AFTER this a violent quarrel happened between his two sons Belinus and Brennius, who were both ambitious of succeeding to the kingdom. The dispute was, which of them should have the honour of wearing the crown. After a great many sharp conflicts that passed between them, the friends of both interposed, and brought them to agree on the division of the kingdom on these terms: that Belinus should enjoy the crown of the island, with the dominions of Loegria, Kambria and Cornwall, because, according to the Trojan constitution, the right of inheritance would come to him as the elder: and Brennius, as being the younger, should be subject to his brother, and have for his share Northumberland, which extended from the Humber to Caithness. The covenant therefore being confirmed upon these conditions, they ruled the country for five years in peace and justice. But such a state of prosperity could not long stand against the endeavours of faction. For some lying incendiaries gained access to Brennius and addressed him in this manner:—
"What sluggish spirit has possessed you, that you on bear subjection to Belinus, to whom by parentage and blood you are equal; besides your experience in military affairs, which you have gained in several engagements, when you so often repulsed cheulphus, general of the Morini, in his invasions of our country, and drove him out of your kingdom? Be no longer bound by a treaty which is a reproach to you, but marry the daughter of Elsingius, king of the Norwegians, that with his assistance you may recover your lost dignity."
The young man, inflamed with these and the like specious suggestions, hearkened to them, and went to Norway, where he married the king's daughter, as his flatterers had advised him.
IN the meantime his brother, informed of this, was violently incensed, that without his leave he had presumed to act thus against him. Whereupon he marched into Northumberland, and possessed himself of that country and the cities in it, which he garrisoned with his own men. Brennius, upon notice given him of what his brother had done, prepared a fleet to return to Britain with a great army of Norwegians. But while he was under sail with a fair wind, he was overtaken by Guichthlac, king of the Dacians, who had pursued him. This prince had been deeply in love with the young lady that Brennius had married, and out of mere grief and vexation for the loss of her, had prepared a fleet to pursue Brennius with all expedition. In the sea-fight that happened on this occasion, he had the fortune to take the very ship in which the lady was, and brought her in among his companions. But during the engagement, contrary winds arose on a sudden, which brought on a storm, and dispersed the ships upon different shores: so that the king of the Dacians being driven up and down, after a course of five days arrived with the lady at Northumberland, under dreadful apprehensions, as not knowing upon what country this unforeseen casualty had thrown him. When this came to be known to the country people, they took them and carried them to Belinus, who was upon the sea-coast, expecting the arrival of his brother. There were with Guichthlac's ship three others, one of which had belonged to Brennius's fleet. As soon as they had declared to the king who they were, he was overjoyed at this happy accident, while he was endeavouring to revenge himself on his brother.
A FEW days after appeared Brennius, with his fleet again got together, and arrived in Albania; and having received information of the capture of his wife and others, and that his brother had seized the kingdom of Northumberland in his absence, he sent his ambassadors to him, to demand the restitution of his wife and kingdom; and if he refused them, to declare that he would destroy the whole island from sea to sea, and kill his brother whenever he could come to an engagement with him. On the other hand, Belinus absolutely refused to comply with his demands, and assembling together the whole power of the island, went into Albania to given him battle. Brennius, upon advice that he had suffered a repulse, and that his brother was upon his march against him, advanced to meet him in a wood called Calaterium, in order to attack him. When they were arrived on the field of battle, each of them divided his men into several bodies, and approaching one another, began the fight. A great part of the day was spent in it, because on both sides the bravest men were engaged; and much blood was shed by reason of the fury with which they encountered each other. So great was the slaughter, that the wounded fell in heaps, like standing corn cut down by reapers. At last the Britons prevailing, the Norwegians fled with their shattered troops to their ships, but were pursued by Belinus, and killed without mercy. Fifteen thousand men fell in the battle, nor were there a thousand of the rest that escaped unhurt. Brennius with much difficulty securing one ship, went as fortune drove him to the coasts of Gaul; but the rest that attended him, were forced to skulk up and down wherever their misfortunes led them.
BELINUS, after this victory, called a council of his nobility, to advice with them what he should do with the king of the Dacians, who had sent a message to him out of prison, that he would submit himself and the kingdom of Dacia to him, and also pay a yearly tribute, if he might have leave to depart with his mistress. He offered likewise to confirm his covenant with an oath, and the giving of hostages. When this proposal was laid before the nobility, they unanimously gave their assent that Belinus should grant Guichthlac his petition on the terms offered. Accordingly he did grant it, and Guichthlac was released from prison, and returned with his mistress into Dacia.
BELINUS now finding no body in the kingdom of Britain able to make head against him, and being possessed of the whole island from sea to sea, confirmed the laws his father had made, and gave command for a settled execution of justice through his kingdom. But above all things he ordered that cities, and the roads leading to them, would enjoy the same privilege of peace that Dunwallo had established. But there arose a controversy about the roads, because the limits determining them were unknown. The king, therefore, willing to clear the law of all ambiguities, summoned all the workmen of the island together, and commanded them to pave a causeway of stone and mortar, which should run the whole length of the island, from the sea of Cornwall, to the shores of Caithness, and lead directly to the cities that lay upon that extent. He commanded another to be made over the breadth of the kingdom, leading from Menevia, that was situated upon the Demetian Sea, to Hamo's Port, and to pass through the interjacent cities. Other two he made obliquely through the island, for a passage to the rest of the cities. He then confirmed to them all honours and privileges, and prescribed a law for the punishment of any injury committed upon them. But if any one is curious to know all that he decreed concerning them, let him read the Molmutine Laws, which Gildas the historian translated from British into Latin, and King Alfred into English.
WHILE Belinus was thus reigning in peace and tranquillity, his brother Brennius, who (as we said before) was driven upon the coasts of Gaul, suffered great torments of mind. For it was a great affliction for him to be banished from his country, and to have no power of returning to retrieve his loss. Being ignorant what course to take, he went among the princes of Gaul, accompanied only with twelve men; and when he had related his misfortune to every one of them, but could procure assistance from none, he went at last to Seginus, duke of the Allobroges, from whom he had an honourable reception. During his stay here, he contracted such an intimacy with the duke, that he became the greatest favourite in the court. For in all affairs, both of peace and war, he showed a great capacity, so that the prince loved him with a paternal affection. He was besides of a graceful aspect, tall and slender in stature, and expert in hunting and fowling, as became his princely birth. So great was the friendship between them, that the duke resolved to give him his only daughter in marriage; and in case he himself should have no male issue, he appointed him and his daughter to succeed him in his dukedom of the Allobroges after his death. But if he should yet have a son, then he promised his assistance to advance him to the kingdom of Britain. Neither was this the desire of the duke only, but of all the nobility of his court, with whom he had very much ingratiated himself. So then without father delay the marriage was solemnized, and the princes of the country paid their homage to him, as the successor to the throne. Scarcely was the year at an end before the duke died; and then Brennius took his opportunity of engaging those princes of the country firmly in his interest, whom before he had obliged with his friendship. And this he did by bestowing generously upon them the duke's treasure, which had hoarded up from the times of his ancestors. But that which the Allobroges most esteemed him for, was his sumptuous entertainments, and keeping an open house for all.
WHEN he had thus gained universal affection, he began to consult with himself how he might take revenge upon his brother Belinus. And when he had signified his intentions concerning it to his subjects, they unanimously concurred with him, and expressed their readiness to attend him to whatever kingdom he pleased to conduct them. He therefore soon raised a vast army, and having entered into a treaty with the Gauls for a free passage through their country into Britain, fitted out a fleet upon the coast of Neustria, in which he set sail, and with a fair wind arrived at the island. Upon hearing the rumour of his coming, his brother, Belinus, accompanied with the whole strength of the kingdom, marched out to engage him. But when the two armies were drawn out in order of battle, and just ready to begin the attack, Conwenna, their mother, who was yet living, ran in great haste through the ranks, impatient to see her son, whom she had not seen for a long time. As soon, therefore, as she had with trembling steps reached the place where he stood, she threw her arms about his neck, and in transports kissed him; then uncovering her bosom, she addressed herself to him, in words interrupted with sighs, to this effect:—
"My son, remember these breasts which gave you suck, and the womb wherein the Creator of all things formed you, and from whence he brought you forth into the world, while endured the greatest anguish. By the pains then which I suffered for you, I entreat you to hear my request: pardon your brother, and moderate your anger. You ought not to revenge yourself upon him who has done you no injury. As for what you complain of, that you were banished your country by him, if you duly consider the result, in strictness can it be called injustice? He did not banish you to make your condition worse, but forced you to quit a meaner that you might attain a higher dignity. At first you enjoyed only a part of a kingdom, and that in subjection to your brother. As soon as you lost that, you became his equal, by gaining the kingdom of the Allobroges. What has he then done, but raised you from a vassal to be a king? Consider farther, that the difference between you began not through him, but through yourself, who, with the assistance of the king of Norway, raised an insurrection against him."
Moved by these representations of his mother, he obeyed her with a composed mind, and putting off his helmet of his own accord, went straight with her to his brother. Belinus, seeing him approach with a peaceable countenance, threw down his arms, and ran to embrace him; so that now, without more ado, they again became friends; and disarming their forces marched with them peaceably together to Trinovantum. And here, after consultation what enterprise to undertake, they prepared to conduct their confederate army into the province of Gaul, and reduce that entire country to their subjection.
THEY accordingly passed over into Gaul the year after, and began to lay waste that country. The news of which spreading through those several nations, all the petty kings of the Franks entered into a confederacy, and went out to fight against them. But the victory falling to Belinus and Brennius, the Franks fled with their broken forces; and the Britons and Allobroges, elevated with their success, ceased not to pursue them till they had taken their kings, and reduced them to their power. Then fortifying the cities which they had taken, in less than a year they brought the whole kingdom into subjection. At last, after a reduction of the provinces, they marched with their whole army towards Rome, and destroyed the cities and villages as they passed through Italy.
IN those days the two consuls of Rome were Gabius and Porsenna, to whose care the government of the country was committed. When they saw that no nation was able to withstand the power of Belinus and Brennius, they came, with the consent of the senate to them, to desire peace and amity. They likewise offered large presents of gold and silver, and to pay a yearly tribute, on condition that they might be suffered to enjoy their own in peace. The two kings therefore, taking hostages of them, yielded to their petition, and drew back their forces into Germany. While they were employing their arms in harassing that people, the Romans repented of their agreement, and again taking courage, went to assist the Germans. This step highly enraged the kings against them, who concerted measures how to carry on a war with both nations. For the greatness of the Italian army was a terror to them. The result of their council was, that Belinus with the Britons stayed in Germany, to engage with the enemy there; while Brennius and his army marched to Rome. Belinus had intelligence of it, and speedily marched with his army the same night, and possessing himself of a valley through which the enemy was to pass, lay hid there in expectation of their coming. The next day the Italians came in full march to the place; but when they saw the valley glittering with the enemy's armour, they were struck with confusion, thinking Brennius and the Galli Senones were there. At this favourable opportunity, Belinus on a sudden rushed forth, and fell furiously upon them: the Romans on the other hand, thus taken by surprised, fled the field, since they neither were armed, nor marched in any order. But Belinus gave them no quarter, and was only prevented by night coming on, from making a total destruction of them. With this victory he went straight to Brennius, who had now besieged Rome three days. Then joining their armies, they assaulted the city on every side, and endeavoured to level the walls: and to strike a greater terror into the besieged, erected gibbets before the gates of the city, and threatened to hang up the hostages, whom they had given, unless they would surrender. But the Romans, nothing moved by the suffering of their sons and relations, continued inflexible, and resolute to defend themselves. They therefore sometimes broke the force of the enemy's engines, by other engines of their own, sometimes repulsed them from the walls with showers of darts. This so incensed the two brothers, that they commanded four and twenty of their noblest hostages to be hanged in the sight of their parents. The Romans, however, were only more hardened by the spectacle, and having received a message from Gabius and Porsenna, their consuls, that they would come the next day to their assistance, they resolved to march out of the city, and give the enemy battle. Accordingly, just as they were ranging their troops in order, the consuls appeared with their re-assembled forces, marching up to the attack, and advancing in a close body, fell on the Britons and Allobroges by surprise, and being joined by the citizens that sallied forth, killed no small number. The brothers, in great grief to see such destruction made of their fellow soldiers, began to rally their men, and breaking in upon the enemy several times, forced them to retire. In the end, after the loss of many thousands of brave men on both sides, the brothers gained the day, and took the city, not however till Gabius was killed and Porsenna taken prisoner. This done, they divided among their men all the hidden treasure of the city.
AFTER this complete victory, Brennius stayed in Italy, where he exercised unheard-of tyranny over the people. But the rest of his actions and his death, seeing that they are given in the Roman histories, I shall here pass over, to avoid proximity and meddling in what others have treated of, which is foreign to my design. But Belinus returned to Britain, which he governed during the remainder of his life in peace; he repaired the cities that were falling to ruin, and built many new ones. Among the rest he built one upon the river Uske, near the sea of the Severn, which was for a long time called Caerosc, and was the metropolis of Dimetia; but after the invasion of the Romans it lost its first name, and was called the City of Legions, from the Roman legions which used to take up their winter quarters in it. He also made a gate of wonderful structure in Trinovantum, upon the bank of the Thames, which the citizens call after his name Billingsgate to this day. Over it he built a prodigiously large tower, and under it a haven or quay for ships. He was a strict observer of justice, and re-established his father's laws everywhere thoughout the kingdom. In his days there was so great an abundance of riches among the people, that no age before or after is said to have shown the like. At last, when he had finished his days, his body was burned, and the ashes put up in a golden urn, which they placed at Trinovantum, with wonderful art, on the top of the tower above-mentioned.
HE was succeeded by Gurgiunt Brabtruc, his son, a sober prudent prince, who followed the example of his father in all his actions, and was a lover of peace and justice. When some neighbouring provinces rebelled against him, inheriting with them the bravery of his father, he repressed their insolence in several fierce battles, and reduced them to a perfect subjection. Among many other things it happened, that the king of the Dacians, who paid tribute in his father's time, refused not only tribute, but all manner of homage to him. This he seriously resented, and passed over in a fleet to Dacia, where he harassed the people with a most cruel war, slew their king, and reduced the country to its former dependence.
At that time, he was returning home from his conquest through the Orkney islands, he found thirty ships full of men and women; and upon his inquiring of them the occasion of their coming hither, their leader, named Partholoim, approached him in a respectful and submissive manner, and desired pardon and peace, telling him that he had been driven out of Spain, and was sailing round those seas in quest of a habitation. He also desired some small part of Britain to dwell in, that they might put an end to their tedious wanderings; for it was now a year and a half since he had been driven from his country, all of which time he and his company had been out at sea. When Gurgiunt Brabtruc understood that they came from Spain, and were called Barclenses, he granted their petition, and sent men with them to Ireland, which was then wholly uninhabited, and assigned it to them. There they grew up and increased in number, and have possessed that island to this very day. Gurgiunt Brabtruc after this ended his days in peace and was buried in the City of Legions, which, after his father's death, he ornamented with buildings and fortified with walls.
AFTER him Guithelin wore the crown, which he enjoyed all his life, treating his subjects wit mildness and affection. He had for his wife a noble lady named Martia, accomplished in all kinds of learning. Among many other admirable productions of her wit, she was the author of what the Britons call the Martian law. This also among other things King Alfred translated, and called it in the Saxon tongue, Pa Marchitle Lage. Upon the death of Guithelin, the government of the kingdom remained in the hands of this queen and her son Sisillius, who was then but seven years old, and therefore unfit to take the government upon himself alone.
FOR this reason the mother had the sole management of affairs committed to her, out of regard to her great sense and judgment. But on her death, Sisillius took the crown and government. After him reigned Kimarus his son, to whom succeeded Danius his brother. After his death the crown came to Morvidus, whom he had by his concubine Tangustela. He would have been a prince of extraordinary worth, had he not been addicted to immoderate cruelty, so far that in his anger he spared nobody, if any weapon were at hand. He was of a graceful aspect, extremely liberal, and of such vast strength as not to have his match in the whole kingdom.
IN his time a certain king of the Morini arrived with a great force in Northumberland, and began to destroy the country. But Morvidus, with all the strength of the kingdom, marched out against him, and fought him. In this battle he alone did more than the greatest part of his army, and after the victory, suffered none of the enemy to escape alive. For he commanded them to be brought to him one after the other, that he might satisfy his cruelty in seeing them killed; and when he grew tired of this, he gave orders that they should be flayed alive and burned. During these and other monstrous acts of cruelty, an accident happened which put a period to his wickedness. There came from the coasts of the Irish Sea, a most cruel monster, that was continually devouring the people on the sea-coasts. As soon as he heard of it, he ventured to go and encounter it alone; when he had in vain spent all his darts upon it, the monster rushed upon him, and with open jaws swallowed him up like a small fish.
HE had five sons, whereof the eldest, Gorbonian, ascended the throne. There was not in his time a greater lover of justice and equity, or a more careful ruler of the people. The performance of due worship to the gods, and doing justice to the common people, were his continual employments. Through all the cities of Britain, he repaired the temples of the gods, and built many new ones. In all his days, the island abounded with riches, more than all the neighbouring countries. For he gave great encouragement to husbandmen in their tillage, by protecting them against any injury or oppression of their lords; and the soldiers he amply rewarded with money, so that no one had occasion to do wrong to another. Amidst these and many other acts of his innate goodness, he paid the debt of nature, and was buried at Trinovantum.
AFTER him Arthgallo, his brother, was dignified with the crown, and in all his actions he was the very reverse of his brother. He everywhere endeavoured to depress the nobility, and advance the baser sort of the people. He plundered the rich, and by those means amassed vast treasures. But the nobility, disdaining to bear his tyranny any longer, made an insurrection against him, and deposed him; and then advanced Elidure, his brother, who was afterwards surnamed the Pious, on account of his commiseration to Arthgallo in distress. For after five years' possession of the kingdom, as he happened to be hunting in the wood Calaterium, he met his brother that had been deposed. For he had travelled over several kingdoms, to desire assistance for the recovery of his lost dominions, but had procured none. And being no longer able to bear the poverty to which he was reduced, he returned back to Britain, attended only by ten men, with a design to repair to those who had been formerly his friends. It was at this time, as he was passing through the wood, his brother Elidure, who little expected it, got sight of him, and forgetting all injures, ran to him, and affectionately embraced him. Now as he had long lamented his brother's affliction, he carried him with him to the city Alclud, where he hid him in his bed-chamber. After this, he feigned himself sick, and sent messengers over the whole kingdom that they should come to visit him. Accordingly, when they were all met together at the city where he lay, he gave orders that they should come into his chamber one by one, softly, and without noise: his pretence which was, that their talk would be a disturbance to his head, should they all crowd in together. Thus, in obedience to his commands, and without the least suspicion of any design, they entered his house one after another. But Elidure had given charge to his servants, who were set ready for the purpose, to take each of them as they entered, and cut off their heads, unless they would again submit themselves to Arthgallo his brother. Thus did he with every one of them apart, and compelled them, through fear, to be reconciled to Arthgallo. At last the agreement being ratified, Elidure conducted Arthgallo to York, where he took the crown from his own head, and put it on that of his brother. From this act of extraordinary affection to his brother, he obtained the surname of Pious. Arthgallo after this reigned ten years, and made amends for his former maladministration, by pursuing measures of an entirely opposite tendency, in depressing the baser sort, and advancing men of good birth; ion suffering every one to enjoy his own, and exercising strict justice towards all men. At last sickness seizing him, he died, and was buried in the city Kaerleir.
THEN Elidure was again advanced to the throne, and restored to his former dignity. But while in his government he followed the example of his eldest brother Gorbonian, in performing all acts of grace; his two remaining brothers, Vigenius and Peredure, raised an army, and made war against him, in which they proved victorious; so that they took him prisoner, and shit him up in the tower at Trinovantum, where they placed a guard over him. Then they divided the kingdom betwixt them; that part which is from the river Humber westward falling to Vigenius's share, and the remainder with all Albania to Peredure's. After seven years Vigenius died, and so the whole kingdom came to Peredure, who from that time governed the people with generosity and mildness, so that he even excelled his older brothers who had preceded him, nor was any mention now made of Elidure. But irresistible fate at last removed him suddenly, and so made way for Elidure's release from prison, and advancement to the throne the third time; who finished the course of his life in just and virtuous actions, and after death left an example of piety to his successors.
ELIDURE being dead, Gorbonian's son enjoyed the crown and imitated his uncle's wise and prudent government. For he abhorred tyranny, and practised justice and mildness towards the people, nor did he ever swerve from the rule of equity. After him reigned Margan, the son of Arthgallo, who, being instructed by the examples of his immediate predecessors, held the government in peace. To him succeeded Enniaunus, his brother, who took a contrary course, and in the sixth year of his reign was deposed, for having preferred a tyrannical to a just and legal administration. In his room was placed his kinsman Idwallo, the son of Vigenius, who, being admonished by Enniaunus's ill success, became a strict observer of justice and equity. To him succeeded Runno, the son of Peredure, whose successor was Geruntius, the son of Edidure. After him reigned Catellus, his son; after Catellus, Coillus; after Coillus, Porrex; after Porrex, Cherin. This prince had three sons, Fulgenius, Eldadus, and Andragius, who all reigned one after the other. Then succeeded Urianus, the son of Andragius; after whom reigned in order, Eliud, Cledaucus, Cletonus, Gurgintius, Merianus, Bleduno, Cap, Oenus, Sisillius, Blegabred. This last prince, in singing and playing upon musical instruments, excelled all the musicians that had been before him, so that he seemed worthy of the title of the God of Jesters. After him reigned Arthmail, his brother; after Arthmail, Eldol; to whom succeeded in order, Redion, Rederchius, Samuilpenissel, Pir, Capoir, and Cligueillus the son of Capoir, a man prudent and mild in all his actions, and who above all things made it his business to exercise true justice among his people.
NEXT to him succeeded his son Heli, who reigned forty years. He had three sons, Lud, Cassibellaun, and Nennius; of whom Lud, being the eldest, succeeded to th kingdom after his father's death. He became famous for the building of cities, and for rebuilding the walls of Trinovantum, which he also surrounded with innumerable towers. He likewise commanded the citizens to build houses, and all other kinds of structures in it, so that no city in all foreign countries to a great distance round could show more beautiful palaces. He was withal a warlike man, and very magnificent in his feasts and public entertainments. And though he had many other cities, yet he loved this above them all, and resided in it the greater part of the year; for which reason it was afterwards called Kaerlud, and by the corruption of the word, Kaer-london; and again by change of languages, in process of time, London; as also by foreigners who arrived here, and reduced this country under their subjection, it was called Londres. At last, when he was dead, his body was buried by the gate which to this time is called in the British tongue after his name, Parthlud, and in the Saxon, Ludesgata. He had two sons, Androgeus and Tenuantius, who were incapable of governing on account of their age: and therefore their uncle Cassibeallaun was preferred to the kingdom in their room. As soon as he was crowned, he began to display his generosity and magnificence to such a degree, that his fame reached to distant kingdoms; which was the reason that the monarchy of the whole kingdom came to be invested in him, and not in his nephews. Nothwithstanding Cassibellaun, from an impulse of piety, would not suffer them to be without their share in the kingdom, but assigned a large part of it to them. For he bestowed the city of Trinovantum, with the dukedom of Kent, on Androgeus; and the dukedom of Cornwall on Tenuantius. But he himself, as possessing the crown, had the sovereignty over them, and all the other princes of the island.
1 The Danes.
2 This seems to be a false account of the Roman roads in Britain.
3 The absurdity of describing Porsena king of Etruria, as one of the Roman consuls, must be apparent to every reader. No less evident is it that the whole of this fictitious account is founded on the known fact, that Rome was taken by the Gauls commanded by one Brennus.
4 Newport, the principal town of South Wales.
5 The people who leaved near Boulogne.
6 The tower of London was built or at least repaired and enlarged by William Rufus. The story of its having been originally constructed by Julius Caesar is an absurd fiction irreconcilable with the Commentaries of the general. See William of Malmesbury, p. 341.
7 The British name of this prince is probably Caswallon.
8 In Latin Porta-Lud.