History of the Kings of Britain: Historia Regum Britanniae By Geoffrey of Monmouth Book II

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Now Ignoge, the wife of Brute, bare unto him three sons of high renown, whose names were Locrine, Albanact and Camber. When their father departed this life in the twenty-fourth year after his arrival, they buried him within the city that he had builded, and divided the realm of Britain amongst themselves, each succeeding him in his share therein. Locrine, that was eldest born, had the midland part of the island, which in later days was called Loegria, after his name. Next, Camber had that part which lieth beyond the river Severn, and is now called Wales, which afterward was for a long time called Cambria, after his name; whence unto this day do the folk of the country call them Cymry in the British tongue. But Albanact, the youngest, had the country which in these days in our tongue is called Scotland, and gave it the name or Albany, after his own. And after that these had of a long time reigned in peace and concord, Humber, the King of the Huns, landed in Albany, and engaging in battle with Albanact, slew him, and compelled the country folk to flee unto Locrine.




Locrine, accordingly, when he heard the rumour, besought his brother Camber to accompany him, called out the whole youth of the country, and went to meet the King of the Huns in the neighbourhood of the river Humber. When the armies met, he compelled Humber to flee, but when he had fled as far as the river, it chanced that he was drowned therein, and thus left his name to the stream. Locrine, therefore, after he had won the victory, distributed the spoil among his comrades, keeping nothing for himself save the gold and silver that he found in the enemy’s ships. He also kept for himself three damsels of marvellous beauty, whereof one was the daughter of a certain King of Germany, whom the foresaid Humber had seized along with the two other damsels when he laid waste her father’s country. Her name was Estrildis, and so fair was she that scarce might any be found to compare with her for beauty, for no polished ivory, nor newly-fallen snow, nor no lilies could surpass the whiteness of her flesh. Taken with love of her, Locrine would fain that she should share his bed, and that the marriage-torch should be lighted to celebrate their wedding. But when Corineus found out what he was minded to do he was wroth beyond measure, for that Locrine had pledged himself to marry Corineus’ own daughter.




He came accordingly unto the King, and brandishing his battle-axe in his right hand, spake unto him on this wise: ‘Be these the wages, Locrine, that thou wouldst pay me for the wounds I have suffered in thy father’s service when he was warring against unknown peoples, that you disdain my daughter and stoop to yoke you with a barbarian woman? If this indeed be so, thou dost it on peril of my vengeance, so long as any strength is left in this right hand, which hath quenched the delight of life in so many giants on the Tyrrhene shores.’ Shouting these words aloud again and yet again, he brandished the axe as if about to strike him, when the friends of both flung themselves betwixt. And after that Corineus were somewhat appeased, they compelled Locrine to perform that which he had pledged him to do.




Locrine accordingly married Corineus’ daughter, Gwendolen by name; yet, natheless did he not forget the love he bare unto Estrildis. Wherefore, in the city of Trinovant, did he make fashion a chamber underground wherein he enclosed her, and caused her be right honourably served of the attendants of his household, for that he was minded to keep his love of her secret. For he was sore troubled by reason of his dread of Corineus, so that he durst not hold her openly, but, as hath been said already, kept her in hiding, and seven whole years did haunt her in secret, so that none knew thereof save only they that were the closest of his familiars. For, so often as he was minded to go unto her, he would feign that he made hidden sacrifice unto his gods, whereby he did lightly move others to believe the same, albeit in truth it were no such thing. In the meantime, Estrildis did become great with child, and brought forth a daughter of marvellous beauty, whom she called Sabrina. Gwendolen also became pregnant and haiê a son, unto whom was given the name of Maddan. This son was delivered into the charge of his grandfather Corineus, and had of him his teachings and nurture.




Years later, after Corineus was dead, Locrine deserted Gwendolen and raised Estrildis to be Queen. Gwendolen thereupon, being beyond measure indignant, went into Cornwall, and gathering together all the youth of that kingdom, began to harass Locrine by leading forays into his land. At last, after both had mustered their armies, a battle was fought on the river Stour, and Locrine, smitten by an arrow, lost his life and all the joys thereof. Whereupon Gwendolen laid hold on the helm of state, maddened by the same revengeful fury as her father, insomuch as that she bade Estrildis and Sabrina her daughter be flung into the river that now called Severn, issuing an edict throughout all Britain that the river should be called by the damsel’s name. For she was minded that it should bear her name for ever, for that it was her own husband that begat her; whereby it cometh to pass that even unto this day the river in the British tongue is called Sabren, which by corruption in other speech is called Severn.




Gwendolen reigned fifteen years after the slaying of Locrine, who had reigned ten years. And when she saw that her son Maddan had grown to man’s estate, she conferred upon him the sceptre of the realm, contenting herself with the province of Cornwall, wherein she passed the rest of her life. At that time Samuel the prophet reigned in Judæa, and Sylvius Æneas was still living. And Homer was held to be a famous teller of histories and poet. Whilst Maddan held the sceptre, his wife bare unto him two sons, Mempricius and Malim. And he maintained his kingdom in peace diligently for forty years. But after his death arose discord betwixt the two brethren as concerning the ‘kingdom, for that each of them was eager to possess the whole island. Mempricius accordingly, desirous of achieving his own ends, entered into conference with Malim as if for the purpose of establishing concord betwixt them. But kindled, as it were, by the fire-brand of treason, he slew him in the presence of them that had come to take counsel in the matter, and having thus obtained the government of the whole island, exercised so sore a tyranny over the people that he destroyed well-nigh all the more noble men of the land. Moreover, hating all of his own family, either by violence or treachery he made away with every single one that he feared might be able to succeed him in the kingdom. He further left his own wife that had borne him the famous youth Ebraucus, and abandoned himself wholly to unclean living. At last, in the twentieth year of his reign, while he was out hunting, he rode apart from his companions into a certain combe, wherein he was surrounded by a herd of raging wolves and miserably devoured. At that time Saul reigned in Judæa and Eurystheus in Lacedæmon.




After the death of Mempricius, his son Ebraucus, a man tall of stature and of marvellous strength, undertook the government of Britain, which he held for forty years. He was the first after Brute to take a fleet along the coasts of Gaul, and carrying war into the country to harass the provinces by the slaughter of men and the sacking of the cities; returning thence with victory and enriched with boundless plenty of gold and silver. He afterwards founded a city beyond the Humber, which, after his own name, he called Kaerebrauc, that is to say, the City of Ebrauc. At that time King David reigned in Judæa and Sylvius Latinus in Italy. Gad, Nathan and Asaph prophesied in Israel. Ebrauc founded also the city of Alclud towards Albany, and the fortress of Mount Agned, which now is called the Castle of Damsels and the Dolorous Mountain.




He begat, moreover, twenty sons by twenty wives that he had, besides thirty daughters, and for forty years did he maintain the kingdom of Britain right stoutly. The names of his sons were these: Brute Greenshield, Margadud, Sisilius, Regin, Morivid, Bladud, Lagon, Bodloan, Kincar, Spaden, Gaul, Darden, Eldad, Ivor, Gangu, Hector, Kerin, Rud, Assaracus, Buel. The names of the daughters were: Gloygni, Ignogen, Oudas, Guenliam, Gaurdid, Angarad, Guendoloe, Tangustel, Gorgon, Median, Methabel, Ourar, Mailiure, Kambreda, Ragan, Gael, Ecub, Nest, Cheun, Stadud, Gladud, Ebren, Blagan, Ahallac, Angaes, Galaes, the fairest of all at that time living in Britain or Gaul, Edra, Anaor, Stadial and Egron. These all did their father cause to be convoyed into Italy unto Sylvius Alba, who reigned after Sylvius Latinus. There were they married with the more noble Trojans with whom the Latin and Sabine women did refuse to match them. The sons, moreover, with Assaracus their brother for chieftain, took a fleet into Germany, where, with the help of Sylvius Alba, they subdued the people and possessed themselves of the kingdom.




Howbeit, Brute, surnamed Greenshield, remained with his father, and obtaining the government of the kingdom after his father’s death, reigned for twelve years. Him succeeded his son Leil, a lover of peace and justice, who, taking advantage of a prosperous reign, builded a city in the north parts of Britain called after s name Kaerleil. At this time did Solomon begin to build the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, and the Queen of Sheba came thither to hearken unto his wisdom. At the same time Sylvius Epitus succeeded his father Alba in the kingdom of the Latins. Leil lived five-and-twenty years after that he had come into the kingdom, albeit toward the end he maintained his royalty but feebly. Owing to his sluggard slackness a civil war suddenly arose in the realm. After him reigned his son Hudibras nine-and-thirty years, who, after the civil dissensions, did restore concord among the people and founded Kaerlem, that is, Canterbury. He also founded Kaerguen, which is Winchester, and the fortress of Mount Paladur, which is now called Shaftesbury. There, while the wall was a-building, an eagle spake, the sayings whereof, had I believed them to be true, I would not have shrunk from committing to written memory along with the rest. At that time reigned Capys, the son of Epitus, and Haggai, Amos, Joel and Azarias did prophesy.




Next succeeded Bladud his son, in whose hands the kingdom remained for twenty years. He builded the city of Kaerbadon, that is now called Bath, and fashioned hot baths therein, meet for the needs of men, the which he placed under the guardianship of the deity Minerva, in whose temple he set fires that could not be quenched, that never turned into ashes, but as they began to fail became as it were round balls of stone. At that time did Elijah pray that it might not rain upon the earth, and it rained not for the space of three years and six months. Bladud was a right cunning craftsman, and did teach nigromancy throughout the realm of Britain, nor did he stint of his subtle sleights until he had fashioned him wings and tried to go upon the top of the air, when he fell upon the temple of Apollo in the city of Trinovantum, and was dashed into many pieces.




When Bladud was thus given over to the destinies, his son Lear was next raised to the kingdom, and ruled the country after manly fashion for three-score years. He it was that builded the city on the river Soar, that in the British is called Kaerleir, but in the Saxon, Leicester. Male issue was denied unto him, his only children being three daughters named Goneril, Regan and Cordelia, whom all he did love with marvellous affection, but most of all the youngest borne to wit, Cordelia. And when that he began to be upon the verge of eld, he thought to divide his kingdom amongst them, and to marry them unto such husbands as were worthy to have them along with their share of the kingdom. But that he might know which of them was most worthy of the largest share, he went unto them to make inquiry of each as to which of them did most love himself. When, accordingly, he asked of Goneril how much she loved him, she first called all the gods of heaven to witness that her father was dearer to her heart than the very soul that dwelt within her body. Unto whom saith her father: ‘For this, that thou hast set mine old age before thine own life, thee, my dearest daughter, will I marry unto whatsoever youth shall be thy choice, together with the third part of Britain.’ Next, Regan, that was second, fain to take ensample of her sister and to wheedle her father into doing her an equal kindness, made answer with a solemn oath that she could no otherwise express her thought than by saying that she loved him better than all the world beside. The credulous father thereupon promised to marry her with the same dignity as her elder sister, with another third part of the kingdom for her share. But the last, Cordelia, when she saw how her father had been cajoled by the flatteries of her sisters who had already spoken, and desiring to make trial of him otherwise, went on to make answer unto him thus: ‘Father mine, is there a daughter anywhere that presumeth to love her father more than a father? None such, I trow, there is that durst confess as much, save she were trying to hide the truth in words of jest. For myself, I have ever loved thee as a father, nor never from that love will I be turned aside. Albeit that thou art bent on wringing more from me, yet hearken to the true measure of my love. Ask of me no more, but let this be mine answer: So much as thou hast, so much art thou worth, and so much do I love thee.’ Thereupon forthwith, her father, thinking that she had thus spoken out of the abundance of her heart, waxed mightily indignant, nor did he tarry to make known what his answer would be. ‘For that thou hast so despised thy father’s old age that thou hast disdained to love me even as well as these thy sisters love me, I also will disdain thee, nor never in my realm shalt thou have share with thy sisters. Howbeit, sith that thou art my daughter, say not but that I will marry thee upon terms of some kind unto some stranger that is of other land than mine, if so be that fortune shall offer such an one; only be sure of this, that never will I trouble me to marry thee with such honour as thy sisters, inasmuch as, whereas up to this time I have loved thee better than the others, it now seemeth that thou lovest me less than they.’


Straightway thereupon, by counsel of the nobles of the realm, he giveth the twain sisters unto two Dukes, of Cornwall, to wit, and Albany, together with one moiety only of the island so long as he should live, but after his death he willed that they should have the whole of the kingdom of Britain. Now it so fell out about this time that Aganippus, King of the Franks, hearing report of Cordelia’s beauty, forthwith despatched his envoys to the King, beseeching him that Cordelia might be entrusted to their charge as his bride whom he would marry with due rite of the wedding-torch. But her father, still persisting in his wrath, made answer that right willingly would he give her, but that needs must it be without land or fee, seeing that he had shared his kingdom along with all his gold and silver betwixt Cordelia’s sisters Goneril and Regan, When this word was brought unto Aganippus, for that he was on fire with love of the damsel, he sent again unto King Lear saying that enow had he of gold and silver and other possessions, for that one-third part of Gaul was his, and that he was fain to marry the damsel only that he might have sons by her to inherit his land. So at last the bargain was struck, and Cordelia was sent to Gaul to be married unto Aganippus.




Some long time after, when Lear began to wax more sluggish by reason of age, the foresaid Dukes, with whom and his two daughters he had divided Britain, rebelled against him and took away from him the realm and the kingly power which up to that time he had held right manfully and gloriously. Howbeit, concord was, restored, and one of his sons-in-law, Maglaunus, Duke of Albany, agreed to maintain him with threescore knights, so that he should not be without some semblance of state. But after that he had sojourned with his son-in-law two years, his daughter Goneril began to wax indignant at the number of his knights, who flung gibes at her servants for that their rations were not more plentiful. Whereupon, after speaking to her husband, she ordered her father to be content with a service of thirty knights and to dismiss the other thirty that he had. The King, taking this in dudgeon, left Maglaunus, and betook him to Henvin, Duke of Cornwall, unto whom he had married his other daughter. Here, at first, he was received with honour, but a year had not passed before discord again arose betwixt those of the King’s household and those of the Duke’s, insomuch as that Regan, waxing indignant, ordered her father to dismiss all his company save five knights only to do him service. Her father, beyond measure aggrieved thereat, returned once more to his eldest daughter, thinking to move her to pity and to persuade her to maintain himself and his retinue. Howbeit, she had never renounced her first indignation, but swore by all the gods of Heaven that never should he take up his abode with her save he contented himself with the service of a single knight and were quit of all the rest. Moreover, she upbraided the old man for that, having nothing of his own to give away, he should be minded to go about with such a retinue; so that finding she would not give way to his wishes one single tittle, he at last obeyed and remained content with one knight only, leaving the rest to go their way. But when the remembrance of his former dignity came back unto him, bearing witness to the misery of the estate to which he was now reduced, he began to bethink him of going to his youngest daughter oversea. Howbeit, he sore misdoubted that she would do nought for him, seeing that he had held her, as I have said, in such scanty honour in the matter of her marriage. Natheless, disdaining any longer to endure so mean a life, he betook him across the Channel to Gaul. But when he found that two other princes were making the passage at the same time, and that he himself had been assigned but the third place, he brake forth into tears and sobbing, and cried aloud: ‘Ye destinies that do pursue your wonted way marked out by irrevocable decree, wherefore was it your will ever to uplift me to happiness so fleeting? For a keener grief it is to call to mind that lost happiness than to suffer the presence of the unhappiness that cometh after. For the memory of the days when in the midst of hundreds of thousands of warriors I went to batter down the walls of cities and to lay waste the provinces of mine enemies is more grievous unto me than the calamity that hath overtaken me in the meanness of mine estate, which hath incited them that but now were grovelling under my feet to desert my feebleness. O angry fortune! will the day ever come wherein I may requite the evil turn that hath thus driven forth the length of my days and my poverty? O Cordelia, my daughter, how true were the words wherein thou didst make answer unto me, when I did ask of thee how much thou didst love me! For thou saidst, So much as thou hast so much art thou worth, and so much do I love thee. So long, therefore, as I had that which was mine own to give, so long seemed I of worth unto them that were the lovers, not of myself but of my gifts. They loved me at times, but better loved they the presents I made unto them. Now that the presents are no longer forthcoming, they too have gone their ways. But with what face, O thou dearest of my children, shall I dare appear before thee? I who, wroth with thee for these thy words, was minded to marry thee less honourably than thy sisters, who, after all the kindnesses I have conferred upon them have allowed me to become an outcast and a beggar?’


Landing at last, his mind filled with these reflections and others of a like kind, he came to Karitia, where his daughter lived, and waiting without the city, sent a messenger to tell her into what indigence he had fallen, and to beseech his daughter’s compassion inasmuch as he had neither food nor clothing. On hearing the tidings, Cordelia was much moved and wept bitterly. When she made inquiry how many armed men he had with him, the messenger told her that he had none save a single knight, who was waiting with him without the city. Then took she as much gold and silver as was needful and gave it unto the messenger, bidding him take her father to another city, where he should bathe him, clothe him and nurse him, feigning that he was a sick man. She commanded also that he should have a retinue of forty knights well appointed and armed, and that then he should duly announce his arrival to Aganippus and herself. The messenger accordingly forthwith attended King Lear into another city, and hid him there in secret until that he had fully accomplished all that Cordelia had borne him on hand to do.




As soon, therefore, as he was meetly arrayed in kingly apparel and invested with the ensigns of royalty and a train of retainers, he sent word unto Aganippus and his daughter that he had been driven out of the realm of Britain by his sons-in-law, and had come unto them in order that by their assistance he might be able to recover his kingdom. They accordingly, with the great counsellors and nobles, came forth to receive him with all honour, and placed in his hands the power over the whole of Gaul until such time as they had restored him unto his former dignity.




In the meanwhile, Aganippus sent envoys throughout the whole of Gaul to summon every knight bearing arms therein to spare no pains in coming to help him to recover the kingdom of Britain for his father-in-law, King Lear. When they had all made them ready, Lear led the assembled host together with Aganippus and his daughter into Britain, fought a battle with his sons-in-law, and won the victory, again bringing them all under his own dominion. In the third year thereafter he died, and Aganippus died also, and Cordelia, now mistress of the helm of state in Britain, buried her father in a certain underground chamber which she had bidden be made under the river Soar at Leicester. This underground chamber was founded in honour of the two-faced Janus, and there, when the yearly celebration of the day came round, did all the workmen of the city set hand unto such work as they were about to be busied upon throughout the year.




Now, when Cordelia had governed the kingdom in peace for five years, two sons of her sisters began to harass her, Margan, to wit, and Cunedag, that had been born unto the Dukes Maglaunus and Henvin, both of them youths of notable likelihood and prowess, Margan being son of Maglaunus and Cunedag of Henvin. These, after the deaths of their fathers, had succeeded them in their dukedoms, and now took it in high dudgeon that Britain should be subject to the rule of a woman. They therefore assembled their hosts and rebelled against the Queen, nor were they minded to put an end to their outraged until after laying waste a number of provinces, they had defeated her in several battles, and had at last taken her and put her in prison, wherein, overwhelmed with grief for the loss of her kingdom, she slew herself. Forthwith the youths divided the island between them, whereof that part which stretcheth from the Humber towards Caithness fell to Margan’s share, and the other, on the other side of the river, that vergeth toward the West, was allotted to Cunedag. After the space of two years, certain of them that rejoiced in making disturbance in the realm, joined them with Margan and began to tempt him to walk in crooked paths, saying that foul shame it was he, the eldest born, should not have dominion over the whole island; so that, what with this and other grievances, they at last egged him on to march with an army into Cunedag’s {sic “territorities” “territories”}, and thus began to heap fuel on the fire they had kindled. On the war breaking out, Cunedag with all his host marched out to meet him, and in the battle that was fought inflicted no small slaughter, driving Margan in flight before him, and afterwards following his flight from province to province, until at last he overtook and slew him in a village of Wales, which after that Margan was slain there hath been called by his name, Margan to wit, ever since by the country folk even unto this day. Cunedag, accordingly, having won the victory, possessed himself of the monarchy of the whole island and governed the same gloriously for three-and-thirty years. At that time Isaiah and Hosea prophesied, and Rome was founded the eleventh of the Kalends of May by the twin-brethren, Romulus and Remus.




{sc Afterwards}, upon the death of Cunedag, his son Rivallo succeeded him, a peaceful youth and fortunate, who governed the realm with diligence. In his time there fell a rain of blood three days, and a great swarming of flies was there, whereof men died. After him succeeded Gurgustius, his son, unto whom Sisillius, and after him Lago the nephew of Gurgustius, unto whom succeeded Kinmarch the son of Sisillius, and after him Gorbodug. Unto him were two sons born, whereof the one was called Ferrex and the other Porrex. But when their father began to verge upon eld, a contention arose betwixt the twain as to which should succeed him in the kingdom. Howbeit, Porrex, spurred on thereunto by a more grasping covetise, layeth snares for his brother with design of slaying him, whereupon Ferrex, when the matter was discovered unto him, betook him across the Channel into Gaul, and, having obtained the help of Suard, King of the Franks, returned and fought against his brother. In this battle betwixt them, Ferrex was slain together with the entire host that accompanied him. Thereupon their mother, who was named Widen, when she learnt the certainty of her son’s death, was beyond measure troubled, and conceived a bitter hatred of the other, for she loved the one that was slain the better of the twain, and so hotly did her wrath blaze up by reason of his death, that she was minded to revenge it upon his brother. She accordingly took possession of the tent wherein he was lying fast asleep, and setting upon him with her waiting-women hacked him all into little pieces. Thenceforward the people was sore afflicted by civil war for a long space, and the kingdom was governed by five kings who harried the one another with mutual forays wherein was much blood spilt.




At last, in after days, arose a certain youth renowned above all others for his singular prowess, by name Dunwallo Molmutius, the son of Cloten, King of Cornwall. Excelling all the Kings of Britain in comeliness and courage, he no sooner undertook the government of the country upon his father’s death than he invaded the lands of Ymner, King of Loegria, whom after a battle he defeated and slew. Thereupon Rudauc, the King of Kambria, and Stater, King of Albany, took counsel together, and after that they had contracted an alliance, led their armies into Dunwallo’s territory to lay waste town and country and destroy his people. Dunwallo marched to meet them with thirty thousand men and gave battle, but after great part of the day had been spent in fighting and neither party could claim the victory, he called apart six hundred of his bravest youths and bade them all take and don the arms of the enemies they had slain. He himself also flung aside the arms he was wearing and did the like. He then led them into the press of the enemy’s ranks, going in among them as though he were of their own party, and when he had reached the place where Rudauc and Stater were leading on their men, gave the word unto his comrades to charge down upon them. They accordingly dashed forward, and the two Kings were slain in the onset and a number of others along with them. But Dunwallo Molmutius, fearing lest he should be himself slain of his own men, turned back with his comrades and disarmed him. Then, donning again the arms that he had flung aside, he cheereth on his comrades to another charge which he himself led foremost. Scarce a moment later the day was won and the enemy put to flight and scattered. It was then only left for him to march through the lands of the slain, overthrow their cities and fortresses, and subject their people to his dominion. And after that he had thus utterly subjugated the whole island, he fashioned for himself a crown of gold and restored the realm unto the former estate thereof.


This King it was that did establish amongst the Britons the laws that were called the Molmutine laws, the which even unto this day are celebrated amongst the English. For among other things which, long time after, the Blessed Gildas did write of him, he ordained that the temples of the gods and the cities should enjoy such privilege, as that in case any runaway or guilty man should take refuge therein, he should depart thence forgiven of his adversary. He ordained, moreover, that the ways which led unto the foresaid temples and cities, no less than the ploughs of the husbandmen, should by the same law be held inviolable. In his days, therefore, the knife of the cut-throat was blunted and the cruelties of the robber ceased in the land, for nowhere was any that durst do violence unto other. At last, after that forty years were fulfilled sithence that he had taken the crown, he departed and was buried in the city of Trinovantum anigh the Temple of Concord, which he ad builded to the confirmation of his law.

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