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

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Meanwhile King Lucius the Glorious, when he saw how the worship of the true faith had been magnified in his kingdom, did rejoice with exceeding great joy, and converting the revenues and lands which formerly did belong unto the temples of idols unto a better use, did by grant allow then, to be still held by the churches of the faithful. And for that it seemed him he ought to show them yet greater honour, he did increase them with broader fields and fair dwelling-houses, and confirmed their liberties by privileges of all kinds. Amidst these and other acts designed to the same purpose he departed this life, and was right worshipfully buried in the church of the first See in the year from the Incarnation of Our Lord one hundred and fifty-six. No issue left he to succeed him, whence at his death dissension arose amongst the Britons and the power of the Romans was sore enfeebled withal.




When these tidings were brought unto Rome, the Senate sent as legate Severus the senator and two legions along with him to recover the country to the Roman power. So soon as he had landed, he did battle with the Britons, and one part of them surrendered unto him, but the rest, whom he could not subdue, he did so harass with continual slaughter and defeat, as that he drove them to take refuge beyond Deira in Albany. Natheless, under their Duke, Fulgenius, they withstood him with all their might, and many a time inflicted passing sore slaughter both upon their fellow-countrymen and upon the Romans. For Severus took with him as auxiliaries all the island people whomsoever he could find, and thus oftentimes returned with victory. But their Emperor, grievously annoyed at these incursions, bade build a wall betwixt Deira and Albany so as to hinder his making any nigher attack upon him. A wall accordingly they wrought at the common charge from sea to sea that did for a long space bar every opening against the inroads of the enemy. Howbeit, when Fulgenius could no longer stand his ground, he crossed over into Scythia to beseech the help of the Picts in restoring him to his dignity. And when he had there assembled all the youth of the country, he returned with a passing great fleet into Britain, and laid siege unto York. Which matter coming to be bruited abroad amongst the other nations, the greater part of the Britons deserted Severus and went over to Fulgenius. But not for that did Severus slacken tin his emprise. He mustered his Romans and the other Britons that still stuck to him, marched off to the beleaguered city and gave battle to Fulgenius. But when the battle had been hotly fought out to the end, Severus and a multitude of his men had been slain, and Fulgenius himself wounded to the death. Severus was buried just afterwards at York, whereof his legions had taken possession. He left two sons, Bassianus and Geta, whereof Geta was born of a Roman mother while Bassianus was son of British lady. When their father was dead, the Romans according) raised Geta to the kingship, favouring him the rather for that he was Roman of both sides. But the Britons refused to accept him, and elected Bassianus for that he was of their kindred by his mother’s blood. Straightway the brethren fall to fighting, wherein Geta being slain Bassianus obtaineth possession of the kingdom.




At that time was there in Britain a certain youth by name Carausius, born of low degree, who after that he had approved his prowess in many encounters, made his way to Rome, and besought leave of the Senate to defend with his fleets the coasts of Britain against the incursions of the barbarians, the which if it were granted unto him he promised that be would achieve so many and such great matters as that the Republic should be more magnified thereby, than it could be were the kingdom of Britain delivered into their hands These fine promises he made cajoled the Senate, and he succeeded in obtaining that which he had asked for, returning to Britain with charters sealed. Forthwith, swiftly collecting a number of ships, he made choice of a number of daring youngsters and putting to sea went round all the shores of the kingdom and raised a passing great disturbance among the people. Meanwhile, landing in the neighbouring islands, he ravaged the fields, sacked the towns and cities, and plundered all that they possessed from the islanders. Whilst he was carrying on in this wise, all they that hanker after other men’s goods began to flock about him, whereby presently such an army had he got together as that none of the neighbouring princes could have withstood him. Presently his spirit was so puffed up at having such a force at his command that he told the Britons, so they would make him king, he would slay the Romans to a man and free the whole island of that race of barbarians. And when he had obtained his demand, he forthwith gave Bassianus battle and slew him, taking the rule of the kingdom into his own hands. Howbeit, it was the Picts whom Fulgenius, his mother’s brother, had brought into Britain that did betray Bassianus, for just in the pinch of the battle, when it was their bounden duty to come to Bassianus’ rescue, they had been so corrupted by the promises and bribes of Carausius, that they fell upon the allies of Bassianus. Whereby the rest, who could not tell which were their allies and which their enemies, fled away, hot foot, and victory remained with Carausius. He, when he had won the day, gave the Picts a place wherein they might dwell in Albany, and there abode they through after ages, mixed up with the Britons.




When this usurpation of Carausius was reported at Rome, the Senate sent Allectus as legate with three legions to slay the tyrant and restore the kingdom of Britain to the power of Rome. Straightway, as soon as he was landed, Allectus did battle with Carausius, and after he had slain him mounted the throne of the kingdom. He then visited the Britons with exceeding bloody slaughter for that they had deserted the Republic and had stuck to an alliance with Carausius. Howbeit, the Britons, grievously indignant thereat, raised up Asclepiodotus, Duke of Cornwall, to be King, and making common cause, pursued Allectus and challenged him to battle. He was then in London and was celebrating a festival to the gods of the country. But the moment he was aware of Asclepiodotus’ arrival, he quitted the sacrifice and issuing forth with all his forces against him right stoutly delivered his attack. Howbeit, Asclepiodotus was too strong for him, and after scattering his troops compelled Allectus to flee in such sort as that following hard on his heels he at last overtook and slew him, along with many thousand men to boot. And when the victory had thus fallen unto him, Livius Gallus, that was colleague of Allectus, called together the remainder of the Romans into the city and shut the gates, setting garrisons in the towers and other places of defence, weening that he could thus make stand against Asclepiodotus, or at leastwise escape the death that threatened him. But Asclepiodotus, espying this that he had done, straightway laid siege to the city and sent word to all the Dukes of Britain that he had slain Allectus with many of his men, and was now besieging Gallus with the residue of the Romans within London; wherefore he did most earnestly pray and beseech each one of them to hasten as speedily as might be to his assistance. For the whole race of the Romans might lightly be exterminated out of Britain so only they all joined in a common assault upon the besieged. In answer to his summons accordingly came the Demetae, the Venedotians, the Deiri, and they of Albany together with all other whatsoever of British ace. And when all had come together before the Duke’s own eyes, he bade innumerable engines be made wherewith to batter down the walls of the city. Every single man setteth him to the work, daring and hardy, and doeth all that one man may do to storm the city. Forthwith the walls are battered down and a breach is made whereby they force an entrance and put the Romans to the sword. But the Romans, seeing that they were being slaughtered without a moment’s stay, persuaded Gallus to surrender and deliver himself and them up to Asclepiodotus, praying him of his mercy that they might be allowed to depart with their lives. For well-nigh all of them were already slain save one single legion that still survived. Gallus yielded his assent thereunto, and gave up his men and himself unto Asclepiodotus, but when he did greatly desire to have mercy upon them, up came the Venedotians and forming themselves in rank about them smote off every one of their heads on that one day, over a brook within the city that was afterward called after the Duke’s name in British, Nantgallim, but in Saxon, Walbrook.




The Romans thus trampled underfoot, Asclepiodotus took the crown of the kingdom, and with the assent of the people set it upon his own head. Thenceforward he ruled the country in right justice and peace ten years, checking the cruelties of robbers and the murders wrought by the knives of the highwaymen. In his days arose the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian, wherein Christianity was well-nigh blotted out of the whole island, wherein it had remained whole and inviolate from the days of King Lucius. For Maximianus Herculius, chief of the armies of the foresaid tyrant, had conquered the country, and by his command all the churches were thrown down, and all the sacred scriptures that could be found were burnt in the market-places. The priests, moreover, that had been elected, along with the faithful committed to their charge, were put to death, insomuch as that a thronging fellowship of Christians did hasten to vie with one another which should first reach the kingdom of Heaven and the delight thereof, as though it had been their own abiding place. God did therefore magnify His mercy upon us, and in the day of persecution, lest the British people should lose their way utterly in the thick darkness of that dreadful night, did of His own free gift enlumine lamps of exceeding brightness in His holy Martyrs whose tombs and places where they suffered would kindle no feeble glow of divine charity in the hearts of their beholders, had not all knowledge thereof been lost unto their fellow countrymen through the grievous perversity of the barbarians. Amongst others of both sexes that with undaunted courage stood firm in the ranks of Christ suffered Alban of Verulam and Julius and Aaron of the City of Legions, whereof Alban, glowing with the grace of charity, when his confessor Amphibalus was pursued by his persecutors and was just on the very verge of being taken, did first hide him in his own house and afterwards offer himself to suffer death in his place, herein following the en-sample of Christ laying down His life for His sheep. The other twain were torn limb from limb and mangled in unheard-of wise, and fled forth without tarrying unto the gates of the Jerusalem that is above, crowned with the garlands of their martyrdom.




Meanwhile Coel, Duke of Kaercolvin, that is, Colchester, raised an insurrection against King Asclepiodotus, and after slaying him in a pitched battle, did set the crown of the kingdom upon his own head. When the tidings thereof were announced at Rome, the Senate rejoiced greatly over the death of the King, who had throughout been so sore a trouble unto the Roman power. Calling to mind withal the disaster they had suffered in the loss of the kingdom, they sent as legate Constantius the senator, who had subdued Spain unto their dominion, a wise man and a hardy, who had wrought more than any other to magnify the power of the commonweal. Now Coel, Duke of the Britons, when he was aware that Constantius was arrived, durst not venture to do battle against him for that he had heard tell of him how no King might make stand against him. Accordingly, so soon as Constantius set foot within the island, Coel sent his messengers unto him, and besought him of peace, promising fealty and homage on condition that he might possess the kingdom of Britain and pay nought beyond the wonted tribute unto the Roman sovereignty. This message delivered, Constantius thereunto agreed, and peace was duly confirmed by the giving of hostages. A month afterward Coel was overtaken of a right grievous malady, whereof within eight days he died. After his death, Constantius took unto himself the crown of the kingdom and therewithal the daughter of Coel unto wife. Her name was Helena, and all the damsels of the kingdom did she surpass in beauty, nor was none other anywhere to be found that was held more cunning of skill in instruments of music nor better learned in the liberal arts. None other issue had her father to succeed him on the throne of the kingdom, wherefore he had made it his special care that she should be so instructed as that she might the more easily take in hand the government of the realm after her father’s death. And after that Constantius had taken her as his Queen, she bare unto him a son, and called his name Constantine. Sithence that time, eleven years had passed away, when Constantius died at York and bequeathed the kingdom unto his son. Who, when he was raised to the honours of the throne, within a few years did begin to manifest passing great prowess, showing the fierceness of a lion in maintaining justice among his people, restraining the ravening of robbers and treading underfoot the cruelties of them that did use oppression, being resolved that everywhere his peace should be made new and firmly stablished.




At that time was there a certain tyrant at Rome, Maxentius by name, who strove to oust every upright citizen from his inheritance, and with most o hateful tyranny did oppress the commonweal. They upon whom his cruelty fell, driven out of their own lands and country, fled away unto Constantine in Britain, and by him were received with honour. At last, when many such had flocked about him, they did stir him up unto hatred of the said tyrant, and did full often exclaim against him in speeches such as this:


‘How long, O Constantine, wilt thou endure this our calamity and exile? Wherefore delayest thou to restore of us to our native land? Thou art the only one of our blood strong enough to give us back that which we have lost and to drive Maxentius forth. For what prince is there that may be compared unto the King of Britain, of whether it be in the valour of his hardy soldiers or in the plenty of his gold and silver? We do adjure thee, give us back our possessions, give us back our wives and children by emprising an expedition to Rome with thine army and ourselves.’




Provoked thereunto by these and other words, Constantine accordingly went to Rome and subdued it unto himself, and thereafter did obtain the sovereignty of the whole world. He had taken with him three uncles of Helena, Leolin, to wit, Trahern and Marius, and raised them unto the order of Senators. In the meanwhile Octavius, Duke of the Wissei, raised an insurrection against the proconsuls of the Roman sovereignty unto whom the government of the island had been entrusted, and after slaying them, himself assumed the throne of the kingdom. And when tidings of this had been brought unto Constantine, he sent hither Trahern, the uncle of Helena, with three legions to recover the island unto the Roman sovereignty. Trahern, accordingly, landing on the coast nigh the city that in British is called Kaerperis, made an assault thereupon, and within two days took it. The which, being bruited abroad amongst all the nations, King Octavius gathered together the whole armed strength of the island and met him no great way from Winchester, in the field that in British is called Maisuria, and, delivering battle, obtained the victory. Trahern with his wounded troops betook him to his ships, and embarking, made for Albany by sea voyage, where he busied him in ravaging the provinces. When this news was brought back again by his messenger, King Octavius reassembled his companies in pursuit of him, and did battle with him in the province that was called Westmoreland; but this time he had to flee without the victory. But Trahern, when he saw that victory was his own, pursued Octavius and gave him no rest until he had wrested from him his cities and his crown. Octavius, therefore, in sore trouble at the loss of his kingdom, repaired with a fleet to Norway to seek for help from King Gombert. Meanwhile he had by edict bidden his familiars use every effort to compass the death of Trahern. The Earl of a certain municipal fortified town, who loved Octavius above all other, accordingly, was not slow in fulfilling the command. For when on a day Trahern issued forth of London, he lay in wait for him with a hundred soldiers in a certain combe of the forest wherethrough he had to pass, and as he was going by, sallied out unexpectedly upon him and slew him in the midst of his own fellow-soldiers. So, when this was reported unto Octavius, he returned unto Britain, and after scattering the Romans, recovered the throne of the kingdom. Hence, after a brief space, such was his prowess and so great plenty of gold and silver had he, as that no man was there of whom he was afeard, and he held the kingdom of Britain happily from that time forward until the days of Gratian and Valentinian.




At last, worn out with eld, and desirous of making provision for his people at his death, he inquired of his counsellors which of his family they would most gladly raise to be king after that he himself were departed. For he had but one single daughter, and was without heir male unto whom he might hand down the rule of the country. Some, accordingly, proposed that he should give his daughter to wife along with the kingdom unto some Roman noble, so as that thereby they should enjoy the firmer peace. But others gave their voice that Conan Meriadoc, his nephew, should be declared heir to the throne of the kingdom, and that his daughter should be given in marriage with dowry of gold and silver unto the prince of some other kingdom. Whilst that they were debating these matters amongst themselves, in came Caradoc, Duke of Cornwall, and gave it as his counsel that they should invite Maximian the Senator and give him the King’s daughter and the kingdom, that so they might enjoy perpetual peace. For his father was a Welsh Briton, he being the son of Leoline, uncle of Constantine, of whom mention hath been made above. By his mother and by birth, howbeit, he was Roman, and by blood was he of royal pedigree on both sides. Caradoc held therefore that this marriage did promise an abiding peace, for that he knew Maximian, being at once of the family of the Emperors and also by origin a Briton, would have good right to the kingdom of Britain. But when the Duke of Cornwall had thus delivered his counsel, Conan, the King’s nephew, waxed indignant, for his one endeavour was to make a snatch at the kingdom for himself, and aiming at this end only, stuck not to run counter to the whole court beside. But Caradoc, being in nowise minded to change his purpose, sent his son Maurice to Rome to sound Maximian on the matter. Maurice himself was a big man and a comely, as well as of great prowess and hardiment, and if any would gainsay aught that he laid down, he would prove the same in arms in single combat. When, therefore, he appeared in presence of Maximian, he was received in becoming wise, and honoured above the knights that were his fellows. At that time was there a mighty quarrel toward betwixt Maximian himself and the two Emperors Gratian and his brother Valentinian, for that he had been denied in the matter of one third part of the empire which he had demanded. When Maurice, therefore, saw that Maximian was being put upon by the twain Emperors, he spake unto him in these words:


‘What cause hast thou, Maximian, to be afeard of Gratian, when the way lieth open unto thee to snatch the empire from him? Come with me into the island of Britain and thou shalt wear the crown of the kingdom. For King Octavius is sore borne down by eld and lethargy and desireth nought better than to find some man such as thyself unto whom he may give his kingdom and his daughter. For heir male hath he none, and counsel hath he sought of his barons unto whom he should give his daughter to wife, with the kingdom for dower. And, for that his barons would fain give obedient answer unto his address, his high court hath made resolve that the kingdom and the damsel should be granted unto thee, and unto me have they given commission that I should notify thee of the matter. If, therefore, thou wilt come with me into Britain, thou shalt achieve this adventure; the plenty of gold and silver that is in Britain shall be thine, and the multitude of hardy men of war that dwell therein. Thus wilt thou be enough strong to return unto Rome, and, after that thou hast driven forth these Emperors, then mayst thou enjoy the empire thereof thyself. For even thus did Constantine thy kinsman before thee, and many another of our kings that hath ere now raised him unto the empire.’




Maximian, therefore, giving assent unto his words, came with him into Britain. On his way he sacked the cities of the Franks, and thereby purveyed him of heaps of gold and silver wherewith to pay the men of arms he mustered from every quarter. Soon afterward he put to sea and made for Hamo’s Port with a fair wind. And when tidings thereof were brought unto the King, he was dismayed with sore amazement, weening that an enemy’s army was upon him. Wherefore calling unto him Conan his nephew, he commanded him to summon every man in arms throughout the country and to march against the enemy. Conan accordingly assembled all the youth of the kingdom and came to Hamo’s Port, where Maximian had pitched his tents. He, when he perceived how huge a multitude they were that had arrived, as in a grievous quandary, for what was there he could do? They that had come with him were a far smaller company—he dreaded the number and the courage of Conan’s fighting men, and of peace had he no hope. Wherefore, calling unto him the elders of his host along with Maurice, he bade them say what they thought best to be done in such an overtake? Unto whom saith Maurice:


‘Not for us, certes, is it to do battle with such an army of knights and warriors, nor came we hither for any such purpose as an invasion of Britain by force of arms. Behoveth us ask for peace and leave to abide in the land until such time as we know the King’s mind. Let us say that we be envoys from the Emperors, and bear their mandates to Octavius, so as to humour these folk and wheedle them with politic words.’ So, all of them approving this scheme, he took with him twelve of the barons, hoary-headed and of sounder wit than the rest, all with boughs of olive in their right hands, and came to meet Duke Conan. When the Britons beheld these men of reverend age bearing the olive in token of peace, they uprose from their seats to do them honour, and made way for them to pass freely unto the Duke. Straightway, standing in the presence of Conan Meriadoc, when they had saluted him on behalf of the Emperors and the Senate, they said that Maximian had commission unto King Octavius to bear him the mandates of Gratian and Valentinian. Unto whom Conan: ‘Wherefore, then, is he followed by so large a company? This is not the guise wherein legates wont to appear, but rather that of an invading army that is minded to do us a mischief.’ Then saith Maurice: ‘Unmeet had it been for a man of so high rank to come hither save in seemly state and with due escort of knights and men; and all the more for that as representing the Roman empire, and also by reason of deeds done by his forefathers, he may haply be hated of many kings. Were he to march through the land with a lesser company, like enow he might be slain by the enemies of the commonweal. In peace he cometh, and in peace he doth beseech, as in truth ought well to be believed from that which he hath done. For from the time that here we landed have we so behaved us as that we have done no wrong unto no man. All our charges have we paid like peaceful folk; we have bought fairly that which we needed, and nought have we taken from any man by force.’ And whilst that Conan was still wavering as to whether he would make choice of peace or war, Caradoc, Duke of Cornwall, accosted him, as also did other of the barons, and persuaded him not to enter upon a war after listening unto such a petition. Wherefore, albeit that he were fainer to fight, he laid down his arms and granted peace, himself escorting Maximian to the King in London, and setting forth unto him the whole matter in order as it had fallen out.




Then Caradoc, Duke of Cornwall, taking with him his son Maurice, bade that the bystanders should withdraw them, and addressed the King in these words:


‘Behold, that which they who do with truer affection observe their obedience and fealty towards thee have so long time desired, hath, by God’s providence, now been brought unto a happy issue. For thou didst ordain that thy barons should give thee counsel as to what were best to do as concerning both thy daughter and thy kingdom, forasmuch as that in these days thine eld doth so sore let and hinder thee of governing by people any longer. Some there were that counselled delivering up the crown unto Conan thy nephew and marrying thy daughter worthily elsewhere, as fearing the ruin of our countrymen should a prince of foreign tongue be set over them. Others would have granted the realm unto thy daughter so she were matched with some noble of our own speech who might succeed thee on thy departure. But the more part gave it as their counsel that some man of the blood or the Emperors should be sent for, unto whom might be given thy daughter and thy crown. For they promised that a firm and abiding peace would ensue therefrom, seeing that they would be protected by the power of Rome. Now, therefore, behold, God hath deigned that this youth should be wafted to thy shores, who is born not only of the blood of the Romans but of the blood royal of the Britons, and unto him, by my counsel, wilt thou not tarry to give thy daughter in wedlock. For, put case thou shouldst deny him in this, what right canst thou confer upon any other as against him to the realm of Britain? For a kinsman is he of Constantine, and nephew of Coel our King, whose daughter Helena none can deny to have possessed the kingdom by right hereditary.’ And when Caradoc had thus made report of the counsel of the barons, Octavius agreed thereunto and by common consent forthwith gave the kingdom of Britain together with his daughter unto Maximian. The which Conan Meriadoc beholding, he did wax indignant beyond all telling and betook him privily unto Albany where he busied him in raising an army to harass Maximian. When he had assembled his troops together he crossed the Humber river and ravaged the provinces both on the hither side thereof and on the further. When this was reported unto Maximian he assembled his whole strength, and hurrying forth to meet him defeated him in battle and returned home with victory. Natheless was Conan not so enfeebled thereby that he could not again rally his men, and when he had got them together he set him again to harrying the provinces. Maximian accordingly returned, and fought several battles with him, wherein at one time he would come back victorious and at another worsted. At last, after each had inflicted sore loss upon the other, the friends of both did come betwixt, and a reconciliation was brought about.




Five years later Maximian, puffed up with pride and surquedry by reason of the passing great store of gold and silver that did daily flow in upon him fitted out an exceeding mighty fleet and assembled every single armed warrior in Britain. For the realm of Britain was not enough for him, but he A must needs seek also to subjugate the Gauls. Crossing the Channel, he went first into the kingdom of Armorica, that now is called Brittany, and made war upon the Gaulish folk that did then inhabit therein. But the Gauls under Duke Inbalt coming to meet him, did battle against him, wherein the more part finding themselves in sore jeopardy did fettle them to flee, for Duke Inbalt had fallen and fifteen thousand men-at-arms that had come together from all parts of the kingdom. And when Maximian had achieved so notable a slaughter, he was overjoyed beyond all measure, for well knew he that after the death of so many fighting men he should soon subdue the country. He therefore called Conan unto him without the ranks, and saith unto him, somewhat smiling the while: ‘Lo, we have won us one of the fairest realms of Gaul, and herein, behold, lieth good hope that we be able to win the rest. Hasten we, therefore, to take the cities and strong places thereof, before the tidings of this jeopardy fly forth unto further Gaul and call the rest of the peoples to arms. For, so we can hold this kingdom, I misdoubt me not but we can subdue the whole of Gaul unto our dominion. Nor let it irk thee to have yielded the kingdom of Britain unto me, albeit that thou hadst hope of possessing it thyself, for whatsoever thou hast lost country therein will I make good unto thee in this country, for in this kingdom will I make thee King, and it shall be another Britain that we will replenish with men of our own race after that we have driven out them that do now abide therein. For the land is fruitful of corn and the rivers of fish. The forests be pasing fair and the glades and launds thereof right pleasant, insomuch as that in my judgment is there nowhere to be found a land that is more delightful.’ And therewithal did Conan bow his head before him and con him thanks, promising that, so long as he should live, he would do him homage and fealty as his loyal vassal.




After this they called out their troops and marched upon Rennes, taking it the same day. For when they heard how cruel were the Britons and how they had slain their fellow-countrymen, the citizens fled the swiftest they might, leaving behind them the women and children. Others in the other cities and other towns did follow their ensample, whereby was easy entrance made for the Britons, who into whatsoever place they entered, slew all that therein was of male kind, sparing only the women. At last, when they had utterly done away every single male that dwelt in the whole of the provinces, they garrisoned the cities and towns with British warriors and established camps in divers places upon the headlands. Accordingly, so soon as Maximian’s cruelness was bruited abroad throughout the other provinces of Gaul, a mighty consternation fell upon every duke and every prince, so as none other hope had they save only in offering prayers and oblations to their gods. From every country quarter they fled unto the cities and strongholds and whatsoever places seemed to offer a safe refuge. Maximian, therefore, finding himself so mighty a terror unto them, took fresh hardihood, and made haste to multiply his army by offer of swingeing bounties unto recruits. For whomsoever he knew to be greedy of other men’s goods, him did he enlist, and stinted not to stuff their wallets with gold or silver, or largesse of one kind or another.




Thereby did he gather such a host about him as he weened was enow for him to be able to subjugate the whole of Gaul. Howbeit, he did put off practising further severities for a brief space, until the kingdom he had taken began to settle down and Ire should have replenished it with a British folk. He accordingly issued an edict that a hundred thousand of the common folk in the island of Britain should be collected and should come to him, besides thirty thousand soldiers who should safeguard them that were to remain in the country from any incursion of the enemy. And when all these things were accomplished and the Britons had arrived, he distributed them amongst all the nations of the kingdom of Armorica, and did thus create a second Britain the which he did bestow upon Conan Meriadoc. But he himself with the rest of his fellow-soldiers went into further Gaul, and after divers most grievous battles did subdue the same, as well as the whole of Germany, having obtained the victory in every single battle. Then, stablishing the throne of his empire at Trier, he did so furiously wreak his revenge upon the two Emperors Gratian and Valentinian, that he slew the one and put the other to flight from the city of Rome.




In the meanwhile the Gauls and Aquitanians did sore harass Conan and the Armorican Britons, and annoy them continually with repeated incursions, which Conan withstood, repaying slaughter with slaughter and right manfully defending the country committed unto him. And when the victory had fallen unto him, he was minded to give wives unto his comrades-in-arms so that unto them might be born heirs that should possess that land in perpetuity. And that they might make no mixture with the Gauls, he issued decree that women should come from the island of Britain to be married unto them. He therefore sent messengers into the island unto Dionotus, King of Cornwall, who had succeeded his brother Caradoc in the kingdom, that he should take charge of this business. For he himself teas noble and exceeding powerful, and unto him had Maximian entrusted the rule of the island while he himself was busied in the aforesaid emprises. Now Dionotus had a daughter of marvellous beauty whose name was Ursula, whom Conan did desire above all things beside.




Dionotus accordingly, upon seeing Conan’s messenger, being desirous of obeying his wishes, assembled together from the divers provinces the daughters of nobles to the number of eleven thousand, and of others born of the common people sixty thousand, and bade them all meet together within the city of London. He commanded further that ships should be brought thither from the various coasts wherein they might be sent oversea unto the husbands that awaited them. For albeit that in so vast a company many there were that were well-pleased with their lot, yet were there more unto whom it was displeasing, for that they loved their kinsfolk and their country with a greater affection. Nor, haply, were lacking some who preferring chastity to marriage would rather have lost their life even in some foreign nation than obtain wealth and a husband on this wise. For albeit that few were of the same mind, yet would well-nigh all have chosen somewhat different could they have had their own way in the matter. When the fleet was ready, the damsels go aboard and dropping down the river Thames make for the high seas. At last, just as they were tacking to make the shore of Armorica, a contrary wind sprang up in their teeth and very soon scattered all their company. The ships were all in sore jeopardy in the midst of the sea. The more part of them foundered, and those that did escape utter shipwreck were driven on to barbarous islands, where they were either slain or sold into bondage by the uncouth people, inasmuch as they had fallen among the detestable soldiery of Guanius and Melga, who by command of Gratian did ravage all the nations along the coast and Germany itself with dreadful slaughter. Guanius was King of the Huns and Melga of the Picts, whom Gratian had specially commissioned and sent into Germany to harass and slay them that favoured Maximian. Whilst these were roving along the seaboard plundering and murdering, they met the damsels as they were driven on to the shore in those parts. These Ambrones, beholding the beauty of the damsels, would fain have wantoned with them, but meeting denial, fell upon them and slaughtered by far the most part of them without mercy. Then the detestable Dukes of the Picts and Huns, Guanius and Melga, who favoured the cause of Gratian and Valentinian, when they learnt that the island of Britain had been emptied of all its men-at-arms, hurriedly steered thitherward, and taking them of the neighbour islands into their alliance made straight for Albany. Setting their men in marching order they accordingly invaded the kingdom wherein was neither ruler nor defender, and slaughtered the helpless common folk, for Maximian, as hath been said, had taken with him all the young fighting men that he could find and had left behind none but the unarmed and witless tillers of the soil. So when Guanius and Melga found that they could make no stand against them, they made no small slaughter amongst them, never ceasing to sack and ravage the cities and provinces as they had been so many sheepfolds. When, therefore, this so grievous calamity was reported unto Maximian, he sent Gratian the Burgess with two legions to their assistance, who as soon as they landed in the island gave battle to the enemy and drove them forth into Hibernia with sore slaughter. In the meanwhile Maximian was slain at Rome by the friends of Gratian, and the Britons whom he had brought with him were slain or scattered. They that made shift to escape betook them to their fellow-countrymen in Armorica that now was called the other Britain.

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