran to him, and affectionately
embraced him. Now as he had long lamented his brother's affliction, he
carried him with him to the city Alclud, where he hid him in his
bed-chamber. After this, he feigned himself sick, and sent messengers
over the whole kingdom, to signify to all his prime nobility that they
should come to visit him. Accordingly, when they were all met together
at the city where he lay, he gave orders that they should come into his
chamber one by one, softly, and without noise: his pretence for which
was, that their talk would be a disturbance to his head, should they all
crowd in together. Thus, in obedience to his commands, and without the
least suspicion of any design, they entered his house one after another.
But Elidure had given charge to his servants, who were set ready for the
purpose, to take each of them as they entered, and cut off their heads,
unless they would again submit themselves to Arthgallo his brother.
Thus did he with every one of them apart, and compelled them, through
fear, to be reconciled to Arthgallo. At last the agreement being
ratified, Elidure conducted Arthgallo to York, where he took the crown
from his own head, and put it on that of his brother. From this act of
extraordinary affection to his brother, he obtained the surname of
Pious. Arthgallo after this reigned ten years, and made amends for his
former mal-administration, by pursuing measures of an entirely opposite
tendency, in depressing the baser sort, and advancing men of good birth;
in suffering every one to enjoy his own, and exercising strict justice
towards all men. At last sickness seizing him, he died and was buried in
the city Kaerleir.

CHAP. XVIII.--_Elidure is imprisoned by Peredure, after whose death he
is a third time advanced to the throne._

Then Elidure was again advanced to the throne, and restored to his
former dignity. But while in his government he followed the example of
his eldest brother Gorbonian, in performing all acts of grace; his two
remaining brothers, Vigenius and Peredure, raised an army, and made war
against him, in which they proved victorious; so that they took him
prisoner, and shut him up in the tower[173] at Trinovantum, where they
placed a guard over him. They then divided the kingdom betwixt them;
that part which is from the river Humber westward falling to Vigenius's
share, and the remainder with all Albania to Peredure's. After seven
years Vigenius died, and so the whole kingdom came to Peredure, who from
that time governed the people with generosity and mildness, so that he
even excelled his other brothers who had preceded him, nor was any
mention now made of Elidure. But irresistible fate at last removed him
suddenly, and so made way for Elidure's release from prison, and
advancement to the throne the third time; who finished the course of his
life in just and virtuous actions, and after death left an example of
piety to his successors.


[Footnote 173: The tower of London was built or at least repaired and
enlarged by William Rufus. The story of its having been originally
constructed by Julius Cæsar is an absurd fiction irreconcilable with the
Commentaries of that general. See William of Malmesbury, p. 341.]

CHAP. XIX.--_The names of Elidure's thirty-three successors._

Elidure being dead, Gorbonian's son enjoyed the crown, and imitated his
uncle's wise and prudent government. For he abhorred tyranny, and
practised justice and mildness towards the people, nor did he ever
swerve from the rule of equity. After him reigned Margan, the son of
Arthgallo, who, being instructed by the examples of his immediate
predecessors, held the government in peace. To him succeeded Enniaunus,
his brother, who took a contrary course, and in the sixth year of his
reign was deposed, for having preferred a tyrannical to a just and legal
administration. In his room was placed his kinsman Idwallo, the son of
Vigenius, who, being admonished by Enniaunus's ill success, became a
strict observer of justice and equity. To him succeeded Runno, the son
of Peredure, whose successor was Geruntius, the son of Elidure. After
him reigned Catellus, his son; after Catellus, Coillus; after Coillus,
Porrex; after Porrex, Cherin. This prince had three sons, Fulgenius,
Eldadus, and Andragius, who all reigned one after another. Then
succeeded Urianus, the son of Andragius; after whom reigned in order,
Eliud, Cledaucus, Cletonus, Gurgintius, Merianus, Bleduno, Cap, Oenus,
Sisilius, Blegabred. This last prince, in singing and playing upon
musical instruments, excelled all the musicians that had been before
him, so that he seemed worthy of the title of the God of Jesters. After
him reigned Arthmail, his brother; after Arthmail, Eldol; to whom
succeeded in order, Redion, Rederchius, Samuilpenissel, Pir, Capoir, and
Cligueillus the son of Capoir, a man prudent and mild in all his
actions, and who above all things made it his business to exercise true
justice among his people.

CHAP. XX.--_Heli's three sons; the first of whom, viz. Lud, gives name
to the city of London._

Next to him succeeded his son Heli, who reigned forty years. He had
three sons, Lud, Cassibellaun,[174] and Nennius; of whom Lud, being the
eldest, succeeded to the kingdom after his father's death. He became
famous for the building of cities, and for rebuilding the walls of
Trinovantum, which he also surrounded with innumerable towers. He
likewise commanded the citizens to build houses, and all other kinds of
structures in it, so that no city in all foreign countries to a great
distance round could show more beautiful palaces. He was withal a
warlike man, and very magnificent in his feasts and public
entertainments. And though he had many other cities, yet he loved this
above them all, and resided in it the greater part of the year; for
which reason it was afterwards called Kaerlud, and by the corruption of
the word, Caerlondon; and again by change of languages, in process of
time, London; as also by foreigners who arrived here, and reduced this
country under their subjection, it was called Londres. At last, when he
was dead, his body was buried by the gate which to this time is called
in the British tongue after his name, Parthlud,[175] and in the Saxon,
Ludesgata. He had two sons, Androgeus and Tenuantius, who were incapable
of governing on account of their age: and therefore their uncle
Cassibellaun was preferred to the kingdom in their room. As soon as he
was crowned, he began to display his generosity and magnificence to such
a degree, that his fame reached to distant kingdoms; which was the
reason that the monarchy of the whole kingdom came to be invested in
him, and not in his nephews. Notwithstanding Cassibellaun, from an
impulse of piety, would not suffer them to be without their share in the
kingdom, but assigned a large part of it to them. For he bestowed the
city of Trinovantum, with the dukedom of Kent, on Androgeus; and the
dukedom of Cornwall on Tenuantius. But he himself, as possessing the
crown, had the sovereignty over them, and all the other princes of the


[Footnote 174: The British name of this prince is probably Caswallon.]

[Footnote 175: In Latin _Porta Lud_.]


CHAP. I.--_Julius Cæsar invades Britain._

About this time it happened, (as is found in the Roman histories,) that
Julius Cæsar, having subdued Gaul, came to the shore of the Ruteni. And
when from thence he had got a prospect of the island of Britain, he
inquired of those about him what country it was, and what people
inhabited it. Then fixing his eyes upon the ocean, as soon as he was
informed of the name of the kingdom and the people, he said:[176] "In
truth we Romans and the Britons have the same origin, since both are
descended from the Trojan race. Our first father, after the destruction
of Troy, was Æneas; theirs, Brutus, whose father was Sylvius, the son of
Ascanius, the son of Æneas. But I am deceived, if they are not very much
degenerated from us, and know nothing of the art of war, since they live
separated by the ocean from the whole world. They may be easily forced
to become our tributaries, and subjects to the Roman state. But before
the Romans offer to invade or assault them, we must send them word that
they pay tribute as other nations do, and submit themselves to the
senate; for fear we should violate the ancient nobility of our father
Priamus, by shedding the blood of our kinsmen." All which he accordingly
took care to signify in writing to Cassibellaun; who in great
indignation returned him an answer in the following letter.


[Footnote 176: It is ridiculous to suppose that Cæsar said any thing of
the kind, for he knew well the slender historical evidence on which the
Trojan story depended.]

CHAP. II.--_Cassibellaunus's letter to Julius Cæsar._

"Cassibellaun, king of the Britons, to Caius Julius Cæsar. We cannot but
wonder, Cæsar, at the avarice of the Roman people, since their
insatiable thirst for money cannot let us alone, though the dangers of
the ocean have placed us in a manner out of the world; but they must
have the presumption to covet our substance, which we have hitherto
enjoyed in quiet. Neither is this indeed sufficient: we must also
choose subjection and slavery to them, before the enjoyment of our
native liberty. Your demand, therefore, Cæsar, is scandalous, since the
same vein of nobility flows from Æneas in both Britons and Romans, and
one and the same chain of consanguinity unites us: which ought to be a
band of firm union and friendship. It was that, which you should have
demanded of us, and not slavery: we have learned to admit of the one,
but never to bear the other. And so much have we been accustomed to
liberty, that we are perfectly ignorant what it is to submit to slavery.
And if even the gods themselves should attempt to deprive us of our
liberty, we would, to the utmost of our power, resist them in defence of
it. Know then, Cæsar, that we are ready to fight for that and our
kingdom, if, as you threaten, you shall attempt to invade Britain."

CHAP. III.--_Cæsar is routed by Cassibellaun._

On receiving this answer, Cæsar made ready his fleet, and waited for a
fair wind to execute his threats against Cassibellaun. As soon as the
wind stood fair, he hoisted his sails, and arrived with his army at the
mouth of the river Thames. The ships were now just come close to land,
when Cassibellaun with all his forces appeared on his march against
them, and coming to the town of Dorobellum, he consulted with his
nobility how to drive out the enemy. There was present with him Belinus,
general of his army, by whose counsel the whole kingdom was governed.
There were also his two nephews, Androgeus, duke of Trinovantum, and
Tenuantius, duke of Cornwall, together with three inferior kings,
Cridious, king of Albania, Guerthaeth of Venedotia, and Britael of
Dimetia, who, as they had encouraged the rest to fight the enemy, gave
their advice to march directly to Cæsar's camp, and drive them out of
the country before they could take any city or town. For if he should
possess himself of any fortified places, they said it would be more
difficult to force him out, because he would then know whither to make a
retreat with his men. To this proposal they all agreed, and advanced
towards the shore where Julius Cæsar had pitched his camp. And now both
armies drew out in order of battle, and began the fight, wherein both
bows and swords were employed. Immediately the wounded fell in heaps on
each side, and the ground was drenched with the blood of the slain, as
much as if it had been washed with the sudden return of the tide. While
the armies were thus engaged, it happened that Nennius and Androgeus,
with the citizens of Canterbury and Trinovantum, whom they commanded,
had the fortune to meet with the troop in which Cæsar himself was
present. And upon an assault made, the general's cohort was very nearly
routed by the Britons falling upon them in a close body. During this
action, fortune gave Nennius an opportunity of encountering Cæsar.
Nennius therefore boldly made up to him, and was in great joy that he
could but give so much as one blow to so great a man. On the other hand,
Cæsar being aware of his design, stretched out his shield to receive
him, and with all his might struck him upon the helmet with his drawn
sword, which he lifted up again with an intention to finish his first
blow, and make it mortal; but Nennius carefully prevented him with his
shield, upon which Cæsar's sword glancing with great force from the
helmet, became so firmly fastened therein, that when by the intervention
of the troops they could no longer continue the encounter, the general
was not able to draw it out again. Nennius, thus becoming master of
Cæsar's sword, threw away his own, and pulling the other out, made haste
to employ it against the enemy. Whomsoever he struck with it, he either
cut off his head, or left him wounded without hopes of recovery. While
he was thus exerting himself, he was met by Labienus, a tribune, whom he
killed in the very beginning of the encounter. At last, after the
greatest part of the day was spent, the Britons poured in so fast, and
made such vigorous efforts, that by the blessing of God they obtained
the victory, and Cæsar, with his broken forces, retired to his camp and
fleet. The very same night, as soon as he had got his men together
again, he went on board his fleet, rejoicing that he had the sea for his
camp. And upon his companions dissuading him from continuing the war any
longer, he acquiesced in their advice, and returned back to Gaul.

CHAP. IV.--_Nennius, the brother of Cassibellaun, being wounded in
battle by Cæsar, dies._

Cassibellaun, in joy for this triumph, returned solemn thanks to God;
and calling the companions of his victory together, amply rewarded every
one of them, according as they had distinguished themselves. On the
other hand, he was very much oppressed with grief for his brother
Nennius, who lay mortally wounded, and at the very point of death. For
Cæsar had wounded him in the encounter, and the blow which he had given
him proved incurable; so that fifteen days after the battle he died, and
was buried at Trinovantum, by the North Gate. His funeral obsequies were
performed with regal pomp, and Cæsar's sword put into the tomb with him,
which he had kept possession of, when struck into his shield in the
combat. The name of the sword was _Crocea Mors_ (Yellow Death), as being
mortal to every body that was wounded with it.

CHAP. V.--_Cæsar's inglorious return to Gaul._

After this flight of Cæsar, and his arrival on the Gallic coast, the
Gauls attempted to rebel and throw off his yoke. For they thought he was
so much weakened, that his forces could be no longer a terror to them.
Besides, a general report was spread among them, that Cassibellaun was
now out at sea with a vast fleet to pursue him in his flight; on which
account the Gauls, growing still more bold, began to think of driving
him from their coasts. Cæsar, aware of their designs, was not willing to
engage in a doubtful war with a fierce people, but rather chose to go to
all their first nobility with open treasures, and reconcile them with
presents. To the common people he promised liberty, to the dispossessed
the restitution of their estates, and to the slaves their freedom. Thus
he that had insulted them before with the fierceness of a lion, and
plundered them of all, now, with the mildness of a lamb, fawns on them
with submissive abject speeches, and is glad to restore all again. To
these acts of meanness he was forced to condescend till he had pacified
them, and was able to regain his lost power. In the meantime not a day
passed without his reflecting upon his flight, and the victory of the

CHAP. VI.--_Cassibellaun forms a stratagem for sinking Cæsar's ships._

After two years were expired, he prepared to cross the sea again, and
revenge himself on Cassibellaun, who having intelligence of his design,
everywhere fortified his cities, repaired the ruined walls, and placed
armed men at all the ports. In the river Thames, on which Cæsar intended
to sail up to Trinovantum, he caused iron and leaden stakes, each as
thick as a man's thigh, to be fixed under the surface of the water, that
Cæsar's ships might founder. He then assembled all the forces of the
island, and took up his quarters with them near the sea-coasts, in
expectation of the enemy's coming.

CHAP. VII.--_Cæsar a second time vanquished by the Britons._

After he had furnished himself with all necessaries, the Roman general
embarked with a vast army, eager to revenge himself on a people that had
defeated him; in which he undoubtedly would have succeeded, if he could
but have brought his fleet safe to land; but this he was not able to do.
For in sailing up the Thames to Trinovantum, the ships struck against
the stakes, which so endangered them all on a sudden, that many
thousands of the men were drowned, while the ships being pierced sank
into the river. Cæsar, upon this, employed all his force to shift his
sails, and hastened to get back again to land. And so those that
remained, after a narrow escape, went on shore with him. Cassibellaun,
who was present upon the bank, with joy observed the disaster of the
drowned, but grieved at the escape of the rest; and upon his giving a
signal to his men, made an attack upon the Romans, who, notwithstanding
the danger they had suffered in the river, when landed, bravely
withstood the Britons; and having no other fence to trust to but their
own courage, they made no small slaughter; but yet suffered a greater
loss themselves, than that which they were able to give the enemy. For
their number was considerably diminished by their loss in the river;
whereas the Britons being hourly increased with new recruits, were three
times their number, and by that advantage defeated them. Cæsar, seeing
he could no longer maintain his ground, fled with a small body of men
to his ships, and made the sea his safe retreat; and as the wind stood
fair, he hoisted his sails, and steered to the shore of the Morini. From
thence he repaired to a certain tower, which he had built at a place
called Odnea, before this second expedition into Britain. For he durst
not trust the fickleness of the Gauls, who he feared would fall upon him
a second time, as we have said already they did before, after the first
flight he was forced to make before the Britons. And on that account he
had built this tower for a refuge to himself, that he might be able to
maintain his ground against a rebellious people, if they should make
insurrection against him.

CHAP. VIII.--_Evelinus kills Hirelglas. Androgeus desires Cæsar's
assistance against Cassibellaun._

Cassibellaun, elevated with joy for this second victory, published a
decree, to summon all the nobility of Britain with their wives to
Trinovantum, in order to perform solemn sacrifices to their tutelary
gods who had given them the victory over so great a commander.
Accordingly, they all appeared, and prepared a variety of sacrifices,
for which there was a great slaughter of cattle. At this solemnity they
offered forty thousand cows, and a hundred thousand sheep, and also
fowls of several kinds without number, besides thirty thousand wild
beasts of several kinds. As soon as they had performed these solemn
honours to their gods, they feasted themselves on the remainder, as was
usual at such sacrifices, and spent the rest of the day and night in
various plays and sports. Amidst these diversions, it happened that two
noble youths, whereof one was nephew to the king, the other to duke
Androgeus, wrestled together, and afterwards had a dispute about the
victory. The name of the king's nephew was Hirelglas, the other's
Evelinus. As they were reproaching each other, Evelinus snatched up his
sword and cut off the head of his rival. This sudden disaster put the
whole court into a consternation, upon which the king ordered Evelinus
to be brought before him, that he might be ready to undergo such
punishment as the nobility should determine, and that the death of
Hirelglas might be revenged upon him, if he were unjustly killed.
Androgeus, suspecting the king's intentions, made answer that he had a
court of his own, and that whatever should be alleged against his own
men, ought to be determined there. If, therefore, he was resolved to
demand justice of Evelinus, he might have it at Trinovantum, according
to ancient custom. Cassibellaun, finding he could not attain his ends,
threatened Androgeus to destroy his country with fire and sword, if he
would not comply with his demands. But Androgeus, now incensed, scorned
all compliance with him. On the other hand, Cassibellaun, in a great
rage, hastened to make good his threats, and ravage the country. This
forced Androgeus to make use of daily solicitations to the king, by
means of such as were related to him, or intimate with him, to divert
his rage. But when he found these methods ineffectual, he began in
earnest to consider how to oppose him. At last, when all other hopes
failed, he resolved to request assistance from Cæsar, and wrote a letter
to him to this effect:--

"Androgeus, duke of Trinovantum, to Caius Julius Cæsar, instead of
wishing death as formerly, now wishes health. I repent that ever I acted
against you, when you made war against the king. Had I never been guilty
of such exploits, you would have vanquished Cassibellaun, who is so
swollen with pride since his victory, that he is endeavouring to drive
me out of his coasts, who procured him that triumph. Is this a fit
reward for my services? I have settled him in an inheritance; and he
endeavours to disinherit me. I have a second time restored him to the
kingdom: and he endeavours to destroy me. All this have I done for him
in fighting against you. I call the gods to witness I have not deserved
his anger, unless I can be said to deserve it for refusing to deliver up
my nephew, whom he would have condemned to die unjustly. Of which, that
you may be better able to judge, hear this account of the matter. It
happened that for joy of the victory we performed solemn honours to our
tutelary gods, in which after we had finished our sacrifices, our youth
began to divert themselves with sports. Among the rest our two nephews,
encouraged by the example of the others, entered the lists; and when
mine had got the better, the other without any cause was incensed, and
just going to strike him: but he avoided the blow, and taking him by the
hand that held the sword, strove to wrest it from him. In this struggle
the king's nephew happened to fall upon the sword's point, and died
upon the spot. When the king was informed of it, he commanded me to
deliver up the youth, that he might be punished for murder. I refused do
it; whereupon he invaded my provinces with all his forces, and has given
me very great disturbance; flying, therefore, to your clemency, I desire
your assistance, that by you I may be restored to my dignity, and by me
you may gain possession of Britain. Let no doubts or suspicion of
treachery in this matter detain you. Be influenced by the common motive
of mankind; let past enmities beget a desire of friendship; and after
defeat make you more eager for victory."

CHAP. IX.--_Cassibellaun, being put to flight, and besieged by Cæsar,
desires peace._

Cæsar, having read the letter, was advised by his friends not to go into
Britain upon a bare verbal invitation of the duke, unless he would send
such hostages as might be for his security. Without delay, therefore,
Androgeus sent his son Scæva with thirty young noblemen nearly related
to him. Upon delivery of the hostages, Cæsar, relieved from his
suspicion, re-assembled his forces, and with a fair wind arrived at the
port of Rutupi. In the meantime Cassibellaun had begun to besiege
Trinovantum and ravage the country towns; but finding that Cæsar was
arrived, he raised the siege and hastened to meet him. As soon as he
entered a valley near Dorobernia,[177] he saw the Roman army preparing
their camp: for Androgeus had conducted them to this place, for the
convenience of making a sudden assault upon the city. The Romans, seeing
the Britons advancing towards them, quickly flew to their arms, and
ranged themselves in several bodies. The Britons also put on their arms,
and placed themselves in their ranks. But Androgeus with five thousand
men lay hid in a wood hard by, to be ready to assist Cæsar, and spring
forth on a sudden upon Cassibellaun and his party. Both armies now
approached to begin the fight, some with bows and arrows, some with
swords, so that much blood was shed on both sides, and the wounded fell
down like leaves in autumn. While they were thus engaged, Androgeus
sallied forth from the wood, and fell upon the rear of Cassibellaun's
army, upon which the hopes of the battle entirely depended. And now,
what with the breach which the Romans had made through them just before,
what with the furious irruption of their own countrymen, they were no
longer able to stand their ground, but were obliged with their broken
forces to quit the field. Near the place stood a rocky mountain, on the
top of which was a thick hazel wood. Hither Cassibellaun fled with his
men after he found himself worsted; and having climbed up to the top of
the mountain, bravely defended himself and killed the pursuing enemy.
For the Roman forces with those of Androgeus pursued him to disperse his
flying troops, and climbing up the mountain after them made many
assaults, but all to little purpose; for the rockiness of the mountain
and great height of its top was a defence to the Britons, and the
advantage of higher ground gave them an opportunity of killing great
numbers of the enemy. Cæsar hereupon besieged the mountain that whole
night, which had now overtaken them, and shut up all the avenues to it;
intending to reduce the king by famine, since he could not do it by
force of arms. Such was the wonderful valour of the British nation in
those times, that they were able to put the conqueror of the world twice
to flight; and being ready to die for the defence of their country and
liberty, they, even though defeated, withstood him whom the whole world
could not withstand. Hence Lucan in their praise says of Cæsar,

    "Territa quæsitis ostendit terga Britannis."

    With pride he sought the Britons, but when found,
    Dreaded their force, and fled the hostile ground.

Two days were now passed, when Cassibellaun having consumed all his
provision, feared famine would oblige him to surrender himself prisoner
to Cæsar. For this reason he sent a message to Androgeus to make his
peace with Julius, lest the honour of the nation might suffer by his
being taken prisoner. He likewise represented to him, that he did not
deserve to be pursued to death for the annoyance which he had given him.
As soon as the messengers had told this to Androgeus, he made
answer:--"That prince deserves not to be loved, who in war is mild as a
lamb, but in peace cruel as a lion. Ye gods of heaven and earth! Does my
lord then condescend to entreat me now, whom before he took upon him to
command? Does he desire to be reconciled and make his submission to
Cæsar, of whom Cæsar himself had before desired peace? He ought
therefore to have considered, that he who was able to drive so great a
commander out of the kingdom, was able also to bring him back again. I
ought not to have been so unjustly treated, who had then done him so
much service, as well as now so much injury. He must be mad who either
injures or reproaches his fellow soldiers by whom he defeats the enemy.
The victory is not the commander's, but theirs who lose their blood in
fighting for him. However, I will procure him peace if I can, for the
injury which he has done me is sufficiently revenged upon him, since he
sues for mercy to me."


[Footnote 177: Canterbury]

CHAP. X.--_Androgeus's speech to Cæsar._

Androgeus after this went to Cæsar, and after a respectful salutation
addressed him in this manner:--"You have sufficiently revenged yourself
upon Cassibellaun; and now let clemency take place of vengeance. What
more is there to be done than that he make his submission and pay
tribute to the Roman state?" To this Cæsar returned him no answer: upon
which Androgeus said again; "My whole engagement with you, Cæsar, was
only to reduce Britain under your power, by the submission of
Cassibellaun. Behold! Cassibellaun is now vanquished, and Britain by my
assistance become subject to you. What further service do I owe you? God
forbid that I should suffer my sovereign, who sues to me for peace, and
makes me satisfaction for the injury which he has done me, to be in
prison or in chains. It is no easy matter to put Cassibellaun to death
while I have life; and if you do not comply with my demand, I shall not
be ashamed to give him my assistance." Cæsar, alarmed at these menaces
of Androgeus, was forced to comply, and entered into peace with
Cassibellaun, on condition that he should pay a yearly tribute of three
thousand pounds of silver. So then Julius and Cassibellaun from this
time became friends, and made presents to each other. After this, Cæsar
wintered in Britain, and the following spring returned into Gaul.[178]
At length he assembled all his forces, and marched towards Rome against


[Footnote 178: "Cæsar's expedition against the Britons was of singular
boldness; for he was the first who proceeded with a fleet to the Western
Ocean, and sailed over the Atlantic Sea, conducting an army to war; and
being desirous of possessing an island, for its size hardly believed in,
and giving occasion for much controversy to various writers, as if a
name and a tale had been invented of a place which never had been nor
was yet in existence, he advanced the dominion of the Romans beyond the
limits of the known world; and having twice sailed over to the island
from the opposite coast of Gaul, and having rather worsted his enemies
in many battles, than advantaged his own soldiers, for there was nothing
worth taking from men who had a bare subsistence and were poor, he
terminated the war not in the way he wished; but taking hostages from
the king, and appointing tributes, he departed from the
island."--PLUTARCH. This is the language of a writer favourable to the
reputation of Cæsar, and may teach us how worthless are the old British
or rather Welsh legends in comparison with the classic historians.

But the classic historians deal sometimes in fables. Witness the
following quotation from Polyænus:

"Cæsar attempting to pass a large river in Britain, Cassolaulus, king of
the Britons, obstructed him with many horsemen and chariots. Cæsar had
in his train a very large elephant, an animal hitherto unseen by the
Britons. Having armed him with scales of iron, and put a large tower
upon him, and placed therein archers and slingers, he ordered them to
enter the stream. The Britons were amazed at beholding a beast till then
unseen, and of an extraordinary nature. As to the horses, what need to
write of them! since even among the Greeks, horses fly on seeing
elephants even without harness, but thus towered and armed, and casting
darts and slinging, they could not endure even to look upon the sight.
The Britons therefore fled with their horses and chariots. Thus the
Romans passed the river without molestation, having terrified the enemy
by a single animal."]

CHAP. XI.--_Tenuantius is made king of Britain after Cassibellaun._

After seven years had expired, Cassibellaun died and was buried at York.
He was succeeded by Tenuantius, duke of Cornwall, and brother of
Androgeus: for Androgeus was gone to Rome with Cæsar. Tenuantius
therefore, now wearing the crown, governed the kingdom with diligence.
He was a warlike man, and a strict observer of justice. After him
Kymbelinus his son was advanced to the throne, being a great soldier,
and brought up by Augustus Cæsar. He had contracted so great a
friendship with the Romans, that he freely paid them tribute when he
might have very well refused it. In his days was born our Lord Jesus
Christ, by whose precious blood mankind was redeemed from the devil,
under whom they had been before enslaved.

CHAP. XII.--_Upon Guiderius's refusing to pay tribute to the Romans,
Claudius Cæsar invades Britain._

Kymbelinus, when he had governed Britain ten years, begat two sons, the
elder named Guiderius, the other Arviragus. After his death the
government fell to Guiderius. This prince refused to pay tribute to the
Romans; for which reason Claudius, who was now emperor, marched against
him. He was attended in this expedition by the commander of his army,
who was called in the British tongue, Leuis Hamo, by whose advice the
following war was to be carried on. This man, therefore, arriving at the
city of Portcester, [Portchester,] began to block up the gates with a
wall, and denied the citizens all liberty of passing out. For his design
was either to reduce them to subjection by famine, or kill them without

CHAP. XIII.--_Leuis Hamo, a Roman, by wicked treachery kills Guiderius._

Guiderius, upon the news of Claudius's coming, assembled all the
soldiery of the kingdom, and went to meet the Roman army. In the battle
that ensued, he began the assault with great eagerness, and did more
execution with his own sword than the greater part of his army. Claudius
was now on the point of retreating to his ships, and the Romans very
nearly routed, when the crafty Hamo, throwing aside his own armour, put
on that of the Britons, and as a Briton fought against his own men. Then
he exhorted the Britons to a vigorous assault, promising them a speedy
victory. For he had learned their language and manners, having been
educated among the British hostages at Rome. By these means he
approached by little and little to the king, and seizing a favourable
opportunity, stabbed him while under no apprehension of danger, and then
escaped through the enemy's ranks to return to his men with the news of
his detestable exploit. But Arviragus, his brother, seeing him killed,
forthwith put off his own and put on his brother's habiliments, and, as
if he had been Guiderius himself, encouraged the Britons to stand their
ground. Accordingly, as they knew nothing of the king's disaster, they
made a vigorous resistance, fought courageously, and killed no small
number of the enemy. At last the Romans gave ground, and dividing
themselves into two bodies, basely quitted the field. Cæsar with one
part, to secure himself, retired to his ships; but Hamo fled to the
woods, because he had not time to get to the ships. Arviragus,
therefore, thinking that Claudius fled along with him, pursued him with
all speed, and did not leave off harassing him from place to place, till
he overtook him upon a part of the sea-coast, which, from the name of
Hamo, is now called Southampton. There was at the same place a
convenient haven for ships, and some merchant-ships at anchor. And just
as Hamo was attempting to get on board them, Arviragus came upon him
unawares, and forthwith killed him. And ever since that time the haven
has been called Hamo's port.

CHAP. XIV.--_Arviragus, king of Britain, makes his submission to
Claudius, who with his assistance conquers the Orkney islands._

In the meantime, Claudius, with his remaining forces, assaulted the city
above-mentioned, which was then called Kaerperis, now Portcestre, and
presently levelled the walls, and having reduced the citizens to
subjection, went after Arviragus, who had entered Winchester. Afterwards
he besieged that city, and employed a variety of engines against it.
Arviragus, seeing himself in these straits, called his troops together,
and opened the gates, to march out and give him battle. But just as he
was ready to begin the attack, Claudius, who feared the boldness of the
king and the bravery of the Britons, sent a message to him with a
proposal of peace; choosing rather to reduce them by wisdom and policy,
than run the hazard of a battle. To this purpose he offered a
reconciliation with him, and promised to give him his daughter, if he
would only acknowledge the kingdom of Britain subject to the Roman
state. The nobility hereupon persuaded him to lay aside thoughts of war,
and be content with Claudius's promise; representing to him at the same
time, that it was no disgrace to be subject to the Romans, who enjoyed
the empire of the whole world. By these and many other arguments he was
prevailed upon to hearken to their advice, and make his submission to
Cæsar. After which Claudius sent to Rome for his daughter, and then,
with the assistance of Arviragus, reduced the Orkney and the provincial
islands to his power.[179]


[Footnote 179: Claudius never was in Orkney; he spent only sixteen days
altogether in Britain. Of certain sacred isles in the neighbourhood of
Britain, Plutarch gives the following account, showing how little the
Greeks knew of Britain eighty years after the reign of Claudius:

"A short time before Callistratus celebrated the Pythian games, two holy
men from the opposite parts of the habitable earth came to us at
Delphos, Demetrius the grammarian from Britain, returning home to
Tarsus, and Cleombrotus the Lacedæmonian.... But Demetrius said, that
there are many desert islands scattered around Britain, some of which
have the name of being the islands of genii and heroes: that he had been
sent by the emperor, for the sake of describing and viewing them, to
that which lay nearest to the desert isles, and which had but few
inhabitants; all of whom were esteemed by the Britons sacred and
inviolable. Very soon after his arrival there was great turbulence in
the air, and many portentous storms; the winds became tempestuous, and
fiery whirlwinds rushed forth. When these ceased, the islanders said
that the departure of some one of the superior genii had taken place.
For as a light when burning, say they, has nothing disagreeable, but
when extinguished is offensive to many; so likewise lofty spirits afford
an illumination benignant and mild, but their extinction and destruction
frequently, as at the present moment, excite winds and storms, and often
infect the atmosphere with pestilential evils. Moreover, that there was
one island there, wherein Saturn was confined by Briareus in sleep: for
that sleep had been devised for his bonds; and that around him were many
genii as his companions and attendants.

"Asclepiades asserts, that after their thirtieth year the Ethiopians,
being scorched by the sun, quickly grow old, in consequence of their
bodies being overheated; whereas in Britain they advance to an hundred
and twenty years, in consequence of the coldness of the place and their
retaining within themselves the vital heat: for the bodies of the
Ethiopians are more slender from their being relaxed by the sun, whereas
the inhabitants of the north are thick set in their persons, and on this
account longer lived."]

CHAP. XV.--_Claudius gives his daughter Genuissa for a wife to
Arviragus, and returns to Rome._

As soon as the winter was over, those that were sent for Claudius's
daughter returned with her, and presented her to her father. The
damsel's name was Genuissa, and so great was her beauty, that it raised
the admiration of all that saw her. After her marriage with the king,
she gained so great an ascendant over his affections, that he in a
manner valued nothing but her alone: insomuch that he was desirous to
have the place honoured where the nuptials were solemnized, and moved
Claudius to build a city upon it, for a monument to posterity of so
great and happy a marriage. Claudius consented to it, and commanded a
city to be built, which after his name is called Kaerglou, that is
Gloucester, to this day, and is situated on the confines of Dimetia and
Loegria, upon the banks of the Severn. But some say that it derived its
name from Duke Gloius, a son that was born to Claudius there, and to
whom, after the death of Arviragus, fell the dukedom of Dimetia. The
city being finished, and the island now enjoying peace, Claudius
returned to Rome, leaving to Arviragus the government of the British
islands. At the same time the apostle Peter founded the Church of
Antioch; and afterwards coming to Rome, was bishop there, and sent Mark,
the evangelist, into Egypt to preach the gospel which he had written.

CHAP. XVI.--_Arviragus revolting from the Romans, Vespasian is sent into

After the departure of Claudius, Arviragus began to show his wisdom and
courage, to rebuild cities and towns, and to exercise so great authority
over his own people, that he became a terror to the kings of remote
countries. But this so elevated him with pride that he despised the
Roman power, disdained any longer subjection to the senate, and assumed
to himself the sole authority in every thing. Upon this news Vespasian
was sent by Claudius to procure a reconciliation with Arviragus, or to
reduce him to the subjection of the Romans. When, therefore, Vespasian
arrived at the haven of Rutupi,[180] Arviragus met him, and prevented
his entering the port. For he brought so great an army along with him,
that the Romans, for fear of his falling upon them, durst not come
ashore. Vespasian upon this withdrew from that port, and shifting his
sails arrived at the shore of Totness. As soon as he was landed, he
marched directly to besiege Kaerpenhuelgoit, now Exeter; and after lying
before it seven days, was overtaken by Arviragus and his army, who gave
him battle. That day great destruction was made in both armies, but
neither got the victory. The next morning, by the mediation of queen
Genuissa, the two leaders were made friends, and sent their men over to
Ireland. As soon as winter was over, Vespasian returned to Rome, but
Arviragus continued still in Britain. Afterwards, when he grew old, he
began to show much respect to the senate, and to govern his kingdom in
peace and tranquillity. He confirmed the old laws of his ancestors, and
enacted some new ones, and made very ample presents to all persons of
merit. So that his fame spread over all Europe, and he was both loved
and feared by the Romans, and became the subject of their discourse more
than any king in his time. Hence Juvenal relates how a certain blind
man, speaking of a turbot that was taken, said:--

    "Regem aliquem capies, aut de temone Britanno
    Decidet Arviragus."[181]

    Arviragus shall from his chariot fall,
    Or thee his lord some captive king shall call.

In war none was more fierce than he, in peace none more mild, none more
pleasing, or in his presents more magnificent. When he had finished his
course of life, he was buried at Gloucester, in a certain temple which
he had built and dedicated to the honour of Claudius.[182]


[Footnote 180: Richborough.]

[Footnote 181: Juven. Sat. iv. 26.]

[Footnote 182: Although this narrative of the reign of Arviragus is
purely imaginative, yet it is not impossible that Gloucester may have
been a station founded by Claudius, and hence called Claudii Castrum, or
Caer Glan.]

CHAP. XVII.--_Rodric, leader of the Picts, is vanquished by Marius._

His son Marius, a man of admirable prudence and wisdom, succeeded him in
the kingdom. In his reign a certain king of the Picts, named Rodric,
came from Scythia with a great fleet, and arrived in the north part of
Britain, which is called Albania, and began to ravage that country.
Marius therefore raising an army went in quest of him, and killed him in
battle, and gained the victory; for a monument of which he set up a
stone in the province, which from his name was afterwards called
Westmoreland, where there is an inscription retaining his memory to this
day. He gave the conquered people that came with Rodric liberty to
inhabit that part of Albania which is called Caithness, that had been a
long time desert and uncultivated. And as they had no wives, they
desired to have the daughters and kinswomen of the Britons. But the
Britons refused, disdaining to unite with such a people. Having suffered
a repulse here, they sailed over into Ireland, and married the women of
that country, and by their offspring increased their number. But let
thus much suffice concerning them, since I do not propose to write the
history of this people, or of the Scots, who derived their original from
them and the Irish. Marius, after he had settled the island in perfect
peace, began to love the Roman people, paying the tribute that was
demanded of him; and in imitation of his father's example practised
justice, law, peace, and every thing that was honourable in his kingdom.

CHAP. XVIII.--_Marius dying, is succeeded by Coillus._

As soon as he had ended his days, his son Coillus took upon him the
government of the kingdom. He had been brought up from his infancy at
Rome, and having been taught the Roman manners, had contracted a most
strict amity with them. He likewise paid them tribute, and declined
making them any opposition, because he saw the whole world subject to
them, and that no town or country was out of the limits of their power.
By paying therefore what was required of him, he enjoyed his kingdom in
peace: and no king ever showed greater respect to his nobility, not only
permitting them to enjoy their own with quiet, but also binding them to
him by his continual bounty and munificence.

CHAP. XIX.--_Lucius is the first British king that embraces the
Christian faith, together with his people._

Coillus had but one son, named Lucius, who, obtaining the crown after
his father's decease, imitated all his acts of goodness, and seemed to
his people to be no other than Coillus himself revived. As he had made
so good a beginning, he was willing to make a better end: for which
purpose he sent letters to pope Eleutherius, desiring to be instructed
by him in the Christian religion. For the miracles which Christ's
disciples performed in several nations wrought a conviction in his mind;
so that being inflamed with an ardent love of the true faith, he
obtained the accomplishment of his pious request. For that holy pope,
upon receipt of this devout petition, sent to him two most religious
doctors, Faganus and Duvanus, who, after they had preached concerning
the incarnation of the Word of God, administered baptism to him, and
made him a proselyte to the Christian faith. Immediately upon this,
people from all countries, assembling together, followed the king's
example, and being washed in the same holy laver, were made partakers of
the kingdom of heaven. The holy doctors, after they had almost
extinguished paganism over the whole island, dedicated the temples, that
had been founded in honour of many gods, to the one only God and his
saints, and filled them with congregations of Christians. There were
then in Britain eight and twenty flamens, as also three archflamens, to
whose jurisdiction the other judges and enthusiasts were subject. These
also, according to the apostolic command, they delivered from idolatry,
and where they were flamens made them bishops, where archflamens,
archbishops. The seats of the archflamens were at the three noblest
cities, viz. London,[183] York, and the City of Legions, which its old
walls and buildings show to have been situated upon the river Uske in
Glamorganshire. To these three, now purified from superstition, were
made subject twenty-eight bishops, with their dioceses. To the
metropolitan of York were subject Deira and Albania, which the great
river Humber divides from Loegria. To the metropolitan of London were
subject Loegria and Cornwall. These two provinces the Severn divides
from Kambria or Wales, which was subject to the City of Legions.


[Footnote 183: This fabulous story of the flamens and archflamens, and
of the substitution of bishops and archbishops in their places, led, in
later years, to serious disputes between the bishops of Canterbury,
York, and London.]

CHAP. XX.--_Faganus and Duvanus give an account at Rome, of what they
had done in Britain._

At last, when they had made an entire reformation here, the two prelates
returned to Rome, and desired the pope to confirm what they had done. As
soon as they had obtained a confirmation, they returned again to
Britain, accompanied with many others, by whose doctrine the British
nation was in a short time strengthened in the faith. Their names and
acts are recorded in a book which Gildas wrote concerning the victory
of Aurelius Ambrosius; and what is delivered in so bright a treatise,
needs not to be repeated here in a meaner style.[184]


[Footnote 184: This treatise has not been preserved, and most probably
never was written. The only information which has come down to us about
king Lucius, at all likely to be of an authentic character, is a brief
notice of him in Bede's Ecclesiastical History, p. 10.]


CHAP. I.--_Lucius dies without issue, and is a benefactor to the

In the meantime, the glorious king Lucius highly rejoiced at the great
progress which the true faith and worship had made in his kingdom, and
permitted the possessions and territories which formerly belonged to the
temples of the gods, to be converted to a better use, and appropriated
to Christian churches. And because a greater honour was due to them than
to the others, he made large additions of lands and manor-houses, and
all kinds of privileges to them. Amidst these and other acts of his
great piety, he departed this life in the city of Gloucester, and was
honourably buried in the cathedral church, in the hundred and
fifty-sixth year after our Lord's incarnation. He had no issue to
succeed him, so that after his decease there arose a dissension among
the Britons, and the Roman power was much weakened.

CHAP. II.--_Severus, a senator, subdues part of Britain: his war with

When this news was brought to Rome, the senate despatched Severus, a
senator, with two legions, to reduce the country to subjection. As soon
as he was arrived, he came to a battle with the Britons, part of whom he
obliged to submit to him, and the other part which he could not subdue
he endeavoured to distress in several cruel engagements, and forced them
to fly beyond Deira into Albania. Notwithstanding which they opposed him
with all their might under the conduct of Fulgenius, and often made
great slaughter both of their own countrymen and of the Romans. For
Fulgenius, brought to his assistance all the people of the islands that
he could find, and so frequently gained the victory. The emperor, not
being able to resist the irruptions which he made, commanded a wall to
be built between Deira and Albania, to hinder his excursions upon them;
they accordingly made one at the common charge from sea to sea, which
for a long time hindered the approach of the enemy. But Fulgenius, when
he was unable to make any longer resistance, made a voyage into Scythia,
to desire the assistance of the Picts towards his restoration. And when
he had got together all the forces of that country, he returned with a
great fleet into Britain, and besieged York. Upon this news being spread
through the country, the greatest part of the Britons deserted Severus,
and went over to Fulgenius. However this did not make Severus desist
from his enterprise: but calling together the Romans, and the rest of
the Britons that adhered to him, he marched to the siege, and fought
with Fulgenius; but the engagement proving very sharp, he was killed
with many of his followers: Fulgenius also was mortally wounded.
Afterwards Severus was buried at York, which city was taken by his
legions.[185] He left two sons, Bassianus and Geta, whereof Geta had a
Roman for his mother, but Bassianus[186] a Briton. Therefore upon the
death of their father the Romans made Geta king, favouring him on
account of his being a Roman by both his parents: but the Britons
rejected him, and advanced Bassianus, as being their countryman by his
mother's side. This proved the occasion of a battle between the two
brothers, in which Geta was killed; and so Bassianus obtained the


[Footnote 185: The following is an extract from the true account of the
expedition of Severus into Britain taken from Herodian:

"[Severus] received letters from the præfect of Britain relating that
the barbarians there were in a state of insurrection, overrunning the
country, driving off booty, and laying every thing waste; so that for
the defence of the island there was need either of greater force, or of
the presence of the emperor himself. Severus heard this with pleasure,
by nature a lover of glory, and anxious, after his victories in the east
and north and his consequent titles, to obtain a trophy from the
Britons: moreover, willing to withdraw his sons from Rome, that they
might grow up in the discipline and sobriety of a military life, far
removed from the blandishments and luxury prevalent in Rome, he orders
an expedition against Britain, although now old and labouring under an
arthritic affection; but as to his mind, he was vigorous beyond any
youth. For the most part he performed the march carried in a litter, nor
did he ever continue long in one place. Having completed the journey
with his sons, and crossed over the sea more quickly than could be
described or expected, he advanced against the Britons, and having drawn
together his soldiers from all sides, and concentrated a vast force, he
prepared for the war.

"The Britons, much struck with the sudden arrival of the emperor, and
learning that such a mighty force was collected against them, sent
ambassadors, sued for peace, and were willing to excuse their past
transgressions. But Severus, purposely seeking delay that he might not
again return to Rome without his object, and, moreover, desirous to
obtain from Britain a victory and a title, sent away their ambassadors
without effecting their purpose, and prepared all things for the
contest. He more especially endeavoured to render the marshy places
stable by means of causeways, that his soldiers, treading with safety,
might easily pass them, and, having firm footing, fight to advantage.
For many parts of the British country, being constantly flooded by the
tides of the ocean, become marshy. In these the natives are accustomed
to swim and traverse about being immersed as high as their waists: for
going naked as to the greater part of their bodies, they contemn the
mud. Indeed they know not the use of clothing, but encircle their loins
and necks with iron; deeming this an ornament and an evidence of
opulence, in like manner as other barbarians esteem gold. But they
puncture their bodies with pictured forms of every sort of animals; on
which account they wear no clothing, lest they should hide the figures
on their body. They are a most warlike and sanguinary race, carrying
only a small shield and a spear, and a sword girded to their naked
bodies. Of a breast-plate or an helmet they know not the use, esteeming
them an impediment to their progress through the marshes; from the
vapours and exhalations of which the atmosphere in that country always
appears dense.

"Against such things, therefore, Severus prepared whatever could be
serviceable to the Roman army, but hurtful and detrimental to the
designs of the barbarians. And when every thing appeared to him
sufficiently arranged for the war, leaving his younger son, named Geta,
in that part of the island which was subjugated to the Romans, for the
purpose of administering justice and directing other civil matters of
the government, giving him as assessors the more aged of his friends;
and taking Antoninus with himself, he led the way against the
barbarians. His army having passed beyond the rivers and fortresses
which defended the Roman territory, there were frequent attacks and
skirmishes and retreats on the side of the barbarians. To these, indeed,
flight was an easy matter, and they lay hidden in the thickets and
marshes through their local knowledge; all which things being adverse to
the Romans, served to protract the war."]

[Footnote 186: Otherwise called Caracalla.]

CHAP. III.--_Carausius advanced to be king of Britain._

At that time there was in Britain one Carausius, a young man of mean
birth, who, having given proof of his bravery in many engagements, went
to Rome, and solicited the senate for leave to defend with a fleet the
maritime coasts of Britain, from the incursions of barbarians; which if
they would grant him, he promised to do more for the honour and service
of the commonwealth, than by delivering up to them the kingdom of
Britain. The senate, deluded by his specious promises, granted him his
request, and so, with his commission sealed, he returned to Britain.
Then by wicked practices getting a fleet together, he enlisted into his
service a body of the bravest youths, and putting out to sea, sailed
round the whole kingdom, causing very great disturbance among the
people. In the meantime he invaded the adjacent islands, where he
destroyed all before him, countries, cities, and towns, and plundered
the inhabitants of all they had. By this conduct he encouraged all
manner of dissolute fellows to flock to him in hope of plunder, and in a
very short time was attended by an army which no neighbouring prince was
able to oppose. This made him begin to swell with pride, and to propose
to the Britons, that they should make him their king; for which
consideration he promised to kill and banish the Romans, and free the
whole island from the invasions of barbarous nations. Accordingly
obtaining his request, he fell upon Bassianus and killed him, and then
took upon him the government of the kingdom. For Bassianus was betrayed
by the Picts, whom Fulgenius his mother's brother had brought with him
into Britain, and who being corrupted by the promises and presents of
Carausius, instead of assisting Bassianus, deserted him in the very
battle, and fell upon his men; so that the rest were put into a
consternation, and not knowing their friends from their foes, quickly
gave ground, and left the victory to Carausius. Then he, to reward the
Picts for this success, gave them a habitation in Albania, where they
continued afterwards mixed with the Britons.

CHAP. IV.--_Allectus kills Carausius, but is afterwards himself slain in
flight by Asclepiodotus._

When the news of these proceedings of Carausius arrived at Rome, the
senate commissioned[187] Allectus, with three legions, to kill the
tyrant, and restore the kingdom of Britain to the Roman power. No sooner
was he arrived, than he fought with Carausius, killed him, and took upon
himself the government. After which he miserably oppressed the Britons,
for having deserted the commonwealth, and adhered to Carausius. But the
Britons, not enduring this, advanced Asclepiodotus, duke of Cornwall, to
be their king, and then unanimously marched against Allectus, and
challenged him to battle. He was then at London, celebrating a feast to
his tutelary gods; but being informed of the coming of Asclepiodotus, he
quitted the sacrifice, and went out with all his forces to meet him, and
engaged with him in a sharp fight. But Asclepiodotus had the advantage,
and dispersed and put to flight Allectus's troops, and in the pursuit
killed many thousands, as also king Allectus himself. After this
victory, Livius Gallus, the colleague of Allectus, assembled the rest of
the Romans, shut the gates of the city, and placed his men in the towers
and other fortifications, thinking by these means either to make a stand
against Asclepiodotus, or at least to avoid imminent death. But
Asclepiodotus seeing this laid siege to the city, and sent word to all
the dukes of Britain, that he had killed Allectus with a great number of
his men, and was besieging Gallus and the rest of the Romans in London;
and therefore earnestly entreated them to hasten to his assistance,
representing to them withal, how easy it was to extirpate the whole race
of the Romans out of Britain, provided they would all join their forces
against the besieged. At this summons came the Dimetians, Venedotians,
Deirans, Albanians, and all others of the British race. And as soon as
they appeared before the duke, he commanded vast numbers of engines to
be made, to beat down the walls of the city. Accordingly every one
readily executed his orders with great bravery, and made a violent
assault upon the city, the walls of which were in a very short time
battered down, and a passage made into it. After these preparations,
they began a bloody assault upon the Romans, who, seeing their fellow
soldiers falling before them without intermission, persuaded Gallus to
offer a surrender on the terms of having quarter granted them, and leave
to depart: for they were now all killed except one legion, which still
held out. Gallus consented to the proposal, and accordingly surrendered
himself and his men to Asclepiodotus, who was disposed to give them
quarter; but he was prevented by a body of Venedotians, who rushed upon
them, and the same day cut off all their heads upon a brook within the
city, which from the name of the commander was afterwards called in the
British tongue Nautgallim, and in the Saxon Gallembourne.


[Footnote 187: Roman history must have been very little known in
England, when such a statement as this could be put forth as true.
Eutropius [ix. 22] says "Carausius, after seven years, was murdered by
his companion Allectus, who after him held the government three years

CHAP. V.--_Asclepiodotus obtains the crown. Diocletian's massacre of the
Christians in Britain._

The Romans being thus defeated, Asclepiodotus,[188] with the consent of
the people, placed the crown upon his own head, and governed the country
in justice and peace ten years, and curbed the insolence and outrages
committed by plunderers and robbers. In his days began the persecution
of the emperor Diocletian; and Christianity, which from the time of king
Lucius had continued fixed and undisturbed, was almost abolished over
the whole island. This was principally owing to Maximianus Herculius,
general of that tyrant's army, by whose command all the churches were
pulled down, and all the copies of the Holy Scriptures that could be
found, were burned in the public markets. The priests also, with the
believers under their care, were put to death, and with emulation
pressed in crowds together for a speedy passage to the joys of heaven,
as their proper dwelling place. God therefore magnified his goodness to
us, forasmuch as he did, in that time of persecution, of his mere grace,
light up the bright lamps of the holy martyrs, to prevent the spreading
of gross darkness over the people of Britain; whose sepulchres and
places of suffering might have been a means of inflaming our minds with
the greatest fervency of divine love, had not the deplorable impiety of
barbarians deprived us of them. Among others of both sexes who continued
firm in the army of Christ, and suffered, were Alban of Verulam, and
Julius and Aaron, both of the City of Legions. Of these, Alban, out of
the fervour of his charity, when his confessor, Amphibalus, was pursued
by the persecutors, and just ready to be apprehended, first hid him in
his house, and then offered himself to die for him; imitating in this
Christ himself, who laid down his life for his sheep. The other two,
after being torn limb from limb, in a manner unheard of, received the
crown of martyrdom, and were elevated up to the gates of the heavenly


[Footnote 188: Asclepiodotus is hardly mentioned in the authentic
history of this period. He was præfectus prætorio under Constantius
Chlorus, who was the general that really recovered Britain from

CHAP. VI.--_An insurrection against Asclepiodotus, by Coel, whose
daughter Helena Constantius marries._

In the meantime Coel,[189] duke of Kaercolvin or Colchester, made an
insurrection against king Asclepiodotus, and in a pitched battle killed
him, and took possession of his crown. The senate, hearing this,
rejoiced at the king's death, who had given such disturbance to the
Roman power: and reflecting on the damage which they had sustained by
the loss of this kingdom, they sent Constantius the senator, a man of
prudence and courage, who had reduced Spain under their subjection, and
who was above all the rest industrious to promote the good of the
commonwealth. Coel, having information of his coming, was afraid to
engage him in battle, on account of a report, that no king was able to
stand before him. Therefore, as soon as Constantius was arrived at the
island, Coel sent ambassadors to him with offers of peace and
submission, on condition that he should enjoy the kingdom of Britain,
and pay no more than the usual tribute to the Roman state. Constantius
consented to this proposal, and so, upon their giving hostages, peace
was confirmed between them. The month after Coel was seized with a very
great sickness, of which he died within eight days. After his decease,
Constantius himself was crowned, and married the daughter of Coel, whose
name was Helena. She surpassed all the ladies of the country in beauty,
as she did all others of the time in her skill in music and the liberal
arts. Her father had no other issue to succeed him on the throne; for
which reason he was very careful about her education, that she might be
better qualified to govern the kingdom. Constantius, therefore, having
made her partner of his bed, had a son by her called Constantine.[190]
After eleven years were expired, he died at York, and bestowed the
kingdom upon his son, who, within a few years after he was raised to
this dignity, began to give proofs of heroic virtue, undaunted courage,
and strict observance of justice towards his people. He put a stop to
the depredations of robbers, suppressed the insolence of tyrants, and
endeavoured everywhere to restore peace.


[Footnote 189: This king seems to be the same as the hero of the old
popular ditty, "Old king Coel was a merry old soul," &c.]

[Footnote 190: Constantine was born long before Constantius Chlorus went
to Britain. See the Roman Historians.]

CHAP. VII.--_The Romans desire Constantine's assistance against the
cruelty of Maxentius._

At that time there was a tyrant at Rome, named Maxentius,[191] who made
it his endeavour to confiscate the estates of all the best of the
nobility, and oppressed the commonwealth with his grievous tyranny.
Whilst he, therefore, was proceeding in his cruelty, those that were
banished fled to Constantine in Britain, and were honourably entertained
by him. At last, when a great many such had resorted to him, they
endeavoured to raise in him an abhorrence of the tyrant, and frequently
expostulated with him after this manner:--"How long, Constantine, will
you suffer our distress and banishment? Why do you delay to restore us
to our native country? You are the only person of our nation that can
restore to us what we have lost, by driving out Maxentius. For what
prince is to be compared with the king of Britain, either for brave and
gallant soldiers, or for large treasures? We entreat you to restore us
to our estates, wives, and children, by conducting us with an army to


[Footnote 191: Maxentius was son of Maximian who abdicated. The skeleton
of this part of the history is taken from the authentic writers: but the
details are entirely fictitious.]

CHAP. VIII.--_Constantine, having reduced Rome, obtains the empire of
the world. Octavius, duke of the Wisseans, is put to flight by Trahern._

Constantine, moved with these and the like speeches, made an expedition
to Rome, and reduced it under his power, and afterwards obtained the
empire of the whole world. In this expedition he carried along with him
three uncles of Helena, viz. Leolin, Trahern, and Marius, and advanced
them to the degree of senators. In the meantime Octavius, duke of the
Wisseans, rebelled against the Roman proconsuls, to whom the government
of the island had been committed, and having killed them, took
possession of the throne. Constantine, upon information of this, sent
Trahern, the uncle of Helena, with three legions to reduce the island.
Trahern came to shore near the city, which in the British tongue is
called Kaerperis, and having assailed it, took it in two days. This news
spreading over the whole country, king Octavius assembled all the forces
of the land, and went to meet him not far from Winchester, in a field
called in the British tongue Maisuriam, where he engaged with him in
battle, and routed him. Trahern, upon this loss, betook himself with his
broken forces to his ships, and in them made a voyage to Albania, in the
provinces of which he made great destruction. When Octavius received
intelligence of this, he followed him with his forces, and encountered
him in Westmoreland, but fled, having lost the victory. On the other
hand, Trahern, when he found the day was his own, pursued Octavius, nor
ever suffered him to be at rest till he had dispossessed him both of his
cities and crown. Octavius, in great grief for the loss of his kingdom,
went with his fleet to Norway, to obtain assistance from king Gombert.
In the meantime he had given orders to his most intimate adherents to
watch carefully all opportunities of killing Trahern, which accordingly
was not long after done by the magistrate of a certain privileged town,
who had a more than ordinary love for him. For as Trahern was one day
upon a journey from London, he lay hid with a hundred men in the vale of
a wood, through which he was to pass, and there fell upon him unawares,
and killed him in the midst of his men. This news being brought to
Octavius, he returned back to Britain, where he dispersed the Romans,
and recovered the throne. In a short time after this, he arrived to such
greatness and wealth that he feared nobody, and possessed the kingdom
until the reign of Gratian and Valentinian.

CHAP. IX.--_Maximian is desired for a king of Britain._

At last, in his old age, being willing to settle the government, he
asked his council which of his family they desired to have for their
king after his decease. For he had no son, and only one daughter, to
whom he could leave the crown. Some, therefore, advised him to bestow
his daughter with the kingdom upon some noble Roman, to the end that
they might enjoy a firmer peace. Others were of opinion that Conan
Meriadoc, his nephew, ought to be preferred to the throne, and the
daughter married to some prince of another kingdom with a dowry in
money. While these things were in agitation among them, there came
Caradoc, duke of Cornwall, and gave his advice to invite over
Maximian[192] the senator, and to bestow the lady with the kingdom upon
him, which would be a means of securing to them a lasting peace. For his
father Leolin, the uncle of Constantine, whom we mentioned before, was a
Briton, but by his mother and place of birth he was a Roman, and by both
parents he was descended of royal blood. And there was a sure prospect
of a firm and secure peace under him, on account of the right which he
had to Britain by his descent from the emperors, and also from the
British blood. But the duke of Cornwall, by delivering this advice,
brought upon himself the displeasure of Conan, the king's nephew, who
was very ambitious of succeeding to the kingdom, and put the whole court
into confusion about it. However, Caradoc, being unwilling to recede
from his proposal, sent his son Mauricius to Rome to acquaint Maximian
with what had passed. Mauricius was a person of large and
well-proportioned stature, as well as great courage and boldness, and
could not bear to have his judgment contradicted without a recourse to
arms and duelling. On presenting himself before Maximian, he met with a
reception suitable to his quality, and had the greatest honours paid him
of any that were about him. There happened to be at that time a great
contest between Maximian and the two emperors, Gratian and Valentinian,
on account of his being refused the third part of the empire, which he
demanded. When, therefore, Mauricius saw Maximian ill-treated by the
emperors, he took occasion from thence to address him in this manner:
"Why need you, Maximian, stand in fear of Gratian, when you have so fair
an opportunity of wresting the empire from him? Come with me into
Britain, and you shall take possession of that crown. For king
Octavius, being now grown old and infirm, desires nothing more than to
find some such proper person, to bestow his kingdom and daughter upon.
He has no male issue, and therefore has asked the advice of his
nobility, to whom he should marry his daughter with the kingdom; and
they to his satisfaction have past a decree, that the kingdom and lady
be given to you, and have sent me to acquaint you with it. So that if
you go with me, and accomplish this affair, you may with the treasure
and forces of Britain be able to return back to Rome, drive out the
emperors, and gain the empire to yourself. For in this manner did your
kinsman Constantius, and several others of our kings who raised
themselves to the empire."


[Footnote 192: Maximus is the correct name of this usurper.]

CHAP. X.--_Maximian, coming into Britain, artfully declines fighting
with Conan._

Maximian was pleased with the offer, and took his journey to Britain;
but in his way subdued the cities of the Franks, by which he amassed a
great treasure of gold and silver, and raised men for his service in all
parts. Afterwards he set sail with a fair wind, and arrived at Hamo's
Port; the news of which struck the king with fear and astonishment, who
took this to be a hostile invasion. Whereupon he called to him his
nephew Conan, and commanded him to raise all the forces of the kingdom,
and go to meet the enemy. Conan, having made the necessary preparations,
marched accordingly to Hamo's Port, where Maximian had pitched his
tents; who, upon seeing the approach of so numerous an army, was under
the greatest perplexities what course to take. For as he was attended
with a smaller body of men, and had no hopes of being entertained
peaceably, he dreaded both the number and courage of the enemy. Under
these difficulties he called a council of the oldest men, together with
Mauricius, to ask their advice what was to be done at this critical
juncture. "It is not for us," said Mauricius, "to hazard a battle with
such a numerous and powerful army: neither was the reduction of Britain
by arms the end of our coming. Our business must be to desire peace and
a hospitable treatment, till we can learn the king's mind. Let us say
that we are sent by the emperors upon an embassy to Octavius, and let us
with artful speeches pacify the people." When all had shown themselves
pleased with this advice, he took with him twelve aged men with grey
hairs, eminent beyond the rest for their quality and wisdom, and bearing
olive-branches in their right hands, and went to meet Conan. The
Britons, seeing they were men of a venerable age, and that they bore
olive-branches as a token of peace, rose up before them in a respectful
manner, and opened a way for their free access to their commander. Then
presenting themselves before Conan Meriadoc, they saluted him in the
name of the emperors and the senate, and told him, that Maximian was
sent to Octavius upon an embassy from Gratian and Valentinian. Conan
made answer: "Why is he then attended with so great a multitude? This
does not look like the appearance of ambassadors, but the invasion of
enemies." To which Mauricius replied: "It did not become so great a man
to appear abroad in a mean figure, or without soldiers for his guard;
especially considering, that by reason of the Roman power, and the
actions of his ancestors, he is become obnoxious to many kings. If he
had but a small retinue, he might have been killed by the enemies of the
commonwealth. He is come in peace, and it is peace which he desires.
For, from the time of our arrival, our behaviour has been such as to
give no offence to any body. We have bought necessaries at our own
expenses, as peaceable people do, and have taken nothing from any by
violence." While Conan was in suspense, whether to give them peace, or
begin the battle, Caradoc, duke of Cornwall, with others of the
nobility, came to him, and dissuaded him from proceeding in the war
after this representation; whereupon, though much against his will, he
laid down his arms, and granted them peace. Then he conducted Maximian
to London, where he gave the king an account of the whole proceeding.

CHAP. XI.--_The kingdom of Britain is bestowed on Maximian._

Caradoc, after this, taking along with him his son Mauricius, commanded
everybody to withdraw from the king's presence, and then addressed him
in these words: "Behold, that which your more faithful and loyal
subjects have long wished for, is now by the good providence of God
brought about. You commanded your nobility to give their advice, how to
dispose of your daughter and kingdom, as being willing to hold the
government no longer on account of your great age. Some, therefore, were
for having the kingdom delivered up to Conan your nephew, and a suitable
match procured for your daughter elsewhere; as fearing the ruin of our
people, if any prince that is a stranger to our language should be set
over us. Others were for granting the kingdom to your daughter and some
nobleman of our own country, who should succeed you after your death.
But the greater number recommended some person descended of the family
of the emperors, on whom you should bestow your daughter and crown. For
they promised themselves a firm and lasting peace, as the consequence of
such a marriage, since they would be under the protection of the Roman
state. See then! God has vouchsafed to bring to you a young man, who is
both a Roman, and also of the royal family of Britain; and to whom, if
you follow my advice, you will not delay to marry your daughter. And
indeed, should you refuse him, what right could you plead to the crown
of Britain against him? For he is the cousin of Constantine, and the
nephew of king Coel, whose daughter Helena possessed the crown by an
undeniable hereditary right." When Caradoc had represented these things
to him, Octavius acquiesced, and with the general consent of his people
bestowed the kingdom and his daughter upon him. Conan Meriadoc, finding
how things went, was beyond expression incensed, and, retiring into
Albania, used all his interest to raise an army, that he might give
disturbance to Maximian. And when he had got a great body of men
together, he passed the Humber, and wasted the provinces on each side of
it. At the news whereof, Maximian hastened to assemble his forces
against him, and then gave him battle, and returned with victory. But
this proved no decisive blow to Conan, who with his re-assembled troops
still continued to ravage the provinces, and provoked Maximian to return
again and renew the war, in which he had various success, being
sometimes victorious, sometimes defeated. At last, after great damages
done on both sides, they were brought by the mediation of friends to a

CHAP. XII.--_Maximian overthrows the Armoricans: his speech to Conan._

Five years after this, Maximian, proud of the vast treasures that daily
flowed in upon him, fitted out a great fleet, and assembled together all
the forces in Britain. For this kingdom was now not sufficient for him;
he was ambitious of adding Gaul also to it. With this view he set sail,
and arrived first at the kingdom of Armorica, now called Bretagne, and
began hostilities upon the Gallic people that inhabited it. But the
Gauls, under the command of Imbaltus, met him, and engaged him in
battle, in which the greater part being in danger, they were forced to
fly, and leave Imbaltus with fifteen thousand men killed, all of them
Armoricans. This severe overthrow was matter of the greatest joy to
Maximian, who knew the reduction of that country would be very easy,
after the loss of so many men. Upon this occasion he called Conan aside
from the army, and smiling said:--"See, we have already conquered one of
the best kingdoms in Gaul: we may now have hopes of gaining all the
rest. Let us make haste to take the cities and towns, before the rumour
of their danger spread to the remoter parts of Gaul, and raise all the
people up in arms. For if we can but get possession of this kingdom, I
make no doubt of reducing all Gaul under our power. Be not therefore
concerned that you have yielded up the island of Britain to me,
notwithstanding the hopes you once had of succeeding to it; because
whatever you have lost in it, I will restore to you in this country. For
my design is to advance you to the throne of this kingdom; and this
shall be another Britain, which we will people with our own countrymen,
and drive out the old inhabitants. The land is fruitful in corn, the
rivers abound with fish, the woods afford a beautiful prospect, and the
forests are everywhere pleasant; nor is there in my opinion anywhere a
more delightful country." Upon this, Conan, with a submissive bow, gave
him his thanks, and promised to continue loyal to him as long as he

CHAP. XIII.--_Redonum taken by Maximian._

After this they marched with their forces to Redonum,[193] and took it
the same day. For the citizens, hearing of the bravery of the Britons,
and what slaughter they had made, fled away with haste, leaving their
wives and children behind them. And the rest of the cities and towns
soon followed their example; so that there was an easy entrance into
them for the Britons, who wherever they entered killed all they found
left of the male sex, and spared only the women. At last, when they had
wholly extirpated the inhabitants of all those provinces, they
garrisoned the cities and towns with British soldiers, and made
fortifications in several places. The fame of Maximian's exploits
spreading over the rest of the provinces of Gaul, all their dukes and
princes were in a dreadful consternation, and had no other hopes left
but in their prayers to their gods. Maximian, finding that he had struck
terror into them, began to think of still bolder attempts, and by
profusely distributing presents, augmented his army. For all persons
that he knew to be eager for plunder, he enlisted into his service, and
by plentifully bestowing his money and other valuable things among them,
kept them firm to his interest.


[Footnote 193: Rennes.]

CHAP. XIV.--_Maximian, after the conquest of Gaul and Germany, makes
Triers the seat of his empire._

By these means he raised such a numerous army, as he thought would be
sufficient for the conquest of all Gaul. Notwithstanding which he
suspended his arms for a time, till he had settled the kingdom which he
had taken, and peopled it with Britons. To this end he published a
decree, for the assembling together of a hundred thousand of the common
people of Britain, who were to come over to settle in the country;
besides thirty thousand soldiers, to defend them from hostile attack. As
soon as the people were arrived according to his orders, he distributed
them through all the countries of Armorica, and made another Britain of
it, and then bestowed it on Conan Meriadoc. But he himself, with the
rest of his fellow soldiers, marched into the further part of Gaul,
which, after many bloody battles, he subdued, as he did also all
Germany, being everywhere victorious. But the seat of his empire he made
at Triers, and fell so furiously upon the two emperors, Gratian and
Valentinian, that he killed the one, and forced the other to flee from

CHAP. XV.--_A fight between the Aquitanians and Conan._

In the meantime, the Gauls and Aquitanians gave disturbance to Conan and
the Armorican Britons, and harassed them with their frequent incursions;
but he as often defeated them, and bravely defended the country
committed to him. After he had entirely vanquished them, he had a mind
to bestow wives on his fellow soldiers, by whom they might have issue to
keep perpetual possession of the country; and to avoid all mixture with
the Gauls, he sent over to the island of Britain for wives for them. In
order to accomplish this, messengers were sent to recommend the
management of this affair to Dianotus, king of Cornwall, who had
succeeded his brother Caradoc in that kingdom. He was a very noble and
powerful prince, and to him Maximian had committed the government, while
he was employed in affairs abroad. He had also a daughter of wonderful
beauty, named Ursula, with whom Conan was most passionately in love.

CHAP. XVI.--_Guanius and Melga murder eleven thousand virgins. Maximian
is killed at Rome._

Dianotus, upon this message sent him by Conan, was very ready to execute
his orders, and summoned together the daughters of the nobility from all
provinces, to the number of eleven thousand; but of the meaner sort,
sixty thousand; and commanded them all to appear together in the city of
London. He likewise ordered ships to be brought from all shores, for
their transportation to their future husbands. And though in so great a
multitude many were pleased with this order, yet it was displeasing to
the greater part, who had a greater affection for their relations and
native country. Nor, perhaps, were there wanting some who, preferring
virginity to the married state, would have rather lost their lives in
any country, than enjoyed the greatest plenty in wedlock. In short, most
of them had views and wishes different from one another, had they been
left to their own liberty. But now the ships being ready, they went on
board, and sailing down the Thames, made towards the sea. At last, as
they were steering towards the Armorican coast, contrary winds arose and
dispersed the whole fleet. In this storm the greater part of the ships
foundered; but the women that escaped the danger of the sea, were driven
upon strange islands, and by a barbarous people either murdered or made
slaves. For they happened to fall into the hands of the cruel army of
Guanius and Melga, who, by the command of Gratian,[194] were making
terrible destruction in Germany, and the nations on the sea-coast.
Guanius was king of the Huns, and Melga of the Picts, whom Gratian had
engaged in his party, and had sent him into Germany to harass those of
Maximian's party along the sea-coasts. While they were thus exercising
their barbarous rage, they happened to light upon these virgins, who had
been driven on those parts, and were so inflamed with their beauty, that
they courted them to their brutish embraces; which, when the women would
not submit to, the Ambrons fell upon them, and without remorse murdered
the greatest part of them. This done, the two wicked leaders of the
Picts and Huns, Guanius and Melga, being the partizans of Gratian and
Valentinian, when they had learned that the island of Britain was
drained of all its soldiers, made a speedy voyage towards it; and,
taking into their assistance the people of the adjacent islands, arrived
in Albania. Then joining in a body, they invaded the kingdom, which was
left without either government or defence, and made miserable
destruction among the common people. For Maximian, as we have already
related, had carried away with him all the warlike youth that could be
found, and had left behind him only the husbandmen, who had neither
sense nor arms, for the defence of their country. Guanius and Melga,
finding that they were not able to make the least opposition, began to
domineer most insolently, and to lay waste their cities and countries,
as if they had only been pens of sheep. The news of this grievous
calamity, coming to Maximian, he sent away Gratian Municeps,[195] with
two legions, to their assistance; who, as soon as they arrived, fought
with the enemy, and after a most bloody victory over them, forced them
to fly over into Ireland. In the meantime, Maximian was killed at Rome
by Gratian's friends;[196] and the Britons whom he had carried with him
were also slain or dispersed. Those of them that could escape, went to
their countrymen in Armorica, which was now called the other Britain.


[Footnote 194: That is, Gratian the emperor, and brother of Valentinian,
not Gratian Municeps.]

[Footnote 195: This Gratian was called Municeps, because he was a
citizen of Britain.]

[Footnote 196: Maximus was besieged in Aquileia, and slain by
Theodosius, emperor of the East, A.D. 388.]


CHAP. I.--_Gratian, being advanced to the throne, is killed by the
common people. The Britons desire the Romans to defend them against
Guanius and Melga._

But Gratian Municeps,[197] hearing of the death of Maximian, seized the
crown, and made himself king. After this he exercised such tyranny that
the common people fell upon him in a tumultuous manner, and murdered
him. When this news reached other countries, their former enemies
returned back from Ireland, and bringing with them the Scots,
Norwegians, and Dacians, made dreadful devastations with fire and sword
over the whole kingdom, from sea to sea. Upon this most grievous
calamity and oppression, ambassadors are despatched with letters to
Rome, to beseech, with tears and vows of perpetual subjection, that a
body of men might be sent to revenge their injuries, and drive out the
enemy from them. The ambassadors in a short time prevailed so far, that,
unmindful of past injuries, the Romans granted them one legion, which
was transported in a fleet to their country, and there speedily
encountered the enemy. At last, after the slaughter of a vast multitude
of them, they drove them entirely out of the country, and rescued the
miserable people from their outrageous cruelty. Then they gave orders
for a wall to be built between Albania and Deira, from one sea to the
other, for a terror to the enemy, and safeguard to the country. At that
time Albania was wholly laid waste, by the frequent invasions of
barbarous nations; and whatever enemies made an attempt upon the
country, met with a convenient landing-place there. So that the
inhabitants were diligent in working upon the wall,[198] which they
finished partly at the public, partly upon private charge.


[Footnote 197: There was also one Marcus at this time, whom the soldiers
in Britain advanced to the sovereignty; but he was soon got rid of.]

[Footnote 198: It was unnecessary for the Britons to build a wall,
because there was one built for them by Severus 200 years before.]

CHAP. II.--_Guethelin's speech to the Britons when the Romans left

The Romans, after this, declared to the Britons, that they should not be
able for the future to undergo the fatigue of such laborious
expeditions; and that it was beneath the dignity of the Roman state to
harass so great and brave an army, both by land and sea, against base
and vagabond robbers; but that they ought to apply themselves to the use
of arms, and to fight bravely in defending to the utmost of their power,
their country, riches, wives, children, and, what is dearer than all
these, their liberty and lives. As soon as they had given them this
exhortation, they commanded all the men of the island that were fit for
war, to appear together at London, because the Romans were about to
return home. When, therefore, they were all assembled, Guethelin, the
metropolitan of London, had orders to make a speech to them, which he
did in these words:--

"Though I am appointed by the princes here present to speak to you, I
find myself rather ready to burst into tears, than to make an eloquent
oration. It is a most sensible affliction to me to observe the weak and
destitute state into which you are fallen since Maximian drew away with
him all the forces and youth of this kingdom. You that were left were
people wholly inexperienced in war, and occupied with other employments,
as tilling the ground, and several kinds of mechanical trades. So that
when your enemies from foreign countries came upon you, as sheep
wandering without a shepherd, they forced you to quit your folds, till
the Roman power restored you to them again. Must your hopes, therefore,
always depend upon foreign assistance? And will you never use yourselves
to handle arms against a band of robbers, that are by no means stronger
than yourselves, if you are not dispirited by sloth and cowardice? The
Romans are now tired with the continual voyages wherewith they are
harassed to defend you against your enemies: they rather choose to remit
to you the tribute you pay them, than undergo any longer this fatigue by
land and sea. Because you were only the common people at the time when
we had soldiers of our own, do you therefore think that manhood has
quite forsaken you? Are not men in the course of human generation often
the reverse of one another? Is not a ploughman often the father of a
soldier, and a soldier of a ploughman? Does not the same diversity
happen in a mechanic and a soldier? Since then, in this manner, one
produces another, I cannot think it possible for manhood to be lost
among them. As then you are men, behave yourselves like men: call upon
the name of Christ, that he may inspire you with courage to defend your

No sooner had he concluded his speech, than the people raised such a
shout, that one would have thought them on a sudden inspired with
courage from heaven.

CHAP. III.--_The Britons are again cruelly harassed by Guanius and

After this the Romans encouraged the timorous people as much as they
could, and left them patterns of their arms. They likewise commanded
towers, having a prospect towards the sea, to be placed at proper
distances along all the south coast, where their ships were, and from
whence they feared the invasions of the barbarians. But, according to
the proverb, "It is easier to make a hawk of a kite, than a scholar of a
ploughman;" all learning to him is but as a pearl thrown before swine.
Thus, no sooner had the Romans taken their farewell of them, than the
two leaders, Guanius and Melga, issued forth from their ships, in which
they had fled over into Ireland, and with their bands of Scots, Picts,
Norwegians, Dacians, and others, whom they had brought along with them,
seized upon all Albania as far as the very wall. Understanding,
likewise, that the Romans were gone, never to return any more, they now,
in a more insolent manner than before, began their devastations in the
island. Hereupon the country fellows upon the battlements of the walls
sat night and day with quaking hearts, not daring to stir from their
seats, and readier for flight than making the least resistance. In the
meantime the enemies ceased not with their hooks to pull them down
headlong, and dash the wretched herd to pieces upon the ground; who
gained at least this advantage by their speedy death, that they avoided
the sight of that most deplorable calamity, which forthwith threatened
their relations and dearest children. Such was the terrible vengeance of
God for that most wicked madness of Maximian, in draining the kingdom of
all its forces, who, had they been present, would have repulsed any
nation that invaded them; an evident proof of which they gave, by the
vast conquests they made abroad, even in remote countries; and also by
maintaining their own country in peace, while they continued here. But
thus it happens when a country is left to the defence of country clowns.
In short, quitting their high wall and their cities, the country people
were forced again to fly, and to suffer a more fatal dispersion, a more
furious pursuit of the enemy, a more cruel and more general slaughter
than before; and like lambs before wolves, so was that miserable people
torn to pieces by the merciless barbarians. Again, therefore, the
wretched remainder send letters to Agitius, a man of great power among
the Romans, to this effect. "To Agitius,[199] thrice consul, the groans
of the Britons." And after some few other complaints they add: "The sea
drives us to the barbarians, and the barbarians drive us back to the
sea: thus are we tossed to and fro between two kinds of death, being
either drowned or put to the sword." Notwithstanding this most moving
address, they procured no relief, and the ambassadors returning back in
great heaviness, declared to their countrymen the repulse which they had


[Footnote 199: Ætius is the name of this general in the classic

CHAP. IV.--_Guethelin desires succours of Aldroen._

Hereupon, after a consultation together, Guethelin, archbishop of
London, passed over into Lesser Britain, called then Armorica, or
Letavia, to desire assistance of their brethren. At that time Aldroen
reigned there, being the fourth king from Conan, to whom, as has been
already related, Maximian had given that kingdom. This prince, seeing a
prelate of so great dignity arrive, received him with honour, and
inquired after the occasion of his coming. To whom Guethelin:--

"Your majesty can be no stranger to the misery which we, your Britons,
have suffered (which may even demand your tears), since the time that
Maximian drained our island of its soldiers, to people the kingdom which
you enjoy, and which God grant you may long enjoy in peace. For against
us the poor remains of the British race, all the people of the adjacent
islands, have risen up, and made an utter devastation in our country,
which then abounded with all kinds of riches; so that the people now are
wholly destitute of all manner of sustenance, but what they can get in
hunting. Nor had we any power or knowledge of military affairs left
among us to encounter the enemy. For the Romans are tired of us, and
have absolutely refused their assistance. So that now, deprived of all
other hope, we come to implore your clemency, that you would furnish us
with forces, and protect a kingdom, which is of right your own, from the
incursions of barbarians. For who but yourself, ought, without your
consent, to wear the crown of Constantine and Maximian, since the right
your ancestors had to it is now devolved upon you? Prepare then your
fleet, and go with me. Behold! I deliver the kingdom of Britain into
your hands."

To this Aldroen made answer: "There was a time formerly when I would not
have refused to accept of the island of Britain, if it had been offered
me; for I do not think there was anywhere a more fruitful country while
it enjoyed peace and tranquillity. But now, since the calamities that
have befallen it, it is become of less value, and odious both to me and
all other princes. But above all things the power of the Romans was so
destructive to it, that nobody could enjoy any settled state or
authority in it, without loss of liberty, and bearing the yoke of
slavery under them. And who would not prefer the possession of a lesser
country with liberty, to all the riches of that island in servitude? The
kingdom that is now under my subjection I enjoy with honour, and without
paying homage to any superior; so that I prefer it to all other
countries, since I can govern it without being controlled. Nevertheless,
out of respect to the right that my ancestors for many generations have
had to your island, I deliver to you my brother Constantine with two
thousand men, that with the good providence of God, he may free your
country from the inroads of barbarians, and obtain the crown for
himself. For I have a brother called by that name, who is an expert
soldier, and in all other respects an accomplished man. If you please to
accept of him, I will not refuse to send him with you, together with the
said number of men; for indeed a larger number I do not mention to you,
because I am daily threatened with disturbance from the Gauls." He had
scarcely done speaking before the archbishop returned him thanks, and
when Constantine was called in, broke out into these expressions of joy:
"Christ conquers; Christ commands; Christ reigns: behold the king of
desolate Britain! Be Christ only present, and behold our defence, our
hope and joy." In short, the ships being got ready, the men who were
chosen out from all parts of the kingdom, were delivered to Guethelin.

CHAP. V.--_Constantine, being made king of Britain, leaves three sons._

When they had made all necessary preparations, they embarked, and
arrived at the port of Totness; and then without delay assembled
together the youth that was left in the island, and encountered the
enemy; over whom, by the merit of the holy prelate, they obtained the
victory. After this the Britons, before dispersed, flocked together from
all parts, and in a council held at Silchester, promoted Constantine to
the throne, and there performed the ceremony of his coronation. They
also married him to a lady, descended from a noble Roman family, whom
archbishop Guethelin had educated, and by whom the king had afterwards
three sons, Constans, Aurelius Ambrosius, and Uther Pendragon. Constans,
who was the eldest, he delivered to the church of Amphibalus in
Winchester, that he might there take upon him the monastic order. But
the other two, viz. Aurelius and Uther, he committed to the care of
Guethelin for their education. At last, after ten years were expired,
there came a certain Pict, who had entered in his service, and under
pretence of holding some private discourse with him, in a nursery of
young trees where nobody was present, stabbed him with a dagger.

CHAP. VI.--_Constans is by Vortigern crowned king of Britain._

Upon the death of Constantine, a dissension arose among the nobility,
about a successor to the throne. Some were for setting up Aurelius
Ambrosius; others Uther Pendragon; others again some other persons of
the royal family. At last, when they could come to no conclusion,
Vortigern, consul of the Gewisseans, who was himself very ambitious of
the crown, went to Constans the monk,[200] and thus addressed himself to
him: "You see your father is dead, and your brothers on account of their
age are incapable of the government; neither do I see any of your family
besides yourself, whom the people ought to promote to the kingdom. If
you will therefore follow my advice, I will, on condition of your
increasing my private estate, dispose the people to favour your
advancement, and free you from that habit, notwithstanding that it is
against the rule of your order." Constans, overjoyed at the proposal,
promised, with an oath, that upon these terms he would grant him
whatever he would desire. Then Vortigern took him, and investing him in
his regal habiliments, conducted him to London, and made him king,
though not with the free consent of the people. Archbishop Guethelin was
then dead, nor was there any other that durst perform the ceremony of
his unction, on account of his having quitted the monastic order.
However, this proved no hindrance to his coronation, for Vortigern
himself performed the ceremony instead of a bishop.


[Footnote 200: It is true that Constans, the son of Constantine, entered
into the sacerdotal profession, but both he and his father Constantine
were slain in Gaul, which they had made the seat of their empire, to the
entire neglect of Britain.]

CHAP. VII.--_Vortigern treacherously contrives to get king Constans

Constans, being thus advanced, committed the whole government of the
kingdom to Vortigern, and surrendered himself up so entirely to his
counsels, that he did nothing without his order. His own incapacity for
government obliged him to do this, for he had learned any thing else
rather than state affairs within his cloister. Vortigern became sensible
of this, and therefore began to deliberate with himself what course to
take to obtain the crown, of which he had been before extremely
ambitious. He saw that now was his proper time to gain his end easily,
when the kingdom was wholly intrusted to his management; and Constans,
who bore the title of king, was no more than the shadow of one; for he
was of a soft temper, a bad judge in matters of right, and not in the
least feared, either by his own people, or by the neighbouring states.
And as for his two brothers, Uther Pendragon and Aurelius Ambrosius,
they were only children in their cradles, and therefore incapable of the
government. There was likewise this farther misfortune, that all the
older persons of the nobility were dead, so that Vortigern seemed to be
the only man surviving, that had craft, policy, and experience in
matters of state; and all the rest in a manner children, or raw youths,
who only inherited the honours of their parents and relations that had
been killed in the former wars. Vortigern, finding a concurrence of so
many favourable circumstances, contrived how he might easily and
cunningly depose Constans the monk, and immediately establish himself in
his place. But in order to do this, he waited until he had first well
established his power and interest in several countries. He therefore
petitioned to have the king's treasures, and his fortified cities, in
his own custody; pretending there was a rumour, that the neighbouring
islanders designed an invasion of the kingdom. This being granted him,
he placed his own creatures in those cities, to secure them for himself.
Then having formed a scheme how to execute his treasonable designs, he
went to the king, and represented to him the necessity of augmenting the
number of his domestics, that he might more safely oppose the invasion
of the enemy. "Have not I left all things to your disposal?" said
Constans. "Do what you will as to that, so that they be but faithful to
me." Vortigern replied, "I am informed that the Picts are going to bring
the Dacians and Norwegians in upon us, with a design to give us very
great annoyance. I would therefore advise you, and in my opinion it is
the best course you can take, that you maintain some Picts in your
court, who may do you good service among those of that nation. For if it
is true that they are preparing to begin a rebellion, you may employ
them as spies upon their countrymen in their plots and stratagems, so as
easily to escape them." This was the dark treason of a secret enemy; for
he did not recommend this out of regard to the safety of Constans, but
because he knew the Picts to be a giddy people, and ready for all manner
of wickedness; so that, in a fit of drunkenness or passion, they might
easily be incensed against the king, and make no scruple to assassinate
him. And such an accident, when it should happen, would make an open way
for his accession to the throne, which he so often had in view. Hereupon
he despatched messengers into Scotland, with an invitation to a hundred
Pictish soldiers, whom accordingly he received into the king's
household; and when admitted, he showed them more respect than all the
rest of the domestics, by making them several presents, and allowing
them a luxurious table, insomuch that they looked upon him as the king.
So great was the regard they had for him, that they made songs of him
about the streets, the subject of which was, that Vortigern deserved the
government, deserved the sceptre of Britain; but that Constans was
unworthy of it. This encouraged Vortigern to show them still more
favour, in order the more firmly to engage them in his interest; and
when by these practices he had made them entirely his creatures, he took
an opportunity, when they were drunk, to tell them, that he was going to
retire out of Britain, to see if he could get a better estate; for the
small revenue he had then, he said, would not so much as enable him to
maintain a retinue of fifty men. Then putting on a look of sadness, he
withdrew to his own apartment, and left them drinking in the hall. The
Picts at this sight were in inexpressible sorrow, as thinking what he
had said was true, and murmuring said one to another, "Why do we suffer
this monk to live? Why do not we kill him, that Vortigern may enjoy his
crown? Who is so fit to succeed as he? A man so generous to us is worthy
to rule, and deserves all the honour and dignity that we can bestow upon

CHAP. VIII.--_Aurelius Ambrosius and Uther Pendragon flee from
Vortigern, and go to Lesser Britain._

After this, breaking into Constans' bed-chamber, they fell upon him and
killed him, and carried his head to Vortigern. At the sight of it, he
put on a mournful countenance, and burst forth into tears, though at the
same time he was almost transported with joy. However, he summoned
together the citizens of London, (for there the fact was committed,) and
commanded all the assassins to be bound, and their heads to be cut off
for this abominable parricide. In the meantime there were some who had a
suspicion, that this piece of villany was wholly the contrivance of
Vortigern, and that the Picts were only his instruments to execute it.
Others again as positively asserted his innocence. At last the matter
being left in doubt, those who had the care of the two brothers,
Aurelius Ambrosius, and Uther Pendragon, fled over with them into Lesser
Britain, for fear of being killed by Vortigern. There they were kindly
received by king Budes, who took care to give them an education suitable
to their royal birth.

CHAP. IX.--_Vortigern makes himself king of Britain._

Now Vortigern, seeing nobody to rival him in the kingdom, placed the
crown on his own head, and thus gained the pre-eminence over all the
rest of the princes. At last his treason being discovered, the people of
the adjacent islands, whom the Picts had brought into Albania, made
insurrection against him. For the Picts were enraged on account of the
death of their fellow soldiers, who had been slain for the murder of
Constans, and endeavoured to revenge that injury upon him. Vortigern
therefore was daily in great distress, and lost a considerable part of
his army in a war with them. He had likewise no less trouble from
another quarter, for fear of Aurelius Ambrosius, and his brother Uther
Pendragon, who, as we said before, had fled, on his account, into
Lesser Britain. For he heard it rumoured, day after day, that they had
now arrived at man's estate, and had built a vast fleet, with a design
to return back to the kingdom, which was their undoubted right.

CHAP. X.--_Vortigern takes the Saxons that were new-comers, to his

In the meantime there arrived in Kent three brigandines, or long
galleys, full of armed men, under the command of two brothers, Horsa and
Hengist.[201] Vortigern was then at Dorobernia, now Canterbury, which
city he used often to visit; and being informed of the arrival of some
tall strangers in large ships, he ordered that they should be received
peaceably, and conducted into his presence. As soon as they were brought
before him, he cast his eyes upon the two brothers, who excelled all the
rest both in nobility and gracefulness of person; and having taken a
view of the whole company, asked them of what country they were, and
what was the occasion of their coming into his kingdom. To whom Hengist
(whose years and wisdom entitled him to a precedence), in the name of
the rest, made the following answer:--

"Most noble king, Saxony, which is one of the countries of Germany, was
the place of our birth; and the occasion of our coming was to offer our
service to you or some other prince. For we were driven out of our
native country, for no other reason, but that the laws of the kingdom
required it. It is customary among us, that when we come to be
overstocked with people, our princes from all the provinces meet
together, and command all the youths of the kingdom to assemble before
them; then casting lots, they make choice of the strongest and ablest of
them, to go into foreign nations, to procure themselves a subsistence,
and free their native country from a superfluous multitude of people.
Our country, therefore, being of late overstocked, our princes met, and
after having cast lots, made choice of the youth which you see in your
presence, and have obliged us to obey the custom which has been
established of old. And us two brothers, Hengist and Horsa, they made
generals over them, out of respect to our ancestors, who enjoyed the
same honour. In obedience, therefore, to the laws so long established,
we put out to sea, and under the good guidance of Mercury have arrived
in your kingdom."

The king, at the name of Mercury, looking earnestly upon them, asked
them what religion they professed. "We worship," replied Hengist, "our
country's gods, Saturn and Jupiter, and the other deities that govern
the world, but especially Mercury, whom in our language we call Woden,
and to whom our ancestors consecrated the fourth day of the week, still
called after his name Wodensday. Next to him we worship the powerful
goddess, Frea, to whom they also dedicated the sixth day, which after
her name we call Friday." Vortigern replied, "For your credulity, or
rather incredulity, I am much grieved, but I rejoice at your arrival,
which, whether by God's providence or some other agency, happens very
seasonably for me in my present difficulties. For I am oppressed by my
enemies on every side, and if you will engage with me in my wars, I will
entertain you honourably in my kingdom, and bestow upon you lands and
other possessions." The barbarians readily accepted his offer, and the
agreement between them being ratified, they resided at his court. Soon
after this, the Picts, issuing forth from Albania, with a very great
army, began to lay waste the northern parts of the island. When
Vortigern had information of it, he assembled his forces, and went to
meet them beyond the Humber. Upon their engaging, the battle proved very
fierce on both sides, though there was but little occasion for the
Britons to exert themselves, for the Saxons fought so bravely, that the
enemy, formerly so victorious, were speedily put to flight.


[Footnote 201: It is the generally received opinion that Hengist and
Horsa landed in Britain A.D. 449.]

CHAP. XI.--_Hengist brings over great numbers of Saxons into Britain,
his crafty petition to Vortigern._

Vortigern, therefore, as he owed the victory to them, increased his
bounty to them, and gave their general, Hengist, large possessions of
land in Lindesia,[202] for the subsistence of himself and his fellow
soldiers. Hereupon Hengist, who was a man of experience and subtilty,
finding how much interest he had with the king, addressed him in this
manner:--"Sir, your enemies give you disturbance from all quarters, and
few of your subjects love you. They all threaten you, and say, they are
going to bring over Aurelius Ambrosius from Armorica, to depose you, and
make him king. If you please, let us send to our country to invite over
some more soldiers, that with our forces increased we may be better able
to oppose them. But there is one thing which I would desire of your
clemency, if I did not fear a refusal." Vortigern made answer, "Send
your messengers to Germany, and invite over whom you please, and you
shall have no refusal from me in whatever you shall desire." Hengist,
with a low bow, returned him thanks, and said, "The possessions which
you have given me in land and houses are very large, but you have not
yet done me that honour which becomes my station and birth, because,
among other things, I should have had some town or city granted me, that
I might be entitled to greater esteem among the nobility of your
kingdom. I ought to have been made a consul or prince, since my
ancestors enjoyed both those dignities." "It is not in my power,"
replied Vortigern, "to do you so much honour, because you are strangers
and pagans; neither am I yet so far acquainted with your manners and
customs, as to set you upon a level with my natural born subjects. And,
indeed, if I did esteem you as my subjects, I should not be forward to
do so, because the nobility of my kingdom would strongly dissuade me
from it." "Give your servant," said Hengist, "only so much ground in the
place you have assigned me, as I can encompass with a leathern thong,
for to build a fortress upon, as a place of retreat if occasion should
require. For I will always be faithful to you, as I have been hitherto,
and pursue no other design in the request which I have made." With these
words the king was prevailed upon to grant him his petition; and ordered
him to despatch messengers into Germany, to invite more men over
speedily to his assistance. Hengist immediately executed his orders, and
taking a bull's hide, made one thong out of the whole, with which he
encompassed a rocky place that he had carefully made choice of, and
within that circuit began to build a castle, which, when finished, took
its name from the thong wherewith it had been measured; for it was
afterwards called, in the British tongue, Kaercorrei; in Saxon,
Thancastre, that is, Thong Castle.[203]


[Footnote 202: Or Lindsey. See Bede's Eccles. Hist. p. 99, note.]

[Footnote 203: Now called Caistor, twenty-three miles N.N.E. from

CHAP. XII.--_Vortigern marries Rowen,[204] the daughter of Hengist._

In the meantime, the messengers returned from Germany, with eighteen
ships full of the best soldiers they could get. They also brought along
with them Rowen, the daughter of Hengist, one of the most accomplished
beauties of that age. After their arrival, Hengist invited the king to
his house, to view his new buildings, and the new soldiers that were
come over. The king readily accepted of his invitation, but privately,
and having highly commended the magnificence of the structure, enlisted
the men into his service. Here he was entertained at a royal banquet;
and when that was over, the young lady came out of her chamber bearing a
golden cup full of wine, with which she approached the king, and making
a low courtesy, said to him, "Lauerd[205] king wacht heil!" The king, at
the sight of the lady's face, was on a sudden both surprised and
inflamed with her beauty; and calling to his interpreter, asked him what
she said, and what answer he should make her. "She called you, 'Lord
king,'" said the interpreter, "and offered to drink your health. Your
answer to her must be, 'Drinc heil!'" Vortigern accordingly answered,
"Drinc heil!" and bade her drink; after which he took the cup from her
hand, kissed her, and drank himself. From that time to this, it has been
the custom in Britain, that he who drinks to any one says, "Wacht heil!"
and he that pledges him, answers "Drinc heil!" Vortigern being now drunk
with the variety of liquors, the devil took this opportunity to enter
into his heart, and to make him in love with the damsel, so that he
became suitor to her father for her. It was, I say, by the devil's
entering into his heart, that he, who was a Christian, should fall in
love with a pagan. By this example, Hengist, being a prudent man,
discovered the king's levity, and consulted with his brother Horsa and
the other ancient men present, what to do in relation to the king's
request. They unanimously advised him to give him his daughter, and in
consideration of her to demand the province of Kent. Accordingly the
daughter was without delay delivered to Vortigern, and the province of
Kent to Hengist, without the knowledge of Gorangan, who had the
government of it. The king the same night married the pagan lady, and
became extremely delighted with her; by which he quickly brought upon
himself the hatred of the nobility, and of his own sons. For he had
already three sons, whose names were Vortimer, Catigern, and Pascentius.


[Footnote 204: More commonly and elegantly called Rowena; Ronwen and
Ronwenna occur in some of the MSS.]

[Footnote 205: That is, Lord.]

CHAP. XIII.--_The bishops, Germanus and Lupus, restore the Christian
faith that had been corrupted in Britain. Octa and Ebissa are four times
routed by Vortimer._

At that time came St. Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, and Lupus, bishop of
Troyes, to preach the gospel to the Britons. For the Christian faith had
been corrupted among them, partly by the pagans whom the king had
brought into society with them, partly by the Pelagian heresy, with the
poison whereof they had been a long time infected. But by the preaching
of these holy men, the true faith and worship was again restored, the
many miracles they wrought giving success to their labours. Gildas has
in his elegant treatise given an account of the many miracles God
wrought by them. The king being now, as we have said, possessed of the
lady, Hengist said to him: "As I am your father, I claim the right of
being your counsellor: do not therefore slight my advice, since it is to
my countrymen you must owe the conquest of all your enemies. Let us
invite over my son Octa and his brother Ebissa, who are brave soldiers,
and give them the countries that are in the northern parts of Britain,
by the wall, between Deira and Albania. For they will hinder the inroads
of the barbarians, and so you shall enjoy peace on the other side of the
Humber." Vortigern complied with his request, and ordered them to invite
over whomsoever they knew able to assist him. Immediately upon the
receipt of this message, came Octa, Ebissa, and Cherdich, with three
hundred ships filled with soldiers, who were all kindly received by
Vortigern, and had ample presents made them. For by their assistance he
vanquished his enemies, and in every engagement proved victorious.
Hengist in the meantime continued to invite over more and more ships,
and to augment his numbers daily. Which when the Britons observed, they
were afraid of being betrayed by them, and moved the king to banish them
out of his coasts. For it was contrary to the rule of the gospel that
Christians should hold fellowship, or have any intercourse, with pagans.
Besides which, the number of those that were come over was now so great,
that they were a terror to his subjects; and nobody could now know who
was a pagan, or who a Christian, since pagans married the daughters and
kinswomen of Christians. These things they represented to the king, and
endeavoured to dissuade him from entertaining them, lest they might, by
some treacherous conspiracy, prove an overmatch for the native
inhabitants. But Vortigern, who loved them above all other nations on
account of his wife, was deaf to their advice. For this reason the
Britons quickly desert him, and unanimously set up Vortimer his son for
their king; who at their instigation began to drive out the barbarians,
and to make dreadful incursions upon them. Four battles he fought with
them, and was victorious in all: the first upon the river Dereuent;[206]
the second upon the ford of Epsford, where Horsa and Catigern, another
son of Vortigern, met and, after a sharp encounter, killed each
other;[207] the third upon the sea-shore, where the enemies fled
shamefully to their ships, and betook themselves for refuge to the Isle
of Thanet. But Vortimer besieged them there, and daily distressed them
with his fleet. And when they were no longer able to bear the assaults
of the Britons, they sent king Vortigern, who was present with them in
all those wars, to his son Vortimer, to desire leave to depart, and
return back safe to Germany. And while a conference upon this subject
was being held, they in the meantime went on board their long galleys,
and, leaving their wives and children behind them, returned back to


[Footnote 206: The Dereuent seems to be the Darent, a stream which gives
its name to Dartford.]

[Footnote 207: The very remarkable monument, called Kit Cotty's house,
is traditionally supposed to mark the grave of Catigern.]

CHAP. XIV.--_Vortimer's kindness to his soldiers at his death._

Vortimer, after this great success, began to restore his subjects to
their possessions which had been taken from them, and to show them all
marks of his affection and esteem, and at the instance of St. Germanus
to rebuild their churches. But his goodness quickly stirred up the
enmity of the devil against him, who entering into the heart of his
stepmother Rowen, excited her to contrive his death. For this purpose
she consulted with the poisoners, and procured one who was intimate with
him, whom she corrupted with large and numerous presents, to give him a
poisonous draught; so that this brave soldier, as soon as he had taken
it, was seized with a sudden illness, that deprived him of all hopes of
life. Hereupon he forthwith ordered all his men to come to him, and
having shown them how near he was to his end, distributed among them all
the treasure his predecessors had heaped up, and endeavoured to comfort
them in their sorrow and lamentation for him, telling them, he was only
going the way of all flesh. But he exhorted those brave and warlike
young men, who had attended him in all his victories, to persist
courageously in the defence of their country against all hostile
invasion; and with wonderful greatness of mind, commanded a brazen
pyramid to be placed in the port where the Saxons used to land, and his
body when dead to be buried on the top of it, that the sight of his tomb
might frighten back the barbarians to Germany. For he said none of them
would dare approach the country, that should but get a sight of his
tomb. Such was the admirable bravery of this great man, who, as he had
been a terror to them while living, endeavoured to be no less so when
dead. Notwithstanding which, he was no sooner dead, than the Britons had
no regard to his orders, but buried him at London.

CHAP. XV.--_Hengist, having wickedly murdered the princes of Britain,
keeps Vortigern prisoner._

Vortigern, after the death of his son, was again restored to the
kingdom, and at the request of his wife sent messengers into Germany to
Hengist, with an invitation to return into Britain, but privately, and
with a small retinue, to prevent a quarrel between the barbarians and
his subjects. But Hengist, hearing that Vortimer was dead, raised an
army of no less than three hundred thousand men, and fitting out a fleet
returned with them to Britain. When Vortigern and the nobility heard of
the arrival of so vast a multitude, they were immoderately incensed,
and, after consultation together, resolved to fight them, and drive them
from their coasts. Hengist, being informed of their design by messengers
sent from his daughter, immediately entered into deliberation what
course to pursue against them. After several stratagems had been
considered, he judged it most feasible, to impose upon the nation by
making show of peace. With this view he sent ambassadors to the king, to
declare to him, that he had not brought so great a number of men for the
purpose either of staying with him, or offering any violence to the
country. But the reason why he brought them, was because he thought
Vortimer was yet living, and that he should have occasion for them
against him, in case of an assault. But now since he no longer doubted
of his being dead, he submitted himself and his people to the disposal
of Vortigern; so that he might retain as many of them as he should think
fit, and whomsoever he rejected Hengist would allow to return back
without delay to Germany. And if these terms pleased Vortigern, he
desired him to appoint a time and place for their meeting, and adjusting
matters according to his pleasure. When these things were represented to
the king, he was mightily pleased, as being very unwilling to part with
Hengist; and at last ordered his subjects and the Saxons to meet upon
the kalends of May, which were now very near, at the monastery of
Ambrius,[208] for the settling of the matters above-mentioned. The
appointment being agreed to on both sides, Hengist, with a new design of
villany in his head, ordered his soldiers to carry every one of them a
long dagger under their garments; and while the conference should be
held with the Britons, who would have no suspicion of them, he would
give them this word of command, "Nemet oure Saxas;" at which moment they
were all to be ready to seize boldly every one his next man, and with
his drawn dagger stab him. Accordingly they all met at the time and
place appointed, and began to treat of peace; and when a fit opportunity
offered for executing his villany, Hengist cried out, "Nemet oure
Saxas," and the same instant seized Vortigern, and held him by his
cloak. The Saxons, upon the signal given, drew their daggers, and
falling upon the princes, who little suspected any such design,
assassinated them to the number of four hundred and sixty barons and
consuls; to whose bodies St. Eldad afterwards gave Christian burial, not
far from Kaercaradoc, now Salisbury, in a burying-place near the
monastery of Ambrius, the abbat, who was the founder of it. For they all
came without arms, having no thoughts of anything but treating of peace;
which gave the others a fairer opportunity of exercising their
villainous design against them. But the pagans did not escape unpunished
while they acted this wickedness; a great number of them being killed
during this massacre of their enemies. For the Britons, taking up clubs
and stones from the ground, resolutely defended themselves, and did good
execution upon the traitors.


[Footnote 208: Ambresbury.]

CHAP. XVI.--_Eldol's valiant exploit. Hengist forces Vortigern to yield
up the strongest fortifications in Britain, in consideration of his

There was present one Eldol, consul[209] of Gloucester, who, at the
sight of this treachery, took up a stake which he happened to find, and
with that made his defence. Every blow he gave carried death along with
it; and by breaking either the head, arms, shoulders, or legs of a great
many, he struck no small terror into the traitors, nor did he move from
the spot before he had killed with that weapon seventy men. But being no
longer able to stand his ground against such numbers, he made his escape
from them, and retired to his own city. Many fell on both sides, but the
Saxons got the victory; because the Britons, having no suspicion of
treachery, came unarmed, and therefore made a weaker defence. After the
commission of this detestable villany, the Saxons would not kill
Vortigern; but having threatened him with death and bound him, demanded
his cities and fortified places in consideration of their granting him
his life. He, to secure himself, denied them nothing; and when they had
made him confirm his grants with an oath, they released him from his
chains, and then marched first to London, which they took, as they did
afterwards York, Lincoln, and Winchester; wasting the countries through
which they passed, and destroying the people, as wolves do sheep when
left by their shepherds. When Vortigern saw the desolation which they
made, he retired into the parts of Cambria, not knowing what to do
against so barbarous a people.


[Footnote 209: This term must be considered as equivalent to _comes_,
count, or earl.]

CHAP. XVII.--_Vortigern, after consultation with magicians, orders a
youth to be brought that never had a father._

At last he had recourse to magicians for their advice, and commanded
them to tell him what course to take. They advised him to build a very
strong tower for his own safety, since he had lost all his other
fortified places. Accordingly he made a progress about the country, to
find out a convenient situation, and came at last to Mount Erir, where
he assembled workmen from several countries, and ordered them to build
the tower. The builders, therefore, began to lay the foundation; but
whatever they did one day the earth swallowed up the next, so as to
leave no appearance of their work. Vortigern being informed of this
again consulted with his magicians concerning the cause of it, who told
him that he must find out a youth that never had a father, and kill him,
and then sprinkle the stones and cement with his blood; for by those
means, they said, he would have a firm foundation. Hereupon messengers
were despatched away over all the provinces, to inquire out such a man.
In their travels they came to a city, called afterwards Kaermerdin,
where they saw some young men, playing before the gate, and went up to
them; but being weary with their journey, they sat down in the ring, to
see if they could meet with what they were in quest of. Towards evening,
there happened on a sudden a quarrel between two of the young men, whose
names were Merlin and Dabutius. In the dispute, Dabutius said to Merlin:
"You fool, do you presume to quarrel with me? Is there any equality in
our birth? I am descended of royal race, both by my father and mother's
side. As for you, nobody knows what you are, for you never had a
father." At that word the messengers looked earnestly upon Merlin, and
asked the by-standers who he was. They told him, it was not known who
was his father; but that his mother was daughter to the king of Dimetia,
and that she lived in St. Peter's church among the nuns of that city.

CHAP. XVIII.--_Vortigern inquires of Merlin's mother concerning her
conception of him._

Upon this the messengers hastened to the governor of the city, and
ordered him, in the king's name, to send Merlin and his mother to the
king. As soon as the governor understood the occasion of their message,
he readily obeyed the order, and sent them to Vortigern to complete his
design. When they were introduced into the king's presence, he received
the mother in a very respectful manner, on account of her noble birth;
and began to inquire of her by what man she had conceived. "My sovereign
lord," said she, "by the life of your soul and mine, I know nobody that
begot him of me. Only this I know, that as I was once with my companions
in our chambers, there appeared to me a person in the shape of a most
beautiful young man, who often embraced me eagerly in his arms, and
kissed me; and when he had stayed a little time, he suddenly vanished
out of my sight. But many times after this he would talk with me when I
sat alone, without making any visible appearance. When he had a long
time haunted me in this manner, he at last lay with me several times in
the shape of a man, and left me with child. And I do affirm to you, my
sovereign lord, that excepting that young man, I know no body that begot
him of me." The king full of admiration at this account, ordered
Maugantius to be called, that he might satisfy him as to the possibility
of what the woman had related. Maugantius, being introduced, and having
the whole matter repeated to him, said to Vortigern: "In the books of
our philosophers, and in a great many histories, I have found that
several men have had the like original. For, as Apuleius informs us in
his book concerning the Demon of Socrates, between the moon and the
earth inhabit those spirits, which we will call incubuses. These are of
the nature partly of men, and partly of angels, and whenever they please
assume human shapes, and lie with women. Perhaps one of them appeared to
this woman, and begot that young man of her."

CHAP. XIX.--_Merlin 's speech to the king's magicians, and advice about
the building of the tower._

Merlin in the meantime was attentive to all that had passed, and then
approached the king, and said to him, "For what reason am I and my
mother introduced into your presence?"--"My magicians," answered
Vortigern, "advised me to seek out a man that had no father, with whose
blood my building is to be sprinkled, in order to make it
stand."--"Order your magicians," said Merlin, "to come before me, and I
will convict them of a lie." The king was surprised at his words, and
presently ordered the magicians to come, and sit down before Merlin, who
spoke to them after this manner: "Because you are ignorant what it is
that hinders the foundation of the tower, you have recommended the
shedding of my blood for cement to it, as if that would presently make
it stand. But tell me now, what is there under the foundation? For
something there is that will not suffer it to stand." The magicians at
this began to be afraid, and made him no answer. Then said Merlin, who
was also called Ambrose, "I entreat your majesty would command your
workmen to dig into the ground, and you will find a pond which causes
the foundation to sink." This accordingly was done, and then presently
they found a pond deep under ground, which had made it give way. Merlin
after this went again to the magicians, and said, "Tell me ye false
sycophants, what is there under the pond." But they were silent. Then
said he again to the king, "Command the pond to be drained, and at the
bottom you will see two hollow stones, and in them two dragons asleep."
The king made no scruple of believing him, since he had found true what
he said of the pond, and therefore ordered it to be drained: which done,
he found as Merlin had said; and now was possessed with the greatest
admiration of him. Nor were the rest that were present less amazed at
his wisdom, thinking it to be no less than divine inspiration.



CHAP. I.--_Geoffrey of Monmouth's preface to Merlin's prophecy._

I had not got thus far in my history, when the subject of public
discourse happening to be concerning Merlin, I was obliged to publish
his prophecies at the request of my acquaintance, but especially of
Alexander, bishop of Lincoln, a prelate of the greatest piety and
wisdom. There was not any person, either among the clergy or laity, that
was attended with such a train of knights and noblemen, whom his settled
piety and great munificence engaged in his service. Out of a desire,
therefore, to gratify him, I translated these prophecies, and sent them
to him with the following letter.

CHAP. II.--_Geoffrey's letter to Alexander, bishop of Lincoln._

"The regard which I owe to your great worth, most noble prelate, has
obliged me to undertake the translation of Merlin's prophecies out of
British into Latin, before I had made an end of the history which I had
begun concerning the acts of the British kings. For my design was to
have finished that first, and afterwards to have taken this work in
hand; lest by being engaged on both at once, I should be less capable of
attending with any exactness to either. Notwithstanding, since the
deference which is paid to your penetrating judgment will screen me from
censure, I have employed my rude pen, and in a coarse style present you
with a translation out of a language with which you are unacquainted. At
the same time, I cannot but wonder at your recommending this matter to
one of my low genius, when you might have caused so many men of greater
learning, and a richer vein of intellect, to undertake it; who, with
their sublime strains, would much more agreeably have entertained you.
Besides, without any disparagement to all the philosophers in Britain, I
must take the liberty to say, that you yourself, if the business of your
high station would give you leisure, are capable of furnishing us with
loftier productions of this kind than any man living. However, since it
was your pleasure that Geoffrey of Monmouth should be employed in this
prophecy, he hopes you will favourably accept of his performance, and
vouchsafe to give a finer turn to whatever you shall find unpolished, or
otherwise faulty in it."

CHAP. III.--_The prophecy of Merlin._

As Vortigern, king of the Britons, was sitting upon the bank of the
drained pond, the two dragons, one of which was white, the other red,
came forth, and, approaching one another, began a terrible fight, and
cast forth fire with their breath. But the white dragon had the
advantage, and made the other fly to the end of the lake. And he, for
grief at his flight, renewed the assault upon his pursuer, and forced
him to retire. After this battle of the dragons, the king commanded
Ambrose Merlin to tell him what it portended. Upon which he, bursting
into tears, delivered what his prophetical spirit suggested to him, as

"Woe to the red dragon, for his banishment hasteneth on. His lurking
holes shall be seized by the white dragon, which signifies the Saxons
whom you invited over; but the red denotes the British nation, which
shall be oppressed by the white. Therefore shall its mountains be
levelled as the valleys, and the rivers of the valleys shall run with
blood. The exercise of religion shall be destroyed, and churches be laid
open to ruin. At last the oppressed shall prevail, and oppose the
cruelty of foreigners. For a boar of Cornwall shall give his assistance,
and trample their necks under his feet. The islands of the ocean shall
be subject to his power, and he shall possess the forests of Gaul. The
house of Romulus shall dread his courage, and his end shall be doubtful.
He shall be celebrated in the mouths of the people; and his exploits
shall be food to those that relate them. Six of his posterity shall sway
the sceptre, but after them shall arise a German worm. He shall be
advanced by a sea-wolf, whom the woods of Africa shall accompany.
Religion shall be again abolished, and there shall be a translation of
the metropolitan sees. The dignity of London shall adorn Dorobernia, and
the seventh pastor of York shall be resorted to in the kingdom of
Armorica. Menevia shall put on the pall of the City of Legions, and a
preacher of Ireland shall be dumb on account of an infant growing in the
womb. It shall rain a shower of blood, and a raging famine shall afflict
mankind. When these things happen, the red one shall be grieved; but
when his fatigue is over, shall grow strong. Then shall misfortunes
hasten upon the white one, and the buildings of his gardens shall be
pulled down. Seven that sway the sceptre shall be killed, one of whom
shall become a saint. The wombs of mothers shall be ripped up, and
infants be abortive. There shall be a most grievous punishment of men,
that the natives may be restored. He that shall do these things shall
put on the brazen man, and upon a brazen horse shall for a long time
guard the gates of London. After this, shall the red dragon return to
his proper manners, and turn his rage upon himself. Therefore shall the
revenge of the Thunderer show itself, for every field shall disappoint
the husbandmen. Mortality shall snatch away the people, and make a
desolation over all countries. The remainder shall quit their native
soil, and make foreign plantations. A blessed king shall prepare a
fleet, and shall be reckoned the twelfth in the court among the saints.
There shall be a miserable desolation of the kingdom, and the floors of
the harvests shall return to the fruitful forests. The white dragon
shall rise again, and invite over a daughter of Germany. Our gardens
shall be again replenished with foreign seed, and the red one shall pine
away at the end of the pond. After that, shall the German worm be
crowned, and the brazen prince buried. He has his bounds assigned him,
which he shall not be able to pass. For a hundred and fifty years he
shall continue in trouble and subjection, but shall bear sway three
hundred. Then shall the north wind rise against him, and shall snatch
away the flowers which the west wind produced. There shall be gilding in
the temples, nor shall the edge of the sword cease. The German dragon
shall hardly get to his holes, because the revenge of his treason shall
overtake him. At last he shall flourish for a little time, but the
decimation of Neustria shall hurt him. For a people in wood and in iron
coats shall come, and revenge upon him his wickedness. They shall
restore the ancient inhabitants to their dwellings, and there shall be
an open destruction of foreigners. The seed of the white dragon shall be
swept out of our gardens, and the remainder of his generation shall be
decimated. They shall bear the yoke of slavery, and wound their mother
with spades and ploughs. After this shall succeed two dragons, whereof
one shall be killed with the sting of envy, but the other shall return
under the shadow of a name. Then shall succeed a lion of justice, at
whose roar the Gallican towers and the island dragons shall tremble. In
those days gold shall be squeezed from the lily and the nettle, and
silver shall flow from the hoofs of bellowing cattle. The frizzled shall
put on various fleeces, and the outward habit denote the inward parts.
The feet of barkers shall be cut off; wild beasts shall enjoy peace;
mankind shall be grieved at their punishment; the form of commerce shall
be divided; the half shall be round. The ravenousness of kites shall be
destroyed, and the teeth of wolves blunted. The lion's whelps shall be
transformed into sea-fishes; and an eagle shall build her nest upon
Mount Aravius. Venedotia shall grow red with the blood of mothers, and
the house of Corineus kill six brethren. The island shall be wet with
night tears; so that all shall be provoked to all things. Woe to thee,
Neustria, because the lion's brain shall be poured upon thee: and he
shall be banished with shattered limbs from his native soil. Posterity
shall endeavour to fly above the highest places; but the favour of new
comers shall be exalted. Piety shall hurt the possessor of things got by
impiety, till he shall have put on his Father: therefore, being armed
with the teeth of a boar, he shall ascend above the tops of mountains,
and the shadow of him that wears a helmet. Albania shall be enraged,
and, assembling her neighbours, shall be employed in shedding blood.
There shall be put into her jaws a bridle that shall be made on the
coast of Armorica. The eagle of the broken covenant shall gild it over,
and rejoice in her third nest. The roaring whelps shall watch, and,
leaving the woods, shall hunt within the walls of cities. They shall
make no small slaughter of those that oppose them, and shall cut off the
tongues of bulls. They shall load the necks of roaring lions with
chains, and restore the times of their ancestors. Then from the first to
the fourth, from the fourth to the third, from the third to the second,
the thumb shall roll in oil. The sixth shall overturn the walls of
Ireland, and change the woods into a plain. He shall reduce several
parts to one, and be crowned with the head of a lion. His beginning
shall lay open to wandering affection, but his end shall carry him up to
the blessed, who are above. For he shall restore the seats of saints in
their countries, and settle pastors in convenient places. Two cities he
shall invest with two palls, and shall bestow virgin-presents upon
virgins. He shall merit by this the favour of the Thunderer, and shall
be placed among the saints. From him shall proceed a lynx penetrating
all things, who shall be bent upon the ruin of his own nation; for,
through him, Neustria shall lose both islands, and be deprived of its
ancient dignity. Then shall the natives return back to the island; for
there shall arise a dissension among foreigners. Also a hoary old man,
sitting upon a snow-white horse, shall turn the course of the river
Periron, and shall measure out a mill upon it with a white rod.
Cadwallader shall call upon Conan, and take Albania into alliance. Then
shall there be a slaughter of foreigners; then shall the rivers run with
blood. Then shall break forth the fountains of Armorica, and they shall
be crowned with the diadem of Brutus. Cambria shall be filled with joy;
and the oaks of Cornwall shall flourish. The island shall be called by
the name of Brutus: and the name given it by foreigners shall be
abolished. From Conan shall proceed a warlike boar, that shall exercise
the sharpness of his tusks within the Gallic woods. For he shall cut
down all the larger oaks, and shall be a defence to the smaller. The
Arabians and Africans shall dread him; for he shall pursue his furious
course to the farther part of Spain. There shall succeed the goat of the
Venereal castle, having golden horns and a silver beard, who shall
breathe such a cloud out of his nostrils, as shall darken the whole
surface of the island. There shall be peace in his time; and corn shall
abound by reason of the fruitfulness of the soil. Women shall become
serpents in their gait, and all their motions shall be full of pride.
The camp of Venus shall be restored; nor shall the arrows of Cupid cease
to wound. The fountain of a river shall be turned into blood; and two
kings shall fight a duel at Stafford for a lioness. Luxury shall
overspread the whole ground; and fornication not cease to debauch
mankind. All these things shall three ages see; till the buried kings
shall be exposed to public view in the city of London. Famine shall
again return; mortality shall return; and the inhabitants shall grieve
for the destruction of their cities. Then shall come the board of
commerce, who shall recall the scattered flocks to the pasture they had
lost. His breast shall be food to the hungry, and his tongue drink to
the thirsty. Out of his mouth shall flow rivers, that shall water the
parched jaws of men. After this shall be produced a tree upon the Tower
of London, which, having no more than three branches, shall overshadow
the surface of the whole island with the breadth of its leaves. Its
adversary, the north wind, shall come upon it, and with its noxious
blast shall snatch away the third branch; but the two remaining ones
shall possess its place, till they shall destroy one another by the
multitude of their leaves; and then shall it obtain the place of those
two, and shall give sustenance to birds of foreign nations. It shall be
esteemed hurtful to native fowls; for they shall not be able to fly
freely for fear of its shadow. There shall succeed the ass of
wickedness, swift against the goldsmiths, but slow against the
ravenousness of wolves. In those days the oaks of the forests shall
burn, and acorns grow upon the branches of teil trees. The Severn sea
shall discharge itself through seven mouths, and the river Uske burn
seven months. Fishes shall die with the heat thereof; and of them shall
be engendered serpents. The baths of Badon shall grow cold, and their
salubrious waters engender death. London shall mourn for the death of
twenty thousand; and the river Thames shall be turned into blood. The
monks in their cowls shall be forced to marry, and their cry shall be
heard upon the mountains of the Alps."


[Footnote 210: The prophecy which follows has been commented on by
various writers, who have taken the trouble to point out the events in
English history which answer to the various predictions which it
contains. Such labour seems to be altogether superfluous in the present
day: the prophecy may be allowed to remain as an illustration of the
absurd credulity of former times.]

CHAP. IV.--_The continuation of the prophecy._

"Three springs shall break forth in the city of Winchester, whose
rivulets shall divide the island into three parts. Whoever shall drink
of the first, shall enjoy long life, and shall never be afflicted with
sickness. He that shall drink of the second, shall die of hunger, and
paleness and horror shall sit in his countenance. He that shall drink of
the third, shall be surprised with sudden death, neither shall his body
be capable of burial. Those that are willing to escape so great a
surfeit, will endeavour to hide it with several coverings, but whatever
bulk shall be laid upon it, shall receive the form of another body. For
earth shall be turned into stones; stones into water; wood into ashes;
ashes into water, if cast over it. Also a damsel shall be sent from the
city of the forest of Canute to administer a cure, who, after she shall
have practised all her arts, shall dry up the noxious fountains only
with her breath. Afterwards, as soon as she shall have refreshed herself
with the wholesome liquor, she shall bear in her right hand the wood of
Caledon, and in her left the forts of the walls of London. Wherever she
shall go, she shall make sulphureous steps, which will smoke with a
double flame. That smoke shall rouse up the city of Ruteni, and shall
make food for the inhabitants of the deep. She shall overflow with
rueful tears, and shall fill the island with her dreadful cry. She shall
be killed by a hart with ten branches, four of which shall bear golden
diadems; but the other six shall be turned into buffalo's horns, whose
hideous sound shall astonish the three islands of Britain. The Daneian
wood shall be stirred up, and breaking forth into a human voice, shall
cry: Come, O Cambria, and join Cornwall to thy side, and say to
Winchester, the earth shall swallow thee up. Translate the seat of thy
pastor to the place where ships come to harbour, and the rest of the
members will follow the head. For the day hasteneth, in which thy
citizens shall perish on account of the guilt of perjury. The whiteness
of wool has been hurtful to thee, and the variety of its tinctures. Woe
to the perjured nation, for whose sake the renowned city shall come to
ruin. The ships shall rejoice at so great an augmentation, and one shall
be made out of two. It shall be rebuilt by Eric, loaden with apples, to
the smell whereof the birds of several woods shall flock together. He
shall add to it a vast palace, and wall it round with six hundred
towers. Therefore shall London envy it, and triply increase her walls.
The river Thames shall encompass it round, and the fame of the work
shall pass beyond the Alps. Eric shall hide his apples within it, and
shall make subterraneous passages. At that time shall the stones speak,
and the sea towards the Gallic coast be contracted into a narrow space.
On each bank shall one man hear another, and the soil of the island
shall be enlarged. The secrets of the deep shall be revealed, and Gaul
shall tremble for fear. After these things shall come forth a hern from
the forest of Calaterium, which shall fly round the island for two years
together. With her nocturnal cry she shall call together the winged
kind, and assemble to her all sorts of fowls. They shall invade the
tillage of husbandmen, and devour all the grain of the harvests. Then
shall follow a famine upon the people, and a grievous mortality upon the
famine. But when this calamity shall be over, a detestable bird shall go
to the valley of Galabes, and shall raise it to be a high mountain. Upon
the top thereof it shall also plant an oak, and build its nest in its
branches. Three eggs shall be produced in the nest, from whence shall
come forth a fox, a wolf, and a bear. The fox shall devour her mother,
and bear the head of an ass. In this monstrous form shall she frighten
her brothers, and make them fly into Neustria. But they shall stir up
the tusky boar, and returning in a fleet shall encounter with the fox;
who at the beginning of the fight shall feign herself dead, and move the
boar to compassion. Then shall the boar approach her carcass, and
standing over her, shall breathe upon her face and eyes. But she, not
forgetting her cunning, shall bite his left foot, and pluck it off from
his body. Then shall she leap upon him, and snatch away his right ear
and tail, and hide herself in the caverns of the mountains. Therefore
shall the deluded boar require the wolf and bear to restore him his
members; who, as soon as they shall enter into the cause, shall promise
two feet of the fox, together with the ear and tail, and of these they
shall make up the members of a hog. With this he shall be satisfied, and
expect the promised restitution. In the meantime shall the fox descend
from the mountains, and change herself into a wolf, and under pretence
of holding a conference with the boar, she shall go to him, and craftily
devour him. After that she shall transform herself into a boar, and
feigning a loss of some members, shall wait for her brothers; but as
soon as they are come, she shall suddenly kill them with her tusks, and
shall be crowned with the head of a lion. In her days shall a serpent be
brought forth, which shall be a destroyer of mankind. With its length it
shall encompass London, and devour all that pass by it. The mountain ox
shall take the head of a wolf, and whiten his teeth in the Severn. He
shall gather to him the flocks of Albania and Cambria, which shall drink
the river Thames dry. The ass shall call the goat with the long beard,
and shall borrow his shape. Therefore shall the mountain ox be incensed,
and having called the wolf, shall become a horned bull against them. In
the exercise of his cruelty he shall devour their flesh and bones, but
shall be burned upon the top of Urian. The ashes of his funeral-pile
shall be turned into swans, that shall swim on dry ground as on a river.
They shall devour fishes in fishes, and swallow up men in men. But when
old age shall come upon them, they shall become sea-wolves, and practise
their frauds in the deep. They shall drown ships, and collect no small
quantity of silver. The Thames shall again flow, and assembling together
the rivers, shall pass beyond the bounds of its channel. It shall cover
the adjacent cities, and overturn the mountains that oppose its course.
Being full of deceit and wickedness, it shall make use of the fountain
Galabes. Hence shall arise factions provoking the Venedotians to war.
The oaks of the forest shall meet together, and encounter the rocks of
the Gewisseans. A raven shall attend with the kites, and devour the
carcasses of the slain. An owl shall build her nest upon the walls of
Gloucester, and in her nest shall be brought forth an ass. The serpent
of Malvernia shall bring him up, and put him upon many fraudulent
practices. Having taken the crown, he shall ascend on high, and frighten
the people of the country with his hideous braying. In his days shall
the Pachaian mountains tremble, and the provinces be deprived of their
woods. For there shall come a worm with a fiery breath, and with the
vapour it sends forth shall burn up the trees. Out of it shall proceed
seven lions deformed with the heads of goats. With the stench of their
nostrils they shall corrupt women, and make wives turn common
prostitutes. The father shall not know his own son, because they shall
grow wanton like brute beasts. Then shall come the giant of wickedness,
and terrify all with the sharpness of his eyes. Against him shall arise
the dragon of Worcester, and shall endeavour to banish him. But in the
engagement the dragon shall be worsted, and oppressed by the wickedness
of the conqueror. For he shall mount upon the dragon, and putting off
his garment shall sit upon him naked. The dragon shall bear him up on
high, and beat his naked rider with his tail erected. Upon this the
giant rousing up his whole strength, shall break his jaws with his
sword. At last the dragon shall fold itself up under its tail, and die
of poison. After him shall succeed the boar of Totness, and oppress the
people with grievous tyranny. Gloucester shall send forth a lion, and
shall disturb him in his cruelty, in several battles. He shall trample
him under his feet, and terrify him with open jaws. At last the lion
shall quarrel with the kingdom, and get upon the backs of the nobility.
A bull shall come into the quarrel, and strike the lion with his right
foot. He shall drive him through all the inns in the kingdom, but shall
break his horns against the walls of Oxford. The fox of Kaerdubalem
shall take revenge on the lion, and destroy him entirely with her teeth.
She shall be encompassed by the adder of Lincoln, who with a horrible
hiss shall give notice of his presence to a multitude of dragons. Then
shall the dragons encounter, and tear one another to pieces. The winged
shall oppress that which wants wings, and fasten its claws into the
poisonous cheeks. Others shall come into the quarrel, and kill one
another. A fifth shall succeed those that are slain, and by various
stratagems shall destroy the rest. He shall get upon the back of one
with his sword, and sever his head from his body. Then throwing off his
garment, he shall get upon another, and put his right and left hand upon
his tail. Thus being naked shall he overcome him, whom when clothed he
was not able to deal with. The rest he shall gall in their flight, and
drive them round the kingdom. Upon this shall come a roaring lion
dreadful for his monstrous cruelty. Fifteen parts shall he reduce to
one, and shall alone possess the people. The giant of the snow-white
colour shall shine, and cause the white people to flourish. Pleasures
shall effeminate the princes, and they shall suddenly be changed into
beasts. Among them shall arise a lion swelled with human gore. Under him
shall a reaper be placed in the standing corn, who, while he is reaping,
shall be oppressed by him. A charioteer of York shall appease them, and
having banished his lord, shall mount upon the chariot which he shall
drive. With his sword unsheathed shall he threaten the East, and fill
the tracks of his wheels with blood. Afterwards he shall become a
sea-fish, who, being roused up with the hissing of a serpent, shall
engender with him. From hence shall be produced three thundering bulls,
who having eaten up their pastures shall be turned into trees. The first
shall carry a whip of vipers, and turn his back upon the next. He shall
endeavour to snatch away the whip, but shall be taken by the last. They
shall turn away their faces from one another, till they have thrown away
the poisoned cup. To him shall succeed a husbandman of Albania, at whose
back shall be a serpent. He shall be employed in ploughing the ground,
that the country may become white with corn. The serpent shall endeavour
to diffuse his poison, in order to blast the harvest. A grievous
mortality shall sweep away the people, and the walls of cities shall be
made desolate. There shall be given for a remedy the city of Claudius,
which shall interpose the nurse of the scourger. For she shall bear a
dose of medicine, and in a short time the island shall be restored. Then
shall two successively sway the sceptre, whom a horned dragon shall
serve. One shall come in armour, and shall ride upon a flying serpent.
He shall sit upon his back with his naked body, and cast his right hand
upon his tail. With his cry shall the seas be moved and he shall strike
terror into the second. The second therefore shall enter into
confederacy with the lion; but a quarrel happening, they shall encounter
one another. They shall distress one another, but the courage of the
beast shall gain the advantage. Then shall come one with a drum, and
appease the rage of the lion. Therefore shall the people of the kingdom
be at peace, and provoke the lion to a dose of physic. In his
established seat he shall adjust the weights, but shall stretch out his
hands into Albania. For which reason the northern provinces shall be
grieved, and open the gates of the temples. The sign-bearing wolf shall
lead his troops, and surround Cornwall with his tail. He shall be
opposed by a soldier in a chariot, who shall transform that people into
a boar. The boar shall therefore ravage the provinces, but shall hide
his head in the depth of Severn. A man shall embrace a lion in wine, and
the dazzling brightness of gold shall blind the eyes of beholders.
Silver shall whiten in the circumference, and torment several wine
presses. Men shall be drunk with wine, and, regardless of heaven, shall
be intent upon the earth. From them shall the stars turn away their
faces, and confound their usual course. Corn will wither at their malign
aspects; and there shall fall no dew from heaven. The roots and branches
will change their places, and the novelty of the thing shall pass for a
miracle. The brightness of the sun shall fade at the amber of Mercury,
and horror shall seize the beholders. Stilbon of Arcadia shall change
his shield; the helmet of Mars shall call Venus. The helmet of Mars
shall make a shadow; and the rage of Mercury pass his bounds. Iron Orion
shall unsheath his sword: the marine Phoebus shall torment the clouds;
Jupiter shall go out of his lawful paths; and Venus forsake her stated
lines. The malignity of the star Saturn shall fall down in rain, and
slay mankind with a crooked sickle. The twelve houses of the star shall
lament the irregular excursions of their guests; and Gemini omit their
usual embraces, and call the urn to the fountains. The scales of Libra
shall hang obliquely, till Aries puts his crooked horns under them. The
tail of Scorpio shall produce lightning, and Cancer quarrel with the
Sun. Virgo shall mount upon the back of Sagittarius, and darken her
virgin flowers. The chariot of the Moon shall disorder the zodiac, and
the Pleiades break forth into weeping. No offices of Janus shall
hereafter return, but his gate being shut shall lie hid in the chinks of
Ariadne. The seas shall rise up in the twinkling of an eye, and the dust
of the ancients shall be restored. The winds shall fight together with a
dreadful blast, and their sound shall reach the stars."


CHAP. I.--_Vortigern asks Merlin concerning his own death._

Merlin, by delivering these and many other prophecies, caused in all
that were present an admiration at the ambiguity of his expressions. But
Vortigern above all the rest both admired and applauded the wisdom, and
prophetical spirit of the young man: for that age had produced none
that ever talked in such a manner before him. Being therefore curious to
learn his own fate, he desired the young man to tell him what he knew
concerning that particular. Merlin answered:--"Fly the fire of the sons
of Constantine, if you are able to do it: already are they fitting out
their ships: already are they leaving the Armorican shore: already are
they spreading out their sails to the wind. They will steer towards
Britain: they will invade the Saxon nation: they will subdue that wicked
people; but they will first burn you being shut up in a tower. To your
own ruin did you prove a traitor to their father, and invite the Saxons
into the island. You invited them for your safeguard; but they came for
a punishment to you. Two deaths instantly threaten you; nor is it easy
to determine, which you can best avoid. For on the one hand the Saxons
shall lay waste your country, and endeavour to kill you: on the other
shall arrive the two brothers, Aurelius Ambrosius and Uther Pendragon,
whose business will be to revenge their father's murder upon you. Seek
out some refuge if you can: to-morrow they will be on the shore of
Totness. The faces of the Saxons shall look red with blood, Hengist
shall be killed, and Aurelius Ambrosius shall be crowned. He shall bring
peace to the nation; he shall restore the churches; but shall die of
poison. His brother Uther Pendragon shall succeed him, whose days also
shall be cut short by poison. There shall be present at the commission
of this treason your own issue, whom the boar of Cornwall shall devour."
Accordingly the next day early, arrived Aurelius Ambrosius and his
brother, with ten thousand men.

CHAP. II.--_Aurelius Ambrosius, being anointed king of Britain, burns
Vortigern besieged in a tower._

As soon as the news of his coming was divulged, the Britons, who had
been dispersed by their great calamities, met together from all parts,
and gaining this new accession of strength from their countrymen,
displayed unusual vigour. Having assembled together the clergy, they
anointed Aurelius king, and paid him the customary homage. And when the
people were urgent to fall upon the Saxons, he dissuaded them from it,
because his desire was to pursue Vortigern first. For the treason
committed against his father so very much affected him, that he thought
nothing done till that was first avenged. In pursuance therefore of this
design, he marched with his army into Cambria, to the town of Genoreu,
whither Vortigern had fled for refuge. That town was in the country of
Hergin, upon the river Gania, in the mountain called Cloarius. As soon
as Ambrosius was arrived there, bearing in his mind the murder of his
father and brother, he spake thus to Eldol, duke of Gloucester.

"See, most noble duke, whether the walls of this city are able to
protect Vortigern against my sheathing this sword in his bowels. He
deserves to die, and you cannot, I suppose, be ignorant of his desert.
Oh most villainous of men, whose crimes deserve inexpressible tortures!
First he betrayed my father Constantine, who had delivered him and his
country from the inroads of the Picts; afterwards my brother Constans
whom he made king on purpose to destroy him. Again, when by his craft he
had usurped the crown, he introduced pagans among the natives, in order
to abuse those who continued stedfast in their loyalty to me: but by the
good providence of God, he unwarily fell into the snare, which he had
laid for my faithful subjects. For the Saxons, when they found him out
in his wickedness, drove him from the kingdom; for which nobody ought to
be concerned. But this I think matter of just grief, that this odious
people, whom that detestable traitor invited over, has expelled the
nobility, laid waste a fruitful country, destroyed the holy churches,
and almost extinguished Christianity over the whole kingdom. Now,
therefore, my countrymen, show yourselves men; first revenge yourselves
upon him that was the occasion of all these disasters; then let us turn
our arms against our enemies, and free our country from their brutish

Immediately, therefore, they set their engines to work, and laboured to
beat down the walls. But at last, when all other attempts failed, they
had recourse to fire, which meeting with proper fuel ceased not to rage,
till it had burned down the tower and Vortigern in it.

CHAP. III.--_The praise of Aurelius's valour. The levity of the Scots
exposed. Forces raised against Hengist._

Hengist, with his Saxons, was struck with terror at this news, for he
dreaded the valour of Aurelius. Such was the bravery and courage this
prince was master of, that while he was in Gaul, there was none that
durst encounter with him. For in all encounters he either dismounted his
adversary, or broke his spear. Besides, he was magnificent in his
presents, constant at his devotions, temperate in all respects, and
above all things hated a lie. A brave soldier on foot, a better on
horseback, and expert in the discipline of an army. Reports of these his
noble accomplishments, while he yet continued in Armorican Britain, were
daily brought over into the island. Therefore, the Saxons, for fear of
him, retired beyond the Humber, and in those parts fortified the cities
and towns; for that country always was a place of refuge to them; their
safety lying in the neighbourhood of Scotland, which used to watch all
opportunities of distressing the nation; for that country being in
itself a frightful place to live in, and wholly uninhabited, had been a
safe retreat for strangers. By its situation it lay open to the Picts,
Scots, Dacians, Norwegians, and others, that came to plunder the island.
Being, therefore, secure of a safe reception in this country, they fled
towards it, that, if there should be occasion, they might retreat into
it as into their own camp. This was good news to Aurelius, and made him
conceive greater hopes of victory. So assembling his people quickly
together, he augmented his army, and made an expeditious march towards
the north. In his passage through the countries, he was grieved to see
the desolation made in them, but especially that the churches were
levelled with the ground; and he promised to rebuild them, if he gained
the victory.

CHAP. IV.--_Hengist marches with his army against Aurelius, into the
field of Maisbeli._

But Hengist, upon his approach, took courage again, and chose out the
bravest of his men, whom he exhorted to make a gallant defence, and not
be daunted at Aurelius, who, he told them, had but few Armorican Britons
with him, since their number did not exceed ten thousand. And as for
the native Britons, he made no account of them, since they had been so
often defeated by him. He therefore promised them the victory, and that
they should come off safely, considering the superiority of their
number, which amounted to two hundred thousand men in arms. After he had
in this manner animated his men, he advanced with them towards Aurelius,
into a field called Maisbeli, through which Aurelius was to pass. For
his intention was to make a sudden assault by a surprise, and fall upon
the Britons before they were prepared. But Aurelius perceived the
design, and yet did not, on that account, delay going to the field, but
rather pursued his march with more expedition. When he was come within
sight of the enemy, he put his troops in order, commanding three
thousand Armoricans to attend the cavalry, and drew out the rest
together with the islanders into line of battle. The Dimetians he placed
upon the hills, and the Venedotians in the adjacent woods. His reason
for which was, that they might be there ready to fall upon the Saxons,
in case they should flee in that direction.

CHAP. V.--_A battle between Aurelius and Hengist._

In the meantime, Eldol, duke of Gloucester, went to the king, and said,
"This one day should suffice for all the days of my life, if by good
providence I could but get an opportunity to engage with Hengist; for
one of us should die before we parted. I still retain deeply fixed in my
memory the day appointed for our peaceably treating together, but which
he villainously made use of to assassinate all that were present at the
treaty, except myself only, who stood upon my defence with a stake which
I accidentally found, until I made my escape. That very day proved
fatal, through his treachery, to no less than four hundred and sixty
barons and consuls, who all went unarmed. From that conspiracy God was
pleased to deliver me, by throwing a stake in my way, wherewith I
defended myself and escaped." Thus spoke Eldol. Then Aurelius exhorted
his companions to place all their hope in the Son of God, and to make a
brave assault with one consent upon the enemy, in defence of their
country. Nor was Hengist less busy on the other hand in forming his
troops, and giving them directions how to behave themselves in the
battle; and he walked himself through their several ranks, the more to
spirit them up. At last, both armies, being drawn out in order of
battle, began the attack, which they maintained with great bravery, and
no small loss of blood, both to the Britons and Saxons. Aurelius
animated the Christians, Hengist the pagans; and all the time of the
engagement, Eldol's chief endeavour was to encounter Hengist, but he had
no opportunity for it. For Hengist, when he found that his own men were
routed, and that the Christians, by the especial favour of God, had the
advantage, fled to the town called Kaerconan, now Cunungeburg. Aurelius
pursued him, and either killed or made slaves of all he found in the
way. When Hengist saw that he was pursued by Aurelius, he would not
enter the town, but assembled his troops, and prepared them to stand
another engagement. For he knew the town would not hold out against
Aurelius, and that his whole security now lay in his sword. At last
Aurelius overtook him, and after marshalling his forces, began another
most furious fight. And here the Saxons steadily maintained their
ground, notwithstanding the numbers that fell. On both sides there was a
great slaughter, the groans of the dying causing a greater rage in those
that survived. In short, the Saxons would have gained the day, had not a
detachment of horse from the Armorican Britons come in upon them. For
Aurelius had appointed them the same station which they had in the
former battle; so that, upon their advancing, the Saxons gave ground,
and when once a little dispersed, were not able to rally again. The
Britons, encouraged by this advantage, exerted themselves, and laboured
with all their might to distress the enemy. All the time Aurelius was
fully employed, not only in giving commands, but encouraging his men by
his own example; for with his own hand he killed all that stood in his
way, and pursued those that fled. Nor was Eldol less active in all parts
of the field, running to and fro to assault his adversaries; but still
his main endeavour was to find opportunity of encountering Hengist.

CHAP. VI.--_Hengist, in a duel with Eldol, is taken by him. The Saxons
are slain by the Britons without mercy._

As there were therefore several movements made by the parties engaged on
each side, an opportunity occurred for their meeting, and briskly
engaging each other. In this encounter of the two greatest champions in
the field, the fire sparkled with the clashing of their arms, and every
stroke in a manner produced both thunder and lightning. For a long time
was the victory in suspense, as it seemed sometimes to favour the one,
sometimes the other. While they were thus hotly engaged, Gorlois, duke
of Cornwall, came up to them with the party he commanded, and did great
execution upon the enemies' troops. At the sight of him, Eldol, assured
of victory, seized on the helmet of Hengist, and by main force dragged
him in among the Britons, and then in transports of joy cried out with a
loud voice, "God has fulfilled my desire! My brave soldiers, down, down,
with your enemies the Ambrons.[211] The victory is now in your hands:
Hengist is defeated, and the day is your own." In the meantime the
Britons failed not to perform every one his part against the pagans,
upon whom they made many vigorous assaults; and though they were obliged
sometimes to give ground, yet their courage did not fail them in making
a good resistance; so that they gave the enemy no respite till they had
vanquished them. The Saxons therefore fled whithersoever their
consternation hurried them, some to the cities, some to the woods upon
the hills, and others to their ships. But Octa, the son of Hengist, made
his retreat with a great body of men to York: and Eosa, his kinsman, to
the city of Alclud, where he had a very large army for his guard.


[Footnote 211: The meaning of this word is doubtful; it is applied to
the Saxons, probably is descriptive of their fierce and savage

CHAP. VII.--_Hengist is beheaded by Eldol._

Aurelius, after this victory, took the city of Conan above-mentioned,
and stayed there three days. During this time he gave orders for the
burial of the slain, for curing the wounded, and for the ease and
refreshment of his forces that were fatigued. Then he called a council
of his principal officers, to deliberate what was to be done with
Hengist. There was present at the assembly Eldad, bishop of Gloucester,
and brother of Eldol, a prelate of very great wisdom and piety. As soon
as he beheld Hengist standing in the king's presence, he demanded
silence, and said, "Though all should be unanimous for setting him at
liberty, yet would I cut him to pieces. The prophet Samuel is my
warrant, who, when he had Agag, king of Amalek, in his power, hewed him
in pieces, saying, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy
mother be childless among women. Do therefore the same to Hengist, who
is a second Agag." Accordingly Eldol took his sword, and drew him out of
the city, and then cut off his head. But Aurelius, who showed moderation
in all his conduct, commanded him to be buried, and a heap of earth to
be raised over his body, according to the custom of the pagans.

CHAP. VIII.--_Octa, being besieged in York, surrenders himself to the
mercy of Aurelius._

From hence Aurelius conducted his army to York, to besiege Octa,
Hengist's son. When the city was invested, Octa was doubtful whether he
should give him any opposition, and stand a siege against such a
powerful army. After consultation upon it, he went out with his
principal nobility that were present, carrying a chain in his hand, and
sand upon his head, and presented himself to the king with this address:
"My gods are vanquished, and I doubt not that the sovereign power is in
your God, who has compelled so many noble persons to come before you in
this suppliant manner. Be pleased therefore to accept of us, and of this
chain. If you do not think us fit objects of your clemency, we here
present ourselves ready to be fettered, and to undergo whatever
punishment you shall adjudge us to." Aurelius was moved with pity at the
spectacle, and demanded the advice of his council what should be done
with them. After various proposals upon this subject, Eldad the bishop
rose up, and delivered his opinion in these words: "The Gibeonites came
voluntarily to the children of Israel to desire mercy, and they obtained
it. And shall we Christians be worse than the Jews, in refusing them
mercy? It is mercy which they beg, and let them have it. The island of
Britain is large, and in many places uninhabited. Let us make a covenant
with them, and suffer them at least to inhabit the desert places, that
they may be our vassals for ever." The king acquiesced in Eldad's
advice, and suffered them to partake of his clemency. After this Eosa
and the rest that fled, being encouraged by Octa's success, came also,
and were admitted to the same favour. The king therefore granted them
the country bordering upon Scotland, and made a firm covenant with them.

CHAP. IX.--_Aurelius, having entirely routed the enemies, restores all
things in Britain, especially ecclesiastical affairs, to their ancient

The enemies being now entirely reduced,[212] the king summoned the
consuls and princes of the kingdom together at York, where he gave
orders for the restoration of the churches, which the Saxons had
destroyed. He himself undertook the rebuilding of the metropolitan
church of that city, as also the other cathedral churches in that
province. After fifteen days, when he had settled workmen in several
places, he went to London, which city had not escaped the fury of the
enemy. He beheld with great sorrow the destruction made in it, and
recalled the remainder of the citizens from all parts, and began the
restoration of it. Here he settled the affairs of the whole kingdom,
revived the laws, restored the right heirs to the possessions of their
ancestors; and those estates, whereof the heirs had been lost in the
late grievous calamity, he distributed among his fellow soldiers. In
these important concerns, of restoring the nation to its ancient state,
repairing the churches, re-establishing peace and law, and settling the
administration of justice, was his time wholly employed. From hence he
went to Winchester, to repair the ruins of it, as he did of other
cities; and when the work was finished there, he went, at the instance
of bishop Eldad, to the monastery near Kaercaradoc, now Salisbury, where
the consuls and princes, whom the wicked Hengist had treacherously
murdered, lay buried. At this place was a convent that maintained three
hundred friars, situated on the mountain of Ambrius, who, as is
reported, had been the founder of it. The sight of the place where the
dead lay, made the king, who was of a compassionate temper, shed tears,
and at last enter upon thoughts, what kind of monument to erect upon it.
For he thought something ought to be done to perpetuate the memory of
that piece of ground, which was honoured with the bodies of so many
noble patriots, that died for their country.


[Footnote 212: The conquest of England was achieved slowly by the
Saxons, yet it was sure and permanent: the assertion in the text is
untrue. There was no expulsion or subjugation of the invaders when they
were once landed.]

CHAP. X.--_Aurelius is advised by Merlin to remove the Giant's Dance
from the mountain Killaraus._

For this purpose he summoned together several carpenters and masons, and
commanded them to employ the utmost of their art, in contriving some new
structure, for a lasting monument to those great men. But they, in
diffidence of their own skill, refusing to undertake it, Tremounus,
archbishop of the City of Legions, went to the king, and said, "If any
one living is able to execute your commands, Merlin, the prophet of
Vortigern, is the man. In my opinion there is not in all your kingdom a
person of a brighter genius, either in predicting future events, or in
mechanical contrivances. Order him to come to you, and exercise his
skill in the work which you design." Whereupon Aurelius, after he had
asked a great many questions concerning him, despatched several
messengers into the country to find him out, and bring him to him. After
passing through several provinces, they found him in the country of the
Gewisseans, at the fountain of Galabes, which he frequently resorted to.
As soon as they had delivered their message to him, they conducted him
to the king, who received him with joy, and, being curious to hear some
of his wonderful speeches, commanded him to prophesy. Merlin made
answer: "Mysteries of this kind are not to be revealed but when there is
the greatest necessity for it. If I should pretend to utter them for
ostentation or diversion, the spirit that instructs me would be silent,
and would leave me when I should have occasion for it." When he had made
the same refusal to all the rest present, the king would not urge him
any longer about his predictions, but spoke to him concerning the
monument which he designed. "If you are desirous," said Merlin, "to
honour the burying-place of these men with an everlasting monument, send
for the Giant's Dance, which is in Killaraus, a mountain in Ireland. For
there is a structure of stones there, which none of this age could
raise, without a profound knowledge of the mechanical arts. They are
stones of a vast magnitude and wonderful quality; and if they can be
placed here, as they are there, round this spot of ground, they will
stand for ever."

CHAP. XI.--_Uther Pendragon is appointed with Merlin to bring over the
Giant's Dance._

At these words of Merlin, Aurelius burst into laughter, and said, "How
is it possible to remove such vast stones from so distant a country, as
if Britain was not furnished with stones fit for the work?" Merlin
replied, "I entreat your majesty to forbear vain laughter; for what I
say is without vanity. They are mystical stones, and of a medicinal
virtue. The giants of old brought them from the farthest coast of
Africa, and placed them in Ireland, while they inhabited that country.
Their design in this was to make baths in them, when they should be
taken with any illness. For their method was to wash the stones, and put
their sick into the water, which infallibly cured them. With the like
success they cured wounds also, adding only the application of some
herbs. There is not a stone there which has not some healing virtue."
When the Britons heard this, they resolved to send for the stones, and
to make war upon the people of Ireland if they should offer to detain
them. And to accomplish this business, they made choice of Uther
Pendragon, who was to be attended with fifteen thousand men. They chose
also Merlin himself, by whose direction the whole affair was to be
managed. A fleet being therefore got ready, they set sail, and with a
fair wind arrived in Ireland.

CHAP. XII.--_Gillomanius being routed by Uther, the Britons bring over
the Giant's dance into Britain._

At that time Gillomanius, a youth of wonderful valour, reigned in
Ireland; who, upon the news of the arrival of the Britons in his
kingdom, levied a vast army, and marched out against them. And when he
had learned the occasion of their coming, he smiled, and said to those
about him, "No wonder a cowardly race of people were able to make so
great a devastation in the island of Britain, when the Britons are such
brutes and fools. Was ever the like folly heard of? What are the stones
of Ireland better than those of Britain, that our kingdom must be put to
this disturbance for them? To arms, soldiers, and defend your country;
while I have life they shall not take from us the least stone of the
Giant's Dance." Uther, seeing them prepared for a battle, attacked them;
nor was it long ere the Britons had the advantage, who, having dispersed
and killed the Irish, forced Gillomanius to flee. After the victory they
went to the mountain Killaraus, and arrived at the structure of stones,
the sight of which filled them both with joy and admiration. And while
they were all standing round them, Merlin came up to them and said, "Now
try your forces, young men, and see whether strength or art can do the
most towards taking down these stones." At this word they all set to
their engines with one accord, and attempted the removing of the Giant's
Dance. Some prepared cables, others small ropes, others ladders for the
work, but all to no purpose. Merlin laughed at their vain efforts, and
then began his own contrivances. When he had placed in order the engines
that were necessary, he took down the stones with an incredible
facility, and gave directions for carrying them to the ships, and
placing them therein. This done, they with joy set sail again, to return
to Britain; where they arrived with a fair gale, and repaired to the
burying-place with the stones. When Aurelius had notice of it, he sent
messengers to all parts of Britain, to summon the clergy and people
together to the mount of Ambrius, in order to celebrate with joy and
honour the erection of the monument. Upon this summons appeared the
bishops, abbats, and people of all other orders and qualities; and upon
the day and place appointed for their general meeting, Aurelius placed
the crown upon his head, and with royal pomp celebrated the feast of
Pentecost, the solemnity whereof he continued the three following days.
In the meantime, all places of honour that were vacant, he bestowed upon
his domestics as rewards for their good services. At that time the two
metropolitan sees of York and Legions were vacant; and with the general
consent of the people, whom he was willing to please in this choice, he
granted York to Sanxo, a man of great quality, and much celebrated for
his piety; and the City of Legions to Dubricius, whom divine providence
had pointed out as a most useful pastor in that place. As soon as he
had settled these and other affairs in the kingdom, he ordered Merlin to
set up the stones brought over from Ireland, about the sepulchre; which
he accordingly did, and placed them in the same manner as they had been
in the mountain Killaraus, and thereby gave a manifest proof of the
prevalence of art above strength.[213]


[Footnote 213: This is the venerable monument of antiquity, now called
Stonehenge, of the origin of which we know no more than we know of the
solid framework of the globe itself. It was certainly erected by a
people who lived long before the beginning of authentic history.]

CHAP. XIII.--_Pascentius brings in the Saxons against the Britons._

At the same time Pascentius, the son of Vortigern, who had fled over
into Germany, was levying all the forces of that kingdom against
Aurelius Ambrosius, with a design to revenge his father's death; and
promised his men an immense treasure of gold and silver, if with their
assistance he could succeed in reducing Britain under his power. When he
had at last corrupted all the youth of the country with his large
promises, he prepared a vast fleet, and arrived in the northern parts of
the island, upon which he began to make great devastations. The king, on
the other hand, hearing this news, assembled his army, and marching
against them challenged the enraged enemy to a battle; the challenge was
accepted, and by the blessing of God the enemy was defeated and put to

CHAP. XIV.--_Pascentius, assisted by the king of Ireland, again invades
Britain. Aurelius dies by the treachery of Eopa, a Saxon._

Pascentius, after this flight, durst not return to Germany, but shifting
his sails, went over to Gillomanius, in Ireland, by whom he was well
received. And when he had given him an account of his misfortune,
Gillomanius, in pity to him, promised him his assistance, and at the
same time vented his complaint of the injuries done him by Uther, the
brother of Aurelius, when he came for the Giant's Dance. At last,
entering into confederacy together, they made ready their fleet, in
which they embarked, and arrived at the city of Menevia. This news
caused Uther Pendragon to levy his forces, and march into Cambria to
fight them. For his brother Aurelius then lay sick at Winchester, and
was not able to go himself. When Pascentius, Gillomanius, and the Saxons
heard of it, they highly rejoiced, flattering themselves, that his
sickness would facilitate to them the conquest of Britain. While this
occurrence was the subject of the people's discourse, one of the Saxons,
named Eopa, came to Pascentius, and said, "What reward will you give the
man that shall kill Aurelius Ambrosius for you?" To whom Pascentius
answered, "O that I could find a man of such resolution! I would give
him a thousand pounds of silver, and my friendship for life; and if by
good fortune I can but gain the crown, I promise upon oath to make him a
centurion." To this Eopa replied, "I have learned the British language,
and know the manners of the people, and have skill in physic. If,
therefore, you will perform this promise, I will pretend to be a
Christian and a Briton, and when, as a physician, I shall be admitted
into the king's presence, I will make him a potion that shall despatch
him. And to gain the readier access to him, I will put on the appearance
of a devout and learned monk." Upon this offer, Pascentius entered into
covenant with him, and confirmed what he had promised with an oath.
Eopa, therefore, shaved his beard and head, and in the habit of a monk
hastened to Winchester, loaded with vessels full of medical
preparations. As soon as he arrived there, he offered his service to
those that attended about the king, and was graciously received by them;
for to them nobody was now more acceptable than a physician. Being
introduced into the king's presence, he promised to restore him to his
health, if he would but take his potions. Upon which he had his orders
forthwith to prepare one of them, into which when he had secretly
conveyed a poisonous mixture, he gave it the king. As soon as Aurelius
had drunk it up, the wicked Ambron ordered him presently to cover
himself close up, and fall asleep, that the detestable potion might the
better operate. The king readily obeyed his prescriptions, and in hopes
of his speedy recovery fell asleep. But the poison quickly diffused
itself through all the pores and veins of his body, so that the sleep
ended in death. In the meantime the wicked traitor, having cunningly
withdrawn himself first from one and then from another, was no longer
to be found in the court. During these transactions at Winchester, there
appeared a star of wonderful magnitude and brightness, darting forth a
ray, at the end of which was a globe of fire in form of a dragon, out of
whose mouth issued forth two rays; one of which seemed to stretch out
itself beyond the extent of Gaul, the other towards the Irish Sea, and
ended in seven lesser rays.

CHAP. XV.--_A comet presignifies the reign of Uther._

At the appearance of this star, a general fear and amazement seized the
people; and even Uther, the king's brother, who was then upon his march
with his army into Cambria, being not a little terrified at it, was very
curious to know of the learned men, what it portended. Among others, he
ordered Merlin to be called, who also attended in this expedition to
give his advice in the management of the war; and who, being now
presented before him, was commanded to discover to him the signification
of the star. At this he burst out into tears, and with a loud voice
cried out, "O irreparable loss! O distressed people of Britain! Alas!
the illustrious prince is departed! The renowned king of the Britons,
Aurelius Ambrosius, is dead! whose death will prove fatal to us all,
unless God be our helper. Make haste, therefore, most noble Uther, make
haste to engage the enemy: the victory will be yours, and you shall be
king of all Britain. For the star, and the fiery dragon under it,
signifies yourself, and the ray extending towards the Gallic coast,
portends that you shall have a most potent son, to whose power all those
kingdoms shall be subject over which the ray reaches. But the other ray
signifies a daughter, whose sons and grandsons shall successively enjoy
the kingdom of Britain."

CHAP. XVI.--_Pascentius and Gillomanius are killed in battle._

Uther, though he doubted of the truth of what Merlin had declared,
pursued his march against the enemy, for he was now come within half a
day's march of Menevia. When Gillomanius, Pascentius, and the Saxons
were informed of his approach, they went out to give him battle. As soon
as they were come within sight of each other, both armies began to form
themselves into several bodies, and then advanced to a close attack, in
which both sides suffered a loss of men, as usually happens in such
engagements. At last, towards the close of the day, the advantage was on
Uther's side, and the death of Gillomanius and Pascentius made a way for
complete victory. So that the barbarians, being put to flight, hastened
to their ships, but were slain by their pursuers. Thus, by the favour of
Christ, the general had triumphant success, and then with all possible
expedition, after so great a fatigue, returned back to Winchester: for
he had now been informed, by messengers that arrived, of the king's sad
fate, and of his burial by the bishops of the country, near the convent
of Ambrius, within the Giant's Dance, which in his lifetime he had
commanded to be made. For upon hearing the news of his death, the
bishops, abbats, and all the clergy of that province, had met together
at Winchester, to solemnize his funeral. And because in his lifetime he
had given orders for his being buried in the sepulchre which he had
prepared, they therefore carried his corpse thither, and performed his
exsequies with royal magnificence.

CHAP. XVII.--_Uther Pendragon is made king of Britain._

But Uther his brother, having assembled the clergy of the kingdom, took
the crown, and by universal consent was advanced to the kingdom. And
remembering the explanation which Merlin had made of the star
above-mentioned, he commanded two dragons to be made of gold, in
likeness of the dragon which he had seen at the ray of the star. As soon
as they were finished, which was done with wonderful nicety of
workmanship, he made a present of one to the cathedral church of
Winchester, but reserved the other for himself, to be carried along with
him to his wars. From this time, therefore, he was called Uther
Pendragon, which in the British tongue signifies the dragon's head; the
occasion of this appellation being Merlin's predicting, from the
appearance of a dragon, that he should be king.

CHAP. XVIII.--_Octa and Eosa are taken in battle._

In the meantime Octa the son of Hengist, and his kinsman Eosa, seeing
they were no longer bound by the treaty which they had made with
Aurelius Ambrosius, began to raise disturbances against the king, and
infest his countries. For they were now joining with the Saxons whom
Pascentius had brought over, and sending messengers into Germany for the
rest. Being therefore attended with a vast army, he invaded the northern
provinces, and in an outrageous manner destroyed all the cities and
fortified places, from Albania to York. At last, as he was beginning the
siege of that city, Uther Pendragon came upon him with the whole power
of the kingdom, and gave him battle. The Saxons behaved with great
gallantry, and, having sustained the assaults of the Britons, forced
them to fly; and upon this advantage pursued them with slaughter to the
mountain Damen, which was as long as they could do it with daylight. The
mountain was high, and had a hazel-wood upon the top of it, and about
the middle broken and cavernous rocks, which were a harbour to wild
beasts. The Britons made up to it, and stayed there all night among the
rocks and hazel-bushes. But as it began to draw towards day, Uther
commanded the consuls and princes to be called together, that he might
consult with them in what manner to assault the enemy. Whereupon they
forthwith appeared before the king, who commanded them to give their
advice; and Gorlois, duke of Cornwall, had orders to deliver his opinion
first, out of regard to his years and great experience. "There is no
occasion," said he, "for ceremonies or speeches, while we see that it is
still night: but there is for boldness and courage, if you desire any
longer enjoyment of your life and liberty. The pagans are very numerous,
and eager to fight, and we much inferior to them in number; so that if
we stay till daybreak, we cannot, in my opinion, attack them to
advantage. Come on, therefore, while we have the favour of the night,
let us go down in a close body, and surprise them in their camp with a
sudden assault. There can be no doubt of success, if with one consent we
fall upon them boldly, while they think themselves secure, and have no
expectation of our coming in such a manner." The king and all that were
present, were pleased with his advice, and pursued it. For as soon as
they were armed and placed in their ranks, they made towards the
enemies' camp, designing a general assault. But upon approaching to it,
they were discovered by the watch, who with sound of trumpet awaked
their companions. The enemies being hereupon put into confusion and
astonishment, part of them hastened towards the sea, and part ran up and
down whithersoever their fear or precipitation drove them. The Britons,
finding their coming discovered, hastened their march, and keeping still
close together in their ranks, assailed the camp; into which when they
had found an entrance, they ran with their drawn swords upon the enemy;
who in this sudden surprise made but a faint defence against their
vigorous and regular attack; and pursuing this blow with great eagerness
they destroyed some thousands of the pagans, took Octa and Eosa
prisoners, and entirely dispersed the Saxons.

CHAP. XIX.--_Uther, falling in love with Igerna, enjoys her by the
assistance of Merlin's magical operations._

After this victory Uther repaired to the city of Alclud, where he
settled the affairs of that province, and restored peace everywhere. He
also made a progress round all the countries of the Scots, and tamed the
fierceness of that rebellious people, by such a strict administration of
justice, as none of his predecessors had exercised before: so that in
his time offenders were everywhere under great terror, since they were
sure of being punished without mercy. At last, when he had established
peace in the northern provinces, he went to London, and commanded Octa
and Eosa to be kept in prison there. The Easter following he ordered all
the nobility of the kingdom to meet at that city, in order to celebrate
that great festival; in honour of which he designed to wear his crown.
The summons was everywhere obeyed, and there was a great concourse from
all cities to celebrate the day. So the king observed the festival with
great solemnity, as he had designed, and very joyfully entertained his
nobility, of whom there was a very great muster, with their wives and
daughters, suitably to the magnificence of the banquet prepared for
them. And having been received with joy by the king, they also expressed
the same in their deportment before him. Among the rest was present
Gorlois, duke of Cornwall, with his wife Igerna, the greatest beauty in
all Britain. No sooner had the king cast his eyes upon her among the
rest of the ladies, than he fell passionately in love with her, and
little regarding the rest, made her the subject of all his thoughts.
She was the only lady that he continually served with fresh dishes, and
to whom he sent golden cups by his confidants; on her he bestowed all
his smiles, and to her addressed all his discourse. The husband,
discovering this, fell into a great rage, and retired from the court
without taking leave: nor was there any body that could stop him, while
he was under fear of losing the chief object of his delight. Uther,
therefore, in great wrath commanded him to return back to court, to make
him satisfaction for this affront. But Gorlois refused to obey; upon
which the king was highly incensed, and swore he would destroy his
country, if he did not speedily compound for his offence. Accordingly,
without delay, while their anger was hot against each other, the king
got together a great army, and marched into Cornwall, the cities and
towns whereof he set on fire. But Gorlois durst not engage with him, on
account of the inferiority of his numbers; and thought it a wiser course
to fortify his towns, till he could get succour from Ireland. And as he
was under more concern for his wife than himself, he put her into the
town of Tintagel,[214] upon the sea-shore, which he looked upon as a
place of great safety. But he himself entered the castle of Dimilioc, to
prevent their being both at once involved in the same danger, if any
should happen. The king, informed of this, went to the town where
Gorlois was, which he besieged, and shut up all the avenues to it. A
whole week was now past, when, retaining in mind his love to Igerna, he
said to one of his confidants, named Ulfin de Ricaradoch: "My passion
for Igerna is such, that I can neither have ease of mind, nor health of
body, till I obtain her: and if you cannot assist me with your advice
how to accomplish my desire, the inward torments I endure will kill
me."--"Who can advise you in this matter," said Ulfin, "when no force
will enable us to have access to her in the town of Tintagel? For it is
situated upon the sea, and on every side surrounded by it; and there is
but one entrance into it, and that through a straight rock, which three
men shall be able to defend against the whole power of the kingdom.
Notwithstanding, if the prophet Merlin would in earnest set about this
attempt, I am of opinion, you might with his advice obtain your wishes."
The king readily believed what he was so well inclined to, and ordered
Merlin, who was also come to the siege, to be called. Merlin, therefore,
being introduced into the king's presence, was commanded to give his
advice, how the king might accomplish his desire with respect to Igerna.
And he, finding the great anguish of the king, was moved by such
excessive love, and said, "To accomplish your desire, you must make use
of such arts as have not been heard of in your time. I know how, by the
force of my medicines, to give you the exact likeness of Gorlois, so
that in all respects you shall seem to be no other than himself. If you
will therefore obey my prescriptions, I will metamorphose you into the
true semblance of Gorlois and Ulfin into Jordan of Tintagel, his
familiar friend; and I myself, being transformed into another shape,
will make the third in the adventure; and in this disguise you may go
safely to the town where Igerna is, and have admittance to her." The
king complied with the proposal, and acted with great caution in this
affair; and when he had committed the care of the siege to his intimate
friends, underwent the medical applications of Merlin, by whom he was
transformed into the likeness of Gorlois; as was Ulfin also into Jordan,
and Merlin himself into Bricel; so that nobody could see any remains now
of their former likeness. They then set forward on their way to
Tintagel, at which they arrived in the evening twilight, and forthwith
signified to the porter, that the consul was come; upon which the gates
were opened, and the men let in. For what room could there be for
suspicion, when Gorlois himself seemed to be there present? The king
therefore stayed that night with Igerna, and had the full enjoyment of
her, for she was deceived with the false disguise which he had put on,
and the artful and amorous discourses wherewith he entertained her. He
told her he had left his own place besieged, purely to provide for the
safety of her dear self, and the town she was in; so that believing all
that he said, she refused him nothing which he desired. The same night
therefore she conceived of the most renowned Arthur, whose heroic and
wonderful actions have justly rendered his name famous to posterity.


[Footnote 214: The ruins of this castle denote that it must have been a
place of great strength.]

CHAP. XX.--_Gorlois being killed, Uther marries Igerna._

In the meantime, as soon as the king's absence was discovered at the
siege, his army unadvisedly made an assault upon the walls, and provoked
the besieged count to a battle; who himself also, acting as
inconsiderately as they, sallied forth with his men, thinking with such
a small handful to oppose a powerful army; but happened to be killed in
the very first brunt of the fight, and had all his men routed. The town
also was taken; but all the riches of it were not shared equally among
the besiegers, but every one greedily took what he could get, according
as fortune or his own strength favoured him. After this bold attempt,
came messengers to Igerna, with the news both of the duke's death, and
of the event of the siege. But when they saw the king in the likeness of
the consul, sitting close by her, they were struck with shame and
astonishment at his safe arrival there, whom they had left dead at the
siege; for they were wholly ignorant of the miracles which Merlin had
wrought with his medicines. The king therefore smiled at the news, and
embracing the countess, said to her: "Your own eyes may convince you
that I am not dead, but alive. But notwithstanding, the destruction of
the town, and the slaughter of my men, is what very much grieves me; so
that there is reason to fear the king's coming upon us, and taking us in
this place. To prevent which, I will go out to meet him, and make my
peace with him, for fear of a worse disaster." Accordingly, as soon as
he was out of the town, he went to his army, and having put off the
disguise of Gorlois, was now Uther Pendragon again. When he had a full
relation made to him how matters had succeeded, he was sorry for the
death of Gorlois, but rejoiced that Igerna was now at liberty to marry
again. Then he returned to the town of Tintagel, which he took, and in
it, what he impatiently wished for, Igerna herself. After this they
continued to live together with much affection for each other, and had a
son and daughter, whose names were Arthur and Anne.

CHAP. XXI.--_Octa and Eosa renew the war. Lot, a consul, marries the
king's daughter._

In process of time the king was taken ill of a lingering distemper; and
meanwhile the keepers of the prison, wherein Octa and Eosa (as we
related before) led a weary life, had fled over with them into Germany,
and occasioned great fear over the kingdom. For there was a report of
their great levies in Germany, and the vast fleet which they had
prepared for their return to destroy the island: which the event
verified. For they returned in a great fleet, and with a prodigious
number of men, and invaded the parts of Albania, where they destroyed
both cities and inhabitants with fire and sword. Wherefore, in order to
repulse the enemies, the command of the British army was committed to
Lot of Londonesia, who was a consul, and a most valiant knight, and
grown up to maturity both of years and wisdom. Out of respect to his
eminent merits, the king had given him his daughter Anne, and entrusted
him with the care of the kingdom, during his illness. In his expedition
against the enemies he had various success, being often repulsed by
them, and forced to retreat to the cities; but he oftener routed and
dispersed them, and compelled them to flee sometimes into the woods,
sometimes to their ships. So that in a war attended with so many turns
of fortune, it was hard to know which side had the better. The greatest
injury to the Britons was their own pride, in disdaining to obey the
consul's commands; for which reason all their efforts against the enemy
were less vigorous and successful.

CHAP. XXII.--_Uther, being ill, is carried in a horse-litter against the

The island being by this conduct now almost laid waste, the king, having
information of the matter, fell into a greater rage than his weakness
could bear, and commanded all his nobility to come before him, that he
might reprove them severely for their pride and cowardice. And as soon
as they were all entered into his presence, he sharply rebuked them in
menacing language, and swore he himself would lead them against the
enemy. For this purpose he ordered a horse-litter to be made, in which
he designed to be carried, for his infirmity would not suffer him to use
any other sort of vehicle; and he charged them to be all ready to march
against the enemy on the first opportunity. So, without delay, the
horse-litter and all his attendants were got ready, and the day arrived
which had been appointed for their march.

CHAP. XXIII.--_Octa and Eosa, with a great number of their men, are

The king, therefore, being put into his vehicle, they marched directly
to Verulam, where the Saxons were grievously oppressing the people. When
Octa and Eosa had intelligence that the Britons were come, and that the
king was brought in a horse-litter, they disdained to fight with him,
saying, it would be a shame for such brave men to fight with one that
was half dead. For which reason they retired into the city, and, as it
were in contempt of any danger from the enemy, left their gates wide
open. But Uther, upon information of this, instantly commanded his men
to lay siege to the city, and assault the walls on all sides; which
orders they strictly executed; and were just entering the breaches which
they had made in the walls, and ready to begin a general assault, when
the Saxons, seeing the advantages which the Britons had gained, and
being forced to abate somewhat of their haughty pride, condescended so
far as to put themselves into a posture of defence. They therefore
mounted the walls, from whence they poured down showers of arrows, and
repulsed the Britons. On both sides the contest continued till night
released them from the fatigue of their arms, which was what many of the
Britons desired, though the greater part of them were for having the
matter quickly decided with the enemy. The Saxons, on the other hand,
finding how prejudicial their own pride had been to them, and that the
advantage was on the side of the Britons, resolved to make a sally at
break of day, and try their fortune with the enemy in the open field;
which accordingly was done. For no sooner was it daylight, than they
marched out with this design, all in their proper ranks. The Britons,
seeing them, divided their men into several bodies, and advancing
towards them, began the attack first, their part being to assault, while
the others were only upon the defensive. However, much blood was shed on
both sides, and the greatest part of the day spent in the fight, when at
last, Octa and Eosa being killed, the Saxons turned their backs, and
left the Britons a complete victory. The king at this was in such an
ecstasy of joy, that whereas before he could hardly raise up himself
without the help of others, he now without any difficulty sat upright in
his horse-litter of himself, as if he was on a sudden restored to
health; and said with a laughing and merry countenance, "These Ambrons
called me the half-dead king, because my sickness obliged me to lie on a
horse-litter; and indeed so I was. Yet victory to me half dead, is
better than to be safe and sound and vanquished. For to die with honour,
is preferable to living with disgrace."

CHAP. XXIV.--_Uther, upon drinking spring water that was treacherously
poisoned by the Saxons, dies._

The Saxons, notwithstanding this defeat, persisted still in their
malice, and entering the northern provinces, without respite infested
the people there. Uther's purpose was to have pursued them; but his
princes dissuaded him from it because his illness had increased since
the victory. This gave new courage to the enemy, who left nothing
unattempted to make conquest of the kingdom. And now they have recourse
to their former treacherous practices, and contrive how to compass the
king's death by secret villainy. And because they could have no access
to him otherwise, they resolved to take him off by poison; in which they
succeeded. For while he was lying ill at Verulam, they sent away some
spies in a poor habit, to learn the state of the court; and when they
had thoroughly informed themselves of the posture of affairs, they found
out an expedient by which they might best accomplish their villainy. For
there was near the court a spring of very clear water, which the king
used to drink of, when his distemper had made all other liquors nauseous
to him. This the detestable conspirators made use of to destroy him, by
so poisoning the whole mass of water which sprang up, that the next time
the king drank of it, he was seized with sudden death, as were also a
hundred other persons after him, till the villainy was discovered, and a
heap of earth thrown over the well. As soon as the king's death was
divulged, the bishops and clergy of the kingdom assembled, and carried
his body to the convent of Ambrius, where they buried it with regal
solemnity, close by Aurelius Ambrosius, within the Giant's Dance.


CHAP. I.--_Arthur succeeds Uther his father in the kingdom of Britain,
and besieges Colgrin._

Uther Pendragon being dead, the nobility from several provinces
assembled together at Silchester, and proposed to Dubricius, archbishop
of Legions, that he should consecrate Arthur, Uther's son, to be their
king. For they were now in great straits, because, upon hearing of the
king's death, the Saxons had invited over their countrymen from Germany,
and, under the command of Colgrin, were attempting to exterminate the
whole British race. They had also entirely subdued all that part of the
island which extends from the Humber to the sea of Caithness. Dubricius,
therefore, grieving for the calamities of his country, in conjunction
with the other bishops, set the crown upon Arthur's head. Arthur was
then fifteen years old, but a youth of such unparalleled courage and
generosity, joined with that sweetness of temper and innate goodness, as
gained him universal love. When his coronation was over, he, according
to usual custom, showed his bounty and munificence to the people. And
such a number of soldiers flocked to him upon it, that his treasury was
not able to answer that vast expense. But such a spirit of generosity,
joined with valour, can never long want means to support itself. Arthur,
therefore, the better to keep up his munificence, resolved to make use
of his courage, and to fall upon the Saxons, that he might enrich his
followers with their wealth. To this he was also moved by the justice of
the cause, since the entire monarchy of Britain belonged to him by
hereditary right. Hereupon assembling the youth under his command, he
marched to York, of which, when Colgrin had intelligence, he met him
with a very great army, composed of Saxons, Scots, and Picts, by the
river Duglas; where a battle happened, with the loss of the greater part
of both armies. Notwithstanding, the victory fell to Arthur, who pursued
Colgrin to York, and there besieged him. Baldulph, upon the news of his
brother's flight, went towards the siege with a body of six thousand
men, to his relief; for at the time of the battle he was upon the
sea-coast, waiting the arrival of duke Cheldric with succours from
Germany. And being now no more than ten miles distant from the city, his
purpose was to make a speedy march in the night-time, and fall upon the
enemy by way of surprise. But Arthur, having intelligence of his design,
sent a detachment of six hundred horse, and three thousand foot, under
the command of Cador, duke of Cornwall, to meet him the same night.
Cador, therefore, falling into the same road along which the enemy was
passing, made a sudden assault upon them, and entirely defeated the
Saxons, and put them to flight. Baldulph was excessively grieved at this
disappointment in the relief which he intended for his brother, and
began to think of some other stratagem to gain access to him; in which
if he could but succeed, he thought they might concert measures together
for their safety. And since he had no other way for it, he shaved his
head and beard, and put on the habit of a jester with a harp, and in
this disguise walked up and down in the camp, playing upon his
instrument as if he had been a harper. He thus passed unsuspected, and
by a little and little went up to the walls of the city, where he was at
last discovered by the besieged, who thereupon drew him up with cords,
and conducted him to his brother. At this unexpected, though much
desired meeting, they spent some time in joyfully embracing each other,
and then began to consider various stratagems for their delivery. At
last, just as they were considering their case desperate, the
ambassadors returned from Germany, and brought with them to Albania a
fleet of six hundred sail, laden with brave soldiers, under the command
of Cheldric. Upon this news, Arthur was dissuaded by his council from
continuing the siege any longer, for fear of hazarding a battle with so
powerful and numerous an army.

CHAP. II.--_Hoel sends fifteen thousand men to Arthur's assistance._

Arthur complied with their advice, and made his retreat to London, where
he called an assembly of all the clergy and nobility of the kingdom, to
ask their advice, what course to take against the formidable power of
the pagans. After some deliberation, it was agreed that ambassadors
should be despatched into Armorica, to king Hoel, to represent to him
the calamitous state of Britain. Hoel was the son of Arthur's sister by
Dubricius, king of the Armorican Britons; so that, upon advice of the
disturbances his uncle was threatened with, he ordered his fleet to be
got ready, and, having assembled fifteen thousand men, he arrived with
the first fair wind at Hamo's Port,[215] and was received with all
suitable honour by Arthur, and most affectionately embraced by him.


[Footnote 215: Southampton.]

CHAP. III.--_Arthur makes the Saxons his tributaries._

After a few days they went to relieve the city Kaerlindcoit, that was
besieged by the pagans; which being situated upon a mountain, between
two rivers in the province of Lindisia, is called by another name
Lindocolinum.[216] As soon as they arrived there with all their forces,
they fought with the Saxons, and made a grievous slaughter of them, to
the number of six thousand; part of whom were drowned in the rivers,
part fell by the hands of the Britons. The rest in a great consternation
quitted the siege and fled, but were closely pursued by Arthur, till
they came to the wood of Celidon, where they endeavoured to form
themselves into a body again, and make a stand. And here they again
joined battle with the Britons, and made a brave defence, whilst the
trees that were in the place secured them against the enemies' arrows.
Arthur, seeing this, commanded the trees that were in that part of the
wood to be cut down, and the trunks to be placed quite round them, so as
to hinder their getting out; resolving to keep them pent up here till he
could reduce them by famine. He then commanded his troops to besiege the
wood, and continued three days in that place. The Saxons, having now no
provisions to sustain them, and being just ready to starve with hunger,
begged for leave to go out; in consideration whereof they offered to
leave all their gold and silver behind them, and return back to Germany
with nothing but their empty ships. They promised also that they would
pay him tribute from Germany, and leave hostages with him. Arthur, after
consultation, about it, granted their petition; allowing them only leave
to depart, and retaining all their treasures, as also hostages for
payment of the tribute. But as they were under sail on their return
home, they repented of their bargain, and tacked about again towards
Britain, and went on shore at Totness. No sooner were they landed, than
they made an utter devastation of the country as far as the Severn sea,
and put all the peasants to the sword. From thence they pursued their
furious march to the town of Bath, and laid siege to it. When the king
had intelligence of it, he was beyond measure surprised at their
proceedings, and immediately gave orders for the execution of the
hostages. And desisting from an attempt which he had entered upon to
reduce the Scots and Picts, he marched with the utmost expedition to
raise the siege; but laboured under very great difficulties, because he
had left his nephew Hoel sick at Alclud. At length, having entered the
province of Somerset, and beheld how the siege was carried on, he
addressed himself to his followers in these words: "Since these impious
and detestable Saxons have disdained to keep faith with me, I, to keep
faith with God, will endeavour to revenge the blood of my countrymen
this day upon them. To arms, soldiers, to arms, and courageously fall
upon the perfidious wretches, over whom we shall, with Christ assisting
us, undoubtedly obtain the victory."


[Footnote 216: Lincoln.]

CHAP. IV.--_Dubricius's speech against the treacherous Saxons. Arthur
with his own hand kills four hundred and seventy Saxons in one battle.
Colgrin and Baldulph are killed in the same._

When he had done speaking, St. Dubricius, archbishop of Legions, going
to the top of a hill, cried out with a loud voice, "You that have the
honour to profess the Christian faith, keep fixed in your minds the love
which you owe to your country and fellow subjects, whose sufferings by
the treachery of the pagans will be an everlasting reproach to you, if
you do not courageously defend them. It is your country which you fight
for, and for which you should, when required, voluntarily suffer death;
for that itself is victory and the cure of the soul. For he that shall
die for his brethren, offers himself a living sacrifice to God, and has
Christ for his example, who condescended to lay down his life for his
brethren. If therefore any of you shall be killed in this war, that
death itself, which is suffered in so glorious a cause, shall be to him
for penance and absolution of all his sins." At these words, all of
them, encouraged with the benediction of the holy prelate, instantly
armed themselves, and prepared to obey his orders. Also Arthur himself,
having put on a coat of mail suitable to the grandeur of so powerful a
king, placed a golden helmet upon his head, on which was engraven the
figure of a dragon; and on his shoulders his shield called Priwen; upon
which the picture of the blessed Mary, mother of God, was painted, in
order to put him frequently in mind of her. Then girding on his
Caliburn, which was an excellent sword made in the isle of Avallon, he
graced his right hand with his lance, named Ron, which was hard, broad,
and fit for slaughter. After this, having placed his men in order, he
boldly attacked the Saxons, who were drawn out in the shape of a wedge,
as their manner was. And they, notwithstanding that the Britons fought
with great eagerness, made a noble defence all that day; but at length,
towards sunsetting, climbed up the next mountain, which served them for
a camp: for they desired no larger extent of ground, since they confided
very much in their numbers. The next morning Arthur, with his army, went
up the mountain, but lost many of his men in the ascent, by the
advantage which the Saxons had in their station on the top, from whence
they could pour down upon him with much greater speed, than he was able
to advance against them. Notwithstanding, after a very hard struggle,
the Britons gained the summit of the hill, and quickly came to a close
engagement with the enemy, who again gave them a warm reception, and
made a vigorous defence. In this manner was a great part of that day
also spent; whereupon Arthur, provoked to see the little advantage he
had yet gained, and that victory still continued in suspense, drew out
his Caliburn, and, calling upon the name of the blessed Virgin, rushed
forward with great fury into the thickest of the enemy's ranks; of whom
(such was the merit of his prayers) not one escaped alive that felt the
fury of his sword; neither did he give over the fury of his assault
until he had, with his Caliburn alone, killed four hundred and seventy
men. The Britons, seeing this, followed their leader in great
multitudes, and made slaughter on all sides; so that Colgrin, and
Baldulph his brother, and many thousands more, fell before them. But
Cheldric, in this imminent danger of his men, betook himself to flight.

CHAP. V.--_The Saxons, after their leader Cheldric was killed, are all
compelled by Cador to surrender._

The victory being thus gained, the king commanded Cador, duke of
Cornwall, to pursue them, while he himself should hasten his march into
Albania: from whence he had advice that the Scots and Picts were
besieging Alclud, in which, as we said before, Hoel lay sick. Therefore
he hastened to his assistance, for fear he might fall into the hands of
the barbarians. In the meantime the duke of Cornwall, who had the
command of ten thousand men, would not as yet pursue the Saxons in their
flight, but speedily made himself master of their ships, to hinder their
getting on board, and manned them with his best soldiers, who were to
beat back the pagans in case they should flee thither: after this he
hastily pursued the enemy, according to Arthur's command, and allowed no
quarter to those he could overtake. So that they whose behaviour before
was so cruel and insolent, now with timorous hearts fled for shelter,
sometimes to the coverts of the woods, sometimes to mountains and caves,
to prolong a wretched life. At last, when none of these places could
afford them a safe retreat, they entered the Isle of Thanet with their
broken forces; but neither did they there get free from the duke of
Cornwall's pursuit, for he still continued slaughtering them, and gave
them no respite till he had killed Cheldric, and taken hostages for the
surrender of the rest.

CHAP. VI.--_Arthur grants a pardon to the Scots and Picts, besieged at
the Lake Lumond._

Having therefore settled peace here, he directed his march to Alclud,
which Arthur had relieved from the oppression of barbarians, and from
thence conducted his army to Mureif, where the Scots and Picts were
besieged; after three several battles with the king and his nephew, they
had fled as far as this province, and entering upon the lake Lumond,
sought for refuge in the islands that are upon it. This lake contains
sixty islands, and receives sixty rivers into it which empty themselves
into the sea by no more than one mouth. There is also an equal number of
rocks in these islands, as also of eagles' nests in those rocks, which
flocked together there every year, and, by the loud and general noise
which they now made, foreboded some remarkable event that should happen
to the kingdom. To these islands, therefore, had the enemy fled,
thinking the lake would serve them instead of a fortification; but it
proved of little advantage to them. For Arthur, having got together a
fleet, sailed round the rivers, and besieged the enemy fifteen days
together, by which they were so straitened with hunger, that they died
by thousands. While he was harassing them in this manner Guillamurius,
king of Ireland, came up in a fleet with a very great army of
barbarians, in order to relieve the besieged. This obliged Arthur to
raise the siege, and turn his arms against the Irish, whom he slew
without mercy, and compelled the rest to return back to their country.
After this victory, he proceeded in his first attempt, which was to
extirpate the whole race of the Scots and Picts, and treated them with
an unparalleled severity. And as he allowed quarter to none, the bishops
of that miserable country, with all the inferior clergy, met together,
and bearing the reliques of the saints and other consecrated things of
the church before them, barefooted, came to implore the king's mercy for
their people. As soon as they were admitted into his presence, they fell
down upon their knees, and humbly besought him to have pity on their
distressed country, since the sufferings which he had already made it
undergo were sufficient; nor was there any necessity to cut off the
small remainder to a man; and that he would allow them the enjoyment of
a small part of the country, since they were willing to bear the yoke
which he should impose upon them. The king was moved at the manner of
their delivering this petition, and could not forbear expressing his
clemency to them with tears; and at the request of those holy men,
granted them pardon.

CHAP. VII.--_Arthur relates the wonderful nature of some ponds._

This affair being concluded, Hoel had the curiosity to view the
situation of the lake, and wondered to find the number of the rivers,
islands, rocks, and eagles' nests, so exactly correspond: and while he
was reflecting upon it as something that appeared miraculous, Arthur
came to him, and told him of another pond in the same province, which
was yet more wonderful. For not far from thence was one whose length and
breadth were each twenty feet, and depth five feet. But whether its
square figure was natural or artificial, the wonder of it was, there
were four different sorts of fishes in the four several corners of it,
none of which were ever found in any other part of the pond but their
own. He told him likewise of another pond in Wales, near the Severn,
called by the country people Linligwan, into which when the sea flows,
it receives it in the manner of a gulf, but so as to swallow up the
tide, and never be filled, or have its banks covered by it. But at the
ebbing of the sea, it throws out the waters which it had swallowed, as
high as a mountain, and at last dashes and covers the banks with them.
In the meantime, if all the people of that country should stand near
with their faces towards it, and happened to have their clothes
sprinkled with the dashing of the waves, they would hardly, if at all,
escape being swallowed up by the pond. But with their backs towards it,
they need not fear being dashed, though they stood upon the very banks.

CHAP. VIII.--_Arthur restores York to its ancient beauty, especially as
to its churches._

The king, after his general pardon granted to the Scots, went to York to
celebrate the feast of Christ's nativity, which was now at hand. On
entering the city, he beheld with grief the desolation of the churches;
for upon the expulsion of the holy Archbishop Sanxo, and of all the
clergy there, the temples which were half burned down, had no longer
divine service performed in them: so much had the impious rage of the
pagans prevailed. After this, in an assembly of the clergy and people,
he appointed Pyramus his chaplain metropolitan of that see. The churches
that lay level with the ground, he rebuilt, and (which was their chief
ornament) saw them filled with assemblies of devout persons of both
sexes. Also the nobility that were driven out by the disturbances of the
Saxons, he restored to their country.

CHAP. IX.--_Arthur honours Augusel with the sceptre of the Scots; Urian
with that of Mureif; and Lot with the consulship of Londonesia._

There were there three brothers of royal blood, viz. Lot, Urian, and
Augusel, who, before the Saxons had prevailed, held the government of
those parts. Being willing therefore to bestow on these, as he did on
others, the rights of their ancestors, he restored to Augusel the
sovereignty over the Scots; his brother Urian he honoured with the
sceptre of Mureif; and Lot, who in time of Aurelius Ambrosius had
married his sister, by whom he had two sons, Walgan and Modred, he
re-established in the consulship of Londonesia, and the other provinces
belonging to him. At length, when the whole country was reduced by him
to its ancient state, he took to wife Guanhumara, descended from a noble
family of Romans, who was educated under duke Cador, and in beauty
surpassed all the women of the island.

CHAP. X.--_Arthur adds to his government Ireland, Iceland, Gothland, and
the Orkneys._

The next summer he fitted out a fleet, and made an expedition into
Ireland, which he was desirous to reduce. Upon landing there, he was met
by king Guillamurius before mentioned, with a vast number of men, who
came with a design to fight him; but at the very beginning of the
battle, those naked and unarmed people were miserably routed, and fled
to such places as lay open to them for shelter. Guillamurius also in a
short time was taken prisoner, and forced to submit; as were also all
the other princes of the country after the king's example, being under
great consternation at what had happened. After an entire conquest of
Ireland, he made a voyage with his fleet to Iceland, which he also
subdued. And now a rumour spreading over the rest of the islands, that
no country was able to withstand him, Doldavius, king of Gothland, and
Gunfasius, king of the Orkneys, came voluntarily, and made their
submission, on a promise of paying tribute. Then, as soon as winter was
over, he returned back to Britain, where having established the kingdom,
he resided in it for twelve years together in peace.

CHAP. XI.--_Arthur subdues Norway, Dacia, Aquitaine, and Gaul._

After this, having invited over to him all persons whatsoever that were
famous for valour in foreign nations, he began to augment the number of
his domestics, and introduced such politeness into his court, as people
of the remotest countries thought worthy of their imitation. So that
there was not a nobleman who thought himself of any consideration,
unless his clothes and arms were made in the same fashion as those of
Arthur's knights. At length the fame of his munificence and valour
spreading over the whole world, he became a terror to the kings of other
countries, who grievously feared the loss of their dominions, if he
should make any attempt upon them. Being much perplexed with these
anxious cares, they repaired their cities and towers, and built towns in
convenient places, the better to fortify themselves against any
enterprise of Arthur, when occasion should require. Arthur, being
informed of what they were doing, was delighted to find how much they
stood in awe of him, and formed a design for the conquest of all Europe.
Then having prepared his fleet, he first attempted Norway, that he might
procure the crown of it for Lot, his sister's husband. This Lot was the
nephew of Sichelin, king of the Norwegians, who being then dead, had
appointed him his successor in the kingdom. But the Norwegians,
disdaining to receive him, had advanced one Riculf to the sovereignty,
and having fortified their cities, thought they were able to oppose
Arthur. Walgan, the son of Lot, was then a youth twelve years old, and
was recommended by his uncle to the service of pope Supplicius, from
whom he received arms. But to return to the history: as soon as Arthur
arrived on the coast of Norway, king Riculf, attended with the whole
power of that kingdom, met him, and gave him battle, in which, after a
great loss of blood on both sides, the Britons at length had the
advantage, and making a vigorous charge, killed Riculf and many others
with him. Having thus defeated them, they set the cities on fire,
dispersed the country people, and pursued the victory till they had
reduced all Norway, as also Dacia, under the dominion of Arthur. After
the conquest of these countries, and establishment of Lot upon the
throne of Norway, Arthur made a voyage to Gaul, and dividing his army
into several bodies, began to lay waste that country on all sides. The
province of Gaul was then committed to Flollo, a Roman tribune, who held
the government of it under the emperor Leo. Upon intelligence of
Arthur's coming, he raised all the forces that were under his command,
and made war against him, but without success. For Arthur was attended
with the youth of all the islands that he had subdued; for which reason
he was reported to have such an army as was thought invincible. And even
the greater part of the Gallic army, encouraged by his bounty, came over
to his service. Therefore Flollo, seeing the disadvantages he lay under,
left his camp, and fled with a small number to Paris. There having
recruited his army, he fortified the city, and resolved to stand another
engagement with Arthur. But while he was thinking of strengthening
himself with auxiliary forces in the neighbouring countries, Arthur came
upon him unawares, and besieged him in the city. When a month had
passed, Flollo, with grief observing his people perish with hunger, sent
a message to Arthur, that they two alone should decide the conquest for
the kingdom in a duel: for being a person of great stature, boldness and
courage, he gave this challenge in confidence of success. Arthur was
extremely pleased at Flollo's proposal, and sent him word back again,
that he would give him the meeting which he desired. A treaty,
therefore, being on both sides agreed to, they met together in the
island without the city, where the people waited to see the event. They
were both gracefully armed, and mounted on admirably swift horses; and
it was hard to tell which gave greater hopes of victory. When they had
presented themselves against each other with their lances aloft, they
put spurs to their horses, and began a fierce encounter. But Arthur, who
handled his lance more warily, struck it into the upper part of Flollo's
breast, and avoiding his enemy's weapon, laid him prostrate upon the
ground, and was just going to despatch him with his drawn sword, when
Flollo, starting up on a sudden, met him with his lance couched,
wherewith he mortally stabbed the breast of Arthur's horse, and caused
both him and his rider to fall. The Britons, when they saw their king
lying on the ground, fearing he was killed, could hardly be restrained
from breach of covenant, and falling with one consent upon the Gauls
But just as they were upon rushing into the lists, Arthur hastily got
up, and guarding himself with his shield, advanced with speed against
Flollo. And now they renewed the assault with great rage, eagerly bent
upon one another's destruction. At length Flollo, watching his
advantage, gave Arthur a blow upon the forehead, which might have proved
mortal, had he not blunted the edge of his weapon against the helmet.
When Arthur saw his coat of mail and shield red with blood, he was
inflamed with still greater rage, and lifting up his Caliburn with his
utmost strength struck it through the helmet into Flollo's head, and
made a terrible gash. With this wound Flollo fell down, tearing the
ground with his spurs, and expired. As soon as this news was spread
through the army, the citizens ran together, and opening the gates,
surrendered the city to Arthur. After the victory, he divided his army
into two parts; one of which he committed to the conduct of Hoel, whom
he ordered to march against Guitard, commander of the Pictavians; while
he with the other part should endeavour to reduce the other provinces.
Hoel upon this entered Aquitaine, possessed himself of the cities of
that country, and after distressing Guitard in several battles, forced
him to surrender. He also destroyed Gascony with fire and sword, and
subdued the princes of it. At the end of nine years, in which time all
the parts of Gaul were entirely reduced, Arthur returned back to Paris,
where he kept his court, and calling an assembly of the clergy and
people, established peace and the just administration of the laws in
that kingdom. Then he bestowed Neustria, now called Normandy, upon
Bedver, his butler; the province of Andegavia upon Caius, his sewer; and
several other provinces upon his great men that attended him. Thus
having settled the peace of the cities and countries there, he returned
back in the beginning of spring to Britain.[217]


[Footnote 217: It is wonderful that the contents of this book should
ever have passed for authentic history; our ancestors of the eleventh,
twelfth, and thirteenth centuries must have been singularly ignorant of
every thing concerning the latter ages of the Roman empire, and the
formation of the modern kingdoms of France and Germany, &c., if they
could believe that king Arthur ever held his court in Paris.]

CHAP. XII.--_Arthur summons a great many kings, princes, archbishops,
&c. to a solemn assembly at the City of Legions._

Upon the approach of the feast of Pentecost, Arthur, the better to
demonstrate his joy after such triumphant success, and for the more
solemn observation of that festival, and reconciling the minds of the
princes that were now subject to him, resolved, during that season, to
hold a magnificent court, to place the crown upon his head, and to
invite all the kings and dukes under his subjection, to the solemnity.
And when he had communicated his design to his familiar friends, he
pitched upon the City of Legions as a proper place for his purpose. For
besides its great wealth above the other cities, its situation, which
was in Glamorganshire upon the river Uske, near the Severn sea, was most
pleasant, and fit for so great a solemnity. For on one side it was
washed by that noble river, so that the kings and princes from the
countries beyond the seas might have the convenience of sailing up to
it. On the other side, the beauty of the meadows and groves, and
magnificence of the royal palaces with lofty gilded roofs that adorned
it, made it even rival the grandeur of Rome. It was also famous for two
churches; whereof one was built in honour of the martyr Julius, and
adorned with a choir of virgins, who had devoted themselves wholly to
the service of God; but the other, which was founded in memory of St.
Aaron, his companion, and maintained a convent of canons, was the third
metropolitan church of Britain. Besides, there was a college of two
hundred philosophers, who, being learned in astronomy and the other
arts, were diligent in observing the courses of the stars, and gave
Arthur true predictions of the events that would happen at that time. In
this place, therefore, which afforded such delights, were preparations
made for the ensuing festival. Ambassadors were then sent into several
kingdoms, to invite to court the princes both of Gaul and all the
adjacent islands. Accordingly there came Augusel, king of Albania, now
Scotland; Urian, king of Mureif; Cadwallo Lewirh, king of the
Venedotians, now called the North Wales men; Sater, king of the
Demetians, or South Wales men; Cador, king of Cornwall; also the
archbishops of the three metropolitan sees, London, York, and Dubricius
of the City of Legions. This prelate, who was primate of Britain, and
legate of the apostolical see, was so eminent for his piety, that he
could cure any sick person by his prayers. There came also the consuls
of the principal cities, viz. Morvid, consul of Gloucester; Mauron, of
Worcester; Anaraut, of Salisbury; Arthgal, of Cargueit or Warguit;
Jugein, of Legecester; Cursalen, of Kaicester; Kinmare, duke of
Dorobernia; Galluc, of Salisbury; Urgennius, of Bath; Jonathal, of
Dorchester; Boso, of Ridoc, that is, Oxford. Besides the consuls, came
the following worthies of no less dignity: Danaut, Map papo; Cheneus,
Map coil; Peredur, Mab eridur; Guiful, Map Nogoit; Regin, Map claut;
Eddelein, Map cledauc; Kincar, Mab bagan; Kimmare; Gorboroniam, Map
goit; Clofaut, Rupmaneton; Kimbelim, Map trunat; Cathleus, Map catel;
Kinlich, Map neton; and many others too tedious to enumerate. From the
adjacent islands came Guillamurius, king of Ireland; Malvasius, king of
Iceland; Doldavius, king of Gothland; Gunfasius, king of the Orkneys;
Lot, king of Norway; Aschillius, king of the Dacians. From the parts
beyond the seas, came Holdin, king of Ruteni; Leodegarius, consul of
Bolonia; Bedver, the butler, duke of Normandy; Borellus, of Cenomania;
Caius, the sewer, duke of Andegavia; Guitard, of Pictavia; also the
twelve peers of Gaul, whom Guerinus Carnotensis brought along with him:
Hoel, duke of the Armorican Britons, and his nobility, who came with
such a train of mules, horses, and rich furniture, as it is difficult to
describe. Besides these, there remained no prince of any consideration
on this side of Spain, who came not upon this invitation. And no wonder,
when Arthur's munificence, which was celebrated over the whole world,
made him beloved by all people.

CHAP. XIII.--_A description of the royal pomp at the coronation of

When all were assembled together in the city, upon the day of the
solemnity, the archbishops were conducted to the palace, in order to
place the crown upon the king's head. Therefore Dubricius, inasmuch as
the court was kept in his diocese, made himself ready to celebrate the
office, and undertook the ordering of whatever related to it. As soon
as the king was invested with his royal habiliments, he was conducted in
great pomp to the metropolitan church, supported on each side by two
archbishops, and having four kings, viz. of Albania, Cornwall, Demetia,
and Venedotia, whose right it was, bearing four golden swords before
him. He was also attended with a concert of all sorts of music, which
made most excellent harmony. On another part was the queen, dressed out
in her richest ornaments, conducted by the archbishops and bishops to
the Temple of Virgins; the four queens also of the kings last mentioned,
bearing before her four white doves according to ancient custom; and
after her there followed a retinue of women, making all imaginable
demonstrations of joy. When the whole procession was ended, so
transporting was the harmony of the musical instruments and voices,
whereof there was a vast variety in both churches, that the knights who
attended were in doubt which to prefer, and therefore crowded from the
one to the other by turns, and were far from being tired with the
solemnity, though the whole day had been spent in it. At last, when
divine service was over at both churches, the king and queen put off
their crowns, and putting on their lighter ornaments, went to the
banquet; he to one palace with the men, and she to another with the
women. For the Britons still observed the ancient custom of Troy, by
which the men and women used to celebrate their festivals apart. When
they had all taken their seats according to precedence, Caius the sewer,
in rich robes of ermine, with a thousand young noblemen, all in like
manner clothed with ermine, served up the dishes. From another part,
Bedver the butler was followed with the same number of attendants, in
various habits, who waited with all kinds of cups and drinking vessels.
In the queen's palace were innumerable waiters, dressed with variety of
ornaments, all performing their respective offices; which if I should
describe particularly, I should draw out the history to a tedious
length. For at that time Britain had arrived at such a pitch of
grandeur, that in abundance of riches, luxury of ornaments, and
politeness of inhabitants, it far surpassed all other kingdoms. The
knights in it that were famous for feats of chivalry, wore their clothes
and arms all of the same colour and fashion: and the women also no less
celebrated for their wit, wore all the same kind of apparel; and
esteemed none worthy of their love, but such as had given a proof of
their valour in three several battles. Thus was the valour of the men an
encouragement for the women's chastity, and the love of the women a spur
to the soldier's bravery.

CHAP. XIV.--_After a variety of sports at the coronation, Arthur amply
rewards his servants._

As soon as the banquets were over, they went into the fields without the
city, to divert themselves with various sports. The military men
composed a kind of diversion in imitation of a fight on horseback; and
the ladies, placed on the top of the walls as spectators, in a sportive
manner darted their amorous glances at the courtiers, the more to
encourage them. Others spent the remainder of the day in other
diversions, such as shooting with bows and arrows, tossing the pike,
casting of heavy stones and rocks, playing at dice and the like, and all
these inoffensively and without quarrelling. Whoever gained the victory
in any of these sports, was rewarded with a rich prize by Arthur. In
this manner were the first three days spent; and on the fourth, all who,
upon account of their titles, bore any kind of office at this solemnity,
were called together to receive honours and preferments in reward of
their services, and to fill up the vacancies in the governments of
cities and castles, archbishoprics, bishoprics, abbeys, and other posts
of honour.

CHAP. XV.--_A letter from Lucius Tiberius, general of the Romans, to
Arthur being read, they consult about an answer to it._

But St. Dubricius, from a pious desire of leading a hermit's life, made
a voluntary resignation of his archiepiscopal dignity; and in his room
was consecrated David, the king's uncle, whose life was a perfect
example of that goodness which by his doctrine he taught. In place of
St. Samson, archbishop of Dole, was appointed, with the consent of Hoel,
king of the Armorican Britons, Chelianus, [Kilian] a priest of Llandaff,
a person highly recommended for his good life and character. The
bishopric of Silchester was conferred upon Mauganius, that of
Winchester upon Diwanius, and that of Alclud upon Eledanius. While he
was disposing of these preferments upon them, it happened that twelve
men of an advanced age, and venerable aspect, and bearing olive branches
in their right hands, for a token that they were come upon an embassy,
appeared before the king, moving towards him with a slow pace, and
speaking with a soft voice; and after their compliments paid, presented
him with a letter from Lucius Tiberius, in these words:--

"Lucius, procurator of the commonwealth, to Arthur, king of Britain,
according to his desert. The insolence of your tyranny is what fills me
with the highest admiration, and the injuries you have done to Rome
still increase my wonder. But it is provoking to reflect, that you are
grown so much above yourself, as wilfully to avoid seeing this: nor do
you consider what it is to have offended by unjust deeds a senate, to
whom you cannot be ignorant the whole world owes vassalage. For the
tribute of Britain, which the senate had enjoined you to pay, and which
used to be paid to the Roman emperors successively from the time of
Julius Cæsar, you have had the presumption to withhold, in contempt of
their imperial authority. You have seized upon the province of the
Allobroges, and all the islands of the ocean, whose kings, while the
Roman power prevailed in those parts, paid tribute to our ancestors. And
because the senate have decreed to demand justice of you for such
repeated injuries, I command you to appear at Rome before the middle of
August the next year, there to make satisfaction to your masters, and
undergo such sentence as they shall in justice pass upon you. Which if
you refuse to do, I shall come to you, and endeavour to recover with my
sword, what you in your madness have robbed us of."

As soon as the letter was read in the presence of the kings and consuls,
Arthur withdrew with them into the Giant's Tower, which was at the
entrance of the palace, to think what answer was fit to be returned to
such an insolent message. As they were going up the stairs, Cador, duke
of Cornwall, who was a man of a merry disposition, said to the king in a
jocose manner: "I have been till now under fear, lest the easy life
which the Britons lead, by enjoying a long peace, might make them
cowards, and extinguish the fame of their gallantry, by which they have
raised their name above all other nations. For where the exercise of
arms is wanting, and the pleasures of women, dice, and other diversions
take place, no doubt, what remains of virtue, honour, courage, and
thirst of praise, will be tainted with the rust of idleness. For now
almost five years have passed, since we have been abandoned to these
delights, and have had no exercise of war. Therefore, to deliver us from
sloth, God has stirred up this spirit of the Romans, to restore our
military virtues to their ancient state." In this manner did he
entertain them with discourse, till they were come to their seats, on
which when they were all placed, Arthur spoke to them after this manner.

CHAP. XVI.--_Arthur, holding a council with the kings, desires every one
of them to deliver their opinions._

"My companions both in good and bad fortune, whose abilities both in
counsel and war I have hitherto experienced; the present exigence of
affairs, after the message which we have received, requires your careful
deliberation and prudent resolutions; for whatever is wisely concerted,
is easily executed. Therefore we shall be the better able to bear the
annoyance which Lucius threatens to give us, if we unanimously apply
ourselves to consider how to overcome it. In my opinion we have no great
reason to fear him, when we reflect upon the unjust pretence on which he
demands tribute of us. He says he has a right to it, because it was paid
to Julius Cæsar, and his successors, who invaded Britain with an army at
the invitation of the ancient Britons, when they were quarrelling among
themselves, and by force reduced the country under their power, when
weakened by civil dissension. And because they gained it in this manner,
they had the injustice to take tribute of it. For that can never be
possessed justly, which is gained by force and violence. So that he has
no reasonable grounds to pretend we are of right his tributaries. But
since he has the presumption to make an unjust demand of us, we have
certainly as good reason to demand of him tribute from Rome; let the
longer sword therefore determine the right between us. For if Rome has
decreed that tribute ought to be paid to it from Britain, on account of
its having been formerly under the yoke of Julius Cæsar, and other Roman
emperors; I for the same reason now decree, that Rome ought to pay
tribute to me, because my predecessors formerly held the government of
it. For Belinus, that glorious king of the Britons, with the assistance
of his brother Brennus, duke of the Allobroges, after they had hanged up
twenty noble Romans in the middle of the market-place, took their city,
and kept possession of it a long time. Likewise Constantine, the son of
Helena, and Maximian [Maximus], who were both my kinsmen, and both wore
the crown of Britain, gained the imperial throne of Rome. Do not you,
therefore, think that we ought to demand tribute of the Romans? As for
Gaul and the adjacent islands of the ocean, we have no occasion to
return them any answer, since they did not defend them, when we
attempted to free them from their power." As soon as he had done
speaking to this effect, Hoel, king of the Armorican Britons, who had
the precedence of the rest, made answer in these words.

CHAP. XVII.--_The opinion of Hoel, king of Armorica, concerning a war
with the Romans._

"After the most profound deliberation that any of us shall be able to
make, I think better advice cannot be given, than what your majesty in
your great wisdom and policy now offers. Your speech, which is no less
wise than eloquent, has superseded all consultation on our part; and
nothing remains for us to do, but to admire and gratefully acknowledge
your majesty's firmness of mind, and depth of policy, to which we owe
such excellent advice. For if upon this motive you are pleased to make
an expedition to Rome, I doubt not but it will be crowned with glorious
success; since it will be undertaken for the defence of our liberties,
and to demand justly of our enemies, what they have unjustly demanded of
us. For that person who would rob another, deserves to lose his own by
him against whom the attempt is made. And, therefore, since the Romans
threatened us with this injury, it will undoubtedly turn to their own
loss, if we can have but an opportunity of engaging with them. This is
what the Britons universally desire; this is what we have promised us in
the Sibylline prophecies, which expressly declare, that the Roman empire
shall be obtained by three persons, natives of Britain. The oracle is
fulfilled in two of them, since it is manifest (as your majesty
observed) that those two celebrated princes, Belinus and Constantine,
governed the Roman empire: and now you are the third to whom this
supreme dignity is promised. Make haste, therefore, to receive what God
makes no delay to give you; to subdue those who are ready to receive
your yoke; and to advance us all, who for your advancement will spare
neither limbs nor life. And that you may accomplish this, I myself will
attend you in person with ten thousand men."

CHAP. XVIII.--_The opinion of Augusel._

When Hoel concluded his speech, Augusel, king of Albania, declared his
good affection to the cause after this manner. "I am not able to express
the joy that has transported me, since my lord has declared to us his
designs. For we seem to have done nothing by all our past wars with so
many and potent princes, if the Romans and Germans be suffered to enjoy
peace, and we do not severely revenge on them the grievous oppressions
which they formerly brought upon this country. But now, since we are at
liberty to encounter them, I am overwhelmed with joy and eagerness of
desire, to see a battle with them, when the blood of those cruel
oppressors will be no less acceptable to me than a spring of water is to
one who is parched with thirst. If I shall but live to see that day, how
sweet will be the wounds which I shall then either receive or give? Nay,
how sweet will be even death itself, when suffered in revenging the
injuries done to our ancestors, in defending our liberties, and in
promoting the glory of our king! Let us then begin with these poltroons,
and spoil them of all their trophies, by making an entire conquest of
them. And I for my share will add to the army two thousand horse,
besides foot."

CHAP. XIX.--_They unanimously agree upon a war with the Romans._

To the same effect spoke all the rest, and promised each of them their
full quota of forces; so that besides those promised by the duke of
Armorica, the number of men from the island of Britain alone was sixty
thousand, all completely armed. But the kings of the other islands, as
they had not been accustomed to any cavalry, promised their quota of
infantry; and, from the six provincial islands, viz. Ireland, Iceland,
Gothland, the Orkneys, Norway, and Dacia, were reckoned a hundred and
twenty thousand. From the duchies of Gaul, that is, of the Ruteni, the
Portunians, the Estrusians, the Cenomanni, the Andegavians, and
Pictavians, were eighty thousand. From the twelve consulships of those
who came along with Guerinus Carnotensis, twelve hundred. All together
made up a hundred and eighty-three thousand two hundred, besides foot
which did not easily fall under number.

CHAP. XX.--_Arthur prepares for a war, and refuses to pay tribute to the

King Arthur, seeing all unanimously ready for his service, ordered them
to return back to their countries with speed, and get ready the forces
which they had promised, and to hasten to the general rendezvous upon
the kalends of August, at the mouth of the river Barba, that from thence
they might advance with them to the borders of the Allobroges, to meet
the Romans. Then he sent word to the emperors by their ambassadors; that
as to paying them tribute, he would in no wise obey their commands; and
that the journey he was about to make to Rome, was not to stand the
award of their sentence, but to demand of them what they had judicially
decreed to demand of him. With this answer the ambassadors departed; and
at the same time also departed all the kings and noblemen, to perform
with all expedition the orders that had been given them.


CHAP. I.--_Lucius Tiberius calls together the eastern kings against the

Lucius Tiberius, on receiving this answer, by order of the senate
published a decree, for the eastern kings to come with their forces, and
assist in the conquest of Britain. In obedience to which there came in
a very short time, Epistrophius, king of the Grecians; Mustensar, king
of the Africans; Alifantinam, king of Spain; Hirtacius, king of the
Parthians; Boccus, of the Medes; Sertorius, of Libya; Teucer, king of
Phrygia; Serses, king of the Itureans; Pandrasus, king of Egypt;
Micipsa, king of Babylon; Polytetes, duke of Bithynia; Teucer, duke of
Phrygia; Evander, of Syria; Æthion, of Boeotia; Hippolytus, of Crete,
with the generals and nobility under them. Of the senatorian order also
came, Lucius Catellus, Marius Lepidus, Caius Metellus Cotta, Quintus
Milvius Catulus, Quintus Carutius, and as many others as made up the
number of forty thousand one hundred and sixty.[218]


[Footnote 218: It is almost unnecessary to inform the reader that not
one of these kings ever existed; and yet this caution may be of use, so
prone are men to indulge the bias of the imagination at the expense of
historic truth.]

CHAP. II.--_Arthur commits to his nephew Modred the government of
Britain. His dream at Hamo's Port._

After the necessary dispositions were made, upon the kalends of August,
they began their march towards Britain, which when Arthur had
intelligence of, he committed the government of the kingdom to his
nephew Modred, and queen Guanhumara, and marched with his army to Hamo's
Port, where the wind stood fair for him. But while he, surrounded with
all his numerous fleet, was sailing joyfully with a brisk gale, it
happened that about midnight he fell into a very sound sleep, and in a
dream saw a bear flying in the air, at the noise of which all the shores
trembled; also a terrible dragon flying from the west, which enlightened
the country with the brightness of its eyes. When these two met, they
began a dreadful fight; but the dragon with its fiery breath burned the
bear which often assaulted him, and threw him down scorched to the
ground. Arthur upon this awaking, related his dream to those that stood
about him, who took upon them to interpret it, and told him that the
dragon signified himself, but the bear, some giant that should encounter
with him; and that the fight portended the duel that would be between
them, and the dragon's victory the same that would happen to himself.
But Arthur conjectured it portended something else, and that the vision
was applicable to himself and the emperor. As soon as the morning after
this night's sail appeared, they found themselves arrived at the mouth
of the river Barba. And there they pitched their tents, to wait the
arrival of the kings of the islands and the generals of the other

CHAP. III.--_Arthur kills a Spanish giant who had stolen away Helena,
the niece of Hoel._

In the meantime Arthur had news brought him, that a giant of monstrous
size was come from the shores of Spain, and had forcibly taken away
Helena, the niece of duke Hoel, from her guard, and fled with her to the
top of that which is now called Michael's Mount;[219] and that the
soldiers of the country who pursued him were able to do nothing against
him. For whether they attacked him by sea or land, he either overturned
their ships with vast rocks, or killed them with several sorts of darts,
besides many of them that he took and devoured half alive. The next
night, therefore, at the second hour, Arthur, taking along with him
Caius the sewer, and Bedver the butler, went out privately from the
camp, and hastened towards the mountain. For being a man of undaunted
courage, he did not care to lead his army against such monsters; both
because he could in this manner animate his men by his own example, and
also because he was alone sufficient to deal with them. As soon as they
came near the mountain, they saw a fire burning upon the top of it, and
another on a lesser mountain, that was not far from it. And being in
doubt upon which of them the giant dwelt, they sent away Bedver to know
the certainty of the matter. So he, finding a boat, sailed over in it
first to the lesser mountain, to which he could in no other way have
access, because it was situated in the sea. When he had begun to climb
up to the top of it, he was at first frightened with a dismal howling
cry of a woman from above, and imagined the monster to be there: but
quickly rousing up his courage, he drew his sword, and having reached
the top, found nothing but the fire which he had before seen at a
distance. He discovered also a grave newly made, and an old woman
weeping and howling by it, who at the sight of him instantly cried out
in words interrupted with sighs, "O, unhappy man, what misfortune brings
you to this place? O the inexpressible tortures of death that you must
suffer! I pity you, I pity you, because the detestable monster will this
night destroy the flower of your youth. For that most wicked and odious
giant, who brought the duke's niece, whom I have just now buried here,
and me, her nurse, along with her into this mountain, will come and
immediately murder you in a most cruel manner. O deplorable fate! This
most illustrious princess, sinking under the fear her tender heart
conceived, while the foul monster would have embraced her, fainted away
and expired. And when he could not satiate his brutish lust upon her,
who was the very soul, joy, and happiness of my life, being enraged at
the disappointment of his bestial desire, he forcibly committed a rape
upon me, who (let God and my old age witness) abhorred his embraces.
Fly, dear sir, fly, for fear he may come, as he usually does, to lie
with me, and finding you here most barbarously butcher you." Bedver,
moved at what she said, as much as it is possible for human nature to
be, endeavoured with kind words to assuage her grief, and to comfort her
with the promise of speedy help: and then returned back to Arthur, and
gave him an account of what he had met with. Arthur very much lamented
the damsel's sad fate, and ordered his companions to leave him to deal
with him alone; unless there was an absolute necessity, and then they
were to come in boldly to his assistance. From hence they went directly
to the next mountain, leaving their horses with their armour-bearers,
and ascended to the top, Arthur leading the way. The deformed savage was
then by the fire, with his face besmeared with the clotted blood of
swine, part of which he already devoured, and was roasting the remainder
upon spits by the fire. But at the sight of them, whose appearance was a
surprise to him, he hastened to his club, which two strong men could
hardly lift from the ground. Upon this the king drew his sword, and
guarding himself with his shield, ran with all his speed to prevent his
getting it. But the other, who was not ignorant of his design, had by
this time snatched it up, and gave the king such a terrible blow upon
his shield, that he made the shores ring with the noise, and perfectly
stunned the king's ears with it. Arthur, fired with rage at this, lifted
up his sword, and gave him a wound in the forehead, which was not indeed
mortal, but yet such as made the blood gush out over his face and eyes,
and so blinded him; for he had partly warded off the stroke from his
forehead with his club, and prevented its being fatal. However, his loss
of sight, by reason of the blood flowing over his eyes, made him exert
himself with greater fury, and like an enraged boar against a
hunting-spear, so did he rush in against Arthur's sword, and grasping
him about the waist, forced him down upon his knees. But Arthur, nothing
daunted, slipped out of his hands, and so exerted himself with his
sword, that he gave the giant no respite till he had struck it up to the
very back through his skull. At this the hideous monster raised a
dreadful roar, and like an oak torn up from the roots by the winds, so
did he make the ground resound with his fall. Arthur, bursting out into
a fit of laughter at the sight, commanded Bedver to cut off his head,
and give it to one of the armour-bearers, who was to carry it to the
camp, and there expose it to public view, but with orders for the
spectators of this combat to keep silence. He told them he had found
none of so great strength, since he killed the giant Ritho, who had
challenged him to fight, upon the mountain Aravius. This giant had made
himself furs of the beards of kings he had killed, and had sent word to
Arthur carefully to cut off his beard and send it to him; and then, out
of respect to his pre-eminence over other kings, his beard should have
the honour of the principal place. But if he refused to do it, he
challenged him to a duel, with this offer, that the conqueror should
have the furs, and also the beard of the vanquished for a trophy of his
victory. In his conflict, therefore, Arthur proved victorious, and took
the beard and spoils of the giant: and, as he said before, had met with
none that could be compared to him for strength, till his last
engagement. After this victory, they returned at the second watch of the
night to the camp with the head; to see which there was a great
concourse of people, all extolling this wonderful exploit of Arthur, by
which he had freed the country from a most destructive and voracious
monster. But Hoel, in great grief for the loss of his niece, commanded a
mausoleum to be built over her body in the mountain where she was
buried, which, taking the damsel's name, is called Helena's Tomb to this


[Footnote 219: This most romantic and interesting rock is crowned by a
singularly quaint structure, half monastic and half castellated. It must
have been a place of great strength before the invention of powder, and
contains some curious rooms, a dungeon and other remains of feudality.]

CHAP. IV. _Arthur's ambassadors to Lucius Tiberius deliver Pelreius
Cotta, whom they took prisoner to Arthur._

As soon as all the forces were arrived which Arthur expected, he marched
from thence to Augustodunum, where he supposed the general was. But when
he came to the river Alba, he had intelligence brought him of his having
encamped not far off, and that he was come with so vast an army, that he
would not be able to withstand it. However, this did not deter him from
pursuing his enterprise; but he pitched his camp upon the bank of the
river, to facilitate the bringing up of his forces, and to secure his
retreat, if there should be occasion; and sent Boso the consul of
Oxford, and Guerinus Carnotensis, with his nephew Walgan, to Lucius
Tiberius, requiring him either to retire from the coasts of Gaul, or
come the next day, that they might try their right to that country with
their swords. The retinue of young courtiers that attended Walgan,
highly rejoicing at this opportunity, were urgent with him to find some
occasion for a quarrel in the commander's camp, that so they might
engage the Romans. Accordingly they went to Lucius, and commanded him to
retire out of Gaul, or hazard a battle the next day. But while he was
answering them, that he was not come to retire, but to govern the
country, there was present Caius Quintilianus, his nephew, who said,
"That the Britons were better at boasting and threatening, than they
were at fighting." Walgan immediately took fire at this, and ran upon
him with his drawn sword, wherewith he cut off his head, and then
retreated speedily with his companions to their horses. The Romans, both
horse and foot, pursued to revenge the loss of their countryman upon the
ambassadors, who fled with great precipitation. But Guerinus
Carnotensis, just as one of them was come up to him, rallied on a
sudden, and with his lance struck at once through his armour and the
very middle of his body, and laid him prostrate on the ground. The sight
of this noble exploit raised the emulation of Boso of Oxford, who,
wheeling about his horse, struck his lance into the throat of the first
man he met with, and dismounted him mortally wounded. In the meantime,
Marcellus Mutius, with great eagerness to revenge Quintilian's death,
was just upon the back of Walgan, and laid hold of him; which the other
quickly obliged him to quit, by cleaving both his helmet and head to the
breast with his sword. He also bade him, when he arrived at the infernal
regions, tell the man he had killed in the camp, "That in this manner
the Britons showed their boasting and threatening." Then having
re-assembled his men, he encouraged them to despatch every one his
pursuer in the same manner as he had done; which accordingly they did
not fail to accomplish. Notwithstanding, the Romans continued their
pursuit with lances and swords, wherewith they annoyed the others,
though without slaughter or taking any prisoners. But as they came near
a certain wood, a party of six thousand Britons, who seeing the flight
of the consuls, had hid themselves, to be in readiness for their
assistance, sallied forth, and putting spurs to their horses, rent the
air with their loud shouts, and being well fenced with their shields,
assaulted the Romans suddenly, and forced them to fly. And now it was
the Britons' turn to pursue, which they did with better success, for
they dismounted, killed, or took several of the enemy. Petreius, the
senator, upon this news, hastened to the assistance of his countrymen
with ten thousand men, and compelled the Britons to retreat to the wood
from whence they had sallied forth; though not without loss of his own
men. For the Britons, being well acquainted with the ground, in their
flight killed a great number of their pursuers. The Britons thus giving
ground, Hider, with another reinforcement of five thousand men, advanced
with speed to sustain them; so that they again faced those, upon whom
they had turned their backs, and renewed the assault with great vigour.
The Romans also stood their ground, and continued the fight with various
success. The great fault of the Britons was, that though they had been
very eager to begin the fight, yet when begun they were less careful of
the hazard they ran. Whereas the Romans were under better discipline,
and had the advantage of a prudent commander, Petreius Cotta, to tell
them where to advance, and where to give ground, and by these means did
great injury to the enemy. When Boso observed this, he drew off from
the rest a large party of those whom he knew to be the stoutest men, and
spoke to them after this manner: "Since we have begun this fight without
Arthur's knowledge, we must take care that we be not defeated in the
enterprise. For, if we should, we shall both very much endanger our men,
and incur the king's high displeasure. Rouse up your courage, and follow
me through the Roman squadrons, that with the favour of good fortune we
may either kill or take Petreius prisoner." With this they put spurs to
their horses, and piercing through the enemies' thickest ranks, reached
the place where Petreius was giving his commands. Boso hastily ran in
upon him, and grasping him about the neck, fell with him to the ground,
as he had intended. The Romans hereupon ran to his delivery, as did the
Britons to Boso's assistance; which occasioned on both sides great
slaughter, noise, and confusion, while one party strove to rescue their
leader, and the other to keep him prisoner. So that this proved the
sharpest part of the whole fight, and wherein their spears, swords, and
arrows had the fullest employment. At length, the Britons, joining in a
close body, and sustaining patiently the assaults of the Romans, retired
to the main body of their army with Petreius: which they had no sooner
done, than they again attacked them, being now deprived of their leader,
very much weakened, dispirited, and just beginning to flee. They,
therefore, eagerly pursued, beat down, and killed several of them, and
as soon as they had plundered them, pursued the rest: but they took the
greatest number of them prisoners, being desirous to present them to the
king. When they had at last sufficiently harassed them, they returned
with their plunder and prisoners to the camp; where they gave an account
of what had happened, and presented Petreius Cotta with the other
prisoners before Arthur, with great joy for the victory. Arthur
congratulated them upon it, and promised them advancement to greater
honours, for behaving themselves so gallantly when he was absent from
them. Then he gave his command to some of his men, to conduct the
prisoners the next day to Paris, and deliver them to be kept in custody
there till further orders. The party that were to undertake this charge,
he ordered to be conducted by Cador, Bedver, and the two consuls,
Borellus and Richerius, with their servants, till they should be out of
all fear of disturbance from the Romans.

CHAP. V.--_The Romans attack the Britons with a very great force, but
are put to flight by them._

But the Romans, happening to get intelligence of their design, at the
command of their general chose out fifteen thousand men, who that night
were to get before the others in their march, and rescue their fellow
soldiers out of their hands. They were to be commanded by Vulteius
Catellus and Quintus Carutius, senators, as also Evander, king of Syria,
and Sertorius, king of Libya. Accordingly they began their march that
very night, and possessed themselves of a place convenient for lying in
ambuscade, through which they supposed the others would pass. In the
morning the Britons set forward along the same road with their
prisoners, and were now approaching the place in perfect ignorance of
the cunning stratagem of the enemy. No sooner had they entered it, than
the Romans, to their great surprise, sprang forth and fell furiously
upon them. Notwithstanding, the Britons, at length recovering from their
consternation, assembled together, and prepared for a bold opposition,
by appointing a party to guard the prisoners, and drawing out the rest
in order of battle against the enemy. Richerius and Bedver had the
command of the party that were set over the prisoners; but Cador, duke
of Cornwall, and Borellus headed the others. But all the Romans had made
their sally without being placed in any order, and cared not to form
themselves, that they might lose no time in the slaughter of the
Britons, whom they saw busied in marshalling their troops, and preparing
only for their defence. By this conduct the Britons were extremely
weakened, and would have shamefully lost their prisoners, had not good
fortune rendered them assistance. For Guitard, commander of the
Pictavians, happened to get information of the designed stratagem, and
was come up with three thousand men, by the help of which they at last
got the advantage, and paid back the slaughter upon their insolent
assailants. Nevertheless, the loss which they sustained at the beginning
of this action was very considerable. For they lost Borellus, the
famous consul of the Cenomanni, in an encounter with Evander, king of
Syria, who stuck his lance into his throat; besides four noblemen, viz.
Hirelgas Deperirus, Mauricius Cadorcanensis, Aliduc of Tintagel, and
Hider his son, than whom braver men were hardly to be found. But yet
neither did this loss dispirit the Britons, but rather made them more
resolute to keep the prisoners, and kill the enemy. The Romans, now
finding themselves unable to maintain the fight any longer, suddenly
quitted the field, and made towards their camp; but were pursued with
slaughter by the Britons, who also took many of them, and allowed them
no respite till they had killed Vulteius Catellus and Evander, king of
Syria, and wholly dispersed the rest. After which they sent away their
former prisoners to Paris, whither they were to conduct them, and
returned back with those newly taken to the king; to whom they gave
great hopes of a complete conquest of their enemies, since very few of
the great number that came against them had met with any success.

CHAP. VI.--_Lucius Tiberius goes to Lengriæ. Arthur, designing to
vanquish him, by a stratagem possesses himself of the valley of Suesia._

These repeated disasters wrought no small disturbance in the mind of
Lucius Tiberius, and made him hesitate whether to bring it to a general
battle with Arthur, or to retire into Augustodunum, and stay till the
emperor Leo with his forces could come to his assistance. At length,
giving way to his fears, he entered Lengriæ with his army, intending to
reach the other city the night following. Arthur, finding this, and
being desirous to get before him in his march, left the city on the left
hand, and the same night entered a certain valley called Suesia, through
which Lucius was to pass. There he divided his men into several bodies,
commanding one legion, over which Morvid, consul of Gloucester, was
appointed general, to wait close by, that he might retreat to them if
there should be occasion, and from thence rally his broken forces for a
second battle. The rest he divided into seven parts, in each of which he
placed five thousand five hundred and fifty-five men, all completely
armed. He also appointed different stations to his horse and foot, and
gave command that just as the foot should advance to the attack, the
horse, keeping close together in their ranks, should at the same moment
march up obliquely, and endeavour to put the enemy into disorder. The
companies of foot were, after the British manner, drawn out into a
square, with a right and left wing, under the command of Augusel, king
of Albania, and Cador, duke of Cornwall; the one presiding over the
right wing, the other over the left. Over another party were placed the
two famous consuls, Guerinus of Chartres and Boso of Richiden, called in
the Saxon tongue Oxineford; over a third were Aschillius, king of the
Dacians, and Lot, king of the Norwegians; the fourth being commanded by
Hoel, duke of the Armoricans, and Walgan, the king's nephew. After these
were four other parties placed in the rear; the first commanded by Caius
the sewer, and Bedver the butler; the second by Holdin, duke of the
Ruteni, and Guitard of the Pictavians; the third by Vigenis of
Legecester, Jonathal of Dorchester, and Cursalem of Caicester; the
fourth by Urbgennius of Bath. Behind all these, Arthur, for himself and
the legion that was to attend near him, made choice of a place, where he
set up a golden dragon for a standard, whither the wounded or fatigued
might in case of necessity retreat, as into their camp. The legion that
was with him consisted of six thousand six hundred and sixty-six men.

CHAP. VII.--_Arthur's exhortation to his soldiers._

After he had thus placed them all in their stations, he made the
following speech to his soldiers:--"My brave countrymen, who have made
Britain the mistress of thirty kingdoms, I congratulate you upon your
late noble exploit, which to me is a proof that your valour is so far
from being impaired, that it is rather increased. Though you have been
five years without exercise, wherein the softening pleasures of an easy
life had a greater share of your time than the use of arms; yet all this
has not made you degenerate from your natural bravery, which you have
shown in forcing the Romans to flee. The pride of their leaders has
animated them to attempt the invasion of your liberties. They have tried
you in battle, with numbers superior to yours, and have not been able
to stand before you; but have basely withdrawn themselves into that
city, from which they are now ready to march out, and to pass through
this valley in their way to Augustodunum; so that you may have an
opportunity of falling upon them unawares like a flock of sheep.
Certainly they expected to find in you the cowardice of the Eastern
nations, when they thought to make your country tributary, and you their
slaves. What, have they never heard of your wars, with the Dacians,
Norwegians, and princes of the Gauls, whom you reduced under my power,
and freed from their shameful yoke? We, then, that have had success in a
greater war, need not doubt of it in a less, if we do but endeavour with
the same spirit to vanquish these poltroons. You shall want no rewards
of honour, if as faithful soldiers you do but strictly obey my commands.
For as soon as we have routed them, we will march straight to Rome, and
take it; and then all the gold, silver, palaces, towers, towns, cities,
and other riches of the vanquished shall be yours." He had hardly done
speaking before they all with one voice declared, that they were ready
to suffer death, rather than quit the field while he had life.

CHAP. VIII.--_Lucius Tiberius, discovering Arthur's design, in a speech
animates his followers to fight._

But Lucius Tiberius, discovering the designs that were formed against
him, would not flee, as he had at first intended, but taking new
courage, resolved to march to the same valley against them; and calling
together his principal commanders, spoke to them in these
words:--"Venerable fathers, to whose empire both the Eastern and Western
kingdoms owe obedience, remember the virtues of your ancestors, who were
not afraid to shed their blood, when the vanquishing of the enemies of
the commonwealth required it; but to leave an example of their courage
and military virtues to their posterity, behaved themselves in all
battles with that contempt of death, as if God had given them some
security against it. By this conduct they often triumphed, and by
triumphing escaped death. Such was the reward of their virtue from
Divine Providence, which overrules all events. The increase of the
commonwealth, and of their own valour was owing to this; and all those
virtues that usually adorn the great, as integrity, honour, and
munificence, flourishing a long time in them, raised them and their
posterity to the empire of the whole world. Let their noble examples
animate you: rouse up the spirit of the ancient Romans, and be not
afraid to march out against our enemies that are lying in ambush before
us in the valley, but boldly with your swords demand of them your just
rights. Do not think that I retired into this city for fear of engaging
with them; but I thought that, as their pursuit of us was rash and
foolish, so we might hence on a sudden intercept them in it, and by
dividing their main body make a great slaughter of them. But now, since
they have altered the measures which we supposed they had taken, let us
also alter ours. Let us go in quest of them and bravely fall upon them;
or if they shall happen to have the advantage in the beginning of the
battle, let us only stand our ground during the fury of their first
assault, and the victory will undoubtedly be ours; for in many battles
this manner of conduct has been attended with victory." As soon as he
had made an end of speaking these and other things, they all declared
their assent, promised with an oath to stand by him, and hastened to arm
themselves. Which when they had done, they marched out of Lengriæ to the
valley where Arthur had drawn out his forces in order of battle. Then
they also began to marshal their army, which they divided into twelve
companies, and according to the Roman manner of battle, drew out each
company into the form of a wedge, consisting of six thousand six hundred
and sixty-six men. Each company also had its respective leaders, who
were to give direction when to advance, or when to be upon the
defensive. One of them was headed by Lucius Catellus the senator, and
Alifantinam, king of Spain; another by Hirtacius, king of the Parthians,
and Marius Lepidus, a senator; a third by Boccus, king of the Medes, and
Caius Metellus, a senator; a fourth by Sertorius, king of Libya, and
Quintus Milvius, a senator. These four companies were placed in the
front of the army. In the rear of these were four others, whereof one
was commanded by Serses, king of the Itureans; another by Pandrasus,
king of Egypt; a third by Polytetes, duke of Bithynia; a fourth by
Teucer, duke of Phrygia. And again behind all these four others,
whereof the commanders were Quintus Carucius, a senator, Lælius
Ostiensis, Sulpitius Subuculus, and Mauricius Sylvanus. As for the
general himself, he was sometimes in one place, sometimes another, to
encourage and direct as there should be occasion. For a standard he
ordered a golden eagle to be firmly set up in the centre, for his men to
repair to whenever they should happen to be separated from their

CHAP. IX.--_A battle between Arthur and Lucius Tiberius._

And now the Britons and Romans stood presenting their arms at one
another; when forthwith at the sound of the trumpets, the company that
was headed by the king of Spain and Lucius Catellus, boldly rushed
forward against that which the king of Scotland and duke of Cornwall
led, but were not able to make the least breach in their firm ranks. So
that while these stood their ground, up came Guerinus and Boso with a
body of horse upon their full speed, broke through the party that began
the assault, and met with another which the king of the Parthians was
leading up against Aschillius, king of Dacia. After this first onset,
there followed a general engagement of both armies with great violence,
and several breaches were made on each side. The shouts, the slaughter,
the quantity of blood spilled, and the agonies of the dying, made a
dreadful scene of horror. At first, the Britons sustained a great loss,
by having Bedver the butler killed, and Caius the sewer mortally
wounded. For, as Bedver met Boccus, king of the Medes, he fell dead by a
stab of his lance amidst the enemies' troops. And Caius, in endeavouring
to revenge his death, was surrounded by the Median troops, and there
received a mortal wound, yet as a brave soldier he opened himself a way
with the wing which he led, killed and dispersed the Medes, and would
have made a safe retreat with all his men, had he not met the king of
Libya with the forces under him, who put his whole company into
disorder; yet not so great, but that he was still able to get off with a
few, and flee with Bedver's corps to the golden dragon. The Neustrians
grievously lamented at the sight of their leader's mangled body; and so
did the Andegavians, when they beheld their consul wounded. But there
was now no room for complaints, for the furious and bloody shocks of
both armies made it necessary to provide for their own defence.
Therefore Hirelgas, the nephew of Bedver, being extremely enraged at his
death, called up to him three hundred men, and like a wild boar amongst
a pack of dogs, broke through the enemies' ranks with his horse, making
towards the place where he had seen the standard of the king of the
Medes; little regarding what might befall him, if he could but revenge
the loss of his uncle. At length he reached the place, killed the king,
brought off his body to his companions, and laid it by that of his
uncle, where he mangled it in the same manner. Then calling with a loud
voice to his countrymen, he animated their troops, and vehemently
pressed them to exert themselves to the utmost, now that their spirits
were raised, and the enemy disheartened; and especially as they had the
advantage of them in being placed in better order, and so might the more
grievously annoy them. Encouraged with this exhortation, they began a
general assault upon the enemy, which was attended with a terrible
slaughter on both sides. For on the part of the Romans, besides many
others, fell Alifantinam, king of Spain, Micipsa of Babylon, as also
Quintus Milvius and Marius Lepidus, senators. On the part of the
Britons, Holdin, king of the Ruteni, Leodegarius of Bolonia, and three
consuls of Britain, Cursalem of Caicester, Galluc of Salisbury, and
Urbgennius of Bath. So that the troops which they commanded, being
extremely weakened, retreated till they came to the army of the
Armorican Britons, commanded by Hoel and Walgan. But these, being
inflamed at the retreat of their friends, encouraged them to stand their
ground, and caused them with the help of their own forces to put their
pursuers to flight. While they continued this pursuit, they beat down
and killed several of them, and gave them no respite, till they came to
the general's troop; who, seeing the distress of his companions,
hastened to their assistance.

CHAP. X.--_Hoel and Walgan signalize their valour in the fight._

And now in this latter encounter the Britons were worsted, with the loss
of Kimarcoc, consul of Trigeria, and two thousand with him; besides
three famous noblemen, Richomarcus, Bloccovius, and Jagivius of Bodloan,
who, had they but enjoyed the dignity of princes, would have been
celebrated for their valour through all succeeding ages. For, during
this assault which they made in conjunction with Hoel and Walgan, there
was not an enemy within their reach that could escape the fury of their
sword or lance. But upon their falling in among Lucius's party, they
were surrounded by them, and suffered the same fate with the consul and
the other men. The loss of these men made those matchless heroes, Hoel
and Walgan, much more eager to assault the general's ranks, and to try
on all sides where to make the greatest impression. But Walgan, whose
valour was never to be foiled, endeavoured to gain access to Lucius
himself, that he might encounter him, and with this view beat down and
killed all that stood in his way. And Hoel, not inferior to him, did no
less service in another part, by spiriting up his men, and giving and
receiving blows among the enemy with the same undaunted courage. It was
hard to determine, which of them was the stoutest soldier.

CHAP. XI.--_Lucius Tiberius being killed, the Britons obtain the

But Walgan, by forcing his way through the enemy's troops, as we said
before, found at last (what he had wished for) access to the general,
and immediately encountered him. Lucius, being then in the flower of his
youth, and a person of great courage and vigour, desired nothing more
than to engage with such a one as might put his strength to its full
trial. Putting himself, therefore, into a posture of defence, he
received Walgan with joy, and was not a little proud to try his courage
with one of whom he had heard such great things. The fight continued
between them a long time, with great force of blows, and no less
dexterity in warding them off, each being resolved upon the other's
destruction. During this sharp conflict between them, the Romans, on a
sudden, recovering their courage, made an assault upon the Armoricans,
and having relieved their general, repulsed Hoel and Walgan, with their
troops, till they found themselves unawares met by Arthur and the forces
under him. For he, hearing of the slaughter that was a little before
made of his men, had speedily advanced with his legion, and drawing out
his Caliburn, spoke to them, with a loud voice, after this manner: "What
are you doing, soldiers? Will you suffer these effeminate wretches to
escape? Let not one of them get off alive. Remember the force of your
arms, that have reduced thirty kingdoms under my subjection. Remember
your ancestors, whom the Romans, when at the height of their power, made
tributary. Remember your liberties, which these pitiful fellows, that
are much your inferiors, attempt to deprive you of. Let none of them
escape alive. What are you doing?" With these expostulations, he rushed
upon the enemy, made terrible havoc among them, and not a man did he
meet but at one blow he laid either him or his horse dead upon the
ground. They, therefore, in astonishment fled from him, as a flock of
sheep from a fierce lion, whom raging hunger provokes to devour whatever
happens to come near him. Their arms were no manner of protection to
them against the force with which this valiant prince wielded his
Caliburn. Two kings, Sertorius of Libya, and Polytetes of Bithynia,
unfortunately felt its fury, and had their heads cut off by it. The
Britons, when they saw the king performing such wonders, took courage
again. With one consent they assaulted the Romans, kept close together
in their ranks, and while they assailed the foot in one part,
endeavoured to beat down and pierce through the horse in another.
Notwithstanding, the Romans made a brave defence, and at the instigation
of Lucius laboured to pay back their slaughter upon the Britons. The
eagerness and force that were now shown on both sides were as great as
if it was the beginning of the battle. Arthur continued to do great
execution with his own hand, and encouraged the Britons to maintain the
fight; as Lucius Tiberius did the Romans, and made them perform many
memorable exploits. He himself, in the meantime, was very active in
going from place to place, and suffered none to escape with life that
happened to come within the reach of his sword or lance. The slaughter
that was now made on both sides was very dreadful, and the turns of
fortune various, sometimes the Britons prevailing, sometimes the Romans.
At last, while this sharp dispute continued Morvid, consul of Gloucester
with his legion, which, as we said before, was placed between the
hills, came up with speed upon the rear of the enemy, and to their great
surprise assaulted, broke through, and dispersed them with great
slaughter. This last and decisive blow proved fatal to many thousands of
Romans, and even to the general Lucius himself, who was killed among the
crowds with a lance by an unknown hand. But the Britons, by long
maintaining the fight, at last with great difficulty gained the victory.

CHAP. XII.--_Part of the Romans flee; the rest, of their own accord,
surrender themselves for slaves._

The Romans, being now, therefore, dispersed, betook themselves through
fear, some to the by-ways and woods, some to the cities and towns, and
all other places, where they could be most safe; but were either killed
or taken and plundered by the Britons who pursued: so that great part of
them voluntarily and shamefully held forth their hands, to receive their
chains, in order to prolong for a while a wretched life. In all which
the justice of Divine Providence was very visible; considering how
unjustly the ancestors of the Britons were formerly invaded and harassed
by those of the Romans; and that these stood only in defence of that
liberty, which the others would have deprived them of; and refused the
tribute, which the others had no right to demand.

CHAP. XIII.--_The bodies of the slain are decently buried, each in their
respective countries._

Arthur, after he had completed his victory, gave orders for separating
the bodies of his nobility from those of the enemy, and preparing a
pompous funeral for them; and that, when ready, they should be carried
to the abbeys of their respective countries, there to be honourably
buried. But Bedver the butler was, with great lamentation of the
Neustrians, carried to his own city Bajocæ, which Bedver the first, his
great grandfather, had built. There he was, with great solemnity, laid
close by the wall, in a burying-place on the south side of the city. But
Cheudo was carried, grievously wounded to Camus, a town which he had
himself built, where in a short time he died of his wounds, and was
buried, as became a duke of Andegavia, in a convent of hermits, which
was in a wood not far from the town. Also Holdin, duke of Ruteni, was
carried to Flanders, and buried in his own city Terivana. The other
consuls and noblemen were conveyed to the neighbouring abbeys, according
to Arthur's orders. Out of his great clemency, also, he ordered the
country people to take care of the burial of the enemy, and to carry the
body of Lucius to the senate, and tell them, that was the only tribute
which Britain ought to pay them. After this he stayed in those parts
till the next winter was over, and employed his time in reducing the
cities of the Allobroges. But at the beginning of the following summer,
as he was on his march towards Rome, and was beginning to pass the Alps,
he had news brought him that his nephew Modred, to whose care he had
entrusted Britain, had by tyrannical and treasonable practices set the
crown upon his own head; and that queen Guanhumara, in violation of her
first marriage, had wickedly married him.


CHAP. I.--_Modred makes a great slaughter of Arthur's men, but is
beaten, and flees to Winchester._

Of the matter now to be treated of, most noble consul, Geoffrey of
Monmouth shall be silent; but will, nevertheless, though in a mean
style, briefly relate what he found in the British book above-mentioned,
and heard from that most learned historian, Walter, archdeacon of
Oxford, concerning the wars which this renowned king, upon his return to
Britain after this victory, waged against his nephew. As soon,
therefore, as the report, of this flagrant wickedness reached him, he
immediately desisted from his enterprise against Leo, king of the
Romans; and having sent away Hoel, duke of the Armoricans, with the army
of Gaul, to restore peace in those parts, returned back with speed to
Britain, attended only by the kings of the islands, and their armies.
But the wicked traitor, Modred, had sent Cheldric, the Saxon leader,
into Germany, there to raise all the forces he could find, and return
with all speed: and in consideration of this service, had promised him
all that part of the island, which reaches from the Humber to Scotland,
and whatever Hengist and Horsa had possessed of Kent in the time of
Vortigern. So that he, in obedience to his commands, had arrived with
eight hundred ships filled with pagan soldiers, and had entered into
covenant to obey the traitor as his sovereign; who had also drawn to his
assistance the Scots, Picts, Irish, and all others whom he knew to be
enemies to his uncle. His whole army, taking pagans and Christians
together, amounted to eighty thousand men; with the help of whom he met
Arthur just after his landing at the port of Rutupi, and joining battle
with him, made a very great slaughter of his men. For the same day fell
Augusel, king of Albania, and Walgan, the king's nephew, with
innumerable others. Augusel was succeeded in his kingdom by Eventus, his
brother Urian's son, who afterwards performed many famous exploits in
those wars. After they had at last, with much difficulty, got ashore,
they paid back the slaughter, and put Modred and his army to flight.
For, by long practice in war, they had learned an excellent way of
ordering their forces; which was so managed, that while their foot were
employed either in an assault or upon the defensive, the horse would
come in at full speed obliquely, break through the enemy's ranks, and so
force them to flee. Nevertheless, this perjured usurper got his forces
together again, and the night following entered Winchester. As soon as
queen Guanhumara heard this, she immediately, despairing of success,
fled from York to the City of Legions, where she resolved to lead a
chaste life among the nuns in the church of Julius the Martyr, and
entered herself one of their order.

CHAP. II.--_Modred, after being twice besieged and routed, is killed.
Arthur, being wounded, gives up the kingdom to Constantine._

But Arthur, whose anger was now much more inflamed, upon the loss of so
many hundreds of his fellow soldiers, after he had buried his slain,
went on the third day to the city, and there besieged the traitor, who,
notwithstanding, was unwilling to desist from his enterprise, but used
all methods to encourage his adherents, and marching out with his troops
prepared to fight his uncle. In the battle that followed hereupon, great
numbers lost their lives on both sides; but at last Modred's army
suffered most, so that he was forced to quit the field shamefully. From
hence he made a precipitate flight, and, without taking any care for the
burial of his slain, marched in haste towards Cornwall. Arthur, being
inwardly grieved that he should so often escape, forthwith pursued him
into that country as far as the river Cambula, where the other was
expecting his coming. And Modred, as he was the boldest of men, and
always the quickest at making an attack, immediately placed his troops
in order, resolving either to conquer or to die, rather than continue
his flight any longer. He had yet remaining with him sixty thousand men,
out of whom he composed three bodies, which contained each of them six
thousand six hundred and sixty-six men: but all the rest he joined in
one body; and having assigned to each of the other parties their
leaders, he took the command of this upon himself. After he had made
this disposition of his forces, he endeavoured to animate them, and
promised them the estates of their enemies if they came off with
victory. Arthur, on the other side, also marshalled his army, which he
divided into nine square companies, with a right and left wing; and
having appointed to each of them their commanders, exhorted them to make
a total rout of those robbers and perjured villains, who, being brought
over into the island from foreign countries at the instance of the
arch-traitor, were attempting to rob them of all their honours. He
likewise told them that a mixed army composed of barbarous people of so
many different countries, and who were all raw soldiers and
inexperienced in war, would never be able to stand against such brave
veteran troops as they were, provided they did their duty. After this
encouragement given by each general to his fellow soldiers, the battle
on a sudden began with great fury; wherein it would be both grievous and
tedious to relate the slaughter, the cruel havoc, and the excess of fury
that was to be seen on both sides. In this manner they spent a good part
of the day, till Arthur at last made a push with his company, consisting
of six thousand six hundred and sixty-six men, against that in which he
knew Modred was; and having opened a way with their swords, they pierced
quite through it, and made a grievous slaughter. For in this assault
fell the wicked traitor himself, and many thousands with him. But
notwithstanding the loss of him, the rest did not flee, but running
together from all parts of the field maintained their ground with
undaunted courage. The fight now grew more furious than ever, and proved
fatal to almost all the commanders and their forces. For on Modred's
side fell Cheldric, Elasius, Egbrict, and Bunignus, Saxons; Gillapatric,
Gillamor, Gistafel, and Gillarius, Irish; also the Scots and Picts, with
almost all their leaders: on Arthur's side, Olbrict, king of Norway;
Aschillius, king of Dacia; Cador Limenic Cassibellaun, with many
thousands of others, as well Britons as foreigners, that he had brought
with him. And even the renowned king Arthur himself was mortally
wounded; and being carried thence to the isle of Avallon to be cured of
his wounds, he gave up the crown of Britain to his kinsman Constantine,
the son of Cador, duke of Cornwall, in the five hundred and forty-second
year of our Lord's incarnation.[220]


[Footnote 220: The mention of Constantine brings Geoffrey's work into
connection with that of Gildas: the reader may perhaps from this point
detect some slight degree of verisimilitude in this otherwise fictitious

CHAP. III.--_Constantine meets with disturbances from the Saxons and
Modred's sons._

Upon Constantine's advancement to the throne, the Saxons, with the two
sons of Modred, made insurrection against him, though without success;
for after many battles they fled, one to London, the other to
Winchester, and possessed themselves of those places. Then died Saint
Daniel, the pious prelate of the church of Bangor; and Theon, bishop of
Gloucester, was elected archbishop of London. At the same time also died
David, the pious archbishop of Legions, at the city of Menevia, in his
own abbey; which he loved above all the other monasteries of his
diocese, because Saint Patrick, who had prophetically foretold his
birth, was the founder of it. For during his residence there among his
friars, he was taken with a sudden illness, of which he died, and, at
the command of Malgo, king of the Venedotians, was buried in that
church. He was succeeded in the metropolitan see by Cynoc, bishop of the
church of Llan-Patern, who was thus promoted to a higher dignity.

CHAP. IV.--_Constantine, having murdered the two sons of Modred, is
himself killed by Conan._

But Constantine pursued the Saxons, and reduced them under his yoke. He
also took the two sons of Modred; and one of them, who had fled for
sanctuary to the church of St. Amphibalus, in Winchester, he murdered
before the altar. The other had hidden himself in a convent of friars at
London, but at last was found out by him, brought before the altar, and
there put to death. Three years after this, he himself, by the vengeance
of God pursuing him, was killed by Conan, and buried close by Uther
Pendragon within the structure of stones, which was set up with
wonderful art not far from Salisbury, and called in the English tongue,

CHAP. V.--_Aurelius Conan reigns after Constantine._

After him succeeded Aurelius Conan, his nephew, a youth of wonderful
valour; who, as he gained the monarchy of the whole island, would have
been worthy the crown of it, had he not delighted in civil war. He
raised disturbances against his uncle, who ought to have reigned after
Constantine, and cast him into prison; and then killing his two sons,
obtained the kingdom, but died in the second year of his reign.

CHAP. VI.--_Wortiporius, being declared king, conquers the Saxons._

After Conan succeeded Wortiporius, against whom the Saxons made
insurrection, and brought over their countrymen from Germany in a very
great fleet. But he gave them battle and came off with victory, so that
he obtained the monarchy of the whole kingdom, and governed the people
carefully and peacefully four years.

CHAP. VII.--_Malgo, king of Britain, and a most graceful person, addicts
himself to sodomy._

After him succeeded Malgo, one of the handsomest of men in Britain, a
great scourge of tyrants, and a man of great strength, extraordinary
munificence, and matchless valour, but addicted very much to the
detestable vice of sodomy, by which he made himself abominable to God.
He also possessed the whole island, to which, after a cruel war, he
added the six provincial islands, viz. Ireland, Iceland, Gothland, the
Orkneys, Norway, and Dacia.

CHAP. VIII.--_Britain, in the flame of a civil war under king Careticus,
is miserably wasted by the Saxons and Africans._

After Malgo succeeded Careticus, a lover of civil war, and hateful to
God and to the Britons. The Saxons, discovering his fickle disposition,
went to Ireland for Gormund, king of the Africans, who had arrived there
with a very great fleet, and had subdued that country. From thence, at
their traitorous instigation, he sailed over into Britain, which the
perfidious Saxons in one part, in another the Britons by their continual
wars among themselves were wholly laying waste. Entering therefore into
alliance with the Saxons, he made war upon king Careticus, and after
several battles fought, drove him from city to city, till at length he
forced him to Cirencester, and there besieged him. Here Isembard, the
nephew of Lewis, king of the Franks, came and made a league of amity
with him, and out of respect to him renounced the Christian faith, on
condition that he would assist him to gain the kingdom of Gaul from his
uncle, by whom, he said, he was forcibly and unjustly expelled out of
it. At last, after taking and burning the city, he had another fight
with Careticus, and made him flee beyond the Severn into Wales. He then
made an utter devastation of the country, set fire to the adjacent
cities, and continued these outrages until he had almost burned up the
whole surface of the island from the one sea to the other; so that the
tillage was everywhere destroyed, and a general destruction made of the
husbandmen and clergy, with fire and sword. This terrible calamity
caused the rest to flee whithersoever they had any hopes of safety.

CHAP. IX.--_The author upbraids the Britons._

"Why foolish nation! oppressed with the weight of your abominable
wickedness, why did you, in your insatiable thirst after civil wars, so
weaken yourself by domestic confusions, that whereas formerly you
brought distant kingdoms under your yoke, now, like a good vineyard
degenerated and turned to bitterness, you cannot defend your country,
your wives, and children, against your enemies? Go on, go on in your
civil dissensions, little understanding the saying in the Gospel, 'Every
kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desolation, and a
house divided against itself shall fall.' Since then your kingdom was
divided against itself; since the rage of civil discord, and the fumes
of envy, have darkened your minds, since your pride would not suffer you
to pay obedience to one king; you see, therefore, your country made
desolate by impious pagans, and your houses falling one upon another;
which shall be the cause of lasting sorrow to your posterity. For the
barbarous lionesses shall see their whelps enjoying the towns, cities,
and other possessions of your children; from which they shall be
miserably expelled, and hardly if ever recover their former flourishing

CHAP. X.--_Loegria is again inhabited by the Saxons. The Britons, with
their bishops, retire into Cornwall and Wales._

But to return to the history; when the inhuman tyrant, with many
thousands of his Africans, had made a devastation almost over the whole
island, he yielded up the greater part of it, called Loegria, to the
Saxons, whose villainy had been the occasion of his arrival. Therefore
the remainder of the Britons retired into the western parts of the
kingdom, that is, Cornwall and Wales; from whence they continually made
frequent and fierce irruptions upon the enemy. The three archbishops,
viz. the archbishop of Legions, Theon of London, and Thadiocus of York,
when they beheld all the churches in their jurisdiction lying level with
the ground, fled with all the clergy that remained after so great a
destruction, to the coverts of the woods in Wales, carrying with them
the relics of the saints, for fear the sacred bones of so many holy men
of old might be destroyed by the barbarians, if they should leave them
in that imminent danger, and themselves instantly suffer martyrdom. Many
more went over in a great fleet into Armorican Britain; so that the
whole church of the two provinces, Loegria and Northumberland, had its
convents destroyed. But these things I shall relate elsewhere, when I
translate the book concerning their banishment.

CHAP. XI.--_The Britons lose their kingdom._

For a long time after this the Britons were dispossessed of the crown of
the kingdom, and the monarchy of the island, and made no endeavours to
recover their ancient dignity; but even that part of the country which
yet remained to them, being subject not to one king, but three tyrants,
was often wasted by civil wars. But neither did the Saxons yet obtain
the crown, but were also subject to three kings, who harassed sometimes
one another, sometimes the Britons.

CHAP. XII.--_Augustine, being sent by pope Gregory into Britain,
preaches the gospel to the Angles._

In the meantime Augustine was sent by pope Saint Gregory into Britain,
to preach the word of God to the Angles, who, being blinded with pagan
superstition, had entirely extinguished Christianity in that part of the
island which they possessed. But among the Britons, the Christian faith
still flourished, and never failed among them from the time of pope
Eleutherius, when it was first planted here. But when Augustine came, he
found in their province seven bishoprics and an archbishopric, all
filled with most devout prelates, and a great number of abbeys; by which
the flock of Christ was still kept in good order. Among the rest, there
was in the city of Bangor a most noble church, in which it is reported
there was so great a number of monks, that when the monastery was
divided into seven parts, having each their priors over them, not one of
them had less than three hundred monks, who all lived by the labour of
their own hands. The name of their abbat was Dinooth, a man admirably
skilled in the liberal arts; who, when Augustine required the subjection
of the British bishops, and would have persuaded them to undertake the
work of the gospel with him among the Angles, answered him with several
arguments, that they owed no subjection to him, neither would they
preach to their enemies; since they had their own archbishop, and
because the Saxon nation persisted in depriving them of their country.
For this reason they esteemed them their mortal enemies, reckoned their
faith and religion as nothing, and would no more communicate with the
Angles than with dogs.

CHAP. XIII.--_Ethelfrid kills a great number of the British monks, but
is at last routed by the Britons._

Therefore Ethelbert, king of Kent, when he saw that the Britons
disdained subjection to Augustine, and despised his preaching, was
highly provoked, and stirred up Ethelfrid, king of the Northumbrians,
and the other petty kings of the Saxons, to raise a great army, and
march to the city of Bangor, to destroy the abbat Dinooth, and the rest
of the clergy who held them in contempt. At his instigation, therefore,
they assembled a prodigious army, and in their march to the province of
the Britons, came to Legecester, where Brocmail, consul of the city, was
awaiting their coming. To the same city were come innumerable monks and
hermits from several provinces of the Britons, but especially from the
city of Bangor, to pray for the safety of their people. Whereupon
Ethelfrid, king of the Northumbrians, collecting all his forces, joined
battle with Brocmail, who, having a less army to withstand him, at last
quitted the city and fled, though not without having made a great
slaughter of the enemy. But Ethelfrid, when he had taken the city, and
understood upon what occasion the monks were come thither, commanded his
men to turn their arms first against them; and so two hundred of them
were honoured with the crown of martyrdom, and admitted into the kingdom
of heaven that same day. From thence this Saxon tyrant proceeded on his
march to Bangor; but upon the news of his outrageous madness, the
leaders of the Britons, viz. Blederic, duke of Cornwall, Margadud, king
of the Demetians, and Cadwan, of the Venedotians, came from all parts to
meet him, and joining battle with him, wounded him, and forced him to
flee; and killed of his army to the number of ten thousand and sixty-six
men. On the Britons' side fell Blederic, duke of Cornwall, who was their
commander in those wars.


CHAP. I.--_Cadwan acquires by treaty all Britain on this side of the
Humber, and Ethelfrid the rest._

After this all the princes of the Britons met together at the city of
Legecester, and consented to make Cadwan their king, that under his
command they might pursue Ethelfrid beyond the Humber. Accordingly, as
soon as he was crowned, they flocked together from all parts, and passed
the Humber; of which when Ethelfrid received intelligence, he entered
into a confederacy with all the Saxon kings, and went to meet Cadwan. At
last, as they were forming their troops for a battle, their friends
came, and made peace between them on these terms: that Cadwan should
enjoy that part of Britain which lies on this side of the Humber, and
Ethelfrid that which is beyond it. As soon as they had confirmed this
agreement with an oath made to their hostages, there commenced such a
friendship between them, that they had all things common. In the
meantime it happened, that Ethelfrid banished his own wife and married
another, and bore so great a hatred to her that was banished, that he
would not suffer her to live in the kingdom of Northumberland. Whereupon
she, being with child, went to king Cadwan, that by his mediation she
might be restored to her husband. But when Ethelfrid could by no means
be brought to consent to it, she continued to live with Cadwan, till she
was delivered of the son which she had conceived. A short time after her
delivery, Cadwan also had a son born to him by the queen, his wife. Then
were the two boys brought up together in a manner suitable to their
royal birth, one of which was called Cadwalla, the other Edwin. When
they were nearly arrived at men's estate, their parents sent them to
Salomon, king of the Armorican Britons, that in his court they might
learn the discipline of war, and other princely qualifications. This
prince, therefore, received them graciously, and admitted them to an
intimacy with him; so that there was none of their age in the whole
court, that had a free access, or more familiarly discoursed with the
king than they. At last he himself was an eye-witness of their exploits
against the enemy, in which they very much signalized their valour.

CHAP. II.--_Cadwalla breaks the covenant he had made with Edwin._

In process of time, when their parents were dead, they returned to
Britain, where they took upon them the government of the kingdom, and
began to form the same friendship as their fathers. Two years after
this, Edwin asked leave of Cadwalla to wear a crown, and to celebrate
the same solemnities, as had been used of old in Northumberland. And
when they had begun a treaty upon this subject by the river Duglas, that
the matter might be adjusted according to the advice of their wise
counsellors, it happened that Cadwalla was lying on the other side of
the river in the lap of a certain nephew of his, whose name was Brian.
While ambassadors were negotiating between them, Brian wept, and shed
tears so plentifully, that the king's face and beard were wet with them.
The king, imagining that it rained, lifted up his face, and seeing the
young man in tears, asked him the occasion of such sudden grief. "Good
reason," said he, "have I to weep continually, as well as the whole
British nation, which has groaned under the oppression of barbarians
ever since the time of Malgo, and has not yet got a prince, to restore
it to its ancient flourishing state. And even the little honour that it
had left, is lessened by your indulgence; since the Saxons, who are only
strangers, and always traitors to our country, must now be permitted to
wear the same crown as you do. For when once they shall attain to regal
dignity, it will be a great addition to their glory in the country from
whence they came; and they will the sooner invite over their countrymen,
for the utter extirpation of our race. For they have been always
accustomed to treachery, and never to keep faith with any; which I think
should be a reason for our keeping them under, and not for exalting
them. When king Vortigern first retained them in his service, they made
a show of living peaceably, and fighting for our country, till they had
an opportunity of practising their wickedness; and then they returned
evil for good, betrayed him, and made a cruel massacre of the people of
the kingdom. Afterwards they betrayed Aurelius Ambrosius, to whom, even
after the most tremendous oaths of fidelity, at a banquet with him they
gave a draught of poison. They also betrayed Arthur, when, setting aside
the covenant by which they were bound, they joined with his nephew
Modred, and fought against him. Lastly, they broke faith with king
Careticus, and brought upon him Gormund, king of the Africans, by whose
disturbances our people were robbed of their country, and the king
disgracefully driven out."

CHAP. III.--_A quarrel between Cadwalla and Edwin._

At the mention of these things, Cadwalla repented of entering into this
treaty, and sent word to Edwin that he could by no means induce his
counsellors to consent to his petition. For they alleged that it was
contrary to law and the ancient establishment, that an island, which has
always had no more than one crown, should be now under subjection to two
crowned heads. This message incensed Edwin, and made him break off the
conference, and retire into Northumberland, saying, he would be crowned
without Cadwalla's leave. When Cadwalla was told this, he declared to
him by his ambassadors that he would cut off his crowned head, if he
presumed to wear a crown within the kingdom of Britain.

CHAP. IV.--_Cadwalla is vanquished by Edwin, and driven out of the

This proved the occasion of a war between them, in which, after several
engagements between their men, they at last met together themselves
beyond the Humber, and had a battle, wherein Cadwalla lost many
thousands of his followers, and was put to flight.[221] From hence he
marched with precipitation through Albania, and went over to Ireland.
But Edwin, after this victory, led his army through the provinces of the
Britons, and burning the cities before him, grievously afflicted the
citizens and country people. During this exercise of his cruelty,
Cadwalla never ceased endeavouring to return back to his country in a
fleet, but without success; because to whatever port he steered, Edwin
met him with his forces, and hindered his landing. For there was come
to him from Spain a very skilful soothsayer, named Pellitus, who, by
the flight of birds and the courses of the stars, foretold all the
disasters that would happen. By these means Edwin, getting knowledge of
Cadwalla's return, prepared to meet him, and shattered his ships so that
he drowned his men, and beat him off from all his ports. Cadwalla, not
knowing what course to take, was almost in despair of ever returning. At
last it came into his head to go to Salomon, king of the Armorican
Britons, and desire his assistance and advice, to enable him to return
to his kingdom. And so, as he was steering towards Armorica, a strong
tempest rose on a sudden, which dispersed the ships of his companions,
and in a short time left no two of them together. The pilot of the
king's ship was seized immediately with so great a fear, that quitting
the stern, he left the vessel to the disposal of fortune; so that all
that night it was tossed up and down in great danger by the raging
waves. The next morning they arrived at a certain island called
Garnareia, where with great difficulty they got ashore. Cadwalla was
forthwith seized with such grief for the loss of his companions, that
for three days and nights together he refused to eat, but lay sick upon
his bed. The fourth day he was taken with a very great longing for some
venison, and causing Brian to be called, made him acquainted with it.
Whereupon Brian took his bow and quiver, and went through the island,
that if he could light on any wild beast, he might make booty of it. And
when he had walked over the whole island without finding what he was in
quest of, he was extremely concerned that he could not gratify his
master's desire; and was afraid his sickness would prove mortal if his
longing were not satisfied. He, therefore, fell upon a new device, and
cut a piece of flesh out of his own thigh, which he roasted upon a spit,
and carried to the king for venison. The king, thinking it to be real
venison, began to eat of it to his great refreshment, admiring the
sweetness of it, which he fancied exceeded any flesh he ever had tasted
before. At last, when he had fully satisfied his appetite, he became
more cheerful, and in three days was perfectly well again. Then the wind
standing fair, he got ready his ship, and hoisting sails they pursued
their voyage, and arrived at the city Kidaleta. From thence they went to
king Salomon, by whom they were received kindly and with all suitable
respect; and as soon as he had learned the occasion of their coming, he
made them a promise of assistance, and spoke to them as follows.


[Footnote 221: See Malmesbury's Hist. of the Kings, p. 46.]

CHAP. V.--_The speech of Salomon, king of Armorica, to Cadwalla._

"It is a grief to us, noble youths, that the country of your ancestors
is oppressed by a barbarous nation, and that you are ignominiously
driven out of it. But since other men are able to defend their kingdoms,
it is a wonder your people should lose so fruitful an island, and not be
able to withstand the nation of the Angles, whom our countrymen hold in
contempt. While the people of this country lived together with yours in
Britain, they bore sway over all the provincial kingdoms, and never
could be subdued by any nation but the Romans. Neither did the Romans do
this by their own power, as I have been lately informed, but by a
dissension among the nobility of the island. And even the Romans, though
they held it under their subjection for a time, yet upon the loss and
slaughter of their rulers, were driven out with disgrace. But after the
Britons came into this province under the conduct of Maximian and Conan,
those that remained never had the happiness afterwards of holding an
uninterrupted possession of the crown. For though many of their princes
maintained the ancient dignity of their ancestors, yet their weak heirs
that succeeded, though more in number, entirely lost it, upon the
invasion of their enemies. Therefore I am grieved for the weakness of
your people, since we are of the same race with you, and the name of
Britons is common to you, and to the nation that bravely defends their
country, which you see at war with all its neighbours."

CHAP. VI.--_Cadwalla's answer to Salomon._

When he had concluded his speech, Cadwalla, who was a little put to the
blush, answered him after this manner: "Royal sir, whose descent is from
a race of kings, I give you many thanks for your promise of assisting me
to recover my kingdom. But what you say is a wonder, that my people have
not maintained the dignity of their ancestors, since the time that the
Britons came to these provinces, I am far from thinking to be such. For
the noblest men of the whole kingdom followed those leaders, and there
remained only the baser sort to enjoy their honours; who being raised to
a high quality, on a sudden were puffed up above their station; and
growing wanton with riches gave themselves up to commit such fornication
as is not so much as named among the Gentiles; and (as Gildas the
historian testifies) were not only guilty of this vice, but of all the
enormities that are incident to human nature. And what chiefly
prevailed, to the entire overthrow of all goodness, was the hatred of
truth with its assertors, the love of a lie with the inventors of it,
the embracing of evil for good, the veneration of wickedness for grace,
the receiving of Satan for an angel of light. Kings were anointed, not
for the sake of God, but such as were more cruel than the rest; and were
soon after murdered by their anointers, without examination, having
chosen others yet more cruel in their room. But if any of them showed
any mildness, or seemed a favourer of truth, against him, as the
subverter of Britain, were all their malice and their weapons bent. In
short, things pleasing to God or displeasing, with them had the same
weight, even if the worse were not the weightier. Therefore were all
affairs managed contrary to public safety, as if the true physician of
all had left them destitute of cure. And thus was every thing done
without discretion, and that not only by secular men, but by the Lord's
flock and its pastors. Therefore it is not to be wondered, that such a
degenerate race, so odious to God for their vices, lost a country which
they had so heinously corrupted. For God was willing to execute his
vengeance upon them, by suffering a foreign people to come upon them,
and drive them out of their possessions. Notwithstanding it would be a
worthy act, if God would permit it, to restore our subjects to their
ancient dignity, to prevent the reproach that may be thrown upon our
race, that we were weak rulers, who did not exert ourselves in our own
defence. And I do the more freely ask your assistance, as you are of the
same blood with us. For the great Malgo, who was the fourth king of
Britain after Arthur, had two sons, named Enniaunus and Runo. Enniaunus
begot Belin; Belin, Jago; Jago, Cadwan, who was my father. Runo, who,
after his brother's death, was driven out by the Saxons, came to this
province and bestowed his daughter on duke Hoel, the son of that great
Hoel who shared with Arthur in his conquests. Of her was born Alan; of
Alan, Hoel your father, who while he lived was a terror to all Gaul."

CHAP. VII.--_Brian kills Edwin's magician._

In the meantime, while he was spending the winter with Salomon, they
entered into a resolution, that Brian should pass over into Britain, and
take some method to kill Edwin's magician, lest he might by his usual
art inform him of Cadwalla's coming. And when with this design he had
arrived at Hamo's Port, he took upon him the habit of a poor man, and
made himself a staff of iron sharp at the end, with which he might kill
the magician if he should happen to meet with him. From thence he went
to York, where Edwin then resided; and having entered that city joined
himself to the poor people that waited for alms before the king's gate.
But as he was going to and fro, it happened that his sister came out of
the hall, with a basin in her hand, to fetch water for the queen. She
had been taken by Edwin at the city of Worcester, when after Cadwalla's
flight he was acting his hostilities upon the provinces of the Britons.
As she was therefore passing by Brian, he immediately knew her, and,
breaking forth into tears, called to her with a low voice; at which the
damsel turning her face, was in doubt at first who it could be, but upon
a nearer approach discovered it to be her brother, and was near falling
into a swoon, for fear that he might by some unlucky accident be known
and taken by the enemy. She therefore refrained from saluting him, or
entering into familiar discourse with him, but told him, as if she was
talking upon some other subject, the state of the court, and showed him
the magician, that he was inquiring for, who was at that very time
walking among the poor people, while the alms were being distributed
among them. Brian, as soon as he had taken knowledge of the man, ordered
his sister to steal out privately from her apartment the night
following, and come to him near an old church without the city, where he
would conceal himself in expectation of her. Then dismissing her, he
thrust himself in among the crowd of poor people, in that part where
Pellitus was placing them. And the same moment he got access to him, he
lifted up his staff, and at once gave him a stab under the breast which
killed him. This done, he threw away his staff, and passed among the
rest undistinguished and unsuspected by any of the by-standers, and by
good providence got to the place of concealment which he had appointed.
His sister, when night came on, endeavoured all she could to get out,
but was not able; because Edwin, being terrified at the killing of
Pellitus, had set a strict watch about the court, who, making a narrow
search, refused to let her go out. When Brian found this, he retired
from that place, and went to Exeter, where he called together the
Britons, and told them what he had done. Afterwards having despatched
away messengers to Cadwalla, he fortified that city, and sent word to
all the British nobility, that they should bravely defend their cities
and towns, and joyfully expect Cadwalla's coming to their relief in a
short time with auxiliary forces from Salomon. Upon the spreading of
this news over the whole island, Penda, king of the Mercians, with a
very great army of Saxons, came to Exeter, and besieged Brian.

CHAP. VIII.--_Cadwalla takes Penda, and routs his army._

In the meantime Cadwalla arrived with ten thousand men, whom king
Salomon had delivered to him; and with them he marched straight to the
siege against king Penda. But, as he was going, he divided his forces
into four parts, and then made no delay to advance and join battle with
the enemy, wherein Penda was forthwith taken, and his army routed. For,
finding no other way for his own safety, he surrendered himself to
Cadwalla, and gave hostages, with a promise that he would assist him
against the Saxons. Cadwalla, after this success against him, summoned
together his nobility, that had been a long time in a decaying state,
and marched to Northumberland against Edwin, and made continual
devastations in that country. When Edwin was informed of it, he
assembled all the petty kings of the Angles, and meeting the Britons in
a field called Heathfield,[222] presently gave them battle, but was
killed, and almost all the people with him, together with Osfrid, his
son, and Godbold, king of the Orkneys, who had come to their assistance.


[Footnote 222: See Bede's Eccles. Hist. p. 106.]

CHAP. IX.--_Cadwalla kills Osric and Aidan in fight._

Having thus obtained the victory, Cadwalla marched through the provinces
of the Angles, and committed such outrages upon the Saxons, that he
neither spared age nor sex; for his resolution being to extirpate the
whole race out of Britain, all that he found he put to extreme tortures.
After this he had a battle with Osric, Edwin's successor, and killed him
together with his two nephews, who ought to have reigned after him. He
also killed Aidan, king of the Scots, who came to their assistance.

CHAP. X.--_Oswald routs Penda in fight, but is killed by Cadwalla coming
in upon him._

Their deaths made room for Oswald to succeed to the kingdom of
Northumberland; but Cadwalla drove him, with the rest that had given him
disturbance, to the very wall which the emperor Severus had formerly
built between Britain and Scotland. Afterwards he sent Penda, king of
the Mercians, and the greatest part of his army, to the same place, to
give him battle. But Oswald, as he was besieged one night by Penda, in
the place called Heavenfield, that is, the Heavenly Field,[223] set up
there our Lord's cross, and commanded his men to speak with a very loud
voice these words: "Let us all kneel down, and pray the Almighty, living
and true God, to defend us from the proud army of the king of Britain,
and his wicked leader Penda. For he knows how justly we wage this war
for the safety of our people." They all therefore did as he commanded
them, and advanced at break of day against the enemy, and by their faith
gained the victory. Cadwalla, upon hearing this news, being inflamed
with rage, assembled his army, and went in pursuit of the holy king
Oswald; and in a battle which he had with him at a place called Burne,
Penda broke in upon him and killed him.


[Footnote 223: See Bede's Eccles. Hist. p. 110.]

CHAP. XI.--_Oswy submits to Cadwalla. Penda desires leave of Cadwalla to
make war against him._

Oswald, with many thousands of his men, being killed, his brother Oswy
succeeded him in the kingdom of Northumberland,[224] and by making
large presents of gold and silver to Cadwalla, who was now possessed of
the government of all Britain, made his peace and submission to him.
Upon this Alfrid, his brother, and Ethelwald,[225] his brother's son,
began an insurrection; but, not being able to hold out against him, they
fled to Penda, king of the Mercians, desiring him to assemble his army
and pass the Humber with them, that he might deprive Oswy of his
kingdom. But Penda, fearing to break the peace, which Cadwalla had
settled through the kingdom of Britain, deferred beginning any
disturbance without his leave, till he could some way work him up,
either to make war himself upon Oswy, or allow him the liberty of doing
it. At a certain Pentecost therefore, when Cadwalla was celebrating that
festival at London, and for the greater solemnity wore the crown of
Britain, all the kings of the Angles, excepting only Oswy, being
present, as also all the dukes of the Britons; Penda went to the king,
and inquired of him the reason, why Oswy alone was wanting, when all the
princes of the Saxons were present. Cadwalla answered, that his sickness
was the cause of it; to which the other replied, that he had sent over
to Germany for more Saxons, to revenge the death of his brother Oswald
upon them both. He told him further, that he had broken the peace of the
kingdom, as being the sole author of the war and dissension among them;
since Ethelfrid, king of Northumberland, and Ethelwald, his brother's
son, had been by him harassed with a war, and driven out of their own
country. He also desired leave, either to kill him, or banish him the


[Footnote 224: Or Bernicia, see Bede, p. 131.]

[Footnote 225: Who reigned over the Deiri.]

CHAP. XII.--_Cadwalla is advised to suffer Penda to make an insurrection
against Oswy._

This matter caused the king to enter upon much deliberation, and hold a
private consultation with his intimate friends, what course to take.
Among the rest that offered their proposals, Margadud, king of the
Dimetians, spoke as follows:--"Royal sir, since you have proposed to
expel the race of the Angles from the coasts of Britain, why do you
alter your resolution, and suffer them to continue in peace among us? At
least you should permit them to fall out among themselves, and let our
country owe its deliverance to their own civil broils. No faith is to be
kept with one that is treacherous, and is continually laying snares for
him to whom he owes fidelity. Such have the Saxons always been to our
nation, from the very first time of their coming among us. What faith
ought we to keep with them? Let Penda immediately have leave to go
against Oswy, that by this civil dissension and destruction of one
another, our island may get rid of them."

CHAP. XIII.--_Penda is killed by Oswy. Cadwalla dies._

By these and other words to the same effect, Cadwalla was prevailed upon
to grant the permission desired. And Penda, having assembled a vast
army, went to the Humber, and laying waste that country, began a fierce
war upon the king. Oswy was at last reduced to such extremity, that he
was forced to promise him innumerable royal ornaments, and other
presents more than one would believe, if he would desist from ruining
his country, and return home without committing any more hostilities.
But when the other could by no entreaties be prevailed upon to do it,
the king, in hopes of divine assistance, though he had a less army,
however, gave him battle near the River Winwid, and having killed Penda
and thirty other commanders, gained the victory. Penda's son Wulfred, by
a grant from Cadwalla, succeeded to the kingdom, and joining with Eafa
and Eadbert, two leaders of the Mercians, rebelled against Oswy; but at
last, by Cadwalla's command, made peace with him. At length, after
forty-eight years were expired, that most noble and potent king of the
Britons, Cadwalla, being grown infirm with age and sickness, departed
this life upon the fifteenth before the kalends of December. The Britons
embalmed his body, and placed it with wonderful art in a brazen statue,
which was cast according to the measure of his stature. This statue they
set up with complete armour, on an admirable and beautiful brazen horse,
over the western gate of London, for a monument of the above-mentioned
victory, and for a terror to the Saxons. They also built under it a
church in honour of St. Martin, in which divine ceremonies are
celebrated for him and the others who departed in the faith.

CHAP. XIV.--_Cadwallader succeeds Cadwalla._

He was succeeded in the kingdom by Cadwallader,[226] his son, whom Bede
calls the youth Elidwalda. At first he maintained the government with
peace and honour; but after twelve years' enjoyment of the crown, he
fell into a fit of sickness, and a civil war broke out among the
Britons. His mother was Penda's sister, by the same father but a
different mother, descended from the noble race of the Gewisseans. For
Cadwalla, after his reconciliation with her brother, made her the
partner of his bed, and had Cadwallader by her.


[Footnote 226: Probably the same as Cædwalla, king of Wessex, noticed by
Bede and the Saxon Chronicle, although the British and Saxon authorities
differ in their genealogical statements.]

CHAP. XV.--_The Britons are compelled, by pestilence and famine, to
leave Britain. Cadwallader's lamentation._

During his sickness, the Britons, (as we said before,) quarrelling among
themselves, made a wicked destruction of a rich country; and this again
was attended with another misfortune. For this besotted people was
punished with a grievous and memorable famine; so that every province
was destitute of all sustenance, except what could be taken in hunting.
After the famine followed a terrible pestilence, which in a short time
destroyed such multitudes of people, that the living were not sufficient
to bury the dead. Those of them that remained, flying their country in
whole troops together, went to the countries beyond the sea, and while
they were under sail, they with a mournful howling voice sang, "Thou
hast given us, O God, like sheep appointed for meat, and hast scattered
us among the heathen." Also Cadwallader himself, in his voyage, with his
miserable fleet to Armorica, made this addition to the lamentation, "Woe
to us sinners, for our grievous impieties, wherewith we have not ceased
to provoke God, while we had space for repentance. Therefore the revenge
of his power lies heavy upon us, and drives us out of our native soil,
which neither the Romans of old, nor the Scots or Picts afterwards, nor
yet the treacherous Saxons with all their craft, were able to do. But in
vain have we recovered our country so often from them; since it was not
the will of God that we should perpetually hold the government of it.
He who is the true Judge, when he saw we were by no means to be
reclaimed from our wickedness, and that no human power could expel our
race, was willing to chastise our folly himself; and has turned his
anger against us, by which we are driven out in crowds from our native
country. Return, therefore, ye Romans; return, Scots and Picts; return,
Ambrons and Saxons: behold, Britain lies open to you, being by the wrath
of God made desolate, which you were never able to do. It is not your
valour that expels us; but the power of the supreme King, whom we have
never ceased to provoke."

CHAP. XVI.--_Cadwallader with his people goes to Alan. The Saxons seize
all Britain._

With these dolorous complaints he arrived at the Armorican coast, and
went with his whole company to king Alan, the nephew of Salomon by whom
he was honourably received. So that Britain, being now destitute of its
ancient inhabitants, excepting a few in Wales that escaped the general
mortality, became a frightful place even to the Britons themselves for
eleven years after. Neither was it at the same time more favourable to
the Saxons, who died in it without intermission. Notwithstanding the
remainder of them, after this raging plague was ceased, according to
their old custom sent word over to their countrymen, that the island of
Britain was now freed of its native inhabitants, and lay open to them,
if they would come over and inhabit it. As soon as they had received
this information, that odious people, gathering together an innumerable
multitude of men and women, arrived in Northumberland, and inhabited the
provinces that lay desolate from Albania to Cornwall. For there was now
nobody to hinder them, excepting the poor remains of the Britons, who
continued together in the thickets of the woods in Wales. From that time
the power of the Britons ceased in the island, and the Angles began
their reign.

CHAP. XVII.--_Cadwallader is by the voice of an angel deterred from
returning to Britain._

After some time, when the people had recovered strength, Cadwallader,
being mindful of his kingdom, which was now free from the contagion of
the pestilence, desired assistance of Alan towards the recovery of his
dominions. The king granted his request; but as he was getting ready a
fleet, he was commanded by the loud voice of an angel to desist from his
enterprise. For God was not willing that the Britons should reign any
longer in the island, before the time came of which Merlin prophetically
foretold Arthur. It also commanded him to go to Rome to pope Sergius,
where, after doing penance, he should be enrolled among the saints. It
told him withal, that the Britons, by the merit of their faith, should
again recover the island, when the time decreed for it was come. But
this would not be accomplished before they should be possessed of his
reliques, and transport them from Rome into Britain. At the same time
also the reliques of the other saints should be found, which had been
hidden on account of the invasion of pagans; and then at last would they
recover their lost kingdom. When the holy prince had received the
heavenly message, he went straight to king Alan, and gave him an account
of what had been told him.

CHAP. XVIII.--_Cadwallader goes to Rome and dies._

Then Alan had recourse to several books, as the prophecies of the eagle
that prophesied at Shaftesbury, and the verses of Sibyl and Merlin; and
made diligent search in them, to see whether the revelation made to
Cadwallader agreed with those written oracles. And when he could find
nothing contradictory to it, he admonished Cadwallader to submit to the
divine dispensation, and laying aside the thoughts of Britain, perform
what the angelical voice had commanded him. But he urged him to send his
son Ivor and his nephew Ini over into the island, to govern the
remainder of the Britons; lest a nation, descended of so ancient a race,
should lose their liberty by the incursions of barbarians. Then
Cadwallader, renouncing worldly cares for the sake of God and his
everlasting kingdom, went to Rome, and was confirmed by pope Sergius:
and being seized with a sudden illness, was, upon the twelfth before the
kalends of May, in the six hundred and eighty-ninth year of our Lord's
incarnation freed from the corruption of the flesh, and admitted into
the glories of the heavenly kingdom.

CHAP. XIX.--_The two Britons, Ivor and Ini, in vain attack the nation of
the Angles. Athelstan the first king of the Angles._

As soon as Ivor and Ini had got together their ships, they with all the
forces they could raise, arrived in the island, and for forty-nine years
together fiercely attacked the nation of the Angles, but to little
purpose. For the above-mentioned mortality and famine, together with the
inveterate spirit of faction that was among them, had made this proud
people so much degenerate, that they were not able to gain any advantage
of the enemy. And being now also overrun with barbarism, they were no
longer called Britons, but Gualenses, Welshmen; a word derived either
from Gualo their leader, or Guales their queen, or from their barbarism.
But the Saxons managed affairs with more prudence, maintained peace and
concord among themselves, tilled their grounds, rebuilt their cities and
towns, and so throwing off the dominion of the Britons, bore sway over
all Loegria, under their leader Athelstan, who first wore a crown
amongst them. But the Welshmen, being very much degenerated from the
nobility of the Britons, never after recovered the monarchy of the
island; on the contrary, by quarrels among themselves, and wars with the
Saxons, their country was a perpetual scene of misery and slaughter.

CHAP. XX.--_Geoffrey of Monmouth's conclusion._

But as for the kings that have succeeded among them in Wales, since that
time, I leave the history of them to Caradoc of Lancarvan, my
contemporary; as I do also the kings of the Saxons to William of
Malmesbury, and Henry of Huntingdon. But I advise them to be silent
concerning the kings of the Britons,[227] since they have not that book
written in the British tongue, which Walter, archdeacon of Oxford,
brought out of Brittany, and which being a true history, published in
honour of those princes, I have thus taken care to translate.


[Footnote 227: This advice might be thought judicious, if we could be
persuaded of the authenticity of Geoffrey's cherished discovery, but
there are lamentable defects, of a grave character, attending upon this
British volume.

1. It was first made known six hundred years after the events which it

2. No MS. copy is now in existence, nor any record of its ever having
been multiplied by transcription.

3. It relates stories utterly at variance with acknowledged history.

4. It abounds in miraculous stories, which, like leaven, ferment and
corrupt the whole mass.

5. It labours under great suspicion from the mendacious character of the
people, whose credit it was written to support.

With these remarks we leave the work to the consideration of the reader,
who may compare it, if he likes, with the Chronicles of Gildas and
Nennius, which form the next portions of this volume.]










§ 1. Whatever in this my epistle I may write in my humble but
well-meaning manner, rather by way of lamentation than for display, let
no one suppose that it springs from contempt of others, or that I
foolishly esteem myself as better than they;--for, alas! the subject of
my complaint is the general destruction of every thing that is good, and
the general growth of evil throughout the land;--but that I would
condole with my country in her distress and rejoice to see her revive
therefrom: for it is my present purpose to relate the deeds of an
indolent and slothful race, rather than the exploits of those who have
been valiant in the field.[228] I have kept silence, I confess, with
much mental anguish, compunction of feeling and contrition of heart,
whilst I revolved all these things within myself; and, as God the
searcher of the reins is witness, for the space of even ten years or
more, [[229] my inexperience, as at present also, and my unworthiness
preventing me from taking upon myself the character of a censor. But I
read how the illustrious lawgiver, for one word's doubting, was not
allowed to enter the desired land; that the sons of the high-priest, for
placing strange fire upon God's altar, were cut off by a speedy death;
that God's people, for breaking the law of God, save two only, were
slain by wild beasts, by fire and sword in the deserts of Arabia, though
God had so loved them that he had made a way for them through the Red
Sea, had fed them with bread from heaven, and water from the rock, and
by the lifting up of a hand merely had made their armies invincible; and
then, when they had crossed the Jordan and entered the unknown land, and
the walls of the city had fallen down flat at the sound only of a
trumpet, the taking of a cloak and a little gold from the accursed
things caused the deaths of many: and again the breach of their treaty
with the Gibeonites, though that treaty had been obtained by fraud,
brought destruction upon many; and I took warning from the sins of the
people which called down upon them the reprehensions of the prophets and
also of Jeremiah, with his fourfold Lamentations written in alphabetic
order. I saw moreover in my own time, as that prophet also had
complained, that the city had sat down lone and widowed, which before
was full of people; that the queen of nations and the princess of
provinces (_i.e._ the church), had been made tributary; that the gold
was obscured, and the most excellent colour (which is the brightness of
God's word) changed; that the sons of Sion (_i.e._ of holy mother
church), once famous and clothed in the finest gold, grovelled in dung;
and what added intolerably to the weight of grief of that illustrious
man, and to mine, though but an abject whilst he had thus mourned them
in their happy and prosperous condition, "Her Nazarites were fairer than
snow, more ruddy than old ivory, more beautiful than the sapphire."
These and many other passages in the ancient Scriptures I regarded as a
kind of mirror of human life, and I turned also to the New, wherein I
read more clearly what perhaps to me before was dark, for the darkness
fled, and truth shed her steady light--I read therein that the Lord had
said, "I came not but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel;" and on
the other hand, "But the children of this kingdom shall be cast out into
outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth:" and
again, "It is not good to take the children's meat and to give it to
dogs:" also, "Woe to you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites!" I heard
how "many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven:" and on the
contrary, "I will then say to them, 'Depart from me, ye workers of
iniquity!'" I read, "Blessed are the barren, and the teats which have
not given suck;" and on the contrary, "Those, who were ready, entered
with him to the wedding; afterwards came the other virgins also, saying
'Lord, Lord, open to us:' to whom it was answered, 'I do not know you.'"
I heard, forsooth, "Whoever shall believe and be baptized, shall be
saved, but whoever shall not believe shall be damned." I read in the
words of the apostle that the branch of the wild olive was grafted upon
the good olive, but should nevertheless be cut off from the communion of
the root of its fatness, if it did not hold itself in fear, but
entertained lofty thoughts. I knew the mercy of the Lord, but I also
feared his judgment: I praised his grace, but I feared the rendering to
every man according to his works: perceiving the sheep of the same fold
to be different, I deservedly commended Peter for his entire confession
of Christ, but called Judas most wretched, for his love of covetousness:
I thought Stephen most glorious on account of the palm of martyrdom, but
Nicholas wretched for his mark of unclean heresy: I read assuredly,
"They had all things common:" but likewise also, as it is written, "Why
have ye conspired to tempt the Spirit of God?" I saw, on the other hand,
how much security had grown upon the men of our time, as if there were
nothing to cause them fear. These things, therefore, and many more which
for brevity's sake we have determined to omit, I revolved again and
again in my amazed mind with compunction in my heart, and I thought to
myself, "If God's peculiar people, chosen from all the people of the
world, the royal seed, and holy nation, to whom he had said, 'My
first-begotten Israel,' its priests, prophets, and kings, throughout so
many ages, his servant and apostle, and the members of his primitive
church, were not spared when they deviated from the right path, what
will he do to the darkness of this our age, in which, besides all the
huge and heinous sins, which it has in common with all the wicked of the
world committed, is found an innate, indelible, and irremediable load
of folly and inconstancy?" "What, wretched man (I say to myself) is it
given to you, as if you were an illustrious and learned teacher, to
oppose the force of so violent a torrent, and keep the charge committed
to you against such a series of inveterate crimes which has spread far
and wide, without interruption, for so many years? Hold thy peace: to do
otherwise, is to tell the foot to see, and the hand to speak. Britain
has rulers, and she has watchmen: why dost thou incline thyself thus
uselessly to prate?" She has such, I say, not too many, perhaps, but
surely not too few: but, because they are bent down and pressed beneath
so heavy a burden, they have not time allowed them to take breath. My
senses, therefore, as if feeling a portion of my debt and obligation,
preoccupied themselves with such objections, and with others yet more
strong. They struggled, as I said, no short time, in a fearful strait,
whilst I read, "There is a time for speaking, and a time for keeping
silence." At length, the creditor's side prevailed and bore off the
victory: if (said he) thou art not bold enough to be marked with the
comely mark of golden liberty among the prophetic creatures, who enjoy
the rank as reasoning beings next to the angels, refuse not the
inspiration of the understanding ass, to that day dumb, which would not
carry forward the tiara'd magician who was going to curse God's people,
but in the narrow pass of the vineyard crushed his loosened foot, and
thereby felt the lash; and though he was, with his ungrateful and
furious hand, against right justice, beating her innocent sides, she
pointed out to him the heavenly messenger holding the naked sword, and
standing in his way, though he had not seen him.]

Wherefore in zeal for the house of God and for his holy law, constrained
either by the reasonings of my own thoughts, or by the pious entreaties
of my brethren, I now discharge the debt so long exacted of me; humble,
indeed, in style, but faithful, as I think, and friendly to all Christ's
youthful soldiers, but severe and insupportable to foolish apostates;
the former of whom, if I am not deceived, will receive the same with
tears flowing from God's love; but the others with sorrow, such as is
extorted from the indignation and pusillanimity of a convicted

§ 2. I will, therefore, if God be willing, endeavour to say a few words
about the situation of Britain, her disobedience and subjection, her
rebellion, second subjection and dreadful slavery--of her religion,
persecution, holy martyrs, heresies of different kinds--of her tyrants,
her two hostile and ravaging nations--of her first devastation, her
defence, her second devastation and second taking vengeance--of her
third devastation, of her famine, and the letters to Agitius[230]--of
her victory and her crimes--of the sudden rumour of enemies--of her
famous pestilence--of her counsels--of her last enemy, far more cruel
than the first--of the subversion of her cities, and of the remnant that
escaped; and finally, of the peace which, by the will of God, has been
granted her in these our times.


[Footnote 228: Notwithstanding this remark of Gildas, the Britons must
have shown great bravery and resolution in their battles against the
Saxons, or they would not have resisted their encroachments so long.
When Gildas was writing, a hundred years had elapsed, and the Britons
still possessed a large portion of their native country.]

[Footnote 229: All that follows, enclosed within brackets, up to page
298, is omitted in some copies.]

[Footnote 230: Or Ætius, see page 307.]


§ 3. The island of Britain, situated on almost the utmost border of the
earth, towards the south and west, and poised in the divine balance, as
it is said, which supports the whole world, stretches out from the
south-west towards the north pole, and is eight hundred miles long and
two hundred broad,[231] except where the headlands of sundry
promontories stretch farther into the sea. It is surrounded by the
ocean, which forms winding bays, and is strongly defended by this ample,
and, if I may so call it, impassable barrier, save on the south side,
where the narrow sea affords a passage to Belgic Gaul. It is enriched by
the mouths of two noble rivers, the Thames and the Severn, as it were
two arms, by which foreign luxuries were of old imported, and by other
streams of less importance. It is famous for eight and twenty cities,
and is embellished by certain castles, with walls, towers, well barred
gates, and houses with threatening battlements built on high, and
provided with all requisite instruments of defence. Its plains are
spacious, its hills are pleasantly situated, adapted for superior
tillage, and its mountains are admirably calculated for the alternate
pasturage of cattle, where flowers of various colours, trodden by the
feet of man, give it the appearance of a lovely picture. It is decked,
like a man's chosen bride, with divers jewels, with lucid fountains and
abundant brooks wandering over the snow white sands; with transparent
rivers, flowing in gentle murmurs, and offering a sweet pledge of
slumber[232] to those who recline upon their banks, whilst it is
irrigated by abundant lakes, which pour forth cool torrents of
refreshing water.

§ 4. This island, stiff-necked and stubborn-minded, from the time of its
being first inhabited, ungratefully rebels, sometimes against God,
sometimes against her own citizens, and frequently, also, against
foreign kings and their subjects. For what can there either be, or be
committed, more disgraceful or more unrighteous in human affairs, than
to refuse to show fear to God or affection to one's own countrymen, and
(without detriment to one's faith) to refuse due honour to those of
higher dignity, to cast off all regard to reason, human and divine, and,
in contempt of heaven and earth, to be guided by one's own sensual
inventions? I shall, therefore, omit those ancient errors common to all
the nations of the earth, in which, before Christ came in the flesh, all
mankind were bound; nor shall I enumerate those diabolical idols of my
country, which almost surpassed in number those of Egypt, and of which
we still see some mouldering away within or without the deserted
temples, with stiff and deformed features as was customary. Nor will I
call out upon the mountains, fountains, or hills, or upon the rivers,
which now are subservient to the use of men, but once were an
abomination and destruction to them, and to which the blind people paid
divine honour. I shall also pass over the bygone times of our cruel
tyrants, whose notoriety was spread over to far distant countries; so
that Porphyry, that dog who in the east was always so fierce against the
church, in his mad and vain style added this also, that "Britain is a
land fertile in tyrants."[233] I will only endeavour to relate the
evils which Britain suffered in the times of the Roman emperors, and
also those which she caused to distant states; but so far as lies in my
power, I shall not follow the writings and records of my own country,
which (if there ever were any of them) have been consumed in the fires
of the enemy, or have accompanied my exiled countrymen into distant
lands, but be guided by the relations of foreign writers, which, being
broken and interrupted in many places, are therefore by no means clear.

§ 5. For when the rulers of Rome had obtained the empire of the world,
subdued all the neighbouring nations and islands towards the east, and
strengthened their renown by the first peace which they made with the
Parthians, who border on India, there was a general cessation from war
throughout the whole world; the fierce flame which they kindled could
not be extinguished or checked by the Western Ocean, but passing beyond
the sea, imposed submission upon our island without resistance, and
entirely reduced to obedience its unwarlike but faithless people, not so
much by fire and sword and warlike engines, like other nations, but
threats alone, and menaces of judgments frowning on their countenance,
whilst terror penetrated to their hearts.

§ 6. When afterwards they returned to Rome, for want of pay, as is said,
and had no suspicion of an approaching rebellion, that deceitful lioness
(Boadicea) put to death the rulers who had been left among them, to
unfold more fully and to confirm the enterprises of the Romans. When the
report of these things reached the senate, and they with a speedy army
made haste to take vengeance on the crafty foxes,[234] as they called
them, there was no bold navy on the sea to fight bravely for the
country; by land there was no marshalled army, no right wing of battle,
nor other preparation for resistance; but their backs were their shields
against their vanquishers, and they presented their necks to their
swords, whilst chill terror ran through every limb, and they stretched
out their hands to be bound, like women; so that it has become a proverb
far and wide, that the Britons are neither brave in war nor faithful in
time of peace.

§ 7. The Romans, therefore, having slain many of the rebels, and
reserved others for slaves, that the land might not be entirely reduced
to desolation, left the island, destitute as it was of wine and oil, and
returned to Italy, leaving behind them taskmasters, to scourge the
shoulders of the natives, to reduce their necks to the yoke, and their
soil to the vassalage of a Roman province; to chastise the crafty race,
not with warlike weapons, but with rods, and if necessary to gird upon
their sides the naked sword, so that it was no longer thought to be
Britain, but a Roman island; and all their money, whether of copper,
gold, or silver, was stamped with Cæsar's image.

§ 8. Meanwhile these islands, stiff with cold and frost, and in a
distant region of the world, remote from the visible sun, received the
beams of light, that is, the holy precepts of Christ, the true Sun,
showing to the whole world his splendour, not only from the temporal
firmament, but from the height of heaven, which surpasses every thing
temporal, at the latter part, as we know, of the reign of Tiberius
Cæsar, by whom his religion was propagated without impediment, and death
threatened to those who interfered with its professors.

§ 9. These rays of light were received with lukewarm minds by the
inhabitants, but they nevertheless took root among some of them in a
greater or less degree, until the nine years' persecution of the tyrant
Diocletian, when the churches throughout the whole world were
overthrown, all the copies of the Holy Scriptures which could be found
burned in the streets, and the chosen pastors of God's flock butchered,
together with their innocent sheep, in order that not a vestige, if
possible, might remain in some provinces of Christ's religion. What
disgraceful flights then took place--what slaughter and death inflicted
by way of punishment in divers shapes,--what dreadful apostacies from
religion; and on the contrary, what glorious crowns of martyrdom then
were won,--what raving fury was displayed by the persecutors, and
patience on the part of the suffering saints, ecclesiastical history
informs us; for the whole church were crowding in a body, to leave
behind them the dark things of this world, and to make the best of their
way to the happy mansions of heaven, as if to their proper home.

§ 10. God, therefore, who wishes all men to be saved, and who calls
sinners no less than those who think themselves righteous, magnified his
mercy towards us, and, as we know, during the above-named persecution,
that Britain might not totally be enveloped in the dark shades of night,
he, of his own free gift, kindled up among us bright luminaries of holy
martyrs, whose places of burial and of martyrdom, had they not for our
manifold crimes been interfered with and destroyed by the barbarians,
would have still kindled in the minds of the beholders no small fire of
divine charity. Such were St. Alban of Verulam, Aaron and Julius,
citizens of Carlisle,[235] and the rest, of both sexes, who in different
places stood their ground in the Christian contest.

§ 11. The first of these martyrs, St. Alban, for charity's sake saved
another confessor who was pursued by his persecutors, and was on the
point of being seized, by hiding him in his house, and then by changing
clothes with him, imitating in this the example of Christ, who laid down
his life for his sheep, and exposing himself in the other's clothes to
be pursued in his stead. So pleasing to God was this conduct, that
between his confession and martyrdom, he was honoured with the
performance of wonderful miracles in presence of the impious blasphemers
who were carrying the Roman standards, and like the Israelites of old,
who trod dry-foot an unfrequented path whilst the ark of the covenant
stood some time on the sands in the midst of Jordan; so also the martyr,
with a thousand others, opened a path across the noble river Thames,
whose waters stood abrupt like precipices on either side; and seeing
this, the first of his executors was stricken with awe, and from a wolf
became a lamb; so that he thirsted for martyrdom, and boldly underwent
that for which he thirsted. The other holy martyrs were tormented with
divers sufferings, and their limbs were racked in such unheard of ways,
that they, without delay, erected the trophies of their glorious
martyrdom even in the gates of the city of Jerusalem. For those who
survived, hid themselves in woods and deserts, and secret caves, waiting
until God, who is the righteous judge of all, should reward their
persecutors with judgment, and themselves with protection of their

§ 12. In less than ten years, therefore, of the above-named persecution,
and when these bloody decrees began to fail in consequence of the death
of their authors, all Christ's young disciples, after so long and wintry
a night, begin to behold the genial light of heaven. They rebuild the
churches, which had been levelled to the ground; they found, erect, and
finish churches to the holy martyrs, and everywhere show their ensigns
as token of their victory; festivals are celebrated and sacraments
received with clean hearts and lips, and all the church's sons rejoice
as it were in the fostering bosom of a mother. For this holy union
remained between Christ their head and the members of his church, until
the Arian treason, fatal as a serpent, and vomiting its poison from
beyond the sea, caused deadly dissension between brothers inhabiting the
same house, and thus, as if a road were made across the sea, like wild
beasts of all descriptions, and darting the poison of every heresy from
their jaws, they inflicted dreadful wounds upon their country, which is
ever desirous to hear something new, and remains constant long to

§ 13. At length also, new races of tyrants sprang up, in terrific
numbers, and the island, still bearing its Roman name, but casting off
her institutes and laws, sent forth among the Gauls that bitter scion of
her own planting Maximus, with a great number of followers, and the
ensigns of royalty, which he bore without decency and without lawful
right, but in a tyrannical manner, and amid the disturbances of the
seditious soldiery. He, by cunning arts rather than by valour, attaching
to his rule, by perjury and falsehood, all the neighbouring towns and
provinces, against the Roman state, extended one of his wings to Spain,
the other to Italy, fixed the seat of his unholy government at Treves,
and so furiously pushed his rebellion against his lawful emperors that
he drove one of them out of Rome, and caused the other to terminate his
most holy life. Trusting to these successful attempts, he not long after
lost his accursed head before the walls of Aquileia, whereas he had
before cut off the crowned heads of almost all the world.

§ 14. After this, Britain is left deprived of all her soldiery and armed
bands, of her cruel governors, and of the flower of her youth, who went
with Maximus, but never again returned; and utterly ignorant as she was
of the art of war, groaned in amazement for many years under the cruelty
of two foreign nations--the Scots from the north-west, and the Picts
from the north.

§ 15. The Britons, impatient at the assaults of the Scots and Picts,
their hostilities and dreadful oppressions, send ambassadors to Rome
with letters, entreating in piteous terms the assistance of an armed
band to protect them, and offering loyal and ready submission to the
authority of Rome, if they only would expel their invading foes. A
legion is immediately sent, forgetting their past rebellion, and
provided sufficiently with arms. When they had crossed over the sea and
landed, they came at once to close conflict with their cruel enemies,
and slew great numbers of them. All of them were driven beyond the
borders, and the humiliated natives rescued from the bloody slavery
which awaited them. By the advice of their protectors, they now built a
wall across the island from one sea to the other, which being manned
with a proper force, might be a terror to the foes whom it was intended
to repel, and a protection to their friends whom it covered. But this
wall, being made of turf instead of stone, was of no use to that foolish
people, who had no head to guide them.

§ 16. The Roman legion had no sooner returned home in joy and triumph,
than their former foes, like hungry and ravening wolves, rushing with
greedy jaws upon the fold which is left without a shepherd, and wafted
both by the strength of oarsmen and the blowing wind, break through the
boundaries, and spread slaughter on every side, and like mowers cutting
down the ripe corn, they cut up, tread under foot, and overrun the whole

§ 17. And now again they send suppliant ambassadors, with their garments
rent and their heads covered with ashes, imploring assistance from the
Romans, and like timorous chickens, crowding under the protecting wings
of their parents, that their wretched country might not altogether be
destroyed, and that the Roman name, which now was but an empty sound to
fill the ear, might not become a reproach even to distant nations. Upon
this, the Romans, moved with compassion, as far as human nature can be,
at the relations of such horrors, send forward, like eagles in their
flight, their unexpected bands of cavalry by land and mariners by sea,
and planting their terrible swords upon the shoulders of their enemies,
they mow them down like leaves which fall at the destined period; and as
a mountain-torrent swelled with numerous streams, and bursting its banks
with roaring noise, with foaming crest and yeasty wave rising to the
stars, by whose eddying currents our eyes are as it were dazzled, does
with one of its billows overwhelm every obstacle in its way, so did our
illustrious defenders vigorously drive our enemies' band beyond the sea,
if any could so escape them; for it was beyond those same seas that they
transported, year after year, the plunder which they had gained, no one
daring to resist them.

§ 18. The Romans, therefore, left the country, giving notice that they
could no longer be harassed by such laborious expeditions, nor suffer
the Roman standards, with so large and brave an army, to be worn out by
sea and land by fighting against these unwarlike, plundering vagabonds;
but that the islanders, inuring themselves to warlike weapons, and
bravely fighting, should valiantly protect their country, their
property, wives and children, and, what is dearer than these, their
liberty and lives; that they should not suffer their hands to be tied
behind their backs by a nation which, unless they were enervated by
idleness and sloth, was not more powerful than themselves, but that they
should arm those hands with buckler, sword, and spear, ready for the
field of battle; and, because they thought this also of advantage to the
people they were about to leave, they, with the help of the miserable
natives, built a wall different from the former, by public and private
contributions, and of the same structure as walls generally, extending
in a straight line from sea to sea, between some cities, which, from
fear of their enemies, had there by chance been built. They then give
energetic counsel to the timorous natives, and leave them patterns by
which to manufacture arms. Moreover, on the south coast where their
vessels lay, as there was some apprehension lest the barbarians might
land, they erected towers at stated intervals, commanding a prospect of
the sea; and then left the island never to return.

§ 19. No sooner were they gone, than the Picts and Scots, like worms
which in the heat of mid-day come forth from their holes, hastily land
again from their canoes, in which they had been carried beyond the
Cichican[236] valley, differing one from another in manners, but
inspired with the same avidity for blood, and all more eager to shroud
their villainous faces in bushy hair than to cover with decent clothing
those parts of their body which required it. Moreover, having heard of
the departure of our friends, and their resolution never to return, they
seized with greater boldness than before on all the country towards the
extreme north as far as the wall. To oppose them there was placed on the
heights a garrison equally slow to fight and ill adapted to run away, a
useless and panic-struck company, who slumbered away days and nights on
their unprofitable watch. Meanwhile the hooked weapons of their enemies
were not idle, and our wretched countrymen were dragged from the wall
and dashed against the ground. Such premature death, however, painful as
it was, saved them from seeing the miserable sufferings of their
brothers and children. But why should I say more? They left their
cities, abandoned the protection of the wall, and dispersed themselves
in flight more desperately than before. The enemy, on the other hand,
pursued them with more unrelenting cruelty than before, and butchered
our countrymen like sheep, so that their habitations were like those of
savage beasts; for they turned their arms upon each other, and for the
sake of a little sustenance, imbrued their hands in the blood of their
fellow countrymen. Thus foreign calamities were augmented by domestic
feuds; so that the whole country was entirely destitute of provisions,
save such as could be procured in the chase.

§ 20. Again, therefore, the wretched remnant, sending to Ætius, a
powerful Roman citizen, address him as follows:--"To Ætius,[237] now
consul for the third time: the groans of the Britons." And again a
little further, thus:--"The barbarians drive us to the sea: the sea
throws us back on the barbarians: thus two modes of death await us, we
are either slain or drowned." The Romans, however, could not assist
them, and in the meantime the discomfited people, wandering in the
woods, began to feel the effects of a severe famine, which compelled
many of them without delay to yield themselves up to their cruel
persecutors, to obtain subsistence: others of them, however, lying hid
in mountains, caves, and woods, continually sallied out from thence to
renew the war. And then it was, for the first time, that they overthrew
their enemies, who had for so many years been living in their country;
for their trust was not in man, but in God; according to the maxim of
Philo, "We must have divine assistance, when that of man fails." The
boldness of the enemy was for a while checked, but not the wickedness of
our countrymen: the enemy left our people, but the people did not leave
their sins.

§ 21. For it has always been a custom with our nation, as it is at
present, to be impotent in repelling foreign foes, but bold and
invincible in raising civil war, and bearing the burdens of their
offences: they are impotent, I say, in following the standard of peace
and truth, but bold in wickedness and falsehood. The audacious invaders
therefore return to their winter quarters, determined before long again
to return and plunder. And then, too, the Picts for the first time
seated themselves at the extremity of the island, where they afterwards
continued, occasionally plundering and wasting the country. During these
truces, the wounds of the distressed people are healed, but another
sore, still more venomous, broke out. No sooner were the ravages of the
enemy checked, than the island was deluged with a most extraordinary
plenty of all things, greater than was before known, and with it grew up
every kind of luxury and licentiousness. It grew with so firm a root,
that one might truly say of it, "Such fornication is heard of among you,
as never was known the like among the Gentiles." But besides this vice,
there arose also every other, to which human nature is liable, and in
particular that hatred of truth, together with her supporters, which
still at present destroys every thing good in the island; the love of
falsehood, together with its inventors, the reception of crime in the
place of virtue, the respect shown to wickedness rather than goodness,
the love of darkness instead of the sun, the admission of Satan as an
angel of light. Kings were anointed, not according to God's ordinance,
but such as showed themselves more cruel than the rest; and soon after,
they were put to death by those who had elected them, without any
inquiry into their merits, but because others still more cruel were
chosen to succeed them. If any one of these was of a milder nature than
the rest, or in any way more regardful of the truth, he was looked upon
as the ruiner of the country, every body cast a dart at him, and they
valued things alike whether pleasing or displeasing to God, unless it so
happened that what displeased him was pleasing to themselves. So that
the words of the prophet, addressed to the people of old, might well be
applied to our own countrymen: "Children without a law, have ye left God
and provoked to anger the holy one of Israel?[238] Why will ye still
inquire, adding iniquity? Every head is languid and every heart is sad;
from the sole of the foot to the crown, there is no health in him." And
thus they did all things contrary to their salvation, as if no remedy
could be applied to the world by the true Physician of all men. And not
only the laity did so, but our Lord's own flock and its shepherds, who
ought to have been an example to the people, slumbered away their time
in drunkenness, as if they had been dipped in wine; whilst the swellings
of pride, the jar of strife, the griping talons of envy, and the
confused estimate of right and wrong, got such entire possession of
them, that there seemed to be poured out (and the same still continueth)
contempt upon princes, and to be made by their vanities to wander astray
and not in the way.

§ 22. Meanwhile, God being willing to purify his family who were
infected by so deep a stain of woe, and at the hearing only of their
calamities to amend them; a vague rumour suddenly as if on wings reaches
the ears of all, that their inveterate foes were rapidly approaching to
destroy the whole country, and to take possession of it, as of old,
from one end to the other. But yet they derived no advantage from this
intelligence; for, like frantic beasts, taking the bit of reason between
their teeth, they abandoned the safe and narrow road, and rushed forward
upon the broad downward path of vice, which leads to death. Whilst,
therefore, as Solomon says, the stubborn servant is not cured by words,
the fool is scourged and feels it not: a pestilential disease mortally
affected the foolish people, which, without the sword, cut off so large
a number of persons, that the living were not able to bury them. But
even this was no warning to them, that in them also might be fulfilled
the words of Isaiah the prophet, "And God hath called his people to
lamentation, to baldness, and to the girdle of sackcloth; behold they
begin to kill calves, and to slay rams, to eat, to drink, and to say,
'We will eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die.'" For the time was
approaching, when all their iniquities, as formerly those of the
Amorrhæans, should be fulfilled. For a council was called to settle what
was best and most expedient to be done, in order to repel such frequent
and fatal irruptions and plunderings of the above named nations.

§ 23. Then all the councillors, together with that proud tyrant
Gurthrigern [Vortigern], the British king, were so blinded, that, as a
protection to their country, they sealed its doom by inviting in among
them (like wolves into the sheepfold), the fierce and impious Saxons, a
race hateful both to God and men, to repel the invasions of the northern
nations. Nothing was ever so pernicious to our country, nothing was ever
so unlucky. What palpable darkness must have enveloped their
minds--darkness desperate and cruel! Those very people whom, when
absent, they dreaded more than death itself, were invited to reside, as
one may say, under the selfsame roof. Foolish are the princes, as it is
said, of Thafneos, giving counsel to unwise Pharaoh. A multitude of
whelps came forth from the lair of this barbaric lioness, in three
cyuls, as they call them, that is, in three ships of war, with their
sails wafted by the wind and with omens and prophecies favourable, for
it was foretold by a certain soothsayer among them, that they should
occupy the country to which they were sailing three hundred years, and
half of that time, a hundred and fifty years, should plunder and
despoil the same. They first landed on the eastern side of the island,
by the invitation of the unlucky king, and there fixed their sharp
talons, apparently to fight in favour of the island, but alas! more
truly against it. Their mother-land, finding her first brood thus
successful, sends forth a larger company of her wolfish offspring, which
sailing over, join themselves to their bastard-born comrades. From that
time the germ of iniquity and the root of contention planted their
poison amongst us, as we deserved, and shot forth into leaves and
branches. The barbarians being thus introduced as soldiers into the
island, to encounter, as they falsely said, any dangers in defence of
their hospitable entertainers, obtain an allowance of provisions, which,
for some time being plentifully bestowed, stopped their doggish mouths.
Yet they complain that their monthly supplies are not furnished in
sufficient abundance, and they industriously aggravate each occasion of
quarrel, saying that unless more liberality is shown them, they will
break the treaty and plunder the whole island. In a short time, they
follow up their threats with deeds.

§ 24. For the fire of vengeance, justly kindled by former crimes, spread
from sea to sea, fed by the hands of our foes in the east, and did not
cease, until, destroying the neighbouring towns and lands, it reached
the other side of the island, and dipped its red and savage tongue in
the western ocean. In these assaults, therefore, not unlike that of the
Assyrian upon Judea, was fulfilled in our case what the prophet
describes in words of lamentation: "They have burned with fire the
sanctuary; they have polluted on earth the tabernacle of thy name." And
again, "O God, the gentiles have come into thine inheritance; thy holy
temple have they defiled," &c. So that all the columns were levelled
with the ground by the frequent strokes of the battering-ram, all the
husbandmen routed, together with their bishops, priests, and people,
whilst the sword gleamed, and the flames crackled around them on every
side. Lamentable to behold, in the midst of the streets lay the tops of
lofty towers, tumbled to the ground, stones of high walls, holy altars,
fragments of human bodies, covered with livid clots of coagulated blood,
looking as if they had been squeezed together in a press;[239] and with
no chance of being buried, save in the ruins of the houses, or in the
ravening bellies of wild beasts and birds; with reverence be it spoken
for their blessed souls, if, indeed, there were many found who were
carried, at that time, into the high heaven by the holy angels. So
entirely had the vintage, once so fine, degenerated and become bitter,
that, in the words of the prophet, there was hardly a grape or ear of
corn to be seen where the husbandman had turned his back.

§ 25. Some, therefore, of the miserable remnant, being taken in the
mountains, were murdered in great numbers; others, constrained by
famine, came and yielded themselves to be slaves for ever to their foes,
running the risk of being instantly slain, which truly was the greatest
favour that could be offered them: some others passed beyond the seas
with loud lamentations instead of the voice of exhortation. "Thou hast
given us as sheep to be slaughtered, and among the Gentiles hast thou
dispersed us." Others, committing the safeguard of their lives, which
were in continual jeopardy, to the mountains, precipices, thickly wooded
forests, and to the rocks of the seas (albeit with trembling hearts),
remained still in their country. But in the meanwhile, an opportunity
happening, when these most cruel robbers were returned home, the poor
remnants of our nation (to whom flocked from divers places round about
our miserable countrymen as fast as bees to their hives, for fear of an
ensuing storm), being strengthened by God, calling upon him with all
their hearts, as the poet says,--

    "With their unnumbered vows they burden heaven,"

that they might not be brought to utter destruction, took arms under the
conduct of Ambrosius Aurelianus, a modest man, who of all the Roman
nation was then alone in the confusion of this troubled period by chance
left alive. His parents, who for their merit were adorned with the
purple, had been slain in these same broils, and now his progeny in
these our days, although shamefully degenerated from the worthiness of
their ancestors, provoke to battle their cruel conquerors, and by the
goodness of our Lord obtain the victory.

§ 26. After this, sometimes our countrymen, sometimes the enemy, won the
field, to the end that our Lord might in this land try after his
accustomed manner these his Israelites, whether they loved him or not,
until the year of the siege of Bath-hill, when took place also the last
almost, though not the least slaughter of our cruel foes, which was (as
I am sure) forty-four years and one month after the landing of the
Saxons, and also the time of my own nativity. And yet neither to this
day are the cities of our country inhabited as before, but being
forsaken and overthrown, still lie desolate; our foreign wars having
ceased, but our civil troubles still remaining. For as well the
remembrance of such a terrible desolation of the island, as also of the
unexpected recovery of the same, remained in the minds of those who were
eye-witnesses of the wonderful events of both, and in regard thereof,
kings, public magistrates, and private persons, with priests and
clergymen, did all and every one of them live orderly according to their
several vocations. But when these had departed out of this world, and a
new race succeeded, who were ignorant of this troublesome time, and had
only experience of the present prosperity, all the laws of truth and
justice were so shaken and subverted, that not so much as a vestige or
remembrance of these virtues remained among the above-named orders of
men, except among a very few who, compared with the great multitude
which were daily rushing headlong down to hell, are accounted so small a
number, that our reverend mother, the church, scarcely beholds them, her
only true children, reposing in her bosom; whose worthy lives, being a
pattern to all men, and beloved of God, inasmuch as by their holy
prayers, as by certain pillars and most profitable supporters, our
infirmity is sustained up, that it may not utterly be broken down, I
would have no one suppose I intended to reprove, if forced by the
increasing multitude of offences, I have freely, aye, with anguish, not
so much declared as bewailed the wickedness of those who are become
servants, not only to their bellies, but also to the devil rather than
to Christ, who is our blessed God, world without end.

For why shall their countrymen conceal what foreign nations round about
now not only know, but also continually are casting in their teeth?


[Footnote 231: The description of Britain is given in very nearly the
same terms, by Orosius, Bede, and others, but the numbers, denoting the
length and breadth and other dimensions, are different in almost every
MS. copy.]

[Footnote 232: "Soporem" in some MSS., "saporem" in others; it is
difficult from the turgidity and superabundance of the style to
determine which is the best meaning.]

[Footnote 233: Gildas here confuses the modern idea of a tyrant with
that of an usurper. The latter is the sense in which Britain was said to
be fertile in tyrants, viz. in usurpers of the imperial dignity.]

[Footnote 234: The Britons who fought under Boadicea were anything but
"crafty foxes." "Bold lions" is a much more appropriate appellation;
they would also have been victorious if they had had half the military
advantages of the Romans.]

[Footnote 235: Or Caerleon. See Bede's Eccles. Hist. p. 15, note]

[Footnote 236: The meaning of this expression is not known. O'Connor
thinks it is the Irish Sea.]

[Footnote 237: Or _Ayitius_, according to another reading.]

[Footnote 238: Isa. i. 4, 5. In most of these quotations there is great
verbal variation from the authorised version: the author probably quoted
from memory, if not from the Latin version.]

[Footnote 239: These are the words of the old translation; the original
is obscure, and perhaps corrupt.]


§ 27. Britain has kings, but they are tyrants; she has judges, but
unrighteous ones; generally engaged in plunder and rapine, but always
preying on the innocent; whenever they exert themselves to avenge or
protect, it is sure to be in favour of robbers and criminals; they have
an abundance of wives, yet are they addicted to fornication and
adultery; they are ever ready to take oaths, and as often perjure
themselves; they make a vow and almost immediately act falsely; they
make war, but their wars are against their countrymen, and are unjust
ones; they rigorously prosecute thieves throughout their country, but
those who sit at table with them are robbers, and they not only cherish
but reward them; they give alms plentifully, but in contrast to this is
a whole pile of crimes which they have committed; they sit on the seat
of justice, but rarely seek for the rule of right judgment; they despise
the innocent and the humble, but seize every occasion of exalting to the
utmost the bloody-minded; the proud, murderers, the combined and
adulterers, enemies of God, who ought to be utterly destroyed and their
names forgotten.

They have many prisoners in their gaols, loaded with chains, but this is
done in treachery rather than in just punishment for crimes; and when
they have stood before the altar, swearing by the name of God, they go
away and think no more of the holy altar than if it were a mere heap of
dirty stones.

§ 28. Of this horrid abomination, Constantine,[240] the tyrannical whelp
of the unclean lioness of Damnonia,[241] is not ignorant.

This same year, after taking a dreadful oath (whereby he bound himself
first before God, by a solemn protestation, and then called all the
saints, and Mother of God, to witness, that he would not contrive any
deceit against his countrymen), he nevertheless, in the habit of a holy
abbat amid the sacred altars, did with sword and javelin, as if with
teeth, wound and tear, even in the bosoms of their temporal mother, and
of the church their spiritual mother, two royal youths, with their two
attendants, whose arms, although not cased in armour, were yet boldly
used, and, stretched out towards God and his altar, will hang up at the
gates of thy city, O Christ, the venerable ensigns of their faith and
patience; and when he had done it, the cloaks, red with coagulated
blood, did touch the place of the heavenly sacrifice. And not one worthy
act could he boast of previous to this cruel deed; for many years before
he had stained himself with the abomination of many adulteries, having
put away his wife contrary to the command of Christ, the teacher of the
world, who hath said: "What God hath joined together, let not man
separate," and again: "Husbands, love your wives." For he had planted in
the ground of his heart (an unfruitful soil for any good seed) a bitter
scion of incredulity and folly, taken from the vine of Sodom, which
being watered with his vulgar and domestic impieties, like poisonous
showers, and afterwards audaciously springing up to the offence of God,
brought forth into the world the sin of horrible murder and sacrilege;
and not yet discharged from the entangling nets of his former offences,
he added new wickedness to the former.

§ 29. Go to now, I reprove thee as present, whom I know as yet to be in
this life extant. Why standest thou astonished, O thou butcher of thine
own soul? Why dost thou wilfully kindle against thyself the eternal
fires of hell? Why dost thou, in place of enemies, desperately stab
thyself with thine own sword, with thine own javelin? Cannot those same
poisonous cups of offences yet satisfy thy stomach? Look back (I beseech
thee) and come to Christ (for thou labourest, and art pressed down to
the earth with this huge burden), and he himself, as he said, will give
thee rest. Come to him who wisheth not the death of a sinner, but that
he should be rather converted and live. Unloose (according to the
prophet) the bands of thy neck O thou son of Sion. Return (I pray
thee), although from the far remote regions of sins, unto the most holy
Father, who, for his son that will despise the filthy food of swine, and
fear a death of cruel famine, and so come back to him again, hath with
great joy been accustomed to kill his fatted calf, and bring forth for
the wanderer, the first robe and royal ring, and then taking as it were
a taste of the heavenly hope, thou shalt perceive how sweet our Lord is.
For if thou dost contemn these, be thou assured, thou shalt almost
instantly be tossed and tormented in the inevitable and dark floods of
endless fire.

§ 30. What dost thou also, thou lion's whelp (as the prophet saith),
Aurelius Conanus?[242] Art not thou as the former (if not far more foul)
to thy utter destruction, swallowed up in the filthiness of horrible
murders, fornications, and adulteries, as by an overwhelming flood of
the sea? Hast not thou by hating, as a deadly serpent, the peace of thy
country, and thirsting unjustly after civil wars and frequent spoil,
shut the gates of heavenly peace and repose against thine own soul?
Being now left alone as a withering tree in the midst of a field,
remember (I beseech thee) the vain and idle fancies of thy parents and
brethren, together with the untimely death that befell them in the prime
of their youth; and shalt thou, for thy religious deserts, be reserved
out of all thy family to live a hundred years, or to attain to the age
of a Methusalem? No, surely, but unless (as the psalmist saith) thou
shalt be speedily converted unto our Lord, that King will shortly
brandish his sword against thee, who hath said by his prophet, "I will
kill, and I will cause to live; I will strike, and I will heal; and
there is no one who can deliver out of my hand." Be thou therefore
shaken out of thy filthy dust, and with all thy heart converted to Him
who hath created thee, that "when his wrath shall shortly burn out, thou
mayst be blessed by fixing thy hopes on him." But if otherwise, eternal
pains will be heaped up for thee, where thou shalt be ever tormented and
never consumed in the cruel jaws of hell.

§ 31. Thou also, who like to the spotted leopard, art diverse in manners
and in mischief, whose head now is growing grey, who art seated on a
throne full of deceits, and from the bottom even to the top art stained
with murder and adulteries, thou naughty son of a good king, like
Manasses sprung from Ezechiah, Vortipore, thou foolish tyrant of the
Demetians,[243] why art thou so stiff? What! do not such violent gulfs
of sin (which thou dost swallow up like pleasant wine, nay rather which
swallow thee up), as yet satisfy thee, especially since the end of thy
life is daily now approaching? Why dost thou heavily clog thy miserable
soul with the sin of lust, which is fouler than any other, by putting
away thy wife, and after her honourable death, by the base practices of
thy shameless daughter? Waste not (I beseech thee) the residue of thy
life in offending God, because as yet an acceptable time and day of
salvation shines on the faces of the penitent, wherein thou mayest take
care that thy flight may not be in the winter, or on the sabbath day.
"Turn away (according to the psalmist) from evil, and do good, seek
peace and ensue it," because the eyes of our Lord will be cast upon
thee, when thou doest righteousness, and his ears will be then open unto
thy prayers, and he will not destroy thy memory out of the land of the
living; thou shalt cry, and he will hear thee, and out of thy
tribulations deliver thee; for Christ doth never despise a heart that is
contrite and humbled with fear of him. Otherwise, the worm of thy
torture shall not die, and the fire of thy burning shall never be

§ 32. And thou too, Cuneglasse,[244] why art thou fallen into the filth
of thy former naughtiness, yea, since the very first spring of thy
tender youth, thou bear, thou rider and ruler of many, and guider of the
chariot which is the receptacle of the bear, thou contemner of God, and
vilifier of his order, thou tawny butcher, as in the Latin tongue thy
name signifies. Why dost thou raise so great a war as well against men
as also against God himself, against men, yea, thy own countrymen, with
thy deadly weapons, and against God with thine infinite offences? Why,
besides thine other innumerable backslidings, having thrown out of doors
thy wife, dost thou, in the lust, or rather stupidity of thy mind,
against the apostle's express prohibition, denouncing that no
adulterers can be partakers of the kingdom of heaven, esteem her
detestable sister, who had vowed unto God the everlasting continency, as
the very flower (in the language of the poet) of the celestial nymphs?
Why dost thou provoke with thy frequent injuries the lamentations and
sighs of saints, by thy means corporally afflicted, which will in time
to come, like a fierce lioness, break thy bones in pieces? Desist, I
beseech thee (as the prophet saith) from wrath, and leave off thy deadly
fury, which thou breathest out against heaven and earth, against God and
his flock, and which in time will be thy own torment; rather with
altered mind obtain the prayers of those who possess a power of binding
over this world, when in this world they bind the guilty, and of loosing
when they loose the penitent. Be not (as the apostle saith) proudly
wise, nor hope thou in the uncertainty of riches, but in God who giveth
thee many things abundantly, and by the amendment of thy manners
purchase unto thyself a good foundation for hereafter, and seek to enter
into that real and true state of existence which will be not transitory
but everlasting. Otherwise, thou shalt know and see, yea, in this very
world, how bad and bitter a thing it is for thee to leave the Lord thy
God, and not have his fear before thine eyes, and in the next, how thou
shalt be burned in the foul encompassing flames of endless fire, nor yet
by any manner of means shalt ever die. For the souls of the sinful are
as eternal in perpetual fire, as the souls of the just in perpetual joy
and gladness.

§ 33. And likewise, O thou dragon of the island, who hast deprived many
tyrants, as well of their kingdoms as of their lives, and though the
last-mentioned in my writing, the first in mischief, exceeding many in
power, and also in malice, more liberal than others in giving, more
licentious in sinning, strong in arms, but stronger in working thine own
soul's destruction, Maglocune,[245] why art thou (as if soaked in the
wine of the Sodomitical grape) foolishly rolling in that black pool of
thine offences? Why dost thou wilfully heap like a mountain, upon thy
kingly shoulders, such a load of sins? Why dost thou show thyself unto
the King of kings (who hath made thee as well in kingdom as in stature
of body higher than almost all the other chiefs of Britain) not better
likewise in virtues than the rest; but on the contrary for thy sins much
worse? Listen then awhile and hear patiently the following enumeration
of thy deeds, wherein I will not touch any domestic and light offences
(if yet any of them are light) but only those open ones which are spread
far and wide in the knowledge of all men. Didst not thou, in the very
beginning of thy youth, terribly oppress with sword, spear, and fire,
the king thine uncle, together with his courageous bands of soldiers,
whose countenances in battle were not unlike those of young lions? Not
regarding the words of the prophet, who says, "The blood-thirsty and
deceitful men shall not live out half their days;" and even if the
sequel of thy sins were not such as ensued, yet what retribution couldst
thou expect for this offence only at the hands of the just Judge, who
hath said by his prophet: "Woe be to thee who spoilest, and shalt not
thou thyself be spoiled? and thou who killest, shalt not thyself be
killed? and when thou shalt make an end of thy spoiling, then shalt thou
thyself fall."

§ 34. But when the imagination of thy violent rule had succeeded
according to thy wishes, and thou wast urged by a desire to return into
the right way, night and day the consciousness of thy crimes afflicted
thee, whilst thou didst ruminate on the Lord's ritual and the ordinances
of the monks, and then publish to the world and vow thyself before God a
monk with no intention to be unfaithful, as thou didst say, having burst
through those toils in which such great beasts as thyself were used to
become entangled, whether it were love of rule, of gold, or silver, or,
what is stronger still, the fancies of thy own heart. And didst thou
not, as a dove which cleaves the yielding air with its pinions, and by
its rapid turns escapes the furious hawk, safely return to the cells
where the saints repose, as a most certain place of refuge? Oh how great
a joy should it have been to our mother church, if the enemy of all
mankind had not lamentably pulled thee, as it were, out of her bosom! Oh
what an abundant flame of heavenly hope would have been kindled in the
hearts of desperate sinners, hadst thou remained in thy blessed estate!
Oh what great rewards in the kingdom of Christ would have been laid up
for thy soul against the day of judgment, if that crafty wolf had not
caught thee, who of a wolf wast now become a lamb (not much against
thine own will) out of the fold of our Lord, and made thee of a lamb, a
wolf like unto himself, again? Oh how great a joy would the preservation
of thy salvation have been to God the Father of all saints, had not the
devil, the father of all castaways, as an eagle of monstrous wings and
claws, carried thee captive away against all right and reason, to the
unhappy band of his children? And to be short, thy conversion to
righteousness gave as great joy to heaven and earth, as now thy
detestable return, like a dog to his vomit, breedeth grief and
lamentation: which being done, "the members which should have been
busily employed, as the armour of justice for the Lord, are now become
the armour of iniquity for sin and the devil;" for now thou dost not
listen to the praises of God sweetly sounded forth by the pleasant
voices of Christ's soldiers, nor the instruments of ecclesiastical
melody, but thy own praises (which are nothing) rung out after the
fashion of the giddy rout of Bacchus by the mouths of thy villainous
followers, accompanied with lies and malice, to the utter destruction of
the neighbours; so that the vessel prepared for the service of God, is
now turned to a vessel of dirt, and what was once reputed worthy of
heavenly honour, is now cast as it deserves into the bottomless pit of

§ 35. Yet neither is thy sensual mind (which is overcome by the excess
of thy follies) at all checked in its course with committing so many
sins, but hot and prone (like a young colt that coveteth every pleasant
pasture) runneth headlong forward, with irrecoverable fury, through the
intended fields of crime, continually increasing the number of its
transgressions. For the former marriage of thy first wife (although
after thy violated vow of religion she was not lawfully thine, but only
by right of the time she was with thee), was now despised by thee, and
another woman, the wife of a man then living, and he no stranger, but
thy own brother's son, enjoyed thy affections. Upon which occasion that
stiff neck of thine (already laden with sins) is now burdened with two
monstrous murders, the one of thy aforesaid nephew, the other, of her
who once was thy wedded wife: and thou art now from low to lower, and
from bad to worse, bowed, bent, and sunk down into the lowest depth of
sacrilege. Afterwards, also didst thou publicly marry the widow by
whose deceit and suggestion such a heavy weight of offences was
undergone, and take her, lawfully, as the flattering tongues of thy
parasites with false words pronounced it, but as we say, most wickedly,
to be thine own in wedlock. And therefore what holy man is there, who,
moved with the narration of such a history, would not presently break
out into weeping and lamentations? What priest (whose heart lieth open
unto God) would not instantly, upon hearing this, exclaim with anguish
in the language of the prophet: "Who shall give water to my head, and to
my eyes a fountain of tears, and I will day and night bewail those of my
people, who are slaughtered." For full little (alas!) hast thou with
thine ears listened to that reprehension of the prophet speaking in this
wise: "Woe be unto you, O wicked men, who have left the law of the most
holy God, and if ye shall be born, your portion shall be to malediction,
and if ye die, to malediction shall be your portion, all things that are
from the earth, to the earth shall be converted again, so shall the
wicked from malediction pass to perdition:" if they return not unto our
Lord, listening to this admonition: "Son, thou hast offended; add no
further offence thereunto, but rather pray for the forgiveness of the
former." And again, "Be not slow to be converted unto our Lord, neither
put off the same from day to day, for his wrath doth come suddenly."
Because, as the Scripture saith, "When the king heareth the unjust word,
all under his dominion become wicked." And, the just king (according to
the prophet) raiseth up his region. But warnings truly are not wanting
to thee, since thou hast had for thy instructor the most eloquent master
of almost all Britain. Take heed, thereof, lest that which Solomon
noteth, befall thee, which is, "Even as he who stirreth up a sleeping
man out of his heavy sleep, so is that person who declareth wisdom unto
a fool, for in the end of his speech will he say, What hast thou first
spoken? Wash thine heart (as it is written) from malice, O Jerusalem,
that thou mayest be saved." Despise not (I beseech thee) the unspeakable
mercy of God, calling by his prophet the wicked in this way from their
offences: "I will on a sudden speak to the nation, and to the kingdom,
that I may root out, and disperse, and destroy, and overthrow." As for
the sinner he doth in this wise exhort him vehemently to repent. "And
if the same people shall repent from their offence, I will also repent
of the evil which I have said that I would do unto them." And again,
"Who will give them such an heart, that they may hear me, and keep my
commandments, and that it may be well with them all the days of their
lives." And also in the Canticle of Deuteronomy, "A people without
counsel and prudence, I wish they would be wise, and understand, and
foresee the last of all, how one pursueth a thousand and two put to
flight ten thousand." And again, our Lord in the gospel, "Come unto me,
all ye who do labour and are burdened, and I will make you rest. Take my
yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart,
and ye shall find repose for your souls." For if thou turn a deaf ear to
these admonitions, contemn the prophets, and despise Christ, and make no
account of us, humble though we be, so long as with sincere piety and
purity of mind we bear in mind that saying of the prophet, that we may
not be found, "Dumb dogs, not able to bark;" (however I for my part may
not be of that singular fortitude, in the spirit and virtue of our Lord,
as to declare, "To the house of Jacob their sins, and the house of
Israel their offences;") and so long as we shall remember that of
Solomon, "He who says that the wicked are just, shall be accursed among
the people, and odious to nations, for they who reprove them shall have
better hopes." And again, "Respect, not with reverence thy neighbour in
his ruin, nor forbear to speak in time of salvation." And as long also
as we forget not this, "Root out those who are led to death, and forbear
not to redeem them who are murdered;" because, as the same prophet says,
"Riches shall not profit in the day of wrath, but justice delivereth
from death." And, "If the just indeed be hardly saved, where shall the
wicked and sinner appear?" If, as I said, thou scorn us, who obey these
texts, the dark flood of hell shall without doubt eternally drown thee
in that deadly whirlpool, and those terrible streams of fire that shall
ever torment and never consume thee, and then shall the confession of
thy pains and sorrow for thy sins be altogether too late and
unprofitable to one, who now in this accepted time and day of salvation
deferreth his conversion to a more righteous way of life.

§ 37. And here, indeed, if not before, was this lamentable history of
the miseries of our time to have been brought to a conclusion, that I
might no further discourse of the deeds of men; but that I may not be
thought timid or weary, whereby I might the less carefully avoid that
saying of Isaiah, "Woe be to them who call good evil, and evil good,
placing darkness for light, and light for darkness, bitter for sweet,
and sweet for bitter, who seeing see not, and hearing hear not, whose
hearts are overshadowed with a thick and black cloud of vices;" I will
briefly set down the threatenings which are denounced against these five
aforesaid lascivious horses, the frantic followers of Pharaoh, through
whom his army is wilfully urged forward to their utter destruction in
the Red Sea, and also against such others, by the sacred oracles, with
whose holy testimonies the frame of this our little work is, as it were,
roofed in, that it may not be subject to the showers of the envious,
which otherwise would be poured thereon. Let, therefore, God's holy
prophets, who are to mortal men the mouth of God, and the organ of the
Holy Ghost, forbidding evils, and favouring goodness, answer for us as
well now as formerly, against the stubborn and proud princes of this our
age, that they may not say we menace them with such threats, and such
great terrors of our own invention only, and with rash and over-zealous
meddling. For to no wise man is it doubtful how far more grievous the
sins of this our time are than those of the primitive age, when the
apostle said, "Any one transgressing the law, being convicted by two or
three witnesses, shall die, how much worse punishment think ye then that
he deserveth, who shall trample under his foot the Son of God?"

§ 38. And first of all appears before us, Samuel, by God's commandment,
the establisher of a lawful kingdom, dedicated to God before his birth,
undoubtedly known by marvellous signs, to be a true prophet unto all the
people, from Dan even to Beersheba, out of whose mouth the Holy Ghost
thundereth to all the potentates of the world, denouncing Saul the first
king of the Hebrews, only because he did not accomplish some matters
commanded him of our Lord, in these words which follow: "Thou hast done
foolishly, neither yet hast thou kept the commandments of our Lord thy
God, that he hath given thee in charge; which if thou hadst not
committed, even now had our Lord prepared thy reign over Israel for
ever, but thy kingdom shall no farther arise." And what did he commit,
whether it were adultery or murder, like to the offences of the present
time? No, truly, but broke in part one of God's commandments, for, as
one of our writers says, "The question is not of the quality of the sin,
but of the violating of the precept." Also when he endeavoured to answer
(as he thought) the objections of Samuel, and after the fashion of men
wisely to make excuses for his offence in this manner: "Yea, I have
obeyed the voice of our Lord, and walked in the way through which he
hath sent me;" with this rebuke was he corrected by him: "What! will our
Lord have burnt offerings or oblations, and not rather that the voice of
our Lord should be obeyed? Obedience is better than oblations, and to
hearken unto him, better than to offer the fat of rams. For as it is the
sin of soothsaying to resist, so is it the offence of idolatry not to
obey; in regard, therefore, that thou hast cast away the word of our
Lord, he hath also cast thee away that thou be not king." And a little
after, "Our Lord hath this day rent the kingdom of Israel from thee, and
delivered it up to thy neighbour, a man better than thyself. The
Triumpher of Israel truly will not spare, and will not be bowed with
repentance, neither yet is he a man that he should repent;" that is to
say, upon the stony hearts of the wicked: wherein it is to be noted how
he saith, that to be disobedient unto God is the sin of idolatry. Let
not, therefore, our wicked transgressors (while they do not openly
sacrifice to the gods of the Gentiles) flatter themselves that they are
not idolaters, whilst they tread like swine the most precious pearls of
Christ under their feet.

§ 39. But although this one example as an invincible affirmation might
abundantly suffice to correct the wicked; yet, that by the mouths of
many witnesses all the offences of Britain may be proved, let us pass to
the rest. What happened to David for numbering his people, when the
prophet Gad spake unto him in this sort? Thus saith our Lord: "The
choice of three things is offered thee, choose which thou wilt, that I
may execute it upon thee. Shall there befall thee a famine for seven
years, or shalt thou flee three months before thine enemies, and they
pursue thee, or shall there be three days' pestilence in thy land?" For
being brought into great straits by this condition, and willing rather
to fall into the hands of God who is merciful, than into those of men,
he was humbled with the slaughter of seventy thousand of his subjects,
and unless with the affection of an apostolic charity, he had desired to
die himself for his countrymen, that the plague might not further
consume them, saying, "I am he that has offended, I the shepherd have
dealt unjustly: but these sheep, what have they sinned? Let thy hand, I
beseech thee, be turned against me, and against the house of my father;"
he would have atoned for the unadvised pride of his heart with his own
death. For what does the scripture afterwards declare of his son? "And
Solomon wrought that which was not pleasing before our Lord, and he did
not fill up the measure of his good deeds by following the Lord like his
father David. And our Lord said unto him, Because thou hast thus behaved
thyself, and not observed my covenant and precepts, which I have
commanded thee, breaking it asunder; I will divide thy kingdom, and give
the same unto thy servant."

§ 40. Hear now likewise what fell upon the two sacrilegious kings of
Israel (even such as ours are), Jeroboam and Baasha, unto whom the
sentence and doom of our Lord is by the prophet in this way directed:
"For what cause have I exalted thee a prince over Israel, in regard that
they have provoked me by their vanities. Behold I will stir up after
Baasha and after his house, and I will give over his house as the house
of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Whoso of his blood shall die in the city,
the dogs shall eat him, and the dead carcass of him that dieth in the
field shall the fowls of the air eat." What doth he also threaten unto
that wicked king of Israel, a worthy companion of the former, by whose
collusion and his wife's deceit, innocent Naboth was for his father's
vineyard put to death, when the holy mouth of Elias, yea, the selfsame
mouth that was instructed with the fiery speech of our Lord, thus spake
unto him: "Hast thou killed and also taken possession, and after this
wilt thou yet add more? Thus saith our Lord, in this very place, wherein
the dogs have licked the blood of Naboth, they shall lick up thy blood
also." Which fell out afterwards in that very sort, as we have certain
proof. But lest perchance (as befell Ahab also) the lying spirit, which
pronounceth vain things in the mouths of your prophets may seduce you,
hearken to the words of the prophet Micaiah: "Behold God hath suffered
the spirit of lying to possess the mouths of all thy prophets that do
here remain, and our Lord hath pronounced evil against thee." For even
now it is certain that there are some teachers inspired with a contrary
spirit, preaching and affirming rather what is pleasing, however
depraved, than what is true: whose words are softer than oil, and the
same are darts, who say, peace, peace, and there shall be no peace to
them, who persevere in their sins, as says the prophet in another place
also, "It is not for the wicked to rejoice, saith our Lord."

§ 41. Azarias, also, the son of Obed, spoke unto Asa, who returned from
the slaughter of the army of ten hundred thousand Ethiopians, saying,
"Our Lord is with you while you remain with him, and if you will seek
him out, he will be found by you, and if you will leave him, he will
leave you also." For if Jehosaphat for only assisting a wicked king, was
thus reproved by the prophet Jehu, the son of Ananias, saying, "If thou
givest aid to a sinner, or lovest them whom our Lord doth hate, the
wrath of God doth therefore hang over thee," what shall become of them
who are fettered in the snares of their own offences? whose sin we must
of necessity hate, if not their souls, if we wish to fight in the army
of the Lord, according to the words of the Psalmist, "Hate ye evil, who
love our Lord." What was said to Jehoram, the son of the above-named
Jehosaphat, that most horrible murderer (who being himself a bastard,
slew his noble brethren, that he might possess the throne in their
place), by the prophet Elias, who was the chariot and charioteer of
Israel? "Thus speaketh the Lord God of thy father David. Because thou
hast not walked in the way of thy father Jehosaphat, and in the ways of
Asa the king of Judah, but hast walked in the ways of the kings of
Israel, and in adultery according to the behaviour of the house of Ahab,
and hast moreover killed thy brethren, the sons of Jehosaphat, men far
better than thyself, behold, our Lord shall strike thee and thy children
with a mighty plague." And a little afterwards, "And thou shalt be very
sick of a disease of thy belly, until thy entrails shall, together with
the malady itself, from day to day, come forth out of thee." And listen
also what the prophet Zachariah, the son of Jehoiades, menaced to Joash,
the king of Israel, when he abandoned our Lord even as ye now do, and
the prophet spoke in this manner to the people: "Thus saith our Lord,
Why do ye transgress the commandments of our Lord and do not prosper?
Because ye have left our Lord, he will also leave you."

§ 42. What shall I mention of Isaiah, the first and chief of the
prophets, who beginneth his prophecy, or rather vision, in this way:
"Hear, O ye heavens, and O thou earth conceive in thine ears, because
our Lord hath spoken, I have nourished children, and exalted them, but
they themselves have despised me. The ox hath known his owner, and the
ass his master's crib, but Israel hath not known me, and my people hath
not understood." And a little further with threatenings answerable to so
great a folly, he saith, "The daughter of Sion shall be utterly left as
a tabernacle in the vineyard, and as a hovel in the cucumber garden, and
a city that is sacked." And especially, convening and accusing the
princes, he saith, "Hear the word of our Lord, O ye princes of Sodom,
perceive ye the law of our Lord, O ye people of Gomorrah." Wherein it is
to be noted, that unjust kings are termed the princes of Sodom, for our
Lord, forbidding sacrifices and gifts to be offered to him by such
persons, and seeing that we greedily receive those offerings which in
all nations are displeasing unto God, and to our own destruction suffer
them not to be bestowed on the poor and needy, speak thus to them who,
laden with riches, are likewise given to offend on this head: "Offer no
more your sacrifice in vain, your incense is abomination unto me." And
again he denounceth them thus: "And when ye shall stretch out your
hands, I will turn away mine eyes from you, and when ye shall multiply
your prayers, I will not hear." And he declareth wherefore he does this,
saying, "Your hands are full of blood." And likewise showing how he may
be appeased, he says, "Be ye washed, be ye clean, take away the evil of
your thoughts from mine eyes: cease to do evil, learn to do well: seek
for judgment, succour the oppressed, do justice to the pupil or orphan."
And then assuming as it were the part of a reconciling mediator, he
adds, "Though your sins shall be as scarlet, they shall be made white
as snow: though they shall be as red as the little worm,[246] they shall
be as white as wool. If ye shall be willing to hear me, ye shall feed on
the good things of the land; but if ye will not, but provoke me unto
wrath, the sword shall devour you."

§ 43. Receive ye the true and public avoucher, witnessing, without any
falsehood or flattery, the reward of your good and evil, not like the
soothing humble lips of your parasites, which whisper poisons into your
ears. And also directing his sentence against ravenous judges, he saith
thus: "Thy princes are unfaithful, companions of thieves, all love
gifts, hunt after rewards: they do no justice to the orphan, the widow's
cause entereth not unto them. For thus saith our Lord God of hosts, the
strong one of Israel, Alas, I will take consolation upon my foes, and be
revenged upon mine enemies; and the heinous sinners shall be broken to
powder, and offenders together with them, and all who have left our
Lord, shall be consumed." And afterwards, "The eyes of the lofty man
shall be brought low, and the height of men hath bowed down." And again,
"Woe be to the wicked, evil befall him, for he shall be rewarded
according to his handy-work." And a little after, "Woe be unto you who
arise early to follow drunkenness, and to drink even to the very
evening, that ye may fume with wine. The harp, and the lyre, and the
tabor, and the pipe, and wine are in your banquets, and the work of our
Lord ye respect not, neither yet consider ye the works of his hands.
Therefore is my people led captive away, because they have not had
knowledge, and their nobles have perished with famine, and their
multitude hath withered away with thirst. Therefore hath hell enlarged
and dilated his spirit, and without measure opened his mouth, and his
strong ones, and his people, and his lofty and glorious ones, shall
descend down unto him." And afterwards, "Woe be unto you who are mighty
for the drinking of wine, and strong men for the procuring of
drunkenness, who justify the wicked for rewards, and deprive the just
man of his justice. For this cause even as the tongue of the fire
devoureth the stubble, and as the heat of the flame burneth up, so shall
their root be as the ashes, and their branch shall rise up as the dust.
For they have cast away the law of our Lord of hosts, and despised the
speech of the holy one of Israel. In all these the fury of our Lord is
not turned away, but as yet his hand is stretched out."

§ 44. And further on, speaking of the day of judgment and the
unspeakable fears of sinners, he says, "Howl ye, because the day of our
Lord is near at hand (if so near at that time, what shall it now be
thought to be?) for destruction shall proceed from God. For this shall
all hands be dissolved, and every man's heart shall wither away, and be
bruised; tortures and dolours shall hold them, as a woman in labour so
shall they be grieved, every man shall at his neighbour stand
astonished, burned faces shall be their countenances. Behold, the day of
our Lord shall come, fierce and full of indignation, and of wrath, and
fury, to turn the earth into a desert, and break her sinners in small
pieces from off her; because the stars of heaven and the brightness of
them, shall not unfold their light, the sun in his rising shall be
covered over with darkness, and the moon shall not shine in her season;
and I will visit upon the evils of the world, and against the wicked,
their own iniquity, and I will make the pride of the unfaithful to
cease, and the arrogancy of the strong, I will bring low." And again,
"Behold our Lord will disperse the earth, and he will strip her naked,
and afflict her face, and scatter her inhabitants; and as the people, so
shall be the priest; and as the slave, so shall be his lord; as the
handmaid, so shall be her lady; as the purchaser, so shall be the
seller; as the usurer, so shall be he that borroweth; as he who
demandeth, so shall he be that oweth. With dispersing shall the earth be
scattered, and with sacking shall she be spoiled. For our Lord hath
spoken this word. The earth hath bewailed, and hath flitted away; the
world hath run to nothing, she is weakened by her inhabitants, because
they have transgressed laws, changed right, brought to ruin the eternal
truce. For this shall malediction devour the earth."

§ 45. And afterwards, "They shall lament all of them who now in heart
rejoice, the delight of the timbrels hath ceased, the sound of the
gladsome shall be silent, the sweetness of the harp shall be hushed,
they shall not with singing drink their wine, bitter shall be the potion
to the drinkers thereof. The city of vanity is wasted, every house is
shut up, no man entering in; an outcry shall be in the streets over the
wine, all gladness is forsaken, the joy of the land is transferred,
solitariness is left in the town, and calamity shall oppress the gates,
because these things shall be in the midst of the land, and in the midst
of the people." And a little further, "Swerving from the truth, they
have wandered out of the right way, with the straggling of transgressors
have they gone astray. Fear and intrapping falls, and a snare upon thee
who art the inhabitant of the earth. And it shall come to pass: whoso
shall flee from the voice of the fear, shall tumble down into the
intrapping pit; and whoso shall deliver himself out of the downfall,
shall be caught in the entangling snare: because the flood-gates from
aloft shall be opened, and the foundations of the earth shall be shaken.
With bruising shall the earth be broken, with commotion shall she be
moved, with tossing shall she be shaken like a drunken man, and she
shall be taken away as if she were a pavilion of one night's pitching,
and her iniquities shall hang heavy upon her, and she shall fall down,
and shall not attempt to rise again. And it shall be, that our Lord in
the same day shall look on the warfare of heaven on high, and on the
kings of the earth, who are upon the earth, and they shall be gathered
together in the bundle of one burden into the lake, and shall there be
shut up in prison, and after many days shall they be visited. And the
moon shall blush, and the sun be confounded, when our Lord of hosts
shall reign in Mount Sion and in Jerusalem, and be glorified in the
sight of his seniors."

§ 46. And after a while, giving a reason why he threateneth in that
sort, he says thus: "Behold the hand of our Lord is not shortened that
he cannot save, neither is his ear made heavy that he may not hear. But
your iniquities have divided between you and your God, and your offences
have hid his face from you, that he might not hear. For your hands are
defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity: your lips have
spoken lying, and your tongue uttereth iniquity. There is none who
calleth on justice, neither is there he who judgeth truly, but they
trust in nothing, and speak vanities, and have conceived grief, and
brought forth iniquity." And a little after, "Their works are
unprofitable, and the work of iniquity is in their hands; their feet
run into evil, and make haste that they may shed the innocent blood;
their thoughts are unprofitable thoughts, spoil and confusion are in
their ways, and the way of peace they have not known, and in their steps
there is no judgment, their paths are made crooked unto them, every one
who treadeth in them is ignorant of peace; in this respect in judgment
removed far off from you, and justice taketh no hold on you." And after
a few words, "And judgment hath been turned back, and justice hath stood
afar off, because truth hath fallen down in the streets, and equity
could not enter in; and truth is turned into oblivion, and whoso hath
departed from evil, hath lain open to spoil. And our Lord hath seen, and
it was not pleasing in his eyes, because there is not judgment."

§ 47. And thus far may it suffice among many, to have recited a few
sentences out of the prophet Isaiah.

But now with diligent ears hearken unto him, who was foreknown before he
was formed in the belly, sanctified before he came out of the womb, and
appointed a prophet in all nations: I mean Jeremiah, and hear what he
hath pronounced of foolish people and cruel kings, beginning his
prophecy in his mild and gentle manner.

"And the word of God was spoken unto me, saying, Go and cry in the ears
of Jerusalem, and thou shalt pronounce, Hear the word of our Lord, thou
house of Jacob, and all ye kindred of the house of Israel: Thus saith
our Lord; What iniquity have your fathers found in me, who have been far
removed from me, and walked after vanity, and are become vain, and have
not said, Where is he who made us go up out of the land of Egypt?" And
after a few words, "From the beginning of thine age thou hast broken my
yoke, violated my bands, and said, I will not serve, I have planted thee
my chosen vine, all true seed. How art thou therefore converted into
naughtiness? O strange vine! If thou shalt wash thee with nitre, and
multiply unto thee the herb borith, thou art spotted in my sight with
thine iniquity, saith our Lord." And afterwards, "Why will ye contend
with me in judgment? Ye have all forsaken me, saith our Lord, in vain
have I corrected your children, they have not received discipline. Hear
ye the word of our Lord. Am I made a solitariness unto Israel, or a
late bearing land! why therefore hath my people said, we have departed,
we will come no more unto thee? Doth the virgin forget her ornament, or
the spouse her gorget? my people truly hath forgotten me for innumerable
days. Because my people are foolish, they have not known me, they are
unwise and mad children. They are wise to do evil, but to do well they
have been ignorant."

§ 48. Then the prophet speaketh in his own person saying, "O Lord thine
eyes do respect faith, thou hast stricken them, and they have not
sorrowed, thou hast broken them and they have refused to receive
discipline, they have made their faces harder than the rock, and will
not return." And also our Lord: "Declare ye this same to the house of
Jacob, and make it to be heard in Judah, saying, Hear, ye foolish people
who have no heart, who having eyes see not, and ears hear not. Will ye
not therefore dread me, saith our Lord, and will ye not conceive grief
from my countenance, who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea,
an eternal commandment which she shall not break, and her waves shall be
moved, and they cannot, and her surge shall swell, and yet not pass the
same? But to this people is framed an incredulous and an exasperating
heart, they have retired and gone their ways, and not in their heart
said, Let us fear our Lord God." And again, "Because there are found
among my people wicked ones, framing wiles to entangle as if they were
fowlers, setting snares and gins to catch men: as a net that is full of
birds, so are their houses filled with deceits. Therefore are they
magnified and enriched, they are become gross and fat, and have
neglected my speeches most vilely, the orphans' cause they have not
decided, and the justice of the poor they have not adjudged. What! shall
I not visit these men, saith our Lord? or shall not my soul be revenged
upon such a nation?"

§ 49. But God forbid that ever should happen unto you, that which
followeth, "Thou shalt speak all these words unto them, and they shall
not hear thee; and thou shalt call them, and they shall not answer thee;
and thou shalt say unto them, This is the nation that hath not heard the
voice of their Lord God, nor yet received discipline, faith hath
perished, and been taken away from out of their mouth." And after some
few speeches, "Whoso falleth doth he not arise again, and whoso is
turned away, shall he not return again? why therefore is this people in
Jerusalem, with a contentious aversion alienated? they have apprehended
lying, and they will not come back again. I have been attentive, and
hearkened diligently, no man speaketh what is good. There is none who
repenteth of his sin, saying, What have I done? All are turned unto
their own course, like a horse passing with violence to battle. The kite
in the sky hath known her time, the turtle, and swallow, and stork have
kept the season of their coming, but my people hath not known the
judgment of God." And the prophet, being smitten with fear at so
wonderful a blindness, and unspeakable drunkenness of the sacrilegious,
and lamenting them who did not lament themselves (even according to the
present behaviour of these our unfortunate tyrants), beseecheth of our
Lord, that an augmentation of tears might be granted him, speaking in
this manner, "I am contrite upon the contrition of the daughter of my
people, astonishment hath possessed me: is there no balm in Gilead, or
is there no physician there? Why therefore is not the wound of the
daughter of my people healed? Who shall give water unto my head, and to
mine eyes a fountain of tears, and I will day and night bewail the
slaughtered of my people? who will grant me in the wilderness the inn of
passengers? and I will utterly leave my people, and depart from them;
because they are all of them adulterers, a root of offenders, and they
have bent their tongue as the bow of lying, and not of truth, they are
comforted in the earth, because they have passed from evil to evil, and
not known me, saith our Lord." And again: "And our Lord hath said,
Because they have forsaken my law, which I have given them, and not
heard my voice, nor walked thereafter, and have wandered away after the
wickedness of their own heart, in that respect our Lord of hosts, the
God of Israel, saith these words, Behold I will feed this people with
wormwood, and give them to drink the water of gall." And a little after
(speaking in the person of God), "See therefore thou do not pray for
this people, nor assume thou for them praise and prayer, because I will
not hear in the time of their outcry unto me, and of their affliction."

§ 50. What then shall now our miserable governors do, these few who
found out the narrow way and left the large, were by God forbidden to
pour out their prayers for such as persevered in their evils, and so
highly provoked his wrath, against whom on the contrary side when they
returned with all their hearts unto God (his divine Majesty being
unwilling that the soul of man should perish, but calling back the
castaway that he should not utterly be destroyed) the same prophets
could not procure the heavenly revenge, because Jonas, when he desired
the like most earnestly against the Ninevites, could not obtain it. But
in the meanwhile omitting our own words, let us rather hear what the
prophetic trumpet soundeth in our ears speaking thus: "If thou shalt say
in thy heart, Why have these evils befallen? For the multitude of thine
iniquities. If the Ethiopian can change his skin, or the leopard his
sundry spots, ye may also do well when ye have learned evil," ever
supposing that ye will not. And afterwards: "These words doth our Lord
say to this people, who have loved to move their feet, and have not
rested, and not pleased our Lord, Now shall he remember their
iniquities, and visit their offences; and our Lord said unto me, Pray
thou not for this people to work their good, when they fast, I will not
hear their prayers; and if they offer burnt sacrifices and oblations, I
will not receive them." And again, "And our Lord said unto me, If Moses
and Samuel shall stand before me, my soul is not bent to this people,
cast them out away from my face, and let them depart." And after a few
words: "Who shall have pity on thee Jerusalem, or who shall be sorrowful
for thee, or who shall pray for thy peace? Thou hast left me (saith our
Lord) and gone away backward, and I will stretch forth my hand over
thee, and kill thee." And somewhat after: "Thus saith our Lord, Behold I
imagine a thought against you, let every man return from his evil
course, and make straight your ways and endeavours, who said, we
despair, we will go after our own thoughts, and every one of us will do
the naughtiness of his evil heart. Thus therefore saith our Lord, Ask
the Gentiles, who hath heard such horrible matters, which the virgin
Israel hath too often committed? Shall there fail from the rock of the
field, the snow of Libanus? or can the waters be drawn dry that gush out
cold and flowing? because my people hath forgotten me." And somewhat
also after this propounding unto them an election, he speaking saith,
"Thus saith our Lord, Do ye judgment and justice, and deliver him who by
power is oppressed out of the hand of the malicious accuser; and for the
stranger, and orphan, and widow, do not provoke their sorrow, neither
yet work ye unjustly the grief of others, nor shed ye forth the innocent
blood. For if indeed ye shall accomplish this word, there shall enter in
through the gates of this house, kings of the lineage of David, sitting
upon his throne. But if ye will not hearken unto these words, by myself
I have sworn (saith our Lord) that this house shall be turned into a
desert." And again (for he spoke of a wicked king), "As I live (saith
our Lord) if so be that Jechonias shall be a ring on my right hand, I
will pluck him away, and give him over into the hands of them who seek
his life."

§ 51. Moreover, holy Abraham crieth out, saying, "Woe be unto them who
build a city in blood, and prepare a town in iniquities, saying, Are not
these things from our almighty Lord? and many people have failed in
fire, and many nations have been diminished." And thus complaining, he
begins his prophecy: "How long, O Lord, shall I call, and thou wilt not
hear? Shall I cry out unto thee, to what end hast thou given me labours
and griefs, to behold misery and impiety?" And on the other side, "And
judgment was sat upon, and the judge hath taken in regard hereof, the
law is rent in pieces, and judgment is not brought fully to his
conclusion, because the wicked through power treadeth the just under
foot. In this respect hath passed forth perverse judgment."

§ 52. And mark ye also what blessed Hosea the prophet says of princes:
"For that they have transgressed my covenant, and ordained against my
law, and exclaimed, we have known thee, because thou art against Israel.
They have persecuted good, as if it were evil. They have reigned for
themselves and not by me; they have held a principality, neither yet
have they acknowledged me."

§ 53. And hear ye likewise the holy prophet Amos, in this sort
threatening: "In three heinous offences of the sons of Judah, and in
four I will not convert them, for that they have cast away the law of
our Lord, and not kept his commandments, but their vanities have
seduced them. And I will send fire upon Judah, and it shall eat the
foundations of Jerusalem. Thus saith our Lord; In three grievous sins of
Israel, and in four I will not convert them, for that they have sold the
just for money, and the poor man for shoes, which they tread upon the
dust of the earth, and with buffets they did beat the heads of the poor,
and have eschewed the way of the humble." And after a few words, "Seek
our Lord and ye shall live, that the house of Joseph may not shine as
fire, and the flame devour it, and he shall not be, that can extinguish
it. The house of Israel hath hated him who rebuketh in the gates, and
abhorred the upright word." Which Amos, being forbidden to prophesy in
Israel, without any fawning flattery, saith in answer, "I was not a
prophet, nor yet the son of a prophet, but a goatherd; I was plucking
sycamores and our Lord took me from my herd, and our Lord said unto me,
Go thy way and prophesy against my people of Israel: and now hear thou
the word of our Lord (for he directed his speech unto the king), thou
sayest, do not prophesy against Israel, and thou shalt not assemble
troops against the house of Jacob. For which cause our Lord saith thus,
thy wife in the city shall play the harlot, and thy sons and daughters
shall die by the sword, and thy ground be measured by the cord, and thou
in a polluted land shalt end thy life, but for Israel, she shall be led
from his own country a captive." And afterwards, "Hear therefore these
words, ye who do outrageously afflict the poor, and practise your mighty
power against the needy of the earth, who say, when shall the month pass
over that we may purchase, and the sabbaths that we may open the
treasuries." And within a few words after, "Our Lord doth swear against
the pride of Jacob, if he shall in contempt forget your actions, and if
in these the earth shall not be disturbed, and every inhabitant thereof
fall to lamentation, and the final end as a flood ascend, and I will
turn your festival days into wailing, and cast haircloth on the loins of
every one, and on the head of every man baldness, and make him as the
mourning of one over beloved, and those who are with him as the day of
his sorrow." And again, "In the sword shall die all the sinners of my
people, who say, evils shall not approach, nor yet shall light upon

§ 54. And listen ye, likewise, what holy Michah the prophet hath spoken,
saying, "Hearken, ye tribes. And what shall adorn the city? Shall not
fire? and the house of the wicked hoarding up unjust treasures, and with
injury unrighteousness? If the wrongful dealer shall be justified in the
balance, and deceitful weights in the scales, by which they have heaped
up their riches in ungodliness."

§ 55. And hear also what threats the famous prophet Zephaniah thundereth
out: saith he, "The great day of our Lord is near; it is at hand, and
very swiftly approacheth. The voice of the day of our Lord is appointed
to be bitter and mighty, that day, a day of wrath, a day of tribulation
and necessity, a day of clouds and mist, a day of the trumpet and
outcry, a day of misery and extermination, a day of darkness and dimness
upon the strong cities and high corners. And I will bring men to
tribulation, and they shall go as if they were blind, because they have
offended our Lord, and I will pour out their blood as dust, and their
flesh as the dung of oxen, and their silver and gold shall not be able
to deliver them in the day of the wrath of our Lord. And in the fire of
his zeal shall the whole earth be consumed, when the Lord shall
accomplish his absolute end, and bring solitariness upon all the
inhabitants of the earth. Come together and be joined in one, thou
nation without discipline, before ye be made as the fading flower,
before the wrath of our Lord falleth upon ye."

§ 56. And give ear also unto that which the prophet Haggai speaketh:
"Thus saith our Lord, I will once move the heaven, and earth, and sea,
and dry land, and I will drive away the thrones of kings, and root out
the power of the kings of the Gentiles, and I will chase away the
chariots of those who mount upon them."

§ 57. Now also behold what Zacharias the son of Addo, that chosen
prophet, said, beginning his prophecy in this manner: "Return to me, and
I will return unto you, saith our Lord, and be not like your fathers, to
whom the former prophets have imputed, saying, Thus saith our almighty
Lord, Turn away from your ways, and they have not marked whereby they
might obediently hear me." And afterwards, "And the angel asked me, what
dost thou see? And I said, I see a flying scythe, which containeth in
length twenty cubits. The malediction which hath proceeded upon the face
of the whole earth; because every one of her thieves shall be punished
even to the death, and I will throw him away, saith our almighty Lord,
and he shall enter into the house of fury, and into the house of
swearing falsehood in my name."

§ 58. Holy Malachy the prophet also saith, "Behold, the day of our Lord
shall come, inflamed as a furnace, and all proud men, and all workers of
iniquity shall be as stubble, and the approaching day of the Lord of
hosts shall set them on fire, which shall not leave a root nor a bud of

§ 59. And hearken ye also what holy Job debateth of the beginning and
end of the ungodly, saying, "For what purpose do the wicked live, and
have grown old dishonestly, and their issue hath been according to their
own desire, and their sons before their faces, and their houses are
fruitful, and no fear nor yet the scourge of our Lord is upon them.
Their cow hath not been abortive, their great with young hath brought
forth her young ones and not missed, but remaineth as an eternal breed;
and their children rejoice, and taking the psaltery and harp, have
finished their days in felicity and fallen peaceably asleep down into
hell." Doth God, therefore, not behold the works of the wicked? Not so,
truly, "But the candle of the ungodly shall be extinguished, and
destruction shall fall upon them, and pains as of one in childbirth,
shall withhold them from wrath; and they shall be as chaff before the
wind, and as the dust which the whirlwind hath carried away. Let all
goodness fail his children; let his eyes behold his own slaughter, nor
yet by our Lord let him be redeemed." And a little after, he saith of
the same men, "Who have ravenously taken the flock with the shepherd,
and driven away the beast of the orphans, and engaged the ox of the
widow, and deceiving, have declined from the way of necessity. They have
reaped other men's fields before the time; the poor have laboured in the
vineyards of the mighty without hire and meat, they have made many to
sleep naked without garments; of the covering of their life they have
bereaved them." And somewhat afterwards, when he had thoroughly
understood their works, he delivered them over to darkness. "Let,
therefore, his portion be accursed from the earth; let his plantings
bring forth witherings; let him for this be rewarded according to his
dealings; let every wicked man like the unsound wood be broken in
pieces. For arising in his wrath hath he overthrown the impotent.
Wherefore truly shall he have no trust of his life; when he shall begin
to grow diseased, let him not hope for health, but fall into
languishing. For his pride hath been the hurt of many, and he is become
decayed and rotten, as the mallows in the scorching heat, or as the ear
of corn when it falleth off from its stubble." And afterwards, "If his
children shall be many, they shall be turned to the slaughter, and if he
gather together silver as if it were earth, and likewise purify his gold
as if it were dirt, all these same shall the just obtain."

§ 60. Hear ye moreover what blessed Esdras, that cyclopædia of the
divine law, threateneth in his discourse. "Thus saith our Lord God: My
right hand shall not be sparing upon sinners, neither shall the sword
cease over them who spill the innocent blood on the earth. Fire shall
proceed from out of my wrath, and devour the foundations of the earth,
and sinners as if they were inflamed straw. Woe be unto them who offend,
and observe not my commandments, saith our Lord, I will not forbear
them. Depart from me ye apostatizing children, and do not pollute my
sanctuary. God doth know who offend against him, and he will therefore
deliver them over to death and to slaughter. For now have many evils
passed over the round compass of the earth. A sword of fire is sent out
against you, and who is he that shall restrain it? shall any man repulse
a lion that hungereth in the wood? or shall any one quench out the fire
when the straw is burning? our Lord God will send out evils, and who is
he that shall repress them? and fire will pass forth from out of his
wrath, and who shall extinguish it? it shall brandishing shine, and who
will not fear it? it shall thunder, and who will not shake with dread?
God will threaten all, and who will not be terrified? before his face
the earth doth tremble, and the foundations of the sea shake from the

§ 61. And mark ye also what Ezechiel the renowned prophet, and admirable
beholder of the four evangelical creatures, speaketh of wicked
offenders, unto whom pitifully lamenting beforehand the scourge that
hung over Israel, our Lord doth say, "Too far hath the iniquity of the
house of Israel and Judah prevailed, because the earth is filled with
iniquity and uncleanness. Behold I am, mine eyes shall not spare, nor
will I take pity." And afterwards, "Because the earth is replenished
with people, and the city fraughted with iniquity, I will also turn away
the force of their power, and their holy things shall be polluted,
prayer shall approach and sue for peace, and it shall not be obtained."
And somewhat after, "The word of our Lord, quoth he, was spoken unto me,
saying, Thou son of man, the land that shall so far sin against me as to
commit an offence, I will stretch forth my hand upon her, and break in
pieces her foundation of bread, and send upon her famine, and take away
mankind and cattle from her; and if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and
Job, be in the midst of her, they shall not deliver her, but they in
their justice shall be saved, saith our Lord. If so be that also I shall
bring in evil beasts upon the land and punish her, she likewise shall be
turned to destruction, and there shall not be one who shall have free
passage from the face of the beasts, and although these three men are in
the midst of her, as I live, saith our Lord, their sons and daughters
shall not be preserved, but they alone shall be saved, and as for the
land it shall fall to confusion." And again, "The son shall not receive
the unrighteousness of the father, neither the father the son's
unrighteousness. The justice of the just shall be upon himself. And the
unjust man, if he turneth him away from all the iniquities which he hath
done, and keepeth all my commandments, and doth justice and abundance of
mercy, he shall live in life and shall not die. All his sins, whatsoever
he hath committed, shall have no further being; he shall live the life
in his own justice which he hath performed. Do I with my will
voluntarily wish the death of the unrighteous, saith our Lord, rather
than that he should return from his evil way and live? But when the just
shall turn himself away from his justice, and do iniquity, according to
all the iniquities which the unrighteous hath committed, all the just
actions (which he hath done) shall remain no further in memory. In his
offence wherein he hath fallen, and in his sins in which he hath
transgressed, he shall die." And, within some words afterwards: "And
all nations shall understand, that the house of Israel are led captive
away for their offences, because they have forsaken me. And I have
turned my face from them, and yielded them over into the hands of their
enemies, and all have perished by the sword; according unto their
unclean sins, and after their iniquities have I dealt with them, and
turned my face away from them."

§ 62. This which I have spoken may suffice concerning the threats of the
holy prophets: only I have thought it necessary to intermingle in this
little work of mine, not only these menaces, but also a few words
borrowed out of the wisdom of Solomon, to declare unto kings matters of
exhortation or instruction, that they may not say I am willing to load
the shoulders of men with heavy and insupportable burdens of words, but
not so much as once with mine own finger (that is, with speech of
consolation) to move the same. Let us therefore hear what the prophet
hath spoken to rule us. "Love justice," saith he, "ye that judge the
earth." This testimony alone (if it were with a full and perfect heart
observed) would abundantly suffice to reform the governors of our
country. For if they had loved justice, they would also love God, who is
in a sort the fountain and original of all justice. "Serve our Lord in
goodness, and seek him in simplicity of heart." Alas! who shall live (as
a certain one before us hath said) when such things are done by our
countrymen, if perchance they may be any where accomplished? "Because he
is found of those who do not tempt him, he appeareth truly to them who
have faith in him." For these men without respect do tempt God, whose
commandments with stubborn despite they contemn, neither yet do they
keep to him their faith, unto whose oracles be they pleasing, or
somewhat severe, they turn their backs and not their faces. "For
perverse thoughts do separate from God," and this in the tyrants of our
time very plainly appeareth. But why doth our meanness intermeddle in
this so manifest a determination? Let therefore him who alone is true
(as we have said) speak for us, I mean the Holy Ghost, of whom it is now
pronounced, "The Holy Ghost verily will avoid the counterfeiting of
discipline." And again, "Because the Spirit of God hath filled the globe
of the earth." And afterwards (showing with an evident judgment the end
of the evil and righteous) he saith, "How is the hope of the wicked as
the down that is blown away with the wind, and as the smoke that with
the blast is dispersed, and as the slender froth that with a storm is
scattered, and as the memory of a guest who is a passenger of one day.
But the just shall live for ever, and with God remaineth their reward,
and their cogitation is with the Highest. Therefore shall they receive
the kingdom of glory, and the crown of beauty from the hand of our Lord.
Because with his right hand he will protect them, and with his holy arm
defend them." For very far unlike in quality are the just and ungodly,
as our Lord verily hath spoken, saying, "Them who honour me I will
honour, and whoso despise me shall be of no estimation."

§ 63. But let us pass over to the rest: "Hearken, (saith he) all ye
kings, and understand ye; learn, ye judges of the bounds of the earth,
listen with your ears who keep multitudes in awe, and please yourselves
in the troops of nations. Because power is given unto you from God, and
puissance from the highest, who will examine your actions, and sift your
thoughts. For that when ye were ministers of his kingdom, ye have not
judged uprightly, nor kept the law of justice, nor yet walked according
to his will. It shall dreadfully and suddenly appear unto you, that a
most severe judgment shall be given on them who govern. For to the
meaner is mercy granted, but the mighty shall mightily sustain torments.
For he shall have no respect of persons, who is the ruler of all, nor
yet shall he reverence the greatness of any one, because he himself hath
made both small and great, and care alike he hath of all; but for the
stronger is at hand a stronger affliction. Unto you therefore, O kings,
are these my speeches, that you may learn wisdom, and not fall away from
her. For whoso observeth what things are just shall be justified, and
whoso learneth what things are holy, shall be sanctified."

§ 64. Hitherto have we discoursed no less by the oracles of the
prophets, than by her own speeches with the kings of our country, being
willing they should know what the prophet hath spoken, saying, "As from
the face of a serpent, so fly thou from sins: if thou shalt approach
unto them they will catch thee, their teeth are the teeth of a lion,
such as kill the souls of men." And again, "How mighty is the mercy of
our Lord, and his forgiveness to such as turn unto him." And if we have
not in us such apostolical zeal, that we may say, "I did verily desire
to be anathematized by Christ for my brethren," notwithstanding that we
may from the bottom of our hearts speak that prophetic saying, "Alas!
that the soul perisheth." And again, "Let us search out our ways, and
seek and return unto our Lord: let us lift our hearts together with our
hands to God in heaven." And also that of the apostle, "We covet that
every one of you should be in the bowels of Christ."

§ 65. And how willingly, as one tossed on the waves of the sea, and now
arrived in a desired haven, would I in this place make an end (shame
forbidding me further to proceed), did I not behold such great masses of
evil deeds done against God by bishops or other priests, or clerks, yea
some of our own order, whom as witnesses myself must of necessity first
of all stone (according unto the law) with the hard blows of words, lest
I should be otherwise reproved for partiality towards persons, and then
afterwards the people (if as yet they keep their decrees) must pursue
with their whole powers the same execution upon them, not to their
corporal death, but to the death of their vices and their eternal life
with God. Yet, as I before said, I crave pardon of them, whose lives I
not only praise, but also prefer before all earthly treasure, and of the
which, if it may be, yet before my death I desire and thirst to be a
partaker: and so having both my sides defended with the double shields
of saints, and by those means invincibly strengthened to sustain all
that arise against me, arming moreover my head in place of a helmet with
the help of our Lord, and being most assuredly protected with the sundry
aids of the prophets, I will boldly proceed notwithstanding the stones
of worldly rioters fly never so fast about me.

§ 66. Britain hath priests, but they are unwise; very many that
minister, but many of them impudent; clerks she hath, but certain of
them are deceitful raveners; pastors (as they are called) but rather
wolves prepared for the slaughter of souls (for they provide not for the
good of the common people, but covet rather the gluttony of their own
bellies), possessing the houses of the church, but obtaining them for
filthy lucre's sake; instructing the laity, but showing withal most
depraved examples, vices, and evil manners; seldom sacrificing, and
seldom with clean hearts, standing at the altars; not correcting the
commonality for their offences, while they commit the same sins
themselves; despising the commandments of Christ, and being careful with
their whole hearts to fulfil their own lustful desires, some of them
usurping with unclean feet the seat of the apostle Peter; but for the
demerit of their covetousness falling down into the pestilent chair of
the traitor Judas; detracting often, and seldom speaking truly; hating
verity as an open enemy, and favouring falsehoods, as their most beloved
brethren; looking on the just, the poor, and the impotent, with stern
countenances, as if they were detested serpents, and reverencing the
sinful rich men without any respect of shame, as if they were heavenly
angels, preaching with their outward lips that alms are to be disbursed
upon the needy, but of themselves not bestowing one halfpenny;
concealing the horrible sins of the people, and amplifying injuries
offered unto themselves, as if they were done against our Saviour
Christ; expelling out of their houses their religious mother, perhaps,
or sisters, and familiarly and indecently entertaining strange women, as
if it were for some more secret office, or rather, to speak truly,
though fondly (and yet not fondly to me, but to such as commit these
matters), debasing themselves unto such bad creatures; and after all
these seeking rather ambitiously for ecclesiastical dignities, than for
the kingdom of heaven; and defending after a tyrannical fashion their
achieved preferments, nor even labouring with lawful manners, to adorn
the same; negligent and dull to listen to the precepts of the holy
saints (if ever they did so much as once hear that which full often they
ought to hear), but diligent and attentive to the plays and foolish
fables of secular men, as if they were the very ways to life, which
indeed are but the passages to death; being hoarse, after the fashion of
bulls, with the abundance of fatness, and miserably prompt to all
unlawful actions; bearing their countenances arrogantly aloft, and
having nevertheless their inward senses, with tormenting and gnawing
consciences; depressed down to the bottom or rather to the bottomless
pit; glad at the gaining of one penny, and at the loss of the like value
sad; slothful and dumb in the apostolical decrees (be it for ignorance
or rather the burden of their offences), and stopping also the mouths of
the learned, but singularly experienced in the deceitful shifts of
worldly affairs; and many of this sort and wicked conversation,
violently intruding themselves into the preferments of the church; yea,
rather buying the same at a high rate, than being any way drawn
thereunto, and moreover as unworthy wretches, wallowing, after the
fashion of swine, in their old and unhappy puddle of intolerable
wickedness, after they have attained unto the seat of the priesthood or
episcopal dignity (who neither have been installed, or resident on the
same), for usurping only the name of priesthood, they have not received
the orders or apostolical pre-eminence; but how can they who are not as
yet fully instructed in faith, nor have done penance for their sins, be
any way supposed meet and convenient to ascend unto any ecclesiastical
degree (that I may not speak of the highest) which none but holy and
perfect men, and followers of the apostles, and, to use the words of the
teacher of the Gentiles, persons free from reprehension, can lawfully
and without the foul offence of sacrilege undertake.

§ 67. For what is so wicked and so sinful as after the example of Simon
Magus (even if with other faults he had not been defiled before), for
any man with earthly price to purchase the office of a bishop or priest,
which with holiness and righteous life alone ought lawfully to be
obtained; but herein they do more wilfully and desperately err, in that
they buy their deceitful and unprofitable ecclesiastical degrees, not of
the apostles or their successors, but of tyrannical princes, and their
father the devil; yea, rather they raise this as a certain roof and
covering of all offences, over the frame of their former serious life,
that being protected under the shadow thereof, no man should lightly
hereafter lay to their charge their old or new wickedness; and hereupon
they build their desires of covetousness and gluttony, for that being
now the rulers of many they may more freely make havoc at their
pleasure. For if truly any such offer of purchasing ecclesiastical
promotions were made by these impudent sinners (I will not say with St.
Peter), but to any holy priest, or godly king, they would no doubt
receive the same answer which their father Simon Magus had from the
mouth of the apostle Peter, saying: "Thy money be with thee unto thy
perdition." But, alas! perhaps they who order and advance these
ambitious aspirers, yea, they who rather throw them under foot, and for
a blessing give them a cursing, whilst of sinners they make them not
penitents (which were more consonant to reason), but sacrilegious and
desperate offenders, and in a sort install Judas, that traitor to his
Master, in the chair of Peter, and Nicholas, the author of that foul
heresy, in the seat of St. Stephen the martyr, it may be at first
obtained their own priesthood by the same means, and therefore do not
greatly dislike in their children, but rather respect the course, that
they their fathers did before follow. And also, if finding resistance,
in obtaining their dioceses at home, and some who severely renounce this
chaffering of church-livings, they cannot there attain to such a
precious pearl, then it doth not so much loath as delight them (after
they have carefully sent their messengers beforehand) to cross the seas,
and travel over most large countries, that so, in the end, yea even with
the sale of their whole substance, they may win and compass such a pomp,
and such an incomparable glory, or to speak more truly, such a dirty and
base deceit and illusion. And afterwards with great show and magnificent
ostentation, or rather madness, returning back to their own native soil,
they grow from stoutness to stateliness, and from being used to level
their looks to the tops of the mountains, they now lift up their drowsy
eyes into the air, even to the highest clouds, and as Novatus, that foul
hog, and persecutor of our Lord's precious jewel, did once at Rome, so
do these intrude themselves again into their own country, as creatures
of a new mould, or rather as instruments of the devil, being even ready
in this state and fashion to stretch out violently their hands (not so
worthy of the holy altars as of the avenging flames of hell) upon
Christ's most holy sacrifices.

§ 68. What do you therefore, O unhappy people! expect from such belly
beasts? (as the apostle calleth them). Shall your manners be amended by
these, who not only do not apply their minds to any goodness, but
according to the upbraiding of the prophet, labour also to deal
wickedly? Shall ye be illuminated with such eyes as are only with
greediness cast on those things that lead headlong to vices (that is to
say), to the gates of hell? Nay truly, if according to the saying of our
Saviour, ye flee not these most ravenous wolves like those of Arabia, or
avoid them as Lot, who ran most speedily from the fiery shower of Sodom
up to the mountains, then, being blind and led by the blind, ye will
both together tumble down into the infernal ditch.

§ 69. But some man perchance will objecting say, that all bishops or all
priests (according to our former exception), are not so wickedly given,
because they are not defiled with the infamy of schism, pride, or
unclean life, which neither we ourselves will deny, but albeit we know
them to be chaste, and virtuous, yet will we briefly answer.

What did it profit the high-priest Hely, that he alone did not violate
the commandments of our Lord, in taking flesh with forks out of the
pots, before the fat was offered unto God, while he was punished with
the same revenge of death wherewith his sons were? What one, I beseech
you, of them, whose manners we have before sufficiently declared, hath
been martyred like Abel, from malicious jealousy of his more acceptable
sacrifice, which with the heavenly fire ascended up into the skies,
since they fear the reproach even of an ordinary word? Which of them
"hath hated the counsel of the malicious, and not sat with the ungodly,"
so that of him as a prophet, the same might be verified which was said
of Enoch, "Enoch walked with God and was not to be found" in the vanity
(forsooth) of the whole world, as then leaving our Lord, and beginning
to halt after idolatry? Which of them, like Noah in the time of the
deluge, hath not admitted into the ark of salvation (which is the
present church) any adversary unto God, that it may be most apparent
that none but innocents or singular penitents, ought to remain in the
house of our Lord? Who is he that offering sacrifice like Melchisedeck,
hath only blessed the conquerors, and them who with the number of three
hundred (which was in the sacrament of the Trinity) delivering the just
man, have overthrown the deadly armies of the five kings, together with
their vanquishing troops, and not coveted the goods of others? Which of
them hath like Abraham, at the commandment of God freely offered his own
son on the altar to be slain, that he might accomplish a precept of
Christ, agreeable to this saying, Thy right eye, if it cause thee to
offend, ought to be pulled out; and another of the prophet, That he is
accursed who withholdeth his sword from shedding blood? Who is he that
like Joseph, hath rooted out of his heart the remembrance of an offered
injury? Who is he that like Moses, speaking with our Lord in the
mountain, and not there terrified with the sounding trumpets, hath in a
figurative sense presented unto the incredulous people the two tables,
and his horned face which they could not endure to see, but trembled to
behold? Which of them, praying for the offences of the people, has from
the very bottom of his heart cried out, like unto him, saying: "O Lord
this people hath committed a grievous sin, which if thou wilt forgive
them, forgive it; otherwise blot me guilty out of thy book?"

§ 70. Which of them, inflamed with the admirable zeal of God, hath
courageously risen to punish fornication, curing without delay by the
present medicine of penance, the affection of filthy lust, lest the fire
of the wrath of God should otherwise consume the people, as Phineas the
priest did, that by these means justice for ever might be reputed unto
him? Which of them hath in moral understanding imitated Joshua, the son
of Nun, either for the utter rooting forth, even to the slaughter of the
last and least of all, the seven nations out of the land of promise, or
for the establishing of spiritual Israel in their places? Which of them
hath showed unto the people of God their final bounds beyond Jordan that
it might be known what was suited to every tribe, in such sort as the
aforenamed Phineas and Jesus have wisely divided the land? Who is he
that to overthrow the innumerable thousands of Gentiles, adversaries to
the chosen people of God, hath, as another Jephtha, for a votive and
propitiatory sacrifice, slain his own daughter (by which is to be
understood his own proper will), imitating also therein the apostle,
saying, "Not seeking what is profitable to me, but to many, that they
may be saved;" which daughter of his met the conquerors with drums and
dances, by which are to be understood the lustful desires of the flesh?
Which of them, that he might disorder, put to flight, and overthrow the
camps of the proud Gentiles, by the number of three hundred, (being, as
we before said, the mystery of the blessed Trinity,) and with his men
holding in their hands those noble sounding trumpets, (which are
prophetical and apostolical senses, according as our Lord said to the
prophet, "Exalt thy voice as a trumpet;" and the psalmist of the
apostles, "Their sound hath passed throughout the whole earth,") and
bearing all those famous flagons shining in the night with that most
glittering fiery light, (which are to be interpreted the bodies of
saints joined to good works, and burning with the flame of the Holy
Ghost, yea having, as the apostle writes, "This treasure in earthen
vessels,") hath after hewing down the idolatrous grave (by which is
morally meant dark and foul desire) marched on like Gideon, with an
assured faith in the evident sign of the fleece, which to the Jews was
void of the heavenly moisture, but to the Gentiles made wet with the dew
of the Holy Ghost?

§ 71. Who is he among them that (earnestly wishing to die to this world,
and live to Christ) hath, as another Sampson, utterly cut off such
innumerable luxurious banqueters of the Gentile, while they praised
their gods, (by which is meant, while the senses of men extolled these
earthly riches, according to the apostle speaking thus: "And
covetousness, which is idolatry"), shaking with the power of both his
arms the two pillars (by which are to be understood the wicked pleasures
of the soul and body), by which the house of all worldly wickedness is
in a sort compacted and underpropped? Which of them, like Samuel, with
prayers and the burnt sacrifice of a sucking lamb, hath driven away the
fear of the Philistines, raised unexpected thunderclaps, and showering
clouds, established without flattery a king, deposed him when he
displeased God, and anointed another his better in his place and
kingdom; and when he shall give to the people his last farewell, shall
appear like Samuel in this sort, saying, "Behold, I am ready, speak ye
before our Lord and his anointed, whether I ever took away the ox or ass
of any man, if I have falsely accused any one, if I have oppressed
anybody, if I have received a bribe from the hands of any?" Unto whom it
was answered by the people, "Thou hast not wrongfully charged us, nor
oppressed us, nor taken anything from the hands of any." Which of them,
like the famous prophet Elias, who consumed with heavenly fire the
hundred proud men, and preserved the fifty that humbled themselves; and
afterwards denounced without flattery or dissimulation, the impending
death of the unjust king (that sought not the counsel of God by his
prophets, but of the idol Accaron), hath utterly overthrown all the
prophets of Baal (by which are meant the worldly senses ever bent, as we
have already said, to envy and avarice), with the lightning sword (which
is the word of God)? And as the same Elias, moved with the zeal of God,
after taking away the showers of rain from the land of the wicked, who
were now shut up with famine in a strong prison, as it were of penury,
for three years and six months, being himself ready to die for thirst in
the desert, hath, complaining, said, "They have murdered, O Lord, thy
prophets, and undermined thine altars, and I alone am left, and they
seek my life?"

§ 72. Which of them, like Elisha, hath punished his dearly beloved
disciple, if not with an everlasting leprosy, yet at least by abandoning
him, if burdened too much with the weight of worldly covetousness for
those very gifts which his master before (although very earnestly
entreated thereto) had despised to receive? And which of these among us
hath like him revealed unto his servant, (who despaired of life, and on
a sudden trembled at the warlike army of the enemies that besieged the
city wherein he was), through the fervency of his prayers poured out
unto God, those spiritual visions, so that he might behold a mountain
replenished with a heavenly assisting army, of warlike chariots and
horsemen, shining with fiery countenances, and that he might also
believe that he was stronger to save, than the foe to hurt? And which of
them, like the above-named Elisha, with the touch of his body, being
dead to the world, but living unto God, shall raise up another, whose
fate had been different from his, namely, death to God, but life to his
vices, so that instantly revived, he may yield humble thanks to Christ
for his unexpected recovery from the hellish torments of his mortal
crimes? Which of them hath his lips purified and made clean with the
fiery coals earned by the tongues of the cherubim, from off the altar,
(that his sins may be wiped away with the humility of confession), as it
is written of Esaias, by whose effectual prayers, together with the aid
of the godly king Ezechias, a hundred fourscore and five thousand of the
Assyrian army, through the stroke of one angel, without the least print
of any appearing wound, were overthrown and slain? Which of them, like
blessed Jeremiah, for accomplishing the commandments of God,--for
denouncing the threats thundered out from heaven, and for preaching the
truth even to such as would not hear the same, hath suffered loathsome
stinking prisons as momentary deaths? And to be brief, what one of them
(as the teacher of the Gentiles said) hath endured like the holy
prophets to wander in mountains, in dens, and caves of the earth, to be
stoned, to be sawn in sunder, and assailed with all kinds of death, for
the name of our Lord?

§ 73. But why do we dwell in examples of the Old Testament as if there
were none in the New? Let, therefore, those, who suppose they can,
without any labour at all, under the naked pretence of the name of
priesthood, enter this strait and narrow passage of Christian religion,
hearken unto me while I recite and gather into one a few of the chiefest
flowers out of the large and pleasant meadow of the saintly soldiers of
the New Testament. Which of you (who rather sleep than lawfully sit in
the chair of the priesthood), being cast out of the council of the
wicked, hath, after the stripes of sundry rods, like the holy apostles,
from the bottom of his heart, given thanks to the blessed Trinity that
he was found worthy to suffer disgrace for Christ's true deity? What
one, for the undoubted testimony of God, having his brains dashed out
with the fuller's club, hath, like James the first, a bishop of the New
Testament, suffered corporal death? Which of you, like James the brother
of John, has by the unjust prince been beheaded? Who, like the first
deacon and martyr of the gospel, (having but this only accusation, that
he saw God, whom the wicked could not behold), has by ungodly hands been
stoned to death? What one of you, like the worthy keeper of the keys of
the heavenly kingdom, has been nailed to the cross with his feet upward,
in reverence for Christ, whom, no less in his death than in his life, he
endeavoured to honour, and hath so breathed his last? Which of you, for
the confession of the true word of Christ, hath, like the vessel of
election, and chosen teacher of the Gentiles, after suffering
imprisonment and shipwreck, after the terrible scourges of whips, the
continual dangers of seas, of thieves, of Gentiles, of Jews, and of
false apostles, after the labours of famine, fasting, and watching,
after incessant care over all the churches, after his trouble for such
as scandalized, after his infirmity for the weak, after his wonderful
travels over almost the whole world in preaching the gospel of Christ,
lost his head at last by the stroke of the descending sword?

§ 74. Which of you, like the holy martyr Ignatius, bishop of the city of
Antioch, hath after his miraculous actions in Christ, for testimony of
him been torn by the jaws of lions, as he was once at Rome? whose words,
as he was led to his passion, when you shall hear (if ever your
countenances were overcome with blushing), you will not only, in
comparison of him, esteem yourselves no priests, but not so much even as
the meanest Christians; for in the epistle which he sent to the church
of Rome, he writeth thus: "From Syria even unto Rome, I fight with
beasts, by land and sea, being bound and chained unto ten leopards, I
mean the soldiers appointed for my custody, who for our benefit bestowed
upon them become more cruel; but I am the better instructed by their
wickedness, neither yet am I in this justified; oh! when shall those
beasts come the workers of my salvation, which are for me prepared? when
shall they be let loose at me? when shall it be lawful for my carcass to
enjoy them? whom I do most earnestly wish to be eagerly enraged against
me, and truly I will incite them to devour me; moreover, I will humbly
pray, lest perchance they should dread to touch my body (as in some
others they have before done), yea also, if they hesitate, I will offer
violence, I will force myself upon them. Pardon me, I beseech you, I
know what is commodious for me, even now I begin to be the disciple of
Christ; let all envy, whether of human affection or spiritual wickedness
cease, that I may endeavour to obtain Christ Jesus; let fires, let
crosses, let cruelty of beasts, let breaking of bones, and rending of
limbs, with all the pains of the whole body, and all the torments
devised by the art of the devil, be together poured out on me alone, so
that I may merit to attain unto Christ Jesus." Why do you behold these
things with the sleepy eyes of your souls? why do you hearken unto them
with the deaf ears of your senses? Shake off, I beseech you, the dark
and black mist of slothfulness from your hearts, that so you may see
the glorious light of truth and humility. A Christian, and he not mean,
but a perfect one, and a priest not base, but one of the highest, a
martyr of no ordinary sort, but one of the chiefest, saith: "Now I begin
to be the disciple of Christ." And you, like the same Lucifer, who was
thrown down out of heaven, are puffed up with words, and not with power,
and after a sort do chew under the tooth, and make pretence in your
actions, as the author of this your wickedness hath thus expressed: "I
will mount up into the heavens, and be like unto the Highest." And
again: "I have digged and drunk water, and dried up with the steps of my
feet all the rivers of the banks." You would more rightly have imitated
him and hearkened unto his words, who is without doubt the most true
example of all goodness and humility, saying by his prophet, "I am
verily a worm and not a man, the reproach of men, and the outcast of the
people." Oh unspeakable matter! that he called himself "the reproach of
men," when he washed away the reproaches of the whole world. And again
in the gospel; "I am not able to do any thing of myself," when at the
same time he was co-eternal with the Father, coequal with the Holy
Ghost, and consubstantial with both, and created, not by the help of
another, but by his own almighty power, the heaven and earth, with all
their inestimable ornaments; and ye nevertheless have arrogantly lifted
up your voices, notwithstanding the prophet saith, "Why do earth and
ashes swell with pride?"

§ 75. But let us return unto our subject. Which of you, I say, like
Polycarp, the famous bishop of the church of Smyrna, that witness of
Christ, hath courteously entertained as guests at his table, those who
violently drew him out to be burned? and when for the charity which he
did bear unto Christ, he was brought to the stake, said, "He who gave me
grace to endure the torment of the fire, will likewise grant me without
fastening of nails to bear the flames with patience." And now passing
over in this my discourse the mighty armies of saints, I will yet touch
on one only, for example's sake, Basil the bishop of Cæsaria, who when
he was thus by the unrighteous prince threatened that, unless he would
on the next day be as the rest, defiled in the dirty dunghill of the
Arian heresy, he should be put to death, answered, as it is reported,
"I will be to-morrow the same as to-day, and for thee, I do not wish
thee to change thy determination." And again, "Would that I had some
worthy reward to bestow on him that would discharge Basil from the bands
of this breathing bellows." Which one of you doth endeavour to daunt the
menaces of tyrants, by inviolably keeping the rule of the apostolical
speech, which in all times and ages hath been observed by all holy
priests, to suppress the suggestion of men when they sought to draw them
into wickedness, saying in this manner; "It behoveth us to obey God
rather than men."

§ 76. Wherefore after our accustomed manner, taking refuge in the mercy
of our Lord, and in the sentences of his holy prophets, that they on our
behalf may now level the darts of their oracles at imperfect pastors (as
before at tyrants), so that thereby they may receive compunction and be
amended, let us see what manner of threats our Lord doth by his prophets
utter against slothful and dishonest priests, and such as do not, both
by examples and words, rightly instruct the people. For even Eli, the
priest in Shilo, because he did not severely proceed, with a zeal worthy
of God, in punishing his sons, when they contemned our Lord, but, as a
man overswayed with a fatherly affection, too mildly and remissly
admonished them, was sentenced with this judgment by the prophet
speaking unto him: "Thus saith our Lord; I have manifestly showed myself
unto the house of thy father, when they were the servants of Pharaoh in
Egypt, and have chosen the house of thy father out of all the tribes of
Israel, for a priesthood unto me." And a little after, "Why hast thou
looked upon mine incense, and upon my sacrifice, with a dishonest eye?
and hast honoured thy children more than me, that thou mightest bless
them from the beginning in all sacrifices in my presence? And now so
saith our Lord: Because whoever honoureth me I will honour him again;
and whoso maketh no account of me shall be brought to nothing. Behold
the days shall come, and I will destroy thy name, and the seed of thy
father's house. And let this be to thee the sign, which shall fall upon
thy two sons, Hophni and Phineas, in one day shall they both die by the
sword of men." If thus therefore they shall suffer, who correct them
that are under their charge, with words only and not with condign
punishment, what shall become of those who by offending exhort you, and
draw others unto wickedness?

§ 77. It is apparent also what befell unto the true prophet, who was sent
from Judah to prophesy in Bethel, and forbidden to taste any meat in
that place, after the sign which he foretold was fulfilled, and after he
had restored to the wicked king his withered hand again, being deceived
by another prophet, as he was termed, and so make to take but a little
bread and water, his host speaking in this sort unto him: "Thus saith
our Lord God: Because thou hast been disobedient to the mouth of our
Lord, and hast not observed the precept which the Lord thy God hath
commanded, and hast returned, and eaten bread, and drunk water in this
place, in which I have charged thee that thou shouldest neither eat
bread nor drink water, thy body shall not be buried in the sepulchre of
thy forefathers. And so (saith the scripture) it came to pass, that
after he had eaten bread and drunk water, he made ready his ass, and
departed, and a lion found him in the way and slew him."

§ 78. Hear ye also the holy prophet Isaias, how he speaketh of priests on
this wise. "Woe be to the ungodly, may evil befall him; for the reward
of his hands shall light upon him. Her own exactors have spoiled my
people, and women have borne sway over her. O my people, they who term
thee blessed, themselves deceive thee, and destroy the way of thy
footsteps. Our Lord standeth to judge, and standeth to judge the people.
Our Lord will come unto judgment with the elders of the people and her
princes. Ye have consumed my vine, the spoil of the poor is in your
house. Why do ye break in pieces my people, and grind the faces of the
poor? saith our Lord of hosts." And also; "Woe be unto them who compose
ungodly laws, and in their writing have written injustice, that they may
oppress the poor in judgment, and work violence to the cause of the
lowly of my people, that widows may be their prey, and they make spoil
of the orphans; what will ye do in the day of visitation and calamity
approaching from afar off?" And afterwards: "But these also in regard of
wine have been ignorant, and in respect of drunkenness have wandered
astray; the priests have not understood, because of drunkenness, and
have been swallowed up in wine, they have erred in drunkenness, they
have not known him who seeth, they have been ignorant of judgment. For
all tables are filled with the vomit of their uncleanness, in so much as
there is not any free place to be found."

§ 79. "Hear therefore the word of our Lord, O ye deceivers, who bear
authority over my people that is in Jerusalem. For ye have said, We have
entered into a truce with death, and with hell we have made a covenant.
The overflowing scourge when it shall pass forth shall not fall upon us,
because we have placed falsehood for our hope, and by lying we have been
defended." And somewhat after: "And hail shall overthrow the hope of
lying, together with the defence. Waters shall overflow, and your truce
with death shall be destroyed, and your covenant with hell shall not
continue, when the overflowing scourge shall pass forth; ye shall also
be trodden under foot, whensoever it shall pass along through you, it
shall sweep you away withal." And again: "And our Lord hath said:
Because this people approacheth with their mouth, and with their lips
glorify me, but their heart is far from me; behold, therefore, I will
cause this people to wonder by a great and stupendous miracle. For
wisdom shall decay and fall away from her wise men, and the
understanding of her sages shall be concealed. Woe be unto you that are
profound in heart, to conceal counsel from our Lord, whose works are in
darkness, and they say, who seeth us? And who hath known us? for this
thought of yours is perverse." And afterwards: "Thus saith our Lord,
Heaven is my seat, and the earth my footstool. What is this house that
ye will erect unto me, and what place shall be found for my
resting-place? all these things hath my hand made, and these universally
have been all created, saith our Lord. On whom truly shall I cast mine
eye, but on the humble poor man, and the contrite in spirit, and him
that dreadeth my speeches? he that sacrificeth an ox, is as he that
killeth a man; he that slaughtereth a beast for sacrifice, is like him
who beateth out the brains of a dog; he that offereth an oblation, is as
he that offereth the blood of a hog; he that is mindful of frankincense,
is as he that honoureth an idol: of all these things have they made
choice in their ways, and in their abominations hath their soul been

§ 80. Hear also what Jeremy, that virgin prophet, speaketh unto the
unwise pastors in this sort: "Thus saith our Lord, What iniquity have
your fathers found in me, because they have removed themselves far off
from me, and walked after vanity, and are become vain?" And again: "And
entering in, ye have defiled my land, and made mine inheritance
abomination. The priests have not said, Where is our Lord? and the
rulers of the law have not known me, and the pastors have dealt
treacherously against me. Wherefore I will as yet contend in judgment
with you, saith our Lord, and debate the matter with your children." And
a little afterwards: "Astonishment and wonders have been wrought in the
land. Prophets did preach lying, and priests did applaud with their
hands, and my people have loved such matters. What therefore shall be
done in her last and final ends? To whom shall I speak and make
protestation that he may hear me? Behold their ears are uncircumcised,
and they cannot hear. Behold the word of our Lord is uttered unto them
for their reproach, and they receive it not: because I will stretch out
my hand upon the inhabitants of the earth, saith our Lord. For why, from
the lesser even unto the greater, all study avarice, and from the
prophet even unto the priest, all work deceit, and they cured the
contrition of the daughter of my people, with ignominy, saying, Peace,
peace, and peace there shall not be. Confounded they are, who have
wrought abomination: but they are not with confusion confounded, and
have not understood how to be ashamed. Wherefore they shall fall among
those who are falling, in the time of their visitation shall they rush
headlong down together, saith our Lord." And again: "All these princes
of the declining sort, walking fraudulently, being brass and iron, are
universally corrupted, the blowing bellows have failed in the fire, the
finer of metals in vain hath melted, their malicious acts are not
consumed, call them refuse and reprobate silver, because our Lord hath
thrown them away." And after a few words: "I am, I am, I have seen,
saith our Lord. Go your ways to my place in Shilo, where my name hath
inhabited from the beginning, and behold what I have done thereunto for
the malice of my people Israel. And now because ye have wrought all
these works, saith our Lord, and I have spoken unto you, arising in the
morning, and talking, and yet ye have not heard me, and I have called
you, and yet ye have not answered, I will so deal towards this house,
wherein my name is now called upon, and wherein ye have confidence, and
to this place which I have given unto you, and to your fathers, as I
have done to Shilo, and I will cast you away from my countenance."

§ 81. And again: "My children have departed from me, and have no
abiding, and there is none who any more pitcheth my tent, and advanceth
my pavilion: for the pastors have dealt fondly and not sought out our
Lord. Wherefore they have not understood, and their flock hath been
dispersed." And a little after: "What is the matter that my beloved hath
in my houses committed many offences? shall the holy flesh take away thy
maliciousness from thee, wherein thou hast glorified? our Lord shall
call thy name a plentiful, fair, fruitful, goodly olive; at the sound of
the speech a mighty fire hath been inflamed in her, and her orchards
have been quite consumed therewith." And again: "Come ye to me, and be
ye gathered together, all ye beasts of the earth, make haste to devour.
Many pastors have thrown down my vine, they have trampled my part under
foot, they have given over my portion which was well worthy to be
desired, into a desert of solitariness." And again he speaketh: "Thus
saith our Lord unto this people, which have loved to move their feet,
and not rested, nor yet pleased our Lord; now shall he remember their
iniquities and visit their offences. Prophets say unto them, Ye shall
not see the sword, and there shall be no famine among you, but our Lord
shall give true peace unto you in this place. And our Lord hath said
unto me, The prophets do falsely foretell in my name; I have not sent
them, nor laid my commandment on them; they prophesy unto you a lying
vision, and divination together with deceitfulness, and the seducement
of their own hearts. And therefore thus saith our Lord: In sword and
famine shall those prophets be consumed; and the people to whom they
have prophesied shall by means of the famine and sword be cast out into
the streets of Jerusalem, and there shall be none to bury them."

§ 82. And moreover: "Woe be to the pastors who destroy and rend in
pieces the flock of my pasture, saith our Lord. Thus, therefore, saith
our Lord God of Israel, unto the pastors who guide my people, Ye have
dispersed my flock, and cast them forth, and not visited them. Behold I
will visit upon you the malice of your endeavours, saith our Lord. For
the prophet and the priest are both defiled, and in my house have I
found their evil, saith our Lord, and therefore shall their way be as a
slippery place in the dark, for they shall be thrust forward, and fall
down together therein, for I will bring evils upon them, the year of
their visitation, saith our Lord. And in the prophets of Samaria I have
seen foolishness, and they did prophesy in Baal, and deceived my people
Israel, and in the prophets of Jerusalem, have I seen the like
resemblance, adultery, and the way of lying, and they have comforted the
hands of the vilest offenders, that every man may not be converted from
his malice: they have been all made to me as Sodom, and the inhabitants
thereof as those of Gomorrah. Thus, therefore, saith our Lord to the
prophets: Behold, I will give them wormwood for their food, and gall for
their drink. For there hath passed from the prophet of Jerusalem
pollution over the whole earth. Thus saith our Lord of hosts, Listen not
to the words of prophets, who prophesy unto you, and deceive you, for
they speak the vision of their own heart, and not from the mouth of our
Lord. For they say unto those who blaspheme me, Our Lord hath spoken,
peace shall be unto you; and to all that walk in the wickedness of their
own hearts, they have said, evil shall not fall upon them. For who was
present in the counsel of our Lord, and hath seen and heard his speech,
who hath considered of his word, and hearkened thereunto? Behold, the
whirlwind of the indignation of our Lord passeth out, and a tempest
breaking forth, shall fall upon the heads of the wicked; the fury of our
Lord shall not return, until the time that he worketh, and until he
fulfilleth the cogitation of his heart. In the last days of all shall ye
understand his counsel."

§ 83. And little also do ye conceive and put in execution that which the
holy prophet Joel hath likewise spoken in admonishment of slothful
priests, and lamentation of the people's suffering for their iniquities,
saying: "Awake, ye who are drunk, from your wine, and weep and bewail ye
all, who have drunk wine even to drunkenness, because joy and delight
are taken away from your mouths. Mourn, ye priests, who serve the
altar, because the fields have been made miserable. Let the earth mourn,
because corn hath become miserable, and wine been dried up, oil
diminished, and husbandmen withered away. Lament ye possessions, in
regard of wheat and barley, because the vintage hath perished out of the
field, the vine withered up, the figs diminished; the pomegranates, and
palm, and apple, and all trees of the field are withered away, in
respect that the children of men have confounded their joy." All which
things are spiritually to be understood by you, that your souls may not
wither away with so pestilent a famine, for want of the word of God. And
again, "Weep out ye priests, who serve our Lord, saying, Spare, O Lord,
thy people, and give not over thine inheritance unto reproach, and let
not nations hold dominion over them, that Gentiles may not say, Where is
their God?" And yet ye yield not your ears unto these sayings, but admit
of all matters by which the indignation of God's fury is more vehemently

§ 84. With diligence also attend ye what holy Hosea the prophet hath
spoken unto priests of your behaviour. "Hear these words, O ye priests,
and let the house of Israel, together with the king's house, mark them;
fasten ye them in your ears, for unto you pertaineth judgment, because
ye are made an entangling snare to the espying watch, and as a net
stretched over the toils which the followers of hunting have framed."

§ 85. To you also may this kind of alienation from our Lord be meant by
the prophet Amos, saying, "I have hated and rejected your festival days,
and I will not receive the savour in your solemn assemblies, because
albeit ye offer your burnt sacrifices and hosts, I will not accept them,
and I will not cast mine eye on the vows of your declaration. Take away
from me the sound of your songs, and the psalm of your organs I will not
hear." For the famine of the evangelical meat consuming, in your
abundance of victuals, the very bowels of your souls, rageth violently
within you, according as the aforesaid prophet hath foretold, saying,
"Behold, the days shall come, saith our Lord, and I will send out a
famine upon the earth; not the famine of bread, nor the thirst of water,
but a famine in hearing the word of God, and the waters shall be moved
from sea to sea, and they shall run over from the north even unto the
east, seeking the word of our Lord, and shall not find it."

§ 86. Let holy Micah also pierce your ears, who like a heavenly trumpet
soundeth loudly forth against the deceitful princes of the people,
saying, "Hearken now ye princes of the house of Jacob, Is it not for you
to know judgment, who hate goodness, and seek after mischief, who pluck
their skins from off men, and their flesh from their bones? Even as they
have eaten the flesh of my people, and flayed their skins from them,
broken their bones to pieces, and hewed them small as meat to the pot,
they shall cry to God, and he will not hear them, and in that season
turn his face away from them, even as they before have wickedly behaved
themselves in their inventions. Thus speaketh our Lord of the prophets
who seduce my people, who bite with their teeth, and preach against them
peace, and if a man giveth nothing to stop their mouths, they raise and
sanctify a war upon him. Night shall therefore be unto you in place of a
vision, and darkness unto you in lieu of divination, and the sun shall
set upon your prophets, and the day shall wax dark upon them, and seeing
dreams they shall be confounded, and the diviners shall be derided, and
they shall speak ill against all men, because there shall not be any one
that will hear them, but that I myself shall do mine uttermost and
strongest endeavour in the spirit of our Lord, in judgment and in power,
that I may declare unto the house of Jacob their impieties, and to
Israel their offences. Hearken, therefore, unto these words, ye captains
of the house of Jacob, and ye remnants of the house of Israel, who abhor
judgment, and overthrow all righteousness, who build up Sion in blood,
and Jerusalem in iniquities: her rulers did judge for rewards, and her
priests answered for hire, and her prophets did for money divine, and
rested on our Lord, saying, And is not the Lord among us? Evils shall
not fall upon us. For your cause, therefore, shall Sion be ploughed up
as a field, and Jerusalem as the watch-house of a garden, and the
mountain of the house as the place of a woody wilderness." And after
some words ensuing: "Woe is me for that I am become as he that gathereth
stubble in the harvest, and a cluster of grapes in the vintage, when the
principal branch is not left to be eaten. Woe is me that a soul hath
perished through earthly actions, the reverence of sinners ariseth even
with reverence from the earth, and he appeareth not that shall use
correction among men. All contend in judgment for blood, and every one
with tribulation afflicteth his neighbour, for mischief he prepareth his

§ 87. Listen ye likewise how the famous prophet Zephaniah debated also
in times past, concerning your revellers (for he spake of Jerusalem,
which is spiritually to be understood the church or the soul), saying,
"O the city that was beautiful and set at liberty, the confiding dove
hath not hearkened to the voice, nor yet entertained discipline, she
hath not trusted in our Lord, and to her God she hath not approached."
And he showeth the reason why, "Her princes have been like unto roaring
lions, her judges as wolves of Arabia did not leave towards the morning,
her prophets carrying the spirit of a contemptuous despising man; her
priests did profane what was holy, and dealt wickedly in the law, but
our Lord is upright in the midst of his people, and in the morning he
will not do injustice, in the morning will he give his judgment."

§ 88. But hear ye also blessed Zachariah the prophet, in the word of
God, admonishing you: "For thus saith our Almighty Lord, Judge ye
righteous judgment, and work ye every one towards his brother mercy and
pity, and hurt ye not through your power the widow, or orphan, or
stranger, or poor man, and let not any man remember in his heart the
malice of his brother; and they have been stubborn not to observe these,
and have yielded their backs to foolishness, and made heavy their ears
that they might not hearken, and framed their hearts not to be persuaded
that they might not listen to my law and words, which our Almighty Lord
hath sent in his Spirit, through the hands of his former prophets, and
mighty wrath hath been raised by our Almighty Lord." And again; "Because
they who have spoken, have spoken molestations, and diviners have
uttered false visions and deceitful dreams, and given vain consolations;
in respect hereof they are made as dry as sheep, and are afflicted
because no health was to be found; my wrath is heaped upon the
shepherds, and upon the lambs will I visit." And within a few words
after: "The voice of lamenting pastors, because their greatness is
become miserable. The voice of roaring lions, because the fall of Jordan
is become miserable: thus saith our Almighty Lord: They who possessed
have murdered, and yet hath it not repented them, and they who sold
them, have said, Our Lord is blessed and we have been enriched, and
their pastors have suffered nothing concerning them. For which I will
now bear no sparing hand over the inhabitants of the earth, saith our

§ 89. Hear ye moreover what the holy prophet Malachi denounceth unto
you, saying: "Ye priests who despise my name, and have said: Wherein do
we despise thy name? in offering on mine altar polluted bread: and ye
have said, Wherein have we polluted it? In that ye have said: The table
of our Lord is as nothing, and have despised such things as have been
placed thereon; because if ye bring what is blind for an offering, is it
not evil? If ye set and apply what is lame or languishing, is it not
evil? Offer therefore the same unto thy governor, if he will receive it,
if he will accept of thy person, saith our Almighty Lord. And now do ye
humbly pray before the countenance of your God, and earnestly beseech
him (for in your hands have these things been committed) if happily he
will accept of your persons." And again: "And out of your ravenous theft
ye have brought in the lame and languishing, and brought it in as an
offering. Shall I receive the same at your hands, saith our Lord?
Accursed is the deceitful man who hath in his flock one of the male
kind, and yet making his vow offereth the feeble unto our Lord, because
I am a mighty king, saith our Lord of hosts, and my name is terrible
among the Gentiles. And now unto you appertaineth this commandment, O ye
priests, if ye will not hear, and resolve in your hearts to yield glory
unto my name, saith our Lord of hosts, I will send upon you poverty, and
accurse your blessings, because ye have not settled these things on your
hearts. Behold I will stretch out my arm over ye, and disperse upon your
countenances the dung of your solemnities." But that ye may in the
meantime, with more zeal prepare your organs and instruments of
mischief, to be converted into goodness, hearken ye (if there remain
ever so little disposition to listen in your hearts) what he speaketh of
a holy priest, saying "My covenant of life and peace was with him (for
historically he did speak of Levi and Moses): I gave fear unto him, and
he was timorous of me, he dreaded before the countenance of my name; the
law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips;
he walked with me in peace and equity, and turned many away from
unrighteousness. For the lips of the priest shall keep knowledge, and
from out of his mouth they shall require the law, because he is the
Angel of our Lord of hosts." And now again he changeth his style, and
ceaseth not to rebuke and reprove the unrighteous, saying: "Ye have
departed from the way, and scandalized many in the law, and made void my
covenant with Levi, saith our Lord of hosts. In regard whereof I have
also given you over as contemptible and abject among my people,
according as ye have not observed my ways, and accepted countenance of
men in the law. What, is there not one Father of us all? What, hath not
one God created us? Why therefore doth every one despise his brother?"
And again, "Behold our Lord of hosts will come, and who can conceive the
day of his coming, and who shall endure to stand to behold him? For he
shall pass forth as a burning fire, and as the fuller's herb, and shall
sit melting and trying silver, and ye shall purge the sons of Levi, and
cleanse them as gold and as silver." And somewhat afterwards: "Your
words have grown strong against me, saith our Lord, and ye have spoken
thus: He is vain who serveth God, and what profit because we have kept
his commandments, and walked sorrowfully before our Lord of hosts. We
shall therefore now call the arrogant blessed, for because they are
erected and builded up, while they work iniquity, they have tempted God,
and are made safe."

§ 90. But hear ye also what Ezechiel the prophet hath spoken, saying,
"Woe upon woe shall come, and messenger upon messenger shall be, and the
vision shall be sought for of the prophet, and the law shall perish from
the priests, and counsel from the elders." And again: "Thus saith our
Lord: In respect that your speeches are lying, and your divinations
vain. For this cause, behold, I will come unto you, saith our Lord; I
will stretch out my hand on your prophets, who see lies, and them who
speak vain things; in the discipline of my people they shall not be, and
in the Scripture of the house of Israel, they shall not be written, and
into the land of Israel they shall not enter, and ye shall know that I
am the Lord, because they have seduced my people, saying, The peace of
our Lord, and there is not the peace of our Lord. Here have they built
the wall; and they anointed it, and it shall fall." And within some
words afterwards: "Woe be unto these who fashion pillows, apt for every
elbow of the hand, and make veils upon every head of all ages to the
subversion of souls, and the souls of my people are subverted, and they
possess their souls, and contaminated me unto my people for a handful of
barley, and a piece of bread to the slaughter of the souls, whom it
behoved not to die, and to the delivery of the souls, that were not fit
to live, while ye talk unto my people that listeneth after vain
speeches." And afterwards: "Say, thou son of man, thou art earth which
is not watered with rain, neither yet hath rain fallen upon thee in the
day of wrath, in which thy princes were in the midst of thee as roaring
lions, ravening on their prey, devouring souls in their potent might,
and receiving rewards, and thy widows were multiplied in the midst of
thee, and her priests have despised my law, and defiled my holy things.
Between holy and polluted, they did not distinguish, and divided not
equally between the unclean and clean, and from my sabbaths they veiled
their eyes, and in the midst of them they defiled."

§ 91. And again: "And I sought among them a man of upright conversation,
and one who should altogether stand before my face, to prevent the times
that might fall upon the earth, that I should not in the end utterly
destroy it, and I found him not. And I poured out upon it, the whole
design of my mind, in the fire of my wrath for the consuming of them: I
repaid their ways on their heads, saith our Lord." And somewhat after:
"And the word of our Lord was spoken unto me, saying: O son of man,
speak to the children of my people, and they shalt say unto them: The
land whereupon I shall bring my sword, and the people of the land shall
take some one man among them, and ordain him to be a watchman over them,
and he shall espy the sword coming upon the land, and sound with his
trumpet, and signify unto the people, whoso truly shall then hear the
sound of the trumpet, and yet hearing shall not beware: and the sword
shall come and catch him, his blood shall light upon his own head,
because when he heard the sound of the trumpet, he was not watchful, his
blood shall be upon him, and this man, for that he hath preserved his
own soul, hath delivered himself. But the watchman if he shall see the
sword coming, and not give notice with his trumpet, and the people shall
not be aware, and the sword coming shall take away a soul from among
them, both the soul itself is caught a captive for her iniquities, and I
will also require her blood at the hand of the watchman. And thou, O son
of man, I have appointed thee a watchman over the house of Israel, and
if thou shalt hear the word from out of my mouth, when I shall say to a
sinner, Thou shalt die the death, and yet wilt not speak whereby the
wicked may return from his way: both the unjust himself shall die in his
iniquity, and truly I will require his blood also at thy hands. But if
thou shalt forewarn the wicked of his way, that he may avoid the same,
and he nevertheless will not withdraw himself from his course, this man
shall die in his impiety, and thou hast preserved thine own soul."

§ 92. And so let these few among a multitude of prophetical testimonies
suffice, by which the pride or sloth of our stubborn priests may be
repelled, to the end they may not suppose that we act rather of our own
invention, but by the authority of the laws, and saints, denounce such
threats against them. And now let us also behold what the trumpet of the
gospel, sounding to the whole world, speaketh likewise to disordered
priests; for as we have often said, this our discourse tendeth not to
treat of them, who obtain lawfully the apostolical seat, and such as
rightly and skilfully understand how to dispose of their spiritual food
(in time convenient) unto their fellow servants, if yet at this time
there remain any great number of these in this our country; but we only
talk of ignorant and unexpert shepherds, who leave their flock, and feed
on vain matters, and have not the words of a learned pastor. And
therefore it is an evident token that he is not a lawful pastor, yea not
an ordinary Christian, who rejecteth and denieth these sayings, which
are not so much ours (who of ourselves are very little worth), as the
decrees of the Old and New Testament, even as one of ours right well
doth say, "We do exceedingly desire that the enemies of the church
should also, without any manner of truce be our adversaries: and that
the friends and defenders thereof should not only be accounted our
confederates, but also our fathers and governors." For let every one,
with true examination, call his own conscience unto account, and so
shall he easily find, whether according to true reason he possesseth his
priestly chair or no. Let us see, I say, what the Saviour and Creator of
the world hath spoken. "Ye are," saith he, "the salt of the earth; if
that the salt vanisheth away, wherein shall it be salted? it prevaileth
to no purpose any farther, but that it be cast out of doors, and
trampled under the feet of men."

§ 93. This only testimony might abundantly suffice to confute all such
as are impudent; but that it may be yet, by the words of Christ, more
evidently proved with what intolerable bonds of crimes these false
priests entangle and oppress themselves, some other sayings are also to
be adjoined; for it followeth: "Ye are the light of the world. A city
placed on a mountain cannot be hid: neither do they light a candle, and
put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine unto
all who are in the house." What priest therefore of this fashion and
time, who is so possessed with the blindness of ignorance, doth, as the
light of a most bright candle, shine with the lamp of learning and good
works, in any house, to all that sit in the darksome night? What one is
so accounted a safe public and conspicuous refuge, to all the children
universally of the church, that he may be to his countrymen a defensible
and strong city, situated on the top of a high mountain? Moreover, which
one of them can accomplish one day together, that which followeth: "Let
your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and
glorify your Father who is in heaven:" since rather a certain most
obscure cloud of theirs, and the black night of offences, hang over the
island, in such a manner, that they all turn almost away from the
righteous course, and make them to wander astray through unpassable and
cumbersome paths of wickedness, and so their heavenly Father is not only
by their works not magnified, but also by the same intolerably
blasphemed. These testimonies of holy scripture, which are either
already cited, or hereafter to be intermixed in this epistle, I would
gladly wish to interpret in some historical or moral sense, as far as
my meanness would allow.

§ 94. But for fear lest this our little work should be immeasurably
tedious unto those who despise, loathe, and disdain, not so much our
speeches as God's sayings, I have already alleged, and mean hereafter to
affirm these sentences plainly without any circumstance. And to proceed,
within a few words after: "For whoever shall break one of the least of
these commandments, and so instruct men, shall be called the least in
the kingdom of heaven." And again: "Judge ye not that ye may not be
judged; for in what judgment ye shall judge, ye shall be judged." And
which one, I pray you, of your company will regard this same that
followeth: "But why dost thou see," saith he, "the mote in thy brother's
eye, and considerest not the beam in thine own eye? or how dost thou say
to thy brother, suffer me to cast the mote out of thine eye, and behold
the beam remaineth still in thine own eye?" Or this which follows: "Do
not give what is holy to dogs, neither yet shall ye cast your pearls
before swine, lest perchance they tread them under their feet, and turn
again and rend you," which hath often befallen you. And, admonishing the
people, that they should not by deceitful doctors, such as ye, be
seduced, he saith: "Keep yourselves carefully from false prophets, who
come unto you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves: by
their fruit shall ye know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs
of thistles? So every good tree beareth good fruit, and the evil, evil
fruit." And somewhat afterward: "Not every one who saith unto me, Lord,
Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but whoso doeth the will
of my Father that is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of

§ 95. And what shall then become of you, who, as the prophet hath said,
believe God only with your lips, and do not adhere to him with your
hearts? And how do ye fulfil that which followeth: "Behold I send you
forth as sheep in the midst of wolves?" Whereas you act quite
contrariwise, and proceed as wolves against a flock of sheep: or the
other following sentence: "Be ye wise as serpents and simple as doves?"
since ye are only wise to bite others with your deadly mouths, and not,
with the interposition of your whole body, to defend your head, which
is Christ, whom with all the endeavours of your evil actions you tread
under foot; neither yet have ye the simplicity of doves, but the
resemblance rather of the black crow, which taking her flight out of the
ark, that is, the church of God, and finding the carrion of earthly
pleasures, did never with a pure return back thither again. But let us
look on the rest. "Fear not," saith he, "them who kill the body, but are
not able to slay the soul; but fear him who can overthrow both soul and
body in hell." Revolve in your minds which of these ye have performed?
And what one of you is not wounded in the very secrets of his heart, by
this testimony following, which our Saviour uttereth unto his apostles,
of evil prelates, saying, "Do ye suffer them, the blind leaders of the
blind, but if the blind be a guide to the blind, both shall fall into
the ditch?" But the people doubtless whom ye have governed, or rather
beguiled, have just occasion to listen hereunto.

§ 96. Mark ye also the words of our Lord speaking unto his apostles, and
to the people, which words likewise (as I hear) ye yourselves are not
ashamed to pronounce often in public: "Upon the chair of Moses have the
scribes and pharisees sat, observe ye therefore and accomplish all that
they shall speak unto you, but do not according to their works. For they
only speak, but of themselves do nothing." It is truly to priests a
dangerous and superfluous doctrine, which is overclouded with sinful
actions. "Woe be unto you, hypocrites, who shut up the kingdom of heaven
before men, and neither yourselves enter in, nor yet suffer those that
would to enter in." For ye shall with horrible pains be tormented, not
only in respect of your great offences, which ye heap up for punishment
in the world to come, but also in regard of those who daily perish
through your bad example, whose blood in the day of judgment shall be
required at your hands.

Yield ye also diligent attention unto the misery, which the parable
setteth before your eyes, that is spoken of the servant, who saith in
his heart, "My Lord delayeth his coming," and upon this occasion,
perchance, "hath begun to strike his fellow servants, eating and
drinking with drunkards. The Lord of the same servant, therefore, saith
he, will come on a day when he doth not expect him, and in an hour
whereof he is ignorant, and will divide him, away from his holy priests,
and will place his portion with the hypocrites (that is, with them who
under the pretence of priesthood do conceal much iniquity), affirming
that there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth;" such as they have
not experienced in this present life, either for the daily ruin of the
children of our holy mother church, or for the desire of the kingdom of

§ 97. But let us see what Paul, the true scholar of Christ, and master
of the Gentiles, who is a mirror of every ecclesiastical doctor, "Even
as I am the disciple of Christ," speaketh about a work of such
importance in his first epistle on this wise: "Because when they have
known God, they have not magnified him as God, or given thanks unto him;
but vanished in their own cogitations, and their foolish heart is
blinded; affirming themselves to be wise, they are made fools." Although
this seemeth to be spoken unto the Gentiles, look into it
notwithstanding, because it may conveniently be applied to the priests
and people of this age. And after a few words, "Who have changed," saith
he, "the truth of God into lying, and have reverenced and served the
creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever; therefore
hath God given them over unto passions of ignominy." And again, "And
even as they have not approved themselves to have God in their
knowledge, so God hath yielded them up to a reprobate sense, that they
may do such things as are not convenient, being replenished with all
iniquity, malice, uncleanness of life, fornication, covetousness,
naughtiness, full of envy, murder (i.e. of the souls of the people),
contention, deceit, wickedness, backbiters, detractors, hateful to God,
spiteful, proud, puffed up, devisers of mischief, disobedient to their
parents, senseless, disordered, without mercy, without affection, who,
when they had known the justice of God, understood not that they who
commit such things, are worthy of death."

§ 98. And now what one of the aforesaid sort hath indeed been void of
all these? And if he were, yet perhaps he may be caught in the sense of
the ensuing sentence, wherein he saith: "Not only those who do these
things, but those also who consent unto them," for none of them truly
are free from this wickedness. And afterwards, "But thou, according to
thy hardness and impenitent heart, dost lay up for thyself wrath,
against the day of wrath, and revelation of the just judgment of God,
who will yield unto every one according unto his works." And again, "For
there is no acceptation of persons with God. For whosoever have offended
without the law, shall also without the law perish; whosoever have
offended in the law, shall by the law be judged. For the hearers of the
law shall not with God be accounted just, but the doers of the law shall
be justified." How severe a sentence shall they therefore sustain, who
not only leave undone what they ought to accomplish, and forbear not
what they are forbidden, but also flee away from the very hearing of the
word of God, as from a serpent, though lightly sounding in their ears.

§ 99. But let us pass over to that which followeth to this effect: "What
shall we therefore say, shall we continue still in sin that grace may
abound? God forbid, for we who are dead to sin, how shall we again live
in the same?" And somewhat afterwards, "Who shall separate us," saith
he, "from the love of Christ, tribulation, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or the sword?" What one, I pray you,
of all you, shall with such an affection be possessed in the inward
secret of his heart, since ye do not only labour for achieving of piety,
but also endure many things for the working of impiety, and offending of
Christ? Or who hath respected this that followeth? "The night hath
passed, and the day approached. Let us therefore cast off the works of
darkness, and put on the armour of light, even as in the day: let us
honestly walk, not in banqueting, and drunkenness, not in couches, and
wantonness, not in contention, and emulation; but put ye on our Lord
Jesus Christ, and make no care to bestow your flesh in concupiscences."

§ 100. And again, in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, he saith: "As
a wise workmaster have I laid the foundation, another buildeth
thereupon, but let every man consider how he buildeth thereon. For no
other man can lay any other foundation besides that which is laid, even
Christ Jesus. But if any man buildeth upon this, gold, and silver,
precious stones, hay, wood, stubble, every one's work shall be
manifest; for the day of our Lord shall declare the same, because it
shall be revealed in fire, and the fire shall prove what every man's
work is. If any man's work shall remain, all by the fire shall be
adjudged. Whoso shall build thereupon, shall receive reward. If any
man's work shall burn, he shall suffer detriment. Know ye not that ye
are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? But
if any man violate the temple of God, God will destroy him." And again,
"If any man seemeth to be wise among you in this world, let him be made
a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is
foolishness with God." And within a few words afterwards, "Your glorying
is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven corrupteth the whole mass?
Purge ye, therefore, the old leaven that ye may be a new sprinkling."
How shall the old leaven, which is sin, be purged away, that from day to
day with your uttermost endeavours is increased? And yet again, "I have
written unto you in mine epistle, that ye be not intermingled with
fornicators, not truly the fornicators of this world, or the avaricious,
ravenous, or idolatrous, otherwise ye ought to depart out of this world.
But now have I written unto you, that ye be not intermingled, if any one
is named a brother, and be a fornicator, or avaricious, or an idolator,
or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or ravenous, with such an one ye should
not so much as eat." But a felon condemneth not his fellow thief for
stealing, or other open robbery, whom he rather liketh, defendeth, and
loveth, as a companion of his offence.

§ 101. Also in his second epistle unto the Corinthians; "Having
therefore," saith he, "this administration, according as we have
obtained mercy, let us not fail, but let us cast away the secrets of
shame, not walking in subtility, nor yet corrupting the word of God,"
(that is, by evil example and flattery.) And in that which followeth, he
thus discourseth of wicked teachers, saying: "For such false apostles
are deceitful workmen, transfiguring themselves into the apostles of
Christ. And no wonder: for Satan himself transfigureth himself into an
angel of light. It is not much therefore if his ministers are
transfigured as ministers of justice, whose end will be according unto
their works."

§ 102. Hear likewise what he speaketh unto the Ephesians; and consider
if ye find not your consciences attainted as culpable of this that
followeth? where he denounceth thus: "I say and testify this in our
Lord, that ye do not as now walk like the Gentiles in the vanity of
their own sense, having their understanding obscured with darkness,
alienated from the way of God, through ignorance, which remaineth in
them in regard of the blindness of their heart, who despairing, have
yielded themselves over to uncleanness of life, for the working of all
filthiness and avarice." And which of ye hath willingly fulfilled that
which next ensueth? "Therefore be ye not made unwise, but understanding
what is the will of God, and be ye not drunk with wine, wherein there is
riotousness, but be ye fulfilled with the Holy Ghost."

§ 103. Or that which he saith to the Thessalonians. "For neither have we
been with you at any time in the speech of flattery, as yourselves do
know; neither upon occasion of avarice, neither seeking to be glorified
by men, neither by you, nor any others, when we might be honoured, as
other apostles of Christ. But we have been made as little ones in the
midst of you; or even as the nurse cherisheth her small tender children,
so desiring you, we would very gladly deliver unto you, not only the
gospel, but also our very lives." If in all things ye retained this
affection of the apostle, then might ye be likewise assured, that ye
lawfully possessed his chair. Or how have ye observed this that
followeth? "Ye know," saith he, "what precepts I have delivered unto
you. This is the will of our Lord, your sanctification, that ye abstain
from fornication; and that every one of you know how to possess his own
vessel, in honour and sanctification, not in the passion of desire, like
the Gentiles who are ignorant of God; and that none of you do encroach
upon or circumvent his brother in his business, because our Lord is the
revenger of all these. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but
unto sanctification. Therefore whoso despiseth these, doth not despise
man, but God." What one also among you hath advisedly and warily kept
this that ensueth: "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the
earth, fornication, uncleanness of life, lust, and evil concupiscence,
for which the wrath of God hath come upon the children of diffidence?"
Ye perceive therefore upon what offences the wrath of God doth chiefly

§ 104. In which respect hear likewise what the same holy apostle, with a
prophetical spirit, foretelleth of you, and such as yourselves, writing
plainly in this sort to Timothy: "For know you this, that in the last
days there shall be dangerous times at hand. For men shall be
self-lovers, covetous, puffed up, proud, blasphemous, disobedient to
their parents, ungrateful, wicked, without affection, incontinent,
unmeek, without benignity, betrayers, froward, lofty, rather lovers of
sensual pleasures, than of God, having a show of piety, but renouncing
the virtue thereof." Avoid thou these men, even as the prophet saith: "I
have hated the congregation of the malicious, and with the wicked I will
not sit." And a little after, he uttereth that (which in our age we
behold to increase), saying: "Ever learning, and never attaining unto
the knowledge of truth; for even as Jannes and Mambres resisted Moses,
so do these also withstand the truth: men corrupted in mind, reprobate
against faith, but they shall prosper no further; for their folly shall
be manifest unto all, as theirs likewise was."

§ 105. And evidently doth he also declare how priests in their office
ought to behave themselves, writing thus to Titus: "Show thyself an
example of good works, in learning, in integrity, in gravity, having thy
word sound without offence, that he who standeth on the adverse part may
be afraid, having no evil to speak of us." And moreover he saith unto
Timothy, "Labour thou as a good soldier of Christ Jesus; no man fighting
in God's quarrel entangleth himself in worldly business, that he may
please him unto whom he hath approved himself; for whoso striveth in the
lists for the mastery, receiveth not the crown, unless he hath lawfully
contended." This is his exhortation to the good. Other matter also which
the same epistles contain, is a threatening advertisement to the wicked
(such as yourselves, in the judgment of all understanding persons,
appear to be). "If any one," saith he, "teacheth otherwise, and doth not
peaceably assent to the sound sayings of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that
doctrine which is according to piety, he is proud, having no knowledge,
but languishing about questions, and contentions of words, out of which
do spring envies, debates, blasphemies, evil suspicions, conflicts of
men corrupted in mind, who are deprived of truth, esteeming commodity to
be piety."

§ 106. But why in using these testimonies, here and there dispersed, are
we any longer, as it were, tossed up and down in the silly boat of our
simple understanding, on the waves of sundry interpretations? We have
now therefore at length thought it necessary to have recourse to those
lessons,[247] which are gathered out of Holy Scriptures, to the end that
they should not only be rehearsed, but also be assenting and assisting
unto the benediction, wherewith the hands of priests, and others of
inferior sacred orders, are first consecrated, and that thereby they may
continually be warned never, by degenerating from their priestly
dignity, to digress from the commandments, which are faithfully
contained in the same; so as it may be plain and apparent unto all, that
everlasting torments are reserved for them, and that they are not
priests, or the servants of God, who do not with their utmost power
follow and fulfil the instructions and precepts. Wherefore let us hear
what the prince of the apostles, Saint Peter, hath signified about this
so weighty a matter, saying: "Blessed be God, and the Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ, who through his mercy hath regenerated us into the hope of
eternal life, by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the
dead, into an inheritance which can never corrupt, never wither, neither
be defiled, preserved in heaven for you, who are kept in the virtue of
God;" why then do ye fondly violate such an inheritance, which is not as
an earthly one, transitory, but immortal and eternal? And somewhat
afterwards: "For which cause be ye girded in the loins of your mind,
sober, perfectly hoping in that grace which is offered to you in the
revelation of Jesus Christ:" examine ye now the depths of your hearts,
whether ye be sober and do perfectly preserve the grace of priesthood,
which shall be duly discussed and decided in the revelation of our Lord.
And again he saith: "As children of the benediction, not configuring
yourselves to those former desires of your ignorance; but according unto
him who hath called you holy, be ye also holy in all conversation. For
which cause it is written, Be ye holy, because I am holy." Which one of
you, I pray, hath with his whole mind so pursued sanctity, that he hath
earnestly hastened, as much as in him lay, to fulfil the same? But let
us behold what in the second lesson of the same apostle is contained:
"My dearest," saith he, "sanctify your souls for the obedience of faith,
through the Spirit, in charity, in brotherhood, loving one another out
of a true heart perpetually, as born again not of corruptible seed, but
of incorruptible, through the word of God, living and remaining for

§ 107. These are truly the commandments of the apostle; and read in the
day of your ordination, to the end ye should inviolably observe the
same, but they are not fulfilled by you in discretion and judgment, nay
not so much as duly considered or understood. And afterwards: "Laying
therefore aside all malice, and all deceits, and dissemblings, envy, and
detractions, as infants newly born, reasonable and without guile covet
ye milk, that ye may thereby grow to salvation, because our Lord is
sweet." Consider ye also in your minds, if these sayings which have
sounded in your deaf ears have not often likewise been trodden by you
under foot: and again: "Ye truly are the chosen lineage, the royal
priesthood, the holy nation, the people for adoption, that ye may
declare his virtues who hath called you out of darkness into his
marvellous light." But truly by you are not only the virtues of God not
declared and made more glorious, but also through your wicked examples
are they (by such as have not perfect belief) despised. Ye have
perchance at the same time likewise heard, what is read in the lesson of
the Acts, on this wise: "Peter arising in the midst of the disciples
said: Men and brethren, it is expedient that the Scripture be fulfilled,
which the Holy Ghost hath by the mouth of David foretold of Judas." And
a little after: "This man therefore purchased a field, of the reward of
iniquity." This have ye heard with a careless or rather blockish heart,
as though the reading thereof nothing at all appertained unto
yourselves. What one of you (I pray you) doth not seek the field of the
reward of iniquity? For Judas robbed and pillaged the purse, and ye
spoil and waste the sacred gifts and treasures of the church, together
with the souls of her children. He went to the Jews to make a market of
God, ye pass to the tyrants, and their father the devil, that ye may
despise Christ. _He_ set to sale the Saviour of the world for thirty
pence, and _you_ do so even for one poor halfpenny.

§ 108. What need many words? The example of Matthias is apparently laid
before you for your confusion, who was chosen into his place, not by his
own proper will, but by the election of the holy apostles, or rather the
judgment of Christ, whereat ye being blinded, do not perceive how far ye
run astray from his merits, while ye fall wilfully and headlong into the
manners and affection of Judas the traitor. It is therefore manifest
that he who wittingly from his heart termeth you priests, is not himself
a true and worthy Christian. And now I will assuredly speak what I
think: this reprehension might have been framed after a milder fashion,
but what availeth it to touch only with the hand, or dress with gentle
ointment, that wound which with imposthumation or stinking corruption is
now grown so horrible, that it requireth the searing iron, or the
ordinary help of the fire, if happily by any means it may be cured, the
diseased in the meanwhile not seeking a medicine, and the physician much
erring from a rightful remedy? O ye enemies of God, and not priests! O
ye traders of wickedness, and not bishops! O ye betrayers, and not
successors of the holy apostles! O ye adversaries, and not servants of
Christ! Ye have certainly heard at the least, the sound of the words,
which are in the second lesson taken out of the apostle Saint Paul,
although ye have no way observed the admonitions and virtue of them, but
even as statues (that neither see nor hear) stood that day at the altar,
while both then, and continually since he hath thundered in your ears,
saying: "Brethren, it is a faithful speech, and worthy of all
acceptance." He called it faithful and worthy, but ye have despised it
as unfaithful and unworthy. "If any man desireth a bishopric, he
desireth a good work." Ye do mightily covet a bishopric in respect of
avarice, but not for spiritual convenience and for the good work which
is suitable to the place, ye want it. "It behoveth therefore such a one
to be free from all cause of reprehension." At this saying we have more
need to shed tears than utter words; for it is as much as if the apostle
had said, he ought to be of all others most free from occasion of
rebuke. "The husband of one wife," which is likewise so condemned among
us, as if that word had never proceeded from him; "Sober, wise;" yea,
which of ye hath once desired to have these virtues engrafted in him,
"using hospitality." For this, if perchance it hath been found among
you, yet being nevertheless rather done to purchase the favour of the
people, than to accomplish the commandment, it is of no avail, our Lord
and Saviour saying thus: "Verily, I say unto you, they have received
their reward." Moreover, "A man adorned, not given to wine; no fighter,
but modest; not contentious, not covetous:" O lamentable change! O
horrible contempt of the heavenly commandments! And do ye not
continually use the force of your words and actions, for the
overthrowing or rather overwhelming of these, for whose defence and
confirmation, if need had required, ye ought to have suffered pains,
yea, and to have lost your very lives.

§ 109. But let us see what followeth: "Well governing," saith he, "his
house, having his children subjected with all chastity." Imperfect
therefore is the chastity of the parents, if the children be not also
endued with the same. But how shall it be, where neither the father, nor
the son, depraved by the example of his evil parent, is found to be
chaste? "But if any one knoweth not how to rule over his own house, how
shall he employ his care over the church of God?" These are the words,
that with apparent effects, should be made good and approved. "Deacons
in like manner, that they should be chaste, not doubled tongued, not
overgiven to much wine, not followers of filthy gain, having the mystery
of faith in a preconscience, and let these also be first approved, and
so let them administer, having no offence." And now trembling truly to
make any longer stay on these matters, I can for a conclusion affirm one
thing certainly, which is, that all these are changed into contrary
actions, in so much that clerks (which not without grief of heart, I
here confess,) are shameless and deceitful in their speeches, given to
drinking, covetous of filthy lucre, having faith (or to say more truly)
unfaithfulness in an impure conscience, ministering not upon probation
of their good works, but upon foreknowledge of their evil actions, and
being thus defiled with innumerable offences, they are notwithstanding
admitted unto the holy office; ye have likewise heard on the same day
(wherein ye should with far more right and reason have been drawn to
prison or punishment, than preferred unto priesthood) when our Lord
demanded whom his disciples supposed him to be, how Peter answered,
"Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God;" and our Lord in respect of
such his confession, said unto him: "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jonas,
because flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father
who is in heaven." Peter therefore, instructed by God the Father, did
rightly confess Christ; but ye being taught by the devil your father,
do, with your lewd actions, wickedly deny our Saviour. It is said to the
true priest, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my
church:" but ye resembled "the foolish man, who hath builded his house
upon the sand." And verily it is to be noted, that God joineth not in
the workmanship with the unwise, when they build their house upon the
deceitful uncertainty of the sands, according unto that saying: "They
have made kings unto themselves, and not by me." Similarly that (which
followeth) soundeth in like sort, speaking thus: "And the gates of hell
(whereby infernal sins are to be understood) shall not prevail." But of
your frail and deadly frame, mark what is pronounced: "The floods came,
and the winds blew, and dashed upon that house and it fell, and great
was the ruin thereof." To Peter and his successors, our Lord doth say,
"And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." But unto
you, "I know you not, depart from me all ye workers of iniquity," that
being separated with the goats of the left hand, ye may together with
them go into eternal fire. It is also promised unto every good priest,
"Whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, shall be likewise loosed in
heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, shall be in like sort
bound in heaven." But how shall ye loose any thing, that it may be
loosed also in heaven, since yourselves for your sins are severed from
heaven, and hampered in the bands of your own heinous offences, as
Solomon saith, "With the cords of his sins, every one is tied?" And with
what reason shall ye bind any thing on this earth, that above this world
may be likewise bound, unless it be your only selves, who, entangled in
your iniquities, are so detained on this earth, that ye cannot ascend
into heaven, but without your conversion unto our Lord in this life,
will fall down into the miserable prison of hell?

§ 110. Neither yet let any priest flatter himself upon the knowledge of
the particular cleanness of his own body, since their souls (over whom
he hath government) shall in the day of judgment be required at his
hands as the murderer of them, if any through his ignorance, sloth, or
fawning adulation, have perished, because the stroke of death is not
less terrible, that is given by a good man, than that which is inflicted
by an evil person; otherwise would the apostle never have said that
which he left unto his successors, as a fatherly legacy, "I am clear and
clean from the blood of all: for I have not forborne to declare unto you
all the counsel of God." Being therefore mightily drunken with the use
and custom of sins, and extremely overwhelmed with the waves (as it
were) of increasing offences, seek ye now forthwith the uttermost
endeavours of your minds (after this your shipwreck), that one plank of
repentance which is left, whereby ye may escape and swim to the land of
the living, that from you may be turned away the wrath of our Lord, who
saith, "I will not the death of a sinner: but that he may be converted
and live." And may the same Almighty God, of all consolation and mercy,
preserve his few good pastors from all evil, and (the common enemy being
overcome) make them free inhabitants of the heavenly city of Jerusalem,
which is the congregation of all saints; grant this, O Father, Son, and
Holy Ghost, to whom be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.


[Footnote 240: Probably Cystennyn of the Bards. Constantine is a name
often occurring in the British royal families. The Constantine of Gildas
is supposed to have been king of Cornwall, who abdicated his throne, and
afterwards preached the gospel to the Picts and Scots. Some account of
him will be found in the Aberdeen Breviary, in the Acta Sanctorum,
March, vol. ii. p. 64, and in Whitaker's Cathedral of Cornwall, i. 325.]

[Footnote 241: The present counties of Devon and Cornwall.]

[Footnote 242: King of Powisland, which for some time formed a distinct

[Footnote 243: Inhabitants of the counties of Cardigan, Pembroke, and

[Footnote 244: His dominions were north of Cambria, between the Severn
and the Western Sea.]

[Footnote 245: Probably Maelgwn Gwynedd, king of North Wales.]

[Footnote 246: Vermilion, the English version, seems derived from
_vermes_, a worm.]

[Footnote 247: Gildas, in this and the following section, evidently
alludes to the Ordination Ritual of the Ancient British Church.]






§ 1. Nennius, the lowly minister and servant of the servants of God, by
the grace of God, disciple of St. Elbotus,[248] to all the followers of
truth sendeth health.

Be it known to your charity, that being dull in intellect and rude of
speech, I have presumed to deliver these things in the Latin tongue, not
trusting to my own learning, which is little or none at all, but partly
from traditions of our ancestors, partly from writings and monuments of
the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the
Romans, and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymus,
Prosper, Eusebius, and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons,
although our enemies, not following my own inclinations, but, to the
best of my ability, obeying the commands of my seniors; I have lispingly
put together this history from various sources, and have endeavoured,
from shame, to deliver down to posterity the few remaining ears of corn
about past transactions, that they might not be trodden under foot,
seeing that an ample crop has been snatched away already by the hostile
reapers of foreign nations. For many things have been in my way, and I,
to this day, have hardly been able to understand, even superficially, as
was necessary, the sayings of other men; much less was I able in my own
strength, but like a barbarian, have I murdered and defiled the language
of others. But I bore about with me an inward wound, and I was
indignant, that the name of my own people, formerly famous and
distinguished, should sink into oblivion, and like smoke be dissipated.
But since, however, I had rather myself be the historian of the Britons
than nobody, although so many are to be found who might much more
satisfactorily discharge the labour thus imposed on me; I humbly entreat
my readers, whose ears I may offend by the inelegance of my words, that
they will fulfil the wish of my seniors, and grant me the easy task of
listening with candour to my history. For zealous efforts very often
fail: but bold enthusiasm, were it in its power, would not suffer me to
fail. May, therefore, candour be shown where the inelegance of my words
is insufficient, and may the truth of this history, which my rustic
tongue has ventured, as a kind of plough, to trace out in furrows, lose
none of its influence from that cause, in the ears of my hearers. For it
is better to drink a wholesome draught of truth from a humble vessel,
than poison mixed with honey from a golden goblet.

§ 2. And do not be loath, diligent reader, to winnow my chaff, and lay
up the wheat in the storehouse of your memory: for truth regards not who
is the speaker, nor in what manner it is spoken, but that the thing be
true; and she does not despise the jewel which she has rescued from the
mud, but she adds it to her former treasures.

For I yield to those who are greater and more eloquent than myself, who,
kindled with generous ardour, have endeavoured by Roman eloquence to
smooth the jarring elements of their tongue, if they have left unshaken
any pillar of history which I wished to see remain. This history
therefore has been compiled from a wish to benefit my inferiors, not
from envy of those who are superior to me, in the 858th year of our
Lord's incarnation, and in the 24th year of Mervin, king of the Britons,
and I hope that the prayers of my betters will be offered up for me in
recompence of my labour. But this is sufficient by way of preface. I
shall obediently accomplish the rest to the utmost of my power.


[Footnote 248: Or Elvod, bishop of Bangor, A.D. 755, who first adopted
in the Cambrian church the new cycle for regulating Easter.]


Here begins the apology of Nennius, the historiographer of the Britons,
of the race of the Britons.

§ 3. I, Nennius, disciple of St. Elbotus, have endeavoured to write some
extracts which the dulness of the British nation had cast away, because
teachers had no knowledge, nor gave any information in their books about
this island of Britain. But I have got together all that I could find
as well from the annals of the Romans as from the chronicles of the
sacred fathers, Hieronymus, Eusebius, Isidorus, Prosper, and from the
annals of the Scots and Saxons, and from our ancient traditions. Many
teachers and scribes have attempted to write this, but somehow or other
have abandoned it from its difficulty, either on account of frequent
deaths, or the often recurring calamities of war. I pray that every
reader who shall read this book, may pardon me, for having attempted,
like a chattering jay, or like some weak witness, to write these things,
after they had failed. I yield to him who knows more of these things
than I do.


§ 4, 5. From Adam to the flood, are two thousand and forty-two years.
From the flood to Abraham, nine hundred and forty-two. From Abraham to
Moses, six hundred.[249] From Moses to Solomon, and the first building
of the temple, four hundred and forty-eight. From Solomon to the
rebuilding of the temple, which was under Darius, king of the Persians,
six hundred and twelve years are computed. From Darius to the ministry
of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the fifteenth year of the emperor
Tiberius, are five hundred and forty-eight years. So that from Adam to
the ministry of Christ and the fifteenth year of the emperor Tiberius,
are five thousand two hundred and twenty-eight years. From the passion
of Christ are completed nine hundred and forty-six; from his
incarnation, nine hundred and seventy-six: being the fifth year of
Edmund, king of the Angles.

§ 6. The first age of the world is from Adam to Noah; the second from
Noah to Abraham; the third from Abraham to David; the fourth from David
to Daniel; the fifth to John the Baptist; the sixth from John to the
judgment, when our Lord Jesus Christ will come to judge the living and
the dead, and the world by fire.

The first Julius. The second Claudius. The third Severus. The fourth
Carinus. The fifth Constantius. The sixth Maximus. The seventh
Maximianus. The eighth another Severus Æquantius. The ninth

Here beginneth the history of the Britons, edited by Mark the anchorite,
a holy bishop of that people.

§ 7. The island of Britain derives its name from Brutus, a Roman consul.
Taken from the south-west point it inclines a little towards the west,
and to its northern extremity measures eight hundred miles, and is in
breadth two hundred. It contains thirty-three cities,[251] viz.

    1. Cair ebrauc (_York_).
    2. Cair ceint (_Canterbury_).
    3. Cair gurcoc (_Anglesey?_)
    4. Cair guorthegern.[252]
    5. Cair custeint (_Carnarvon_).
    6. Cair guoranegon (_Worcester_).
    7. Cair segeint (_Silchester_).
    8. Cair guin truis (_Norwich_, or _Winwick_).
    9. Cair merdin (_Caermarthen_).
    10. Cair peris (_Porchester_).
    11. Cair lion (_Caerleon-upon-Usk_).
    12. Cair mencipit (_Verulam_).
    13. Cair caratauc (_Catterick_).
    14. Cair ceri (_Cirencester_).
    15. Cair gloui (_Gloucester_).
    18. Cair luilid (_Carlisle_).
    17. Cair grant (_Grantchester_, now _Cambridge_).
    18. Cair daun (_Doncaster_), or Cair dauri (_Dorchester_).
    19. Cair britoc (_Bristol_).
    20. Cair meguaid (_Meivod_).
    21. Cair mauiguid (_Manchester_).
    22. Cair ligion (_Chester_).
    23. Cair guent (_Winchester_, or _Caerwent_, in _Monmouthshire_).
    24. Cair collon (_Colchester_, or _St. Colon, Cornwall_).
    25. Cair londein (_London_).
    26. Cair guorcon (_Worren_, or _Woran_, in _Pembrokeshire_).
    27. Cair lerion (_Leicester_).
    28. Cair draithou (_Drayton_).
    29. Cair pensavelcoit (_Pevensey_, in _Sussex_).
    30. Cair teim (_Teyn-Grace_, in _Devonshire_).
    31. Cair Urnahc (_Wroxeter_, in _Shropshire_).
    32. Cair colemion (_Oarnalet_, in _Somersetshire_).
    33. Cair loit coit (_Lincoln_).

These are the names of the ancient cities of the island of Britain. It
has also a vast many promontories, and castles innumerable, built of
brick and stone. Its inhabitants consist of four different people; the
Scots, the Picts, the Saxons, and the ancient Britons.

§ 8. Three considerable islands belong to it; one, on the south,
opposite the Armorican shore, called Wight;[253] another between Ireland
and Britain, called Eubonia or Man; and another directly north, beyond
the Picts, named Orkney; and hence it was anciently a proverbial
expression, in reference to its kings and rulers, "He reigned over
Britain and its three islands."

§ 9. It is fertilized by several rivers, which traverse it in all
directions, to the east and west, to the south and north; but there are
two pre-eminently distinguished among the rest, the Thames and the
Severn, which formerly, like the two arms of Britain, bore the ships
employed in the conveyance of the riches acquired by commerce. The
Britons were once very populous, and exercised extensive dominion from
sea to sea.

§ 10.[254] Respecting the period when this island became inhabited
subsequently to the flood, I have seen two distinct relations. According
to the annals of the Roman history, the Britons deduce their origin both
from the Greeks and Romans. On the side of the mother, from Lavinia, the
daughter of Latinus, king of Italy, and of the race of Silvanus, the son
of Inachus, the son of Dardanus; who was the son of Saturn, king of the
Greeks, and who, having possessed himself of a part of Asia, built the
city of Troy. Dardanus was the father of Troius, who was the father of
Priam and Anchises; Anchises was the father of Æneas, who was the father
of Ascanius and Silvius; and this Silvius was the son of Æneas and
Lavinia, the daughter of the king of Italy. From the sons of Æneas and
Lavinia descended Romulus and Remus, who were the sons of the holy queen
Rhea, and the founders of Rome. Brutus was consul when he conquered
Spain, and reduced that country to a Roman province. He afterwards
subdued the island of Britain, whose inhabitants were the descendants of
the Romans, from Silvius Posthumus. He was called _Posthumus_ because he
was born after the death of Æneas his father; and his mother Lavinia
concealed herself during her pregnancy; he was called _Silvius_, because
he was born in a wood. Hence the Roman kings were called Silvan, and the
Britons who sprang from him; but they were called Britons from Brutus,
and rose from the family of Brutus.

Æneas, after the Trojan war, arrived with his son in Italy; and having
vanquished Turnus, married Lavinia, the daughter of king Latinus, who
was the son of Faunas, the son of Picus, the son of Saturn. After the
death of Latinus, Æneas obtained the kingdom of the Romans, and Lavinia
brought forth a son, who was named Silvius. Ascanius founded Alba, and
afterwards married. And Lavinia bore to Æneas a son, named Silvius; but
Ascanius[255] married a wife, who conceived and became pregnant. And
Æneas, having been informed that his daughter-in-law was pregnant,
ordered his son to send his magician to examine his wife, whether the
child conceived were male or female. The magician came and examined the
wife and pronounced it to be a son, who should become the most valiant
among the Italians, and the most beloved of all men.[256] In consequence
of this prediction, the magician was put to death by Ascanius; but it
happened that the mother of the child dying at its birth, he was named
Brutus; and after a certain interval, agreeably to what the magician had
foretold, whilst he was playing with some others he shot his father with
an arrow, not intentionally but by accident.[257] He was, for this
cause, expelled from Italy, and came to the islands of the Tyrrhene sea,
when he was exiled on account of the death of Turnus, slain by Æneas. He
then went among the Gauls, and built the city of the Turones, called
Turnis.[258] At length he came to this island, named from him Britannia,
dwelt there, and filled it with his own descendants, and it has been
inhabited from that time to the present period.

§ 11. Æneas reigned over the Latins three years; Ascanius thirty-three
years; after whom Silvius reigned twelve years, and Posthumus
thirty-nine[259] years: the latter, from whom the kings of Alba are
called Silvan, was brother to Brutus, who governed Britain at the time
Eli the high-priest judged Israel, and when the ark of the covenant was
taken by a foreign people. But Posthumus his brother reigned among the

§ 12. After an interval of not less than eight hundred years, came the
Picts, and occupied the Orkney Islands: whence they laid waste many
regions, and seized those on the left hand side of Britain, where they
still remain, keeping possession of a third part of Britain to this

§ 13. Long after this, the Scots arrived in Ireland from Spain. The
first that came was Partholomus,[261] with a thousand men and women;
these increased to four thousand; but a mortality coming suddenly upon
them, they all perished in one week. The second was Nimech, the son of
...,[262] who, according to report, after having been at sea a year and
a half, and having his ships shattered, arrived at a port in Ireland,
and continuing there several years, returned at length with his
followers to Spain. After these came three sons of a Spanish soldier
with thirty ships, each of which contained thirty wives; and having
remained there during the space of a year, there appeared to them, in
the middle of the sea, a tower of glass, the summit of which seemed
covered with men, to whom they often spoke, but received no answer. At
length they determined to besiege the tower; and after a year's
preparation, advanced towards it, with the whole number of their ships,
and all the women, one ship only excepted, which had been wrecked, and
in which were thirty men, and as many women; but when all had
disembarked on the shore which surrounded the tower, the sea opened and
swallowed them up. Ireland, however, was peopled, to the present period,
from the family remaining in the vessel which was wrecked. Afterwards,
others came from Spain, and possessed themselves of various parts of

§ 14. Last of all came one Hoctor,[263] who continued there, and whose
descendants remain there to this day. Istoreth, the son of Istorinus,
with his followers, held Dalrieta; Buile had the island Eubonia, and
other adjacent places. The sons of Liethali[264] obtained the country of
the Dimetæ, where is a city called Menavia,[265] and the province Guiher
and Cetgueli,[266] which they held till they were expelled from every
part of Britain, by Cunedda and his sons.

§ 15. According to the most learned among the Scots, if any one desires
to learn what I am now going to state, Ireland was a desert, and
uninhabited, when the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, in which,
as we read in the Book of the Law, the Egyptians who followed them were
drowned. At that period, there lived among this people, with a numerous
family, a Scythian of noble birth, who had been banished from his
country, and did not go to pursue the people of God. The Egyptians who
were left, seeing the destruction of the great men of their nation, and
fearing lest he should possess himself of their territory, took counsel
together, and expelled him. Thus reduced, he wandered forty-two years in
Africa, and arrived, with his family, at the altars of the Philistines,
by the Lake of Osiers. Then passing between Rusicada and the hilly
country of Syria, they travelled by the river Malva through Mauritania
as far as the Pillars of Hercules; and crossing the Tyrrhene Sea, landed
in Spain, where they continued many years, having greatly increased and
multiplied. Thence, a thousand and two years after the Egyptians were
lost in the Red Sea, they passed into Ireland, and the district of
Dalrieta.[267] At that period, Brutus, who first exercised the consular
office, reigned over the Romans; and the state, which before was
governed by regal power, was afterwards ruled, during four hundred and
forty-seven years, by consuls, tribunes of the people, and dictators.

The Britons came to Britain in the third age of the world; and in the
fourth, the Scots took possession of Ireland.

The Britons who, suspecting no hostilities, were unprovided with the
means of defence, were unanimously and incessantly attacked, both by the
Scots from the west, and by the Picts from the north. A long interval
after this, the Romans obtained the empire of the world.

§ 16. From the first arrival of the Saxons into Britain, to the fourth
year of king Mermenus are computed four hundred and twenty-eight years;
from the nativity of our Lord to the coming of St. Patrick among the
Scots, four hundred and five years; from the death of St. Patrick to
that of St. Bridget, forty years; and from the birth of Columcille[268]
to the death of St. Bridget four years.[269]

§ 17. I have learned another account of this Brutus from the ancient
books of our ancestors.[270] After the deluge, the three sons of Noah
severally occupied three different parts of the earth: Shem extended his
borders into Asia, Ham into Africa, and Japheth into Europe.

The first man that dwelt in Europe was Alanus, with his three sons,
Hisicion, Armenon, and Neugio. Hisicion had four sons, Francus, Romanus,
Alamanus, and Brutus. Armenon had five sons, Gothus, Valagothus,
Cibidus, Burgundus, and Longobardus. Neugio had three sons, Vandalus,
Saxo, and Boganus. From Hisicion arose four nations--the Franks, the
Latins, the Germans, and Britons: from Armenon, the Gothi, Valagothi,
Cibidi, Burgundi, and Longobardi: from Neugio, the Bogari, Vandali,
Saxones, and Tarinegi. The whole of Europe was subdivided into these

Alanus is said to have been the son of Fethuir;[271] Fethuir the son of
Ogomuin, who was the son of Thoi; Thoi was the son of Boibus, Boibus of
Semion, Semion of Mair, Mair of Ecthactus, Ecthactus of Aurthack,
Aurthack of Ethec, Ethec of Ooth, Ooth of Aber, Aber of Ra, Ra of Esraa,
Esraa of Hisrau, Hisrau of Bath, Bath of Jobath, Jobath of Joham, Joham
of Japheth, Japheth of Noah, Noah of Lamech, Lamech of Mathusalem,
Mathusalem of Enoch, Enoch of Jared, Jared of Malalehel, Malalehel of
Cainan, Cainan of Enos, Enos of Seth, Seth of Adam, and Adam was formed
by the living God. We have obtained this information respecting the
original inhabitants of Britain from ancient tradition.

§ 18. The Britons were thus called from Brutus: Brutus was the son of
Hisicion, Hisicion was the son of Alanus, Alanus was the son of Rhea
Silvia, Rhea Silvia was the daughter of Numa Pompilius, Numa was the son
of Ascanius, Ascanius of Eneas, Eneas of Anchises, Anchises of Troius,
Troius of Dardanus, Dardanus of Flisa, Flisa of Juuin, Juuin of
Japheth; but Japheth had seven sons; from the first, named Gomer,
descended the Galli; from the second, Magog, the Scythi and Gothi; from
the third, Madian, the Medi; from the fourth, Juuan, the Greeks; from
the fifth, Tubal, arose the Hebrei, Hispani, and Itali; from the sixth,
Mosoch, sprung the Cappadoces; and from the seventh, named Tiras,
descended the Thraces: these are the sons of Japheth, the son of Noah,
the son of Lamech.

§ 19.[272] The Romans having obtained the dominion of the world, sent
legates or deputies to the Britons to demand of them hostages and
tribute, which they received from all other countries and islands; but
they, fierce, disdainful, and haughty, treated the legation with

Then Julius Cæsar, the first who had acquired absolute power at Rome,
highly incensed against the Britons, sailed with sixty vessels to the
mouth of the Thames, where they suffered shipwreck whilst he fought
against Dolobellus,[273] (the proconsul of the British king, who was
called Belinus,[274] and who was the son of Minocannus who governed all
the islands of the Tyrrhene Sea), and thus Julius Cæsar returned home
without victory, having had his soldiers slain, and his ships shattered.

§ 20. But after three years he again appeared with a large army, and
three hundred ships, at the mouth of the Thames, where he renewed
hostilities. In this attempt many of his soldiers and horses were
killed; for the same consul had placed iron pikes in the shallow part of
the river, and this having been effected with so much skill and secrecy
as to escape the notice of the Roman soldiers, did them considerable
injury; thus Cæsar was once more compelled to return without peace or
victory. The Romans were, therefore, a third time sent against the
Britons; and under the command of Julius, defeated them near a place
called Trinovantum [London], forty-seven years before the birth of
Christ, and five thousand two hundred and twelve years from the

Julius was the first exercising supreme power over the Romans who
invaded Britain: in honour of him the Romans decreed the fifth month to
be called after his name. He was assassinated in the Curia, in the ides
of March, and Octavius Augustus succeeded to the empire of the world. He
was the only emperor who received tribute from the Britons, according to
the following verse of Virgil:

    "Purpurea intexti tollunt aulæa Britanni."

§ 21. The second after him, who came into Britain, was the emperor
Claudius, who reigned forty-seven years after the birth of Christ. He
carried with him war and devastation; and, though not without loss of
men, he at length conquered Britain. He next sailed to the Orkneys,
which he likewise conquered, and afterwards rendered tributary. No
tribute was in his time received from the Britons; but it was paid to
British emperors. He reigned thirteen years and eight months. His
monument is to be seen at Moguntia (among the Lombards), where he died
in his way to Rome.

§ 22. After the birth of Christ, one hundred and sixty-seven years, king
Lucius, with all the chiefs of the British people, received baptism, in
consequence of a legation sent by the Roman emperors and pope

§ 23. Severus was the third emperor who passed the sea to Britain,
where, to protect the provinces recovered from barbaric incursions, he
ordered a wall and a rampart to be made between the Britons, the Scots,
and the Picts, extending across the island from sea to sea, in length
one hundred and thirty-three[276] miles: and it is called in the British
language, Gwal.[277] Moreover, he ordered it to be made between the
Britons, and the Picts and Scots; for the Scots from the west, and the
Picts from the north, unanimously made war against the Britons; but were
at peace among themselves. Not long after Severus dies in Britain.

§ 24. The fourth was the emperor and tyrant, Carausius, who, incensed at
the murder of Severus, passed into Britain, and attended by the leaders
of the Roman people, severely avenged upon the chiefs and rulers of the
Britons, the cause of Severus.[278]

§ 25. The fifth was Constantius the father of Constantine the Great. He
died in Britain; his sepulchre, as it appears by the inscription on his
tomb, is still seen near the city named Cair segont (near Carnarvon).
Upon the pavement of the above-mentioned city he sowed three seeds of
gold, silver, and brass, that no poor person might ever be found in it.
It is also called Minmanton.[279]

§ 26. Maximianus[280] was the sixth emperor that ruled in Britain. It
was in his time that consuls[281] began, and that the appellation of
Cæsar was discontinued: at this period also, St. Martin became
celebrated for his virtues and miracles, and held a conversation with

§ 27. The seventh emperor was Maximus. He withdrew from Britain with all
his military force, slew Gratian, the king of the Romans, and obtained
the sovereignty of all Europe. Unwilling to send back his warlike
companions to their wives, children, and possessions in Britain, he
conferred upon them numerous districts from the lake on the summit of
Mons Jovis, to the city called Cant Guic, and to the western Tumulus,
that is, to Cruc Occident.[282] These are the Armoric Britons, and they
remain there to the present day. In consequence of their absence,
Britain being overcome by foreign nations, the lawful heirs were cast
out, till God interposed with his assistance. We are informed by the
tradition of our ancestors that _seven_ emperors went into Britain,
though the Romans affirm there were _nine_.

The eighth was another Severus, who lived occasionally in Britain, and
sometimes at Rome, where he died.

The ninth was Constantius who reigned sixteen years in Britain, and,
according to report, was treacherously murdered in the seventeenth year
of his reign.

§ 28. Thus, agreeably to the account given by the Britons, the Romans
governed them four hundred and nine years.

After this, the Britons despised the authority of the Romans, equally
refusing to pay them tribute, or to receive their kings; nor durst the
Romans any longer attempt the government of a country, the natives of
which massacred their deputies.

§ 29. We must now return to the tyrant Maximus. Gratian, with his
brother Valentinian, reigned seven years. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, was
then eminent for his skill in the dogmata of the Catholics.
Valentinianus and Theodosius reigned eight years. At that time a synod
was held at Constantinople, attended by three hundred and fifty of the
fathers, and in which all heresies were condemned. Jerome, the presbyter
of Bethlehem, was then universally celebrated. Whilst Gratian exercised
supreme dominion over the world, Maximus, in a sedition of the soldiers,
was saluted emperor in Britain, and soon after crossed the sea to Gaul.
At Paris, by the treachery of Mellobaudes, his master of the horse,
Gratian was defeated, and fleeing to Lyons, was taken and put to death;
Maximus afterwards associated his son Victor in the government.

Martin, distinguished for his great virtues, was at this period bishop
of Tours. After a considerable space of time, Maximus was divested of
royal power by the consuls Valentinianus and Theodosius, and sentenced
to be beheaded at the third milestone from Aquileia: in the same year
also his son Victor was killed in Gaul by Arbogastes, five thousand six
hundred and ninety years from the creation of the world.

§ 30. Thrice were the Roman deputies put to death by the Britons, and
yet these, when harassed by the incursions of the barbarous nations,
viz. of the Scots and Picts, earnestly solicited the aid of the Romans.
To give effect to their entreaties, ambassadors were sent, who made
their entrance with impressions of deep sorrow, having their heads
covered with dust, and carrying rich presents to expiate the murder of
the deputies. They were favourably received by the consuls, and swore
submission to the Roman yoke, with whatever severity it might be

The Romans, therefore, came with a powerful army to the assistance of
the Britons; and having appointed over them a ruler, and settled the
government, returned to Rome: and this took place alternately during the
space of three hundred and forty-eight years. The Britons, however, from
the oppression of the empire, again massacred the Roman deputies, and
again petitioned for succour. Once more the Romans undertook the
government of the Britons, and assisted them in repelling their
neighbours; and, after having exhausted the country of its gold, silver,
brass, honey, and costly vestments, and having besides received rich
gifts, they returned in great triumph to Rome.

§ 31. After the above-said war between the Britons and Romans, the
assassination of their rulers, and the victory of Maximus, who slew
Gratian, and the termination of the Roman power in Britain, they were in
alarm forty years.

Vortigern then reigned in Britain. In his time, the natives had cause of
dread, not only from the inroads of the Scots and Picts, but also from
the Romans, and their apprehensions of Ambrosius.[283]

In the meantime, three vessels, exiled from Germany, arrived in Britain.
They were commanded by Horsa and Hengist, brothers, and sons of
Wihtgils. Wihtgils was the son of Witta; Witta of Wecta; Wecta of Woden;
Woden of Frithowald; Frithowald of Frithuwulf; Frithuwulf of Finn; Finn
of Godwulf; Godwulf of Geat, who, as they say, was the son of a god,
not[284] of the omnipotent God and our Lord Jesus Christ (who before
the beginning of the world, was with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
co-eternal and of the same substance, and who, in compassion to human
nature, disdained not to assume the form of a servant), but the
offspring of one of their idols, and whom, blinded by some demon, they
worshipped according to the custom of the heathen. Vortigern received
them as friends, and delivered up to them the island which is in their
language called Thanet, and, by the Britons, Ruym.[285] Gratianus
Æquantius at that time reigned in Rome. The Saxons were received by
Vortigern, four hundred and forty-seven years after the passion of
Christ, and,[286] according to the tradition of our ancestors, from the
period of their first arrival in Britain, to the first year of the reign
of king Edmund, five hundred and forty-two years; and to that in which
we now write, which is the fifth of his reign, five hundred and
forty-seven years.

§ 32. At that time St. Germanus, distinguished for his numerous virtues,
came to preach in Britain: by his ministry many were saved; but many
likewise died unconverted. Of the various miracles which God enabled him
to perform, I shall here mention only a few: I shall first advert to
that concerning an iniquitous and tyrannical king, named Benlli.[287]
The holy man, informed of his wicked conduct, hastened to visit him, for
the purpose of remonstrating with him. When the man of God, with his
attendants, arrived at the gate of the city, they were respectfully
received by the keeper of it, who came out and saluted them. Him they
commissioned to communicate their intention to the king, who returned a
harsh answer, declaring, with an oath, that although they remained there
a year, they should not enter the city. While waiting for an answer, the
evening came on, and they knew not where to go. At length, came one of
the king's servants, who bowing himself before the man of God, announced
the words of the tyrant, inviting them, at the same time, to his own
house, to which they went, and were kindly received. It happened,
however, that he had no cattle, except one cow and a calf, the latter of
which, urged by generous hospitality to his guests, he killed, dressed,
and set before them. But holy St. Germanus ordered his companions not to
break a bone of the calf; and, the next morning, it was found alive
uninjured, and standing by its mother.

§ 33. Early the same day, they again went to the gate of the city, to
solicit audience of the wicked king; and, whilst engaged in fervent
prayer they were waiting for admission, a man, covered with sweat, came
out, and prostrated himself before them. Then St. Germanus, addressing
him, said, "Dost thou believe in the Holy Trinity?" To which the man
having replied, "I do believe," he baptized, and kissed him, saying, "Go
in peace; within this hour thou shalt die: the angels of God are waiting
for thee in the air; with them thou shalt ascend to that God in whom
thou hast believed." He, overjoyed, entered the city, and being met by
the prefect, was seized, bound, and conducted before the tyrant, who
having passed sentence upon him, he was immediately put to death; for it
was a law of this wicked king, that whoever was not at his labour before
sun-rising should be beheaded in the citadel. In the meantime, St.
Germanus, with his attendants, waited the whole day before the gate,
without obtaining admission to the tyrant.

§ 34. The man above-mentioned, however, remained with them. "Take care,"
said St. Germanus to him, "that none of your friends remain this night
within these walls." Upon this he hastily entered the city, brought out
his nine sons, and with them retired to the house where he had exercised
such generous hospitality. Here St. Germanus ordered them to continue,
fasting; and when the gates were shut, "Watch," said he, "and whatever
shall happen in the citadel, turn not thither your eyes; but pray
without ceasing, and invoke the protection of the true God." And,
behold, early in the night, fire fell from heaven, and burned the city,
together with all those who were with the tyrant, so that not one
escaped; and that citadel has never been rebuilt even to this day.

§ 35. The following day, the hospitable man who had been converted by
the preaching of St. Germanus, was baptized, with his sons, and all the
inhabitants of that part of the country; and St. Germanus blessed him,
saying, "a king shall not be wanting of thy seed for ever." The name of
this person is Catel Drunluc:[288] "from henceforward thou shalt be a
king all the days of thy life." Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of the
Psalmist: "He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the
needy out of the dunghill." And agreeably to the prediction of St.
Germanus, from a servant he became a king: all his sons were kings, and
from their offspring the whole country of Powys has been governed to
this day.

§ 36. After the Saxons had continued some time in the island of Thanet,
Vortigern promised to supply them with clothing and provision, on
condition they would engage to fight against the enemies of his country.
But the barbarians having greatly increased in number, the Britons
became incapable of fulfilling their engagement; and when the Saxons,
according to the promise they had received, claimed a supply of
provisions and clothing, the Britons replied, "Your number is increased;
your assistance is now unnecessary; you may, therefore, return home, for
we can no longer support you;" and hereupon they began to devise means
of breaking the peace between them.

§ 37. But Hengist, in whom united craft and penetration, perceiving he
had to act with an ignorant king, and a fluctuating people, incapable of
opposing much resistance, replied to Vortigern, "We are, indeed, few in
number; but, if you will give us leave, we will send to our country for
an additional number of forces, with whom we will fight for you and your
subjects." Vortigern assenting to this proposal, messengers were
despatched to Scythia, where selecting a number of warlike troops, they
returned with sixteen vessels, bringing with them the beautiful daughter
of Hengist. And now the Saxon chief prepared an entertainment, to which
he invited the king, his officers, and Ceretic, his interpreter, having
previously enjoined his daughter to serve them so profusely with wine
and ale, that they might soon become intoxicated. This plan succeeded;
and Vortigern, at the instigation of the devil, and enamoured with the
beauty of the damsel, demanded her, through the medium of his
interpreter, of the father, promising to give for her whatever he should
ask. Then Hengist, who had already consulted with the elders who
attended him of the Oghgul[289] race, demanded for his daughter the
province, called in English, Centland, in British, Ceint, (Kent.) This
cession was made without the knowledge of the king, Guoyrancgonus,[290]
who then reigned in Kent, and who experienced no inconsiderable share of
grief, from seeing his kingdom thus clandestinely, fraudulently, and
imprudently resigned to foreigners. Thus the maid was delivered up to
the king, who slept with her, and loved her exceedingly.

§ 38. Hengist, after this, said to Vortigern, "I will be to you both a
father and an adviser; despise not my counsels, and you shall have no
reason to fear being conquered by any man or any nation whatever; for
the people of my country are strong, warlike, and robust: if you
approve, I will send for my son and his brother, both valiant men, who
at my invitation will fight against the Scots, and you can give them the
countries in the north, near the wall called _Gual_."[291] The
incautious sovereign having assented to this, Octa and Ebusa arrived
with forty ships. In these they sailed round the country of the Picts,
laid waste the Orkneys, and took possession of many regions, even to the
Pictish confines.[292]

But Hengist continued, by degrees, sending for ships from his own
country, so that some islands whence they came were left without
inhabitants; and whilst his people were increasing in power and number,
they came to the above-named province of Kent.

§ 39. In the meantime, Vortigern, as if desirous of adding to the evils
he had already occasioned, married his own daughter, by whom he had a
son. When this was made known to St. Germanus, he came, with all the
British clergy, to reprove him: and whilst a numerous assembly of the
ecclesiastics and laity were in consultation, the weak king ordered his
daughter to appear before them, and in the presence of all to present
her son to St. Germanus, and declare that he was the father of the
child. The immodest[293] woman obeyed; and St. Germanus, taking the
child, said, "I will be a father to you, my son; nor will I dismiss you
till a razor, scissors, and comb, are given to me, and it is allowed you
to give them to your carnal father." The child obeyed St. Germanus, and,
going to his father Vortigern, said to him, "Thou art my father; shave
and cut the hair of my head." The king blushed, and was silent; and,
without replying to the child, arose in great anger, and fled from the
presence of St. Germanus, execrated and condemned by the whole synod.

§ 40. But soon after, calling together his twelve wise men, to consult
what was to be done, they said to him, "Retire to the remote boundaries
of your kingdom; there build and fortify a city[294] to defend yourself,
for the people you have received are treacherous; they are seeking to
subdue you by stratagem, and, even during your life, to seize upon all
the countries subject to your power, how much more will they attempt,
after your death!" The king, pleased with this advice, departed with his
wise men, and travelled through many parts of his territories, in search
of a place convenient for the purpose of building a citadel. Having, to
no purpose, travelled far and wide, they came at length to a province
called Guenet;[295] and having surveyed the mountains of Heremus,[296]
they discovered, on the summit of one of them, a situation, adapted to
the construction of a citadel. Upon this, the wise men said to the king,
"Build here a city; for, in this place, it will ever be secure against
the barbarians." Then the king sent for artificers, carpenters,
stone-masons, and collected all the materials requisite to building; but
the whole of these disappeared in one night, so that nothing remained
of what had been provided for the constructing of the citadel. Materials
were, therefore, from all parts, procured a second and third time, and
again vanished as before, leaving and rendering every effort
ineffectual. Vortigern inquired of his wise men the cause of this
opposition to his undertaking, and of so much useless expense of labour?
They replied, "You must find a child born without a father, put him to
death, and sprinkle with his blood the ground on which the citadel is to
be built, or you will never accomplish your purpose."

§ 41. In consequence of this reply, the king sent messengers throughout
Britain, in search of a child born without a father. After having
inquired in all the provinces, they came to the field of Ælecti,[297] in
the district of Glevesing,[298] where a party of boys were playing at
ball. And two of them quarrelling, one said to the other, "O boy without
a father, no good will ever happen to you." Upon this, the messengers
diligently inquired of the mother and the other boys, whether he had had
a father? Which his mother denied, saying, "In what manner he was
conceived I know not, for I have never had intercourse with any man;"
and then she solemnly affirmed that he had no mortal father. The boy
was, therefore, led away, and conducted before Vortigern the king.

§ 42. A meeting took place the next day for the purpose of putting him
to death. Then the boy said to the king, "Why have your servants brought
me hither?" "That you may be put to death," replied the king, "and that
the ground on which my citadel is to stand, may be sprinkled with your
blood, without which I shall be unable to build it." "Who," said the
boy, "instructed you to do this?" "My wise men," answered the king.
"Order them hither," returned the boy; this being complied with, he thus
questioned them: "By what means was it revealed to you that this citadel
could not be built, unless the spot were previously sprinkled with my
blood? Speak without disguise, and declare who discovered me to you;"
then turning to the king, "I will soon," said he, "unfold to you every
thing; but I desire to question your wise men, and wish them to disclose
to you what is hidden under this pavement:" they acknowledging their
ignorance, "there is," said he, "a pool; come and dig:" they did so, and
found the pool. "Now," continued he, "tell me what is in it;" but they
were ashamed, and made no reply. "I," said the boy, "can discover it to
you: there are two vases in the pool;" they examined, and found it so:
continuing his questions, "What is in the vases?" they were silent:
"there is a tent in them," said the boy; "separate them, and you shall
find it so;" this being done by the king's command, there was found in
them a folded tent. The boy, going on with his questions, asked the wise
men what was in it? But they not knowing what to reply, "There are,"
said he, "two serpents, one white and the other red; unfold the tent;"
they obeyed, and two sleeping serpents were discovered; "consider
attentively," said the boy, "what they are doing." The serpents began to
struggle with each other; and the white one, raising himself up, threw
down the other into the middle of the tent, and sometimes drove him to
the edge of it; and this was repeated thrice. At length the red one,
apparently the weaker of the two, recovering his strength, expelled the
white one from the tent; and the latter being pursued through the pool
by the red one, disappeared. Then the boy, asking the wise men what was
signified by this wonderful omen, and they expressing their ignorance,
he said to the king, "I will now unfold to you the meaning of this
mystery. The pool is the emblem of this world, and the tent that of your
kingdom: the two serpents are two dragons; the red serpent is your
dragon, but the white serpent is the dragon of the people who occupy
several provinces and districts of Britain, even almost from sea to sea:
at length, however, our people shall rise and drive away the Saxon race
from beyond the sea, whence they originally came; but do you depart from
this place, where you are not permitted to erect a citadel; I, to whom
fate has allotted this mansion, shall remain here; whilst to you it is
incumbent to seek other provinces, where you may build a fortress."
"What is your name?" asked the king; "I am called Ambrose (in British
Embresguletic)," returned the boy; and in answer to the king's question,
"What is your origin?" he replied, "A Roman consul was my father."

Then the king assigned him that city, with all the western provinces of
Britain; and departing with his wise men to the sinistral district, he
arrived in the region named Gueneri, where he built a city which,
according to his name, was called Cair Guorthegirn.[299]

§ 43. At length Vortimer, the son of Vortigern, valiantly fought against
Hengist, Horsa, and his people; drove them to the isle of Thanet, and
thrice enclosed them within it, and beset them on the western side.

The Saxons now despatched deputies to Germany to solicit large
reinforcements, and an additional number of ships: having obtained
these, they fought against the kings and princes of Britain, and
sometimes extended their boundaries by victory, and sometimes were
conquered and driven back.

§ 44. Four times did Vortimer valorously encounter the enemy;[300] the
first has been mentioned, the second was upon the river Darent, the
third at the Ford, in their language called Epsford, though in ours Set
thirgabail,[301] there Horsa fell, and Catigern, the son of Vortigern;
the fourth battle he fought, was near the stone[302] on the shore of the
Gallic sea, where the Saxons being defeated, fled to their ships.

After a short interval Vortimer died; before his decease, anxious for
the future prosperity of his country, he charged his friends to inter
his body at the entrance of the Saxon port, viz. upon the rock where the
Saxons first landed; "for though," said he, "they may inhabit other
parts of Britain, yet if you follow my commands, they will never remain
in this island." They imprudently disobeyed this last injunction, and
neglected to bury him where he had appointed.[303]

§ 45. After this the barbarians became firmly incorporated, and were
assisted by foreign pagans; for Vortigern was their friend, on account
of the daughter[304] of Hengist, whom he so much loved, that no one
durst fight against him--in the meantime they soothed the imprudent
king, and whilst practising every appearance of fondness, were plotting
with his enemies. And let him that reads understand, that the Saxons
were victorious, and ruled Britain, not from their superior prowess, but
on account of the great sins of the Britons: God so permitting it.

For what wise man will resist the wholesome counsel of God? The Almighty
is the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, ruling and judging every
one, according to his own pleasure.

After the death of Vortimer, Hengist being strengthened by new
accessions, collected his ships, and calling his leaders together,
consulted by what stratagem they might overcome Vortigern and his army;
with insidious intention they sent messengers to the king, with offers
of peace and perpetual friendship; unsuspicious of treachery, the
monarch, after advising with his elders, accepted the proposals.

§ 46. Hengist, under pretence of ratifying the treaty, prepared an
entertainment, to which he invited the king, the nobles, and military
officers, in number about three hundred; speciously concealing his
wicked intention, he ordered three hundred Saxons to conceal each a
knife under his feet, and to mix with the Britons; "and when," said he,
"they are sufficiently inebriated, &c. cry out, 'Nimed eure Saxes,' then
let each draw his knife, and kill his man; but spare the king, on
account of his marriage with my daughter, for it is better that he
should be ransomed than killed."[305]

The king with his company, appeared at the feast; and mixing with the
Saxons, who, whilst they spoke peace with their tongues, cherished
treachery in their hearts, each man was placed next his enemy.

After they had eaten and drunk, and were much intoxicated, Hengist
suddenly vociferated, "Nimed eure Saxes!" and instantly his adherents
drew their knives, and rushing upon the Britons, each slew him that sat
next to him, and there was slain three hundred of the nobles of
Vortigern. The king being a captive, purchased his redemption, by
delivering up the three provinces of East, South, and Middle Sex,
besides other districts at the option of his betrayers.

§ 47. St. Germanus admonished Vortigern to turn to the true God, and
abstain from all unlawful intercourse with his daughter; but the unhappy
wretch fled for refuge to the province Guorthegirnaim,[306] so called
from his own name, where he concealed himself with his wives: but St.
Germanus followed him with all the British clergy, and upon a rock
prayed for his sins during forty days and forty nights.

The blessed man was unanimously chosen commander against the Saxons. And
then, not by the clang of trumpets, but by praying, singing hallelujah,
and by the cries of the army to God, the enemies were routed, and driven
even to the sea.[307]

Again Vortigern ignominiously flew from St. Germanus to the kingdom of
the Dimetæ, where, on the river Towy,[308] he built a castle, which he
named Cair Guorthergirn. The saint, as usual, followed him there, and
with his clergy fasted and prayed to the Lord three days, and as many
nights. On the third night, at the third hour, fire fell suddenly from
heaven, and totally burned the castle. Vortigern, the daughter of
Hengist, his other wives, and all the inhabitants, both men and women,
miserably perished: such was the end of this unhappy king, as we find
written in the life of St. Germanus.

§ 48. Others assure us, that being hated by all the people of Britain,
for having received the Saxons, and being publicly charged by St.
Germanus and the clergy in the sight of God, he betook himself to
flight; and, that deserted and a wanderer, he sought a place of refuge,
till broken hearted, he made an ignominious end.

Some accounts state, that the earth opened and swallowed him up, on the
night his castle was burned; as no remains were discovered the following
morning, either of him, or of those who were burned with him.

He had three sons: the eldest was Vortimer, who, as we have seen, fought
four times against the Saxons, and put them to flight; the second
Categirn, who was slain in the same battle with Horsa; the third was
Pascent, who reigned in the two provinces Builth and Guorthegirnaim,[309]
after the death of his father. These were granted him by Ambrosius, who
was the great king among the kings of Britain. The fourth was Faustus,
born of an incestuous marriage with his daughter, who was brought up and
educated by St. Germanus. He built a large monastery on the banks of the
river Renis, called after his name, and which remains to the present

§ 49. This is the genealogy of Vortigern, which goes back to
Fernvail,[311] who reigned in the kingdom of Guorthegirnaim,[312] and
was the son of Teudor; Teudor was the son of Pascent; Pascent of
Guoidcant; Guoidcant of Moriud; Moriud of Eltat; Eltat of Eldoc; Eldoc
of Paul; Paul of Meuprit; Meuprit of Braciat; Braciat of Pascent;
Pascent of Guorthegirn; Guorthegirn of Guortheneu; Guortheneu of
Guitaul; Guitaul of Guitolion; Guitolion of Gloui. Bonus, Paul, Mauron,
Guotelin, were four brothers, who built Gloiuda, a great city upon the
banks of the river Severn, and in British is called Cair Gloui, in
Saxon, Gloucester. Enough has been said of Vortigern.

§ 50. St. Germanus, after his death, returned into his own country.
[313] At that time, the Saxons greatly increased in Britain, both in
strength and numbers. And Octa, after the death of his father Hengist,
came from the sinistral part of the island to the kingdom of Kent, and
from him have proceeded all the kings of that province, to the present

Then it was, that the magnanimous Arthur, with all the kings and
military force of Britain, fought against the Saxons. And though there
were many more noble than himself, yet he was twelve times chosen their
commander, and was as often conqueror. The first battle in which he was
engaged, was at the mouth of the river Gleni.[314] The second, third,
fourth, and fifth, were on another river, by the Britons called
Duglas,[315] in the region Linuis. The sixth, on the river Bassas.[316]
The seventh in the wood Celidon, which the Britons call Cat Coit
Celidon.[317] The eighth was near Gurnion castle,[318] where Arthur bore
the image of the Holy Virgin,[319] mother of God, upon his shoulders,
and through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the holy Mary, put
the Saxons to flight, and pursued them the whole day with great
slaughter.[320] The ninth was at the City of Legion,[321] which is
called Cair Lion. The tenth was on the banks of the river Trat
Treuroit.[322] The eleventh was on the mountain Breguoin, which we call
Cat Bregion.[323] The twelfth was a most severe contest, when Arthur
penetrated to the hill of Badon.[324] In this engagement, nine hundred
and forty fell by his hand alone, no one but the Lord affording him
assistance. In all these engagements the Britons were successful. For no
strength can avail against the will of the Almighty.

The more the Saxons were vanquished, the more they sought for new
supplies of Saxons from Germany; so that kings, commanders, and military
bands were invited over from almost every province. And this practice
they continued till the reign of Ida, who was the son of Eoppa, he, of
the Saxon race, was the first king in Bernicia, and in Cair Ebrauc

When Gratian Æquantius was consul at Rome, because then the whole world
was governed by the Roman consuls, the Saxons were received by Vortigern
in the year of our Lord four hundred and forty-seven, and to the year in
which we now write, five hundred and forty-seven. And whosoever shall
read herein may receive instruction, the Lord Jesus Christ affording
assistance, who, co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Ghost, lives
and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

In those days Saint Patrick was a captive among the Scots. His master's
name was Milcho, to whom he was a swineherd for seven years. When he had
attained the age of seventeen he gave him his liberty. By the divine
impulse, he applied himself to reading of the Scriptures, and afterwards
went to Rome; where, replenished with the Holy Spirit, he continued a
great while, studying the sacred mysteries of those writings. During his
continuance there, Palladius, the first bishop, was sent by pope
Celestine to convert the Scots [the Irish]. But tempests and signs from
God prevented his landing, for no one can arrive in any country, except
it be allowed from above; altering therefore his course from Ireland, he
came to Britain and died in the land of the Picts.[325]

§ 51. The death of Palladius being known, the Roman patricians,
Theodosius and Valentinian, then reigning, pope Celestine sent Patrick
to convert the Scots to the faith of the Holy Trinity; Victor, the angel
of God, accompanying, admonishing, and assisting him, and also the
bishop Germanus.

Germanus then sent the ancient Segerus with him as a venerable and
praiseworthy bishop, to king Amatheus,[326] who lived near, and who had
prescience of what was to happen; he was consecrated bishop in the reign
of that king by the holy pontiff,[327] assuming the name of Patrick,
having hitherto been known by that of Maun; Auxilius, Isserninus, and
other brothers were ordained with him to inferior degrees.

§ 52. Having distributed benedictions, and perfected all in the name of
the Holy Trinity, he embarked on the sea which is between the Gauls and
the Britons; and after a quick passage arrived in Britain, where he
preached for some time. Every necessary preparation being made, and the
angel giving him warning, he came to the Irish Sea. And having filled
the ship with foreign gifts and spiritual treasures, by the permission
of God he arrived in Ireland, where he baptized and preached.

§ 53. From the beginning of the world, to the fifth year of king
Logiore, when the Irish were baptized, and faith in the unity of the
individual Trinity was published to them, are five thousand three
hundred and thirty years.

§ 54. Saint Patrick taught the gospel in foreign nations for the space
of forty years. Endued with apostolical powers, he gave sight to the
blind, cleansed the lepers, gave hearing to the deaf, cast out devils,
raised nine from the dead, redeemed many captives of both sexes at his
own charge, and set them free in the name of the Holy Trinity. He taught
the servants of God, and he wrote three hundred and sixty-five canonical
and other books relating to the catholic faith. He founded as many
churches, and consecrated the same number of bishops, strengthening
them with the Holy Ghost. He ordained three thousand presbyters; and
converted and baptized twelve thousand persons in the province of
Connaught. And, in one day baptized seven kings, who were the seven sons
of Amalgaid.[328] He continued fasting forty days and nights, on the
summit of the mountain Eli, that is Cruachan-Aichle;[329] and preferred
three petitions to God for the Irish, that had embraced the faith. The
Scots say, the first was, that he would receive every repenting sinner,
even at the latest extremity of life; the second, that they should never
be exterminated by barbarians; and the third, that as Ireland[330] will
be overflowed with water, seven years before the coming of our Lord to
judge the quick and the dead, the crimes of the people might be washed
away through his intercession, and their souls purified at the last day.
He gave the people his benediction from the upper part of the mountain,
and going up higher, that he might pray for them; and that if it pleased
God, he might see the effects of his labours, there appeared to him an
innumerable flock of birds of many colours, signifying the number of
holy persons of both sexes of the Irish nation, who should come to him
as their apostle at the day of judgment, to be presented before the
tribunal of Christ. After a life spent in the active exertion of good to
mankind, St. Patrick, in a healthy old age, passed from this world to
the Lord, and changing this life for a better, with the saints and elect
of God he rejoices for evermore.

§ 55. Saint Patrick resembled Moses in four particulars. The angel spoke
to him in the burning bush. He fasted forty days and forty nights upon
the mountain. He attained the period of one hundred and twenty years. No
one knows his sepulchre, nor where he was buried; sixteen[331] years he
was in captivity. In his twenty-fifth year, he was consecrated bishop by
Saint Matheus,[332] and he was eighty-five years the apostle of the
Irish. It might be profitable to treat more at large of the life of
this saint, but it is now time to conclude this epitome of his

[Here endeth the life of the holy bishop, Saint Patrick.]

(_After this, the MSS. give us § 56, the legend of king Arthur, which in
this edition occurs in § 50._)


§ 57. Woden begat Beldeg, who begat Beornec, who begat Gethbrond, who
begat Aluson, who begat Ingwi, who begat Edibrith, who begat Esa, who
begat Eoppa, who begat Ida. But Ida had twelve sons, Adda, Belric,
Theodric, Ethelric, Theodhere, Osmer, and one queen, Bearnoch, Ealric.
Ethelric begat Ethelfrid: the same is Ædlfred Flesaur. For he also had
seven sons, Eanfrid, Oswald, Oswin, Oswy, Oswudu, Oslac, Offa. Oswy
begat Alfrid, Elfwin, and Egfrid. Egfrid is he who made war against his
cousin Brudei, king of the Picts, and he fell therein with all the
strength of his army, and the Picts with their king gained the victory;
and the Saxons never again reduced the Picts so as to exact tribute from
them. Since the time of this war it is called Gueithlin Garan.

But Oswy had two wives, Riemmelth, the daughter of Royth, son of Rum;
and Eanfled, the daughter of Edwin, son of Alla.


§ 58. Hengist begat Octa, who begat Ossa, who begat Eormenric, who begat
Ethelbert, who begat Eadbald, who begat Ercombert, who begat Egbert.


§ 59. Woden begat Casser, who begat Titinon, who begat Trigil, who begat
Rodmunt, who begat Rippa, who begat Guillem Guercha,[335] who was the
first king of the East Angles. Guercha begat Uffa, who begat Tytillus,
who begat Eni, who begat Edric, who begat Aldwulf, who begat Elric.


§ 60. Woden begat Guedolgeat, who begat Gueagon, who begat Guithleg, who
begat Guerdmund, who begat Ossa, who begat Ongen, who begat Eamer, who
begat Pubba.[336] This Pubba had twelve sons, of whom two are better
known to me than the others, that is Penda and Eawa. Eadlit is the son
of Pantha, Penda, son of Pubba, Ealbald, son of Alguing, son of Eawa,
son of Penda, son of Pubba. Egfert, son of Offa, son of Thingferth, son
of Enwulf, son of Ossulf, son of Eawa, son of Pubba.


§ 61. Woden begat Beldeg, Brond begat Siggar, who begat Sibald, who
begat Zegulf, who begat Soemil, who first separated[337] Deur from
Berneich (_Deira from Bernicia_.) Soemil begat Sguerthing, who begat
Giulglis, who begat Ulfrea, who begat Iffi, who begat Ulli, Edwin,
Osfrid, and Eanfrid. There were two sons of Edwin, who fell with him in
battle at Meicen,[338] and the kingdom was never renewed in his family,
because not one of his race escaped from that war; but all were slain
with him by the army of Catguollaunus,[339] king of the Guenedota. Oswy
begat Egfrid, the same is Ailguin, who begat Oslach, who begat Alhun,
who begat Adlsing, who begat Echun, who begat Oslaph. Ida begat Eadric,
who begat Ecgulf, who begat Leodwald, who begat Eata, the same is
Glinmaur, who begat Eadbert and Egbert, who was the first bishop of
their nation.

Ida, the son of Eoppa, possessed countries on the left-hand side of
Britain, _i.e._ of the Humbrian sea, and reigned twelve years, and
united[340] Dynguayth Guarth-Berneich.

§ 62. Then Dutigirn at that time fought bravely against the nation of
the Angles. At that time, Talhaiarn Cataguen[341] was famed for poetry,
and Neirin, and Taliesin and Bluchbard, and Cian, who is called Guenith
Guaut, were all famous at the same time in British poetry.

The great king, Mailcun,[342] reigned among the Britons, _i.e._ in the
district of Guenedota, because his great-great-grandfather, Cunedda,
with his twelve sons, had come before from the left-hand part, _i.e._
from the country which is called Manau Gustodin, one hundred and
forty-six years before Mailcun reigned, and expelled the Scots with much
slaughter from those countries, and they never returned again to inhabit

§ 63. Adda, son of Ida, reigned eight years; Ethelric, son of Adda,
reigned four years. Theodoric, son of Ida, reigned seven years.
Freothwulf reigned six years. In whose time the kingdom of Kent, by the
mission of Gregory, received baptism. Hussa reigned seven years. Against
him fought four kings, Urien, and Ryderthen, and Guallauc, and Morcant.
Theodoric fought bravely, together with his sons, against that Urien.
But at that time sometimes the enemy and sometimes our countrymen were
defeated, and he shut them up three days and three nights in the island
of Metcaut; and whilst he was on an expedition he was murdered, at the
instance of Morcant, out of envy, because he possessed so much
superiority over all the kings in military science. Eadfered Flesaurs
reigned twelve years in Bernicia, and twelve others in Deira, and gave
to his wife Bebba, the town of Dynguoaroy, which from her is called

Edwin, son of Alla, reigned seventeen years, seized on Elmete, and
expelled Cerdic, its king. Eanfled, his daughter, received baptism, on
the twelfth day after Pentecost, with all her followers, both men and
women. The following Easter Edwin himself received baptism, and twelve
thousand of his subjects with him. If any one wishes to know who
baptized them, it was Rum Map Urbgen:[344] he was engaged forty days in
baptizing all classes of the Saxons, and by his preaching many believed
on Christ.

§ 64. Oswald son of Ethelfrid, reigned nine years; the same is Oswald
Llauiguin;[345] he slew Catgublaun (Cadwalla),[346] king of
Guenedot,[347] in the battle of Catscaul,[348] with much loss to his own
army. Oswy, son of Ethelfrid, reigned twenty-eight years and six months.
During his reign, there was a dreadful mortality among his subjects,
when Catgualart (Cadwallader) was king among the Britons, succeeding his
father, and he himself died amongst the rest.[349] He slew Penda in the
field of Gai, and now took place the slaughter of Gai Campi, and the
kings of the Britons, who went out with Penda on the expedition as far
as the city of Judeu, were slain.

§ 65. Then Oswy restored all the wealth, which was with him in the city,
to Penda; who distributed it among the kings of the Britons, that is,
Atbert Judeu. But Catgabail alone, king of Guenedot, rising up in the
night, escaped, together with his army, wherefore he was called
Catgabail Catguommed. Egfrid, son of Oswy, reigned nine years. In his
time the holy bishop Cuthbert died in the island of Medcaut.[350] It was
he who made war against the Picts, and was by them slain.

Penda, son of Pybba, reigned ten years; he first separated the kingdom
of Mercia from that of the North-men, and slew by treachery Anna, king
of the East Anglians, and St. Oswald, king of the North-men. He fought
the battle of Cocboy,[351] in which fell Eawa, son of Pybba, his
brother, king of the Mercians, and Oswald, king of the North-men, and he
gained the victory by diabolical agency. He was not baptized, and never
believed in God.

§ 66. From the beginning of the world to Constantinus and Rufus, are
found to be five thousand six hundred and fifty-eight years.

Also from the two consuls, Rufus and Rubelius, to the consul Stilicho,
are three hundred and seventy-three years.

Also from Stilicho to Valentinian, son of Placida, and the reign of
Vortigern, are twenty-eight years.

And from the reign of Vortigern to the quarrel between Guitolinus and
Ambrosius, are twelve years, which is Guoloppum, that is
Catgwaloph.[352] Vortigern reigned in Britain when Theodosius and
Valentinian were consuls, and in the fourth year of his reign the Saxons
came to Britain, in the consulship of Felix and Taurus, in the four
hundredth year from the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

From the year in which the Saxons came into Britain, and were received
by Vortigern, to the time of Decius and Valerian, are sixty-nine years.


[Footnote 249: And forty, according to Stevenson's new edition. The rest
of this chronology is much contracted in several of the manuscripts, and
hardly two of them contain it exactly the same.]

[Footnote 250: This list of the Roman emperors who visited Britain, is
omitted in many of the MSS.]

[Footnote 251: V.R. Twenty-eight, twenty-one.]

[Footnote 252: Site unknown. See note at sec. 42, p. 404.]

[Footnote 253: Inis-gueith, or Gueith.]

[Footnote 254: The whole of this, as far as the end of the paragraph, is
omitted in several MSS.]

[Footnote 255: Other MSS. Silvius.]

[Footnote 256: V.R. Who should slay his father and mother, and be hated
by all mankind.]

[Footnote 257: V.R. He displayed such superiority among his
play-fellows, that they seemed to consider him as their chief.]

[Footnote 258: Tours.]

[Footnote 259: V.R. Thirty-seven.]

[Footnote 260: See Bede's Eccles. Hist. pp. 5, 6, note.]

[Footnote 261: V.R. Partholomæus, or Bartholomæus.]

[Footnote 262: A blank is here in the MS. Agnomen is found in some of
the others.]

[Footnote 263: V.R. Damhoctor, Clamhoctor, and Elamhoctor.]

[Footnote 264: V.R. Liethan, Bethan, Vethan.]

[Footnote 265: St. David's.]

[Footnote 266: Guiher, probably the Welsh district Gower. Cetgueli is
Caer Kidwelly, in Carmarthenshire.]

[Footnote 267: North-western part of Antrim in Ulster.]

[Footnote 268: V.R. Columba.]

[Footnote 269: Some MSS. add, the beginning of the calculation is 23
cycles of 19 years from the incarnation of our Lord to the arrival of
St. Patrick in Ireland, and they make 438 years. And from the arrival of
St. Patrick to the cycle of 19 years in which we live are 22 cycles,
which make 421 years.]

[Footnote 270: This proves the tradition of Brutus to be older than
Geoffrey or Tyssilio, unless these notices of Brutus have been
interpolated in the original work of Nennius.]

[Footnote 271: This genealogy is different in almost all the MSS.]

[Footnote 272: Some MSS. add, I will now return to the point from which
I made this digression.]

[Footnote 273: There is here some corruption or defect in the original.
See Geoffrey of Monmouth, p. 139 of this volume.]

[Footnote 274: V.R. Cassibelanus.]

[Footnote 275: V.R. Eucharistus. A marginal note in the Arundel MS.
adds, "He is wrong, because the first year of Evaristus was A.D. 79,
whereas the first year of Eleutherius, whom he ought to have named, was
A.D. 161." Usher says, that in one MS. of Nennius he found the name of
Eleutherius. See Bede's Eccles. Hist. p. 10.]

[Footnote 276: V.R. Thirty-two.]

[Footnote 277: Or, the Wall. One MS. here adds, "The above-mentioned
Severus constructed it of rude workmanship in length 132 miles; i.e.
from Penguaul, which village is called in Scottish Cenail, in English
Peneltun, to the mouth of the river Cluth and Cairpentaloch, where this
wall terminates; but it was of no avail. The emperor Carausius
afterwards rebuilt it, and fortified it with seven castles between the
two mouths: he built also a round house of polished stones on the banks
of the river Carun [Carron]: he likewise erected a triumphal arch, on
which he inscribed his own name in memory of his victory."]

[Footnote 278: This passage is corrupt, the meaning is briefly given in
the translation.]

[Footnote 279: V.R. Mirmantum, Mirmantun, Minmanton, Minimantone. The
_Segontium_ of Antoninus, situated on a small river named Seiont, near

[Footnote 280: This is an inaccuracy of Nennius; Maximus and Maximianus
were one and the same person; or rather no such person as Maximianus
ever reigned in Britain.]

[Footnote 281: Geoffrey of Monmouth gives the title of consul to several
British generals who lived after this time. It is not unlikely that the
town, name, and dignity, still lingered in the province after the Romans
were gone, particularly as the cities of Britain maintained for a time a
species of independence.]

[Footnote 282: This district, in modern language, extended from the
great St. Bernard in Piedmont to Cantavic in Picardy, and from Picardy
to the western coast of France.]

[Footnote 283: These words relate evidently to some cause of dispute
between the Romans, Ambrosius, and Vortigern. Vortigern is said to have
been sovereign of the Dimetæ, and Ambrosius son to the king of the
Dumnonii. The latter was half a Roman by descent, and naturally
supported the Roman interest: the former was entirely a Briton, and as
naturally seconded by the original Britons. See Whitaker's Manchester,
b. ii. c. 2.]

[Footnote 284: V.R. not the God of gods, the Amen, the Lord of Hosts,
but one of their idols which they worshipped.]

[Footnote 285: Sometimes called Ruoichin, Ruith-in, or "river island,"
separated from the rest of Kent and the mainland of Britain by the
estuary of the Wantsum, which, though now a small brook, was formerly
navigable for large vessels, and in Bede's time was three stadia broad,
and fordable only at two places. See Bede's Eccles. Hist. p. 37,

[Footnote 286: The rest of this sentence is omitted in some of the MSS.]

[Footnote 287: King of Powys. V.R. Benli in the district of Ial (in
Derbyshire); in the district of Dalrieta; Belinus; Beluni; and Benty.]

[Footnote 288: Or Cadell Deyrnllug, prince of the Vale Royal and the
upper part of Powys.]

[Footnote 289: V.R. Who had come with him from the island of Oghgul,
Oehgul (or Tingle), Angul. According to Gunn, a small island in the
duchy of Sleswick in Denmark, now called _Angel_, of which Flensburg is
the metropolis. Hence the origin of the _Angles_.]

[Footnote 290: V.R. Gnoiram cono, Goiranegono, Guoiracgono. Malmesbury,
Gorongi; Camden, Guorong, supposed to mean governor, or viceroy.]

[Footnote 291: Antoninus's wall.]

[Footnote 292: Some MSS. add, "beyond the Frenesic, Fresicum (_or_
Fresic) sea," i.e. which is between us and the Scotch. The sea between
Scotland and Ireland. Camden translates it "beyond the Frith;" Langhorne
says, "Solway Frith."]

[Footnote 293: V.R. "Immodest" is omitted in some MSS.]

[Footnote 294: V.R. You shall find a fortified city in which you may
defend yourself.]

[Footnote 295: V.R. Guined, Guoienet, Guenez, North Wales.]

[Footnote 296: V.R. Heremi, Heriri, or Eryri, signifying eagle rocks,
the mountains of Snowdon, in Carnarvonshire. The spot alluded to is
supposed to be Dinas Emrys, or the fortress of Ambrosius.]

[Footnote 297: V.R. Elleti, Electi, Gleti. Supposed to be Bassalig in

[Footnote 298: The district between the Usk and Rumney, in

[Footnote 299: An ancient scholiast adds, "He then built Guasmoric, near
Lugubalia [Carlisle], a city which in English is called Palmecaster."
Some difference of opinion exists among antiquaries respecting the site
of Vortigern's castle or city. Usher places it at _Gwent_,
Monmouthshire, which name, he says, was taken from Caer-Went, near
Chepstow. This appears to agree with Geoffrey's account, in page 208 of
this volume. See Usher's Britan. Eccles. cap. v. p. 23. According to
others, supposed to be the city from the ruins of which arose the castle
of Gurthrenion, in Radnorshire, Camden's Britannia, p. 479. Whitaker,
however, says that Cair Guorthegirn was the Maridunum of the Romans, and
the present Caermarthen. (Hist. of Manchester, book ii. c. 1.) See also
Nennius, sec. 47.]

[Footnote 300: Some MSS. here add, "This Vortimer, the son of Vortigern,
in a synod held at Guartherniaun, after the wicked king, on account of
the incest committed with his daughter, fled from the face of Germanus
and the British clergy, would not consent to his father's wickedness;
but returning to St. Germanus, and falling down at his feet, he sued for
pardon; and in atonement for the calumny brought upon Germanus by his
father and sister, gave him the land, in which the forementioned bishop
had endured such abuse, to be his own for ever. Whence, in memory of St.
Germanus, it received the name of Guarenniaun (Guartherniaun,
Gurthrenion, Gwarth Ennian) which signifies, _a calumny justly
retorted_, since, when he thought to reproach the bishop, he covered
himself with reproach."]

[Footnote 301: According to Langhorne (p. 13), Epsford was afterwards
called, in the British tongue, _Saessenaeg habail_, or 'the slaughter of
the Saxons.' See also the note at page 188 of this volume.]

[Footnote 302: V.R. "The stone of Titulus," thought to be Stone in Kent,
or Larger-stone in Suffolk.]

[Footnote 303: Rapin says he was buried at Lincoln; Geoffrey, at London,
see p. 189.]

[Footnote 304: V.R. Of his wife, and no one was able manfully to drive
them off because they had occupied Britain not from their own valour,
but by God's permission.]

[Footnote 305: The VV. RR. of this section are too numerous to be

[Footnote 306: A district of Radnorshire, forming the present hundred of

[Footnote 307: V.R. This paragraph is omitted in the MSS.]

[Footnote 308: The Tobias of Ptolemy.]

[Footnote 309: In the northern part of the present counties of Radnor
and Brecknock.]

[Footnote 310: V.R. The MSS. add, 'and he had one daughter, who was the
mother of St. Faustus.']

[Footnote 311: Fernvail, or Farinmail, appears to have been king of
Gwent or Monmouth.]

[Footnote 312: V.R. 'Two provinces, Builth and Guorthegirnaim.']

[Footnote 313: V.R. All this to the word 'Amen,' in other MSS. is placed
after the legend of St. Patrick.]

[Footnote 314: Supposed by some to be the Glem, in Lincolnshire; but
most probably the Glen, in the northern part of Northumberland.]

[Footnote 315: Or Dubglas. The little river Dunglas, which formed the
southern boundary of Lothian. Whitaker says, the river Duglas, in
Lancashire, near Wigan.]

[Footnote 316: Not a river, but an isolated rock in the Frith of Forth,
near the town of North Berwick, called "The Bass." Some think it is the
river Lusas, in Hampshire.]

[Footnote 317: The Caledonian forest; or the forest of Englewood,
extending from Penrith to Carlisle.]

[Footnote 318: Variously supposed to be in Cornwall, or Binchester in
Durham, but most probably the Roman station of Garionenum, near
Yarmouth, in Norfolk.]

[Footnote 319: V.R. The image of the cross of Christ, and of the
perpetual Virgin St. Mary.]

[Footnote 320: V.R. For Arthur proceeded to Jerusalem, and there made a
cross to the size of the Saviour's cross, and there it was consecrated,
and for three successive days he fasted, watched, and prayed, before the
Lord's cross, that the Lord would give him the victory, by this sign,
over the heathen; which also took place, and he took with him the image
of St. Mary, the fragments of which are still preserved in great
veneration at Wedale, in English Wodale, in Latin _Vallis-doloris_.
Wodale is a village in the province of Lodonesia, but now of the
jurisdiction of the bishop of St. Andrew's, of Scotland, six miles on
the west of that heretofore noble and eminent monastery of Meilros.]

[Footnote 321: Exeter.]

[Footnote 322: Or Ribroit, the Brue, in Somersetshire; or the Ribble, in

[Footnote 323: Or Agned Cathregonion, Cadbury, in Somersetshire; or

[Footnote 324: Bath.]

[Footnote 325: At Fordun, in the district of Mearns, in

[Footnote 326: V.R. Germanus "sent the elder Segerus with him to a
wonderful man, the holy bishop Amathearex." Another MS. "Sent the elder
Segerus, a bishop, with him to Amatheorex."]

[Footnote 327: V.R. "Received the episcopal degree from the holy bishop
Amatheorex." Another MS. "Received the episcopal degree from Matheorex
and the holy bishop."]

[Footnote 328: King of Connaught.]

[Footnote 329: A mountain in the west of Connaught, county of Mayo, now
called Croagh-Patrick.]

[Footnote 330: V.R. that no Irishman may be alive on the day of
judgment, because they will be destroyed seven years before in honour of
St. Patrick.]

[Footnote 331: V.R. Fifteen.]

[Footnote 332: V.R. By the holy bishop Amatheus.]

[Footnote 333: Here ends the Vatican MS. collated by Mr. Gunn.]

[Footnote 334: These titles are not part of the original work, but added
in the MSS. by a later hand.]

[Footnote 335: Guercha is a distortion of the name of Uffa or
Wuffa, arising in the first instance from the pronunciation of the
British writer; and, in the next place, from the error of the

[Footnote 336: Or Wibba.]

[Footnote 337: V.R. Conquered.]

[Footnote 338: Hatfield, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. See Bede's
Eccles. Hist. p. 106.]

[Footnote 339: Cadwalla, king of the Western Britons.]

[Footnote 340: V.R. United the castle, i.e. Dinguerin and Gurdbernech,
which two countries were in one country, i.e. Deurabernech; Anglice
Deira and Bernicia. Another MS. Built Dinguayth Guarth Berneich.]

[Footnote 341: Talhaiarn was a descendant of Coel Godebog, and chaplain
to Ambrosius.]

[Footnote 342: Better known as Maelgwn.]

[Footnote 343: Bambrough. See Bede, iii. 6, and Sax. Chron. A.D. 547.]

[Footnote 344: See Bede's Eccles. Hist. p. 96. From the share which
Paulinus had in the conversion of the Northumbrian king, it has been
inferred that he actually baptized him; but Nennius expressly states,
that the holy sacrament was administered by Rhun, the son of Urien. The
Welsh name of Paulinus is Pawl Hen, or Polin Esgob.]

[Footnote 345: Llauiguin, means the "fair," or the "bounteous hand."]

[Footnote 346: This name has been variously written; Bede spells it
_Caedualla_ (Cadwalla); Nennius, _Catgublaun_; the Saxon Chronicle,
_Ceadwalla_; and the Welsh writers, _Cadwallon_ and _Katwallawn_: and
though the identity of the person may be clearly proved, it is necessary
to observe these particulars to distinguish him from _Cadwaladr_, and
from another _Caedualla_ or _Cædwalla_, a king of the West Saxons; all
of whom, as they lived within a short time of each other, have been
frequently confounded together.--_Rees's Welsh Saints._]

[Footnote 347: Gwynedd, North Wales.]

[Footnote 348: Bede says at Denis's-brook. Eccles Hist. p. 109.]

[Footnote 349: The British chronicles assert that Cadwallader died at
Rome, whilst Nennius would lead us to conclude that he perished in the
pestilence at home. See Geoffrey, p. 288.]

[Footnote 350: The isle of Farne.]

[Footnote 351: Maserfield. See Bede's Eccles. Hist. p. 123.]

[Footnote 352: In Carmarthenshire. Perhaps the town now called





[_An eighteenth century forgery._]







1. The shore of Gaul would be the boundary of the world, did not the
island[353] of Britain claim from its magnitude almost the appellation
of another world; for if measured to the Caledonian promontory[354] it
extends more than eight hundred miles in length.[355]

2. Britain was first called by the ancients Albion,[356] from its
_white_ cliffs; and afterwards in the language of the natives, Britain.
Hence all the islands hereafter described were denominated British.[357]

3. Britain is situated between the north and west,[358] opposite to,
though at some distance from, Germany, Gaul, and Spain, the most
considerable parts of Europe, and is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean.

4. On the south of Britain lies Belgic Gaul, from which coast passengers
usually sail to the Rhutupian port.[359] This place is distant from
Gessoriacum,[360] a town of the Morini, the port most frequented by the
Britons, fifty miles, or according to others, four hundred and fifty
stadia. From thence may be seen the country of the Britons whom Virgil
in his Eclogues describes as separated from the whole world,--

    "--penitus toto divisos orbe Britannos."

5. By Agrippa, an ancient geographer, its breadth is estimated at three
hundred miles; but with more truth by Bede at two hundred, exclusive of
the promontories.[361] If their sinuosities be taken into the
computation, its circuit will be three thousand six hundred miles.
Marcian, a Greek author, agrees with me in stating it at


[Footnote 353: The early Greeks and Romans doubted whether Britain was
an island, or part of the continent. This uncertainty gave rise to a
controversy which was not settled till the time of the proprætor Julius
Agricola.--_Tac. Vit. Agric. c._ 38. _Dio. Cass. Hist. Rom. lib._ 39.]

[Footnote 354: Dunnet Head.]

[Footnote 355: Richard gives too great an extent to our island, which,
according to the most accurate observations, stretches only from lat.
49° 48', the most southern point, to Dunnet Head, which is in lat. 58°
40' or scarcely 540 geographical miles.]

[Footnote 356: Various explanations have been given of the names of
Albion and Britain, applied to our island. Some derive Albion from the
white rocks which bound the coast; some from Albion, a son of Neptune,
who is represented as its first discoverer and cultivator; others have
likewise derived the name Britain from the Phoenician or Hebrew
_Baratanac_, signifying the land of tin. It was also called by the
natives, _Hyperborea_, _Atlantica_, _Cassiteris_, _Romana_, and _Thule_.

According to the British Triads, "the three names given to the isle of
Britain, from the beginning, were: before it was inhabited, the name of
_Clas Merddyn_ (or the green spot defended by water); after it was
inhabited, _Y Vêl Ynys_ (the honey island); and, after it was brought
under one government by Prydain, son of Aedd, it was called _Ynys
Prydain_ (or the isle of Britain)."

In some old writings it is also termed, _Yr Ynys Wen_, (or the white

[Footnote 357: This part is taken from Pliny, who enumerates the British
isles in the following order:--Orcades, 40; Acmodæ, 7; Hæbudes, 30.
Between Britain and Ireland, Mona, Menapia, Ricnea, Vectis, Silimnus,
Andros; beneath, Siambis and Axuntos: on the opposite side, towards the
German Sea, the Glessariæ, called Electrides by the later Greek writers,
from the amber found there: and last of all, Thule.

He refers to others mentioned by different authors, viz., Mictis,
Scandia, Dumnia, Bergos, and Nerigos.]

[Footnote 358: That is, from Rome. Richard, in copying the Roman
writers, adopted their expressions in regard to the relative positions
of places.]

[Footnote 359: Richborough, Kent.]

[Footnote 360: Boulogne.]

[Footnote 361: Richard errs in supposing the estimation of Bede more
accurate than that of Agrippa.]

[Footnote 362: The numerals are here so incorrect that it is difficult
to discover what number was meant by Richard. Marcian observes that the
circuit of our island is not more than 28,604 stadia, or 3575 miles, nor
less than 20,526, or 2576 miles. Hence Bertram is led to prefer the
greater number.]


1. Albion, called by Chrysostom Great Britain, is, according to Cæsar,
of a triangular shape, resembling Sicily. One of the sides lies opposite
to Celtic Gaul. One angle of this side, which is the Cantian
promontory,[363] is situated to the east; the other, the Ocrinian
promontory,[364] in the country of the Damnonii, faces the south and the
province of Tarraconensis in Spain. This side is about five hundred
miles in length.

2. Another side stretches towards Ireland and the west, the length of
which, according to the opinion of the ancients, is seven hundred miles.

3. The third side is situated to the north, and is opposite to no land
except a few islands;[365] but the angle of this side chiefly trends
towards Germania Magna.[366] The length from the Novantian
Chersonesus,[367] through the country of the Taixali, to the Cantian
promontory,[368] is estimated at eight hundred miles. Thus all
erroneously compute the circuit of the island to be two thousand miles;
for from the Cantian promontory to Ocrinum,[369] the distance is four
hundred miles; from thence to Novantum, a thousand; and from thence to
the Cantian promontory, two thousand two hundred. The circumference of
the whole island is therefore three thousand six hundred miles.[370]

4. Livy and Fabius Rusticus compare the form of Britain to an oblong
shield or battle-axe; and as, according to Tacitus, it bears that figure
on the side of Caledonia, the comparison was extended to the whole
island, though the bold promontories at its further extremity give it
the shape of a wedge. But Cæsar and Pomponius Mela assert that its form
is triangular.

5. If credit may be given to the celebrated geographer Ptolemy and his
contemporary writers, the island resembles an inverted Z,[371] but
according to the maps the comparison is not exact. The triangular shape,
however, seems to belong to England alone.[372]


[Footnote 363: North Foreland.]

[Footnote 364: Lizard Point.]

[Footnote 365: The Orkney and Shetland isles.]

[Footnote 366: Under this name the ancients comprised not only Germany
proper but Denmark, Norway, &c.]

[Footnote 367: Rens of Galloway.]

[Footnote 368: North Foreland.]

[Footnote 369: Lizard Point.]

[Footnote 370: Bertram has endeavoured to reconcile the various and
discordant calculations given by different ancient authors of the
circuit of our island. On such vague principles as these estimations are
made, it would be almost impossible, even now, for two persons to
produce the same result.]

[Footnote 371: Ptolemy's expression is obscure; but he was evidently led
to this supposition by the notion that Caledonia or Scotland trended to
the east, as appears from his latitudes and longitudes. This form,
therefore, he not unaptly compares to the inverted Z. It would be a
trespass on the patience of the reader to attempt to reconcile what is

[Footnote 372: These words are chiefly taken from Tacitus. The obscurity
of the expression and the absurdity of the comparison, will sufficiently
show the ignorance of those ancients whose works have reached the
present time, in regard to our island.--_Tacit. Vit. Agricolæ, sec.


1. The original inhabitants of Britain, whether indigenous or foreign,
are, like those of most other countries, unknown. The Jews alone, and by
their means the contiguous nations, have the happiness of tracing their
descent since the creation of the world from undoubted documents.

2. From the difference of personal appearance different conjectures have
been drawn. The red hair and large limbs of the Caledonians proclaim
their German origin; the painted faces and curled locks of the Silures,
and their situation opposite to Spain, corroborate the assertion of
Tacitus, that the ancient Iberians passed over and occupied this country
and Ireland. Those who live nearest the Gauls resemble them, either from
the strength of the original stock, or from the effects which the same
positions of the heavens produce on the human body.

3. If I were inclined to indulge a conjecture, I might here mention that
the Veneti[373] in their commercial expeditions first introduced
inhabitants and religion into this country. Writers are not wanting, who
assert that Hercules came hither and established a sovereignty. But it
is needless to dwell on such remote antiquities and idle tales.[374]

4. On the whole, however, it is probable that the Gauls occupied the
contiguous regions. According to Tacitus, their sacred rites and
superstitions may be traced; nor is the language very different; and
lastly, the tradition of the druids, with the names of the states which
still retain the same appellations as the people sprung from the cities
of Gaul, who came hither and began to cultivate the country.[375]

5. According to Cæsar, the country was extremely populous, and contained
numerous buildings, not dissimilar to those of the Gauls. It was rich in

6. The inhabitants of the southern part were the most civilized, and in
their customs differed little from the Gauls. Those of the more distant
parts did not raise corn; but lived on fruits and flesh. They were
ignorant of the use of wool and garments, although in severe weather
they covered themselves with the skins of sheep or deer. They were
accustomed to bathe in the rivers.

7. All the Britons formerly stained their bodies of a blue colour, which
according to Cæsar gave them a more terrible appearance in battle. They
wore their hair long, and shaved all parts of the body except the head
and the upper lip.

8. Ten or twelve Britons had their wives in common; and this custom
particularly prevailed among brethren, and between fathers and sons; but
the children were considered as belonging to him who had first taken the
virgin to wife. The mothers suckled their own children, and did not
employ maids and nurses.

9. According to Cæsar also they used brass money, and iron rings of a
certain weight instead of coin.[376]

10. The Britons deemed it unlawful to eat hares,[377] fowls, or geese;
but they kept those animals for pleasure.

11. They had pearls, bits made of ivory, bracelets, vessels of amber and
glass, agates, and, what surpasses all, great abundance of tin.

12. They navigated in barks, the keels and ribs of which were formed of
light materials; the other parts were made of wicker and covered with
the hides of oxen.[378] During their voyages, as Solinus asserts, they
abstain from food.[379]

13. Britain produces people and kings of people, as Pomponius Mela
writes in his third book; but they are all uncivilized, and in
proportion as they are more distant from the continent, are more
ignorant of riches; their wealth consisting chiefly in cattle and land.
They are addicted to litigation and war, and frequently attack each
other, from a desire of command, and of enlarging their possessions. It
is customary indeed for the Britons to wage war under the guidance of
women, and not to regard the difference of sex in the distribution of

14. The Britons not only fought on foot and on horseback, but in
chariots drawn by two horses, and armed in the Gallic manner. Those
chariots, to the axle-trees of which scythes were fixed, were called
_covini_, or wains.

15. Cæsar relates that they employed cavalry in their wars, which before
the coming of the Romans were almost perpetual. All were skilled in war;
each in proportion to his family and wealth supported a number of
retainers, and this was the only species of honour with which they were

16. The principal strength of the Britons was in their infantry, who
fought with darts, large swords, and short targets. According to
Tacitus, their swords were blunt at the point.

17. Cæsar in his fourth book thus describes their mode of fighting in
that species of chariots called _essedæ_.[381] At first they drove
through the army in all directions, hurling their darts; and by the
terror of the horses, and the noise of the wheels, generally threw the
ranks of the enemy into disorder. When they had penetrated between the
troops of cavalry, they leaped from their chariots and waged unequal war
on foot. Meanwhile the chariots were drawn up at a distance from the
battle, and placed in such a position, that if pressed by the enemy, the
warriors could effect a retreat to their own army. They thus displayed
the rapid evolutions of cavalry, and the firmness of infantry, and were
so expert by exercise, as to hold up the horses in steep descents, to
check and turn them suddenly at full speed, to run along the pole, stand
on the yoke, and then spring into the chariot.

18. The mode of fighting on horseback threatened equal danger to those
who gave way, or those who pursued. They never engaged in close lines,
but in scattered bodies, and with great intervals; they had their
appointed stations, and relieved each other by turns; and fresh
combatants succeeded those who were fatigued. The cavalry also used

19. It is not easy to determine the form of government in Britain
previous to the coming of the Romans. It is however certain that before
their times there was no vestige of a monarchy, but rather of a
democracy, unless perhaps it may seem to have resembled an
aristocracy.[382] The authority of the Druids in affairs of the greatest
moment was considerable. Some chiefs are commemorated in their ancient
records, yet these appear to have possessed no permanent power; but to
have been created, like the Roman dictators, in times of imminent
danger. Nor are instances wanting among them, as among other brave
nations, when they chose even the leader of their adversaries to conduct
their armies. He, therefore, who before was their enemy, afterwards
fought on their side.

20. The Britons exceeded in stature both the Gauls and the Romans.
Strabo affirms that he saw at Rome some British youths, who were
considerably taller than the Romans.

21. The more wealthy inhabitants of South Britain were accustomed to
ornament the middle finger of the left hand with a gold ring; but a gold
collar[383] round the neck was the distinguishing mark of eminence.
Those of the northern regions, who were the indigenous inhabitants of
the island from time immemorial, were almost wholly ignorant of the use
of clothes, and surrounded their waists and necks, as Herodian reports,
with iron rings, which they considered as ornaments and proofs of
wealth. They carried a narrow shield, fitter for use than ornament, and
a lance, with a sword pendant from their naked and painted bodies. They
rejected or despised the breast-plate and helmet, because such armour
impeded their passage through the marshes.

22. Among other particulars, this custom prevailed in Britain. They
stopped travellers and merchants, and compelled them to relate what they
had heard, or knew, worthy of notice. The common people usually
surrounded foreign merchants in the towns, and obliged them to tell from
whence they came, and what curious things they had observed. On such
vague reports they often rashly acted, and thus were generally deceived;
for many answered them agreeably to their desires with fictitious

23. Their interments were magnificent; and all things which they prized
during life, even arms and animals, were thrown into the funeral pile. A
heap of earth and turf formed the sepulchre.[385]


[Footnote 373: The Veneti, a tribe seated on the coast of Armorica or
Bretagne, distinguished for their maritime power, and with whom Cæsar
waged war. Their territory according to his description, was part of
Celtic Gaul, and the present Vannes was their capital.]

[Footnote 374: To these conjectures relative to the original
inhabitants, and subsequent colonists of Britain, it may not be
uninteresting to add the accounts preserved in the Welsh Triads.

The historical Triads record that the first colonists of Britain were
_Cymry_, who originally came from _Defrobani Gwlad Yr Hav_, the summer
land, or Tauric Chersonesus. There they have left many traces of their
name preserved by ancient authors, among which we may instance the
Cimmerian Bosphorus.

Subsequent colonists arrived from the neighbouring continent at various
times. The _Loegrwys_ (Loegrians) from Gascogne; the _Brython_ from
_Lydaw_ (Britanny), who were descendants from the original stock of the
_Cymry_. Two descents are also mentioned in Albin, or North Britain; one
called the tribe of _Celyddon_, the other the primitive _Gwyddelians_.
Another descent is said to have been made in the south, in _Ynys-Wyth_,
or the Isle of Wight, by the men of _Galedin_ (the Belgæ), when their
native country was inundated. Another colony called the _Corani_ came
from the country of the _Pwyl_ (Poland), and settled on the sea coast,
about the river Humber. A descent in Albin, or North Britain, of a
colony of _Gwyddelian Ficti_ [Irish Picts], who are described as coming
from the sea of _Loclyn_ (the Baltic); and a partial settlement of the
men of _Loclyn_ (Scandinavians), who were expelled after remaining for
three generations. The arrival of the Romans and Saxons is also
mentioned, as well as some partial settlements of Gwyddelians from

[Footnote 375: We discover a few cities in Gaul, bearing nearly the same
appellations as those of Britain; and in both countries we find the
Atrebates, the Morini, the Ædui, the Senones, the Menapii, and the

[Footnote 376: The natives of China and Japan follow a similar custom in
regard to gold and silver, which are not coined, but pass according to

[Footnote 377: It seems that they considered the appearance of a hare a
fortunate omen; for the Roman historians observe that Boadicea, after
haranguing her troops, let loose a hare which she had concealed in her

[Footnote 378: This species of boat is still used on the Welsh rivers,
and is called a coricle in English, and _cwch_ in Welsh. It is so light
that a man may carry one on his back.]

[Footnote 379: Richard has mistaken the sense of Solinus, who, in
describing the passage from Great Britain to Ireland, observes that from
its shortness they abstained from food. "Navigantes escis abstinent, pro
freti latitudine." C. 25.]

[Footnote 380: In all periods the Britons seem to have been divided into
numerous petty communities or states, headed by chiefs, who are here
dignified with the title of kings. From the jealousies and weakness
attending such a state of society, the island first became a prey to the
Romans, and afterwards to the Saxons; and when the Britons were confined
to the mountains of Wales, the same causes hastened the annexation of
their country to England.]

[Footnote 381: In the early ages chariots were universally used in war.
In the Scriptures they are frequently mentioned as forming the principal
strength of an army; and the mode of fighting in chariots among the
Greeks and Trojans, according to the description of Homer, was exactly
similar to that of the Britons. The steeds of his heroes were

    "Practised alike to stop, to turn, to chase,
    To dare the shock, or urge the rapid race."

His warriors sometimes drive through the ranks of the enemy, sometimes
fight from their chariots, and sometimes alight and maintain the combat
on foot, while their chariots retire to the rear.

    "This counsel pleased, the godlike Hector sprung
    Swift from his seat; his clanging armour rung.
    The chief's example follow'd by his train,
    Each quits his car and issues on the plain;
    By orders strict the charioteers enjoin'd
    Compel the coursers to their ranks behind."

The Britons, however, appear to have devised an improvement in this mode
of warfare, which was unknown to the Greeks. Their chariots seem to have
been of two kinds, the _covini_ or wains, heavy and armed with scythes,
to break the thickest order of the enemy; and the _essedæ_, a lighter
kind, adapted probably to situations and circumstances in which the
_covini_ could not act, and occasionally performing the duties of
cavalry. The _essedæ_, with the cavalry, were pushed forward to oppose
the first landing of Cæsar; and Cassivellaunus afterwards left 4000
_essedæ_ as a corps of observation to watch his movements.--_Cæsar.
Comment. lib._ 5, sec. 15.]

[Footnote 382: The government of the ancient Britons may be denominated
patriarchal. Each community was governed by its elders; and every
individual who could not prove his kindred to some community, through
nine descents, and the same number of collateral affinities, was not
considered as a freeman. Beyond this degree of kindred, they were formed
into new communities. The elders of the different communities were
subordinate to the elders of the tribes. But in times of public danger,
as is recorded in the Triads, some chief of distinguished abilities was
entrusted with the supreme authority over the tribes or communities, who
united in common defence--Such were Caswallon (Cassivellaunus), Caradwg
(Caractacus), and Owain, son of Macsen.]

[Footnote 383: This _torques_, chain, or rather wreath, is frequently
alluded to by the early British bards.

    "Yet in the battle of Arderydd I wore the _golden torques_"
    _Merddin Avellanaw._

    "Four and twenty sons I have had
    Wearing the _golden wreath_, leaders of armies."
    _Llywarch Hên._

    "Of all who went to Cattraeth, wearing the _golden torc or wreath_."

The same bard states that in the battle of Cattraeth were three hundred
and sixty who wore the _golden torques_.

We give a description of one of these ornaments found near the castle of
Harlech, in Merionethshire, in 1692. "It is a wreathed bar of gold, or
perhaps three or four rods jointly twisted, about four feet long, but
naturally bending only one way, in the form of a hatband. It is hooked
at both ends. It is of a round form, about an inch in circumference, and
weighs eight ounces."--_Gibson's Camden_, p. 658.

Another mark of dignity was a string of amber beads worn round the head.
To this Aneurin alludes--

    "With wreaths of _amber_ twined round his temples."

These beads have been frequently found in tumuli, particularly in those
on Salisbury Plain.--See _Turner's Vindication of the Welsh
Bards.--Owen's Elegies of Llywarch Hên_.]

[Footnote 384: This is Cæsar's account of a Gallic custom; but it is
applied, not without reason, to the Britons, and indeed is equally
applicable to all uncivilized people.]

[Footnote 385: As the classic authors have left us no description of the
modes of interment among the Britons, Richard was induced, by the
conformity of their manners and customs to those of the Gauls, to adopt
the words used by Cæsar in his account of the Gallic funerals.
Unfortunately the remains of the British bards afford little assistance
in supplying this deficiency. It appears, however, that the Britons
raised tumuli over their dead, and continued the practice till after the
introduction of Christianity; and that their other modes of interment
were the _carned_, or heap of stones; the _cistvaen_, or stone chest;
and perhaps the _cromlec_, or hanging stone. From a curious fragment
commemorating the graves of the British warriors, which is printed in
the first volume of the Welch Archæology, we learn further, that they
buried their dead on the top of hills and lofty cliffs, on declivities,
in heaths and secluded valleys, on the banks and near the fords of
rivers, and on the sea-shore "where the ninth wave breaks." Allusions
are also made to corresponding stones raised on these graves; and it is
said, "the _long_ graves in Gwanas, no one knows to whom they belong nor
what is their history."

As the modes of interment among all early nations were in many respects
similar, there is perhaps no part of our national antiquities which has
given scope to so much conjecture as this. The reader who is desirous of
more particular information relative to this subject, may at least find
amusement in consulting the works of Stukeley, Douglas's _Nenia
Britannica_, the _Archæologia_, and various accounts scattered in
different periodical publications.]


1. All the Britons, like the Gauls, were much addicted to superstitious
ceremonies; and those who laboured under severe disorders, or were
exposed to the dangers of war, either offered human victims, or made a
vow to perform such a sacrifice.

2. The druids were employed in the performance of these cruel rites; and
they believed that the gods could not be appeased unless the life of a
man was ransomed with human blood. Hence arose the public institution of
such sacrifices; and those who had been surprised in theft, robbery, or
any other delinquency, were considered as the most acceptable victims.
But when criminals could not be obtained, even the innocent were put to
death, that the gods might be appeased.

3. The sacred ceremonies could not be performed except in the presence
of the druids; and on them devolved the office of providing for the
public as well as private rites. They were the guardians of religion and
the interpreters of mysteries; and being skilled in medicine, were
consulted for the preservation or restoration of health.

4. Among their gods, the principal object of their worship was
Mercury.[386] Next to him they adored justice (under the name of
Astarte), then Apollo, and Mars (who was called Vitucadrus), Jupiter,
Minerva, Hercules, Victory (called Andate), Diana, Cybele, and Pluto. Of
these deities they held the same opinions as other nations.

5. The Britons, like the Gauls, endeavoured to derive their origin from
Dis or Pluto, boasting of this ancient tradition of the druids. For this
reason they divided time, not by the number of days, but of nights, and
thus distinguished the commencement of the month, and the time of their
birth. This custom agrees with the ancient mode of computation adopted
in Genesis, chapter i.[387]

6. The druids, being held in high veneration, were greatly followed by
the young men for the sake of their instructions. They decided almost
all public and private controversies, and determined disputes relative
to inheritance or the boundaries of lands. They decreed rewards and
punishments, and enforced their decisions by an exclusion from the
sacrifices. This exclusion was deemed the severest punishment; because
the interdicted, being deemed impious and wicked, were shunned as if
contagious; justice was refused to their supplications, and they were
allowed no marks of honour.[388]

7. Over the druids presided a chief, vested with supreme authority. At
his death he was succeeded by the next in dignity; but if there were
several of equal rank, the contest was decided by the suffrages of their
body; and sometimes they even contended in arms for this honour.[389]

8. The druids went not to war, paid no tribute like the rest of the
people, were exempted from military duties, and enjoyed immunities in
all things. From these high privileges many either voluntarily entered
into their order, or were placed in it by friends or parents.

9. They learned a number of verses, which were the only kind of
memorials or annals in use among them.[390] Some persons accordingly
remained twenty years under their instruction, which they did not deem
it lawful to commit to writing, though on other subjects they employed
the Greek alphabet. "This custom," to use the words of Julius Cæsar,
"seems to have been adopted for two reasons: first, not to expose their
doctrines to the common people; and, secondly, lest their scholars,
trusting to letters, should be less anxious to remember their precepts;
for such assistance commonly diminishes application, and weakens the

10. In the first place they circulated the doctrine that souls do not
die, but migrate into other bodies.[391] By this principle they hoped
men would be more powerfully actuated to virtue, and delivered from the
fear of death. They likewise instructed students in the knowledge of the
heavenly bodies, in geography, the nature of things, and the power of
the gods.[392]

11. Their admiration of the mistletoe must not be omitted. The druids
esteemed nothing more sacred than the mistletoe, and the tree on which
it grew, if an oak. They particularly delighted in groves of oaks,[393]
and performed no sacred rite without branches of that tree, and hence
seems to be derived their name of druids, [Greek: Druides]. Whatever
grew on an oak was considered as sent from heaven, and as a sign that
the tree was chosen by God himself. The mistletoe was difficult to be
found, and when discovered was gathered with religious ceremonies,
particularly at the sixth day of the moon (from which period they dated
their months and years, and their cycle of thirty years,) because the
moon was supposed to possess extraordinary powers when she had not
completed her second quarter. The mistletoe was called in their language
_all heal_.[394] The sacrifice and the feast being duly prepared under
the tree, they led thither two white bulls, whose horns were then bound
for the first time.[395] The priest, clothed in a white vestment,
ascending the tree, cut off the mistletoe with a golden bill, and
received it in a white cloth. They then slew the victims, invoking the
favour of the Deity on their offering. They conceived that the mistletoe
cured sterility in animals; and considered it as a specific against all
poisons. So great was the superstition generally prevailing among
nations with respect to frivolous objects.

13. At a certain time of the year the druids retired to a consecrated
grove in the island of Mona, whither all persons among whom
controversies had arisen, repaired for the decision of their disputes.

14. Besides the druids, there were among the Gauls and Britons poets,
called bards,[396] who sang in heroic measures the deeds of the gods and
heroes, accompanied with the sweet notes of the lyre.

15. Concerning the druids and bards, I shall conclude this chapter in
the words of Lucan:--

    "You too, ye bards! whom sacred raptures fire.
    To chant your heroes to your country's lyre;
    Who consecrate, in your immortal strain,
    Brave patriot souls, in righteous battle slain,
    Securely now the tuneful task renew,
    And noblest themes in deathless songs pursue.
    The druids now, while arms are heard no more,
    Old mysteries and barbarous rites restore,
    A tribe who singular religion love,
    And haunt the lonely coverts of the grove.
    To these, and these of all mankind alone,
    The gods are sure revealed or sure unknown.
    If dying mortals' doom they sing aright,
    No ghosts descend to dwell in dreadful night;
    No parting souls to grisly Pluto go,
    Nor seek the dreary silent shades below;
    But forth they fly immortal in their kind,
    And other bodies in new worlds they find;
    Thus life for ever runs its endless race,
    And like a line death but divides the space,
    A stop which can but for a moment last,
    A point between the future and the past.
    Thrice happy they beneath their northern skies,
    Who that worst fear--the fear of death--despise
    Hence they no cares for this frail being feel,
    But rush undaunted on the pointed steel;
    Provoke approaching fate, and bravely scorn
    To spare that life which must so soon return."
    _Rowe's Lucan_, book i.


[Footnote 386: This passage has puzzled the British antiquaries, because
it militates against the grand principle of the druidic theology, and
because, as they assert, no traces of the Greek or Roman deities are
found among the early Britons. Possibly some of the British tribes might
have brought this mode of worship from Gaul; but more probably the
assertion was derived from the misconception of the ancient authors
themselves, who gave the names of their own deities to the objects of
adoration distinguished by similar attributes in other countries. The
account is borrowed from Cæsar's description of the Gauls, lib. vi. §

[Footnote 387: "And the _evening_ and the morning were the first day,"
&c. ver. 5. We also still say a se'n_night_, a fortnight.]

[Footnote 388: Like the excommunication of the catholic church.]

[Footnote 389: Such a custom would contravene the principles of the
druidic or bardic system, which prohibited them from using arms. The
remark seems to have been extended to a general application by Richard,
from a single instance recorded by Cæsar, of a druidic election in Gaul
thus decided.]

[Footnote 390: According to the opinion of the Welsh antiquaries, the
system of druidical knowledge forms the basis of the Triads. If this be
the case, it must be confessed that the bards possessed a profound
knowledge of human nature, uncommon critical sagacity, and a perfect
acquaintance with the harmony of language and the properties of metre.
For example, the subjects of the poetical Triads are,

    The Welsh language.
    Fancy and invention.
    The design of poetry.
    Nature of just thinking.
    Rules of arrangement.
    Rules of description.
    Variety of matter and invention.
    Rules of composition; comprising the laws of
    verse, rhyme, stanzas, consonancy or alliteration,
    and accent.

We quote a few of these Triads to show their nature and structure.

The three qualifications of poetry;--endowment of genius, judgment from
experience, and happiness of mind.

The three foundations of judgment;--bold design, frequent practice, and
frequent mistakes.

The three foundations of learning;--seeing much, suffering much, and
studying much.

The three foundations of happiness;--a suffering with contentment, a
hope that it will come, and a belief that it will be.

The three foundations of thought;--perspicuity, amplitude, and justness.

The three canons of perspicuity;--the word that is necessary, the
quantity that is necessary, and the manner that is necessary.

The three canons of amplitude;--appropriate thought, variety of thought,
and requisite thought.]

[Footnote 391: According to the Triads, the theology of the bards was
pure monotheism. They taught also the transmigration of souls; believing
that the soul passed by death through all the gradations of animal life,
from Anoom, the bottomless abyss, or lowest degree of animation, up to
the highest degree of spiritual existence next to the Supreme Being.
Human nature was considered as the middle point of this scale. As this
was a state of liberty, in which the soul could attach itself to either
good or evil; if evil predominated, it was after death obliged to
retrace its former transmigrations from a point in the animal creation
equal to its turpitude, and it again and again became man till it was
attached to good. Above humanity, though it might again animate the body
of man, it was incapable of relapse; but continued progressively rising
to a degree of goodness and happiness, inferior only to the Deity.

It is remarkable that many singular points of coincidence have been
discovered in comparing the religious system of the Hindoos with that of
the ancient Britons; and in the languages of these two people some
striking similarities occur in those proverbs and forms of expression
which are derived from national customs and religious ceremonies.]

[Footnote 392: This account of the druids, like some of the preceding
paragraphs, is borrowed from Cæsar's description of the Gauls.]

[Footnote 393: Gen. xxi. 33.]

[Footnote 394: The worship and religious ceremonies of the druids have
formed the subject of many and voluminous dissertations; and the
mistletoe, from its connection with their sacred rites, is a plant that
has always been interesting to antiquaries. In a letter recently
received by the editor from the learned and scientific Professor of
Botany, Dr. Daubeny, of Magdalen College, Oxford, that gentleman
observes, that though the mistletoe is occasionally found on the oak in
Britain, yet this occurs so rarely that it is difficult to suppose the
druids could have got a supply for their purposes from such a source.

"There is a plant nearly allied to the mistletoe, the Loranthus
Europæus, which grows freely on the oak, when it occurs; but
unfortunately the most western locality known is the garden of
Schoenbrunn near Vienna, but out of the limits, I believe, within which
the druidical worship existed: it is very uncommon in Hungary.

"This circumstance has given rise to an hypothesis, which I may repeat
without attaching to it any very great importance, namely, that the
Loranthus is the mistletoe of the druids, and that when the druidical
worship was exterminated, this plant, as being introduced into their
rites, was extirpated from all those parts of Europe, where the druids
were known."

The oak among the ancient Britons was peculiarly sacred as the place of
worship, and consequently branches of this tree were used to adorn the
altar, and garlands of its leaves to decorate the priest or druid; and
the mistletoe, being so seldom found on the oak, was considered so great
and desirable an appendage, that no solemn festival was held without it.
It has been observed by naturalists that the blossom of the mistletoe
falls within a few days of the summer solstice, and the berry within a
few days of the winter solstice. These incidents therefore marked the
return of two of the usual seasons for holding the bardic conventions
and festivals. When the sacrifice was over, the berries of this plant
were taken by the ovate, the physician of the tribe, and converted to
medical purposes. That these berries possessed medicinal virtues can
hardly be doubted. The following passage respecting this sacred plant
occurs in Bacon:--"Mistletoe groweth chiefly upon crab trees, apple
trees, sometimes upon hazels, and rarely upon oaks; the mistletoe
whereof is counted very medicinal. It is ever green, winter and summer,
and beareth a white glistening berry: and it is a plant utterly
differing from the plant on which it groweth."

Sir John Colbach published a Dissertation on the efficacy of the
mistletoe in 1720; but in medicine, as in fashion, what is deemed of
high value in one age is discontinued in the next, and thought nothing
of. Such is the fate of the mistletoe in the present day as to any
medicinal use that is made of it.]

[Footnote 395: As the plough was fastened to the horns of the beasts,
this expression signifies that the animal had never been employed in

The doctrine of the druids is said to have been first invented in
Britain, and from thence carried into Gaul; on which account Pliny says
(in his thirtieth book), "But why should I commemorate these things with
regard to an art which has passed over the sea, and reached the bounds
of nature? Britain even at this time celebrates it with so many
wonderful ceremonies, that she seems to have taught it to the Persians."
Julius Cæsar affirms the same in his Commentaries: "And now those
persons who wish to acquire a more extensive knowledge of such things,
repair to Britain for information."

It is a singular coincidence of circumstances that bulls perfectly white
were sacrificed by the Egyptians to Apis. When such an animal was found
unblemished, and without a single black hair, the priest tied a fillet
about his horns, and sealed it with the signet of his ring; it being a
capital crime to sacrifice one of these animals except it was thus

[Footnote 396: According to the Welsh antiquaries, these distinctions
are erroneous. The druidical, or rather bardic, system consisted of
three classes: the bard proper, whose province was philosophy and
poetry; the druid, or minister of religion; and the ovate, or mechanic
and artist. For a curious account of the bardic system and institutions
the reader is referred to the Introduction to Owen's Translations of the
Elegies of Llywarch Hên.]


1. This island is rich in corn and wood, is well adapted for the
maintenance of flocks and cattle, and in some places produces vines. It
also abounds with marine and land birds, and contains copious springs,
and numerous rivers, stored with fish, and plentifully supplied with
salmon and eels.

2. Sea-cows or seals,[397] and dolphins are caught, and whales, of which
mention is made by the satirist:

    "Quanto delphinis balæna Britannica major."

3. There are besides several sorts of shell-fish, among which are
muscles, containing pearls often of the best kind, and of every colour:
that is, red, purple, violet, green (_prasini_), but principally white,
as we find in the venerable Bede's Ecclesiastical History.

4. Shells[398] are still more abundant, from which is prepared a scarlet
dye of the most beautiful hue, which never fades from the effect of the
sun or rain, but becomes finer as it grows older.

5. In Britain are salt and warm springs, from which are formed hot
baths, suited to all ages, with distinct places for the two sexes.[399]

6. White lead is found in the midland regions, and iron in the maritime,
but in small quantities gold and silver are also produced, but brass is
imported. Jet of the purest quality abounds; it is of a shining black,
and highly inflammable.[400] When burned, it drives away serpents, and
when warmed by friction attracts bodies, like amber.

7. Britain being situated almost under the north pole, the nights are
so light in summer, that it is often doubtful whether the evening or
morning twilight prevails; because the sun, in returning to the east,
does not long remain below the horizon. Hence, also, according to
Cleomenes, the longest day in summer, and the longest night in winter,
when the sun declines towards the south, is eighteen hours; and the
shortest night in summer, and day in winter, is six hours. In the same
manner as in Armenia, Macedon, Italy, and the regions under the same
parallel, the longest day is fifteen, and the shortest nine hours.

8. But I have given a sufficient account of Britain and the Britons in
general. I shall now descend to particulars; and in the succeeding
pages, shall describe the state and revolutions of the different nations
who inhabited this island, the cities which ennobled it, with other
particulars, and their condition under the Roman dominion.


[Footnote 397: We do not find that Pennant mentions, among the
amphibious animals, the _Vituli Marini_, by which Richard probably meant

[Footnote 398: Richard calls these shells _Cochleæ_, or snails, though
he probably alludes to the species styled by naturalists _Murea_, which
contained the famous Tyrian purple, so much valued by the ancients. Yet,
whatever our island may have formerly produced, we discern no traces in
later ages, of any testaceous animal yielding a purple or scarlet dye.]

[Footnote 399: Richard here doubtless principally alludes to Bath, the
Aquæ Solis of the ancients.]

[Footnote 400: This substance appears to have been wrought into
ornaments for the person. In the barrows, jet beads of a long elliptical
form were found, together with others of amber, and a coarse blue


1. Britain, according to the most accurate and authentic accounts of the
ancients, was divided into seven parts, six of which were at different
times subjected to the Roman empire, and the seventh held by the
uncivilized Caledonians.

2. These divisions were called Britannia Prima, Secunda, Flavia, Maxima,
Valentia, and Vespasiana, which last did not long remain under the power
of the Romans. Britannia Prima is separated by the river Thamesis from
Flavia, and by the sea[401] from Britannia Secunda. Flavia begins from
the German Ocean, is bounded by the Thamesis,[402] by the Sabrina,[403]
on the side of the Silures and Ordovices, and trends towards the north
and the region of the Brigantes.[404] Maxima, beginning at the extreme
boundary of Flavia, reaches to the wall,[405] which traverses the whole
island, and faces the north. Valentia occupies the whole space between
this wall and that built by the emperor Antoninus Pius, from the
estuary of the Bdora[406] to that of the Clydda.[407] Vespasiana
stretches from the estuary of the Bdora to the city of Alcluith,[408]
from whence a line drawn to the mouth of the Varar[409] shows the
boundary. Britannia Secunda faces the Irish Sea to the north and west.
But sufficient notice has now been taken of the provinces.

3. Before we proceed to a more minute description, let us touch upon the
form of government. In remote times all Britain was divided among petty
princes and states, some of whom are said to have existed after the
country was occupied by the Romans; though, under the Roman domination,
they retained scarcely the shadow of regal authority. A legate being
appointed by the emperor over the conquered countries, Britain became a
proconsular province. This form of government continued several ages,
although in the meantime the island underwent many divisions, first into
the Upper and Lower districts, and then, as we have before shown, into
seven parts. It afterwards became the imperial residence of Carausius
and those whom he admitted to a share of his power. Constantine the
Great, the glory and defence of Christianity, is supposed to have raised
Maxima and Valentia to consular provinces, and Prima, Secunda, and
Flavia, to præsidials. But over the whole island was appointed a
deputy-governor, under the authority of the prætorian prefect of Gaul.
Besides whom, an ancient volume, written about that period, mentions a
person of great dignity, by the title of _comes_, or count of the
Britons, another as count of the Saxon coast, and a third as leader or
duke of Britain; with many others, who, although possessed of great
offices, must be passed over in silence, for want of certain

4. I now commence my long journey, to examine minutely the whole island
and its particular parts, and shall follow the footsteps of the best
authors. I begin with the extreme part of the first province, whose
coasts are opposite Gaul. This province contains three celebrated and
powerful states, namely, Cantium, Belgium, and Damnonium, each of which
in particular I shall carefully examine.

First of Cantium.

5. Cantium,[411] situated at the extremity of Britannia Prima, was
inhabited by the Cantii, and contains the cities of Durobrobis[412] and
Cantiopolis,[413] which was the metropolis, and the burial-place of St.
Augustine, the apostle of the English; Dubræ,[414] Lemanus,[415] and
Regulbium[416] garrisoned by the Romans; also their primary station
Rhutupis,[417] which was colonized and became the metropolis, and where
a haven was formed capable of containing the Roman fleet which commanded
the North Sea. This city was of such celebrity that it gave the name of
Rhutupine to the neighbouring shores; which Lucan,

    "Aut vaga quum Thetis Rhutupinaque littora fervent."

From hence oysters of a large size and superior flavour were sent to
Rome, as Juvenal observes,

                              "Circæis nata forent, an
    Lucrinum ad saxum, RHUTUPINOVE edita fundo
    Ostrea, callebat primo deprendere morsu."

It was the station of the second Augustan legion, under the count of the
Saxon coast, a person of high distinction.

6. The kingdom of Cantium is watered by many rivers. The principal are
Madus[418], Sturius,[419] Dubris,[420] and Lemanus,[421] which last
separates the Cantii from the Bibroci.

7. Among the three principal promontories of Britain, that which derives
its name from Cantium[422] is most distinguished. There the ocean, being
confined in an angle, according to the tradition of the ancients,
gradually forced its way, and formed the strait which renders Britain an

8. The vast forest called by some the Anderidan, and by others the
Caledonian, stretches from Cantium a hundred and fifty miles, through
the countries of the Bibroci and the Segontiaci, to the confines of the
Hedui. It is thus mentioned by the poet Lucan:--

    "Unde Caledoniis fallit turbata Britannos."

9. The Bibroci[423] were situated next to the Cantii, and, as some
imagine, were subject to them. They were also called Rhemi, and are not
unknown in record. They inhabited Bibrocum,[424] Regentium,[425] and
Noviomagus,[426] which was their metropolis. The Romans held

10. On their confines, and bordering on the Thames, dwelt the
Atrebates,[428] whose primary city was Calleba.[429]

11. Below them, nearer the river Kunetius,[430] lived the
Segontiaci,[431] whose chief city was Vindonum.[432]

12. Below, towards the ocean, and bordering on the Bibroci, lived the
Belgæ,[433] whose chief cities were Clausentum,[434] now called
Southampton; Portus Magnus;[435] Venta,[436] a noble city situated upon
the river Antona. Sorbiodunum[437] was garrisoned by the Romans. All the
Belgæ are Allobroges, or foreigners, and derived their origin from the
Belgæ and Celts. The latter, not many ages before the arrival of Cæsar,
quitted their native country, Gaul, which was conquered by the Romans
and Germans, and passed over to this island: the former, after crossing
the Rhine, and occupying the conquered country, likewise sent out
colonies, of which Cæsar has spoken more at large.[438]

13. All the regions south of the Thamesis[439] were, according to
ancient records, occupied by the warlike nations of the Senones. These
people, under the guidance of their renowned king Brennus, penetrated
through Gaul, forced a passage over the Alps, hitherto deemed
impracticable, and would have razed proud Rome, had not the fates, which
seemed like to carry the republic in their bosom, till it reached its
destined height of glory, averted the threatened calamity. By the cackle
of a goose Manlius was warned of the danger, and hurled the barbarians
from the capitol, in their midnight attack. The same protecting
influence afterwards sent Camillus to his assistance, who, by assailing
them in the rear, quenched the conflagration which they had kindled, in
Senonic blood, and preserved the city from impending destruction. In
consequence of this vast expedition, the land of the Senones,[440] being
left without inhabitants, and full of spoils, was occupied by the
above-mentioned Belgæ.

14. Near the Sabrina and below the Thamesis lived the Hedui,[441] whose
principal cities were Ischalis[442] and Avalonia.[443] The baths,[444]
which were also called Aquæ Solis, were made the seat of a colony, and
became the perpetual residence of the Romans who possessed this part of
Britain. This was a celebrated city, situated upon the river Abona,
remarkable for its hot springs, which were formed into baths at a great
expense. Apollo and Minerva[445] were the tutelary deities, in whose
temples the perpetual fire never fell into ashes, but as it wasted away
turned into globes of stone.

15. Below the Hedui are situated the Durotriges, who are sometimes
called Morini. Their metropolis was Durinum,[446] and their territory
extended to the promontory Vindelia.[447] In their country the land is
gradually contracted, and seems to form an immense arm which repels the
waves of the ocean.

16. In this arm was the region of the Cimbri,[448] whose country was
divided from that of the Hedui by the river Uxella.[449] It is not
ascertained whether the Cimbri gave to Wales its modern name, or
whether their origin is more remote. Their chief cities were
Termolus[450] and Artavia.[451] From hence, according to the ancients,
are seen the pillars of Hercules, and the island Herculea[452] not far
distant. From the Uxella a chain of mountains called Ocrinum extends to
the promontory known by the same name.

17. Beyond the Cimbri the Carnabii inhabited the extreme angle of the
island,[453] from whom this district probably obtained its present name
of Carnubia (Cornwall). Their chief cities were Musidum[454] and
Halangium.[455] But as the Romans never frequented these almost desert
and uncultivated parts of Britain, their cities seem to have been of
little consequence, and were therefore neglected by historians; though
geographers mention the promontories Bolerium and Antivestæum.[456]

18. Near the above-mentioned people on the sea-coast towards the south,
and bordering on the Belgæ Allobroges, lived the Damnonii, the most
powerful people of those parts; on which account Ptolemy assigns to them
all the country extending into the sea like an arm.[457] Their cities
were Uxella,[458] Tamara,[459] Voluba,[460] Cenia,[461] and Isca,[462]
the mother of all, situated upon the Isca. Their chief rivers were the
Isca,[463] Durius,[464] Tamarus,[465] and Cenius.[466] Their coasts are
distinguished by three promontories, which will be hereafter mentioned.
This region was much frequented by the Phoenician, Grecian, and Gallic
merchants, for the metals with which it abounded, particularly for its
tin. Proofs of this may be drawn from the names of the above-mentioned
promontories, namely Hellenis,[467] Ocrinum,[468] and [Greek: Kriou
metôpon][469] as well as the numerous appellations of cities, which show
a Grecian or Phoenician derivation.

19. Beyond this arm are the isles called Sygdiles,[470] which are also
denominated Oestromenides and Cassiterides.

20. It is affirmed that the emperor Vespasian fought thirty battles with
the united forces of the Damnonii and Belgæ. The ten different tribes
who inhabited the south banks of the Thames and Severn being gradually
subdued, their country was formed into the province of Britannia Prima,
so called because it was the first fruit of victory obtained by the

21. Next in order is Britannia Secunda, which is divided from Britannia
Prima by the countries already mentioned, and from the Flavian province
by the Sabrina[471] and the Deva;[472] and the remaining parts are
bounded by the internal sea. This was the renowned region of the
Silures,[473] inhabited by three powerful tribes. Among these were
particularly distinguished the Silures Proper, whom the turbid estuary
of the Severn divides from the country we have just described. These
people, according to Solinus, still retain their ancient manners, have
neither markets nor money, but barter their commodities, regarding
rather utility than price. They worship the gods, and both men and women
are supposed to foretell future events. 22. The chief cities of the
Silures were, Sariconium,[474] Magna,[475] Gobanium,[476] and Venta[477]
their capital. A Roman colony possessed the city built on the Isca,[478]
and called after that name, for many years the station of the second or
Augustan legion, until it was transferred to the Valentian province, and
Rhutupis.[479] This was the primary station of the Romans in Britannia

23. The country of the Silures was long powerful, particularly under
Caractacus, who during nine years withstood the Roman arms, and
frequently triumphed over them, until he was defeated by Ostorius, as he
was preparing to attack the Romans. Caractacus, however, escaped from
the battle, and in applying for assistance to the neighbouring
chieftains was delivered up to the Romans, by the artifices of a Roman
matron, Cartismandua, who had married Venutius, chief of Brigantia.
After this defeat the Silures bravely defended their country till it was
overrun by Veranius, and being finally conquered by Frontinus, it was
reduced into a Roman province under the name of Britannia Secunda.

24. Two other tribes were subject to the Silures. First the Ordovices,
who inhabited the north towards the isle of Mona;[480] and secondly the
Dimetiæ, who occupied the west, where the promontory Octorupium[481] is
situated, and from whence is a passage of thirty miles[482] to Ireland.
The cities of the Dimetiæ were Menapia[483] and Maridunum[484] the
metropolis. The Romans seized upon Lovantium[485] as their station.
Beyond these, and the borders of the Silures, were the Ordovices, whose
cities were Mediolanum[486] and Brannogenium.[487] The Sabrina, which
rises in their mountains, is justly reckoned one of the three largest
rivers of Britain, the Thamesis (Thames) and the Tavus (Tay) being the
other two. The name of the Ordovices is first distinguished in history
on account of the revenge which they took for the captivity of their
renowned chief. Hence they continually harassed the Roman army, and
would have succeeded in annihilating their power, had not Agricola
turned hither his victorious arms, subdued the whole nation, and put the
greater part to the sword.

25. The territory situated north of the Ordovices, and washed by the
ocean, was formerly under their dominion. These parts were certainly
inhabited by the Cangiani, whose chief city was Segontium,[488] near the
Cangian promontory,[489] on the Minevian shore, opposite Mona,[490] an
island long distinguished as the residence of the druids. This island
contained many towns, though it was scarcely sixty miles in circuit;
and, as Pliny asserts, is distant from the colony of Camalodunum two
hundred miles. The rivers of the Cangiani were Tosibus,[491] called also
Canovius, and the Deva,[492] which wa