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

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In the meantime it so fell out, as may be found in the Roman histories, that after he had conquered Gaul, Julius Cæsar came to the coast of the Ruteni. And when he had espied from thence the island of Britain, he asked of them that stood around, what land it might be and who were they that dwelt therein? Whilst that he was still looking out to seaward after he had learnt the name of the kingdom and of the people, ‘By Hercules,’ saith he, ‘we Romans and these Britons be of one ancestry, for we also do come of Trojan stock. For after the destruction of Troy, Æneas was first father unto us, as unto them was Brute, whom Silvius, son of Ascanius, son of Æneas, did beget. But, and if I mistake not, they be sore degenerate from us, and know not what warfare meaneth, seeing that they lie thus sundered from the world in the outer ocean. Lightly may they be compelled to give us tribute, and to offer perpetual obedience unto the dignity of Rome. Natheless, first of all let us send them word bidding them pay us toll and tallage unvisited and untouched of the Roman people, and, like the rest of the nations, do homage to the Senate, lest haply, by shedding the blood of these our kinsmen, we should offend the ancient nobility of Priam, father of us all.’ Having sent this message in a letter to King Cassibelaunus, Cassibelaunus waxed indignant and sent him back an epistle in these words.




‘Cassibelaunus, King of the Britons, to Caius Julius Cæsar. Marvellous, Cæsar, is the covetousness of the Roman people, the which, insatiable of aught that is of gold or silver, cannot even let us alone that have our abode beyond the world and in peril of the ocean, but must needs presume to make a snatch at our revenues, which up to this time we have possessed in quiet. Nor is even this enow for them, save we also cast away our freedom for the sake of becoming subject unto them and enduring a perpetual bondage. An insult unto thyself, Cæsar, is this which thou dost ask of us, seeing that the same noble blood that flowed in the veins of Æneas beateth in the heart of Briton and of Roman alike, and that those very same glorious links that unite us in a common kindred ought also no less closely to bind us in firm and abiding friendship. That friendship it was that thou shouldst have asked of us, not slavery. We know how to bestow our friendship freely; we know not how to bear the yoke of bondage. For such freedom have we been wont to enjoy, that bowing the neck unto slavery is a thing wholly unknown amongst us. Yea, should even the gods themselves think to snatch it from us, we would withstand them to the last gasp, and it should go hard but that we would hold to it in their despite. Be it therefore clearly understood, Cæsar, that in case, thou hast threatened, thou dost emprise the conquest of this island of Britain, thou shalt find, us ready to fight both for our freedom and for our country.’




When he readeth this letter, Caius Julius Cæsar fitteth out his fleet and only waiteth for a fair wind to adventure on the enterprise of carrying into effect the message he had sent to Cassibelaunus. As soon as the wished-for wind began to blow, he hoisted sail and came with a fair course into the mouth of the Thames with his army. They had already landed from the boats, when, lo, Cassibelaunus with all his strength cometh to meet him. On reaching the town of Dorobellum he there held counsel with his barons how best to keep the enemy at a distance. There were with him Belinus, his Commander-in-Chief of the army, by whose counsel the whole kingdom was governed; his two nephews, Androgeus to wit, Duke of Trinovantum, and Tenuantius, Duke of Cornwall. There were, moreover, three kings that were his vassals, Cridious, King of Albany, Guerthaeth of Venedotia, and Britael of Demetia, who, as they had encouraged the rest to fight, and all were eager for the fray, gave counsel that they should forthwith march upon Cæsar’s camp, and before that he had taken any fortress or city, dash in upon him and drive him out, for that, so he once were within any of the garrisoned places of the country, it would be all the harder to dislodge him, as he would then know whither he and his men might repair for safety. All having signified their assent, they accordingly marched to the coast where Julius had set up his camp and his tents, and there, both armies in battle-array, engage in combat hand-to-hand with the enemy, spear-thrust against spear-thrust and sword-stroke against sword-stroke. Forthwith on this side and on that the wounded fell smitten through the vitals, and the ground is flooded with the gore of the dying, as when a sudden south-wester drives back an ebbing tide. And in the thick of the melly, it so chanced that Nennius and Androgeus, who commanded the men of Kent and the citizens of Trinovantum, fell upon the bodyguard of the Emperor himself. When they came together, the Emperor’s company was well-nigh scattered by the close ranks of the British assailants, and whilst they were confusedly battling together, blow on blow, good luck gave Nennius a chance of encountering Julius himself. Nennius accordingly ran in upon him, glad beyond measure that it should lie in his power to strike even one blow at a man so great. Cæsar, when he saw him making a rush at him, received him on the shield he held before him, and smote him on the helmet with his naked sword as hard as his strength would allow. Then, lifting the sword again, he was fain to follow up the first by a second blow that should deal a deadly wound, but, Nennius, seeing his intention, lifted his shield between, and Cæsar’s blade, glancing off his helmet, stuck fast in the shield with so passing great force, that when they could no longer maintain the combat for the press of the troops rushing in upon them, the Emperor had not strength to wrench it forth. Howbeit, Nennius, when he had laid hold on Cæsar’s sword on this wise, hurled away his own that he held, and tugging forth the other, falleth swiftly on the enemy. Whomsoever he smote therewith, he either smote off his head or wounded him so sore at the passing, as that no hope was there of his living thereafter. At last, whilst he was thus playing havoc with the enemy, Labienus the tribune came against him, but was slain by Nennius at the first onset. At last, when the day was far spent, the Britons pressed forward in close rank, and charging on undaunted time after time, by God’s grace won the day, and Cæsar with his wounded Romans retreated to the beach betwixt the camp and the ships. During the night he got together all that were left of his troops and betook him to his ships, glad enough to make the deep sea his camp of refuge. And when his comrades dissuaded him from continuing the campaign, he was content to abide by their counsel, and returned unto Gaul.




Cassibelaunus, rejoicing in the victory he had achieved, gave thanks unto God, and calling together his comrades in success, bestowed exceeding abundant largesse upon each according to the merits of his prowess. On the other hand, his heart was wrung with sore grief for that his brother Nennius had been hurt mortally, and was then lying in jeopardy of death. For Julius, in the combat aforesaid, had stricken him a wound beyond help of leechcraft, and within the fortnight after the battle he departed the light of this world by an untimely death, and was buried in the city of Trinovantum nigh the north gate. At his funeral were kingly honours paid unto him, and they set by his side, in his coffin, the sword of Cæsar that had stuck in his shield in the fight. And the name of that sword was Saffron Death, for that no man smitten thereby might escape on live.




When Julius thus turned his back to the enemy and landed on the shores of Gaul, the Gauls made great effort to rebel and to cast off the dominion of Julius. For they made count that he had been so enfeebled as that they need no longer dread his power. For amongst them all was there but one same story, that the whole sea was seething over with the ships of Cassibelaunus, ready to pursue the flight of Julius himself. Whence the bolder spirits amongst the Gauls busied them in taking thought how best to drive him beyond their frontiers, which Julius getting wind of, he had no mind to take in hand a doubtful war against so fierce a people, but chose rather to open his treasuries and wait upon certain of the chief nobles, so as to bring back the receivers of his bounty to their allegiance. Unto the common folk he promiseth freedom; unto the disinherited the restoration of their losses, and even to the bondsman liberty. Thus he that foretime had stripped them of all they possessed and roared at them with the fierceness of a lion, hath now become a gentle lamb, and humbly bleateth out what a pleasure it is unto him to be able to restore them everything; nor doth he stint his wheedling until such time as he hath recovered the power he had lost. In the meanwhile not a day passed but he chewed the cud over his flight and the victory of the Britons.




After a space of two years he again maketh ready to cross the ocean-channel and revenge him upon Cassibelaunus, who on his part, as soon as knew it, garrisoned his cities everywhere, repaired their ruined walls and stationed armed soldiers at all the ports. In the bed of the river Thames, moreover, whereby Cæsar would have to sail unto he city of Trinovantum, he planted great stakes as thick as a man’s thigh and shod with iron and lead below the level of the stream so as to crash to the bows of any of Cæsar’s ships that might come against them. Assembling, moreover, all the youth of the island, he constructed cantonments along the coast and waited for the enemy’s arrival.




Julius, meanwhile, after providing everything necessary for his expedition, embarked with a countless multitude of warriors on board, eager to wreak havoc upon the people who had defeated him, and wreaked, no doubt, it would have been, so only he could have reached dry land without damage to his fleet—a feat, howbeit, that he failed to achieve. For whilst that be was making way up Thames towards the foresaid city, his ships ran upon the fixed stakes and suffered sore and sudden jeopardy. For by this disaster not only were his soldiers drowned to the number of many thousands, but his battered ships sank foundered by the inrush of the river. When Cæsar found how matters were going, he made all haste to back sail, and setting all hands to work, to run inshore. They, moreover, who had made shift to escape the first peril by the skin of their teeth, crawled up with him unto dry land. Cassibelaunus, who stood on the bank all the time looking on, was glad enough of the peril of them that were drowned, but had little joy over the safety of the rest. He gave the signal to his fellow-soldiers, and charged down upon the Romans. But the Romans, albeit they had suffered this jeopardy in the river, so soon as they stood on dry land, withstood the charge of the Britons like men, and having hardihood for their wall of defence, made no small slaughter of their enemies, albeit that the slaughter they suffered was more grievous than that they inflicted, for the disaster at the river had sore thinned their companies, while the ranks of the Britons, multiplied every hour by fresh reinforcements, outnumbered them by three to one. No marvel, therefore, that the stronger triumphed over the weaker. Wherefore when Cæsar saw that he was thoroughly routed, he fled with his minished numbers to his ships, and reached the shelter of the sea exactly as he wished, for a timely wind blew fair, and hoisting sail he made the coast of the Morini in safety. He then threw himself into a certain tower he had constructed at a place called Odnea before he went this time to Britain, for his mind misgave him as to the loyalty of the Gauls, and he feared they might rise against him a second time, as they did when, as the poet says, he first ‘showed his back to the Britons.’ It was in view of this likelihood that he had builded this tower as a place of refuge, so that in case the people should raise an insurrection he might be able to withstand any rebellion.




Cassibelaunus, after winning this second victory, was mightily elated, and issued an edict that all the barons of Britain and their wives should assemble in the city of Trinovantum to celebrate the solemnities due unto their country gods who had granted them the victory over so mighty an Emperor. They accordingly all came without tarrying and made sacrifice of divers kinds, and profuse slaying of cattle. Forty thousand kine did they offer, a hundred thousand sheep, and of all manner fowl a number not lightly to be reckoned, besides thirty thousand in all of every sort of forest deer. And when they had paid all due honour unto the gods, they feasted them on the remainder as was the wont on occasion of solemn sacrifices; and the day and the night they spent in playing games of divers kinds. Now, while the sports were going on, it fell out that two noble youths, whereof the one was nephew of the King and the other of Duke Androgeus, had tried conclusions man to man in a wrestling bout, and fell out as to which had had the upper hand. The name of the King’s nephew was Hireglas, and of the other Evelin. And after many insults had been bandied about betwixt them, Evelin snatched up a sword and smote off the King’s nephew’s head, whereupon was a mighty ferment in the court, and the news of the murder forthwith flying abroad soon reached Cassibelaunus. Grievously troubled at his kinsman’s fate, Cassibelaunus commanded Androgeus to bring his nephew into court before him, and that when so brought he should be ready to undergo such sentence as the barons might pronounce, so that Hireglas should not remain unavenged in case they should find that he had been unjustly slain. Howbeit, for that Androgeus had a suspicion as to the King’s mind in the matter, he made answer that he himself had his own court, and that whatsoever claim any might have as against any of his men ought to be heard and decided therein. If, therefore, Cassibelaunus were resolved to have the law of Evelin, he ought by custom immemorial to have sought it in Androgeus’s own court in the city of Trinovantum. Cassibelaunus, thereupon, finding that he could not obtain the satisfaction he meant to have taken, threatened Androgeus with a solemn oath that he would waste his duchy with sword and fire, save he agreed to allow his claim. Howbeit, Androgeus waxing wroth, withheld obedience to his demand, and Cassibelaunus waxing wroth no less, made haste to ravage his dominions. Natheless, Androgeus, through his friends and kinsfolk about the court, besought the King to lay aside his wrath, but finding that he could in no wise allay his fury, began to take thought whether he might not make shift to devise some other means of withstanding him. At last, despairing utterly of compassing his purpose otherwise, he resolved to call in Cæsar to his succour, and sent his letters unto him conceived in these words:—


‘To Caius Julius Cæsar, Androgeus, Duke of Trinovantum, after aforetime wishing him death, now wisheth health. I do repent me of that I wrought against thee when thou didst battle with my King, for, had I eschewed such enterprise, thou wouldst have conquered Cassibelaunus, upon whom hath crept such pride of his triumph as that he is now bent on driving me beyond his frontiers—me, through whom he did achieve the triumph. This is the reward that he holdeth due unto my merits. I have saved him his inheritance, he now seeketh to disinherit me. I have restored him a second time unto his kingdom, he now desireth to reave me of mine own kingdom! For in fighting against thee all these benefits have I bestowed upon him. I call the gods of heaven to witness that never have I deserved his wrath, save I can be said to deserve it for refusing to deliver up unto him my nephew whom he doth earnestly desire to condemn to an unjust death. And that the truth hereof may be clearly manifest to your discernment, take note in what manner the quarrel did arise. It so fell out that for joy of our victory we were celebrating a festival unto our country gods, unto whom when we had duly offered sacrifice, our youth did pass the time in sports one with another. Among the rest our nephews, taking ensample of the others, did engage in a wrestling bout. And when my nephew had won the bout, the other, burning with unjust wrath, ran up to strike him. But he, avoiding the blow, took him by the forearm, thinking to snatch the sword out of his fist. In the struggle the King’s nephew fell upon the point of the sword and dropped down stricken to the death. When, therefore, this was reported unto the King, he commanded me to deliver up my nephew to suffer punishment for the manslaughter. The which when I refused to do, he came with all his host into my provinces and hath most grievously harried them. For which reason, praying thy mercy, I do beseech thy help that I may be restored, and by my means thou shalt be master of all Britain. In me hast thou no cause for misgiving, for here is no treason. The motives of men are swayed by events, and it may well be that some may become friends that have aforetime been at strife, and some there be that after flight may yet achieve the victory.’




When he had read this letter, Julius Cæsar took counsel with his familiars and was advised by them not to go to Britain simply upon the Duke’s verbal invitation, but to demand hostages in addition enough to ensure his good faith before starting on the expedition. Androgeus accordingly forthwith sent his son Scæva along with thirty noble youths that were nigh kinsfolk of his own. When the hostages were delivered, Cæsar was reassured, and recalling his troops, sailed with a stern wind to the haven of Rutupi. Cassibelaunus in the meanwhile had begun to besiege the city of Trinovantum and to sack the manor houses in the country round. Howbeit, as soon as he heard that Julius had landed, he raised the siege and hurried away to meet the Emperor. And, as he was marching into a valley near Dorobernia, he caught sight of the Roman army pitching their camp and the tents therein, for Androgeus had led them thither so as to fall upon them there by ambuscade. In a moment, the Romans, understanding that the Britons were upon them, armed them as swiftly as they might, and stationed their men in companies. On the other side, the Britons don their arms and advance together in squadrons. Howbeit, Androgeus with five thousand men in arms lay concealed in the forest nigh at hand ready to run to Cæsar’s assistance and make a stealthy and sudden onslaught upon Cassibelaunus and his comrades. As they came together in this order on the one side and the other, never a moment did they slack of flinging javelins that carried death into the enemies’ ranks, and dealing wounds as deadly with blow on blow of their swords. The squadrons clash together, and mighty is the shedding of blood. On both sides the wounded drop like leaves of the trees in autumn. And while the battle is at the hottest, forth issueth Androgeus from the forest and falleth on the rear of Cassibelaunus’s main army, whereupon depended the fate of the battle. Presently, his vanguard already in part cut down and disordered by the onset of the Romans, and his rear thus harassed by their own fellow-countrymen, he could stand his ground no longer; and his broken and scattered forces flee routed from the field. By the side of the valley rose a rocky hill with a thick hazel wood at the top, whereunto Cassibelaunus with his men fled for cover when they found themselves defeated on the level, and taking their stand in the wood, defended them like men and slew a number of the enemy that pursued them. For the Romans and the men of Androgeus were hard after them, cutting up the squadrons in their flight, and skirmishing heavily with them on the hillside without being able to force their way to the top. For the rocks on the hill and the steepness of the ridge afforded such good cover to the British that they could make sallies from the heights and still carry slaughter among the enemy. Cæsar, therefore, beleaguered the hill all that night, for it was dark already, and cut off every means of retreat, thinking to wring from the King by hunger what he could not force from him by arms. O, but in those days was the British race worthy of all admiration, which had twice driven in flight before them him who had subjected the whole world beside unto himself, and even in defeat now withstood him whom no nation of the earth had been able to withstand, ready to die for their country and their freedom! To their praise it was that Lucan sang how Cæsar


‘Scared when he found the Britons that he sought for,

Only displayed his craven back before them.’


At the end of the second day, Cassibelaunus, who had all this time had nought to eat, began to fear that he must yield him captive to hunger and submit him to the prison of Cæsar. He sent word accordingly to Androgeus to make peace for him with Julius, lest the dignity of the race whereof he was born should suffer by his being led into captivity. He sent word also, that he had not deserved he should desire his death, albeit that he had harassed his country. And when the messengers had told him their errand, saith Androgeus:


‘Not to be beloved is the prince that in war is gentle as a lamb, but in peace fierce as a lion. Gods of heaven and earth! My lord beseecheth me now that aforetime did command me: Doth he now desire to make peace with Cæsar and to do him homage, of whom Cæsar did first desire peace? Forsooth, he might have known that he who drove an Emperor so mighty out of his kingdom could also bring him back. Why am I to be treated unfairly who could render my service either to him or to another? Led blindfold of his own folly is he that doth exasperate injuries and insults the fellow-soldiers unto with whom he oweth his victories. For no victory is won by the commander alone, but by them that shed their blood for him in the battle. Natheless will I make his peace with him if I may, for the injury that he hath done me is enough revenged in this that he hath prayed my mercy.’




Thereupon Androgeus went straightway to Julius, and clasping his knees, spake unto him on this wise:




‘Behold, already hast thou enough revenged thee upon Cassibelaunus. Have mercy now upon him! Nought more remaineth for him to do save only that he render homage unto thee and pay due tribute unto the dignity of Rome.’ And when Cæsar answered him never a word, Androgeus spake again:


‘This thing only, Cæsar, have I promised unto thee, and nought more than this, that I would do mine utmost to make Cassibelaunus acknowledge him thy man and to subdue Britain unto thy sovereignty. Lo, now, Cassibelaunus is vanquished and Britain subdued unto thee by mine assistance. What more owe I unto thee? May He that did create all things forbid that I should suffer lord of mine that prayeth me of mercy and hath done me right as touching the wrong he had done unto me, to be thrust into prison or chained in fetters. No light thing is it to slay Cassibelaunus while I am on live, nor shall I blush to render him all service that I may save thou hearken unto my counsel.’


Julius thereupon, his eagerness somewhat slackened by fear of Androgeus, accepted the allegiance of Cassibelaunus on condition of his paying tribute, the amount of the tribute he pledged himself to pay being three thousand pounds of silver. Thenceforward Julius and Cassibelaunus made friends together, and bestowed gifts of courtesy the one upon the other. Afterwards Cæsar wintered in Britain, and with the return of spring crossed the Channel into Gaul. Some time later, after collecting an army of men of all nations, he marched to Rome against Pompey.




After seven years had passed by, Cassibelaunus died and was buried in the city of Eboracum. Unto whom succeeded Tenuantius, Duke of Cornwall, the brother of Androgeus, for Androgeus himself had gone to Rome along with Cæsar, so that Tenuantius was crowned King, and governed the realm with diligence. He was a man of warlike spirit and dealt out strong-handed justice. After him, his son Cymbeline was raised to the kingly dignity, a strenuous knight that had been nurtured in the household of Augustus Cæsar. He had contracted so nigh a friendship with the Romans that albeit he might well have withheld the tribute from them, yet, natheless, did he pay the same of his own free-will.


In those days was born our Lord Christ Jesus, by whose precious blood was mankind redeemed, that aforetime had been bound in the chains of the devils.




Cymbeline, after that he had ten years governed Britain, begat two sons, whereof the elder born was named Guiderius and the other Arviragus. And when the days of his life were fulfilled, he gave up the helm of state to Guiderius. But when Guiderius refused to pay the tribute which the Romans demanded, Claudius, who had been raised to the Empire, made a descent upon the island. There was with him his commander-in-chief of his army who was called in the British tongue Levis Hamo, by whose counsel all campaigns that were undertaken were directed. This man, accordingly, when he had disembarked at the city of Porchester, began by building up the gates of the city with a wall so as to shut all issue for the citizens, his design being either to compel the hunger-starven burgesses to surrender or otherwise to slay them without mercy.




When the tidings of Claudius Cæsar’s arrival was spread abroad, Guiderius assembled every armed man in the realm and marched against the Roman army, and when the battle began, at first stoutly made head against the enemy, slaying more men with his own single sword than the greater part of his army put together. Already Claudius was betaking him to his ships, already were the Romans well-nigh scattered, when the crafty Hamo, casting aside the armour he was wearing, did on the arms of a Briton, and in guise of a Briton fought against his own men. Then he cheered on the Britons to the pursuit, promising them a speedy victory. For he had learned their tongue and their customs, seeing that he himself had learnt nurture along with the British hostages at Rome. By this device he made shift by degrees to come close up to the King, and when he found an opening to get at him, just when he least suspected any peril of the kind, slew him by the edge of the sword, and slipping away betwixt the companies of his enemies, rejoined his own men with his ill-omened victory. But Arviragus, as soon as he espied that his brother was slain, straightway cast aside his own armour and did on that of the King, hurrying hither and thither and cheering on his men to stand their ground as though it had been Guiderius himself. They, not knowing that the King was dead, took fresh courage from his cheering, at once held their ground and battled on, doing no small slaughter among the enemy. At the last the Romans gave way, and abandoning the field, flee shamefully in two divisions, Claudius, in the one, betaking him unto the shelter of his ships, and Hamo, not having time to reach the ships, slipping away into the forest. Arviragus therefore, weening that Claudius was fleeing along with him, hurried in pursuit, and never once stinted of chasing him from point to point, until he came to a stand on the seacoast, at the place that is now called Hampton, after the name of the said Hamo. There was a haven there, suitable for ships to lade and unlade, and a number of merchant carracks were then lying therein. Hamo was mighty keen to get aboard of them, but Arviragus was too quick for him, and unexpectedly coming down upon him slew him on the sudden. The haven, accordingly, hath from that day unto this been called Hamo’s Port.




Meanwhile Claudius, as soon as he could get his men together again, attacked the city aforesaid, which at that time was called Kaerperis, but now Porchester. It was not long before he cast down the walls, and after defeating the citizens pursued Arviragus to Winton, within which city he had taken refuge. He then besieged that city, and endeavoured to take it by divers devices. But Arviragus, when he beheld himself besieged, mustered his forces, and opening the gates sallied forth to fight. Howbeit, just as he was preparing to charge, Claudius sent messengers unto him bearing word that he was minded to make peace. For he feared the hardiness of the King and the valour of the Britons, and chose rather to subdue him by prudence and policy than to run the hazard of a doubtful encounter. He therefore proposed a reconciliation, and promised to give him his daughter, so only he would acknowledge the kingdom of Britain to be a fief of the Roman Empire. The aldermen of his court accordingly counselled him to lay aside his warlike preparations and accept the promise of Claudius. For no disgrace was it, they said, unto him to become a vassal of the Romans, seeing that they had possessed them of the empire of the whole world. Claudius accordingly sent to Rome for his daughter forthwith, and availing him of Arviragus’s assistance, brought the Orkneys and the outlying islands into subjection to himself.




At the end of winter the envoys returned with his daughter and delivered her unto her father. The damsel’s name was Genuissa, and of so surpassing beauty was she that she was the admiration of all that beheld her. And after that they were joined in lawful wedlock, she did kindle so fervent love in the heart of the King as that he held her, and her only, dearer than all he world beside. Whence, being fain that the place where he was first wedded unto her should be made famous for ever, he proposed unto Claudius that he should build thereon a city which might perpetuate to future times the remembrance of so happy a marriage. Claudius gladly received the proposal, and commanded a city to be builded, which, after his own name, he called Kaerglou, or Gloucester, by which name it is known even unto this day, situate upon the bank of the Severn, which is the boundary betwixt Demetia and Loegria. Howbeit, some do say that it hath the name from one Gloius, the duke that was born unto Claudius in that city, unto whom after the death of Arviragus the dukedom of Demetia did fall. After the city was builded and the island was at peace, Claudius returned to Rome, and granted the rule of the islands of the province unto Arviragus. At that time Paul the Apostle did found the Church of Antioch, and coming afterward unto Rome did there hold the bishopric thereof, sending Mark the Evangelist into Egypt to preach the Gospel he had written.




After Claudius had returned to Rome, Arviragus began to show his policy and his prowess, to rebuild cities and castles, and to hold the people of the realm in check, with such justice as that he was a terror even unto kings afar off. Howbeit his pride did therewithal wax so great as that he despised the Roman power, and was minded no longer to be bound by his homage to the Senate, but to arrogate all things unto himself. Upon hearing these tidings, Vespasian was sent by Claudius either to bring about a reconciliation with Arviragus or to reimpose his subjection to the Romans. But when Vespasian began to draw nigh unto the haven of Rutupi, Arviragus met him and forbade him to enter thereinto. And so vast a multitude of men in arms had he brought with him as that the Romans were scared, and durst not attempt to land lest he should attack them. Vespasian accordingly drew away from that port, and backing sail made for Totnes. As soon as he reached dry land, he marched upon Kaer-Huelgoit, that is called Exeter, to besiege it. And when he had beleaguered. it for seven days, Arviragus with his army arrived and did battle with him. On that day the armies of both were sore cut up, but neither obtained the victory. But at morn upon the morrow, by the mediation of Genuissa the Queen, the Dukes made friends and despatched their fellow-soldiers over into Hibernia. When the winter was over, Vespasian returned to Rome, and Arviragus remained in Britain. At last, on the verge of old age, he began to show greater regard for the Senate, and ruled his kingdom in peace and quietness, confirmed the ancient customary laws and established others new, bestowing, moreover, passing great largesse on all such as he held worthy thereof. His fame being bruited abroad throughout all Europe, the Romans both loved and feared him in such wise that of all kings was there none of whom was there so much talk at Rome as of him. Whence Juvenal in his book doth record how a certain blind man, when he was speaking to Nero about the huge turbot that had been caught, said:


|         ‘Some king shalt thou lead captive,

Or from the draught-tree of his British chariot

Headlong shall fall Arviragus.’


None was more stark than he in war, in peace none more gentle, none jollier, none more bountiful in largesse. When he had fulfilled the days of his life, he was buried at Gloucester in a certain temple which he had builded and dedicated in honour of Claudius.




His son Marius succeeded him in the kingdom, a man of marvellous prudence and wisdom. In his reign, after a time, came a certain King of the Picts, named Rodric, with a great fleet from Scythia and landed in the northern part of Britain which is called Albania, beginning to ravage the province. Assembling his people, Marius accordingly came to meet him, and after sundry battles obtained the victory. He then set up a stone in token of his triumph in that province which was afterward called Westimaria after his name, whereon is graven a writing that beareth witness unto his memory even unto this day. After that Rodric was slain, he gave unto the conquered people that had come with him that part of Albany which is called Caithness wherein to inhabit. For the land was wilderness, seeing that none had dwelt therein to till the land for many a long day. And for that they had no wives, they besought of the Britons their daughters and kinswomen, but the Britons disdained to match their children with such manner of folk. Whereupon, finding that they did only meet with denial in this quarter, they betook them over the Channel to Ireland and brought back with them women from thence, of whom were born a mixed breed that did hugely multiply their numbers. But enough concerning them, for I purpose not to treat of their history, nor of that of the Scots who derive their origin from them and the Hibernians. But Marius, when that he had settled the island in absolute peace, began to manifest his affection for the Roman people, paying the tribute that they demanded, and, provoked thereunto by ensample of his father, did exercise justice, law and peace and all things honourable throughout his kingdom.




But when he had ended the course of his life, his son Coill guided the helm of state. Coill from childhood had been brought up at Rome, and having been taught Roman ways, had conceived a mighty liking for the Romans. Wherefore he also paid them the tribute and eschewed all wrangling about it, for that he saw the whole world was subject unto them, and that their power did surpass the power of any one province or of any alliance among the smaller nations. He paid therefore that which was demanded, and in peace held that which was his own. None of all the kings ever showed greater honour unto his nobility, for them that were rich did he allow to live in peace, and them that were poor did he maintain with unfailing bounty.




Unto Coill was born one single son whose name was Lucius, who, upon the death of his father, had succeeded to the crown of the kingdom, and did so closely imitate his father in all good works that he was held by all to be another Coill. Natheless, being minded that his ending should surpass his beginning, he despatched his letters unto Pope Eleutherius beseeching that from him he might receive Christianity. For the miracles that were wrought by the young recruits of Christ’s army in divers lands had lifted all clouds from his mind, and panting with love of the true faith, his pious petition was allowed to take effect, forasmuch as the blessed Pontiff, finding that his devotion was such, sent unto him two most religious doctors, Pagan and Duvian, who, preaching unto him the Incarnation of the Word of God, did wash him in holy baptism and converted him unto Christ. Straightway the peoples of all the nation, around came running together to follow the King’s example, and cleansed in the same holy laver, were made partakers of the kingdom of Heaven. The blessed doctors, therefore, when they had purged away the paganism of well-nigh the whole island, dedicated the temples that had been founded in honour of very many gods unto the One God and unto His saints, and filled them with divers companies of ordained religious. There were then in Britain eight-and-twenty flamens as well as three archflamens, unto whose power the other judges of public morals and officials of the temple were subject. These also, by precept of the Pope, did they snatch away from idolatry; and where there were flamens there did they set bishops, and archbishops where there were archflamens. The seats of the archflamens were in the three noblest cities, in London, to wit, and in York and in Caerleon, whereof the ancient walls and buildings still remaining on the Usk, in Glamorgan, do bear witness to the former dignity thereof. From these three was superstition purged away, and the eight-and-twenty bishops, with their several dioceses, were subordinated unto them. Unto the Metropolitan of York Deira was subject, along with Albany, both of which the great river Humber doth divide from Loegria. Unto the Metropolitan of London Loegria and Cornwall were subject. These two provinces the Severn doth bound from Cambria, that is, Wales, which was subject unto Caerleon, the City of Legions.




At last, when everything had been thus ordained new, the prelates returned to Rome and besought the most blessed Pope to confirm the ordinances they had made. And when the confirmation had been duly granted they returned into Britain with a passing great company of others, by the teaching of whom the nation of the British was in a brief space established in the Christian faith. Their names and acts are to be found recorded in the book that Gildas wrote as concerning the victory of Aurelius Ambrosius, the which he hath handled in a treatise so luminous as that in nowise is there any need to write it new in a meaner style.

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